How's this for being prompt! De Prez Jim Hamm and wife Zee have just e-mailed the latest installment of their east coast trip. Here is is:
"Hi again...If you're so inclined to read more about our first Elderhostel trip, here we go. This time we're in Newport, RI, and we finished the first Elderhostel tour last evening in Boston. We rented a car, drove about 60 miles to a motel in Newport, where we start our second Elderhostel tour tonight.
"Yesterday morning we toured 'Old Italy,' an enclave of small shops, condos and apartments in northeast Boston. Our tour guide was an enthusiastic lady who taught Italian cooking for 25 years. She has a condo in 'Old Italy,' has an upbeat, funny attitude, and really enjoys all things Italian. A very enjoyable tour guide.
"Off to the shops we go. They are all small and cater to the people living in 'Old Italy.' Quite an experience. For example, into a small butcher shop a customer goes. One sits down, the butcher comes over and asks want you want. You tell him. He goes into the cooler, brings out the meat, cuts it the way you want, wraps it up, you pay for it, and off you go. No prices shown. You 'know' the butcher, he is honest, the prices fair, and the meat fresh.
"Hi ho, hi ho, into a small grocery store we go (well, okay, it is so small, we just peek in the window as we stand in the street). Michelle goes in, grabs a couple of items, brings them out, tells us all about them. For example, did you know there are male and female eggplant—and how to tell them apart? I didn't either—but now I do. Ha! Why would one want to know that? Well, one tastes better, and she tells us why, so there...(grin)... Then, she goes back in, grabs something else, and another story commences. The owner, just that morning, has driven to a central farmers' market, picked up fresh produce, eggs, etc., and has them on display for you. Nothing is priced or has prices shown. You pick out what you want, he rings up the sale, and off you go.
"We go into a local wine store and Michelle tells us what Italians drink before, during and after dinner. Then, she pours a sample of her favorite for us—Lemoncello liqueur. It was very tasty, and I'll get some when we return home. And so it goes, small shop after small shop. A very interesting area to live in. Once or twice each year Michelle leads a cooking tour to Italy for a week or so. Zee is already expressing interest in that tour.
"After lunch, we head to Sam Adams Brewery for a tour. A young tour guide (most of them are college students) shows and tells us how Jim Cook, the owner, used a recipe his great-great grandfather used to make beer in Germany many years ago. In 1984 he decided to start making beer, using the same recipe. He was successful from the start, and now sells a huge quantity of 21 different Sam Adams beers. After the tour, we got to sample three of the different types of beer. They do make good beer.
"To finish our tour, we went to Glocouster, a small fishing village on the coast, where we had a very nice lobster dinner. The owner came into the dining room, told us tales about the village, people in the area and the fishing fleet. He then showed us how to easily breakup a lobster for dining. We put on our big, plastic bibs, and dig in. Lobster, corn on the cob, potato, some wine, and strawberry shortcake for desert. Burp! Excuse me...(grin)...
"We're at a Best Western motel now, and again have free wifi. I'll take a break now to rest up for awhile before going in to meet the new group of Elderhostelers. Touring is tough, but someone needs to help the economy, and we sure are!"
Stay tuned for Jim's next installment.