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Archive for the ‘Maine days’ Category



Farm fog


On that November Maine trip, I played with an old plastic Diana camera. Here are two favorites – of belted cows and a barn on State Route 46, and of the foggy harbor between Bucksport and Prospect. That’s the mid-1800s Fort Knox in the distance.

– Sandy Lang, December 2009

Morse Sauerkraut, Nov. 2009 Peter Frank Edwards

On a November drive on the Maine coast north of Portland, we stopped in at Morse’s Sauerkraut for a quart of their brined cabbage. I love the sour crunch, hot or cold. We met one of the owners and learned that the sauerkraut-making and farm had its beginnings back in 1910, and its farm store now includes a well-stocked German-Euro deli with a tiny restaurant in the back –  the  “Little German Cafe,” with specials like goulash and sauerbraten. In the deli, they had some just-sliced local pastrami from Bisson’s right down the road in Topsham… so cool, where else do you see local pastrami? We had to have some of that. Later at the cabin we’d make hot sandwiches, but in the car, we pulled out strips of the pastrami to try – simply dried beef with good saltiness, and not too peppery. It was delicious.

On that Thursday afternoon we had no particular schedule, which was pretty amazing in itself. But it was also a clear, cold Maine fall day. In the bright sunshine we drove the curving, rising two-lane road to the honor stand at the Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm. Past farm fields and spruce woods, stood the small and tidy building – maybe 15-feet across – beside a house where several wetsuits were hanging over the porch rail near the back door. (They dive for the oysters in the Damariscotta River below.) You pick out the oysters you want and leave your cash in a wooden box. One by one, we counted out a dozen each of the icy Damariscotta singles that are known to be clean and sweet tasting (they definitely were); and of the flatter, rounder and more iodine-tasting Belon oysters. (I’ve been learning about these, the French-Euro oyster that Julia Child wrote of eating in Provence, and that was introduced in Maine waters in the 1950s.) An elder Mainer pulled in just after us. Wearing a flannel shirt and walking slowly with a cane, he made his way over to the coolers to choose three of the “jumbo” singles (big as my hand) that go for $1.50 each. He didn’t look up for talking, but as he counted his change into the cash box, I said hello and asked how he’d eat the big oysters. “I eat ’em with a spoon,” he said, “like any other oyster.”

Belon & Damariscotta oysters Nov. 2009 Peter Frank Edwards

At the cabin the next day, we got into the sauerkraut and pastrami for an early lunch – made a Reuben version – and a few hours later, we iced down and pried open the Belons to eat on the half shell with lemon, followed by sips of Madeira. By then, the temperatures were in the mid-thirties and I had a fire going in the woodstove.

– Sandy Lang, December 2009  (images by PFE)



July Mainer

Cindy’s takeout, Freeport, Maine. PFE Photo.

Sunshine is even more precious in Maine this summer. Everyone talks of the rainy weeks of June. One lobsterman shook his head and said, “Ain’t had no spring. Hardly had no summer.”  But since arriving on the eve of July 4th we’ve had several of the fleeting sunny afternoons, the clear-sky evenings when the light hangs on longer than you think possible, gleaming in the coves, over the spruce tops and across the lakes. We’ve got a tiny cabin about half way up Maine’s shoreline – a coast  that juts out so raggedly into the cold, clear ocean, breaking off into islands, the rocky outposts of long-ago glaciers. After the long drive up from South Carolina, our first Maine stop was north of Yarmouth on Route 1 at Cindy’s, where the owner showed us his old Ford. “Bought it from the second owner,” he said, passing some hot onion rings out of the stand’s window, and then a hefty, buttery lobster roll wrapped in white waxed paper.

A couple days after getting to the cabin at Long Pond, we drove a few miles up the road above Silver Lake to the Silveridge Farm. The strawberries were plump, red and ready for picking. I filled an old clam basket with 9 or 10 pints, which weighed in at $9. We gave some of the sweet berries to friends, and ate the rest with yogurt, with tapioca, on biscuits, fresh in slices or on the hand, and the last couple pints I cooked into jam. Summer is good here. You can see it and taste everywhere, and it’s all the more prized with the come-and-go sun.

– Sandy Lang, July 2009 (images by PFE)

jam, Silveridge farm, Bucksport, Maine. PFE Photo.

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Food, Maine days, Travel



Knee deep in Maine

Sugarloaf, ME, February 23, 2009

I’m working this week in western Maine, and checking out ski towns. Last night the sky opened to a major drop of snow. While we drank a couple of beers at dinner at The Rack (Olympic snowboarder Seth Weston’s place), four or five inches fell across our car in a white fluff blanket. And by morning, there was more than two feet of new powder at Sugarloaf, where we’re staying for a couple of days.

After breakfast this morning I trudged up to the lifts in a whip of wind, and skied in snow so deep I couldn’t see my feet… it swooshed and shushed. It hushed, and the wind howled, brushing icy powder across my face, down the neck of my coat. A woman on the lift told me she’d lost one of her skis earlier in a three-foot drift, and most everyone was stopping to catch their breath on Tote Road, the longest run.

Sugarloaf, ME, February 23, 2009 - trees

It was a whiteout for much of the day, clearing just enough by afternoon to see the trails from the lift as you rode up. I’m attaching a few photographs, while still flush-cheeked in the apres ski. What an incredible day.

Sugarloaf, ME, February 23, 2009 - Tote Road

(The shots are mine this time, from my trusty pocket Canon.)

– Sandy Lang, February 2009

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Maine days, Travel

Local 188, Portland, Maine

Last night we double-hopped dinner around Longfellow Square in Portland, Maine. At Local 188, it was a round of Estrella and Unibroue with a long plate of spicy meatballs to share. We’d been to Local before, when it was in the shotgun space around the corner and you could drink $2 Schlitz tall-boys and watch the chef at the fiery cookstove, making that big bowl of paella you ordered. Now in a space 3-4 times the size on Congress Street (formerly a Goodwill shop), there’s still Schlitz on the menu, but also an open kitchen with several busy line cooks, an L-shaped bar, and just about every other manner of seating…. booths, tables, barstools, easy chairs, pews, and couches set around coffee tables. Everyone finds their place.

Fat wet snowflakes started while at Local, and we cut across Congress Street to Evangeline in a hurry, in the flurry.  It’s the one at 190 State Street with the outline of a pig in profile painted on the window… reminded me of the The Spotted Pig in New York. There, at the long bar we shared a litre bottle of Allagash Curieux (pricey but delicious Portland brew… aged in whiskey barrels).  And to eat, I had the best wilted spinach salad, with mini croutons, carmelized, balsamic red onion, and slivers of thick-cut bacon. Then on top, a perfect cloud of a poached egg… a delicious warm-up before walking back out into the white night.

Evangeline, Portland, Maine

Peter Frank Edwards has more images of Evangeline on his blog, including shots of Chef Erik Desjarlais cooking it up in the kitchen.

– Sandy Lang, February 2009

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Food, Maine days, Travel



Maine swims, meals

swim to platform

Spent only part of August at the cabin this year, and much of our stay was in silver. There were clouds often, a chill in the morning. We still jumped in the lake the first afternoon, and most days after that, always trying for a swim in whatever minutes of sunshine that day would give us. The water temp at the end of the dock ranged from 70-75 degrees.

The upside to summer rain was the best wild berry season we’ve seen. Mainers agreed… we talked to several people who said that the blackberries, raspberries and blueberries were bigger and much more in plenty this year. I started carrying baskets on our hikes. What we didn’t spill and squish in the bottom of my backpack, we ate fresh or some other way most every day. We had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, blackberries cooked with sugar to make a hot syrup to pour over ice cream, and a cold blueberry bread pudding recipe (which was even better the next day when I mixed in a couple of eggs, milk and cinnamon and baked it awhile.)

berries and boat2

Peter Frank did most of the fishing. Actually, I did some fishing too… it was just that he did most of the catching. We pan-fried the bass from the lake, and grilled the mackerel that he and his friend Dave Cassidy (a Maine guide) caught down in the harbor at Stonington. The local farm stands are terrific here, so we had plenty of fresh corn, squash and tomatoes, and from an organic grower, a bag of tiny purple potatoes and a great little purple cabbage smaller than a softball. (I’m a big believer in the better flavor of smaller vegetables.) We also bought a fresh chicken and made a skillet of tomatoes, rice, chicken and beans. I’m always soaking dried beans at the cabin for soup and chili. PF bakes bread. On the best days, we eat yogurt and fruit in the morning and have cocktails in the afternoon. One afternoon, our friends Lynn and Ray brought over delicious blackberry margaritas (see them below)… yes there were tiny bits of seed in the blend of ice and tequila. We joked about the great fiber we were getting. I love summer in the tiny cabin — really a kitchen house with a bed in the loft.

mackerel kitchen

raspberry margaritas

– August 2008, Sandy Lang

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Food, Maine days

little ovencabin Thanksgiving spread

Up at the Maine cabin for Thanksgiving, we put our new (since summer) Sears-bought, 20-inch wide gas oven to the test. It’s a tiny workhorse. We cooked on all burners and both oven racks, from turkey to stuffing to clams. (Earlier in the week, I’d called my clam guy at Young’s Oyster Pound and asked him about getting some cherrystones or littlenecks… of course they had plenty of steamers on hand but none of thick shells. He’d have to dig up my order.) Near a wood stove and with icy mist falling outside, I’d decided I needed to make clams like I watched my Uncle Chic do one Thanksgiving. He’s the one who told me he was “the best quahog diver in New England” when he was young, but then he was known for telling incredible sea stories.

The rest of our menu was, as follows: roast fresh turkey (a free-ranger), mashed potatoes made with those Aroostook County potatoes with papery-thin skins, creamed fresh spinach, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, and a tray of roasted parsnips, beets, rutabaga and carrots.

We served everything on the cabin’s motley collection of plates and pans, along with a few things we bought at All Small Antiques in Searsport just before it closed Wednesday afternoon. The curly-headed, grandmotherly clerk there told us she wouldn’t be serving turkey this year. Instead she’d be cooking an eye roast the next day for her family, she said. “Why? I’ll tell you why. For the simple reason that they’ve had too much turkey already.”

lake viewcuckoo

– Sandy Lang, November 2007

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Food, Maine days

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