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I’ve always had this picture in my head of “real” New England. I was born and raised here, I know how amazingly wonderful and varied this region is, but, still, there’s a part of me that narrows my dream to rocky coasts, cold waves, and fisherman’s shacks. I see myself there, a cross between Jessica Fletcher and the Owens women, solving crimes, reading and writing books, and making magic.

You’d be surprised how clear this dream is. I can see myself on a bright sunny morning, riding my bike to the local farmer’s market and stopping at the post office, book stores, and galleries along the way. The bike is blue with a removable wicker basket between the handle bars and one of those old-fashioned bells that goes ding-ding when you move the lever. I can smell the sea air and hear the gulls. I can feel the damp, salty ocean spray on my skin and hear the waves crashing on the rocks.

Over the past few years I’ve come to set this dream in Rockport, Massachusetts, specifically around Bearskin Neck. Quaint doesn’t begin to describe the strip of land cluttered with old, weathered homes converted to galleries, stores, and ice cream shops. It’s a lovely walk down to the edge of the sea where you can look out over the harbor and watch the sailboats bob on the waves or look overhead to see the stars, though you need to dodge the foraging baby skunks who come out after dark. Don’t worry, they’re not interested in you, they’ll fade away by the time you finish your shopping and dinner.

I’m waxing rhapsodic about this ding-ding dream of mine today because last week I ate dinner there, at My Place by the Sea. The patio was covered because it’s been rainy here, but we could still hear and smell the ocean as we ate. My husband had the barbecued lamb chops with baby asparagus and orzo salad, while I had the Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew. Amazing! The stew was thick with chorizo sausage, salmon, haddock, jumbo shrimp, and two whole clams in their shells floating on top. The broth was light and slightly spicy, tomatoey with a hint of basil. This was the perfect meal to have on a damp and chilly New England night. For dessert we listened to the waiter’s recommendation and split the Coco Daniel, a Brazilian coconut cake topped with peanut brittle ice cream. If all cakes were this moist and delicious I’d stop saying I don’t like cake, and the chunks of peanut brittle mixed with the ice cream made my eyes roll back in delight. A fabulous meal. I’d recommend reservations during nice weather, but if you’re willing to venture out to the patio–and you should be!–you can risk it during cooler times or later nights.

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll retire to an artist’s colony and live out my dream of solving crime while I read the tarot and serve tea in my bookstore next to the sea. In the meantime, I’m close enough to visit as often as I want, and visiting your dreams isn’t such a bad thing.

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Written by tldegray

July 27, 2009 at 11:00 pm

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