Why I Hope My Daughter Chooses Mount Desert Island in Maine for Her Wedding

 Food and Dining, Photography, travel, Weddings  Comments Off on Why I Hope My Daughter Chooses Mount Desert Island in Maine for Her Wedding
May 182013
 

maine destination weddingsApril showers bring May flowers, then June graduations and weddings.  And, although my daughter graduates from college in June, she’s pretty far from a wedding (although she has been dating a great guy for three years).

I was the one who began thinking about weddings recently when my online browsing introduced me to Maine wedding photographer Brea McDonald.  Her work would convince any couple to choose Mount Desert Island as the destination for their wedding!

During the last ten years destination weddings have skyrocketed like love on a starlit night. Today they represent one out of every four weddings.  Says Laura Cave of The Knot, “Our families and our friends are so far flung throughout the country.  It makes total sense that a bride and groom would want to choose a wedding site that’s beautiful for them and a lot of fun for their friends.”

Mount Desert Island fits those criteria.  Brea McDonald, whose home base is York, Maine, has photographed weddings in Maine, New Hampshire, Nantucket, Cape Cod, and Boston.  According to Brea, Mount Desert Island is a great location for a New England wedding because “it has it all — boating, fishing, hiking, shopping and, of course, eating.”

That’s particularly because Mount Desert Island is home to Acadia National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi.  Its granite-topped mountains, rocky coastline and glacial lakes attracted 2.4 million visitors last year.  And these distinctive geographical features make a stunning setting for wedding vows, whether anchored by spruce or birch…

wedding acadia national park maine

maine wedding venue harbor

…or enclosing the couple in an autumnal tunnel of love.

maine weddings fall

Charming villages are located throughout Mount Desert Island.  Their harbor-side classic inns and elegant gardens are the kind of venues brides dream about and cherish through their photographs for years to come.

asticou inn northwest harbor maine

maine wedding venue garden

One couple Brea photographed opted for the ceremony aboard a four-masted schooner and the reception in a harbor-side meadow.

maine wedding venues boats

maine wedding venues harbors

Couples who have a bent toward the casual seem to gravitate toward Maine for their weddings.  They may start with their topsiders on, but are likely to kick up (and off) their heels before long.

maine wedding venues casual

maine weddings casual

And they’re not afraid to be caught in a wedding photo tasting a lobster leg.  In fact, that’s part of the instructions.

wedding menus lobster

maine weddings lobster

That brings us to food.  Mount Desert Island is home to fishermen (including lobstermen) and farmers (including wonderful organic growers), so the culinary delights at a Maine wedding are great.  What floats your boat – clams or oysters?

Maine wedding menus

maine weddings menus oysters

A lobster bake makes a memorable menu.

maine wedding lobsterbake

So, if my daughter gets engaged and asks me what I think about a wedding on Mount Desert Island, I’m going to say: “A beautiful setting? Check.  Great food for the reception?  Check.  Fun for your friends? Check.  Memorable?  Check.”

And did I mention her boyfriend is graduating from Harvard Law in June?

Related Stories:

Brea McDonald Photography

The Knot’s Maine Wedding Albums

 

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

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.

 

Related Stories:

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

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: 2 Cats Cafe

 

Jul 012012
 

Causeway Club Southwest Harbor Maine

So much to do.  So little time.

That’s always the way I feel about a trip to Acadia National ParkHiking, biking, and kayaking all compete for my time.  But here’s why nine holes of golf should compete for yours the next time you visit Mount Desert Island.

Why?  Simply said, the Causeway Club.

Norwood Cove, Southwest Harbor, MaineThis gem of a golf course in Southwest Harbor sits on the shores of scenic Norwood Cove, with water to both the west and south.  The mountains of Acadia National Park provide a spectacular backdrop.  Osprey and bald eagles entertain overhead.

These nine holes also have some history.  The course is a links style, the oldest, first developed in Scotland.  Designed by Alonzo Yates and completed in 1923, it features small greens of velvet bent grass, one of the oldest grasses used for golf courses in Europe.  You’ll appreciate the smooth, velvety putting surface it provides.

With multiple tee options, the front nine plays to a par of 32 measuring 2266 yards. The back nine of 2410 yards plays to a par of 33.  Water may come into play on four different holes.

Causeway Club Norwood Cove Southwest Harbor Maine

If you need any more convincing, the late Bob Labbance, nationally recognized golf writer and historian who authored 17 books, called the Causeway Club “one of Maine’s best short tracks” – one of the outstanding nine-hole courses that “force you to hit every club in your bag in half the time.”

To learn more, visit The Causeway Club.  If you’re already a fan of the Causeway Club, tell us all why!

 

Figure Drawing Workshop on Islesford with Maine Artist Judy Taylor

 travel, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Figure Drawing Workshop on Islesford with Maine Artist Judy Taylor
Jun 262012
 

What’s on your bucket list?  To swim with dolphins?  See the Northern Lights?  Master the tango?

Now that you’ve moved into fantasizing mode, how about learning to draw?  If that’s always been a dream, then a true fantasy vacation would be a sketch trip to an idyllic New England island with a well-known artist who teaches around the world.

Sketching along the shoreline of Little Cranberry Island

Sketching along the shoreline of Little Cranberry Island

On July 12 at least this dream can come true!  Maine artist Judy Taylor welcomes you to join her for an all-day workshop, “Drawing the Figure on Islesford.”

Yoga instructor Mary Kate Murray will serve as the model for the sketch trip which will feature figure poses throughout Islesford on Little Cranberry Island.  Says Judy Taylor, “We’ll draw on the dock, down by the beach, on the deserted road with pines, ocean, fishing gear and rocks as our background.  I’m so excited about the compositional opportunities!”

Isleford Nude - Judy Taylor

Islesford Nude - Judy Taylor

Ms. Taylor is particularly well known for her work with figures.  The Maine Department of Labor awarded her a commission to create an eleven-panel mural depicting scenes of Maine workers, which Governor LePage ordered removed last year, stirring considerable controversy.

This year Ms. Taylor has taught workshops in New York, Venice, and Florence, as well as Maine.  Her studio, which includes exhibit space of her work, is on the “Quiet Side” of Mount Desert Island.

The fee for the July 12th workshop is $150, which includes the ferry, lunch at the popular Islesford Dock Restaurant, and model fee.  Enrollment is limited to ten.  Reserve by July 7 by calling 207-244-5545.

 

Boathouses on Islesford - Judy Taylor

Boathouses on Islesford - Judy Taylor

 

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

 Food and Dining, travel  Comments Off on What Is Peekytoe Crab and Should a Maine Lobster Lover Opt for It?
Jun 202012
 

We had just had our first lobster roll of the season at Down East Lobster Pound in Trenton, Maine, and were feeling pretty good about the upcoming Memorial Day weekend on Mount Desert Island and a few days off from the NYC rat race.

At Down East– where you can find the perfect lobster roll (stuffed big, no filler, buttery toasted roll) – the bins that hold the lobster were also piled high with Maine crab.  “Why not try it?” I thought.  For $1.49 pound, we got six big ones to take home.

To cook them, we took our lobster pot across the street to Somes Harbor on Mount Desert Island, filled it up at the dock, and threw in some seaweed – that’s the way my Dad cooks lobster.  We boiled the crabs for 12 minutes and then plunged them into cold water to stop the cooking.

crab in ice water

That helps release the crabmeat from the shell, we were told.   “Otherwise, you’ll be swearin’” was the advice.

We served the crab with fresh asparagus – a wonderful spring meal.  After all, on Memorial Day in Maine the lilacs are still in bloom.

maine peekytoe crab

Was there enough crabmeat for a meal?  Yes, and more.  Although the effort-to-meat ratio was higher than with lobster, the claws and legs produced sweet, delicate meat.

But I wondered why this crustacean is so under-rated in Maine?

I asked around.  It seems that the lobster men consider crabs a nuisance because they eat the bait from the lobster traps.  They pull up the crabs coincidentally when they’re hauling their lobster.  They might give them to their wives to pick and market the crabmeat or sell the whole crabs to lobster pounds if they get a decent price.  But because of crabs’ relatively low value, they’re regarded as a throwaway by-product.

This seems generally to have been the story until 1997 when a seafood wholesaler in Portland started referring to Maine rock crabs (Cancer irroratus) as “Peekytoe,” the local slang term.  That’s because the crab leg has a sharp point  or “picked toe” — “picked” pronounced as if it had two syllables (rhyming with picket).

Suddenly the newly christened Peekytoe crab was being featured in recipes by Martha Stewart and Daniel Boulud and in NYC restaurant notes with $$$$ next to the listing.

New York chefs started paying $12 to $14 a pound for something that has long been routinely discarded.

A final note.  Peekytoe crabs are different from blue crabs, which are common from Massachusetts to Texas and particularly prized from Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina and Louisiana fisheries during their “soft shell” phase.

I used to go crabbing with my Dad on Nantucket.  We’d coax the blue crabs over to our nets with some chicken wings on a string, then scoop them up.  They’re fast, which makes crabbing a lot of fun.

In Maine they don’t have blue crabs, but every once in a while you see something else blue.

blue lobster

 

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