Archive for the ‘Maine’ Category

Bar Harbor shopping/activity update

June 5, 2010

Sorry to report that All Fired Up, that rainy day godsend for craft-minded folks and families, has closed i’s doors. Replacing it, according to Jeff Anderholm, innkeeper at the lovely Bass Cottage Inn, is Simply Natural: “a high end clothing and accessories shop featuring fine woolens, alpaca and sheepskin items.” Jeff says his wife, Teri (one of the inn’s culinary wiz’s) was impressed. Me thinks I definitely need to investigate this shop.

Share our Strength Portland event a foodie must

June 2, 2010

Eat well and support a fine cause at Portland’s 2010 Taste of the Nation event on June 27, 4:30-8 p.m., at the Ocean Gateway Terminal. More than 25 of Maine’s top chefs will be dishing samples, wineries and breweries will be pouring wines and brews, and mixologists will be concocting cocktails all in a mission to help end childhood hunger. All ticket proceeds benefit Preble Street Teen Center, East End Kids Katering, Good Shepherd Food Bank, and Cultivating Communities.

General admissionickets are $95 advance /$125 at the door for  (yes it’s a splurge, but remember, this is a fund-raising event, and a chance to nibble your way through Maine’s best all under one tent). VIP tickets ($250 advance/$300 door) provide early access (3 p.m.), gift bag, and opportunity to participate in an auction.

Participating restaurants (Really, this is an amazing lineup, folks):

Back Bay Grill (Larry Matthews, Honorary Chef)
Bresca (Krista Desjarlais)
Cinque Terre/Vignola (Lee Skawinski/Chris Geer)
David’s (David Turin)
The Edge (Bryan Dame)
El Camino (Eloise Humphrey/Daphne Conaskey)
Evangeline (Erik Desjarlais)
Eve’s at the Garden (Earl Morse) Morse is no longer at Eve’s, and according to my source, Eve’s has canceled participating.
The Farmer’s Table (Jeff Landry)
Five Fifty Five (Steve Corry)
Fore Street (Sam Hayward, Honorary Chef)
Francine Bistro (Brian Hill)
The Front Room/Corner Room/Grill Room (Harding Lee Smith)
Hugo’s (Rob Evans, Honorary Chef)
Local 188/Sonny’s (Jay Vilani)
Lily Bistro (Lynette Mosher/Robert Krajewski)
Miyake (Karl Duber/Masa Miyake)
Natalie’s at The Camden Harbour Hotel (Lawrence Klang)
Primo (Melissa Kelly /Price Kushner)
The Salt Exchange (Charlie/Martha Bryon)
Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea (Mitch Kaldrovich)
Standard Baking Company (Matt James)
Stonewall Kitchen (Patty Roche)
Swan’s Way Catering (Stacey Glassman)

Pour more MOO

May 31, 2010

Have you heard of MOOMilk? When H.P. Hood stopped buying organic milk from 10 Maine family dairy farms, those farms formed a cooperative, Maine’s Own Organic Milk Company, and began producing MOOMilk.

Happy kid, happy cow: MOOMilk photo.

MOO has been struggling, due to a higher price point in relationship to out-of-state brands. In mid May, Hannaford (my favorite supermarket chain for this and many other reasons) came to the rescue. It lowered the price by 30-cents to $3.99 per half gallon, keeping it in line with other organic milks from out of state.

If you’re an organic milk drinker, choose MOO; if you’re not, at least give it a try. Yes, I recognize it might be a budget stretch, but by doing so, even only once in a while, you’re helping keep Maine’s organic family dairy farms in biz.

Dine out for a doggone good cause

May 30, 2010

Dine out Thursday and help Pete and his pals, Humane Society of Knox County photo.

If you’re in the Greater Camden/Rockland region on Thursday, June 3, consider dining out at a participating Dine Out for Pete’s Sake restaurant (see participating restaurants, below) to help the Humane Society of Knox County.

This is a great organization that not only places local strays and unwanteds, but also takes dogs in from overcrowded shelters around the country. Its policy: Animals are not euthanized unless severe physical or behavior problems exist that cannont be resolved, they’re never euthanized for time or space

It’s success in its mission, so successful that it takes in dogs from more challenged shelters. Recently, 13 chihuahuas arrived from Los Angeles Animal Services, which receives over 300 chihuahuas a month but it doesn’t have enough homes for them all. (Adoption fee for these special dogs is $325. See more on the website.)

To help support these and other animals being cared for by the shelter, have lunch, dinner, or both at one of these participating restaurants (There are some excellent choices). FYI: My guys, Bernie and Dooley, give this event four paws up.

LUNCH

Amalfi on the Water
Big Fish
Blue Sky Cantina
Brass Compass
Harbor View Tavern
Home Kitchen Cafe
Prism Restaurant and Gallery
Thomaston Cafe

DINNER

Amalfi on the Water
Athens Pizzeria
Atlantica
Badger Cafe and Pub
Big Fish
Blue Sky Cantina
Brevetto
Cafe Miranda
Ephemere
Harbor Gawker
The Haven Restaurant
In Good Company
Mc-Hales Restaurant & Pub
The Offshore Restaurant
Park Street Grille
Peter Otts
Pizza Hut
Primo
Prism Restaurant and Gallery
Rockland Cafe
Silver Lane Bistro

A Cold River night at Walter’s

May 29, 2010

I love the new Walter‘s, and I’m not alone. When I met a friend there on a Wednesday evening in early May, I didn’t expect to need reservations, but I should have made them. The place was mobbed. We were fortunate when a table opened in the lounge area, and we were able to snag it.

The old Walter’s feasted on the Old Port’s retro 1980s brick-walled  fern bar meets urban Victorian vibe; the new Walter’s redefines urban chic in Portland. It’s sleek, casual, comfortable, and decorated with contemporary flair; for once, brick is not the defining element.

What hasn’t changed is the food. Walter’s still turns out excellent fusion fare, melding Mediterranean, Asian, and Caribbean flavors with a Maine accent, and presenting them with flair.  (You nonfoodies need that translated? Damn good food crafted from eclectic ingredients you might not be familiar with but will come together in a happy dance on your tastebuds; not only that, but when it arrives, it looks too good to eat).

On Thursday, June 3, Walter’s is teaming with Cold River Vodka on a multi-course affair. It opens with a cocktail hour featuring Cold River drinks paired with passed appetizers, then continues with a four-course dinner ($75 per person, plus tax/gratuity).

Jeff Buerhaus, Walter’s owner and executive chef, is designing the evening’s menu to feature Cold River Vodka in select dishes, while Walter’s Bar Manager Steve Lovenguth will present attendees with a specially created array of Cold River cocktails.  One guest, drawn at random during the evening, will win a gift basket full of items from Maine Distilleries and Walter’s.

Menu highlights include:

• pastrami-cured duck breast appetizer

• roasted spring lamb chop

• vodka-based pasta dish with crumbled Greek farm cheese

• blueberry vodka cheesecake for dessert.

Cold River specialty cocktails include the Nor’easter, featuring Cold River’s Blueberry Vodka and HoneyMaker Blueberry Mead, and the Far East River, made with lemongrass-infused Cold River vodka and ginger liqueur.

In a nod to the evening’s culinary focus, Walter’s and Cold River Vodka will make a joint donation to the Maine Restaurant Association Education Foundation, which provides scholarships to deserving students pursuing post-secondary degrees in Culinary Arts or Hospitality Management programs. Nice touch.

And take it from me, when you go, whether for this event or on another night, do make a reservation.

White Barn Inn now managing Acadia’s Asticou

May 28, 2010

Big news for Acadia fans: US Hotels Group, owner of the haute, haute, haute White Barn Inn, in Kennebunkport, and the Windham Hill Inn, in Vermont, is now managing Northeast Harbor’s chi chi Asticou Inn. When I last spoke with White Barn Inn Executive Chef Jonathan Cartwright, he told me US Hotels was in an acquisition mode, and this management deal is testament to that. This should also help breath new life into a somewhat tired property that catered to the newly wed and nearly dead.

According to a press release, US Hotels plans to update the inn’s infrastructure and add its signature hospitality ethos and style to the Asticou while preserving the property’s classic charm.

The oceanfront inn, designed by prominent 19th-century architect Fred L. Savage, has been an area landmark since 1883, when the island became a seasonal retreat for wealthy vacationers, sailing enthusiasts, and summer residents from major urban centers.The inn overlooks well protected yacht-filled Northeast Harbor, which remains a tony summer destination (lots of Lilly Pulitzer, Docksiders, Chinos, and sherbet colors here). It is adjacent to the magnificent azalea gardens of the same name (which, by the way, are in bloom now).

Cartwright is overseeing the rejuvenation of the inn’s dining room’s menu. “Our plans include implementing an extended season for casual lunch service as well as the creation of new menus in the scenic cocktail lounge, which affords the perfect setting for enjoying harbor sunsets.”

US Hotels is a member of the Libra Group, which is privately owned by the Logothetis family and has hospitality interests in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. It manages eight New England properties, of which it owns seven, divided into Signature and Elite Properties. Signature Properties represent the ‘best of breed’ across a number of service categories from an informal Italian bistro to a range of hotels, spas and banqueting facilities. Elite Properties represent exclusive hotels providing world class accommodation, cuisine, and service (think White Barn Inn and Windham Hill Inn).

“US Hotels is proud to add the Asticou Inn to our collection,” says Paul Hanley, group CEO. “As with our other New England properties, it offers guests traditional values in a historic setting and offers the same culinary excellence that has won our group numerous plaudits. We plan to wrap ourselves in the heritage of this special property. We believe the property will benefit from the rich experience of its new General Manager, Nicholas Squire, who was trained at our own White Barn Inn and other world class hotels. Furthermore the partnership with this hotel  exemplifies the type of growth one can expect from US Hotels in the coming months with expansion planned both through management arrangements, like the Asticou, as well as acquisitions.”

Bike-friendly Maine

May 21, 2010

Maine is the third most bike-friendly state in the nation, according to the The League of American Bicyclists. Good recognition for the efforts the state’s made to be more welcoming to cyclists.

Planning a cycling trip? Check the resources of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. It’s one-stop shopping for events, trails, rides, recommended routes, advocacy, and more. Another good resource is the Maine Department of Transportation’s Explore site, with detailed routes by region, complete with maps. Also here are details on the Maine sections of the East Coast Greenway.

Good bets for cyclists of all abilities include the Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park, Acadia’s Park Loop Road (before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to avoid the heavy duty tourist crowds), the Schoodic Loop, and on Maine’s offshore islands, especially Vinalhaven and North Haven. Inland, the Maine Huts and Trails network is great for mountain biking, with full-service huts spaced at 10-12 mile intervals–so far, just two, but construction of the third was just approved.

Bohemian Mama’s Bakery is a delicious find

May 15, 2010

Ben Walter, co-owner of Oceanside Meadows, a lovely inn in Prospect Harbor, just called me with a tip: Bohemian Mama’s Bakery. “The croissants are so good, you’ll ask yourself: Am I really in America?”

That coming from the well-traveled Ben got my attention.  Tell me more, I replied. Here’s the scoop, along with photos Ben took on his iPhone.

Bohemian Mama’s Bakery had its roots in Milbridge, but moved to Addison late last summer. It’s  hidden gem, tucked one mile off Route 1 on Ridge Road. Inside, Linda Clouser, her daughter Desiree and son Adrian, bake exquisite breads (whole grain, country white, Anadama, etc.), fruit pies, eclairs, cream puffs, fruit and cheese buns, French cruellers, biscotti, gourmet cupcakes, personal pies, and those amazing croissants, to name a few items.

“We just installed a wood-fired oven, and we’re making pizza, strombelli, and subs, too,” Adrian told me over the phone. Don’t let the Clouser name fool you. “We come from long line of cooking Sicilians,” Adrian says. “My mom was in the wedding cake business before moving to Maine from Reading, Penn., last year. This place is her creation, and she’s done a great job.”

The bakery has a handful of tables and Wifi. Although it’s only open Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-6 p.m., it’s already becoming a local gathering spot.

“We haven’t really advertised it, we want to let the place work its magic, ” Adrian says. Judging from Ben’s excitement on the phone, it already is.

Wings, Waves, & Woods returns to Deer Isle

May 10, 2010

Birders and art fans are invited to Deer Isle for the fourth annual Wings, Waves, & Woods, May 21-23. The festival, timed to coincide with early migration, is sponsored by the Island Heritage Trust, and a brochure detailing the event can be downloaded from its website.

Bob Duchesne, founder of the Maine Birding Trail, author of Maine Birding Trail, and a Maine Audubon trip leader for more than 20 years,  is this year’s special guest.

The festival opens with a reception Friday evening at the Pearson Legacy Gallery  showcasing bird-related artwork by more than 40 artists.

On Saturday and Sunday, experts will lead walks (free, donations appreciated), guide boat trips (fee), and give presentations and demonstrations. Here’s a sampling:

Warbler Walk, Settlement Quarry Preserve

Scotts Landing Bird Walk

Birding by Kayak, kayaks provided, $60

Nesting Eagles and Their Neighbors, Causeway Beach

Introduction to Birding

Puffins & Pelagics, cruise to Seal Island with Bob Duschesne, $60

Create Birdbaths & Planters, $35

Birdhouse Building for Kids, $5 includes materials and snack

Studio Demo & Tour (with the mega-talented Missy Greene and Eric Ziner)

Birding Identification Made Easy, Bob Duschesne

Lily Pond Walk

Found Objects Sculptures, demonstration, with Peter Beerits at Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies (one of my all-time favorite places)

Local Foods Chowder Supper will be available on Saturday night (seating limited; $12).

Where to stay: There are some wonderful accommodations available on Deer Isle. My favorite is the aptly named Inn on the Harbor, in Stonington. Both the Pilgrim’s Inn and The Inn at Ferry Landing are lovely B&Bs in Deer Isle. To really get in the spirit of the birding weekend, book a cabin at the oceanfront Goose Cove Resort, in Sunset, which borders the Barred Island Preserve. On a budget? Boyce’s Motel, in downtown Stonington, has clean rooms, some with kitchenettes. For dirt cheap accommodations, book a bunk at the rustic-bordering-on-primitive Deer Isle Hostel.

Splurge and save at the Inn by the Sea

May 8, 2010

Through May 26, write a $35 check to Habitat for Humanity, and save 50 percent, Sundays through Thursdays, on a two-bedroom beach, cottage, or loft cottage at the chic, ultra-green, four-diamond, oceanfront Inn by the Sea, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. With the donation, rates range $134.50-$169.50. While you won’t see the special advertised on the site, the rate pops up when you click on reservations and enter potential dates for an overnight or two.

Act quickly, and apply your savings toward the Chef Tasting Menu, served through May 15, in the inn’s ocean-view Sea Glass Restaurant. Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich prepared this six-course New England with a Twist dinner at the James Beard House in New York in February 2010. The price is  $75 per person, or $110 with wine flight, and includes:

amuse bouche
• lobster and seafood ceviche
• roasted beet carpaccio
• pan-seared jumbo scallops
• Atlantic cod and lobster “chowder”
• red wine braised beef cheeks
• local apple crostata

Alternatively, you might splurge at the inn’s spa. Or just reap the savings and enjoy beach strolls, walking through inn’s certified butterfly and bird plantings, or simply plunking down in a lawn chair and enjoying the serenity of listening to waves rolling into shore and birds singing. A boardwalk above a marsh and path through the dunes connects the inn to Crescent Beach; really, it’s quite idyllic.

And here’s a tip: If you stay overnight, order the crab cakes Benedict for breakfast, then keep in the seafood mode with lunch at the nearby Lobster Shack at Two Lights.