Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Maine Food Travelogue

Can you believe July 4th is almost upon us? I can't. How did we get to July so quickly? And, I want to know why the summer flies right past us like a speeding locomotive and winter drags on like honey seeping out of a jar... it just doesn't seem right. That's my rant for today.

On a more positive note, we are heading to Maine for the holiday weekend and I am really looking forward to it. I don't even care that the weather prognosticators are not promising nice weather for the Down East area. Check out the photo above: that is sunrise over the Penobscot River (taken in April 2009) - how beautiful and calming is that. The minute our car crosses the border from New Hampshire into Maine (after stopping, of course, at the fabulous NH state-run liquor store for some provisions for the weekend), I feel a sense of pending relaxation coming over me. The thing about Maine is that around every bend in the road there is another absolutely beautiful view. Whether it's Somes Sound (the only natural fjord in North America), or the Fore River that runs through Portland, or the incredible high-rise view of the Penobscot Bay as you come over the crest into Belfast, I am in constant awe of the beauty of Maine.

Of course, no weekend jaunt of mine would be complete without a food itinerary, and you know I have one. I'm sure you know that Maine is famous for lobster, but did you also know that clamming is huge there? You haven't lived until you've had a succulent, sweet, tender fried clam roll. Our favorite is from Crosby's in Bucksport. An old-fashioned drive-up where you order at a window and then wait for your number to be called. They also make a delicious scallop roll. Crosby's is about 5 minutes from our house so I'm sure we'll get there at least once for lunch.

A new (to me) spot we'll be trying this trip is Bagaduce Lunch (don't ask me where that name comes from) in Brooksville. They were recently awarded "Best Lobster Roll" by Travel & Leisure Magazine, and a James Beard award for best casual food. You know I'm there. I hear the restaurant is set next to the "famous reversing falls," and a very scenic picnic area.

Also in Brooksville is 4 Season Farm, an organic produce farm market run by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman. Barbara and Eliot are well known horticulturalists and organic farmers and have pioneered the return to organic farming in Maine. We'll be making a stop here after lunch.

For something completely different, we will head to one of our favorite restaurants but not for the usual dinner. The Inn at Ocean's Edge in Lincolnville is a gorgeous resort set smack on the shores of the Penobscot. Their restaurant, The Edge, is where we usually go when we want something a little fancier than a clam roll at Crosby's. The Edge is fine dining but with a comfortable fit. There is nothing better than settling in at one of the outside tables with a wonderful cocktail and admiring the views before being every so gently beckoned to come to your table for dinner. But I think this weekend we will visit The Edge for their famous Sunday wood-burning oven pizza night. If I've learned anything about dining at The Edge over the last 2-3 years, it's that Chef Bryan Dame and his wife, Natasha (who is the sommelier and handles front of the house) do everything first class with the utmost attention to detail. So I'm sure their pizza will be quite above board.

There are two new places on our agenda this trip. One is Red Sky in Southwest Harbor (Martha Stewart's summer retreat). An outstanding review in the July issue of DownEast Magazine prompted me to call for a reservation. The reference to "unstuffy elegance" and the chef's vision of "ingredients as “back-up singers” that harmonize in a dish rather than overpower it" sold me.

A quirky little Mexican restaurant in Sargentville is also on the list. What I love about this place mainly is the name: El El Frijoles. Get it? So not only do they have a sense of humor, but their food is reported to be quite good. And it's down the road from the Eggemoggin Country Store which is famous for its doughnuts! Yes!

So, there you have it. Quite an ambitious culinary itinerary, don't you think? But I'm up to it. And my trusty camera is back from the repair shop so I will have a complete photo essay for you upon my return.

While you're relaxing this weekend, or eating or swimming or gardening, don't forget to raise a toast to our founding fathers. I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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