Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie at the Quietside Café on Mount Desert Island

 Food and Dining, travel  Comments Off on Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie at the Quietside Café on Mount Desert Island
Jun 302013
 

What are you looking for when you go to Maine?  Views of the rocky coastline, lighthouses, and Cadillac Mountain?  Lots of lobster and blueberry pie?  Hiking and biking in Acadia National Park?

I go to Maine because I also want to “get away.”

To me this means spending time in stores and cafes with a much slower pace than what I experience in New York City, where I live.  I find that a discussion about a new garden hose at the hardware store in Southwest Harbor can be more restorative than any massage or spa treatment.

That’s one reason the Quietside Café in Southwest Harbor is a favorite.  No doubt about it, we go there because their lobster rolls are fantastic.  Packed with the freshest lobster meat from the lobster pound right down the street on Clark Point Road, they’re served with delicious homemade coleslaw and chips.  Fred also loves their New England clam chowder, which is thick and creamy.

Lobster roll at Quietside Cafe Southwest Harbor Maine

But I love the fact that this is a family business.  Frances and Ralph have operated it for 16 years now, with their two daughters growing up working in the business and pitching in to serve customers.  Today, as we sat outside on newly painted picnic benches, the couple continued to show pride in the new 15-year-old waitress who’s a whiz at reciting their 20-plus ice cream flavors.  That’s just the kind of place it is.

The Quietside Café is located on Main Street in Southwest Harbor on the eponymous western half of Mount Desert Island where the pace is far less bustling than in Bar Harbor where the cruise ships dock.  Parking on Main Street in Southwest Harbor is pretty easy.  There’s also a parking lot in front of the post office right around the corner on Clark Point Road.  The Quietside is diagonally across from the hardware store.

Quietside Cafe Southwest Harbor Maine

The café itself is nondescript.  You can sit outside on picnic tables in a small village garden, which attracts battalions of butterflies to its bushes in late August.  Likely there will be a pie cooling in the window.

Inside the tiny, tidy luncheonette decorated with family photographs are a few tables, an ice cream bar, and a lunch counter that’s also jam-packed with what Frances has baked that day – blueberry pie, macaroons, and oatmeal cookies.

Quietside Cafe Southwest Harbor Maine

Sit there on a stool at risk to your waist line because what TripAdvisor reviewers say is true:

“Blueberry pie in a class of its own, piled a mile high with the sweetest wild berries”

“Ethereal blueberry pie”

“Amazing pie well over an inch thick”

“Best pie around”

“Best key lime pie ever – I suspect it was that chocolate crust”

“The best was the apple pie – pecan streusel topping and loads of apples”

“Pie tastes like the berries were just picked…”

blueberry pie quietside cafe maine

macaroons quietside cafe southwest harbor maine

Speaking of TripAdvisor, I also liked the reviewer who said: “We camped 10 nights and visited the café 5.”  Repeat visitors and regulars are common at the Quietside.

9 of the 10 times I go, I have the lobster roll, but the crab rolls and BLTs are also my personal favorites.  Others are fans of the turkey melts and the “to-die-for” sweet potato fries – in addition to the pizza!

The ice cream also gets rave reviews, for both the quality and flavor variety.  Take Moose Track, for example.  It’s a rich vanilla studded with chocolate and peanut butter chunks.

It’s surely from another world.  And that takes me back to my first point: I go to Maine to get away from it all. Going to the Quietside is like visiting America in another time.  It’s a chance to engage with simple things: value for the money and nice people.  The way life was meant to be, as the Maine slogan states.

It’s telling it like it is when the locals on MDI refer to us off-islanders as people “from away”.

Related Stories:

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: Come This Way to Café This Way

Mount Desert Island’s Most Scenic Lobster Pound?  It’s Unanimous

What Is Peekytoe Crab and Should a Maine Lobster Lover Opt for It?

 

My Favorite Links This Week

 travel, Uncategorized  Comments Off on My Favorite Links This Week
Apr 072013
 

 

While this week brought news about more political corruption in New York, weakening chances of gun legislation passing, and increasing tensions in Korea, my inbox – and mailbox – also offered signs of hope from individuals and organizations committed to land conservation.  Here are some of my favorites.

 

National Park List

2012 Statistics Reveal Top 10 Visited National Park Service Sites

Visits to our national parks increased by more than three million last year.  Acadia National Park ranked ninth, with over 2.4 million visitors.  See what other parks are on the top 10 list.

 

 

gift_package_imgFrom Green Gifts Purveyor: Into the Trees 

This charming children’s book written by Mike Aaron and illustrated by Baby Einstein artist Nadeem Zaidi tells the story of a child’s walk in the woods as the impetus for an ongoing relationship with nature.  Buy alone or as part of gift set.

 

 

 

Cairns

Stone on Stone – A Natural and Social History of Cairns

In an article published by the Appalachian Mountain Club, Michael Gaige reveals the history of the unique Bates cairns that dot Cadillac Mountain and other bald summits in Acadia National Park, as well as some contemporary problems in cairn management facing national parks.

 

 

 

header-09-bkgd

Maine Land Conservation Conference 2013

The conference, which will be held on April 26th in Brunswick and April 27th in Topsham, provides a forum for learning about the most pressing issues facing land conservation today.

 

 

 

How to Cook Lobster and More – A Three-Day “Cooking Adventure” in Maine

 Food and Dining, travel  Comments Off on How to Cook Lobster and More – A Three-Day “Cooking Adventure” in Maine
Mar 312013
 

maine lobsterOne evening when we were having dinner at Red Sky restaurant in Southwest Harbor, Maine, the Executive Chef James Lindquist came over to our table to describe the specials.  The appetizer, he said, featured asparagus which was “in the ground this afternoon.”

James Lindquist

James Lindquist

This focus on what’s local and fresh has been a driving force behind the success of Red Sky and James Lindquist, who was featured in Fresh from Maine, the 2010 cookbook of “recipes and stories from the state’s best chefs”.  His vivid way of describing food and engaging the imagination of his diners is another reason the restaurant has received such acclaim from The New York Times, Travel and Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and Down East Magazine, among others.

Now, for the first time, enthusiastic home cooks are going to be able to cook with James, learning his approach, getting unique recipes, and taking advantage of the ingredients of Maine, including lobster.  On June 9-12 he will lead a three-day “Cooking Adventure,” limited to eight participants.

This cooking class will take place at Ann’s Point Inn on Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park.  It will include three nights lodging at the scenic harbor-side inn, as well as local trips to discover the sources of Maine’s coveted ingredients.  Participants will prepare appetizer, entrée, and dessert courses for two dinners.  In addition, the program includes a three-course dinner at Red Sky.

Ann's Point Inn

Ann’s Point Inn

This “Cooking Adventure” is the brainchild of Alan Feuer, a former Computer Science professor, who moved to Maine with his wife Jeannette to start a second career as innkeeper of Ann’s Point. Under their stewardship, the inn, which opened in 2005, has not only been certified an Environmental Leader by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, but also selected as a Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice in 2012 for “Best Acadian Escape.”

Says Alan Feuer, “For many guests at the inn, eating well-prepared food is as important as the breathtaking scenery and exhilarating physical activity Acadia offers.”   The Feuers updated their inn’s open kitchen in 2012 giving it plentiful work space and a direct water view. He adds, “Kitchens are magical places. They turn raw material into delicious food, and strangers into friends.”

In addition to lodging, two dinners prepared by the class, and a dinner at Red Sky, the “Cooking Adventure” package includes three full breakfasts at Ann’s Point Inn. These feature freshly baked pastries, fresh fruit, and a main course that alternates between the sweet and savory. James Lindquist says, “Jeannette Feuer is an accomplished breakfast chef in her own right!”

The eight people who participate in the first “Cooking Adventure” collaboration will take home recipes of the two dinners they prepared together and a signed copy of Fresh from Maine. Cost for the package is $1750 for two people. For more information, call 207-244-9595 or email info@annspoint.com.

Related Stories:

Attention, Foodies: Take a Detour to Bartlett Winery When You Visit Acadia National Park in Maine

Second Life as an Innkeeper in Maine

 

Mar 242013
 

Thinking of visiting Acadia National Park this summer?  It’s the star attraction of Mount Desert Island, an island about the same size as Martha’s Vineyard, but with 24 mountain peaks.  That alone expands the roster of great things to do there.

Acadia became a national park in 1919, but the first village on Mount Desert Island was founded in 1761.  Today Acadia’s boundaries are intermingled with the charming, postcard-perfect villages of this New England island, adding even more activities to engage park visitors.

So, what activities should you plan to include in your visit?  Here are some favorite things to do both in and around the park.

1.  Watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. At some 1500 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the first place from which to witness dawn in the United States, and it is breathtaking. Make sure you wear a warm fleece even if it’s August.

Cadillac Sunrise

2.  Drive the Park Loop Road. You can get your best overview of Acadia by driving these 27 miles of unsurpassed beauty, created in part through the masterful collaboration of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. There are many lookouts so have your camera ready.

3.  Eat lobster. Whether you want a lobster roll, lobster stew, or a two-pounder steamed, you can find a wide range of topnotch restaurants, harbor side lobster pounds, and quaint cafes to serve you. Our favorite is Thurston’s in Bass Harbor.

4.  Go biking. Thanks to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Acadia offers 45 miles of car-free carriage roads that will lead you around mountains, alongside lakes, and into serene boreal forests.  Visit Hull’s Cove Visitor Center first, just outside of downtown Bar Harbor, where there is plentiful parking and good advice about the best bike routes for you and your family. I love their 3D map.

5.  Stroll, hike, or climb. The park boasts 125 miles of well-maintained hiking trails that appeal to all levels of fitness. The most exciting trails, such as the Precipice and Jordan Cliffs, feature rungs and ladders. A beautiful, moderately challenging hike is Acadia Mountain, overlooking Somes Sound, the only fiord in North America. If you’re looking for easier strolls, consider Asticou Trail and Wonderland – they’re lovely.

Hiking The Bubbles

6.  Have popovers at Jordan Pond House. Select a biking or hiking route that stems from behind Jordan Pond House so that you can conclude your afternoon with lemonade or tea – and, most certainly, popovers — on the lawn looking towards the Bubbles, a sight that has mesmerized visitors at teatime since 1896. It’s a favorite destination for everyone, but worth the wait.  What about popovers filled with blueberry ice cream?

Jordan Pond Popovers with Blueberry Ice Cream

7.  Go to the beach.  Sand Beach is a stunning crescent of white sand, with cliffs at each side and the Beehive Trail behind it. The views won’t disappoint, even if the chilly water does. Another option for a swim is the beach at Echo Lake on the island’s “Quietside.”

Echo Lake swimming

8.  Visit a lighthouse.  Maine has over 60 lighthouses, and one of its most beautiful is on Mount Desert Island in Bass Harbor.  It’s a great spot for photographers.  Afterwards, visit the working harbor busy with lobster and sail boats.

Bass Harbor

9.  Take a horse-drawn carriage ride.  Carriages of Acadia offers a number of picturesque drives within Acadia National Park, starting at Wildwood Stables and encompassing destinations including Day Mountain and Jordan Pond.  Another option is to enjoy a tour of downtown Bar Harbor with Wild Iris Horse Farm.

Carriage Drives in Acadia

10.  Learn from a park ranger. The National Park Service offers very entertaining talks and walks on subjects ranging tidal pools to birds of prey to the stars over Sand Beach. Scan The Beaver Log to figure out how you can fit in more than one.

11.  Touch nature – literally. There are several enterprises, including Mount Desert Biological Laboratories, The Dive-In Theatre, and the Mount Desert Oceanarium, that feature touch tanks full of lobsters, crabs, and sea cucumbers. I always end up liking this stuff just as much as the kids do.

12.  Visit the local wineries and micro-breweries.  On Mount Desert Island you can enjoy free tours and tastings of two award-winning micro-breweries, Bar Harbor Brewing Company and Atlantic Brewing Company.  Venture off the island to discover the acclaimed fruit vintages of Bartlett Winery.

13.  Get out on the water. This great national park is on an island so you must see it from the vantage point of the sea. Whether you’re powering yourself in a sea kayak or the wind is propelling you on a Downeast Friendship Sloop or the Margaret Todd, being on the water is a special part of a trip to Acadia National Park.

Sailing in Acadia

14.  Experience farm to table cuisine. Maine is known not only for its great fishermen, but also its farmers.  And nowhere in Maine has the renaissance of local and organic ingredients been as great as on Mount Desert Island.  A long list of top restaurants, including Burning Tree, Fathom, Red Sky, and Town Hill Bistro, awaits the discerning diner.  Make reservations!

15.  Take an art class.  If you’ve ever pictured yourself sketching or learning watercolors in an idyllic seaside location, make that fantasy a reality.  Among the many wonderful artists on Mount Desert Island is Judy Taylor, who offers workshops that include cruises to some of the most picturesque islands surrounding Mount Desert Island.

Judy Taylor Sketch Class

16.  Relax at a spa. Bar Harbor is home to a number of spas that run the gamut from sophisticated to funky.  If your idea of a great vacation is a day of outdoor activities topped off by a soothing massage, then you’ll find a vacation to Acadia perfect from the pine-scented trails to the aromas of the spa.

17.  Experience the “Way Life Should Be.”  That Maine slogan is your personal invitation to church suppers, local parades, blueberry festivals, farmers’ markets, crafts fairs, and terrific libraries.  If you pull off the road and depart from your schedule, you’ll be amply rewarded.  After all, those practical folks who invented ear muffs in 1873 just named Whoopie Pies as their “State Treat.”

Public Suppers in MaineRelated Stories:

5 Tips If You Want to Enjoy A Glorious Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Maine

Where to Stay on a Trip to Acadia National Park: A Profile of Mount Desert Island’s Villages

 

 

 

 

Why Visit Acadia National Park in the Fall

 Food and Dining, travel  Comments Off on Why Visit Acadia National Park in the Fall
Nov 032012
 

When Fred told his son Josh that we were going to Acadia in October to see the foliage, the 27-year-old wisecracked, “Why don’t you just go to Central Park?”

The horror of turning into middle-aged leaf peepers flashed in my mind.

Ironically, one of the best reasons to go to Maine in the fall is to be very active outdoors.  With visitors to the national park at half of what they are in August, the carriage roads and trails are less populated.  That means easier access to the most popular biking and hiking spots such as Eagle Lake and Cadillac Mountain, Mount Desert Island’s highest point.  The rock climbing companies are still open.  And the weather is terrific for being outdoors.

So, as we approached our autumn visit to Acadia, now an annual ritual, our plans were very much set.  We know what to do in August and what to hold until October to make the most of the seasons and avoid any crowds.

During previous fall trips, we had hiked Cadillac’s West Face (a favorite) and the North Ridge, but we had only done the northernmost parts of the South Ridge in conjunction with other hikes, the previously noted West Face, as well as Canon Brook Trail, another fall favorite.  This year we hiked the entire 7.4-mile South Ridge Trail, up to and back from the 1,530-foot summit, in four hours.  We stopped very little, just to eat an apple at the summit and take this photo of the glacial cirque known as the Featherbed.

Featherbed glacial cirque Cadillac Mountain AcadiaThis year autumn rainfall gave us gushing brooks, topped-off lakes, and lots of active waterfalls.  We hiked along Little Harbor Brook, for example, where there were frequent crossings along stepping stones, something that holds endless charm for me.  I don’t know why.A highlight of the Little Harbor Brook Trail was reaching Amphitheatre Bridge, where we enjoyed a very pretty waterfall.

Another day we made our own hike/bike tour.  After dropping our bikes off at Jordan Pond House, we parked on Route 3 near Hunters Brook.  We hiked north along this lovely brook, then headed west over The Triad where we picked up the Ponds Path to emerge here on Jordan Pond.

Jordan Pond with Bubbles in background

We had lunch at Jordan Pond House where we witnessed – but did not partake of! – such spectacular desserts as popovers filled with ice cream.

Jordan Pond House Ice Cream Stuffed PopoversAfter lunch we got on our bikes and pedaled back on the carriage roads to Signpost 36.  There was only a short expanse of about .2 mile where we had to walk – and carry – our bikes on a trail through the woods.

Although it was close to dusk, we locked up our bikes and hiked another mile to Hunters Cliffs, where we marveled at Maine’s rocky coastline.

Hunters Cliff

When you pack so much into each day, there’s not much tension left in your body as evening approaches.  What’s left quickly dissipates with a glass of a favorite libation – I am happy to promote my recent discovery of Shipyard Pumpkin Ale — at one of Mount Desert Island’s great restaurants.  This year outstanding fall fare on MDI ranged from lobster pot pie at Fiddler’s Green in Southwest Harbor to an Autumn Sweater Salad (mixed greens with sliced apple, garlic marinated feta, herbs, and balsamic vinaigrette) at Lompoc Café in Bar Harbor to risotto with butternut squash at Sips in Southwest Harbor.

Near the very end of our fall vacation in Maine, we went for an easy walk along a path called Murphy’s Lane, in the shadow of the Precipice.  Actually, there was no shadow that day because it was raining lightly.  Despite the precipitation, I was lighthearted as we strolled through birch groves and among rain-kissed leaves and grasses.

We reached Bliss Field over which Champlain Mountain and the Precipice Trail rise, but the mist obscured their magnificence today.  I didn’t care.  I was blissful.

Josh was right.  I could have seen leaves like these in Central Park…if I had been open to them.  Instead I needed to follow John Muir’s instructions to get to that special place:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

Related Stories:

Tips for Fall Trips to Acadia National Park

If You Want to Hike Cadillac and Champlain Mountains in Acadia National Park, Go in the Fall

Acadia Photo Workshop – Seeing Maine’s Fall Landscape Through An Expert’s Eyes

 

Attention, Foodies: Take a Detour to Bartlett Winery When You Visit Acadia National Park in Maine

 Food and Dining, travel  Comments Off on Attention, Foodies: Take a Detour to Bartlett Winery When You Visit Acadia National Park in Maine
Oct 212012
 

Ann's Point Inn Bass Harbor

As the sun softened over Bass Harbor, the guests at Ann’s Point Inn leaned forward to listen to the innkeeper introduce the two Bartlett wines, a semi-dry peach and a semi-dry pear, he was pouring that afternoon.  We took another nibble of Seal Cove goat cheese, then tasted.  Wine made from peaches and pears, not grapes?  It was delicious.

“I like featuring Bartlett because my guests appreciate trying wine only available in Maine,” says Alan Feuer, a computer sciences professor turned innkeeper.  “And I like supporting local businesses making high-quality products.”

These wines are the fruits of the labor of award-winning  winemaker  Bob Bartlett, who founded  Bartlett Maine Estate Winery in 1982.  It was Maine’s first winery.   Bob, in fact, had to write the legislation himself to get the license for the tasting room.  Today he and his wife Kathe produce 6,000 to 7,000 cases a year, depending on the availability of fruit.Bartlett Estate WineryAfter first tasting Bartlett wines at Ann’s Point, I spied the bottles with the labels that look like botanical art at wine stores and markets around Mount Desert Island.  I was curious about the winery in nearby Gouldsboro and wanted to taste more.  This cloudy October afternoon seemed just right to take a break from hiking in Acadia and go on a field trip.  What we learned was not only about wine, but also about a couple who three decades ago foreshadowed today’s local and artisanal food movements.

The drive east from our house in Somesville on Mount Desert Island would have taken about 45 minutes along Route 1, but we decided to explore the Schoodic Peninsula, stopping in Winter Harbor for some clam chowder and a lobster roll.  This part of Maine – with its white-steeple churches, harbors full of lobster boats, and quiet villages – make a town like Bar Harbor look positively bustling.  It was easy to find the winery at 175 Chicken Mill Pond Road, also known as Old Route 1 Bypass.

It’s not surprising that the driveway into the quiet wooded setting of the winery is marked by an oversized granite sculpture.  Bob Bartlett came to Maine in 1975 as a trained architect and glass artist.Kathe Bartlett Winery Gouldsboro MaineAlthough Kathe has two employees managing tastings in the summer, we were fortunate to have her as our host today.  Friendly and articulate, she selected for our testing, which was free, seven of the 18 wines and two honey-meads they produce.   Ranging from dry to sweet, the wines are made from apples, pears, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, and of course blueberries – and combinations thereof.  The fruit is brought to the Bartletts as fresh whole fruit – ninety percent of which is from Maine and “always from someone we know.”

The fruit is the key here.  “That’s what I get most excited about…when the fruit comes in,” says Kathe.  “It is so luscious.”

Bartlett wines are made totally with fruit, with no concentrates or flavorings.   High-quality honey and great fruit that is clean (to minimize the risk of bacteria) are necessary for their wine and mead, and limit how much can be produced.  Sourcing honey, for example, can be a real challenge, Kathe says, adding that honey from New Zealand might really be from China.

Fruit also played a major role in the history of the winery.  Seminal to Bob’s idea of producing wine in Maine was using Maine fruit and thus promoting Maine agriculture.  He even wrote it into the legislation.

At this point in the tasting we had moved to the wines made from blueberries, and I was trying to decide whether I preferred the medium-dry Coastal Red, a blend of local Maine apples and wild blueberries, or the oakier, barrel-aged Dry American, which Kathe says pairs with lamb, venison, and turkey and goes particularly well with rosemary, thyme, and sage seasonings – “perfect for Thanksgiving.”

At that moment a man arrayed in rain gear and totally drenched passed by the door leading from the tasting room into the winery.  It was Bob.  He looked like a very wet lobsterman, not the “dean” or “godfather” of the Maine wine industry, as he’s frequently called.  “What I do to make wine for you people,” he said happily, and then moved on.  He’d been cleaning the inside of vats.  The cleanliness of the equipment is obviously as important to him as the purity of the fruit.Bartlett Estate Winery Gouldsboro MaineIt’s a big job for two people to run a venture of this size and caliber.  Says Kathe, “The longest we’ve ever been away is three weeks.”  The tasting room at the winery is open June until Columbus Day, Tuesday through Saturday, from 11am to 5pm.

Kathe and Bob seem anything but tired or complacent, however.  One of their newest ventures is the Spirits of Maine Distillery, which is also gaining recognition in international awards competitions.  American Apple Brandy and Pear Eau de Vie are two of the stand-outs.

Bartlett Estate Winery Gouldsboro Maine Tasting Room

Suddenly, we noticed it was after 4:30, and we found ourselves in a rush as Kathe packed a case of wine for us that included the Coastal White, Peach Semi-Dry, and both of the blueberry wines between which I had been trying to decide.  Before it closed at 5pm, we wanted to get to the Sullivan Harbor Farm Smokehouse – “the hottest little smokehouse in Maine” that gets raves of “delectable” from The Boston Globe and “highly recommended” from The New York Times. Kathe picked up the phone and asked if they would wait for us for five minutes.  They did, and we left very happy with smoked salmon bacon brushed with maple syrup and the best smoked salmon pâté I have ever had.  (Sorry, Zabar’s.)

Maine has always been the land of farmers and fishermen.  But, as the Bartlett Winery and Sullivan Harbor Farm prove, it is increasingly the home of culinary artisans who are adding true craftsmen’s value to what’s offered by the great state of Maine.

Next time I won’t wait for a cloudy day to visit.  I’ll bike the Schoodic Peninsula, then head over to Bartlett’s.

 

Related Stories:

Biking in Maine:  A Road Less Traveled in Acadia National Park

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: Come This Way to Café This Way

 Food and Dining, travel  Comments Off on Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: Come This Way to Café This Way
Oct 102012
 

Bar Harbor breakfast-goers fall into several categories.  The Fuel-Seekers, who want a hearty breakfast before they hit the trail in Acadia.  The Lingerers, who want to enjoy their vacation relaxing over breakfast, perhaps with a newspaper.   And, of course, the Foodies, who believe that the first meal of the day offers tantalizing taste options.

All three groups designate Café This Way as worthy of “Destination Breakfast” status.

But, first, let’s make sure we can get you there.  Café This Way’s address is listed as 14 Mount Desert Street in Bar Harbor.  Mount Desert Street, which intersects with Main Street, is one of the primary streets leading into Bar Harbor.  Café This Way, however, is located on a flag lot just a few steps off of Mount Desert Street.  A sign marks the way…café this way.  You might also be lucky enough to find a parking spot if you drive this way.

cafe this way bar harbor maine

The vine-covered cottage, which features dining on a porch for about eight tables, has a burgundy interior with colorful paintings throughout.  This color is accentuated by two dramatic yellow crescents on the ceiling, a signal that, although the food is serious here, no one seems to take themselves too seriously.

cafe this way interior

 

 

 

In the same vein, the wait staff here is both very professional and friendly at the same time.  You get the sense that in Bar Harbor breakfast is a very competitive business, and the “best of the best” in wait staff work hard to give their establishment the edge.

Starting at 7am on Monday through Saturday, Café This Way’s staff is there to efficiently serve the Fuel-Seekers pancakes (including blueberry, of course), French toast, granola, oatmeal or perhaps the Country Breakfast – two eggs, two pancakes, ham, home fries, and toast.

The Lingerers, who might want to borrow one of the seriously good reads from the many bookcases throughout Café This Way, can have their Bagel Plate with either smoked salmon or smoked trout, a great alternative.  By the way, one of my favorite omelets at Café This Way features smoked trout, red onions, fresh basil, tomatoes, and parmesan.   There are seven other omelets on the menu to peruse and, if none of those inspires, contemplate creating your own.  That’s an option, too.

Café This Way also serves dinner every night from 5:30 to 9:30, and that fact alone should excite the Foodies.  Believe me when I say that Kit’s Burrito – a tortilla filled scrambled eggs, peppers, onions, cheddar, and sausage and topped with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole – is delicious because it has such fresh, flavorful ingredients.

kits burrito cafe this way bar harbor maine

Creativity also appeals to the Foodies, and this is where the Café This Way is also sure to please.  Take the Café Monte Cristo, for example.  It’s a French toast sandwich filled with a fried egg, ham, and cheddar.  Smother it in maple syrup.

cafe monte cristo cafe this way bar harbor maine

Neither the Fuel-Seekers nor the Lingerers nor the Foodies want a watery cup of coffee.  Everyone endorses the robust flavor of Café This Way’s blend roasted by Carpe Diem.

That brings me to the subject of beverages.  Café This Way has everything from juice by Fresh Samantha to Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate to Iced Chai.  In fact, they have something that other top Bar Harbor breakfast spots do not, and that is a liquor license.

For the Brunch-Goer, what is breakfast without a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa?  Café This Way offers them by the glass or the pitcher.  Their Mimosas can be made with either orange or pomegranate juices or both, which I highly recommend.

Vacationers from around the world converge on Mount Desert Island to enjoy Acadia National Park, where the mountains meet the sea.  And, from mid-April through October,  at Café This Way they’ll find dining where heartiness, comfort, and flavor come together for a breakfast that’s worthy of the destination.

Related Stories:

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: 2 Cats Cafe

Vegetarians and Carnivores: Happy Together at Eden in Bar Harbor?

 Food and Dining, travel  Comments Off on Vegetarians and Carnivores: Happy Together at Eden in Bar Harbor?
Oct 012012
 

dining room eden bar harbor

(Editor’s Note August 2014: Both Eden and Town Hill Bistro are now closed.)

I was about to have dinner at Eden, the vegan restaurant in Bar Harbor, with a carnivore, known for his New York brand of sarcasm, and a life-long vegetarian, ornery from being house-bound as she studied for the MCAT.

Why I put myself in this position I do not know.  After all, the Meat Eater had foreshadowed potential tension earlier in the day when he noted, “Rupert Murdoch said dining at Steve Jobs’ vegetarian household was an exceptional experience – as long as you left before the local restaurants closed.”

Why hadn’t I steered us to Town Hill Bistro, for example, which always features a creative, flavorful dish for the Vegetarian?

Well, it was actually the proprietors at Town Hill who had introduced me to Eden, which has been serving seasonal vegan cuisine since 2003.  Originally located on West Street, Eden moved in 2011 to their new home at 321 Main Street, just across from Havana.

This new setting suits them.  On the quiet side of town, it’s a 100-year-old farm-style house, in which the rooms have been reconfigured into bright, convivial dining spaces.  Shades of green, turquoise, and peach lift the mood, as does the spirit of the host/owner Lynn Rampacek, who will speak glowingly about the talents of her chef/husband Mark.  The Rampaceks have been pioneers not only in adopting robust global flavors, but partnering with local growers to capitalize on seasonal produce.  Their menu lists partnerships with some eight different farms, gardens, and cooperatives who “make dinner at Eden possible.”

Our dinner started off well with a list of creative specialty cocktails.  Even here what’s local rules.  We all loved the Ruralpolitan, a Down East take on the Cosmopolitan featuring local, organic cranberry juice, maple syrup, Cointreau, lime, and Maine’s own Cold River vodka.

But appetizers were more challenging – because there were so many great choices!  I wanted both the ruby watermelon gazpacho and porcini mushroom and tomato tartlet, but I opted for the Chesapeake-style vegetable cakes with sweet and sour slaw.  Are you surprised the Meat Eater chose the beer-battered pickled jalapenos and onion rings?  The Vegetarian selected vegetable-stuffed tofu pockets with a spicy pickled ginger dipping sauce.

For an entrée, the Meat Eater debated between Penne Pesto tossed with arugula, local pole beans and sundried tomatoes and the Thai summer noodles with a spicy coconut, lime, and lemongrass curry.  Despite the tofu thrown in for some good protein, he opted for the latter! The Vegetarian chose almond and panko crusted soy seitan cutlets with a chilled potato and leek salad.  I had tempeh roasted with garlic, herbs, and balsamic vinegar, with lentil salad and local greens.

Doesn’t this sound delicious?

And life is full of surprises.  The Meat Eater liked the tofu pockets the best, and the Vegetarian voted the Thai Summer Noodles #1.  They shared.

As an adventuresome eater, I myself realized that Eden’s intriguing flavors had seduced me into trying pseudo meat products.  Seitan is a vegetarian mock meat made from wheat.  Tempeh, served as a compressed patty, is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans.  For me, the texture of both the tempeh and seitan detracted from the culinary heights Eden otherwise achieves.  Since what’s on my plate lately has become less protein- preoccupied, I shouldn’t have succumbed to the temptation of this traditional structure – here of all places!

So, non-vegetarians, take note.  If you’re in the mood for pasta, tangines, and other less traditionally structured dishes and you’re in search of fabulous flavor, seek entrance back to Eden and call for a reservation.  You need not be accompanied by a vegetarian.

Delight awaits.

 

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Acadia National Park in Maine – A Dog-Friendly Destination for Your Vacation

 travel  Comments Off on Acadia National Park in Maine – A Dog-Friendly Destination for Your Vacation
Sep 232012
 

Acadia Bubbles

Go to Jordan Pond House for lemonade on the lawn, and you’ll wonder if you’re in Maine or some scenic setting for the Westminster Dog Show.  Breeds abound.  Some sport bandannas.  All are attached to proud owners.  The wait staff even pours water into dog bowls.

Such pet-friendly dynamics at a popular dining spot are just one reason you won’t have to leave your best friend behind if you choose Acadia National Park for your vacation.The National Park Service welcomes pets on 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads, as well as in Blackwoods and Seawall Campgrounds.  Dogs are also allowed on the L.L. Bean Island Explorer buses.

The National Park Service does require that dogs stay on leashes no longer than six feet long. Even with this constraint, there is so much to explore.If you’re looking for an easy, flat walk, consider Jordan Pond Shore Path (3.3 miles), a trail around an impressive glacial pond, which will conclude at the aforementioned Jordan Pond House, one of Acadia’s most popular spots for picture-taking – and a great place to indulge in popovers, lobster stew, and strawberry ice cream.  Dogs can accompany their owners as they dine at tables on the lawn overlooking the pond.

An equally charming and less pup-ulated walk is along Lower Hadlock Pond.  At 1.7 miles, it’s shorter than Jordan Pond Shore Path, but similarly features some wonderful bridges crossing brooks.  That’s where we met this Australian Shepherd, who posed for us for a few minutes off-leash.

If you have your pet in tow, my recommendation is to opt for Jordan Pond Shore Path or Lower Hadlock Pond over Wonderland and Ship Harbor.  The latter are both great trails, but the former offer your dog fresh water to keep comfortable.

For a moderate hike of 2.8 miles, explore The Bowl, an alpine pond 25 feet deep, that you reach via a nice, steady climb through beech, birch, and maple.

A more ambitious hike with great panoramic views is the 3.1 mile trek to the top of Beech Mountain on the western side of Mount Desert Island.  You can ascend on the West Ridge Trail and descend on South Ridge.  This loop offers nice shade and fresh water for canine comfort — and good exercise for both of you .  Just remember that at the Pumping Station at the base of Long Pond, where this hike begins and ends, there is no swimming by man or dog.On these Acadia National Park trails, dogs must be leashed, but here’s a tip.  There’s a wonderful off-leash area along Little Long Pond, just off Route 3 in Seal Harbor.   Owned by the Rockefeller family and generously shared with the public, it has rolling meadows, shaded trails and a pond in which your dog can swim.  Charles Eliot, one of Acadia’s founding fathers, called the views here the most beautiful in all of Mount Desert Island.Wherever you choose to go hiking, be sure to bring enough water for both you and your dog.  Consider trails that offer both shade and options for fresh water.  Avoid the very steep trails in Acadia National Park that require use of rungs and ladders.  In fact, the National Park Service prohibits dogs on the Precipice, Beehive, Ladder Trail to Dorr, Beech Cliffs, Perpendicular, and Jordan Cliffs.

The NPS site for Acadia lists other trails to avoid with dogs.  When we were hiking Giant Slide and Grandgent to Sargent recently, we met a woman heading down shortly after she started her hike because she was forced to carry her energetic wire fox terrier across boulders and steep intervals. Take the park rangers’ advice to avoid disappointment.

It is also wise to heed the park rangers’ counsel about leashes.  They want to protect your pets from becoming lost and from hazards, such as sick, injured, or rabid animals and porcupines, which this unleashed fellow unfortunately encountered.Acadia Veterinary Hospital, located in downtown Bar Harbor, took care of 20 dogs injured by porcupines in June, July, and August.  Dr. Marc Fine’s procedure to remove quills, which can involve both the throat and gums, requires sedating your dog.  The office warns: Don’t cut the quills.  In the summer, Acadia Veterinary Hospital (207-288-5733) has Saturday morning hours and is available 24 hours for emergencies.

In case this fate befalls your pup, you can always soothe him afterwards at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor.  They offer a Yellow Dog Special, a baby scoop of vanilla ice cream with two dog bones.

Better still, keep him on the leash in Acadia, explore, and let him run free in the meadows along Little Long Pond.  Then comment and tell us your favorite trails.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this article with tips and ideas.  No one seemed too busy to pose for a photo.  As the writer Milan Kundera said, “To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace.”

(By the way, Bar Harbor’s original name was Eden.)

Lighthouses and Lobster Boats on a Sunset Sail from Southwest Harbor

 travel  Comments Off on Lighthouses and Lobster Boats on a Sunset Sail from Southwest Harbor
Sep 152012
 

Karl Brunner is the perfect guy to go sailing with.  He started sailing when he was eight, has good stories (he hiked the Appalachian Trail in five months and eight days), and knows the best local bars.

Fortunately for us, he’s also an entrepreneur, so we all can go sailing with him.

karl brunner

In 2005 he started Downeast Friendship Sloop Charters with the handsomely refurbished Alice E., a sloop with a history.  In fact, she was originally built in 1899. During the 1930s she was owned by a doctor who rechristened her the Depression.  Knowing no one wants to be in a Depression during a vacation to Acadia National Park, Karl reverted to her original name as he launched his business giving sailing tours out of Southwest Harbor.

On this particular August afternoon everyone was upbeat as we boarded for our three-hour sunset cruise.  Joining Karl were three couples from Arizona, New York, and North Carolina, who had paid $75 per person for this vacation experience.  We had checked in at Sail Acadia next to the post office in Southwest Harbor, then driven in our own cars to park at the marina from which we embarked at 4:30pm.

With good winds at our back, we set sail and explored the mouth of Somes Sound, the deep, 6-mile fiord-like body of water that divides Mount Desert Island.  As we sailed east, Northeast Harbor’s elegant homes and clubs came into view.

Northeast HarborKarl pointed out the Bear Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1839.  Although the lighthouse is part of Acadia National Park, today it is leased to a private resident and not open to the public.  The best views of it are from exactly where we were, on the water.Bear Island is one of the five islands that make up the Town of Cranberry Isles.  With such good wind, sometimes reaching 25 knots, we sailed toward Great Cranberry Island and then to Islesford Harbor on Little Cranberry Island.  Lobster boats dotted the harbor.  We spotted the geometric, pastel-door boat houses we had seen so many times in the paintings of Judy Taylor, who takes students for workshops to Islesford.

By this point, Karl had left his post in the stern to go below (where there was a loo) to retrieve a blanket for his passenger from Phoenix who was chilly.  In addition to layered outer wear, if you decide to go on this sailing trip, you should remember your camera, binoculars, and any alcoholic drinks you might enjoy.  Karl served soft drinks and an “appetizer,” as advertised, of olive bread, brie, pears, and apples.   The couple from North Carolina had brought along a bottle of Sangiovese wine flavored with blueberries, a surprisingly delightful blend I recognized from the local Bartlett Winery.  I had packed a thermos of gin and tonic, christening the deck of Alice E. a couple of times as gusts came up.

What surprised me was how quickly and easily the Alice E. righted herself after these gusts, the result of her design, Karl explained.  It reminded me that the Downeast Friendship Sloops were the original lobster boats – well designed to sail steady as the captain was hauling traps.

We were nearing the end of our cruise.  The getting-to-know-you chatter ceased.  Western Mountain and Acadia Mountain were black silhouettes against the golden sky.  The moon rose.  As we sailed into Southwest Harbor, a lone harbor seal swam in our wake.

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