Vacation, Annisquam 2010

Greetings from Cape Ann, Massachusetts, where I’m now sitting, on a veranda looking out across the Annisquam River over Wingaersheek Beach, around the corner from Lobster Cove and down the road from Gloucester. Have you ever read Kipling’s Captains Courageous? (This book should be required reading for every teenager in America.) It’s Gloucester fishermen who rescue young Harvey Cheyne and help turn him from a spoiled kid to a capable young man. Here one lives by the sea and all that accompanies it: the tides which determine if you can jump off the deck into 6 feet of sea water, or walk out for hundreds of yards of mud flats, the squalls that seem to appear without warning and drench you thoroughly if you can’t find cover. Cape Ann is the home of Anadama bread, magical violet skies, and some of best seafood in the country. I’m here on vacation visiting my friends Ann and Nick in Annisquam. I’m not doing much cooking at the moment, but I thought I would share with you some photographs of the local scenery.


This old heron used to be a weathervane until it flew off Nick and Ann’s house in a storm one day. The wind just lifted the bird’s wings and off it flew, to the side of the house. Its current home is on a rusty fireplace grate next to a woodpile.


Ann turned this shell into a planter. The flowers are a bit past, but it’s still so pretty in the late afternoon light.


On the back steps is the bucket, inside which you will find lobster shells which will be pounded and crushed for mulch in the garden.


A favorite thing to do around sunset time is to take a cruise around the area, out to Crane’s Beach, and past the Annisquam Lighthouse.


There is a quality of light on Cape Ann that I’ve seen nowhere else.


Yesterday we spent 5 hours on the water in a “chase boat” watching Ann and Nick’s son Nicky compete in the Squam Day sailboat regatta. When we got too hot, we just jumped off the boat for a dip in the ocean. But my oh my the water is a bit chilly here, north of Cape Cod. “Refreshing” indeed.


Next to Ann and Nick’s house is a small patch of ground, in which forager Oliver Monday has planted a small garden to supply a local restaurant with fresh lettuce, herbs, radishes, and whatnot. Oliver usually stops by in the afternoons and picks what will be on the menu that night. The restaurant, The Market Restaurant, is new to Annisquam this season, and has been receiving a fair amount of press (see The Gloucester Times), as the founders have come from Chez Panisse in Berkeley. We had a lovely dinner there the other night, of stuffed sole and heirloom tomato and avocado salad.


Well that’s it for now. The tide is in and I’m about to go jump in the ocean. Hank and I have cooked up some great recipes in advance, which we will be posting while I’m splashing in the salt water. For the complete set of photos, see the Flickr set. TTFN!


  1. Amanda

    Welcome to my neck of the woods, Elise! I’m over in Ipswich (where Crane Beach is), and you picked a beautiful time to visit us here. If you get a chance, have a meal over at Duckworths Bistro in Gloucester. You will love it. And if you have the time, make a quick trip to Green Meadows Farm in South Hamilton. The farm stand is to die for- if you love food, it’s a must see. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    Thanks for the recommendations Amanda! ~Elise

  2. Colleen

    Such beautiful photographs, an air of tranquillity to some of them that appeals to me greatly. And the lighting and color in the one of the lighthouse and the boats below it is truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing your vacation xx

  3. newlywed

    Oh, I love Gloucestor! There is a wonderful little bakery that also sells the most exquisite collection of oil cloth bags and other must-haves…I wish I could remember the name. For a simpler meal, I also love Halibut Point.

  4. Liz

    I grew up in Gloucester and was there for the day on Wednesday, taking a walk on Lighthouse Beach in Annisquam. If you get a chance head to Sugar Mag’s ( for breakfast…the Carrot Cake Pancakes with Maple Cream Cheese Butter, Pineapple Fritters and Hash and Eggs are to die for!! Enjoy your visit!

  5. Stephanie - Wasabimon

    Oh my gosh, Elise, that looks like a place I need to visit. I’ve never been to the east coast, but Casey’s taking me around New England next week. I’ll finally get to see the Atlantic. :)

  6. Marie aka Gardenfreshtomatoes

    Chilly water? This is the warmest the ocean has been in years!

    Seriously, you picked the perfect time to be up here (I’m a little south and west of you in Rhode Island). Eat lots of lobster and clam cakes – the kind they call ‘fritters’ north of Boston. And if you should find yourself in Boston for the day, check out the restaurant Aquitane – amazing bistro food!


  7. Camille

    You must visit Rockport also and the Mad Crab Cafe for some of the best cooked fish on the Northshore.
    Passports on Main St. in Gloucester will give you some fine dining also. Also on Main St, if you like Mexican, don’t miss Jalapeno’s….great food and Senorita Margarita’s evAh!

  8. Lou Grubaugh

    Your photograph of the sailboats with all those gorgeous, fluffy clouds is absolutely stunning!

  9. dal

    Hey i’m over here in Fresno. the sea breez is coming up and and it should be a lovely night. Got any good art over there in Mass? Did you try the crab cakes? cheers don’t get too sun burned.

    Hey Dal, too late on the sun burn warning, I went kayaking yesterday morning without sunscreen, oops! You would have loved the Annisquam Sea Fair this last weekend. One of the activities was taking a flounder, covering it with paint, and pressing it on t-shirts to make a fish design. The crab cakes were great, btw. ~Elise

  10. Anali

    Love these pictures Elise! And one of my goals now is to find a shell big enough to use as a planter. What a great idea!

    Gloucester is beautiful. Enjoy your time here in the Bay State! I’m just south of Boston in Quincy. We’ve been very lucky and have had beautiful weather this summer. : )

  11. terri

    Ah, your pictures bring back great memories–we lived in South Hamilton for a few years when my husband was in seminary. We didn’t have the money to eat out a lot, but we often took picnics up to Plum Island. If you’re into the fried seafood thing, Woodmans ( is supposed to have made the original fried clam, but we preferred the Clam Box in Ipswich (–I loved their clam chowder!

  12. Abby

    Hi Elise,

    I love your site and make something from it at least 3 times a week. What type of camera do you use? On top of your recipes, I enjoy your photos as well.

    Hi Abby, these days I’m shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II and a 24-70 lens. I love the setup though it’s a bit heavy to travel with. I’m waiting for the new Lumix to come out as a travel alternative to my clunker. ~Elise

  13. beth

    welcome to our neck of the woods! yes, the water is bracing if you’re not expecting it. :) i’ll put in a vote for Woodmans – great location, great food. (terri – will have to try the Clam Box now!)

  14. Sandy

    SO happy you are having a blast in our neck of the woods! One earlier poster was right, though, the water IS warmer than it has been in a long time.
    Hit the Clam Box, definitely!!

  15. Sylvia

    Ah!!! I love MA!!…Such lovely pictures Elise.I love all that homegrown business. There is nothing better. What a lovely place to sit and while away the time!

  16. Michel J. Gaudet

    Hi all!

    I ‘stumbled’ upon Simply Recipes a while back, and so far I have tried just a few of all the fare that it brings. I wish Sissy, my late wife, could enjoy along with the cat and I.

    I do not know, regarding those who are the people which RUN this site, who really reads the posts and comments, but I hope this gets to one of them. I want to let it be known how grateful I am for such a site. Not only do we get GREAT yummies to check-out and maybe try for our selves, we also get a feeling of… home? Well, maybe that’s not the correct word, but I like the sharing of MORE than just the food. I feel like I have the option of maybe getting to ‘know’ some of y’all a bit. I’m just an ‘Old-fart’ that lives with my cat that has a bit of am attitude lately… he fusses at me sometimes! He’s a GREAT mouser, but I wish he would just make his ‘presents’ disappear instead of having to bring them to me and show how GREAT he is… :-) Any who, I want to thank you all for helping bring a smile my way… oh, Winston just DEMANDED to know what I am doing. I told him, he thought about it, and said a loud MEOW HELLO; I THINK!

    Take care all, and please keep the good things popping into my in box!


    Hi Michael, thank you for saying hello. We do read the comments, every single one. :-) ~Elise

  17. Amy

    I asked my husband, who grew up in Rockport, about painted flounder t-shirts. He remembers doing this as a child. How strange! We unfortunately just moved away from the North Shore, and miss it dearly. Enjoy the fresh seafood, wherever you get it! I second Amanda’s recommendation for Duckworth’s Bistro…not just because she is my friend, but the food is amazing (a little pricey though!).

  18. Mark

    I’m from Ontario, Canada. We just got back from 2 weeks vacation in Little Compton, Rhode Island which I don’t think is too far from Gloucester. We go down every summer for some R&R at the beach and eat lots of little neck clams and lobster rolls! What a beautiful part of the country.

  19. sharon

    Cape Ann! My brother lived there for two years when he was @ Gordon Conwell. If you’re still there, get thee to the clam shack in Essex! It’s been more than twenty years, but I still measure all fried clams to Woodmans!

  20. Alecia

    Beautiful photos, Elise. You have a great eye! I’ve always wanted to do a tour of the east coast, your photos inspire me to plan a trip!

  21. Rob

    I rented a house overlooking Ipswich Bay (ie, smack in the middle of Annisquam, near the village church) last offseason and I’m returning in three weeks for another offseason. I’ll be kicking myself for doing it in January when I’m shoveling the 6 ft drifts from my driveway, but my oh my is Annisquam the perfect place to live in September and October.

    This is my favorite food site, and finding the site’s author vacations in Annisquam confirms what good taste we both have!

    Isn’t Annisquam lovely? If you get the chance, check out The Market restaurant on River St before they close for the season. ~Elise

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