Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Vacation From My Vacation

Every summer that I've known my husband, we've taken time to go to his parents' summer house in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I'd never even heard of Cape Ann before I met him, and now I can't imagine anywhere better to spend time in the summer. Good Harbor Beach is five minutes away by car, our boys love it, and even the laziest dog in the world (Graham) perks up a bit at the beach. Now that the boys are competent and confident swimmers, we don't have to keep a constant eye on them, and sometimes I can lose myself in a book for fifteen minutes or so while my husband builds dribble castles close to the (very tame) surf with them.

One of the best parts about any vacation is the total relaxation of any rules regarding personal hygiene, bedtimes and, best of all, healthy eating. Not that it's not easy to eat all the great local fruits and vegetables grown on the many farms around Gloucester and Rockport, and we consistently have the BEST corn on the cob there, year after year; but what, after all, is that Gloucester port best known for if not fish? And running a close second is what we think is the best, best clam shack ever, Woodman's of Essex. We've tried J.T. Farnham's and the Clam Box, which are both really good, but Woodman's is our go-to.

Imagine my delight that Brooke Dojny covered it extensively in both editions of her New England Clam Shack Cookbook. She really liked it, too--and frankly, what's not to like? You can pull into the parking lot, watch the fishermen unloading the lobsters into the outdoor tank, and then tell them which one you want them to cook for you. In no time at all, they're calling your name and you're helping yourself to a cup of drawn butter from the giant vat in the main dining room. Woodman's is the only restaurant I know that has a subtitle, "Dining in The Rough," and you can eat at wooden tables outside beside the parking lot. Rule relaxation for me comes in the form of the fried...I really try to keep my family on the healthy straight and narrow, and for the most part, they humor me. But when we get to Woodman's, there's a visible shaking off of any attempt at calorie consciousness, and everybody gets the Fried New England Dinner: clams, clams, clams, fish, and french fries. Fried to a golden deliciousness. You can get steamers, too, which I usually order, along with onion rings--and I kid myself that the healthy steamers somehow overpower the onion rings in my arteries. These meals always end up with hundreds of Wet-Naps strewn around the table and lots of belching...and then we head over to The Junction for homemade ginger ice cream. And so to bed.

See you at Woodman's!

— Amy Greeman, Storey Publicity Director

1 comment:

Alethea Morrison, Storey Creative Director said...

We've used that book to go clam shack touring, and I think that Woodman's is my favorite too. It's all about lobster rolls for me, though.