I often find myself mindlessly wandering through old folders of photos on my laptop, perhaps fuelled by some nostalgic yearning to relive the stories captured through my lens. Yesterday I stumbled upon some images I took late last September on a brief day trip to Newport to surf before the weather became too cold.
With the weather now on the precipice of warmth, teasing us with momentary whisps of spring, many may have coastal day trips on the mind again. As Dan’s mother grew up in Newport, we often visit the eclectic beach town where WASPs and beach bums walk side by side. Many visit to wander amongst the magnificent Breakers and stand diminutive beneath their grandiose arches. On spring or fall days when the weather is a little brisk, we love to sit out on our boards at Eastons Beach and watch the tourists move like ants along the Cliffside Walk while we lazily tour our own breakers of sorts in the water.
On this particular fall day, we surfed until even our wetsuits couldn’t keep us warm, then dried off and headed over to Bannister’s Wharf at the Newport waterfront where most of the tourists hoard for lunch. Our stop was The Black Pearl, a Newport institution where, on a sunny day, the outdoor eating areas are perfect for dining – as long as you are willing to tolerate the crowds. Dan has fond memories of family dinners at the Pearl – as I’m sure many locals do – for their chowder is arguably the northeast’s best. It’s heavy on the dill and thinner than most chowders, but is perfectly balanced in richness and flavor. We grabbed a quart to go and found a sunny spot warm our bones.
Post-chowder, we decided to stop in at our favorite Newport ice cream spot before it closed up for the season. Back up on the main road, under a dilapidated old sign, sits Frosty Freez, a family ice cream shack heading into its 50th year. Don’t let first impressions deceive you, this is serious soft serve. Having sampled many a soft serve in my short time in the US, I can confirm that Frosty Freez makes the best coffee soft serve around. Despite neither Dan nor I being coffee drinkers, the creamy sweetness of coffee in frozen form is something else altogether (although of course they have every flavor and form of frozen sweet on offer). Expect American portions – small enough for a grown adult, large the length of your forearm – and lines in the summer months. I took great pleasure in watching a minibus full of oldies parked out front joyously licking their soft serves, thinking that they probably enjoyed Frosty Freez at my age as well.
The whole of Aquidneck Island is a bounty of foodie pleasures and I expect to share more with you as summer approaches. In the meantime, if you get the urge to head out and explore Newport yourself, the man to rent boards from is Sid Abruzzi at The Original Waterbrothers. Sid brought the first surfboards to Newport in the 60s and under the patchworks of tattoos, wears the lines of a life well lived. Catch some waves, collect shells on the beach, wander the Breakers and enjoy the food that New England does best.
Newport RI 02840
(401) 846 5264
Open year round except January, seven days a week for lunch and dinner
496 East Main Rd
Middletown RI 02842
(401) 846 1697
Open daily from April to September 30th from 11:30am