Saturday, July 31, 2010


The Portuguese Festa has been a tradition in New Bedford for 96 years. Its the Feast Of The Blessed Sacrament, a celebration as old as the country from which they came. Its about celebrating life, friends, and joy in the things we share in common.
After we settled in a shaded place to listen to the music, beers in hand, Donna Parker got us started with tremoico, salty little yellow beans that people here eat like peanuts along with their beer. Also, a dish of fava beans with onions in a sauce.
Donna said, "...when I was young, I used to dance and go to the carnival. Now I come to listen to the music and eat."  And dance, sometimes, she told me earlier. Its Donna's goal to make sure I taste every Portuguese specialty they have to offer and the food choices are awesome.
 We were located on a big square with buildings defining an L shape so that one stage had contemporary music, and another had Portuguese entertainments; music, a couple of commedians and later, Madeiren Folk Dancing. Kind of like Greek music, you want to keep clapping and tapping.
 This troupe of dancers mixes young and old and is a tradition here at the fest. You discover through their comedy and music how very strong their family ties and cultural identity are.

Jim had a linguisa sandwich while I had cacoila, a flavored, marinated pulled pork sandwich eaten with relish and hot sauce if you like. Its yummy but festival food isn't necessarily the best example of the real thing, cautioned Bob. But, I thought it was great, along with a second marinated pork sandwich of a different type that  we shared. We paced ourselves and waited between tastings. Bob and I shared a cod sandwich, a salty cod with seasonings. Its made from salt dried cod, a staple  fishermen and travelers carried on their vessels when far out at sea in days of old.
We walked around to watch the people loading giant skewers for the traditional Portuguese Barbeque. It has a name that I cannot pronounce or spell, but I'll know by the time we go to our second day of the Festa since we'll be doing the same thing. Some people like green peppers and onions with the marinated meat that you buy by the pound along with the Stone Bread to eat with it.
Some people like to pour red wine or beer on their meat while it cooks. Everyone attends to their own cooking.
We enjoyed watching the people and families drifting by. Donna and Bob meet old friends each year. That is what its all about.
As it got dark, we could see the carnival rides, all lit up in the distance on the opposite street from the food pavilions and traditional stages.
Before we left we had a sweet treat called a marasala, a flat fried piece of dough sprinkled with sugar.  On the back stage a rock band played.
And like kids, Donna and I decided to try our luck at pop the balloon. You shoot a water gun into the clowns mouth, and the first balloon to pop wins the stuffed animal. It was worth every giggle. 
For more pictures of the festival, click on the link:

Friday, July 30, 2010


 Moving South about a hundred miles to hook up with Bob and Donna Parker, Jim's (Jaillet) cousins where we'll stay for the next week. The weather changed to rain but didn't cool much. It was 75* when we got up at 5:30. Even the gulls were absent from the parking lot. One lone fellow kept trying to dig something out of a pickup truck, maybe an ice chest tempted him. Previous mornings flocks of them were raucously sounding in what could be considered the equivalent of a rooster crowing the coming morn. 

We stopped in Berkeley, MA to have the Motor Home refrigerator serviced at USRV, where Jim's (Bacon) cousin, Mike De Paola, works. We stocked up on some bacteria additive for the black water holding tank and a new set of blades for the wipers, etc. The company also has a dump station and a place to take on water, all needed chores required for smooth wheeling on the road. We'll meet with Mike and his wife Saturday afternoon for cocktails.
We arrived at Donna and Bob's where personality and hospitality reign supreme. Donna baked a French Meat Pie for Jim, her first time effort.  I told Donna she was a spoiler and its absolutely true. She would make everyone's dream come true if it were in her power. The meat pie was excellent, so much better than anything you can purchase. KUDOS!
The plan is to attend the festivities at the Portuguese Festival in New Bedford,  something we've been looking forward to for a month. I especially enjoyed the Fado, when I was in Portugal, a sort of seaman's lament about being away from home, the loneliness, contemplating missing comrades, missing his sweetheart, wife,  children and all things dear. Its an emotional, pleading kind of performance and they perform the Fado here at the Festa. New Bedford became an adopted home for Portuguese sailors who emigrated here in the late 1700's and brought their traditions with them to stay.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


At one time Gloucester was the largest fishing port in the world. Men went out to sea in floating wood chips called boats. Too many never returned.
The heart ache of the most dangerous profession in the world is commemorated in two memorials along the sea wall at Gloucester.
This one recognizes the women and children left behind when a ship went down and the family was left with  no means of support. If old enough, a son would take his father's place and begin fishing to support his family. Thus, when you look at the names of those lost at sea, you see fathers and sons and brothers.
The memorial above includes a half-circle walk with cement blocks, each with a bronze plaque listing the year and names of those who lost their lives at sea, including the most recent wreck, the Andrea Gayle, in 1991, about which the movie, Perfect Storm was made.
 The Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center is part of the working waterfront. It depicts the many aspects of the fishing business and how it worked, dispersed in old buildings where some of the action actually took place. It has preserved an old marine "railroad" used to bring big vessels on shore for repairs and maintenance.
 Small buildings hold a  Boat Shop, a Divers Exhibit, a Boat Building Building, a couple of old piers and newer ones nearby where you can see their boats and nearby working  fisheries. The Providenza was being loaded with giant clam shells to be dumped at sea as we watched. One old salt told us there is no longer any market for the shells.
 The divers exhibit run by Paul Harling, a diver himself, was interesting to me as a former skin and scuba diver.
While there were the usual marine artifacts in the museum area, and wonderful videos of ship building and underwater whales and sea life,  the outdoor shallow aquariums were most fascinating from a tank that held several species of rays. I recognized the leopard ray and bat ray, but there were others. One little ray kept itself plastered to a plastic window where you could see her bottom eyes, her rib cage, and actively breathing lungs. So human like in ways, we were transfixed by them. Their eyes open on both sides of their bodies, while buried in sand and swimming, they can look above and below. 
 The eyes of this bat ray peep out of the sand. If you held a finger above the water, the rays would follow it as though you were offering them food.
New England's only marine sanctuary, an 842 square mile stretch of ocean about three miles southeast of Cape Ann contains the Stellwagen Bank, one of the first charted fishing banks in the area. It is also home to over 100 shipwrecks.
There is a big artists colony located here. Winslow Homer painted his famous pieces from this town and we visited some of the working studios of area artists before moving on to Rockport, which also has multiple galleries, boutique shops and many tourists such as ourselves.
We ate lunch at the 7th Wave and I enjoyed duck trap smoked salmon and BLT sandwich, while Jim tried their fish and chiips. Both were good. Also bought a cooked lobster to bring home for dinner.

 The signal is so slow today, I won't post much art, but the pottery above is Sigrid Olsen's work, but her real talent is in pastels that look like wallpaper, delicate and beautiful. She has a website,
I lost the card for this artist, but the quality here was great. The two skateboards above the bowl intrigued me. What to do with a worn out skateboard?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Jim has a friend who claims to be a world connoisseur of clams. He traveled all over the world and tasted clams wherever he went. Nothing compares to the Ipswich Clams at the Clam Box in Ipswich, Massachusetts. This is the place, small,  but the parking lot is huge, if that gives you an idea. Lines formed immediately after the place opened and we ordered the native fried clams and a couple of clam cakes. While we waited we read the newspaper articles about the place. The Ipswich clams are most tasty, so the story goes, because of the acidic nature of the mud they grow in. The folks here make two promises, never frozen, always local. The food critics mention that Ipswich clams are never gritty because they aren't grown in sand. I'm no expert in fried clams, but I've tasted plenty of them since traveling New England and I'd have to say they were the best I've tasted. Fat, ample without the breading overpowering the clam. They are dipped in evaporated milk and lightly floured with corn flour before being fried. The owners claim if they can't get the right size clams, they don't serve them. They also apologize for stopping mid afternoon and changing their oil. On our way to Manchester, where we are staying for two nights, we passed through another town of Essex.
We just came from Essex, Connecticut which makes things confusing. Essex, Massachusetts' main industry was shipbuilding. Large wooden fishing vessels were built here and launched into a quite narrow section of the Essex River and moved out into the larger seaports.
The museum was closed but their yard had one of the last vessels built in Essex, rescued after it sunk in the mud and lay there for many years.

The boat named the Evangelina M. Goulart, was uniquely designed to bridge the gap between sailing and engine powered fishing boats. She could do both. Plus, she was built for regular fishing and net dragging, where huge nets were dragged along the ocean floor, a new technology then.
 She achieved fame as a champion sword fishing vessel, twice breaking the North Atlantic record for swordfish harpooned in a single voyage. On both occasions, the Evelina landed over three hundred swordfish in under three weeks.
Swordfish petered out in the 1950's and she became a full time dragger until her demise.

The boat was named for the fragile child pictured above with her parents. Evangelina did not live long enough to see her namesake launched.

 This rather small spot was where these boats were launched and led out to sea in a narrow channel.
When in New England, eat fish. I was happy to comply, trying the calamari salad for dinner.  Yum!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Having the best travel guide in New England, Jim's buddy, Bill Gallagher, gave us a special treat. He took us to the Hamptons. New Hampshire has a limited amount of coastline, and 4 beautiful miles of it is the Hampton Beach, part of it designated State Park. Its a deep beach, and covered with people on a breezy Monday morning. The "boardwalk" no longer made of board, still has many of the actual arcades, playlands, souvenir shops, tacky food joints and quick food diners, all preserved by constant use. They've been refurbished but retain that old time flavor.
Past the Boar's Head, another smaller beach, part of East Hampton, serves mostly summer places that line the Atlantic front away from the bigger beach with its throng of tourists.
We stopped to admire an unbelievably large resort hotel, bought by local businessmen to save it from the axe. It was restored and now serves the community as a revered old friend, landmark, and prosperous resort.
 The photo above doesn't even take in half of the famous Wentworth By The Sea which has 161 rooms and suites, a ballroom, conference areas, restaurants, an 18 hole golf course, and a harbor within view of the Castle Islands. The place is stunning. You can see a better pictures it on-line.
Bill took us the scenic route along the shore, past new and old stately homes, salt marshes, points of historical interest to wind up in Portsmouth, a town he and Loretta know well. Charming, and picturesque, we checked out the shops and old buildings that portray place after place their many layers of history.
A cannon taken from the British by Commodore Perry at the Battle of Lake Eire, during the War of 1812 is implanted on the brick walk.
A reminder of the injustice served up to blacks from 1711 to 1854, on this Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail plaque.
The whole town kind of knocks your socks off when you realize that President Washington, Thomas Jefferson and all those founders of democracy were out and about these small towns and countryside, on horseback.George Washington actually read the Declaration of Independence on a balcony on one of these buildings.
About the main square of town, many of the buildings out date us by a couple hundred years. But there is a more recent layer of history as well. Who remembers the J.J. Newberry stores? There once was one in this old building.
And this quaint diner, Gilley's,  was in the way of progress, but cooler heads grandfathered this "out of place" (probably out of code) old diner in and it sits as a representative of the 1940's and 50's. Bill calls them cholesterol stations.
Bill brought us back to Hampton to a favorite dinner spot, The Old Salt located in the historic Lamies (pronouced Lamaze) building with the authentic chimneys where wood stoves once kept patrons warm. Its one of those places where you wish the walls and old wooden booths could talk.

Since I'm a dedicated foodie, there is nothing I like better than to be introduced to regional specialties and I wasn't disappointed. This restaurant has won prizes for its clam chowder but we chose the fish chowder, lighter, with several types of fish, and delicately flavored with a bit of lemon and dill. Served with onion rolls and oyster crackers. Delicious. For me, the entree,  baked haddock au gratin was superb with a light multi-cheese, wine sauce served along side garlic mashed potatoes. Jim chose scrod, a dish you find nowhere else than New England.  Dessert, a hard choice between bread pudding with hard sauce or tapioca pudding. I got to taste both, the bread pudding was tops.

 Of course, more reminiscing was on the menu when we returned to Bill and Loretta's place. Bill pulled out his old Road Sharks of Revere shirt the guys had had made during their high school years. None of the studded leather jackets or boots, nor the plaque that hung from the bumpers of their old cars were preserved. The shirt would fit none of them anymore. Somehow it "shrunk" several sizes.
The day ended with reluctant goodbyes and promises to do it again in a few years.

Monday, July 26, 2010


 There's nothing like being in the right place at the right time! Simon Lowell opened a boat shop in 1793 and designed a dory. It now qualifies as the oldest continuously operating boat shop in the United States. A woman pulled up, we watched as she started for the door with keys in hand. Aha! "I'm sorry she said, I'm not open, we are participating in a festival at Newburyport, its a once a year thing!"
She was curious about Panama Or Bust written on the Bronco and, in the end,  Elizabeth Hartnell very kindly allowed us to look around and take pictures while she gathered forgotten items for the festival. She gave us a running account of this wonderful place that builds super strong dories and sailing skiffs of sun dried cedar. One boat builder, 10 boats a year. Average cost, $6 to 10 thousand dollars each. Hiram (Simon's grandson) and his workers, highest productive year was 2,029 boats from this spot, each one built by template exactly like the one before it.
This boat in progress has sides and ribs which are riveted in place and slightly overlapped like siding.
The cedar is not wetted to make it bend. It is ever so slowly teased into place clamped and riveted in place, rib by rib.
Its a huge old drafty building, right on the water. Great barn doors open on the side to a ramp where the boats can be removed and slid down into the water. Boats are repaired here as well as made to order. During its heydey, no one would think of going to sea without a dory. Whalers and every working ship had a dory on it. They would be delivered to the bigger ports by horse and wagon. So strong and well designed, a small dory could hold over a thousand pounds and it was still stable with only a couple inches of "freeboard" above the the water.
In the paint room above, the floor is nine inches higher than the adjoining room from years of paint and shellac dripping and covering the floor. The old plank flooring has gaps, now. I counted four old wood stoves that were used to keep everything warm in winter. And, the old one holer built into the side of the building over the water, is still there, now used to store signs.
Lowells Boat Shop sits on the Merrimack River at Amesbury. Its a non-profit working museum and a National Landmark. No one has been able to design a better, more stable dory or skiff than Simon Lowell in all these many years. The templates hang from the ceiling for the different size boats. It is speculated that Henry Ford got the idea for mass production assembly from Hiram Lowell's method of boat building.
 We drove on to Newburyport for the festival after Elizabeth got me to drooling over a Greek Food Festival. The activities were spread all over town. One local told me, "This used to be a nothin' place, now its a tourist attraction." He shook his head as though still unbelieving.
 This public sculpture, one of several near the waterfront. Musicians and food booths set up on the grass attracted people with their lawn chairs, setting up for a day of music and enjoyable breezes off the water to beat the heat. I watched plates of elephant ears go by, a kind of plate sized slab of fried dough sprinkled with sugar. We cooled off with ice cream, for me, maple nut since they no longer sell it on the West Coast.
Great boats pulled in to enjoy the festival. This restored old wooden yacht among them.
  Following the brick sidewalks to a local park, another 30 tents were set up with art work, snazzy items and crafts for sale, a car show and tempting food like lobster rolls,  lobster cakes, shrimp cocktails, Italian sausage grinders, but I was holding out for the Greek food.  Elizabeth told us dories from her shop would be in a paddle boat race on a small lake.

A parade of old antique vehicles, some of which we remembered riding in, made us realize we are antiques too. Hmmm!

The face painting, pony rides, the belly dancing, food smells everywhere, I managed to make it to the brand new Greek Church for a sit down dinner in their air conditioned hall.
Many of the home made specialties were already sold out, but I was able to enjoy the lamb shanks tomato gravy on rice without the shanks, Loucanico, a Greek sausage made with a bit of orange rind, very different and delicious. I tasted a chicken and lamb kabob with mint, lemon and fennel seasoning, and pastichio, a macaroni and cheese bakes with a special bechamel sauce. (Jim and I shared.) This is a three day festival, so those who can, should go. The imported Greek beer was much like Amstel light.
A yummy day.