(Written Monday, June 4)
Well, we got one nice day before the rain started. And a great night in Fall River, Massachusetts, the night before.
We headed up to Fall River on Friday night. We always stay at the Holiday Inn in Fairhaven, because they allow dogs, and then drive back a ways to Fall River to enjoy a wonderful meal at our Portuguese restaurant, Sagres, where the Porco A Alentejano is the best there is, and, as mentioned in the last post, they still have fado music on Friday nights.
We first discovered Sagres about 23 years ago after reading about it in Jane and Michael Stern’s 1986 book, “Road Food and Good Food.” We have enjoyed Portuguese food for years due to our proximity to the Portuguese section of Newark (the Ironbound district, as it is known, due to the boundaries delineated by the railroad tracks in the area). But in Newark there are currently no restaurants with the traditional Portuguese music known as the fado. There are a few private clubs that have it, and for awhile one of the restaurants did as well, but more recently the music there had evolved into more popular modern Brazilian tunes, as the population has started to shift from Portuguese (many of whom came over after the revolution that took place in Portugal in 1974) to the newer immigrants from Brazil.
Ironically, the first time we heard the fado was at a Portuguese restaurant in London called O Fado, and we were hooked from the beginning. Later when we visited Portugal we made sure to go to as many fado clubs as we could, especially the less touristy ones in the Alfama, the oldest part of Lisbon.
Fado means “fate” in Portuguese, and consists of sad songs about lost loves and homesickness, embodying an emotion the Portuguese call “saudade”. Maria Severa, a gypsy who lived in the early 19th century, is credited with being the first known singer of the fado, or "fadista." Women who sing fado are called “fadistas.” If the singer is a man, he is called a “fadisto.” The most famous of the modern fadistas was Amalia Rodrigues, who died a few years ago.
In Lisbon, the Fado Museum opened a few years ago and tells the story of the fado, in text, pictures and musical recordings - including the different types (the fado of Coimbra differs somewhat from that of Lisbon) and the singers who have sung it over the years.
Fall River and New Bedford both have large Portuguese populations. Fall River has several Portuguese restaurants, bakeries, and even a supermarket (Chaves Market) where specialties such as Portuguese sausage, bread and dried codfish are sold. Chaves Market also has a large selection of Portuguese wine and brandy, and Portuguese pottery for sale.
The fado at Sagres was as good as ever, but we were disappointed that “our” musicians were not there. Fadistas traditionally are accompanied by the Portuguese guitar (“guitarra”) and the Spanish guitar. In the years we had been going to Sagres on our way up to, or back from, the Cape, we had gotten to know the guitar players and they always recognized us and said hello. (This stemmed from one evening when I’d had a lot of wine and Portuguese brandy with dinner and developed a deep affection for them. I went over to them and praised them, telling them we always enjoy their music so much, and that the fadistas come and go, but they are always there. They appreciated this and from that evening on we were fast friends whenever we arrived for our annual - and later, semi-annual - visits.)
But this time the fadista was accompanied by two other men that were not our guitarists. I’m hoping that the other two just had another engagement. But I suppose it’s possible they retired, as neither of them was getting any younger.
The next day was hot and sunny once again, and we drove the last hour and a half to our cottages on the Cape, arriving at a little after noon. Once settled in our cottages, we went to the Superette to stock up on supplies.
The Superette could be considered a large convenience store or a small grocery store. It has everything you need, including fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a well-stocked liquor store and a deli where you can buy sandwiches for lunch. The Superette is part of my family’s Cape Cod tradition. It has been there on the corner of Route 6 and Samoset Road ever since I’ve been coming to the Cape. It used to have a gas station attached to it but that closed quite a few years ago.
It was lucky we got up to the Cape fairly early on Saturday, as so far that has been the only nice day. We spent some time on the nearby bay beach, First Encounter Beach, and then came back to the cottages so Diva could have a swim. She had paddled in the ocean water a bit while we were at the beach, but she kept trying to drink the salt water so we had to keep her away from it.
When we arrived back at the cottage she couldn’t wait to go in the lake. We put on her “swimsuit” (a sturdy pink harness that she wears for these occasions, attached to a 26-foot extendable leash) and she ran down to the water and hopped right in. She had a great time chasing her ball in the water and swimming back with it.
Unfortunately, Sunday and today have been rainy off and on, and a lot cooler, because of a cold front and the remnants of a tropical storm that have been passing over. As a way to pass the time today, we went out for lunch at the Lighthouse in Wellfleet. I had my favorite – albeit fattening – lunch: fried oyster platter with fries, and for dessert homemade raspberry pie.
The forecast is for more of the same weather tomorrow, but the sun is supposed to reappear on Wednesday. I guess it wouldn’t be the Cape if we didn’t get some cool foggy gray weather! It just makes you appreciate the nice weather even more when it returns!
Tuesday was actually the sunny day! Diva had a great time chasing her ball in the water both on the beach and in the lake. Today, Wednesday, we are sitting out the rain at The Hot Chocolate Sparrow café in Orleans, which has wi fi (and very good espresso), as Angry Ballerina mentioned in the comments section!