Hearth ‘n Kettle Celebrates the Holidays in Traditional New England Style

While we were on Cape Cod for the weekend, we had the pleasure of good, simple, family meals.  TheHearth ‘n Kettle is a local Cape Cod chain of restaurants that I had known only in name until recently.

I’m not a snob, but I’ve definitely been spoiled when it comes to food.  I grew up in Canada where we got a great deal of our food at the nearby, primarily Mennonite, farmer’s market.  My mom made almost everything from scratch, and she shopped to get the best quality ingredients.  I don’t mean that she shopped at little foodie boutiques and high end stores, but she got the best quality for the best prices she could find.  We often drove out to get our meat from a farm’s meat coop.  We went to the health food store for a lot of our bulk flour and other ingredients.  We went to one grocery store for produce and another for meat.  I have also lived in France, when I was 7 and when I was 12 as well as travelled throughout Europe during my junior year abroad.  So I have eaten well in many a place.  I live in Cambridge now and continue to be spoiled.  Though I am definitely a foodie, I am not a food snob because I can appreciate a good grilled cheese sandwich with Kraft singles (my parents are rolling their eyes at this I know).  I enjoy a drippy, assembly line Burger King burger every once in a while.  I’ll even admit I like theChik-fil-A salad, hold the chicken, when I’m shopping at the Mall.

So, when we went to Cape Cod for the weekend, I’ll have to be honest I didn’t expect much.  When I think of the Cape, I think of ice cream stands that sell friend food, I think of sandwiches on white soft bread.  I think I’m miles away from my culinary home of Cambridge with my crusty Iggy’s bread and my Hi Rise sandwiches.  I know there are some fabulous restaurants sprinkled across the Cape.  Portuguesebakeries and other hidden jewels have built a name for themselves.  Most of the restaurants are on the “high end” side and tend to be not particularly family friendly.  With our kids, we love going to the Wicked Oyster in Wellfleet and when they were babies we even dined outside at Winslow Tavern.  I wouldn’t want to try to take the kids to some of the other gems of the Cape like Black-Eyed Susan’s on Nantucket where the wait with a reservation can be a while and the restaurant is a bit too intimate for young kids. The other thing that you have to remember is that during late fall and many restaurants are seasonal and I know that.  During our weekend of family time on the Cape, we had our meals at the Hearth ‘n Kettle(H’nK). I was pleasantly surprised.  The menu had a a wide variety of choices.  I always like to get whatever “makes sense” for where I am. If I’m by the water I’m going to get some fish. The seafood was cooked well as was the prime rib my husband ordered.   The best dishes to get are New England classics:  Cape Scrod, Fisherman’s Platter, Traditional roast turkey dinner.  You aren’t going to get the updated gourmet version of these.  You’re going to get the classic rendition.  I can get “modern, nouvelle, updated, fusion” food at home in the city.  When I eat somewhere like the H’nK I want simple, classic and comfort and that’s what they serve.

As I was flipping through the menu, I noticed that they had started to include organic ingredients.  This was more than I expected from such a restaurant, but it just goes to show the influence that huge grocery chains such as Whole Foods Market have had on the food we eat and are served.

When I met with Debra Catania, VP of the Catania Hospitality Group, we talked about how important our family is to each of us.  Love, tradition, and family are at the core of both our our lives, mine as a stay at home mother of two little ones, hers as a working mother of grown children.  This is something that you feel at the restaurant.  It is a well run restaurant, not a well-run money-making machine.  The staff are extremely nice and genuine.  The quality of the food is very good, they go the extra step to make the dining experience a good one and the portions are more than generous.  They had local high school students caroling while we dined.  This brought me back in time to where I grew up, before I lived in New York and Boston.  It was nice to have the small town experience.  Live music doesn’t have to be the Boston Symphony Orchestra, I had wanted to take my daughter to hear Elgar but couldn’t coordinate schedules, any live music is an experience for them.  Both kids appreciated a few simple carols sung by the students.  They asked questions about the pitch pipe, their outfits and about the singers.  They got so excited when a familiar song was sung.

So if you are lucky enough to escape and carve out some family time this winter, I definitely recommend a weekend on the Cape and you can rely on the Hearth ‘n Kettle for a friendly, family feel with good, classic New England style cooking.

Bon appetit. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For More Information:  Classic New England Recipes(Yankee Magazine), Hearth ‘n Kettle

Christmas in Carver: From Carving Turkey To Carving Out Family Time

What does a family of New York (once or twice removed) Jews do when Chanukah falls right around Christmas?  We carve out some family time.  You can’t have a Chanukah party two weeks before Chanukah starts because waiting for the first night will be an eternity for the kids.  It is bad enough that they couldn’t wait so they filled their Chanukiah‘s with candles already even though the first candle won’t be lit for another week.  So, we were invited to the Cape to check out the John Carver Inn and Edaville, USA. and scheduled a weekend together just the four of us.  Family time is hard to come by these days.  Even though, I am a stay at home mom and my husband works in town, we are usually just ships passing in the day and night. We are lucky if we can break bread together as a family once or twice a week.

As a child growing up, I always knew how important it was to sit together and have a family meal.  My brother and I both had busy schedules, and I know we didn’t have dinner together every night, but we always had meals together on weekends and on as many nights as possible.  As a parent, I feel that what I know to be best for my family has to be attained in a modified way.  So we drove a couple of hours to get away, relax, play, and break bread as a family.

The problem with some vacations is that you spend almost as long planning, and packing and traveling as you do “vacationing”.  The great thing about a mini-vacation on the Cape is that it doesn’t take that long (in the Winter) to get to your destination.  I am not a fan of crowds so the Cape in the winter is idyllic.  The John Carver Inn & Spa had everything we needed.  A great pool for the kids to play in, a spa for me to relax in, and a several nearby activities, and attractions for us to enjoy as a family.

Edaville‘s Christmas Festival of Lights is a sight to see.  I don’t think I could drive there just for Edaville, but it’s definitely an experience to be had in New England at least once.  We got there a bit early so we drove around and were fascinated with the deep red fields that were cranberry bogs.  Edaville USA has that old New England, “back in the day”, kind of feel.  The entry ticket includes a train ride through the night in a heated narrow gauge train.  The landscape has more than seven million holiday lights both still and animated sprinkled over the landscape of the two mile round trip.  The entry fee includes all the classic, “old school”, carnival rides, but the games are three dollars each.  There is the scent of fried dough and popcorn in the air.  Nothing tempted us.  A few people were inside grabbing a bite to eat, but I think they really just wanted to get out of the bitter cold air.  Only in New England with the wind whipping at our faces do you see families out in the freezing night bundled up with pink cheeks nestled on scarves zooming by on the tilt-a-whirl or gliding up and down on the ferris wheel.  This is a night when you appreciate hot chocolate.  The children loved all the lights and the trains.

As a Jew growing up in a mostly Christian environment, I definitely felt like I was back in my home town twenty years ago.  There was one menorah in the lit up landscape.  It was nice, but I really didn’t feel it was necessary.  The children know about Christmas, they celebrate it at Grandma’s but they don’t live the whole Santa and elves fantasy.  It didn’t matter though.  They loved all the lights and decorations.  They’re magical to the children and their reactions bring back the magic to us as adults.  This is a side of Christmas that anyone could enjoy.    Even though we celebrate Chanukah I still remember as a child being certain that I heard Santa and his sleigh fly over our house on Christmas or around Christmas time anyway.

After a couple of hours, it was nice to hop into the wind-free car and head over the to the hotel and the Hearth ‘N Kettle for dinner and a quiet evening by the fire.  And what I mean by quiet evening by the fire is that the gas was light in the fire place and the kids had quieted from jumping on the beds to giggling and making a tent with the sheets by crawling under them and kicking their feet in the air.  Eventually the excitement from the trip to Edaville, having a night in a hotel, and hearing carolers at dinner dissipated and all was quiet until morning where a new adventure awaited.

The morning included a generous breakfast at the Hearth ‘n Kettle, a spa treatment (one of the best massages I have had – Thanks Chandra), playtime in the Mayflower themed pool and water play area for daddy and the children, and a short trip down to Hyannis for our next night of holiday enchantment at the Cape Codder.   As part of our package, we stayed at both the Cape Codder and the John Carver Inn and had our meals at the Hearth ‘n Kettle.

For more on the classic New England Christmas experience, look for upcoming articles on the Hearth ‘n Kettle Restaurant and a night at The Cape Codder.

Bonne vacances. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For more info: Edaville Christmas Festival of Lights, Hearth ‘n KettleCranberry BogsJohn Carver Inn & Spa,Festival of Lights PackageFamily Vacation PackageSpa Packages