Brother John made his annual mid-January trek up from Silver Spring this past weekend. He looked great--about 25 pounds lighter than the last time I saw him. He arrived on Saturday, and after his Grammy visit and a nap, drove up to Beverly to see the house and sample some North Shore seafood.
We took him to The Village Restaurant in Essex. I'd given Mark Ricci, the owner, a heads-up that we'd be bringing in a true clam aficionado, and Mark was ready.
We started with the chowder, which really is startlingly flavorful. John pronounced it "spectacular" before moving on to the fried clam appetizer. The clams at The Village, like the nearby Clam Box and Woodman's, are lightly breaded and cooked in lard--hard on the arteries but wonderful on the taste buds. Another slam dunk.
John had liked the chowder so much that he returned to it for his main dish, a huge crockful this time. I had haddock, and Kathy had a dinner salad. For dessert, we had the white chocolate bread pudding. I had to nix following that with chocolate lava cake. Enough is enough.
On Sunday, despite considerable snow, the non-Florida members of the family gathered at Belmont Street. Erin hosted John, Marc, Paula, Matt, Christine, Kathy, me, and the three great-grandchildren. Evan got to hang out with his second cousins, Megan and Joseph. Cuisine was provided by Great Chow, with crab rangoon a particularly hot item.
On Monday, John and I went to Queen Anne together. John made his expectations abundantly clear to the staff. The Grammy wasn't very responsive during the visit, very much like I'd seen her during her November hospitalization.
We went back to John's hotel and worked out in the exercise club, then headed for the Alumni, where we each downed a bar pizza and a few beers. Cousin Jack (aka "Whitey" at the Alumni) was uncharacteristically not in attendance.