Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer Vacation and Dining "In the Rough"

We had just unloaded the car of a week's worth of luggage, coolers and beach gear (this after sitting in the car for over three hours in traffic) when it dawned on us that we had hungry mouths to feed. It was our first day of vacation - our first family vacation on Cape Cod - and instead of slaving in the kitchen, we were eager to check out some local eateries. Props to my brother-in-law for the suggestion, we loaded the boys back in the car and made the short drive to Mac's Seafood at Wellfleet pier for dinner.

Our oasis after the afternoon from hell

Described as a "glorified clam shack," Mac's Seafood was just what we needed: feet-in-the-sand seating, a beach for the boys to explore (after being stuck in the car all afternoon), a diverse menu, and a perfect view of the sunset.

Take-out window before the lengthy lines started to form
Mac's is what you would expect from a New England clam shack -- no-frills fried seafood you order at the window and pick-up on plastic trays. What we didn't expect was the menu selection -- grilled fish, sushi, burritos, vegetarian options and wraps. Every summer we treat ourselves to a fried seafood platter, so this was no exception. We ordered the fish and chips and clam roll (whole bellied clams of course).

Picnic tables on the sand overlooking the bay
We grabbed an empty picnic table and the boys took off to explore the beach while we waited for our food.

Mayo Beach just steps away
It wasn't long until our number was called for us to pick-up our dinner at the window. The boys were starving and had little patience as I snapped a photo of the fish and chips platter.

Fish n' Chips
Mac's Fish 'n Chips includes breaded fresh native codfish, cole slaw and fries. The fish was delicate and delicious. The fries were a little soggy but that didn't stop the boys from inhaling them. The cole slaw was fresh and lightly dressed - a nice balance from all the fried goodness I was about to consume. A bit pricey ($16.50), but probably some of the freshest fried fish I've ever had.

The clam roll was also a hit with the boys and umdaddy (I didn't even get a chance to snap a photo). And for $8, a pretty good deal for seafood caught within five miles of the joint. My only regret was not ordering a grilled fish dinner. A couple joined our picnic and feasted on grilled salmon, herbed rice, steamed veggies and ponzu dipping sauce. It looked delicious and tried my best not to drool on their food. To top off the evening, we went back to the window and ordered ice cream and frappes.

Mac's Seafood Market in Eastham, MA
Mac's is so popular, they've opened a fine dining establishment down the road (Mac's Shack) and run several markets selling fresh fish and shellfish. We purchased mussels, steamers and lobsters from their Eastham location during our vacation. If you're looking for solid, fresh seafood for the family, Mac's Seafood is an institution that can't be missed.

Mac's Seafood Market & Grill
265 Commercial Street
Wellfleet, MA 02667
(508) 349-9611

Macs Seafood Market & Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tropical Mash

Meals on our family vacation this summer have featured quintessential New England fare: fresh seafood and farm stand veggies and fruit. Meals have been no-fuss, no-muss - just the way I like it when I'm on vacation. Sure I have more time to meal plan and cook without the daily distractions of home. But that just cuts into time at the beach and naps!

So here's a simple side dish that will make you feel as if you're on a tropical vacation thanks to Alton Brown. Make yourself a fruity drink with an umbrella and you're at your beach-side cabana.


Tropical Mash
Adapted from Alton Brown, "I'm Just Here for the Food."

INGREDIENTS:
4 small sweet potatoes, perforated in several places with a fork or knife
1 large banana, perforated
1 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons butter
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Cook potatoes until soft (Alton calls for grilling them over indirect heat for an hour. I was short on time so cooked in the microwave and finished in the oven).
  2. Grill the banana over direct heat until the peel is black and the inside is very soft. Let the potatoes and banana cool.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk and butter. Peel the skin from the potatoes and the banana and put them in a mixing blow. Pour in some of the coconut milk and mash the potato and banana, adding liquid as needed. Season with salt and pepper. 
The Good: Easy to prepare with few ingredients. The boys loved this and asked for more.

The Bad: The mash did not come out as smooth as I would have liked. Will try grilling the potatoes or roasting in oven longer.

Grade: B+. A sweet (but heavy) side dish perfect for the summer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Things I Learned At My First Blogger Event

I attended my first blogger event yesterday thanks to Healthworks Fitness. Being new to the blogger scene, I had no idea what to expect. I've read posts from other bloggers recounting events geared just for them - and they sounded great! It should come to no surprise how excited I was to get this evite:


Chance to check out a Bosu class at one of Boston's best gyms? Trip to the farmer's market and picnic in Copley Square? Chance to meet some great local bloggers? Yes, yes and yes!

Unfortunately I was not able to make the first half of the event due to some last minute emergencies. I was truly bummed to be missing what I heard was a killer workout (check out post from foodfitnessfashion). Not only was I in need of a good workout, but as a former Healthworks member, I really miss the amazing facilities, welcoming staff and kid-friendly facilities.

So I joined the group of 13 other bloggers in the lobby at the Back Bay location at 6pm. Judith Forman, Events and Partnerships Marketing Coordinator, gave a quick overview of the rest of the day and introduced representatives from Whole Foods Market, Joos, and Mix Bakery.

Event coordinator extraordinaire Judith Forman
Judith invited us bloggers to take our pictures of the "green bag" meals from Whole Foods. It was fun watching everyone whip out their cameras and compose their shots. For the first time, I did not feel awkward breaking out my camera to take a picture of a meal before eating it (my family is growing tired of this habit I'm afraid!).

my product shot and sandwich selection

After everyone grabbed their meal of choice, we headed over to Copley Square to enjoy a casual picnic in the grass. As Linay and Melissa of Whole Foods Fresh Pond and Whole Foods Brighton explained Whole Foods' "health starts here" initiative, I thoroughly enjoyed my picnic dinner. The sandwich was fantastic - incredible bread and fresh ingredients. Ginormous bowl of fresh fruit was great the next morning. And my favorite was the orange cashew quinoa salad. It was light, slightly sweet and perfect for a warm summer night.

bloggers listen to reps from WFM talk about "health start here"

what's for dinner: turkey on sprouted grain bread, fruit salad, quinoa salad
We then were introduced to Lauri and Marissa from Joos and got to sample juices made from organic veggies, roots and herbs and a joosbite, mini muffins made from juice pulp. I thought the juice was pretty tasty, but admit that I would have a hard time slurping down a whole bottle (especially at $8.50 a bottle - yikes). The joosbite was moist and delicious.

organic, nutrient-rich juices from joos
And last but not least, we were treated to delicious cupcakes from Mix Bakery. As I proclaimed in my post about Cupcake Camp, Mix Bakery cupcakes are by far my favorite in New England. These cupcakes were so addictive, it was easy to see why the bloggers kept going back for more (check out We Are Not Martha's fun post on this).

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting
So what did I learn at my first blogger event?
  • It's perfectly acceptable to take pictures of everything and anything
  • You'll likely need to introduce yourself by your blog name first before your actual first name
  • Bloggers are truly sincere and supportive of one another. I was so glad to have met these fabulous gals:

I had a great time at my first blogger event. It was laid-back and casual (maybe the workout mellowed everyone out). But after the day I had, it was just my speed.  

A big thank you to Healthworks for hosting a great event. And if you're in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chestnut Hill, or Salem, be sure to check out Healthworks. Click here for a FREE three-day pass for umommy readers!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Gastrokid All-Purpose Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables Dressing

I admit it. I've experienced that twinge of jealousy when I hear about someone's kid cheering over carrots and hummus, popping grape tomatoes into his mouth as if they were M&M's, or happily chowing down a salad. My boys will eat their share of veggies, but usually if its in a sauce or masked by other ingredients in a dish (check out the recipe for stuffed shells).

A big tip I see all the time on getting kids to expand their culinary palettes is to get them to help you cook. My oldest son will happily help in the kitchen, especially if it involves using a fun kitchen tool or mixing ingredients together. One of our favorite kitchen gadgets is the PalmPeeler by Chef'n. It tucks right into little hands and makes peeling veggies easy and fun.

Fig 1: Boy peeling carrot

Except my boy is not easily fooled. Just because he helped prepare a dish doesn't mean he *has* to eat it. Sigh.

So when I came across "The Gastrokid All-Purpose Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables Dressing" recipe, I had to give it a try. It's the first recipe in The Gastrokid Cookbook by Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans. It features the "three most powerful tools in a cook's repertoire" (fat, salt and acid). You know the saying, "It's all in the sauce." 


The Gastrokid All-Purpose Get Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies Dressing
Adapted from "The Gastrokid Cookbook"

INGREDIENTS:
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
4-5 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon Honey (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a bowl, combine the vinegar, pinch of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper and whisk until the salt is dissolved.

2. Whisk in the oil, mustard, shallots and honey (if using)

3. Drizzle on salad, raw cut-up veggies or steamed vegetables

The Good: Easy to whip up and keep a big jar in the fridge. 

The Bad: My kids hated it.

Grade: B. Honey did help cut the tartness. I will make this again, at least for myself, but will try using another acid (lemon juice) or different brand of red wine vinegar.

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