Visiting Cape Cod During The Off-Season, Part 1

I've long thought of Cape Cod as my home away from home. I've gone year after year for many, many years now. While I love spending a summer week on the beach, I most appreciate Cape Cod during the quieter, milder off-season. My family usually spends Columbus Day Weekend there, but, well, someone (no names) decided to get married last Columbus Day Weekend, so my whole family was otherwise occupied.

Instead, my mom and I managed to sneak in a getaway one weekend last November. (Jeff and I had just found out that our house closing was once again delayed, and I just needed to escape and not think about it.) We booked a room at The Whale Walk Inn & Spa in Eastham and hit the road on Friday after I got out of work.

After we checked into the inn and got a nice tour of the main inn, carriage house, and spa, even though we knew the area well, we asked for restaurant recommendations because we weren't entirely sure what would be open in November. The innkeeper suggested Mahoney's, right down the road. My mom quickly realized where she was talking about and knew it was a place we had gone by often on our way to Snow's and the Hot Chocolate Sparrow, but we'd never stopped in before because it looked more like a bar than a restaurant. We decided to give it a try.

We walked in through the bar but were shown to a table around the corner in the quieter, yet packed, restaurant area. We ordered cocktails and cups of clam chowder right away. I'd had chowder on the brain the moment I knew we were headed to the Cape. This one satisfied my craving.

Cocktails at Mahoney's, Orleans, Mass.Clam chowder at Mahoney's, Orleans, Mass.

We shared drunken shellfish (how could you not order a dish with such a fun name?) and pan-roasted lobster. The drunken shellfish featured mussels and cherrystones steamed in brown ale and garlic with a hint of red pepper. I loved the mussels but found the cherrystones overwhelming (maybe they soak up more ale?). And I thought the lobster was really interesing. It was much harder to get the meat out of the shell than with a boiled lobster, but the butter-soaked bites were delicious.

Drunken shellfish at Mahoney's, Orleans, Mass.Pan-roasted lobster at Mahoney's, Orleans, Mass.

We were happy and full by the time we headed out. When we got back to the inn, we found an array of after-dinner drinks to choose from in the main inn. My mom poured a glass of sherry, and I tried the port. We took our glasses to our room, which was back in the carriage house, and we sipped our drinks as we watched The Hunger Games before bed.

The next day we were able to see the inn and grounds in daylight as we headed over to the main inn for breakfast. We stayed in a strawberry-themed room with a little side patio. (It would be a great spot to sit outside if we had been staying for a longer duration.)

Whale Walk Inn, Eastham, Mass.
Our room

Whale Walk Inn, Eastham, Mass.Whale Walk Inn, Eastham, Mass.

Whale Walk Inn, Eastham, Mass.

Whale Walk Inn, Eastham, Mass.
Main Inn
Back in the main inn, we sat in the little porch area with some other guests and enjoyed a breakfast spread of raisin bread and vegetable omelets, fruit, and Canadian bacon.

Breakfast at Whale Walk Inn, Eastham, Mass.Breakfast at Whale Walk Inn, Eastham, Mass.

After breakfast we explored Orleans, hitting Snow's, one of our favorite local spots. It's basically a housewares store with a huge back room filled with Christmas decor. They have everything from pillows to dishes to paint to cookbooks. It's always a fun stop, and very rarely do I leave without buying something.

After we made our way through the whole store, we decided to stop into a little wine and cheese shop (Main Street Wine & Gourmet) down the street, just to check it out.

Main Street Wine & Gourmet, Cape Cod

We planned on just browsing, but as we wandered around, a plan started to form in our heads to pick up supplies for a picnic lunch on the beach. We picked out some crackers and cheeses, and the women at the store suggested some Iggy's rolls to go along with our spread. They saw that we were putting together a little picnic and threw in some paper plates and napkins for us too.

Main Street Wine & Gourmet, Cape Cod

Main Street Wine & Gourmet, Cape Cod

I thought the shop was great. The cheese and wine selection was fun to browse and the women who helped us were so warm and friendly. I'll definitely be back next time I'm in the area.

Next up: pedicures. We had to get our feet beach ready before going to the beach. Yes, even in November.

With freshly polished toes, we got on Rt. 6 with plans to head to the beach and made a quick stop at Atlantic Spice Co. The moment you walk through the doors of the spice shop, you're on sensory overload. There are canisters and bags of spices everywhere, along with cookbooks, cutting boards, tea pots, and knickknacks. This is another dangerous store for me. I practiced restraint and only picked out some Israeli couscous on this visit.

Atlantic Spice Co., Truro, Mass.Atlantic Spice Co., Truro, Mass.

We left the spice shop and hit another detour: Truro Vineyards. We'd driven by the vineyard often, but for some reason or another, we'd never gone in for a tasting. It was time to cross it off the list.

Truro Vineyards, Truro, Mass.Truro Vineyards, Truro, Mass.

We wandered through the shop to the back room where the wine tastings are held. We could each try 5 wines so we chose different wines and shared to sample a total of 10.

Truro Vineyards, Truro, Mass.

We learned about each of the wines and what they pair best with. I enjoyed the 2011 Right White, a crisp and fruity blend of Vignoles and unoaked Chardonnay. (Proceeds from this wine go toward saving the whales.)

I also really liked the 2010 Cabernet Franc, a medium-bodied red with earthy notes that pairs well with pasta, salmon, and tuna. The 2010 Zinfandel was another favorite of mine with notes of cherry, raspberry and plum. This one goes well with Italian foods.

Truro Vineyards, Truro, Mass.

The Lighthouse Series wines come in fun lighthouse-shaped bottles and would make great gifts. I thought the Diamond White would be perfect for a summer evening on the Cape.

As we tasted wines, the winery dog came to visit in hopes that we would share some palate-cleasnsing crackers, which, of course, we did.

Truro Vineyards, Truro, Mass.Truro Vineyards, Truro, Mass.

The vineyard was a fun place to spend the afternoon and try new wines. And I noticed that Truro Vineyard wines are available in my local liquor store here in West Roxbury too, so you may be able to find them in your area as well.

Part 2 is coming up next...