Friday, July 9, 2010
Weekend in Rhode Island: Newport
I walked away from Newport, Rhode Island, with a horrible sunburn and a nasty bruise, but also with memories of some of the best, most beautiful views I've ever seen in my life.
We spend July 4th in Newport, about an hour away from Providence, knowing very little of what to expect. Paul knew there were mansions. I knew there were lighthouses. We figured we'd split the day exploring them and then maybe go to the beach.
At the visitor's center, Paul saw a sign about the Cliff Walk, a 3 1/2 mile hike along the rocky coast of the Atlantic Ocean. So we took a trolley that dropped us off about a 1/2 mile away and started walking.
It was gorgeous.
The first part of the walk was easy, over smooth sidewalks with bunches of trees here and there offering much-needed shade. Luckily, the sun was hidden behind the clouds for the last part of the walk, when the path involved mostly skipping from one gigantic rock to the next, hoping you wouldn't sprain your ankle or stumble your way into the sea.
Despite my inappropriate choice of footwear -- Paul's old running shoes were much better than my sandals -- the walk was well worth the time and effort. Mansions with innumerable windows and decks lined one side of the path ...
... and on the other side was just the blue, blue ocean, occasionally dotted with a sailboat or some real-life watering holes. Paul and I stopped at a couple: once, to see a few guys much braver than me jump about two stories into the water below.
At another, the rocks were much closer to the water. I ventured toward a tidal pool and promptly fell straight in, giving me a nasty bruise on my left thigh (which didn't hurt until Paul pointed it out to me that night).
Newport proper reminded me a lot of Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, except with fewer mountains and more sailboats. They all cater to tourists and day-trippers, however, with lots of shops and restaurants and a vacation-like atmosphere.
We didn't eat at the touristy spots, but the places we did eat brunch and supper ended up being my favorite meals of the weekend getaway.
I chose the Corner Cafe for brunch because I read about the Portuguese influence (somewhat common in Rhode Island and the nearby parts of Massachusetts) in some of their dishes. I had french toast made with Portuguese sweet bread, covered in a raspberry compote, melon chunks and more whipped cream than rightly belongs on a dessert, let alone a brunch dish. Delicious.
For supper we went a few miles outside of Newport to Anthony's Seafood. We split a giant platter of fried clams, and I also tried a local specialty: a stuffed quahog. A quahog (pronounced COE-hog) is a clam, and the meat is mixed with items like onions, sausage and breadcrumbs and then stuffed on top of the shell. It reminded me of a crab cake.
I was afraid Newport would be a little high-falutin' -- an impression that didn't immediately go away when I noticed the TV in the corner of the cafe at brunch wasn't showing ESPN highlights (like any normal Ohio or New York establishment) but a tennis match instead. I was quickly won over, however, by the views and the food. I would gladly return.