Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sailed a schooner and dined with whales

Dear Friends and Family,

Last Saturday evening, we went sailing on a big schooner called the "Argia." It was kind of exciting and (and perhaps dangerous?) because of the fog. The captain let the kids on the boat ride blow the fog horn frequently as we could hardly see the other ships heading our way. We could only barely make out a few lighthouses hidden in the mist along the shore. When we got close to some wharfs with restaurants on them, kids ran alongside us and waved. Naturally I had fun waving back and yelling "Ahoy there!"

I tried to make friends with a party of six adults on board so they would share their shrimp cocktail with me, but they didn't warm up to my advances. Jim and I only brought nuts and some oranges so we had to be happy with that. One family with children brought boxes of Mystic Pizza take-out, but they didn't share with us either.

Last night my friend Cindy and I went to a monthly event held at the Mystic Aquarium (where the discoverer of the Titanic grave keeps his home office) called, "Cocktails with the Whales." It was great fun meeting new gals while dining alongside the whale pool. One beluga whale kept swimming near us to show us his belly.

Sailing on Argia:, 860-536-0416
Cocktails with the Whales:,
(Thursday evenings – April 15, May 13 and 27, June 10 and 24, July 8 and 22 and August 19 – from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Call (860) 572-5955 ext. 336 to make a reservation. Attendees must be 21 or older.)

Seal Watch (letter dated Sunday, March 6, 2011)

Dear Friends and Family,

Jim and I went on a seal watch cruise yesterday from Avery Point. We saw more than 200 seals lying on the rocks off Fisher's Island from a re-outfitted offshore lobster boat. The seals just lay on the rocks and barely moved, but it was fun watching a gaggle of young girls on the boat celebrating a birthday, some pimply boys excited to record on a handout the number of seals we saw, where, time and temperature, etc., and some others who just sat there looking seaside. The seas were rough, cold and exciting!

Later we dried off in front of the fire at the Daniel Packer Inne where we sat next to a female prison guard who told us some fun escape stories (like an excapee in an orange prison outfit asking a convenience store owner for money to make a phone call), and a bridge engineer who had a lot to say about our country's infrastructure and the Yankees.

There happened to be a Patch reporter on our seal watch trip. If you want to catch a glimse of the back of Jim's head or my voice in the background, see our journey at:
(I commented on the bottom of the article.)


My First Christmas Letter from Mystic (Dec '10)

Dear Family and Friends,

Last Christmas I never thought I’d be writing to you from New England! I used to love that old movie, “Christmas in Connecticut,” starring Barbara Stanwyck, and now I’m living that movie—minus the cow. Instead, life here revolves around sailboats and the restaurant, Mystic Pizza, which served as the inspiration for the movie, “Mystic Pizza,” starring Julia Roberts and debuting Matt Damon (his only line,"Mom, do you want my green stuff?" was said while eating lobster). Jim and I live two blocks from the restaurant and the Mystic River drawbridge that was featured in the movie.

In case you don’t know why we moved here, it wasn’t to eat pizza. When Pfizer bought Wyeth last year, they laid off Jim’s entire department. Right before it was time for Jim’s last day, Pfizer asked him if he would work in their Groton, CT, facility. With no other job in sight (unless he was willing to work in China), and our beagle/basset hound willing for a new adventure, Jim said yes. So, we sold our house within the month (April) and bought a house in Mystic—a seacoast village north of the Long Island Sound, located halfway between New York City and Boston.

We had visited Mystic more than four years ago—to get away after Elizabeth died. Although we loved its maritime charm, we vowed we would never go there again because the traffic along I-95 was horrible! Knowing we wouldn’t return, we bought souvenirs from the Mystic Seaport museum’s gift shop (mugs and glasses decorated with sailboats) and took lots of photos of the tall sailboats lining the Mystic River. Returning to Suffern, we hung those photos in our bedroom as a reminder of that lovely weekend—one that would never be repeated.

And now, here we are in Mystic. I don’t know why I never learn that God loves to have fun with me whenever I say “never again.” However, I really love living here. Our house is smaller (no basement), so we don’t have the room to hang those Mystic River photos. But it doesn’t matter because I look at that scenery every day when I walk Bailey into the village. Bailey loves it here too. He meets tourists from all over—many who don’t know what a smelly hound he really is. Several have kissed him on the face and let him lick them on their mouths! I think the travelers must miss their own dogs so they give him all kinds of liberties. Sailing families who stop in Mystic on their route around the world aren’t as enamored with him because they bring along their own canines. Sailing dogs are fun to watch as they proudly stand on the bow while their masters steer the boat under the raised drawbridge.

Needing to quit my job as a publicist for Rockland Community College in Suffern, I am now trying to make it as a freelance publicist, writer, and workshop presenter. I joined the Mystic Chamber of Commerce and am getting to know the businesses here, especially those in the tourist industry. I have just finished an article, “The 7 Wonders of Mystic,” for the Chamber of Commerce. If you want to read why you should come to visit us, just e-mail me at and I will send you the article or click on this:

P.S. Santa comes to Mystic by tugboat every year. After he listens to requests from children in Mystic River Park, the village lights the Christmas tree and continues the celebrations with a lighted boat parade. The following week there is a lighted car parade. I’m considering entering my convertible and driving with the top down with Bailey in the backseat wearing his reindeer antlers.

Mystic Restaurants: A-Z

Many of Mystic’s vast collection of restaurants have been featured and reviewed nationally. The following list encompasses all of Mystic’s restaurants (if I have missed one, please let me know). I also include takeout and delivery places in case you want to picnic along the Mystic River or the Sound. Many have been reviewed by either Cindy Modzelewski, a member of the Mystic Women’s Dinner Club, or me. We are not food critics, but merely women who like to eat!

Ancient Mariner
21 West Main Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
Located in Historic Downtown Mystic with view of the street. Has fireplace and bar. “I found the sailing motif appealing (like oars hanging from the ceiling) while sipping a wine and nibbling a great late lunch.” Cindy

Angie's Pizza & Pier 27 (also delivers)
25 Roosevelt Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
“I love this local corner spot as it makes a mid-week stop affordable but special when you are too tired to cook. I like the generous salad with a pizza to share.” Cindy

Anthony J's Bistro
6 Holmes Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
“It is a nice cozy spot as the lighting is conducive to sit close for talking while eating. I thought the salad topped with lobster was delicious.” Cindy

Avanti's Pizza & More 55 Williams Ave., Mystic, CT 06355

Azu 32 West Main St.,Mystic, CT 06355
“Went with two other friends and we each got a different salad from the menu to sample each. They were each delicious so I was glad I had ‘sharing buddies.’ Seating was close but still private for our own conversation and it felt like we were at a European café with the large windows open to watch the foot traffic on the downtown sidewalk.” Cindy. Open for breakfast on the weekends.

Bartleby’s Coffee Café 46 W. Main Street, Mystic, CT 06355
“This small comfy corner café has the local newspaper to borrow if you are not watching the foot traffic strolling by downtown." Cindy. Serves tea in a little pot. Menu includes soups and sandwiches. Board games and Internet available.

Big Y Foods 179 Stonington Rd, Mystic CT 06355
Open 7-11 M-Sat and Sun 7-10. “I hear they have great, reasonably priced sandwiches,” Lisa

Bleu Squid Olde Mistick Village, Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
“I am quite addicted to their ‘Adult Grilled Cheese’ sandwich on sourdough bread. I follow that with their enormous “Frogger,” which is a molasses cookie.” Lisa

Bravo Bravo & Bar Bravo Bravo 20 East Main Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
“Elegant, but still fine for casual wear. Tasty downtown dining with a great view of passer bys. Both my friend and I chose different salads topped with different choices and wouldn’t have changed a thing.” Cindy. “I ordered their salad and it came out looking like a dessert—and it tasted like it too.” Lisa

Captain Daniel Packer Inne
32 Water Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
Built in 1758 by Captain Daniel Packer who liked to entertain his guests with tales of his adventures on the high seas. He brought travelers (and their horses and stagecoaches) from New York and Boston across Mystic River on his ferry that operated nearby. Eat in the top floor dining room if you’re in the mood for elegance or in the basement if you are in the mood for a pub. Both floors have a fireplace and offer glimpses of Mystic River through the small, period windows. "You can't order their sweet potato fries if you dine on the top floor (I'll try to get that changed)." Lisa

Clam Shack, Cafe & Fish Market
20 Old Stonington Rd., Mystic, CT 06355
Open year-round.

Domino's Pizza (take-out and delivery)
242 Greenmanville Lane, Mystic, CT 06355
Chain pizza place also offers other food. Check for specials.

Equinox Diner 253 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355-1962
(860) 415-4625
The large, diverse menu includes breakfast all day. "My Eggs Benedict was delicious." Lisa

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
12 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
“I liked slowing the day’s pace by crunching on as many peanuts as I could while waiting for my Swiss cheese hamburger.” Cindy

Flood Tide 860-536-9604
3 Williams Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
Located on the hill at the Inn at Mystic (where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall stayed on their honeymoon), this restaurant offers a patio with a wide, sweeping view of the Mystic River. Fireplace in the winter with large picture windows.

Friendly’s 247 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-3909
“It pays to listen to radio ads to know when promotions are happening--it made getting a black raspberry ice cream even tastier when it was free,” Cindy.

Green Marble Coffee House 8 Steamboat Wharf, Mystic CT 06355
(860) 572-0012
You’ll feel like you’re a student at this young person’s hangout. Outdoor seating in an alley off the main thoroughfare in historic downtown Mystic. Internet available.

Go Fish Olde Mistick Village, Mystic, CT 06355
“The trendy décor and soft lighting was pleasing to our dinner club as we got to know each other. I enjoyed finishing my meal with a cappuccino, which always makes it feel just a tad more special than just having coffee.” Cindy.

Harp and Hound 4 Pearl Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
Feels like a real fisherman’s pub. Great Irish menu includes Sheppard’s pie.

Hilton Mystic/Mooring Restaurant
20 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
“It’s nice that this quaint town also offers a big city feel when your needs require a larger setting without sacrificing intimacy. The seafood entrée was delicious,” Cindy. “I ate there for breakfast and had a great, made-to-order spinach and Swiss cheese omelet,” Lisa.

Jake's Hamburgers 4 Hendel Drive Mystic, CT 06355
“I will be a repeat customer here! I liked having a fast, customized B.L.T. for lunch one day and a tasty cheeseburger dinner another day. It offered a more grown up, quiet feel for fast food, which was very nice. “ Cindy.

John’s9 Cottrell St., Mystic, CT 06355
“Although it’s not a restaurant, it’s more of a bar with an Irish theme, I wanted to include it because you can play pool there and I’ve had fun at their Wednesday ‘Quiz Nights,’ which they hold as fund-raisers for worthy charities.” Lisa

Kitchen Little 81 1/2 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
It’s an experience to be squished inside this very, very tiny restaurant and watch the servers walk sideways to squeeze past the tables. There is also outdoor seating right on Mystic River. "The breakfasts are great and I always meet new people there because we all sit so close together." Lisa “Sounds like ‘chicken little’ to me and a good reason to stop in and see what they had to eat. I liked their lobster salad sandwich while I sat in the back of the restaurant and watched the boats on the water.” Cindy.

Latitude 41 Restaurant at Mystic Seaport 105 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
Located right next to Mystic Seaport, it offers outdoor seating with a view of Mystic River, a pub and dining rooms with fireplaces. "My filet mignon was fantastic. One of the dining rooms appears in the movie, 'Mystic Pizza,'" Lisa.

Li's Bake Shop
15 Holmes Street, Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-9090 ‎
“Folks, save your calories for this stop! My utmost favorite is the ‘everything cookie’, known as the 'Mystic.' Its ingredients include Kahlua, frangelica, walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips. Well, their mint chocolate brownie is worth every calorie bite too!” Cindy.

Mango's Wood-Fired Pizza Co.
27 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT 06355
Offers outdoor seating in season and the comfort of an open brick pizza oven in the winter. “This is a family-friendly stop hiding in Olde Mistick Village. I haven’t gone wrong yet with any of the salads or pizza. Oh, you can get chocolate milk, too,” Cindy.

Margaritas 12 Water Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
“I liked sitting on the top floor, overlooking the Factory Square courtyard. Now home to apartments and restaurants, the factory once produced cotton gins until the Civil War caused it to go bankrupt when southern customers couldn’t pay their bills,” Lisa. “This is a fun place to go with a lot of people as they can accommodate larger groups,” Cindy.

McDonald's of Mystic
2 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
“I like their convenient location off I-95 for a quick in/out breakfast,” Cindy.

McQuade’s Marketplace 14 Clara Drive, Mystic, CT 06355
Has a cafeteria with a fireplace and a view of trees. Offers take-out.

Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration
Penguin Café
55 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
“This is one busy spot and it was refreshing to taste how fresh the salads and sandwiches are,” Cindy.

Mystic Boathouse 8 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 572-1180
American cuisine. “Their sweet potato fries are the best and I loved the view overlooking Olde Mistick Village and the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration,” Lisa.

Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Inc.
2 West Main Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
“Can’t beat the view of the Mystic River Drawbridge. Offers soups and salads as well as homemade ice-cream. I stop there often to grab a cone and sit out on the tiny deck to watch the bridge go up and down and the tall ships go past,” Lisa.

Mystic Market East & West E.860.572.79 (92)
EAST: 63 Williams Avenue
WEST: 375 Noank Road, Mystic, CT 06355
“I go there for take-out or to treat myself to some of their gourmet snacks. Each location has a little different personality but the same great food. The time of day usually determines if I take a coffee and biscotti or cookie, or if I get yummy entrées to bring home for dinner,” Cindy.

Mystic Pizza
56 West Main Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
The movie “Mystic Pizza” was inspired by this restaurant. “I am a local, and yes, I like this pizza! Just the right substance to the crust and my husband and I love the sausage and pepperoni pizza. I like their salads too,” Cindy. They deliver after 4 p.m.

Mystic Soup Co. (offers take-out)
32 Williams Ave # 1, Mystic, CT 06355-2900
(860) 245-0382‎
“It’s hard to select which soup and/or sandwich you want each time you pop in!” Cindy.

Pasta Fresca & Piadina (take-out)
2 Lincoln Ave, Mystic, CT 06355-2867.
(860) 572-1245.
“Cut to the front of the line by calling ahead for your customized take-out grinder (I always ask for extra vinegar. It makes it messy but tasty). No matter the size, it’s always big enough to share.” Cindy. Take-out only.

Peking Tokyo 12 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
Has a gourmet feel to the dishes. Sushi bar.

Pita Spot
45 Williams avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 415-4656
Lebanese cuisine. “Probably the best hummus I’ve ever had,” Lisa. Outdoor seating available. You may bring your own wine. They also serve an American breakfast.

Pizzetta 7 Water Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
“My husband and I like their thin crust pizza. Outdoor seating available on the deck or patio with a partial view of the Mystic River,” Lisa.

Prontos (Italian take out also delivers)
27 Broadway Ave., Mystic, CT 06355
“I really liked their lentil soup. They deliver but do have a few tables, inside and out. You are allowed to bring your own wine,” Lisa.

Puritan & Genesta Natural Foods LLC
2 Holmes Street, Mystic, CT 06355
An organic grocery store, they also have a small café and offer take-out.

Rice Spice Noodles 4 Roosevelt Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
Thai cuisine. “I love this spot so much that I always ask my new friends if they like this kind of food. I always get this shrimp dish with kickin’ spice and their pineapple rice is a tasty different twist on rice. It’s hard to care about the outside world walking by when you want to stab the last shrimp or Japanese eggplant on the plate you are sharing,” Cindy. "I sat outside and had their Pad Thai dish, which includes shrimp, chicken and peanuts--very good!" Lisa

RiverWalk Restaurant
14 Holmes Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
Outdoor seating available with a partial view of the Mystic River. "I like the hamburgers and my mom liked the clams," Lisa.

S & P Oyster Company 1 Holmes Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
“Enjoy great food on the artfully landscaped patio right next to the Mystic River Drawbridge. Also good river views from both floors within. Although they don’t take reservations, I strongly suggest you call ahead for what they call ‘priority seating’ if you plan to eat there at a popular time of day during the height of the tourist season,” Lisa.

Savin Rock Roasting Company
Located at the Ramada
9 Whitehall Ave, Mystic, CT

Sea Swirl of Mystic 30 Williams Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
Outdoor seating beside an inlet. Cindy liked their lobster salad and I liked their fried clam strips. Open seasonally.

Sea View Snack Bar 145 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
Outdoor seating beside the Mystic River. “My husband liked the crab cakes, I enjoyed my hot dog, and my dad loved feeding the seagulls. I plopped a quarter in the standing binocular to spy on the homes across the river,” Lisa. Open seasonally.

Somewhere in Time
3175 Gold Star Highway, Mystic, CT 06355
"A friendly place where locals go. A great, fresh breafast according to my friend who goes there frequently with her husband." Lisa

Starbucks Coffee 12 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
Located in large stand-alone building across from Olde Mistick Village. “Very pleasant atmosphere with comfy chairs and tables. Many locals meet there to do business or write.” Lisa. Outdoor seating available.

Steak Loft
Olde Mistick Village, Mystic, CT 06355
“My husband and I ate a good burger in the barn-like bar that bears the names of patrons engraved in the wood over the years,” Lisa. Cindy likes eating in the dining room: “Be sure to carry your plate carefully after visiting the salad bar. The beet salad with mandarin oranges is delicious but dangerously colorful if you drop any on yourself. The baked scallops were very generous and scrumptious. I loved the chocolate mousse cake and the peanut butter pie,” Cindy.

Taste of India (Take-out available.)
35 Williams Ave # 1, Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-8485 ‎
Casual indoor or outdoor dining. “Unfamiliar with Indian food, I texted my daughter about what us Mystic Women’s Dinner Club gals should eat. She responded, ‘Get the Chicken Tikka Masala (it has a non-spicy sauce) or the Karachi Biryani (a chicken/vegetable/rice dish with a little kick). She was right—I tried both and plan to order them again the next time I go there,” Lisa.

Ten Clams
27 Coogan Boulevard, Olde Mistick Village, Mystic, CT 06355
Casual, family-friendly dining. Has an ice-cream window. You can order your entire meal from the window if you don't want to go in. Outadie patio. "The sweet potato fries were great!" Lisa

Thai One On
56 Whitehall Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355
Thai cuisine. “I liked their chicken and vegetable dish they offered at the annual outdoor food festival, ‘A Taste of Mystic,’ next to the Mystic River Park,” Lisa. Cindy had dinner inside their upscale restaurant: “Just when I liked my choice of dinner, another lovely plate was being served at the table next to me. So, I will have to go back and try that next,” Cindy.

The Pizza Grille
39 Whitehall Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355

Village Beanery
27 Coogan Blvd # 2C, Mystic CT 06355
(860) 536-1175
“This place is in the right spot for you to stop in as you shop at Olde Mistick Village. It smells Heavenly whether you are sniffing the caffeine or chocolate.” Cindy. "My mom likes to buy their coffee beans to take back with her to New York." Lisa

Voodoo Grill
12 Water Street, Downtown Mystic, CT 06355
“Specializes in Cajun cuisine, but I had the nachos. I enjoyed sitting with my husband on their back patio in the party-like atmosphere of the Factory Square courtyard. Inside, the brick walls give a warm, friendly feeling,” Lisa.

Wokery in Mystic (Chinese Take-out or delivers)
6 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355-2714
(860) 572-7964
“I like the General Tsao’s chicken,” Cindy.

Zhang's Restaurant (Chinese)
12 Water St., Mystic CT 06355
(860) 572-5725
“The Mystic Women’s Dinner Club plans to visit this restaurant soon. We will let you know what we think!” Lisa. Located in Factory Square.