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Five Great Valentine Dates on the South Coast

Valentine’s Day is coming up and we asked Rebecca of the Almanac team to give us some suggestions for celebrating. We’re not surprised she came up with a great list! Read on….

Chocolate and Wine. What Else Do You Need?

Stop by Portugalia Marketplace for its Annual Chocolate Festival this Saturday  from 11 – 2 p.m. and enjoy tastings from chocolatiers and vintners, with live music by Birdtalk jazz trio to get you in the mood. February 11. See more here.

Maybe Some Music…

While you’re in the neighborhood on Saturday, the Narrows Center for the Arts welcomes singer-songwriter Paula Cole to the stage. With an extraordinary voice, she has opened for Peter Gabriel, Melissa Etheridge and Sarah McLachlan.  Book reservations for dinner beforehand at The Abbey Grill, a restored former monastery with an open kitchen and sprawling bar.

Or A Romantic Walk?

Break out your wellies and head to Destruction Brook Woods for a short or long walk exploring the rolling woodlands and the old mill and farmstead. Grab a map, or just get lost here. Make sure you find the footbridges and bubbling waterways.

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s with the kids or with some canine friends, bring them to walk at the Bogs in the Mattapoisett River Reserve. With four miles of dog-friendly woods, wetlands and cranberry bog trails to wander through, there’s plenty to stimulate conversation pondering who and what was there before.

A Nightcap (or two)…

New Bedford is bursting with plenty of new spots and established favorites where you can enjoy good drinks and food.  Check out Cultivator Shoals, a chic new bar serving up craft cocktails. A Rose By Any Other Name is their ode to Valentine’s Day, designed by Devon McGrath and featuring rose petal infused Tito’s vodka, fresh lemon juice & strawberry puree. She gave me the recipe but it takes three days from start to finish. Trust me, let them do the work!

Or try The Bitter End Lounge on Route 6 in Fairhaven. Intrigued by its name and sign, I made this a launching spot for a date night recently. It’s a self-proclaimed dive bar where you can sidle up to the bar or shoot some pool. Wrap up the evening at Gilda’s Stone Rooster a little further east on 6 in Marion where you’ll find local legend Gilda tending bar (Secret tip: Gilda opens the house to the fabulous South Coast Jazz Symphony Orchestra periodically on Monday nights. The upcoming dates are February 27, March 13 and 27, April 10 and 24, May 8 and 22, June 5 and 19. Always from 8 -10 pm.)

The Morning After…

Great pancakes. That’s love. The Barn in Little Compton, RI is the perfect spot to indulge in a romantic breakfast. They’re serving up a Valentine’s special of fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh strawberries, chocolate kisses (yes, chocolate kisses!) and whipped cream. Afterwards you might want to walk it off at South Shore Beach, a true gem no matter the time of year.

We hope we’ve inspired you to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Be sure to check in with all of these locales before you go to make sure nothing’s changed since we posted. All of us at South Coast Almanac wish you and your sweethearts another day filled with love and adventure!

 

Keep up with South Coast Almanac updates, news and events, by signing up for our free emails here.

Special shout out to AJ Marks Jewelers in Wareham and Hyannis for sponsoring our Valentine blog posts.  Thanks, guys!

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The Magic Number is 5 — 5 Ways to Celebrate the South Coast this January

Hey! The calendar will soon turn to 2016. That means just 5 more months until our magazine launches and you can hold our lovely print (or digital) edition in your hands as you sit on the porch, or at the beach, or on your boat, engrossing yourself in all that makes the South Coast special.
 
In the meantime, how to fill your time to help May come quicker? Here are 5 things to enjoy on the South Coast in January:
 
Polar Plunges
On January 1, more than a few brave souls will be plunging into winter waters (water temperatures hover around 40 degrees this time of year).  Maybe it’s time you tried it.
 
In Fairhaven at 10 am, the annual Polar Plunge will surprise you with its crowd. Last year, they came from all over the state and some from well outside the state, representing over 40 towns. (See Fairhaven Polar Plunge.)

 

Don’t worry if you decide to sleep in and you miss the Fairhaven festivities. At noon, Mattapoisett’s Freezin’ for A Reason Polar Plunge takes place at the Town Beach. (See Mattapoisett Polar Plunge.) 

And between 11 and 2, you can jump from The Back Eddy’s dock as part of its Polar Plunge Brunch (though you can simply just choose the brunch option). Reservations are strongly recommended because this is pretty popular. The Back Eddy, 1 Bridge Road, Westport. 508-636-6500.
 
Onset is taking this year off for its Polar Plunge but will return again in 2017.  
 
The Moby Dick Marathon 20th Anniversary
Stop by for five minutes or for an hour or two. I had to read Moby Dick twice in college and hated it each time. I went to the Marathon last year at 5:00 in the morning just to see what it was all about (and whether there was anyone there at 5 a.m. – there are!). Here’s my quick report: Moby Dick is far better enjoyed when you’re sitting under the skeleton of whales, surrounded by quirky and interesting people who have braved the cold to do something as whimsical as participate (whether as a reader or simply as a listener) in this annual literary marathon.  
The reading takes place from Saturday, January 9 at 10 a.m. through Sunday January 10 at 1 p.m. New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA.
 
Embrace Winter
Rent some snowshoes (see Ski House in Somerset) and find a favorite summer trail and snowshoe through it. Or find a new place. The Trustees of Reservations website allows you to search for local places for good snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. For example, Allen Haskell Public Gardens in New Bedford is a great place to cross-country ski, snowshoe, or pull a child on a sled. Cornell Farm in Dartmouth also offers space for skiing, showshoeing and winter hiking.  See Trustees’ Search by Activity.
 
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Have you heard of hygge? It’s a Danish word (pronounced kind of like HYU-gah). While it can’t be translated easily into English, I gather it generally means a sense of coziness and well-being. Good company, food and drink are required elements. Those Danes are onto something. Even though they have 17 hours of darkness in deep winter with temperatures hovering at freezing, they are among the happiest in the world (The World Happiness Report — it really exists). So, don’t stop with the holiday merriment. Keep meeting up with friends and family for good meals and company. If you don’t want to entertain at home, check out your favorite local spots. You might even find some crazy specials out there. Combine lunch and dinner (lunner?) at Ella’s in Wareham on Saturday afternoons between 3 and 4 and you’ll get 25% off your meal.  New Bedford’s Cork has a “5 at 5” menu. You get $5 glasses of wine and $5 appetizers between 5 and 6 pm on weekdays (this really plays nicely into our theme of 5).  Ella’s Wood Burning Oven Restaurant, 3136 Cranberry Highway, Wareham, www.ellaswoodoven.com; Cork Wine and Tapas, 90 Front Street, New Bedford, www.corkwineandtapas.com.
 
Get Out and Listen to Music
Another way to find some hygge is at the Narrows Center for the Arts, a world class performance space overlooking Mount Hope Bay and Battleship Cove. It has some great shows lined up for January. Ten years ago, I listened to Anna Nalick’s Breathe (2 a.m.) on my ipod every single time I ran (back when there were ipods and when I ran). She’s coming to the Fall River venue. So is Marshall Crenshaw, Entrain, Cheryl Wheeler, The Winter Blues Festival, and many other great acts. See Narrows Center for a complete list of the upcoming shows.  Narrows Center, 16 Anawan Street, Fall River. 
 
Go out and enjoy January. And remember, five more months until South Coast Almanac launches!
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Ain’t No Blues at the Airport Grille

 

Long-Edge-300pixels-72dpiOn the first Monday of every month, the Airport Grille at New Bedford’s regional airport hosts the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra.

It’s been on our To Do list for a while and this seemed like the right week for it. These short days after daylight saving time are always sobering. And they are especially jarring this week with mild sunny days that abruptly end in the afternoon. The temperature outside just doesn’t seem to reflect the hunkering down aspect of the season.

The Airport Grille was the perfect place to spend last night to banish the darkness with style. Small groups, large groups, couples all added to a cheerful atmosphere. “Is it always this crowded?” I asked our waitress.

“Not usually on a Monday,” she said, “It’s the jazz.”

Ah, right. We had come for the food (because we’re working on the restaurant guide for the first issue…it’s heavy lifting but we’re serious workers) but also to see the monthly jazz sessions that we’d heard about.

7083We arrived before the band and ordered the seared scallops and lobster mac and cheese. The mac and cheese arrived in the most impressive display we’d ever seen.

Then the band began to assemble. It wasn’t simply a jazz trio or quartet. This was a 17-piece orchestra. Even writing “17” doesn’t seem to adequately reflect how big this band is. And when they began to play? Everything else that was important (the perfectly cooked scallops, the large chunks of lobster floating in the creamy mac and cheese) was a footnote. What a treat to listen to this band. Don’t go to this dinner with an old friend who you haven’t seen in years. Once the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra begins, you couldn’t care less what your old friend has been up to — you’ll just want to pay attention to the music.

It’s great theater to watch a band this big: all of the different personalities melding together and sometimes splitting apart to create their music; the gleaming trumpets, trombones, and saxophones all lined up, the audience’s attention focused and rapt. It makes you want to learn how to play an instrument and join in. It makes you think about making a reservation for next month’s session. It makes you wonder about throwing a party for the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra to perform at.

Like, say, a magazine launch party? Like, say, in May?

Stay tuned….

 

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