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September 30, 2008

MF&L Staff’s Favorite Meal of the Summer

The staff of Maine Food & Lifestyle got together to reminisce about the summer that was and their most memorable meal of the season.

Jim Bazin: Hmmm…that’s a tough one for me…but only because I had so many terrific meals this summer. I would have to isolate two events that I was fortunate to participate in as a food judge. The first would be the Lobster Chef of the Year event at the Blaine House, where I participated as a judge, and got to sample the competitive entries as prepared on site by five competition finalists, all of them excellent Maine Chefs. My personal favorite was the Maine Lobster Salad, as prepared on site by Zeph Belanger, the Sous Chef of Camden’s fabulous Hartstone Inn.

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Maine Events Calendar: October

October is here, and it’s loaded with fun things to do! Celebrate this beautiful Fall month by attending some of the Maine events listed below. And let us know of any we missed so we can add them to our list.

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September 29, 2008

Favorite Summer Meals: Left Coast vs. Right Coast

We’re just barely into fall, and here we are already reminiscing about the highlights of the summer. Since my summer was split into 2 parts, here’s how I remember my favorite summer meals:

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September 28, 2008

Apple Season in Maine

As we start to wind down our very busy season at the Black Point Inn I’m beginning to think about – what else! – food and weather. Being a native Texan, after ten years in Maine I am still excited about the season changing and how intrinsic the local foods are here.

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Wherever you are, sit at the bar

My best dining (and drinking) experiences in the last year have all taken place when I pulled my butt up to a bar. Most dining spots have them. Usually you can eat the same menu as in the main dining area. And you nearly always 1) meet a new person 2) sample different foods and drinks (oftentimes that you didn’t order) and 3)get even more personal service than you would sitting in a high-backed chair with a napkin that is refolded every time you stand.

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September 27, 2008

Getting into the swing of fall

This is the time of year for all sorts of transitions, especially at the garden. The biggest transition has been adjusting to work without Steven, the summer intern, and trying to get everything done with periodic volunteer help.  It’s great having everyone back on campus, there’s so much going on all the time!

Many folks are asking me if the garden is winding down, or when we’ll stop farming for the season. Even though the temperatures are dipping down and the daylight is fading, there are still many, many crops in the ground and I’ll keep harvesting until late October.

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September 26, 2008

Pemaquid Oyster Festival this Sunday!

Held from noon to dusk at the Schooner Landing in Damariscotta, the Pemaquid Oyster Festival will features super fresh oysters from the Damariscotta River, along with some very interesting and unusual flavors to pair with them.


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September 25, 2008

Black Dinah Chocolatiers Farm Market Collection

On a Friday not too long ago, I found myself in my kitchen sorting through a case of tiny, dew-speckled raspberries, fresh from the well-tended brambles at Carding Brook Farm. My friend Erica, who comes to stay at her family’s summer camp on the island for a few weeks every year, was working with me, apron-clad, and chatting up a storm. As I sorted, Erica pressed the tiny berries through a juicer. Once the whole case was through the machine, we took the discarded pulp and put it through again. And again. And again. In total, we pressed the berries five times. The result was a thick, seedless, silky-smooth puree that I packed up in containers, labeled carefully, and set in my freezer for future use. 

I’ve spent the whole summer collecting cases of fresh produce, gallons of maple syrup, and tubs of fresh cheeses from farms on the Blue Hill Peninsula–and a bit beyond–the raw materials and fragrant inspiration for a new collection of fresh truffles.

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September 24, 2008

Martha’s Maine Blueberry Pie

My grandsons Aubrey and Addison are arriving Saturday, so I need to get busy and make a couple of blueberry pies. They know that this has been a banner year for blueberries on Isle au Haut, as they have spent most of the summer here and have picked plenty of them.

I have no excuses! They tell me that this is my best pie ever, so who can resist that?

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September 23, 2008

Shouldn’t every day be Hot Dog Day?

DogsOf the many happy stops I made during my trip home to Maine, a Wednesday morning hot dog binge at Simones in Lewiston was one of the tastiest. The Chestnut Street institution celebrated its 100-year anniversary this summer and I happened to stop by on Hot Dog Day — steamed, red franks were $1.25. I ended up springing for (3!) grilled ones at 44 cents more a piece, as well as the only unsweetened iced-tea WITHOUT lemon that I could find in the ENTIRE STATE OF MAINE after asking at Shaws, Hannafords, Cumberland Farms, Sams and many other drink-purchasing locations. (Have I lived in the South too long? It’s not like I was asking for sweet tea and pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, I just wanted a simple, cold tea – without artificial lemon crap or sugar! But, back to the dogs.) My total, by the way, was less than $8 and the refill was free.

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Apple Pickin’ Time

Tree_2Yesterday, I did my weekly excursion to the local grocery
store for staples
for the week. And there they were, as soon as the automatic doors parted to let me in: MAINE APPLES! Not only Maine apples, but coastal (local) varieties of Macs, Cortlands, and others. I bought a half dozen and when I got in the car and had my groceries loaded, I searched them out. I couldn’t wait til I got home. I chomped down on the crisp, tart coldness of a Maine Mac all the way home. Such a treat!

Which apple is the best for eating out of hand? The subject could be hotly debated and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

In my opinion, Damariscotta’s  Biscay Orchards “Honeycrsip” apple takes the cake. Visually stunning, large, firm fleshed and beautifully mottled, it’s a visual feast. Juicy, just tart enough and plenty sweet, they are just wonderful eating.

The lovechild of the Macoun and Honeygold varieties, Honeycrisps are grown in Canada and new Zealand as well as in the US to supply the growing demand for this big and beautiful variety. They have a long shelf life, which makes them the darling of retailers, but the locals buy them up pretty darn quick.

So take a relaxing drive to Biscay Orchards on the Biscay Road in Damariscotta for Honeycrisps, fresh pressed cider, gifts home baked pastries. Choose the back roads and you’ll get an eyeful of Maine at it’s September best on the pretty country roads that take you out there.

And I made a mental note to get to the orchard this year, because I love them even more (if possible!) when I pick them myself.


Get to an orchard near you. Now’s the time to indulge in the glorious bounty of Maine in autumn.

Left: Melanie with son Jacob at Biscay Orchards in Damariscotta
Above right: Maine apples before picking

Melanie Hyatt is an editor at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

September 22, 2008

Maine Events Calendar: September

Fall officially begins on September 22. Help to herald it in by attending one or more of the following fairs and festivals going on this month.

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Fruit Pie Jones

ApplesI’m on a pie-making jag. The abundance of late-summer fruit and fall apples, coupled with an instinct that — as the days grow shorter — draws me into the kitchen to bake up a storm. I indulged my jones by purchasing a new pie plate, a new silicone rolling pin, and a new pastry-making mat and then hit a neighborhood farm stand to select my fruit-of-the-week. That was the fun part.

When I got home with my new baking equipment, I was immediately disappointed that my jazzy new rolling pin with the contoured handles, nonstick silicone surface, and stainless steel ball bearings "counterbalanced for smooth rolling" collects more patches of pie dough than my cheap, old plastic rolling pin that I’d just discarded. But the bigger source of frustration was my new non-stick silicone mat that is touted as the "perfect countertop work station" for kneading and rolling out dough. In years of pie-baking, I’ve never had a round of pie crust dough stick to the work surface like it sticks to my new non-stick mat.

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September 20, 2008

What I learned at the Common Ground Fair

I haven’t been to the Common Ground Fair since I was a little girl. Mom reports that I made my own paper (a precursor to future endeavors?) back then. This time around, I learned a few new things:

Traffic of “Woodstock” proportions will greet you if you arrive mid-afternoon during the best fair weather in “years,” so plan accordingly for those last critical 3 miles. Better yet, ride a bike.

Dreadlock mullets have made a comeback/appeared. We counted at least two among what my brother called “the largest collection of hippies I have ever seen.” This coming from a man who has lived in Maine for nearly 27 years and goes to school in Orono.

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Maine: Are you really “from hea-ah”?

A fun site for determining your downeastern authenticity. See where you rate, or if you can relate!

Melanie Hyatt is an editor at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

September 19, 2008

Energy Saving Tips

With winter around the corner and fuel prices heavy on our minds, The Portland Press Herald recommends  energy audits to make homes more fuel and energy efficient. An audit will set homeowners back $300-$500 but could wind up saving them 30% off their energy bills. There’s also a checklist for DIYers.

From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

September 18, 2008

XYZ’s 7 Chile Chili

Bob Hoyt’s chili is not for the faint of heart. The chef/co-owner of Mexican restaurant XYZ in Manset, his chili is so popular that he frequently makes chili kits per customer’s requests. Bob says this dish should be spicy, spunky, and ”muy macho.”

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September 17, 2008

Homemade Fish Cakes

My fiancé Greg is a commercial lobster fisherman. Occasionally while hauling his traps a good size cod fish will have swum in looking for a bite of the lobster bait. Whenever he brings one or two home I have these fish cakes on the next day’s menu. They are terrific dinner fare and make swell appetizers when formed into tiny cakes.

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September 16, 2008

Martha Greenlaw’s Famous Lobster Casserole

Linda is having her "Annual Pig Roast and In The Can Game" party, so that means many invited guests from near and far. Also lots of cooking before and after the event.

One of the things being served the night before is my lobster casserole. Fortunately, Linda will catch, steam, and pick the lobster, leaving me to put it all together. We are a team!

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A writer known for his footnotes, but remembered for much more

At the risk of becoming the food obit blogger, I think it’s important to note the passing of writer David Foster Wallace, who was found dead in his California home on Friday, allegedly by his own hand. His famed 2004 "Gourmet" essay "Consider the Lobster" chronicled the life and times of the crustacean and the lobgasmic spectacle that is the Maine Lobster Festival. But it also sparked massive controversy in the food world over how Wallace portrayed consumers, marine biologists, animal rights activists and lobstermen & women – by delving into the ethics of cooking and eating the lifeblood of the state. It really hit a nerve with the magazine’s readers, many of whom felt that "Gourmet" shouldn’t have run a story that derided how a widely beloved gourmet food item was prepared. The editors stood by the reporting – and supported DFW’s style – though I have yet to see another "Gourmet" piece spark the same outcry, even when touching on gavage, animal slaughter and biotech crops. As a writer, reader reaction is one of the things that can make us the most proud. And, oftentimes, the most tortured.   

Jessica Strelitz is a contributing writer to Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.