Saturday, September 30, 2006

Boston, North Shore: Salisbury Beach and MA Seabrook N.H.

September 11th to September 17th 2006

The two seaside resorts Salisbury Beach, Massachussets and Seabrook, New Hampshire divides a long barrier island north of the old seaport of Newburyport. Here you find, in my opinion, the finest beach along the coastline on the North Shore. During the summer season the two towns and the nearby resort of Hampton Beach are crowded with tourist and summerguests. The two communities are predominantly summer resorts. Labour Day, in the beginning of September marks the end of the summer season, but the heat will last at least to the end of September. If you travel off-season you can get some good deals, either to rent a house, or a hotel room.

In 574 North End Boulevard in Salisbury, you can occasionally see a Norwegian flag on the 1st floor terrace. That is the home of my cousin Ann Eastman McDonnell, born in Oslo and left for the US with my uncle and aunt just after the 2nd World War.

The last four years we've rented a beach-front two-bedroom house. This time we rented a beautiful three-bedroom house a little further down, on the corner of Atlantic Avenue, that follows the beach, and New Hampshire Street.

There are a few restaurants by the beach, however the first evening my cousin Ann had decided to take us to China Buffet in Salisbury (picture). I have been there once before, and it is a great experience. You do not know where to start, and you do not know how to stop. There are so many delicious things to eat. Here are some. Crab Rangoon - Coconut Chicken - Panfried Dumplings - Fried Ribs - General Tsao's Chicken - Baked Shrimps - Fried Wontons - Crabs with cheese - Stuffed Mushrooms - Steamed Dumplings - Fried Noodles - Filled Lobster Roll, and this is only a selection. You can also get a selection of Sushi and Sashimi, and desserts. And do drink a bottle of Tsingtao with the food!

Wednesday we travelled along the coast to Portsmouth, then on to the Maine Outlets in Kittery - just over the state line. For the shopoholics this is the place to go. Numerous brand name stores along the road as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Izod, and Tommy Hilfiger. Then we travelled along the coast through the historic seaport of York ME, with its old historic houses on to Ogonquit, ME. Ogonoquit is a charming town and is, along with Provincetown MA, known for its large gay scene. So this is really a town after my heart, but sadly - we drove through heading for the first exit to the freeway back to the beach. But hunger struck - so we stopped for lunch at the Olive Garden, 2048 Woodbury Avenue, Newington NH, just outside Portsmouth.

At Olive Garden we were well taken care of, ordering Manicotti Formaggio. This after a delicious salad and bread with olive oil. I followed the recommandations of the house and ordered a glass of Straccali Chianti, described as
having "soft berry flavors that help bring out the full range flavor of the pasta and sauce." The others choose the eggplant parmegiana.

On Thursday we visited the wonderful historic seaport of Newburyport. Visiting this great historic seaport is a must if you travel along the coast. In the middle of the city we found Greta's Great Grains Bakery and Cafe at 24 Pleasant Street. This is an Austrian bakery, where you can buy Stollen, Strudel, Sachertorte and Napoleon. We choose the latter, with a good mug of coffee - delicious! The pastry looked great and it even got a favourable review in the New York Times.

Friday we decided to take a stroll to Salisbury Beach. This beachside resort is now is now rapidly changing. Old decaying houses are giving way for new expensive condominiums. If you go to Salisbury Beach you have to visit Jillys Pizzeria at 26 Broadway. Jilly herself is Lebanese but the menu is definitely italian. We ordered a spinach pie with sesame seed, and had a lunch in the beautiful sunshine. As I understood later, Jilly is an institution at Salisbury beach and runs the restaurant with her daughter.

Then we visited another institution - Uncle Eddy's on Ocean Boulevard. Uncle Eddy's dates back a long time. My cousin told me that the used to hang out there in the 60's. The last time I visited this bar was in 1999. Then it was charming, but rather shabby. Now it is run by Mike Pacheco, and he and his wife has redecorated the bar. The best thing is that it has been done in a way that you still feel the old atmosphere. The bar has a nice out area as well, where you can enjoy the fresh air with all the smokers that have been banned from smoking inside. So if you go to Salisbury Beach and want some nice place to have a drink - go to Uncle Eddy's. They have evening live music too. I had a glass of Seasonal Samuel Adams - Oktoberfest, very refreshing amber ale. Having problem with what then to drink, Eric gave me some samples - Blue Moon , a Belgian style white beer with citrus, or a blueberry flavoured beer from Sea Dog Brewing company in Maine. I usually keep away from fruit flavoured beers as they tend to be sweet, but this one was very refreshing. So I had two.

Saturday we took Ann and Pete out for dinner at Eastmans Docks Restaurant at River Street, Seabrook Beach. The restaurant and the deep sea fishing firm used to be run by Ann and her 1st husband Bill. Now it has been taken over by Lester Eastman and his sister Merrilee. This is definitely place to eat. I had the most delicious Baked Stuffed Haddock w/ seafood stuffing & lobster sauce.

Saturday evening the deep sea fishing prepared to take 80 gay men out to sea, and we were to meet them again as we went down to Salisbury beach that evening. After a couple of hours at Uncle Eddy's we ended up at Chef Howies Hobo Cafe at 5 Broadway, Salisbury Beach. At 9 PM the gay crowd on the barrier Island and beyond gathered for karaoke. What a great last night in the US! The place was clearly dominated by the gay bear-culture, i.e. the anti-trend for big and beautiful gay men. But could they sing? No, except for one. Did that matter - not at all. It was great fun!!!

Tomorrow I'll share some New England Home cooking.

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