August 30, 2018

Beaches, Boutiques and a Cute Bakery in Cape May

{Recipe for Strawberry-Lemon Frozen Yogurt}

It's always a wonderful surprise when a travel destination exceeds your expectations. Such was the case when I visited the beach town of Cape May, at the southernmost tip of New Jersey.  I imagined it would be a good place to relax by the sea, but not much more than that (considering that it's part of the infamous "Jersey Shore"). 

Except for a very small boardwalk area with flashy video games, touristy souvenir shops and junk food offerings, most of Cape May is quite upscale. Plus the beaches are absolutely gorgeous stretches of pristine white sand.

The wide shoreline is perfect for relaxing, walks on the beach and bird-watching. During summertime, the warm water and gentle waves invite you to jump in! Lifeguards survey the ocean and safety conditions are posted daily.

An air of gentility and refinement flows through the town as easily as the Atlantic breezes. Local traditions include afternoon tea at many of the bed & breakfasts and sunset strolls along the oceanfront promenade.
Cape May is a special place because of its quaint ambience. This charming beach destination is considered the best-preserved 19th-century seaside resort in the United States and is a registered National Historic Landmark, renowned for its Victorian-era architectureHundreds of lovely summer cottages (from Queen Annes to decorative Gingerbread-style homes) line the town's pleasant tree-shaded streets. 

Many of the former "summer cottages" are now luxurious bed & breakfasts and vacation rentals. Every Cape May Victorian is stunning in its own way with decorative features such as gables, turrets and stained-glass windows.
Every Cape May cottage also has ornate hand-carved details on the facade, but each one is unique and beautiful in its own way.

What really distinguishes the Cape May summer cottages are the porches and verandas, often decked out with hanging plants and wicker furniture sets.

The porches are well designed for relaxation and socializing. Don't you just want to be here on a sunny afternoon!?

Rocking chairs are de rigueur on Cape May porches. What could be a better way to unwind? 
One of the loveliest verandas is found at the Chalfonte Hotel, the oldest hotel in Cape May, listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Chalfonte Hotel veranda
Lovingly manicured front yards and white picket fences are seen throughout Cape May, adding to the town's traditional look. 

If you visit in springtime, you'll see proprietaires tending to their gardens, making the flowers bloom for the season. By later in the summer, the flowers are bigger and brighter and almost tropical! 
My favorite bungalow in Cape May with a striped awning that resembles salt-water taffy!
Besides the beaches and Victorians, shopping is another highlght of visiting Cape May. The locally owned boutiques are filled with tempting merchandise. 

In the heart of the historic town, the Washington Street Mall has many cute little shops, cafés and restaurants. It's fun to browse some of the unique stores. 
The Washington Street Mall is also the place to go for an ice cream, snack or a gourmet meal.
I enjoyed browsing the clothing shops. If only money was no object, I would have bought a whole new wardrobe!

Another fun thing to do in Cape May is bike around town. It's possible to cycle anywhere in Cape May, to the beach, the shops, the lighthouse, even the more rural area of West Cape May.

Mostly old farms and bird sanctuaries, West Cape May has an appealing country feel. I was also happy to discover a wonderful little bakeshop.
The Beach Plum Bakery and Café creates artisanal baked goods, made with ingredients grown on the Beach Plum Farm in West Cape May. 
The interior features a simple, modern industrial style. Shopoholics should note that the Beach Plum Bakery and Café is attached to a mini shopping mall with a great selection of clothing, jewelry, souvenirs and vintage finds.

The bakery only offers a few types of pastries, but everything is prepared from the finest ingredients at the small on-site bakery. They specialize in homemade donuts. Yum!!
I tried the cinnamon-sugar donut, but next time I'd sample the old-fashioned or blackberry jam glazed donut.

I love the way the donuts are displayed on tiered trays as if they are ready for a tea party! 

As in most beach towns, salt-water taffy is a favorite local treat. The Sweet Shop of Cape May on the Washington Street Mall sells salt-water taffy and other old-fashioned candies.

Inspired by the flavors of salt-water taffy, I came up with a refreshing fruity recipe for frozen yogurt. First I started with a lemon frozen yogurt recipe from David Lebovitz and then I added strawberry purée.

Recipe for Strawberry-Lemon Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients for Lemon Frozen Yogurt
3 cups of whole-milk yogurt 
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon of honey
1/4 cup of sugar
Pinch of salt

Strawberry Purée:
1/4 cup of mashed strawberries
4 tablespoons of sugar

1.) Combine yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, honey and salt.
2.) Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
3.) Create strawberry puree by boiling the mashed strawberries and sugar until it becomes soft and slightly syrupy. 
4.) Blend the lemon yogurt mixture and the strawberry purée
5.) Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn until frozen.

Just one taste of this frozen yogurt takes me back to summer vacation, lounging in a beach chair and walking along the seaside promenade. 
Path to the beach in Cape May in the early morning

Copyright © 2018, Lisa Alexander. All rights reserved.

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