Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Upstairs, Downstairs in Newport

Have at you!

We love Rhode Island. It's a charming state with great food. That's why, when we were invited to drive to Newport to watch a polo match, we didn't say no. We even brought one of our finds from Napa.

The only way to serve a fine riesling...(it was delicious, by the way)
This was my first polo match. I went in expecting...okay, basically expecting the polo scene in Pretty Woman where Jason Alexander treats Julia Roberts like a hooker. And I wanted that magical world to be true. I wanted to BE that hooker. I exaggerate, but you get the gist.

I wasn't disappointed, although naturally people today don't dress as formally for these things as they did in the Swingin' 80s, apparently. There was a distinct amount of flannel. But everyone was cheerful, and there were vendors giving out free samples of tasty things, and the very British announcer delightfully talked trash to the players during the match, which you don't often see in the other buttoned-up sporting events.
I told you they had tasty samples: Hendrick's gave everyone a small gin and tonic and a small gin and lemonade, which were both delightful. It's shown here with the snack we brought, crusty bread from Grandaisy Bakery with fresh Monterey Chevre from Rawson Brook Farm, and tabbouleh from that bastion of the upper crust, Trader Joe's.

We also laid into these tasty sardines, because no post-Hurricane Irene meal could be complete without some canned goods. Deplete that stash, people!

To describe the action of a polo match, I ask you to picture those first soccer matches that you played as a child - the ones in which everybody stayed in an ever-moving clump around the ball until someone busted loose from the chaos and scored. Now picture all that on horses with the children wielding big whacking sticks. And make the spectators all mildly sloshed on free gin, and the announcer acerbically witty. That's polo. Lovely sport. Ultimately, the squad from Brazil handed the U.S. of A. their hats, which I believe was meant to be an artful metaphor for our respective economies.

There was a temporary break in the action at one point - take a close look and see if you can guess why...

We had only 24 hours in Newport, but we made sure to do it right with the rest of our time: addictive clam chowder and oysters out on the pier at the Black Pearl, and a lunch at the picturesque Inn at Castle Hill. We also managed to feed our Downton Abbey fix by doing the servants' tour at The Elms, one of the many giant Gilded Age-era mansions in town now run by the preservation society. In the servants' quarters, one could imagine a hardworking girl dreaming of going to the polo matches, but knowing she can't, because she's just a Hollywood hooker with a dream, and by hooker I mean servant.

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