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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Weekend in Cape May, New Jersey

Local Seafood, great friends! A few weeks ago, my dear friend Diane invited me to spend a lovely weekend at her family cottage in Cape May. I had never really been there before (aside from a brief, poorly planned honeymoon in February, 20 years ago when I was young and naïve). Cape May is a charming city and is actually considered the country’s oldest seaside resort. It truly feels like a step back in time. It has a family vibe, safe quiet streets, is super bike-friendly, and has a nice, slow pace. There are great beaches, big, beautiful Victorian houses, gorgeous gardens, deep history, and artsy and upscale shops. It is located on the southernmost point of New Jersey on the Cape May Peninsula. The city is also a big draw for nature lovers and birdwatchers due to its wetlands and wildlife refuges. Personally, I was there for the seafood, and the great company.


There were many great food moments, from visiting an amazing local fish store and grilling at home, to dinner at a great local places. Louisa’s Cafe, on Jackson Street just above Washington Street Mall, served skillfully cooked fish and to-die-for lemon cake among other yummy choices. One of my favorite meals was breakfast at Macedonia Baptist Church located at corner of Lafayette and Franklin Streets. Breakfast is served from 8:00 to 10:00 am on Sundays. It's prepared in the church basement with lots of love — eggs cooked to your exact specifications, perfect round and evenly browned light and delicious pancakes, bacon, sausage or grits, coffee and juice and all for $7.00 a person.

We also visited a real treasure called Elfin Farm Market on Sunset Blvd and they open at 10:00 am on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Two beautiful young woman sell an ever-changing assortment of homemade breads from their little shed on the side of the road in front of the farm they inherited from a grandparent. All baking is done the night before in their farmhouse kitchen. They also sell produce which you buy and pay for on the honor system. The line forms an hour before they open and they sell out every day.

And finally I want to tell you about the Cape May Seafood Festival which happened to be taking place the weekend of my visit. The sponsors described it in their literature thus:
"Join us for the inaugural Cape May Seafood Festival, highlighting the immense economic and food-supply contributions of Cape May's commercial and recreational fishing industry. Sample local seafood; learn about seafood harvesting and distribution, aquaculture, and sustainability; and enjoy live entertainment."
The food was local, contributed below-cost from four local fisheries, cooked by a local caterer in trucks parked on the street, served by volunteers from local schools and charities, and crazy delicious. They prepared enough food for 10,000 people and used it all. They made 2000 crab cakes alone. For $10.00, I got a crab cake sandwich on a potato bread roll, a slice of lemon, an ear of Jersey corn, french fries (the weak point of the meal) a little salad, and some rather delicious locally produced Tartar sauce. It was extremely well-organized with lots of tables and chairs to sit and eat under long white tents. There was also live music, cooking demos, and information booths about food and the environment sponsored by groups like the Nature Conservancy, and local preservation societies. Please enjoy the photos, and if you are anywhere on the East Coast, consider spending some time in Cape May.

Anyone have any Jersey Shore stories to share? Comments are open!

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