Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Big Anniversary

"A love story that begins in Ocean City and wends its way along the Jersey Shore through Sea Isle City, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Cape May Court House, Wildwood, and romantic Cape May." (Words and music by Bud Nugent, 1960).

The Mrs and I just celebrated 20 years of marital bliss. The last few of which have been a little rough because of our jobs, schedules and the kids. We don't get a lot of alone time whether it be dinners or weekend getaways. And when I say WE I mean ME because apparently, US getting away is entirely up to me. She plans the family vacation and everything else is up to me. I don't do a very good job at this.

The 20th anniversary is the "china" anniversary. So I bought her an antique porcelain pitcher (circa. 1880), a framed print of some lilies and a multi-colored pearl necklace (that will go with everything - right?). It looked something like this:

Then I did the dinner on the deck during the week and planned to go to dinner at a local French Restaurant that weekend. She didn't like anything. She wanted something more special for a milestone anniversary. She reminded me that on our 10th anniversary we went on a cruise. I reminded her that she doesn't like cruises (but it was the best vacation I ever had - drunk the whole time, great food and no kids). So it went back and forth like that for a while.

She then suggested Rat's Restaurant, which is this season's Top Chef winner Kevin Sbraga's restaurant. It's part of a place called Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ (about an hours drive). We've heard a lot about this place but have never been there. We would tour the grounds, have dinner and then do an overnight at a local hotel. I called for reservations and was informed there was a 2 week wait list. Scratch that idea for now - we will revisit this idea in the near future.

Then the Mrs suggested Cape May. Another place we've never been. Cape May is the oldest resort town in the US and is known for it's many Victorian houses and Bed and Breakfasts. With a little bit of web searching, we found a B&B in the historic district with rooms available and 1 block from the ocean. Done deal. And no kids because they were camping this weekend.

We leave Saturday morning and it takes about 1 1/2 hours to get there. It's off-season so traffic is light. In-season, this is probably a 3 hour drive. We have a couple of hours before check in, so we go to the Washington Street Mall for some shopping and end up having an alfresco lunch at the Ugly Mug.

Editor's note: We forgot to bring our camera. The Mrs bought a disposable but I still haven't seen the pictures. All of the photos below were stolen.

The ugly Mug was okay. I had a fried flounder sandwich and the Mrs had a chicken salad sandwich (I think). We wandered through many stores after.

We finally checked in to Beauclaire's Bed and Breakfast Inn on Ocean Street. This place was way better than we expected as you can see from the accompanying pictures. The house is over 120 years old and was built after the big fire of 1878. The owner's, Joe and Joanne (yeah, I know) have owned the place for 7 years and were very hospitable innkeepers.

This is the main living room and the fire place is pretty impressive.
We had our Sunday breakfast here in the dining room with formal place settings. Joanne served a fresh fruit plate with yogurt followed by a french toast casserole with sausage. It was quite good.

Our room was on the 2nd floor and you had to take these impressive stairs to get there.

When we arrived, Joanne said we would be staying in Nan and Opa's Room (Room 2). I asked if Nan and Opa would mind and she thought that was funny as hell. I'm so quick-witted. The room was very nice but the adjoining bathroom was pretty tight.

After we checked in and the Mrs had a quick nap, we donned our swimming attire and walked to the beach. It was a nice day although a little breezy and no crowds. We saw a pod of dolphins (maybe 30 or 40) about 100 yards out, which was pretty cool. We went back to the room, cleaned up and got ready to go to dinner.

Now, I will take credit for the restaurant. I did some research and found The Washington Inn to be one of the best restaurants in Cape May. And it's a good thing we made reservations or we would never have gotten in - and this was off-season. They even called me to confirm our reservation, so I know they were looking for tables.

The Inn was built in 1840 and has been beautifully renovated. When we arrived for our 7:30 reservation, we were seated almost immediately. Our server, Barbara, ran down all of the specials and some of the wines on a very extensive wine list. They serve "flights" of wines, which are 3 different 2 oz. glasses paired together by their sommelier. The Mrs had some Cabernets, one of which she liked so much we wrote it down - and I haven't seen it since. I just had water because I'm still not feeling all that well from the pneumonia.

We started with appetizers. The Mrs had the Washington Inn Crab Cake. Now, about the only seafood she'll eat is crab cake and shrimp, so she's kind of a connoisseur of crab cake. She declared this to be the best crab cake she ever had. I found this picture of the dish on The V.I.P. Table blog and this gentleman agrees.

I couldn't decide between the signature Lobster Bisque or the soup du jour Butternut Squash, so our resourceful server gave me a cup of each (not something they normally do). The bisque was good but the Butternut Squash was outstanding. Even the Mrs (who hates all things squash or pumpkin related) liked it.

For her entree, the Mrs ordered a Duck Breast with Cherry Jus (menu item). She said it was good but not the best duck she's ever had (oh, she's a connoisseur of duck too). It was served with polenta which she's not keen on. I had the Branzino special. It was served whole and stuffed with butter, dill, onion and lemon with roasted fennel and tomato, fingerling potatoes and green beans. This was one of the best fish dishes I've ever had. I never had branzino before (but I remembered it from an Iron Chef challenge) and it was fantastic. For dessert, the Mrs had an Apple Napoleon and I had a Raspberry Cheese Cake, both of which were excellent. The cheese cake reminded me of the fluffy cheese cake that my mother use to make. Different from the traditionally more dense New York style cheese cake.

Overall an outstanding meal, great (but a little slow) service and an overall great dining experience.

After dinner, I arranged for a horse drawn carriage ride through the historic district. This was really nice and gave us a real good idea of just how many restored houses and buildings there are here; several hundred I would guess. Our driver, Marlene, gave us a detailed history of the town and certain houses as we passed. She had only been in Cape May since the summer, so the tour hadn't gotten to stale for her.

We headed back to the Beauclaire and got out some champagne with cherry liqueur (the Mrs brought it from home) and sat on the front porch swing and watched the carriages go by. A very nice night. So much so that the Mrs wants this to be our anniversary tradition every year...crap.

We left in the morning after breakfast because the kids were coming back from camp and we had a load of stuff to do. But it was a nice get away and I think I was able to redeem myself - a little anyway.

Late Edition Pictures: The Mrs did get the pictures developed but I'm too lazy to go back and insert them into a seemingly endless story that took less than 24 hours in real time. Here are some of the around town sites.

Here's the Mrs checking out Beauclaire's Bed and Breakfast Inn.

Believe it or not, I'm looking at a pod of dolphins. I'm telling you they're out there.

The Mrs lounging in the sun as she frequently does.
Good bye from Cape May.


Sharon Rudd said...

Ah, Buzz, you old softie, you. Sounds like a getaway you both enjoyed, and you did good on picking that restaurant. The stuffed branzino sounds killer. Hope you’ve recuperated from your pneumonia. Or else I’ll have to drink a glass of wine for you :)

sparringK9 said...

i loved this post. i kept expecting a witch to burn or someone walk up in shoes with big brass buckles. shamu is gonna die when she reads about that crabcake and will probably drive there next weekend. i thought the pearls were a very nice touch...are you saying she didnt like them? you should have bought her some firearms! that always goes over well with me.
very cool about the dolphins why the hell didnt you swim out and join them. for God sakes mon, didnt you watch flipper? you could have partied with the smartest kids in the ocean. carriage ride is very romantic. what happened after the porch? ;-) married 20 years? ya'll probably fell asleep. grrrrrrrrherhahahahaha!

happy anniversary buddy.

sparringK9 said...

by the way that photo of you threw me off. i thought you were bald and yellow.

Buzz Kill said...

The branzino was really good. One of those meals you remember for years. The roasted fennel was something I never had before. The pneumonia takes 6 - 8 weeks and as long as 6 months to get it totally out of your system. I still have a cough but my doctor gave me a pneumonia shot (good for 5 years - who knew?) so I should be good to cook Thanksgiving Dinner.

They do have re-enactors around Christmas but there were none the weekend we were there. Shamu would have done a much better review of this restaurant and I think she would like it.

The Mrs didn't like the pearls and I'm not sure why. I thought they would go with everything and she thought just the opposite. This is why I don't like to buy her clothes, jewelry or art.

The water was very cold so no swimming with the dolphins. There was a guy out there with a jet ski hearding the dolphins butr he was wearing a wet suit.

After the porch I took care of business...meaning I put the inebriated Mrs to bed and watched TV. And I'm working on the bald and yellow.

Heff said...


Congrats on going through with it.

All a man wants is a good roll in the hay.

Karl said...

Good evening Buzz Kill,

Well sir, that was a very impressive tour. Give yourself an Ata-boy. When I saw that shot of you on the beach I thought you're older son had somehow made the trip. Congratulations on your 20th. We all know you didn't fall asleep.

By the way, unless they're trained, I don't recommend swimming with dolphins, they can play rough.

@ K9: A ranch rifle is so easy compared to picking out a piece of jewelry.

Buzz Kill said...

You'd think after 20 years I'd be able to read her - NOT.

I had to look twice at that picture too. I've been denying paternity all these years, but he may actually be mine. You're right, I didn't fall asleep...twice...thank you.

ANNA-LYS said...

Congrats :-D