If you love lobster, blueberries, clam-digging (in clam-digger shorts) and all other New England coastal food traditions, then good times don't end with summer vacation. They just get better throughout the fall. A locavore's paradise can be found where the Pilgrims once made landfall, and it's equally delicious whether you go white-tablecloth and champagne, or beach picnic and microbrews from the bottle.
|U-Pick at Coonamessett Farm, Falmouth|
Want to teach the kids to harvest dinner by hand? Coonamessett Farm in Falmouth does U-Pick blueberries, blackberries, pumpkins, peonies and approximately 20 other crops, ranging from low-glam potatoes to exotics like the water hyacinth. (Also, cuteness alert! Alpacas and miniature donkeys live on the grounds.)
|Joe's Lobster and Fish Mart, Sandwich|
Fresh lobster cooked to order, fresh-caught bluefish and sweet bay scallops, super-fresh clams for prices you haven't seen in 20 years…This simple seafood market offers heavenly provisioning for many people, including local youths who queue up and order with the finesse of pro chefs.
|Pool terrace, Lamb & Lion Inn, Barnstable|
Is the first thing you notice about this picture the sexy propane grill in the background? If so, you'll be right at home with this inn's foodie crowd. Innkeeper Tom Dott is the head writer for Edible Cape Cod magazine, and knows every U-Pick Farm, lobster shack and oyster farmer in the area. The guests are almost equally savvy – ask a question on marinating techniques or local vegetables, and they'll take turns offering advice.
|Breakfast Strada with Wendy O's Tomatoes, Lamb and Lion Inn, Barnstable|
Like most devoted locavore New England businesses, the Lamb & Lion practices what they preach as far as farm-to-fork dining. Co-innkeeper Ali Pitcher sets a breakfast table showcasing the best of the neighbors' gardens.
|Clam bellies, Mac's Shack on the Pier, Wellfleet|
Another super-popular summer locavore activity is clamming, with the three most popular types being the littleneck clam, soft shell and distinctively large quahog. If you don't want to buy a clamming license, or you just don't want to get your feet wet, deep fried Wellfleet clam bellies from Mac's Shack make for the greatest lunch you'll ever eat off paper plates.
|Stuffed Quahog, Spanky's, Hyannis Port|
Also for shellfish lovers: Try stuffed quahog, a slightly fancier version of the local catch, next time you're out for afternoon beers at a Cape Cod hangout like Spanky's. If you try making this at home, Tom Dodd advises, "It's NOT a law to put red or green peppers in the stuffing." Many local restaurants do, but purists prefer to really savor the clam meat.
|Oyster beds, East Dennis Oyster Farm|
When in search of shellfish, there could hardly be a more idyllic time and place than early morning low tide on Cape Cod. Locals with four-wheel trucks (and beach parking permits) drive right onto the tidal flats and sunbathe, jog and drink beers in the mellow sun. Oyster lovers know to head straight for East Dennis Oyster Farm, which is one of the only oyster farms in the region that's licensed for direct-to-consumer sales. You can get fresh-from-the-sea oysters for $1 apiece – a gourmand's dream.
|Clam Bake, Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Falmouth|
Take all the delicious things you find around the Cape (minus fruits), go out to the beach, and cook them on hot rocks and seaweed. That's a traditional clam bake, and as this picture proves, the name is misleading. Lobster and corn are the stars of the mélange. This is a must-try, but there's no need to make it yourself -- most local restaurants serve a tasty version, and some do the full-on beach cookout for guests.
Did the Pilgrims know, when carving out their legacy around Plymouth and Provincetown, that a few hundred years later they'd be immortalized via excellent microbrews? We're thinking they wouldn't mind, as this smoky lager could have passed for a hearty meal in the 1600s. It's one of countless obscure discoveries you'll stumble upon in local liquor stores.
|George's Bank Sea Scallops at Shutters, East Falmouth|
When that one special-occasion date night comes around, it's not as important that you dress up – the important thing is to appreciate the food's transformation. From humble picnic fare, the day's fresh catch becomes fine cuisine at the hands of talented chefs who are blessed to have so many great ingredients within arm's reach.