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Category: People We Love

A Tour of Lebanon and At the Beach By 3:00…

From time to time, we take our advertisers out to breakfast to review a local breakfast place for our readers. We recently invited Pete Covill of Humphrey, Covill & Coleman to join us for breakfast and he instantly said, “Why not lunch?” 

Pete wanted us to check out the re-opened Lebanese Kitchen. But shhhh, it’s kind of an open secret…it’s not officially open yet. There’s been no grand opening. Although you wouldn’t know it from the crowds already heading there. The Lebanese Kitchen relocated to Mattapoisett after a fire 4 years ago decimated the family’s New Bedford location and their home. They’ve got super fans all over the South Coast going back over 35 years who have been waiting patiently for the last four years for the Moujabber family to reopen their restaurant.

It’s a family affair. Nabih and Nouhad Moujabber own the restaurant and their son Gary helps run it. Gary says,”My mom is the back of the house, I’m the front of the house. My dad is the whole house!”  Nouhad  arrives each day by 8:00 to start making all the staples homemade from scratch: tabbouli, hummus, babaganoush. She’ll be there until after midnight many nights.

It’s a big change from their small 35 seat place on Purchase Street in New Bedford. The Mattapoisett location has seating for 250 and includes a large bar area. Gary says they’re still in the soft opening phase because they want to make sure they iron out the kinks for this much bigger operation. He wants everyone to be patient while they do this. Based on the crowds, I’d say they’re doing a great job of smoothing out the kinks.

We settled in and ordered the Maza, billed as a “tour and taste of Lebanon with our chef’s exotic Lebanese specialties served family style.” It is like a tasting menu, a smorgasbord of everything, in vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. It seemed the perfect introduction to the Lebanese Kitchen and to Lebanese food in general.

It arrived and could probably have fed a small family: falafel, hummus, baba, tabbouli, chicken and kafta kebabs, mjadra (a thick lentil stew) and loubieh (string beans, tomatoes, onions and garlic sauteed in olive oil – so yummy!). Despite the abundance of food, we quickly made short order of it because you have to sample everything and one thing is better than the next. A special shout out for their special garlic paste which looked a little like mayonnaise but is actually almost entirely garlic emulsified in the blender to become a thick and creamy spread that makes everything taste even better: kebabs, pita, french fries. Gary jokes, “I brush my teeth with that stuff!”

As full as we were, we tried the baklava for dessert, homemade of course. Flaky pastry with sweet honey, pistachios and just a hint of rose water. I’m thinking next time I go, I may have my dessert first before I get too filled up.

We peeked into the kitchen to say goodbye to Nouhad who had overseen all this deliciousness. She was far younger than I thought. Her food made me think she was an ancient woman because her skill in the kitchen seems based on ages and ages of experience.

Pete Covill was a regular at their Purchase Street location, just a short jaunt from his insurance agency. Pete can fully appreciate the art in Nouhad’s cooking because he is an avid home cook. He knows good food. Follow Pete’s lead and become a regular at the Lebanese Kitchen. (We’re thinking of following his lead on all things culinary!)

When the Moujabber’s original place burned up, Pete was there helping to carry things out. He cried with the family. His clients become his family. He does all sorts of things for them: he bought a tuxedo and waited tables for one client, he gets up in the middle of the night when their pipes burst, he even helped pick out the wines for the Lebanese Kitchen. His father Raymond instilled in him this conscientiousness. He remembers an elderly woman coming in with her car which had graffiti all over it. It was an older car and she had no coverage for this kind of damage. Raymond and Pete went out to the parking lot, got some polish from Raymond’s car and they polished the graffiti right off her car. Pete proudly notes, “My cell phone number is on the front door.” His clients know how to reach him and he picks up the phone. No matter where or when it rings.

Pete is pretty passionate about insurance. It’s not put-on, it’s really genuine. Over lunch, he told me with enthusiasm that there’s never been a better time to be in insurance than right now because with the de-regulation of the coastal flooding programs, he can get significant deals for homeowners who need flood insurance. It makes him almost giddy when he’s able to reduce homeowners’ insurance sometimes by thousands and thousands of dollars. He’s the guy that real estate agents call when their clients are having trouble getting a mortgage because they’ve been told that a coastal home is uninsurable. If you want to check in with him, give him a call. His number is plastered on the door of his agency so he said it’s okay to plaster it here: 508-264-0130.

Find Lebanese Kitchen at 79 Fairhaven Road, Mattapoisett. Find Pete at Humphrey, Covill & Coleman Insurance Agency at 195 Kempton Street, New Bedford.

And, finally, to keep up with South Coast Almanac’s restaurant hopping and lots more going on in the area, sign up here.

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The Best Homefries We’ve Ever Had

From time to time, we take our advertisers out to breakfast to review a local breakfast place for our readers. Because, really, who doesn’t love breakfast? Most recently, we had breakfast with Cindy Parola of LaForce Realty…..

Cindy Parola is a local’s local and she really knows her stuff, whether that is real estate or home fries. I knew she’d be a good person to ask about breakfast spots. When I asked her to pick a place to review, she chose the Riverside Cafe on Wareham’s Main Street.

I got there a few minutes early and took a look at the menu. I had settled on the Green Pig (spinach, sausage and mozzarella cheese omelet) before Cindy arrived and the waitress came over to give us the specials. There were a half dozen specials but one stood out and made me forget the Green Pig: morning glory pancakes. Like a morning glory muffin, but in a pancake form. With coconut too. I know people have strong opinions about coconut. Me, I love it. Put it in any dish and I want that dish. (“Coconut infused fried kidney livers?” Sure! Sign me up!)

So I put away the menu and ordered the morning glory pancakes. Cindy chose the Main Street Special. She told me she picked Riverside because the hash is amazing. Then she realized she hadn’t even ordered the hash. “Yeah,” she said, “the problem is that it’s all good.” She also likes that everything in Riverside is mismatched, like our coffee cups were. She took a second glance at one of them, “I think this is my Black Dog mug.”

homefriesWhen her order arrived, she told me Riverside makes the best home fries she’s ever had and she let me try them. She’s right. They are stupendous. Crispy like no others I’ve ever had. They are seriously worth a trip, even if you hail from the other end of the South Coast. Even if you’re coming from Boston.

While we happily ate our breakfast, we talked about Cindy’s work and life here.

Her family story reads like the American dream. Her grandfather came to the United States from Greece. He started working as a shoeshiner, then got a pushcart in downtown New Bedford selling produce before purchasing a wholesale route and opening a storefront on Wareham’s Main Street (where Mumma Marys is now). Then he started buying bogs at Mary’s Pond in Rochester and started farming cranberries. Real estate was important to him and Cindy absorbed his lessons (“always buy corner properties” and “you can always make more money but you can’t make more land.”)

Cindy inherited his worth ethic. “I don’t do anything half-assed,” she says frankly. “I was taught that an A- wasn’t good enough. The bar was set high. I was also told I had to participate.” At Old Rochester Regional High School, she participated in theater, track, volleyball, band and chorus. She took the late bus home every day which set her up for the grueling schedule she’s maintained throughout her life. In many ways, she has carried on her grandfather’s legacy of land and cranberries — she’s been president of Decas Cranberries for 20 years and she’s also a real estate broker affiliate at LaForce Realty. But she’s done so many other things: she owned a liquor store in Wareham when she was just 17 [before she was legally of drinking age!]; she finished college in 3 years; she served on the Wareham School Committee and Board of Selectman; she’s hosted two dozen Cape Cod League baseball players.

She’s got a sharp wit and is full of surprises. She seems tenacious and tough but I thought I detected something else under all toughness. I’ve noticed that she’s the first to support the members in our 6 Degrees Networking group. I told her I thought I had cracked her secret. That underneath it all, she is kind. She laughed. “I’m not kind,” she said, definitively. “No,” she repeated for emphasis. “I’m not.”

I was a little surprised because who doesn’t want to be seen as kind? I tried a different approach. “Well, you’re loyal then.”

“Nope,” she countered. “I’m not loyal.”

“But you’re such a great supporter of all the small businesses in our group,” I argue back. “I go to sign up for a yoga class and you’ve written the testimonial on the website.”

She was having none of it. “I’m fiercely protective of my reputation,” she said. “I want to try people out before recommending them. I’m not going to recommend people who I don’t use myself.” Fair enough. She knows a lot of people and a lot of people know her. “If you own a liquor store when you’re 17, trust me you know everyone,” she says. It makes sense that she is fierce about her reputation. (Still, I think there’s at least a little kindness mixed in there too.)

So here are the takeaways from breakfast with Cindy Parola.

  • The Riverside Cafe is amazing. We both give it an A.
  • The home fries are the best we’ve ever ate.
  • Morning Glory Pancakes with warm syrup should be a regular part of anyone’s life.
  • Cindy is supposedly neither kind, nor loyal.
  • She is a connector.
  • I should go back to Riverside for the hash.

Check out the homefries yourself at Riverside Cafe, 189 Main Street, Wareham, 508-295-2050. Open daily for breakfast and lunch, 6 am to 1 pm.

To find out more about Cindy’s real estate practice (commercial, residential, you name it — she knows it all), go here.

And, finally, to keep up with breakfast place reviews and lots more going on in the area, sign up here.

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Swinging from the Stars: Teresa Kochis

South Coast artists
South Coast Artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

The South Coast is brimming with creative energy, art and culture. In our 2017 issue, we featured 7 artists who help make it so. Over the next month, we’ll be reprinting our 2017 profiles, with some extra photographs. First up, meet Teresa Kochis, our resident aerial artist (written by Laura Pedulli and photographed by Elin Bodin). To see the story as it originally appeared in our summer 2017 issue, click here or just read on…

Mastering aerial arts requires a combination of technical precision, strength, flexibility and grace. Teresa Kochis makes it look effortless.

Kochis, a New Bedford-based aerial artist, performs her high flying acrobatic feats on 19-ft.-long silks that dangle from the ceiling of her home at the Ropeworks loft space for artists. She climbs, twists, spins, drops and contorts herself with the poise of a dancer.


“I love the feeling of possibility that exists in New Bedford. Whether it’s a small business opening up or a nonprofit launching or a historic mill building being re-envisioned, New Bedford is a place where new ideas and projects are being tested.”


South Coast artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

“When I perform, I am very focused on executing the skills well and safely. After that, I let the spirit of the piece take over, whether that means deep diving into serious emotion, moving with abandon, or allowing my inner clown to take to the stage,” she says.

Kochis is owner of Overhead Arts, which provides circus arts training right in the heart of New Bedford. She first started offering a few classes for adults in January 2010, and soon extended lessons to youth.

As a child, Kochis immersed herself in drawing and painting. At age 17, she encountered aerial arts when her sister began training at the Circus Arts Institute in Atlanta.

“I remember seeing her perform and knowing I wanted to do be able to do that, too,” says Kochis, who went on to receive training and education from the Arts Institute, the New England Center for Circus Arts and New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study. She also served as a coach coordinator and social circus instructor for the outreach program of Cirque du Soleil.

Kochis and her partner, Andy Anello, eventually moved from New York City to New Bedford with a little guidance from the Internet.

“I googled, ‘Massachusetts loft,’ and our building The Ropeworks Artist Condominium came up in my search. It just happened to be the week before New Bedford Open Studios, so it was easy to come down and take a look at the space. The rest is history,” she says.

In addition to classes at her loft, Kochis brings aerial arts to area youth through New Bedford Cultural Council-sponsored programs at the Boys and Girls Club of New Bedford and AHA! (Art • History • Architecture).


“Every time I teach a student to juggle scarves, I’m reminded of the intrinsic value of circus arts. It has the power to bring joy, self-confidence, drive, and perpetual wonder to an individual in a short instant, which can truly last a lifetime,” she says.


Over the years, she has watched her students reach new heights (both literally and figuratively) in confidence and ability.

“I have adult students who have gone on to acquire teacher- training certificates and now teach at Overhead Arts. I have advanced youth students who are seeking out educational and performance opportunities in circus arts. I have students that come back year after year to take part in Overhead Arts’ outreach programs. I’m so proud of all of them,” Kochis says.

South Coast artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

In 2016, Kochis opened an additional space at 88 Hatch Street, not far from the Ropeworks. “The building is a great fit for Overhead Arts since it’s intended for artists, has industrial beams perfect for rigging aerial equipment, and lots of open floor space for classes.”

Kochis credits her success with the supportive atmosphere of New Bedford, which offers affordable living and studio spaces, an array of arts organizations, proximity to larger cities like Boston and Providence, and a rich culture and history.

“I love the feeling of possibility that exists in New Bedford. Whether it’s a small business opening up or a nonprofit launching or a historic mill building being re-envisioned, New Bedford is a place where new ideas and projects are being tested,” she says.

In the meantime, Kochis hopes to grow the student base by attracting more talented and passionate coaches and launching out-of-school camps, and potentially, a scholarship program.

“Every time I teach a student to juggle scarves, I’m reminded of the intrinsic value of circus arts. It has the power to bring joy, self-confidence, drive, and perpetual wonder to an individual in a short instant, which can truly last a lifetime,” she says.

To keep up with your cool and interesting neighbors and what’s happening on the South Coast, sign up for our free updates right here. To learn more about Overhead Arts, check out its Facebook page.

Laura Pedulli is a Marion-based writer who has covered art, government, healthcare, business, education and cultural affairs for various publications – including The New Bedford Standard-Times, Sippican Week and The Wanderer. She currently seves as associate director for communications at a local college. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she has traded mountains for the ocean and hasn’t looked back. 

Photographer Elin Bodin has spent most of her life outside her beloved Iceland, in Norway, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and finally the United States. Elín moved to New England in 1998 and shortly thereafter fulfilled her life-long dream and established elín photography (www.elinphotography.com), working in both magazine and wedding photography.

 

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6 Amazing Women: Eva Sommaripa

Eva Sommaripa (Photo by Elin Bodin)

March is women’s history month and we’ve had a fun month, introducing you to the six amazing women we chose to feature in our inaugural issue.  If you’ve been keeping track, you know we’ve introduced five women so far this month.

Who is the sixth? Well, we actually introduced you to her on our blog back in January (because we wanted to be thinking about spring and farming back in those cold, dark days).  Eva Sommaripa is a food pioneer, who is known all over Rhode Island and Massachusetts for her remarkable herbs, microgreens and foraged edibles. For those of you who missed it, please feel free to check out the print version of our 2016 article on Eva right here: Eva Sommaripa

And if you want to keep up with more of our favorite South Coast folks, sign up here for our free emails filled with lots of juicy stories and local tidbits.

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6 Amazing Women: Michelle Hantman

March is women’s history month. At South Coast Almanac, we’re digging into our (short) history to bring you the profiles of 6 amazing women from the inaugural 2016 issue.

Today, we introduce Michelle Hantman from the United Way of Greater New Bedford. Michelle flirted with the idea of becoming a news anchor and even interned at CNN and Extra in Los Angeles before realizing that she wanted to make a difference back home on the South Coast. Check out her story here: Michelle Hantman

And if you want to keep up with more of our favorite South Coast folks, sign up here for our free emails filled with lots of juicy stories and local tidbits.

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6 Amazing Women: Dr. Ann Partridge

March is women’s history month. At South Coast Almanac, we’re digging into our (short) history to bring you the profiles of 6 amazing women from the inaugural 2016 issue.

Today we present Dr. Ann Partridge, an internationally renowned Dana Farber oncologist, who lives right here in New Bedford. Find out why she chose a 60 mile commute.  Check it out here: Ann Partridge

And if you want to keep up with more of our favorite South Coast folks, sign up here for our free emails filled with lots of juicy stories and local tidbits.

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6 Amazing Women: Gail Fortes

March is women’s history month. At South Coast Almanac, we’re digging into our (short) history to bring you the profiles of 6 amazing women from the inaugural 2016 issue.

This week, meet Gail Fortes who detoured from a career in dance to a career empowering girls and women. Find out why she’s got rolling suitcases packed at the office at all times. Check out her story here: Gail Fortes. 

And if you want to keep up with more of our favorite South Coast folks, sign up here for our free emails filled with lots of juicy stories and local tidbits.

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6 Amazing Women: Ashley Bendiksen

March is women’s history month. At South Coast Almanac, we’re digging into our (short) history to bring you the profiles of 6 amazing women from the inaugural 2016 issue.

Our hero today is Ashley Bendiksen, a young woman who passionately works to make sure other young women know they can survive domestic abuse. Check out her story here: Ashley Bendiksen.

And if you want to keep up with more of our favorite South Coast folks, sign up here for our free emails filled with lots of juicy stories and local tidbits.

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6 Amazing Women: Louise Bastarache

March is women’s history month. At South Coast Almanac, we decided to dig into our own history (alright, alright…with just one issue out so far, we don’t really have to “dig” very far) to bring you the profiles of 6 amazing women from the inaugural 2016 issue.

First up, the baby whisperer: Tobey Hospital’s Louise Bastarache. People drive from as far away as Boston and Provincetown to have Louise as their midwife. Check out our story about her here: Louise Bastarache.

 

And if you want to keep up with more of our favorite South Coast folks, sign up here for our free emails.

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5 More South Coast Couples We Love

5 More South Coast Couples We Love

Last year, we shared our favorite South Coast couples and it was the most popular post of the year (check it out here if you missed it). We guess everyone is drawn to a good love match, just like we are. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we continue the tradition this year right here, with 5 More South Coast Couples We Love. A special shout out and thanks to A.J. Marks Jewelers for sponsoring this post! If you’re looking for something for your sweetheart, check out A.J. Marks — they’ll take good care of you.

Justin & Megan at the 2016 South Coast Almanac launch party

Justin Tonnessen & Megan Bruce

Together since: 2011

Why We Love Them: We love the patience of this Fairhaven couple. Their courtship was the longest we’ve ever heard of. When mutual friends tried to set them up, they went out for a lunch date in 2009. Then they went on another date in 2010. In 2011, they ran into each other at Cork in downtown New Bedford. Something clicked that night and they’ve been together non-stop ever since.

 

 

Our favorite Valentine's couples

Tim & Howe at the annual Picnic on the Lawn

 

Howe Allen & Tim Evans

Together since: 2003

Why We Love Them: They bring a sense of adventure to everything they do. On a whim and having never visited Fairhaven before, they decided to drive to West Island because they were looking for a second home and they liked how it looked on a map. Within a month, they were West Island homeowners. Three years later in 2010, they had moved permanently from Boston to Fairhaven. They settled in and together have created new treasured traditions in the community like the annual Picnic on the Lawn (which we adore!) and the Fairhaven Short Film Festival (which we’re going to check out this May). We’re so happy they moved to the South Coast.

 

 

 

Mark Medeiros

Mark & Gayle on Martha’s Vineyard

Mark & Gayle Medeiros

Together since: 1972

Why We Love Them: They’ve been together for over 40 years since they first met at Bristol Community College but you’d never know it. They still look like two kids in love. Perhaps it’s because they make sure to go out on a date every weekend. That’s pretty impressive (and is perhaps the reason for their longevity). They still enjoy each other’s company enough to work side by side at Slocum Design Studio in Dartmouth (where they help us keep this website up-to-snuff!)

 

 

Dave Richardson & Jan Schmidt

Dave & Jan

Dave Richardson & Jan Schmidt

Together since: 2014

Why We Love Them: They met when Jan was a guest performer at one of Dave’s weekly blues gigs. They were both “reluctant relationship people” but they liked each other and started following each other’s musical careers. Dave remembers being an audience member at one of Jan’s shows, mesmerized by her and just thinking “wow, look at that!” After that show, they hopped on his motorcycle, went out for sushi and decided to go to see Boyhood at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence. Settling into the leather couches that night, they both realized they had something special.

A detour from the South Coast: Dave says, “When we met, I was planning to move back to Maine. I told her, ‘If I’m moving to Maine, I’m not leaving you behind.'” Sadly, they did move to Maine. Happily, they moved back to New Bedford last summer.  Check them out performing together at Fathoms Bar & Grill on February 24 and March 10 or at Tavolo on March 4.

 

Ashley & Riley

Ashley & Riley at a farmer’s market

Ashley Payne & Riley Mello

Together since: 2015

Why We Love Them: They’re always thinking of the next big idea. And then making it happen. In November 2015, they made a batch of dog treats made from spent grain left over from Riley’s home beer brewing. Turns out, the treats were pretty darn good. They applied for permits and went into business last spring as French BrewDog Bakery, attending events and farmers markets all over the South Coast. We ran into them at the Fairhaven Farmers Market and fell in love with them and their adorable booth. We won’t be surprised if they open a cafe for humans someday soon. Their Dartmouth home is the experimental base for creating all sorts of funky edibles like kombucha, wine, beer and things you’ve never even considered (like fermented granola, fermented salsa and fermented ginger beer). Keep an eye out for expanded offerings…

 

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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