Sunday, September 6, 2009

Memory lane, à la Miles.

My trip to New England with Miles had a primary purpose: nostalgia. Lots and lots of nostalgia. Miles, you see, was born in Massachusetts, and lived with his family in West Newbury until junior high, when they moved to Richmond, Virginia. Miles hadn't been back in years, and invited me to tag along for the fun.

I took the bus up to Boston and met Miles at Logan, where we hopped in our rental car and sped up to Newburyport. Newburyport is an adorable seaside town north of Boston. It sits at the mouth of the Merrimack River, ideally situated as a port for trade with northern New England (hence the name, I imagine).

After we'd checked in to our hotel (The Garrison Inn - super cute, though in need of a little touching up), we headed off on foot through downtown Newburyport. Our destination? The Grog.

The Grog lives in Miles's memory as a family dinner destination - but, above all, it lives as the home of delicious clam chowder. He warned me ahead of time that The Grog's chowder was not terribly thick, and was far more buttery than the usual suspects. But, he assured me, it was delicious.

After a five-minute walk through cobblestone streets, we arrived and were seated at a little table in the bar. We each ordered the chowder (a cup for me, a bowl for Miles) and sandwiches (a burger on an English muffin for me, a Cuban for Miles) - and beer, of course.

The chowder arrived about five seconds later, piping hot and accompanied by oyster crackers. And I am not exaggerating about that piping hot bit, either - after the first, scorching bite, I had to let mine cool down for a few minutes before diving back in.

The chowder was indeed brothier than your average New England version, but it was still delicious. Swimming in sherry and butter, it was full of flavor. The clams were soft and toothsome, not tough and chewy, and the chunks of potato were well-seasoned and just the right texture. It was easy to see why Miles held this soup in such high esteem - though he claims it's not quite as good as it used to be.


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