NEW ENGLAND VACATION

As those of you who keep up with my Facebook know, I was on vacation last week so I wasn’t able to write as many blog entries as I usually do. Once a year we usually visit family in New Hampshire and then my Mom’s friends in Maine but it seemed as if the fates were not with us this year so we decided to go somewhere new!

We started our trip in Mystic, CT. Last time we went to Foxwoods (Read the blog entry HERE) and took a pit stop in Mystic, CT it was Winter and not the opportune time to visit a seaside location. Since we needed a vacation and our usual trip wasn’t possible, we figured this was naturally the best place to visit, especially during the Summer, when one should be waterside. We stayed at the hotel Bellisimo Grande which was very nice. There was a pool, a gym, a bar & a restaurant but the best part (though we didn’t take advantage of it) was that they had a FREE limo service to Foxwoods Casino that runs until 11:30PM. The only down side was the charge for WiFi, $4.95 for 24 hours – I don’t know many hotels that still charge for WiFi but just a heads up if you’re looking for it.

Our first night we went into town and went to The Ancient Mariner for lunch/dinner. We ordered the Mariner Calamari (fried with snow peas, red peppers, and drizzled with garlic sesame and wasabi sauce). I love calamari anyway but add this bit of Asian fusion and not only did it add color but the taste was fantastic. The only down side was that the bottom group was soaking in the sauces and got slightly soggy but overall a great dish that I not only would order again but I want to try and make it. We also ordered the bait bucket (a steaming pot of fresh clams, scallops, mussels, shrimp and calamari in a scampi broth). They serve in on a plate, not in a pot, and it was all pretty good. Everything was cooked really well but in my opinion, I felt the taste was lacking a bit. The scampi broth was tasty shown by the amount of bread we went through dunking in there but if I’m going to order seafood, I want to taste fish and I didn’t taste fish, the flavor was there just not what I was looking for – which is probably good for those of you who don’t like the fishyness of fish!

After, we went to Mystic Sweets & Ice Cream Shoppe right by The Ancient Mariner & the Mystic drawbridge (there are two ice cream places on the street, this one is smaller on the right side facing the bridge). This was one of the only places we saw with gelato- I ordered Gianduja and it was very VERY good. It was cool to be able to sit outside and watch the drawbridge go up while eating gelato & people watching (a beautiful Summer night led to many people walking around, even though a lot of the stores were closed by that point ).

The next day we spent at Block Island, I’d never been there before so it was quite exciting to ride the ferry over to check it out. We started with lunch at Finn’s Seafood Restaurant (212 Water Street, Old Harbor) right by the water. You have the option to sit and be waited on, sit and get take-out or get take-out and actually take it out. We opted to get take-out and serve ourselves. We’re used to having lobster during our New England vacations so this was as good a time as any to have a lobster salad roll. I was rather hungry though so excuse the size of the lobster roll, by the time I realized I didn’t take a picture, I had already eaten half of it! The lobster salad roll was pretty good. Not too much mayonnaise, good sized chunks of lobster, overall I was satisfied but the quest was still onto find the best lobster on our trip!

For dessert was stopped by Beckett’s Authentic Gelato (Water St under National Hotel). My Mother ordered the Salty Caramel and I got the Raspberry Chip which was more icy than I expected. The Raspberry Chip was tasty and the chips had a rich chocolate flavor but nothing beats the Salty Caramel, that was the best! It wasn’t so much salty but the rich, smooth caramel flavor just melted in your mouth if the smell of it alone didn’t grab you in.

It was time to head back to Mystic and we still had lobster on our minds. I remembered seeing an ad for this place called Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (117 Pearl Street, Noank, CT) on a map we were looking at but in my Mom’s research, she hadn’t heard anything but we decided to check it out anyway. I don’t know how many people I’ve heard come back from a trip and say that the best food they had was in this “hole-in-the-wall” place in the middle of nowhere. If that is the case than we were in luck with Abbott’s because it was down these side streets in the middle of nowhere, a good 10 mins from the middle of town. In the middle of the pouring rain, we finally navigated and found it and decided to give it a try- and boy, we were happy we did that. We each ordered the hot lobster roll with a side of lobster bisque & an ear of corn and it was the best lobster I’ve had since last year when we had it right out of the water. The chunks of lobster were huge and the best part was that since this wasn’t a salad (there was one available) there was no mayo, just me and lobster separated by bread. My mouth is honestly watering just typing this all to you. The lobster was tender, flavorful, perfectly cooked to the point where I didn’t even think that we didn’t have butter because it was fine on it’s own. I ended up just taking off the bread and diving right in to the lobster.  The lobster bisque was creamy and the bits of shrimp added in didn’t even touch the strong lobster flavor you couldn’t help but enjoy. The ear of corn was unnecessary, not my favorite, not much flavor. I ate it first just so the lobster would last a bit longer and I wouldn’t finish it so quickly. We went back to the hotel more than satisfied I just wished we could’ve seen the view because it was raining so hard, I only assumed we were on the water. *NOTE– they don’t serve alcohol there but they allow you to bring your own, just don’t bring outside food and soft drinks!

The next day we went to the aquarium, it was really nice. We saw an exhibit on crittercam, the cameras they put on animals to explore them in their natural habitat. I got to pet a manta ray, make friends with jellyfish, watch a sea lion show, be entertained by a beluga whale and watch penguins eat!

Afterward, we were pretty hungry and since this was our last day in Mystic we really could’ve only decided on one place -Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough, again!

This time, the weather was beautiful so we were able to sit outside & watch the water. We ordered the hot lobster roll again but instead of the hot lobster bisque on this beautiful day we got the steamed clams in garlic and butter broth. The best part- well, the lobster is the best part- the second best part was the view. I loved being able to watch the water while eating fantastic lobster! The best way to end our Mystic experience- onto Foxwoods Casino for a night!

I started out at Foxwoods with a free $10 slot play for being a DreamCard holder (it’s free). I ended up walking away with $40 and never had to put in my own money! Our room at the Grand Pequot was beautiful (Free ethernet access in the room, free WiFi in the lobby). I love being at Foxwoods because even if you don’t gamble, it’s like a whole new world- nothing like anything you would experience elsewhere with music, stores, bars, restaurants, and then a little bit of gambling. The next morning, we left and went home, stopped by the Lee Outlets and ended up back in the 518! None of this was that terrible of a drive and Mystic is such a great town so if you need to get out of here & take a break on the water, look up Mystic and  don’t forget Abbott’s!!