Don’t leave the peninsula without taste-testing these local delicacies –cocktails and clams, anyone?
Clams are to Cape Cod what pasta is to Italy. There are many kinds and things can get confusing so here’s a handy tip. Most traditional (soft-shell) clams are “steamers”, which are steamed open and then served with bowls of hot water and melted butter – the first to rid the clam of sand, the second to make it delicious. Of the many “raw bars” in Cape Cod serving steamers, Raw Bar (252 Shore Drive, Mashpee) is particularly popular among beach crowds and those finishing up after a long day of golf.
Let’s be clear: a quahog is a clam but a clam may not be a quahog. Quahogs are the giant, hard-shell ones, usually diced up and thrown into legendary New England chowder or stuffed, Portuguese style, with linguiça sausage. The stuffed quahog is a Cape Cod delicacy. Good ones can be found at Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar (3580 Route 6, Eastham), where Susie Buckley has trademarked her personal recipe. The quahogs come from local waters, though almost everything else beyond the cracker crumb is a mystery. “Susie’s secret ingredient is love!” proclaims the website. Whatever it is, these behemoth snacks are revered for a reason.
Homemade ice-cream seems to be sold on every street corner of Cape Cod but the frontrunner is Four Seas Ice Cream (360 S Main Street, Centerville), which has been serving scoops since 1934. The weatherboard shack – once a blacksmith’s shop – is a hallucinatory spectacle: fishing nets draped from the ceiling, a floor that slopes in seven different directions, carnival style. (“We’ve been here for a long time!” a server says by way of explanation.) Flavours include penuche (pecan fudge), lemon crisp and cranberry sherbet. The mint chocolate chip, coloured pink, is worth the side-trip.
Oddly, Four Seas Ice Cream is also known for its lobster rolls (as is Raw Bar). Then again, lobster rolls – sweet hot-dog buns stuffed full of white meat drowned in butter – are virtually everywhere on Cape Cod so singling out the best one on Cape Cod would be a controversial exercise. Let it be said instead that very good ones can be had at Moby Dick’s (3225 Route 6, Wellfleet) “with just a touch of mayo”. Grab a dozen Wellfleet oysters to start – and don’t forget the beer.
Being a popular summer destination, Cape Cod is a good place to indulge in a cheeky drink. One local favourite is the Goombay Smash, a rum-based cocktail full of pineapple and orange slices. Goombay is the house beverage at the Beachcomber (1120 Cahoon Hollow Road, Wellfleet), which is carefully hidden on the edge of Cahoon Hollow Beach. “It’s social, hysterical and relaxing in a Jimmy Buffett kind of way,” explains a regular, pointing to the surfboard bolted to the ceiling and the casual plastic chairs. After a few Goombay Smashes, it begins to look like paradise.