January 9, 2012

My Pilgrimage to Fine Food, Wine, and More - Plymouth, Mass.

The Mayflower II, a replica of the 17th-century vessel that
brought those courageous pilgrims to this side of the pond,
adds to the picturesque Plymouth Bay.
A lifelong New Englander, I'm rather ashamed to admit that it was not until this past week that I made the trek to Plymouth, Mass., which, as it turns out, is one cute seaside town that has more to offer than its famed little granite rock.

Courtesy of my mother, who purchased a one-night stay at a local inn for my birthday (thanks, Mom!), my husband and I enjoyed a pleasant night away, checking out some of the historic sites, doing a bit of shopping, and spending a solid couple of hours tasting just about everything on the menu in a fabulous wine, tapas, and dessert bar.

Best of all, it was just two hours from our home base of Glastonbury, Conn.

Today's Stefcations Highlights:

  • What You'll Find: A quaint seaside town perfect for a relaxing night or two away.
  • Where You'll Find it: Plymouth, Mass. (Take note, The Wine Cellar - a fab wine, tapas, and dessert bar, can be found at 690 State Road in Plymouth. Visit their website for more info.)
  • When to Go: Anytime! It looks like it'd be especially lovely in the summer, but we spent a night away in January, and it was still enjoyable. Note that some of the historic exhibits are open only seasonally.

I recalled from my days in grammar school social studies class that the pilgrims arrived in the New World in 1620, allegedly at Plymouth Rock (turns out the rock's more of a historic symbol than the Mayflower's actual landing place).
Plymouth Rock.

What I didn't know was that the pilgrims arrived in Plymouth in the wintertime ... Perhaps not the most timely of arrivals for as-of-yet uninitiated New Englanders. Even with the help of the local Native Americans, nearly half of the original 102 Mayflower passengers died over the course of those first few winter months. Eek.

Unlike those unfortunate pilgrims, we encountered a curiously balmy weekend in early January, where the temps reached 60 degrees. Definitely preferable in my book.

The striking statue of Massasoit, chief of the
Wampanoag, who befriended the pilgrims.
For the most part, we did a bit of strolling around, visiting the requisite Plymouth Rock, checking out Main Street's gift and antique shops, and admiring the views of the surrounding bay. We weren't the only ones out and about on a January morning, either - plenty of locals were walking with their dogs and kids and taking advantage of the unseasonably good weather, too.

If you're a big history buff, there are plenty of historic homes, state parks, statues, monuments, museums (including the so-called outdoor "living exhibits" like Plimouth Plantation and the Mayflower II, a full-scale replica of the original ship), and the like to take in at your leisure. Note that many of the outdoor exhibits aren't open for the season until March.

One of the highlights for me, of course, was the wine, tapas, and dessert bar we found through a perfectly timed LivingSocial deal (again, brought to my attention by my mom), which I quickly snatched up.

Just about 10 minutes from Main Street, the Wine Cellar is hidden away on the lower level of a building that you might otherwise miss if you weren't keeping an eye out for it.
The Wine Cellar has the feel of a secret hideaway,
perfect for a romantic evening.

Descend the stairs, and you’ll find the secret alcove that is the restaurant, which somehow manages to feel tantalizingly inviting and exclusive all at once.

With its stone fa├žade, comfy leather seating, bamboo shades, and romantic lighting, The Wine Cellar offers a cozy sort of nook perfect for a special date or an intimate dinner with a few good friends.

The lounge-ier side of The Wine Cellar,
complete with live music.
It’s still not clear to me what’s housed on the upper floor (it looks like a fully equipped restaurant up there, after all), but I’m not complaining.

The space is divided into two areas - one side lined with a bar and wrap-around seating ideal for huddling with friends over wine or  flavored martinis, and another side with a number of small tables for those more serious about chowing down (that would be yours truly).

Cheese plate? But of course.
Now, for me, the magic of tapas is that you can try all kinds of small dishes suitable for sharing, and still not spend a ton of cash. The Wine Cellar definitely delivered not only on ambiance, but also variety, tastiness, and affordability.

We ordered a bottle of wine (an Oregon Pinot Noir, yum) and started things off with a cheese plate that featured three types of cheese (the goat cheese was our fave), a homemade warm apple cranberry onion jam (deeelish), crostini, toasted kettle-corn almonds, and a fabulous fresh grape and tarragon salad.

We followed it up with dates stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in bacon; seared shrimp with fresh avocado; and a couple of very tasty meatballs (super yummy). My husband added the Mediterranean flatbread for good measure.
Raspberry sorbet, served between
our tapas and dessert.
Don't mind if I do.

Between polishing this off and receiving our dessert order, we were each presented with surprise: a miniature martini glass with a small scoop of raspberry sorbet. An unexpected (and more than welcome) little intermezzo. Um, fabulous. Not to mention, adorable.

The Wine Cellar's dessert menu included some tempting options, from cheesecake to handmade chocolates to limoncello mousse. Decisions, decisions! We chose the banana crepes to share, which were perfect little pockets of warm banana and caramel-y yumminess that we couldn't help but recommend - unsolicited - to our neighboring table.

All of this deliciousness rang up to about $82, though we were able to take another $30 off with our Living Social coupon. Certainly worth it, even with the two-hour drive. It's too bad the pilgrims didn't stick around for this.

Evidence of awesomeness.

1 comment:

  1. Pilgrimage, nyuk nyuk. That tapas place looks sooo good!