Dateline – Connecticut seashore

Counter dwellers at Clem and Ursie's in PTown

I’m back East this week in Connecticut on the seashore in historic Madison. Historic not for any particular reason as far as I can tell other than it dates back hundreds of years. I’m sure some famous old Puritan (John Winthrop perhaps?) slept here once. Or was this the spot where that woman with the scarlet letter lived, near the priest who fucked her but wouldn’t save her? Well, whatever, it’s all pretty close – New England being about as big as Los Angeles county.

Funny how everyone here is in complaint mode – it’s warm and humid, very pleasant, Hawaii-like. The way the locals talk about it you’d think they were being sunboarded. My suggestions so far about enjoying a meal outdoors – many of the cafes and restaurants have seating areas outside – have met with anything from polite harumphs indicating I must be joking, to open derision.

The night I arrived a friend and I had dinner at a local spot called Lenny and Joe’s – basically a seafood shack with counter orders and a menu laden with local fish, lobster and other shellfish to be broiled or fried to order. The sides are cole slaw, fries and fresh steamed and buttered Connecticut corn. Mounds of tartar sauce and tomato-ey cocktail sauces complete the picture. For those out there who have been to Provincetown on Cape Cod, you may fondly recall the locally famous Clem and Ursie’s, now defunct. It’s like that – except for the defunct part.

I had sea scallops that were so fresh, sweet and well cooked they were like little deep-fried scallop marshmallows. Hmmm – somehow that doesn’t sound good at all but trust me, these were divine!

Last night we followed my GPS into New Haven, near the Yale campus, to a new spot called Caseus – latin for cheese. A cute and well-done restaurant in a former cheese-cellar. I guess that’s a New England take on our Queeristan wine-cellars. Intimate, atmospheric and the food was top-notch. Again, we had the option to dine al fresco but opted for the coolness of the brick-lined and barrel-vaulted cellar. The arugula salad with coppa shavings, burrata and a lemony vinaigrette was summer incarnate for me. My companion had a cheeseburger on brioche – I didn’t taste but could see that the burger was done perfectly medium rare as requested, and the cheese was one of the shop’s Vermont cheddars – a very upscale and locavore touch for a comforting meal.


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