For all intents and purposes, I am a New Englander. My family moved to the great state of Maine when I was 4 years old and with few exceptions, I’ve never left. College in Rhode Island and a resident of Massachusetts ever since, I like New England. I feel safe in New England. I explain to Ed that I won’t leave New England because bad things happen in other places. Like hurricanes (Florida). And earthquakes (California).
So as I was sitting in my office on the 15th floor of a building in Cambridge, MA this week, keeping an eye on the weather forecast that included the possibility of a hurricane this weekend, I was surprised to feel a gentle…sway. Glancing up, my door was moving back and forth on its own as I moved to join the rest of the 15th floor residents gathered at the window to witness the remaining few seconds of the 5.8 earthquake that emanated from Virginia and was rumored to be felt as far north as my beloved state of Maine.
Now it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m ensconced on the couch with two wet-bellied dogs who just came in from a very close and personal inspection of the damage to our property caused by Tropical Storm Irene. Aside from a few downed branches and a power surge that occurred while I was at the movies with my parents yesterday (if you haven’t seen The Help, I highly recommend it), we’ve come through relatively unscathed and I’m happy to spend this lazy Sunday afternoon taste testing one of the tastiest concoctions ever to come out New Orleans and catching up on the culinary adventures I experienced during the month of August.
On August 11th, Ed and I were fortunate enough to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a fabulous trip to The Caves all-inclusive resort in Negril, Jamaica. From the Cliffhanger (the combination of fresh watermelon and Appleton run which greets all new arrivals) to the individual cottages (we stayed in Blue Dolphin), from the fresh fruit at breakfast to the worth-every-dollar $6 jerk chicken dinner on Wednesday nights, this place is amazing. We dined on curried goat and roasted lobster. We floated in the ocean. We played poker and won almost $3,000 Jamaican dollars on our last night in town.
And then there were the Feats of Strength. Or in this case, the Tests of Courage. Our particular section of Negril is not famous for beaches, but boasts some incredible cliff jumping opportunities. Our first afternoon at The Caves involved a rather fantastic pool party with our new friends (SJ, Chris, Arturas & Antony), and after watching several other guests take the plunge, my curiosity got the best of me. In the end, not even a shot of tequila could convince me to jump that night, though on the morning of our anniversary I managed a 20-foot jump while completely sober. A few fun, fearful and fabulous moments later, I emerged from the ocean and was already making plans to shake off the salt water and jump again that afternoon following our scheduled couples massage.
Little did I suspect that I would survive the cliff jump only to trip while returning from the massage and manage to tear open my knee, the result of which provided a lovely souvenir to carry back from the island (with the added bonus of a trip to the doctor and the acquisition of a heavy-duty topical antibiotic). My knee continues to heal, but I can’t stop my mind from returning to the blue of the water, the scent of the air & the fabulous-ness of a place that encourages guests to step behind the bar and pour their own drinks once the staff has gone to bed.
Upon returning from Jamaica in the wee early hours of the weekend, my next stop was a week-long work event at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, CT. And while a mostly expense-paid week living at a casino sounds grand on the surface, the truth is it’s about about 3 days too many (here’s where I give a shout out to my infected knee injury which allowed me to come home a day early). I was placed on Dinner Captain duty for two of the 5 nights I was there (i.e. responsible for making sure no one ordered a cocktail valued at more that $15 or a bottle of wine valued at more than $50) and enjoyed meals at Alta Strata, Shrine, Craftsteak (I loved the individually-baked pans of Parker House roles) and David Burke Prime (popovers as the pre-meal bread option? Brilliant!) while I was there. I also walked away with $500 that was not in my pocket when I arrived, so in the end, I can’t complain.
We closed out the month with our annual trip to Hampton Beach, NH for KB’s Party Like It’s Clambake #9. I missed Friday’s poker tourney (congrats to Brian for grabbing his first trophy), but the rest of the weekend was glorious. As usual, we boarded at The Ashmore and hit most of our old haunts including the Sea Ketch, the Purple Urchin and new favorite, the Boardwalk Cafe. I added another toe ring, survived having lobster juice poured over my knee injury and am already looking forward to whatever shenanigans next year will bring, as the 10th annual is sure to pack a wallop.
Now that we’re finally home and the storm seems to have passed, we’re slowly beginning to reintroduce ourselves to our kitchen. Ed made a wondrous pot of chili the other night and I cooked up some bacon & eggs this morning. More recipes and food porn to follow, but for now let’s raise a Hurricane to Irene and be thankful she passed us by with a whimper instead of a bang.