Archive for the ‘Moon guidebook updates’ Category

Glendarragh Farm Lavender’s new Camden store is heaven scent

June 7, 2010

I’m a huge lavender fan, not just for the scent, but also the taste. Lavender Earl Grey tea, lavender shortbread, lavender chocolate, lavender chicken… if the ingredients list lavender, I’m a goner. No surprise, then that my nose drew me into Glendarragh Farm Lavender’s new store in downtown Camden, and trust me, for lavender fans, this place truly is heaven scent: lotions, sachets, bath salts, soaps, teas, sweets, sachets, dried lavender, lavender plants; it’s all here perfuming the store and the street outside its front door.

The name Glendarragh, Gaelic for “Glen of the Oaks,” honors owners Lorie and Patrick Costigan’s Irish ancestry and refers to the oak forests that line the fields and pathways of theit 26-acre riverfront family farm in Appleton, where they grew multiple varieties of both French and English lavender. With the move to Camden, the farm is no longer regularly open to visitors except for special harvest events.

And did I mention it sells a lavender cookbook?

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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.

Rockland dining report: In Good Company and Big Fish

June 5, 2010

Dined earlier this week at two Rockland restaurants: One night meeting an old friend at In Good Company and another with friends at  the Big Fish Cafe; completely different experiences, but both delivered good food and a fun time.

In Good Company

Smack downtown in Rockland’s version of a restaurant row, In Good Company has built a strong following by excelling at  delivering what it promises. Chef/owner Melody Wofertz, a Culinary Institute of America grad, has created an equally chic and casual wine and tapas bar, an inviting space with bar, tables, even couch seating (be sure to look up the ceiling, with its elegant relief design.

We married a mix of tapas selections, including a charcuterie plate, stuffed peppers, and the day’s cheese selections, along with glasses of wine. Service was prompt, efficient, and friendly; food was delicious and plentiful (we split leftovers), and the atmosphere? Well, two hours passed in no time. This remains one of my go-to faves for a lighter meal (although there are larger plates, too), paired with nice wines.

Big Fish

On Route 1, just south of downtown, Big Fish is far less refined, but no less fun. Enter to a nice, somewhat cozy room with booths and tables. Here’s the secret: Ask for seating in the lounge, which has been decorated to make you feel as if you’re in a sunken ship (right down to the glowing portholes).

Big Fish specializes in—yeah, tough one here—seafood, although there are chicken, beef, and veggie choices. There’s a bit of a southwestern accent to some of the dishes—shrimp cocktail Yucatan, rockin’ lobstah nachos, fish tacos,  crab and shrimp quesadilla—thanks to the owners’ California roots.

We began with a couple of starters for the table: crab rangoon with a sweet chile dipping sauce and fiesty fried mushrooms with ranch dip. Nothing earth shattering, but both were above average, which set the tone for the night, food wise. We were warned that our entrees would take a while, since a number of tables had come in a the same time. After the starters, we waited. And waited. And waited.

End game, it was worth the wait. On a friend’s recommendation, I had the clams linguini, which came with a garden salad and garlic bread. Big Fish makes its own dressings, and my bleu cheese vinaigrette enhanced a fresh, mixed-greens side salad. Unfortunately, my garlic bread was MIA, but before I could request it, a friend volunteered his, as he wasn’t going to eat it. In hindsight, I wish I’d had both his and my own as it was perfect for mopping up linguini juices. Mmmmm.

Newsy bits and pieces from all over Maine

June 3, 2010

TONIGHT: It’s not too late to Eat for Pete’s Sake, a Humane Society of Knox County fund raiser to benefit homeless animals . See previous posting.

FREE! Don’t you love that word? The National Park Service has waived entrance fees to Acadia National Park this weekend, June 5 and 6, as well as Aug. 14-15, Sept. 25, and Nov. 1. Saturday, June 5, is National Trails Day, so go hike one of the park’s rehabbed classics in its honor.

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: “Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place” opens at the Portland Museum of Art on June 5 and remains on display through Sept. 6. The exhibit, in honor of the centennial of Homer’s death, showcases PMA’s collection of about 20 watercolors and oils by the noted artist. It’s the first time since 1988 that all the works will be on view in the Charles Shipman Payson building. The museum owns Homer’s Prouts Neck studio, which is undergoing restoration and expected to reopen in 2012.

HUT, TWO, THREEMaine Huts & Trails has begun construction on its third full-service, back-country hut. This one’s about two miles below Grand Falls on the Dead River, and will be accessible by foot, bike, ski/snowshoe, and self-propelled boat .  “Construction of Grand Falls Hut, more than 15 miles of new trails and a spectacular 200-foot pedestrian bridge over the Dead River completes the first phase of our vision,” Herring said.

ISLAND ESCAPE: Nebo Lodge, on North Haven Island, has undergone a renovation and expansion, which included the addition of a new bar and fireplace, new deck and courtyard, new entryway, enlarged kitchen, expansion of two guest rooms. The lodge, owned by congresswoman Chellie Pingree, is open to the public for dinner. Its teamed with Equinox Island Transport to offer roundtrip transportation on the last two Fridays in June, and every Thursday in July and August. Depart Rockland, have dinner, and return the same evening; transportation is $20 pp. 

TWEET! Aroostook State Park is hosting a Birding Festival, Saturday, June 12. Highlights include: guided hikes led by seven of Maine’s top bird; birding by boat from Echo Lake; a live-bird demonstration of raptors; bird-house building for youngsters; and a group of artisan wood carvers demonstrating nature and bird carving. According to Park Manager Scott Thompson, this year’s festival emphasizes diverse birding experiences. “We’re here for more than just fishing and hiking; there’s a whole world of nature to explore and to learn how this park relates to Maine and the park system.”

FEELING BLUE? You might want to ink the Saddleback Bluegrass Festival on your calendar for the weekend of Aug. 6-8. Featured performers on Saturday include: The Jerks of Grass; Darol Anger, Scott Law, Sharon Gilchrist and Sam Grisman; The Stowaways; The Infamous Stringdusters; Mason Strunk; The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience; and The Del McCoury Band. Additional performances over the weekend will include The Mueller Family and Erica Brown & The Bluegrass Connection.

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.”

Love-it-or-leave-it Conte’s rises again

May 16, 2010

I don’t think any other restaurant in Maine (okay, maybe J’s Oyster, in Portland) inspires such love/hate as Conte’s. Those in the love-it camp were crushed when it closed earlier this year (this after Anthony Bourdain paid it a visit and filmed it last fall). Take heart, folks.

Innkeeper Cheryl Michaelsen, of the Berry Manor Inn, in Rockland, reports:

Just so you know Conte’s is alive and well at its new location on Rt. 73 – South Main Street.  Same funky decor, same funky cook and same great food.  A lot brighter (windows are still clean).  Just for fun he hasn’t decided if he will put a sign out front or not.  It is located immediately after Primrose Framing at 156 S. Main Street.  Just thought you would like to know. When I went last week he was serving a dessert that was 1/2 carrot cake (bottom layer) with a cheese cake on top!!

Uhm, okay, Cheryl. I’m going to give you a holler one of these days and meet you there.

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.

Bridesmaids no longer: Arrows wins Beard award

May 3, 2010

Finally, in their sixth nomination, Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, chef/owners of Arrows, in Ogunquit, win the big kahoona: The James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Northeast award. Congrats, guys!

Maine bits and pieces: news and chatter

May 3, 2010

Here’s a quick round-up of interesting news bits that have come across my desk:

Chebeague Island Inn reopening under new ownership

A favorite destination for travelers and day-trippers since the 1880s, the inn, restored in 2003-04, will re-open May 14 under the new ownership of the Prentice family of Yarmouth, Maine. With the May re-launch, the Prentices will be adding a more stylish, up-to-date ambiance.

One notable change is the inn’s restaurant, now under the direction of Executive Chef Justin Rowe, a veteran of 555 and Fore Street. The contemporary American menu, rooted in Maine and New England, will focus on locally/regionally sourced foods and beverages.

Here’s wishing the new owners success. I’m hoping to visit soon to see what’s happening.

• Unveiling of the Calves

You’ve heard of the Running of the Bulls, well Aldemere Farm, a 136-acres saltwater farm in Rockport, offers a far gentler experience. This Saturday, May 8, is its ninth annual Calf Unveiling Day. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. , you can  tour the Farm and visit with the newly born Belted Galloway calves (nicknamed the Oreo cookie cows for their distinctive white belt). Aldermere staff and volunteers will be on site speaking with visitors and providing information about the Farm and the herd.

Several other local farms will also be on site offering information regarding the goods they produce. These include:

• Sunnyside Farm with goats

• lueberry Farm and Blue Sky Farm with alpacas

• Ells Farm and Terra Optima will be selling meat

• Savage Oakes and Coastal Mountains Land Trust will have information about their operations

• Tanglewood 4-H Camp will present about their many agricultural offerings.

Other activities include the Rusty Hinges band performing (around 11 a.m.) and the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club working throughout the day with their animals.

• Best Chef in the Northeast

Tonight, the James Beard Foundation will name the winner of the coveted Best Chef in the Northeast award. Chef/owners Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, of Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, have been nominated seven times. Here’s hoping that these perennial bridesmaids finally win; they certainly deserve it.

No. 10 Water Street opens tonight

No. 10 Water Street, the new restaurant at Brunswick’s Capt. Daniel Stone Inn, opens tonight, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Brunswick is getting to be an increasingly interesting food town, with a nice choice of inexpensive to moderate restaurants.

• Zip-line adventure park opening in Wiscasset

Monkey C Monkey Do, a Zipline family adventure park, is under construction on Route 1 in Wiscasset.