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Other than the occasional snowstorm and too-cold winter days, we love living in New England so much. I’m partial to warm weather day trips from Boston (Hello, coastal living at its best.), but wintry getaways like my visit to Amherst this year can also be beautiful. This past weekend for my birthday we took advantage of blue skies and sunshine despite the cold and visited some favorite coastal Massachusetts towns, Newburyport and Essex.

The Poynt Newburyport

After a traffic-free drive, we kicked our day off with brunch at The Poynt, which is  beautiful, must-visit Newburyport spot. Seriously, I love it. It’s spacious and bright and friendly, with excellent food.

The Poyntchilaquiles

We couldn’t decide what to order and ended up sharing two of the best looking dishes, the Roasted Chicken Chilaquiles, which was smothered in the most amazing smoky red sauce, and the Cajun Bennie, another smoky, slightly spicy dish topped with blackened shrimp.

All washed down with Piper Heidseck Champagne because it was my birthday weekend, after all.

 

eggs benedict

 

Heidseck Monopole Champagne

We left brunch absolutely stuffed, and I needed a long walk. We tried our best at a few seaside locations, but the whipping winds were freezing our faces off, so we turned into Newburyport and enjoyed sunny sidewalks sheltered from the coastal winds by stone buildings.

Newburyport

And then we went in search of beer. We discovered two great breweries with tasting rooms and delicious, free beer tastings. RiverWalk Brewing Co. was our first stop, a delightful little tasting room with some killer beer, including a sour I loved. The only downside was that our arrival coincided with a brewery bus tour full of REALLY loud drunk women. As in, my ears actually, physically hurt. We left with a half growler of Gnomad, an American farmhouse ale we both loved.

Riverwalk Brewing Co Newburyport Brew Co

At Newburyport Brewing Co. our favorites were the two stouts we tried, especially the Joppa Stout.

We couldn’t believe tasting flights were free, and we plan to return to hang out and order pints (and growlers!) again soon. We’re going away again soon and didn’t want to have the fresh beer go bad.

beer tasting in Newburyport

Post-beer-tasting led to more wandering, including checking out some of the great shops in Newburyport, waking ourselves up with a giant coffee, and then hitting the road for Essex for an early light dinner at CK Pearl.

CK Pearl scallop sabayon fish tacosOysters and rosé led into fish tacos and an almost bowl-lickingly amazing scallop sabayon, a slightly sweet, creamy soup. We couldn’t get enough of the views, and stayed until the sky turned as pink as the wine in my glass before heading home, not wanting the day to end.

Essex River

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Tags: brewery, Essex, Massachusetts, Newburyport, oysters, Travel, wine

That’s Massachusetts for you. Just when you think you’ve discovered all of your favorite MA beaches, seaside towns, and waterside watering holes, friends have suggestions for more, and locals lead you in new directions. The possibilities of summer in Massachusetts are endless; why is the season so short?! Next year, we are taking a week off for a staycation. I long to have extra days to sip and linger at Westport Rivers Sunset Music Series and trips to Horseneck Beach and to camp at Spectacle Island or hike at World’s Endto take the ferry to Provincetown, not to mention to indulge in the bounty of the sea and local farms. It is summer, and I am in my annual love affair with Massachusetts.

 

Our July 3 truly felt like a holiday. We got together with friends and headed North to the sweet town of Ipswich where we were introduced to Salt Kitchen & Rum Bar and instantly saw why it is a local favorite. And it’s not just because they offer so many different types of rums, including local option Privateer. The interior is adorably  coastal and rustic, staff is friendly and warm, and the food was delicious.

Salt Rum Bar

I loved my Big Foot cocktail, which included Ragged Mountain Rum, Chipotle Maple Syrup, and Lime, for a sweet and spicy kick.

 

Big Foot rum cocktail For lunch I indulged in the Lobster Wellington, which was amazing, with its tender sweet lobster and corn in a flaky puff pastry, served with a salad to balance it out.

Lobster Wellington During lunch we learned that our destination, Crane Beach, was at capacity, which 1) made it impossible to go there but 2) made us not really want to even attempt it if it was that crowded. Luckily, bartenders and bar patrons always have the best knowledge, and we were on our way to a hidden gem of a beach nearby that turned out to be even better than our first choice. The water and sky were perfectly blue, and it felt so good to be on the hot sand. The water, on the other hand, was a little chilly, as you can see from my bracing below. Still, it was all so perfect, the quintessential New England summer day, so very welcome after a hellish winter.

beach in Ipswich

Since laying at the beach works up quite an appetite, we stopped at CK Pearl on our way home. This was another new-to-us spot, and it is a new favorite. The deck is right on the water, providing great views of beautiful nature and boats.

CK Pearl

CK Pearl The filter for this photo is sunscreen. I love it.

 

Our waterside feast included Octopus Carpaccio and oysters, paired with bubbly, of course. CK Pearl is an amazing spot to relax, and it’s right across the street from the famous Woodman’s if you also need a fried clam fix. We’ll definitely be back this summer.

Octopus Carpaccio    oysters  I took a little over a week off from blogging to visit family, get lots of work done, and enjoy a holiday weekend, and I am now excited and refreshed and looking forward to catching up on all of your blogs and updating my own.

Cheers to the best month of the year!

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Tags: beaches, cocktails, Food, Ipswich, Massachusetts, oysters, rum, staycation, summer, vacation, wine

Summer weather calls for patio dining, cold cocktails, and lots of seafood. Coastal living is at its best this time of year, and Boston chefs are certainly doing a good job showcasing the bounty of our beautiful seas.

Select Oyster Bar

From the first time I heard about Select Oyster Bar, I couldn’t wait to try it. I absolutely loved Neptune Oyster when Chef Serpa was there (worst photos in a blog post EVER) and attended a delicious Backyard Farms event where he made an amazing lobster Caprese. When two of my favorite ladies and I decided to get together for dinner, Select was at the top of our list.

We got a coveted seat on their small patio behind the restaurant and tucked into the menus, definitely having a difficult time not choosing everything. We started with a round of cocktails, mine, a classic and refreshing Hemingway Daiquiri.

cocktails

We proceeded to share a bunch of plates, each of which surprised and delighted us with unique flavors and freshness.

salmon crudo

Salmon Crudo with Pistachio Oil and Lime was tender and tart, nice and light for a warm summery evening.

lobster salad

The dressed lobster let the Maine lobster be the star of the show, with hints of lemon and herbs, a simple, luxurious dish.

Oysters

We had to have oysters at Select Oyster Bar, and we chose a selection of mostly East Coast oysters with three Kumamoto oysters thrown in for balance. Wellfleet and Island Creek oysters proved once again to be my favorite, briny, slightly creamy, the taste of summer.

octopus

The octopus was a standout for me. I love grilled octopus, and this was perfection.

squid

We were all really excited about the squid special, but it was the least favorite item of the night. It was still good, but not something we would order again, given the selection.

hamachi

Flash Seared Hamachi was another favorite. Its meatiness paired well with lime slaw and whipped avocado.

bubbly and lobster Select has a great wine list with interesting and affordable choices by the glass and bottle. We toasted with a bottle of Mercat Cava, which was great with all of the seafood dishes and fun for a Thursday night celebrating nice weather and friends.

I would return to Select Oyster Bar again and again, for oysters and cocktails and to try all of the menu items that we missed. It’s a great addition to the Boston dining scene.

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Tags: Boston, coastal living, cocktails, Dining out, dinner, oysters, Restaurants, seafood, wine

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