"The Cape is known for its abundance of seafood, but there's also a thriving local food scene"
One of the great pleasures in life is summer vacation, and when it's spent on Cape Cod, the pleasures are limitless. Long sandy stretches of beaches, an awesome bike trail, historic lighthouses, beautiful sunsets over Cape Cod bay, and best of all, fresh seafood plucked right from the ocean and served up simply, with butter, broth and a bit of salt and pepper.
We have a blast cooking dinner at our house in Brewster. There's a fish market right down the road that we can walk to, and their lobsters, fish, oysters and littlenecks are so fresh that you almost want to eat them walking home. We also go out for fried clam rolls, lobster rolls, fried oysters and more.
The Cape is known for its abundance of seafood, but there's also a thriving local food scene, with acclaimed restaurants and a Saturday farmer's market up the road in Orleans— the only farmers' market I've been to where you can actually buy lobster, clams and oysters. Anywhere you go around here, roadside stands dot the country lanes, selling fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes, garden lettuce, sweet juicy peaches and more.
Wellfleet is the place on the Cape best known for its oysters, but my dad has a license to collect fresh oysters in Brewster, and he swears the Brewster oysters are just as good as Wellfleet's, if not better.
There are also lots of little holes in the wall, including Hole-in-One in Orleans, where you can find amazing breakfasts – cranberry walnut pancakes, fresh-baked donuts, muffins and scones, eggs benedict, seafood omelets and croissants that taste like they came straight from Paris.
After a day and night of eating on the Cape, I have to do a three-mile walk the next day to make sure I stay in shape and can eat again that day and night. It's hard, I know, but someone's gotta do it!
Here are a few easy recipes for some of Cape Cod's signature dishes.
Lobster Rolls (From Cape Cod Table, by Lara Brody)
1 pound fresh cooked lobster meat, tail and claw, cut into one-inch pieces
1/3 cup prepared mayonnaise
Juice of 1 small lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 split-top hot dog rolls
2 to 4 leaves Boston lettuce, rinsed and dried
Put lobster in mixing bowl and stir in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Melt butter in a skillet over high heat until sizzling, then add the hot dog rolls, coating each side with butter. Cook rolls on each side, pressing light with flat spatula, until they turn crisp and brown.
Line rolls with lettuce, heap on the lobster mix and serve immediately.
Beer-Fried Oysters (From Cape Cod Table, by Lara Brody)
Serves 4 as an entrée or 6 as an appetizer
2 dozen large oysters, shucked
1 cup oyster cracker crumbs
¼ cup beer
1 extra large egg, beaten slightly
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
Drain liquid from oysters and dry well with paper towels. Line a tray with paper towels. Place cracker crumbs in a small bowl. Mix beer, egg, salt and pepper to taste in another bowl.
Melt shortening in medium-width deep skillet or electric frying pan. Shortening should be 1 ½ to 2 inches deep, so that oysters are completely submerged. Dip oysters one a time into egg mixture and then crumbs, rolling them around to completely coat them. Lower oysters into hot shortening using a slotted spoon, cooking 3 or 4 at a time. Cook for 1 to 1 ½ minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the oysters using the slotted spoon to the tray lined with paper towels to drain.
Serve immediately with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.
Steamers (From Cape Cod Table, by Lara Brody)
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup white wine
1 cup clam juice
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks with leaves, cut into 1-inch slices
6 dozen littleneck clams
½ cup butter, melted
Place wine, clam juice, onion and celery in a large pot on high heat and bring a boil. Add the clams, cover the pot and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 6 to 9 minutes, or until shells open. Pour cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer into a serving bowl. Discard the clams that have not opened.
Serve steamers with the broth and a bowl of melted butter for dipping.