After Philadelphia we found ourselves in Newburgh, New York in the Hudson River Valley. We woke up early that Tuesday and headed to the Neptune Diner for breakfast. This was the type of local joint where the Rotarians and Lyon's Club members meet for brunch once a week, where old men slip into the same booth every morning and order the same thing while they read the paper. We had a delicious breakfast there and drove out of town and towards West Point, the United States Military Academy. The Village of Highland Falls was as cute and quaint a town as any from a Frank Capra movie. Pumpkins were perched on the stoop of each house, wooden signs were posted through town and the local church had a steeple tall enough for the parishioners to climb up it and actually reach heaven. The tour of West Point was much more sentimental than what you would expect from a Military Academy. The guide pointed out trees that were donated, rooms where mothers of cadets slept and the million dollar view of the Hudson. For what seems like such a "Dad" type place, I enjoyed it just as much as he did. Once our tour ended and we perused every nook and cranny of the museum, we were on the road to Rhode Island.
Newport, Rhode Island makes the Hamptons look like Flushing, Queens. Think of the largest, nicest house in your town. Now multiply it by 10 and add a view of the ocean and a butler. That might come close to the type of homes here. Dad and I were looking for one home in particular, The Breakers. This is a 65,000 square foot (that's not a mistake, it actually has sixty-five thousand sq. feet of living space) home built by the Vanderbilts in 1895. The term palatial should be used for nothing but this manor. Once we found the infamous residence, we ohhed and awwed and traipsed through the backyard snapping photographs along the way. Feeling proud of ourselves and happy with the pictures stored in our digital cameras we returned to the rental car and headed out to view other mammoth homes. About a half of a mile down the road we notice a monolith towering above the tree tops and saw a sign on the front gates reading "The Breakers". We gave each other a look as the mutual understanding of what just happened unfolded. The lawn we just walked through, all the photos we took, the ohhs and awws were not for The Breakers, but an impostor...the FAKE Breakers! Well actually we later learned it was Ochre Court, part of Salve Regina University. The real Breakers was even lovelier, if not better guarded then the fake Breakers. It's magnitude and beauty was only heightened by the magnitude and beauty of the Atlantic crashing upon the Cliff Walk behind the regal residence.
We left Newport and the birthplace of the US Gilded Age and traveled to the birthplace of the US, Plymouth, Mass. We arrived there just after dark so our view of "THE" rock wasn't perfect but we can say we did actually view Plymouth Rock. The Mayflower II sat in the harbor, illuminated only by moonlight but that too we can say we saw. Dinner was at a little ocean side restaurant called The Cabby Shack. There we enjoyed cups of Clam Chowder and Guinness Beef Stew, Fish N Chips and a luscious Lobster Roll. We finished out the night by driving on to a hotel in Danvers and readied ourselves for Salem and Boston.
This stew is inspired by the beef stew I enjoyed at The Cabby Shack in Plymouth. It's a combination of my beef stew and a recipe I found for a Guinness Vegetable Soup in an magazine article years ago. The combination is delicious!
Guinness Beef Stew
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 pounds beef stew meat,(NOT extra-lean)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups beef broth
1 cup Guinness beer
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (6-9 large potatoes)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups peeled carrots cut into thin, round disks
Salt and Pepper
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt (or use seasoning salt) the beef pieces and add the meat to the pan, working in batches if necessary (be careful to not over crowd the pan) and cook until browned on one side. Turn the pieces over and continue to cook until all sides are browned. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add beef broth, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, cumin, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a low boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
While the meat and stock simmer, melt the butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Saute vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the prepared stew has simmered for one hour.
Add vegetables to beef stew. Continue to simmer for another hour (uncover halfway through). Discard bay leaves. Spoon off any fat and add salt and ground pepper to taste. Serve warm with a nice, crusty bread.
View of the Hudson River from West Point
The Fake Breakers
The Real Breakers
Dad the Chauffeur
Me on the Cliff Walk