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Highlights from a vacation

I recently returned from a well-deserved vacation to Rhode Island. Now, most people don’t immediately think of Rhode Island when making vacation plans. I didn’t either…until I visited the state some years back. My first trip there was meeting up with my (now ex) husband on a business trip. It was late October, and so conveniently coincided with that year’s late color. Of course, being out of season, all the touristy places were closed. No matter. It was beautiful-both the trees and the coast. And we ate well.

The next time I visited was during the summer season. Understandable, it was packed. Newport is where people go “to summer.” Again, I ate well. And it was still beautiful…even though I practically had to park in Massachusetts.

Fast forward a few more years. Vacation time was needed. Rhode Island was the first thing that came to mind. I have a friend there who graciously put me up for a few days. So, with no further plans than to find a few beers and some sailboats to watch, I set out for R.I.

The weather mostly cooperated and we (my friend and I) took advantage where we could. The first day, we wandered into Newport. I wanted to visit my favorite pub for lunch. The Brick Alley Pub has been in Newport for many years. And while it’s not a pub in the traditional English or Irish way, it’s still a great little bar and restaurant with some amazing food. The last time I was there I had a lobster and scallop pasta with cream sauce that I thought was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Sadly, it’s no longer on the menu, but I still found a winner. Called the Lobstacado, it’s an open-faced sandwich consisting of a toasted English muffin, mashed avocado, a healthy dose of lobster meat, topped with melted Muenster cheese. With this lovely creation I drank a Magner’s Irish cider. New to me, it was dry and crisp, just the way I like cider.

Side trip: a stop at Coddington Brew Company to sample their Blueberry Blonde Ale, which they serve up with fresh blueberries. Gotta love New England.

Dinner, however was a disappointment. Flo’s Clam Shack offers an all-you-can-eat crab dinner on Thursdays. Flo’s is an institution in Middletown/Newport, having been there since 1936 and surviving multiple hurricanes. We should’ve stuck to the clams. The crab was so waterlogged….blah. The view of Second Beach was amazing, though.

Cliffwalk and the mansions across the water.

Day two: Anthony’s Seafood was up. Originally a wholesale market, Anthony’s now has a small seating area. If you want fresh seafood, this is the place. Lobster, clams, oysters, shrimp, crab…they have it all. After pouring over their menu, I finally gave up and got a lobster roll. How can you go wrong? A traditional New England-style split top bun jam-packed with lobster meat? A squeeze of lemon juice and a side of Newport Storm Rhode Island Blueberry Ale. Smooth and fruity…. While we were there, we picked up some steamers, crab legs and a couple stuffies. Stuffies are a Rhode Island stuffed clam using big quahogs, bread crumbs, chourico and seasoning baked right in the shell. Pass the hot sauce and lemon juice!

Side trip: Greenvale Winery for a tasting. They make some lovely, crisp whites. Perfect for summer. Of course I bought two, a Vidal Blanc and their Skipping stone. Both are crisp, floraly wines but the Skipping Stone is a bit sweeter.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on a little beach, Island Park, down the road from my friend’s house. It was here that I had my first beer and sailboat experience. Newport Storm Amber Ale. An ocean breeze. A good friend.

We then met some of my friend’s friends at the nearby Beach House bar. Laughs over beers.

Sharon & John

Day three: the rain moved in. Lunch consisted of Anthony’s stuffies. Just one is big enough to be filling.

That afternoon I took a side trip to Bristol. It’s a waterfront town between Newport and Providence. It has all the historic charm of Newport without the summer crowd. I tucked into a little pub on the water, Aiden’s, and ordered up some Magner’s. I grazed on their appetizer menu and enjoyed the view of the rainy harbor.

Last day: picture day! The sun was out and there was a slight breeze. Perfect. I had failed to get many pictures the first few days mostly because I let the opportunities pass. This day would be different. We got in the car and did a tour of Aquidneck Island. I got some great harbor shots at Melville Grille, located at New England Boatworks, next to Newport’s Naval base. Here we sat on their patio, me sipping Magner’s Pear cider (awesome! Better than the regular) and enjoying the view. Too bad we ate the rest of our Anthony’s seafood, because the Melville smelled amazing! Next time…

We then meandered a bit longer, ending up at Anthony’s. We split a shrimp cocktail, almost enjoying the cocktail sauce more than the fresh, juicy shrimp. It’s definitely not Heinz. I cannot even describe the taste other than it was tangy, sharp and I think it had cilantro.

Newport Winery was right up the road, so we decided to stop and have a tasting. Newport Winery has a whole range of wines, from sweet dessert whites to big peppery reds. I tasted three whites and two reds before settling on two to purchase. I picked their velvety Merlot, and their Rising Tide a slightly dry white.

After a good long rest, it was time for my last meal in Rhode Island. We picked Scampi’s, a seafood restaurant with an Italian lean located near Island Park beach. I feasted. Appetizer was a bacon-wrapped bay scallops. Following that, I enjoyed a simple green salad topped with Saratoga Blue Cheese dressing. I want to find this cheese. The main course was lobster ravioli topped with a lobster bisque-style sauce and garnished with chopped tail meat. The pasta was fresh, as was the lobster. There was just enough sauce so the raviolis weren’t swimming. I didn’t need dessert after that. That meal was amazing. As we were eating, a storm rolled in. Luckily, we had a great view of the water. Such a beautiful sight.

Another Rhode Island vacation has come to a close. I can’t wait to go back… (I might actually take pictures of the food next time!)

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