Monday, June 23, 2014

LIGHTHOUSES, LOBSTERS...AND WHAT THE HELL'S A STUFFIE?

It only takes a couple of hours to drive from Clinton, Connecticut to Newport, Rhode Island.  The Paradise Park RV Campground is just a few miles from Newport in Middletown.  It’s a neat, small, grassy campground with full hook-up, good WIFI and no other amenities. The daily rate is on the high side and they charge $8 per day extra if you plan use your electric water heater.  We opt to use our propane.  It’s been awhile since we’ve used gas to heat our water and the pilot fails to light.  But Chris goes all MacGyver with a toothpick, unplugs the valve and we have hot water!

Kung Pao Ka Pow!
When checking in we get the 411 on local attractions and the best restaurants to sample the local delicacies. (Translation: Lobster, Clams and Stuffies – a Rhode Island delicacy)  Once we get situated we check out our handy Urbanspoon app and head over to Anthony’s Seafood.  Anthony’s Stuffies (a Quahog - pronounced Ko-hog - clam stuffed with chopped clam meat, chourico, onions, peppers, bread stuffing and spices) and Kung Pao Calamari (Fried squid rings with hot peppers, plum chili sauce, peanuts and scallions) were featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives and if it’s good enough for Guy… well we have to try it!

We arrive at the late lunch/early dinner hour and the place is slow.  At the counter we order, two spicy Stuffies, Kung Pao Calamari and Fried Clam Strips then take a seat in the dining area to await our food.  The atmosphere is casual and the place begins to fill up. Our food is delivered piece meal. Each dish arrives as soon as it comes out of the kitchen so everything is absolutely hot and crisp. The Stuffies arrive first - clamshells packed with their spicy clam stuffing.  They are tasty, with a good clam flavor and a bit of spice and very filling. The Kung Pao Calamari is tender with a light crispy batter the sauce is perfect, not too much or too little and the scallions and peanuts add a bit of zest and crunch.  This is one amazing dish – the best ever! The fried clam strips are last to arrive, they perfectly fried – tender and light. They come with fries but after the Stuffies and Calamari we have to eave them on the plate.  This meal is so wonderful; we return a couple of days later and do it all over again (But we only order one Stuffie to share.)
Anthony's Seafood on Urbanspoon

(Another dining recommendation is Flo’s Calm Shack. We drop by and try their “Famous” Stuffies and Clam Cakes.  It’s very disappointing, lots of stuffing and very little clam or anything else.)


Excessive Opulence

Coastline
In Newport we stroll the Cliff Walk along the eastern shore. This world famous public access walk combines the natural beauty of the Newport shoreline with the architectural history of Newport’s gilded age. It is a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District. To the east - cliffs and ocean and the western side is lined with the excessive mega mansions of the uber rich from the nineteenth century. It’s a delightful way to spend a sunny afternoon.



View from the Fort
We drive along the ten-mile scenic route and stop at Fort Adams, the largest and most complex fortress in North America. Our timing is perfect to catch a guided tour through the fort.  Our guide is a quintessential New Englander with the dry wit, attitude and accent.  We tour the public areas of the fort and venture behind locked doors and gates to: view the officers quarters, Ascend to the scenic overlook for great views of Newport Harbor, Learn about current and future restoration and finally descend into the labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath the walls of the fort.  Afterward we are awarded a Fort Adams Tunnel Rat Patch as a memento.



The Columbia
Spindrift II
You can’t visit Rhode Island without viewing lighthouses so we book a Rhode Island Lighthouses & Newport Harbor Tour.  While waiting in the queue we strike up a conversation with another couple.  They mention that they are staying at a local campground and we ask if they have an RV. “No” the woman replies, “We have an Airstream.”  So until we board the conversation revolves around the shiny trailers and places we’ve traveled.  We board the Millennium, a high speed jet propelled catamaran and cruise the Narragansett Bay and Newport harbor.  The thirty mile narrated voyage takes us past islands, mansions and ten lighthouses. (Well, nine lighthouses and one rubble foundation.) It’s a gorgeous day and lots of folks are out on the water, the Columbia (Winner of the 1958 America’s Cup) sails past us along with boats of various sizes and shapes, Tall Ships to Jester Dinghies, it’s a sight to behold.  We also pass the Spindrift II – an ultra modern high-speed trimaran that looks like a floating Klingon war ship. Lots of pics on this trip!

Nine Lighthouses

Only the foundation remains of  Whale Rock 


We spend a little time wandering the piers in Newport and stop at the Aquidneck Lobster Company, to check out the lobster tanks.  Behind the store is the Lobster bar, and our tummies are craving lobster.  We get a seat on the deck with 180-degree views of Newport Harbor.  After ordering a couple of cocktails, we decide on the Prix Fix Special for two:  Raw platter of Oysters, clams and Shrimp, Steamer Clams and two one and a quarter pound lobsters, we order one steamed and one stuffed and baked.  This is a pricey special dinner and we are so not disappointed.  The oysters, clams and shrimp are fresh and tasty and the cocktail sauce with a generous splash of horseradish is outstanding.  The steamers are in a light broth with onions, and on the side - ramekins of clarified butter for dipping they are sweet and succulent.  And then the main event, the LOBSTER… One steamed to perfection and the other baked with scallops and stuffing. These also come with lots of butter.  A side of rice pilaf and a Caesar salad complete the meal.  It’s a lot of food, but we enjoy every bite!


YUM!
The Aquidneck Lobster Bar on Urbanspoon

The Ocean State is pretty amazing... it may be the smallest state but it’s big on attractions… and amazing food… so we will add it to our list of places to return to… but we have a date with Cape Cod, so we’re off…

k


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