Late summer days on Cape Cod

Cape Cod vacation peach gratin

Why can I have neglected to visit Cape Cod more often? I wondered.

I didn’t expect that Cape Cod, the Cape as we Bostonians call it, would look so beautiful with its near-to empty beaches and warm September sunlight.

But it did.

I found out this last week when P., his father, Lulu and I drove to Truro near Cape Cod National Seashore where we spent five days to celebrate the end of summer. P.’s mother was supposed to come too, but an event kept her in Ireland, so eventually she could not come. For a while, we were hesitant as to whether we’d go. But in the end, we decided that the four of us would make the trip anyhow.

We didn’t regret once. As to Lulu, she was simply happy to have her grandpa all for herself.

Photo credit: Philip Jacob

cape cod wellfleet truro vacation

Of course, in the thirteen years I’ve lived in Boston, I’ve visited the Cape on many occasions. But the truth is that I somehow always avoided to come, finding excuses like “It’s too hot“, “It’s too busy” or “I just cannot deal with US 93 and Route 6 traffic to get there“. Each time, I dreaded Cape Cod’s summer crowd and its touristy side, despite the fact that it was right there, at my doorstep.

But this time…how could I have guessed that it’d be different? And that the five days we spent in our rental house would charm me in such an unexpected way.

Between Wednesday and Sunday, we flew many kites on beaches near Wellfleet and Truro, trying a new one every time. Finding each one always almost empty.

We built sand castles, drew faces on the sun-warmed blond sand and wore hoodies, excited to feel cooler temperatures announcing fall. We watched small crabs in the marsh near Uncle Tim’s bridge and chatted with a friendly fisherwoman who told us interesting fishing stories about bluefish and seabass. We saw seals and watched the ocean surf. We ran on the beach and then when we were too tired to continue, we skipped stones. We made 60-piece puzzles with Lulu and told her about crickets singing loudly every night. We visited Provincetown Saturday farmer’s market and Truro vineyards.

And between every single one of our activities, we ate very well.

It’s weird,” I told Eddie, my father-in-law, one day as we were waiting for our fish tacos at The Juice. “It almost feels as if we could be somewhere in Europe, doesn’t it?

So true!” he exclaimed, perhaps thinking about Ireland where he grew up. We couldn’t explain exactly what it was but the feeling was perceptible. We could all feel it.

We were hungry for seafood, and felt lucky to find it so fresh and tasty everywhere we stopped for lunch.

One day, I chose mussels and the following day, an order of fish tacos and lobster rolls were the foods that pleased our bellies. At the fish market in Wellfleet, I bought lobster and little necks clams that I cooked in a coconut milk and white wine sauce to serve with spaghetti and zucchini for dinner one evening.

What are you making?” Eddie asked on our last night when he saw that I was busy peeling a few peaches before slicing them finely.

Not sure,” I said. “Dessert.

Of course! ” he went on, smiling.

We always have dessert, no matter where we are. And how simple it is.

“Just something nice and simple to use up ingredients before we leave.

How do you call it?

Not sure either. A gratin clafoutis maybe?” I responded hesitantly, not certain which word was the right one to use.

Glad you came?” I went on.

He smiled again.

Truro vineyard Cape Cod

bluefish cape cod Race point beach

Spaghetti with zucchini, lobster and clams

We were all so glad to have come.

I’d fallen in love with the beauty Cape Cod offers during the low season.

I was impressed.

Le gratin-clafoutis aux pêches

Le gratin-clafoutis aux pêches

For 4 people

  • Butter, for the mold
  • 2 peaches, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 4 strawberries
  • 8 raspberries
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F and butter four glass or porcelain ramekins.
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Beat in the vanilla and almond meal and coconut milk.
  • Add the melted butter.
  • Divide the batter between the ramekins and stud with the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the flan is set. Serve lukewarm.
Posted in Uncategorized | 69 Comments

69 comments

  1. How lovely. It looks like you had a wonderful time. I see you made it to Hatch’s seafood market too. Such a wonderful place!

  2. I just made you banana au gratin and it was lovely. My first recipe from your site actually! This clafoutis looks equally as wonderful. And Cape God looks heavenly.

  3. your beautiful pictures, your story and the recipe all capture the incomparable spirit of the cape. thanx for sharing, it trandported me back in a very special way.

  4. oh my god those spaghetti look so perfect and appealing. Love the recipe, too. For me that can tolerate dairy, can I use raw caw milk instead of coconut?

  5. I love looking at your photos. They brighten my day with their colours. I would love to visit Cape Cod one day. It looks stunning and beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. Hi Bea, I’m a long-time reader first time commenting on your blog.
    I absolute adore your pictures and stories and the way you capture the sweetest details of life.

    Apologies for being off-topic now but I’ve been following you on twitter and I’ve been wondering if we’ll be able to see your amazing work on Japanese Baby Food. I’m very, very interested in that as I’m introducing new foods to my 8 months old daughter. I’m japanese descendant but I was born and raised in South America and now live in UK. I really would like to introduce some japanese food to Sophie but I have no idea what’s suitable (I imagine soy sauce and miso are quite salty for babies..?). I once made a simple japanese chicken stew with a bit of soy sauce and spring onions served on japanese rice and Sophie devoured it. I’d love to try some more japanese food. I’m sure half of Sophie’s genes would do a little happy dance! :-p

    BTW, Sophie and your beautiful Lulu has something in common: Sophie was born on Christmas Day at 12h08am. Almost exactly 2 years after Lulu!

    All your pictures are stunning but the ones of you and Lulu together are just heart-melting splendid.

  7. beautiful, as usual. gorgeous photos, brilliant post, delicious recipe. one of my favourites ever. thanks bea :)

  8. Hello! I’m a new reader, so I first of all wanted to say that your blog is wonderful, your photographs are beautiful, and your food looks delicious. As far as this post goes, it was excellent. Cape Cod looks so dreamy! My family usually goes to the Outer Banks, but I have no idea how many houses will be suitable for rent after the hurricane :( I’ll keep Cape Cod in mind as an alternative if we need it!

  9. What a wonderful special time with your Irish father in law. I’m sure he was thrilled to have this experience. We lived in NY for 6 yrs. and not once did we get to the Cape. Same reasons you mentioned. We missed out! Beautiful photos to enjoy with my morning coffee.

  10. Loved your post but part of me wants to scream “SHHHHHH!” We love our Cape after Labor Day when the tourists are gone and we get our home back… don’t encourage them! ;-) I read about your fish tacos from The Juice. But the picture of the taco stand (and probably the fish tacos themselves) are definitely Finbar’s in Orleans – I know those fish tacos intimately – I eat them at least once a week… not quite Key West or Cancun (cod and no red snapper, grouper or mahi mahi to start with), but definitely the best fish tacos on the Cape IMHO. I’ll have to try The Juice’s to compare.

  11. I love that area..the photos are dreamy.. and cute:) and charming..

    Is that the home you rented? Outstanding.

    I especially love the little tiered planter..what was that ?:)

    Lulu..is a beachcomber.the photos when you are with her are heartwarming.
    Flying kites on the beach.With children..I love that.Some of my fondest memories w/ our Lulu.

  12. Wonderful – I had to go back into youtube and pull out a Patti Page “Old Cape Cod” recording and read through your reminiscences all over again.

  13. Haaaaaaaaa….Cape Cod…J’adore. J’y suis aller en juin. Nous avons louer une maison a south chatham! Le Bonheur…
    J’ai seulement passer par Truro et Ptown…IL pleuvait et nous ne sommes pas sorti de la voiture. Les photos de l’endroit où vous logiez semble suberbe. C’est un appartement que vous avez louer??C’est vraiment jolie …Tu as le lien si c’est louer pour que je puisse y aller moi aussi hihihi!!
    Bonne journée!
    Caro

  14. The food looks delicious and the scenery is beautiful too! Thanks for sharing your little getaway. It’s nice to be surprised by life sometimes, isn’t it?

  15. I grew up on the Cape, and I agree with you 100% about the Cape during its tourist season – my favorite time is by far! the off season, when I’ve got the beach & roads (mostly) to myself. All that traffic, whether I was trying to escape off-Cape, or just get to some place on-Cape, drove me crazy!!! I’m glad you enjoyed your time there, though – it really is a beautiful place :)

  16. When my daughter was at Wellesley, we went up at the beginning of May to haul some of her books and clothing home before the end of the term. We decided that since we were close by we would spend a week at the Cape. It was just coming alive before the summer rush. It was one of our most memorable vacations.

  17. Reading about Truro reminds me immediately of Daphne Du Maurier, and immersing myself in her novels.

    This is not the Truro I am familiar with through literature, but I’m sure it’s equally beautiful. I’m glad you all went too, so that I could glimpse the majesty of an end-of-summer vacation through your eyes, lens, and heart.

    The photo of father and grandfather throwing Lulu in the air is a wonderful moment that you captured:)

  18. I loved traveling places off season before my kids were in school. My kids are in high school now and they still remember those falls we spent on Monhegan Island.

  19. I’ve never been to Cape Cod, because I always thought that it was way too crowded. Maybe you are right, reading your post makes me think that it is worth the trip! Living in Vermont for so many years and now in Europe, I can’t believe I never went! Maybe someday soon!

  20. I have to say that these are some of the most appealing lifestyle photos that I have seen anywhere in a very long time. I always love your food photography and of course your writing but this is perfect for Travel & Leisure–perhaps propose it to them with an offer to expand your post into an article? Just a thought.

  21. Tartine, so loved the nostalgic colors you found on the Cape. I too love its special hues and especially the wind and sun.

  22. You make me want to try out the Cape! Stunning. I second Heather in Arles suggestion to pitch your work to a lifestyle mag if you haven’t already.

  23. I cannot stop looking at these photos, Cape Cod has blown me away! I love the photo with you and the kite, it’s gorgeous! I am also really looking forward to trying the gratin-clafoutis. It sounds like a perfect summer-time treat! x

  24. Wow, gorgeous photos. I am always SO inspired by your travel posts. I was on the Cape the same weekend- I think that Saturday was one of the prettiest days of the year. Loved visiting P-town, Wellfleet and Truro Vineyards too! We would be good travel buddies :)

  25. Another gorgeous post. I know what you mean about places feeling European; I feel that way when the atmosphere is small, local, and full of wonderful, simple food that is steeped in history and tradition.

  26. Lovely blog and post; thank you! I now have another place added to my “must travel” list, and a new recipe to try. I love that you create beautiful recipes without gluten or dairy –wait, butter isn’t really dairy, is it? :) This recipe will not go on a list, it’s going into the oven tonight!

  27. Beautiful, beautiful photos. This is one of the places I really want to go to within the next couple of years. Some of your photos are so dreamy, it makes me happy just to look at them and forget everything else for a moment.

  28. After having spent many years in Boston, we just moved back to France… And we surely miss the area. We were in Cape Cod at the exact same time last year and just loved it. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and story. Makes us want to come back.

  29. the cape you describe sounds much more my speed then the hectic couple of summers i spent working as a nanny there. but, oh, the fresh fish! reading your post i can almost taste the amazing things i sampled on the cape…heaven. :)

  30. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. What a beautiful, luminescent place! I’ve always loved the architecture of that part of the world, with the long dune grasses and the bleached wood … Ah …

  31. how beautiful. i have always enjoyed the cape in the fall or even early spring but not so much in the summer. these are lovely and how wonderful that lulu had her grandfather all to herself!

  32. Thank you so much everyone. Oh yes. Off season. The best. We were so lucky with the weather too. I will definitely go back. As to details of the house, I’ve emailed the few people who wanted the info. If you are interested, just email me too.

  33. I smiled to see you write “not sure” to your father-in-law’s query about what it is you were preparing for desert. I know this feeling. Not sure yet, I just have a delicious fresh ingredient from which I KNOW inspiration will flow :)

  34. Bonjour Béa,
    C’est toujours avec un immense plaisir que je lis ton blog. Tes photos sont magnifiques et me font rêver. Je serais intéressé à avoir les coordonnées de la maison que vous avez louez à Cape Code.

    Merci et bonne journée
    … Sonia
    du Québec

  35. Aww, wow, beautiful pictures! I just played a wedding in Mashpee, not so far along the Cape, but it’s the closest I got this summer! Thank you for the delicious recipe to try :)

  36. I’m so envious :) Two years ago I flew all the way from Italy to spend my honeymoon in Cape Cod and I’m sure I will go back one day… Actually I liked it even in summer, I can assure you that Italy is far more crowded!!!
    Glad you had such a wonderful time, as usual your shots are great!

  37. Oh, my. What a joyous bunch of photos! Many painters have said that the light on the Cape is like nowhere else, and I have to agree. I live in Ireland now (for ten years, but now we are moving to France!) I was born and brought up in Massachusetts and we spent two weeks every summer on the Cape. Then, as an adult, I bought a house there, which, sadly, I no longer own. But it is still my favorite place in the world, and you have captured the light, the beauty, the memories and the essence of the place that will always be my spiritual home. I’m glad you’ve seen it’s best side now. Thank you.

  38. What a wonderful post… I agree the off season on the cape and many other locations can seem so enchanting!

  39. J’aime tellement l’Amérique. Quand je regarde ce reportage, je comprends mieux pourquoi.

  40. Je ne sais plus si ce sont tous ces endroits que vous décrivez qui sont magnifiques ou si c’est pour partie vous qui les rendez si beaux… En tout cas je suis très émue de voir Lulu évoluer à travers toute cette beauté et ces expériences : cela me renvoie à ma propre enfance, si riche, des racines et des ailes qui me resteront toujours, le patient et passionné travail de parents esthètes, gourmands et voyageurs…

  41. Great photos!
    Anyway, where did you rent this amazing apartment? Looking also for a place to stay but didn’t find anything nice.

  42. I just can’t deal with how beautiful these photos are. I’ve never even thought about Cape Cod, but now all I want to do is be there!!!!!

  43. How beautiful your pictures are! I have lived on the cape my whole life and when we are in the middle of winter it is easy to forget how spectacular the summer is – especially when seen through someone else’s camera lens. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face on this gloomy February day!

  44. I live on the Cape and always love reading posts like these… they remind me of the beauty all around me that I often take for granted in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Thank you for reminding me of what a special place I live in!!!

  45. Hi!
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about South Chatham to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)
    Jane

  46. If you are trying to find great places to rent on Cape Cod try using the web site: http://www.homeaway.com. It is a very user friendly. I agree that the photos of the fish shack pictured was definitely Finbars but the tacos pictured were not from Finbars. I also will have to try the fish tacos at Juice’s. It will be hard to top those at Finbars!

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