Monday, December 13, 2004

Chocolate Orange Fruitcake
The fruitcake hater's fruitcake
2 1/2 cups large pecan pieces, toasted
1 cup (packed) chopped dried black Mission figs
1 cup (packed) chopped pitted prunes1 cup (packed) chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
2 tablespoons grated orange peel

3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup (packed) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1-pound box dark brown sugar
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup purchased prune butter

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons orange juice concentrate, thawed
Chopped candied fruit peel (optional)

For cake:Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously butter and flour 12-cup angel food cake pan. Combine toasted pecans, chopped dried figs, prunes, dates, orange juice concentrate, Grand Marnier and grated orange peel in large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Sift flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Combine brown sugar and 6 ounces chocolate in processor and chop into small pieces.
Using electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl to blend. Add chocolate mixture and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in prune butter. Stir in 1/4 of dry ingredients. Mix in fruit mixture and remaining dry ingredients in 3 additions each.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted near center with a few moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour 55 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Turn pan over onto rack; let stand 5 minutes. Lift off pan; cool cake completely. Wrap cake in plastic and store at room temperature 2 days.
For Glaze:Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate; stir until melted and smooth. Whisk in orange juice concentrate.
Place cake on rack. Spread some of chocolate glaze thickly over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Spread remaining chocolate glaze over cake, covering completely. Sprinkle with chopped candied fruit peel, if desired. Refrigerate cake 30 minutes to set glaze. (Fruitcake can be prepared 3 weeks ahead. Wrap cake in plastic and refrigerate.)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Decadent Christmas Gingerbread
Greg and I usually make something to give to friends and family for the holidays. I try to do something different every year, but there was so much pressure on us to make our decadent holiday gingerbread that I caved and made a whole bunch this year. This is a really moist, dense, and strongly rich treat. It is important to do several things with this recipe. One is to whisk all the ingredients together to maintain the air inside the batter, another is to make sure to generously butter and flour the bundt pan, the last is to make sure and use a bundt or a springform pan with the hole in the middle or else the cake will not cook. LOAF PANS DO NOT WORK HERE! One can find oatmeal stout at speciality stores like Trader Joe's. Otherwise, the Guinness Stout works just fine..though I've always wondered what honey brown ale would do. This is the gingerbread recipe from the Gramercy Tavern in New York City

1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

10" bundt pan

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess. (very important)
Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.
Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Logos Pub, Belfast
Greg and I finally set foot into Logos Pub, after several years of passing it by. We had cabin fever yesterday afternoon and went to town to do some errands. We were on our way from the bank to Bay City Wraps and decided to try the Logo's lunch specials for $3.95. I was pleasantly suprised by the interior of the bar which had a lot more to look at that was interesting than most bars in the area. Interesting decor, clean, friendly, and the TV was tuned to an HGTV apartment facelift show..what more could two boys want????
Anyway, besides the regular menu, Logos offers $3.95 lunch specials. Yesterday there were crab cake sandwiches, spinach lasagna, squash soup, and a few other items. I opted for Lasagna and Greg had the Crab Cake sandwich. We sat at the bar as the only customers and had our sodas. Its so nice that one cannot smoke in bars makes the whole experience so much more pleasant.
Food arrived and I thought to myself that it looked straight out of a food service package...which it probably was. Cost them a $1.95 and a bit of electricity to nuke and voila! Greg said that his crab was actually Krab and that there wasn't much to boot. The lasagna definately tasted like a cheaper version of Stouffer's.
I might go again to try something off the regular menu. Someone came in and had a quesadilla...also food service by the look of the thing, but it did look better than the lasagna.
Food: C+
Atmosphere B+/ A-

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Ice Cream Cake
Its Shane's birthday today and, as I usually do, I asked him what his favorite cake would be....of course he says "mmm Ice Cream cake with the oreo crunchies on the inside" So, I got out my largest spring form pan, lined it with parchment paper and then spread out softened moose tracks icecream on the bottom...then a layer of crushed oreo cookies with the chocolate cream center, then a layer of vanilla. The whole thing went back into the freezer to harden again. Then I whipped up some cream for the frosting and covered the whole thing, transferring it to a plate after taking it out of the spring form. Much to my dismay, the darn thing didn't fit in the freezer! Its outside in the snow right now...I do hope it hardens up a bit out there.
I'll add decorative icing and thats about it...easy as that. I was going to do a caramel layer in the middle, but I didn't have any corn syrup handy.
For the rest of the meal we are having grilled chicken breasts with bar-b-que sauce and melted American cheese, French Fries and peas.......thats what you get when you ask what an 18 year old wants for his birthday dinner!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Today is the first day of my swearing off butter, sugar, and flour....whats a food addicted boy supposed to do????? Greg and I have a deal together. He gives up cigarettes and alcohol and I give up the above mentioned stuff AND go to the gym four times a week for a period of three months. After that, we can extend it or go forward.

Sorry fans...that is if anyone really reads this....Maine Foodie's site might be a bit boring for a while.....who cares about recipes for skinless grilled chicken and peas????



Sunday, November 28, 2004

Pumpkin Cheesecake
A friend asked me to send her my pumpkin cheesecake recipe from Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd just write it down here and take it from there. I combined a traditional pumpkin cheesecake with my tried and true New York Cheesecake recipe, which made for a very light, almost whipped cheesecake.
Here goes:
butter a 9" springform pan and cover the bottom with a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and butter with a good sprinkle of ground ginger. Set in fridge to chill
In a large bowl with a mixer cream:
1 lb each softened cream cheese and ricotta cheese until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup sugar and beat in 5 room temperature eggs, one at a time until completely incorporated. Add 1/3 cup flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon each of fresh ground nutmeg and ground cloves. 1/4 teaspoon of allspice and a dash of salt. Also add some ginger for a spicier cheesecake.
Fold in one cup of sour cream and then one can of pumpkin puree, making sure the pumpkin is incorporated fully.
Place in a preheated slow oven at 325 degrees for 1.5 hours. (the top will be cracked when done) turn off oven but do not open door and let the cheesecake dry for another 1.5 hours. Best the next day.
Cover completed cheesecake in sugared pecans:
in a medium saucepan combine 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water and cook to 280 degrees on a candy thermometer. Turn off heat and pour in chopped pecans, stirring to coat. Turn out onto greased cookie sheet and let cool. break up with kitchen mallet and sprinkle on cheesecake.
Our 18 year old nephew lives with us now. Never seen the outside of Palm Beach County before, so there are loads of new things for him to experience. I turned him onto Chai last night as an alternative to coffee, which he can't stand but drinks to stay warm up here in the hinterlands.

I've been showing him how to cook a few things. His boss, a chef at a great restaurant near here, *see the review for Atlantica from last summer* has convinced him to apply for a spot at CIA, the Culinary Institute of America. He's all excited about it and really wants to go. Trouble is, its a bit expensive. When the packet arrived from the school, there was a list of creative ways to finance the tuition. Here is the best part of that...and here is where I need your help.

Shane has a chance to win a $4000 scholarship to CIA by submitting the best apple pie recipe from the northeast. He's been practicing, but needs a kick-ass pastry recipe to really stand out.
So, I call on anyone who reads this who might have great-grandmother's ancient recipe for the best apple pie from the old country, or a modified version of the recipe from the back of the Ritz cracker box to give me a shout and use the comment space to tell me about the recipe. PLEASE! I'm serious here.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

OK, maybe I've been up too long already today, but while getting the turkey ready for the herb rub, I was listening to NPR and there was a chef on talking about butterflying the turkey at his house. He says it cuts down on the roasting time by half and is kind of gratifying because one has to pound down the turkey to make it flat! All one does is carefully cut down either side of the backbone, taking away the ribs and any other small bones.

Good idea I thought! I'll just cut that backbone out with a pair of kitchen shears (which I found in the first drawer that I opened...a feat in this house with three batchelors putting stuff away from the dishwasher!)
So, I hacked away at the backbone and opened the turkey up, splayed it out on my marble board and then pounded the crap out of it with a kitchen mallet. It was a fantastic feeling! Highly recommended!

I then separated the skin from the breast with my fingers and shoved the cilantro rub inside. Either my turkey will suck, or it will be interesting. I guess my advice about this is to do a test run before making Thanksgiving for 14 and deciding to try something new with the main course on the morning of the "big day."

Its ok though, we are having a buffet and margaritas, so things should be pretty relaxed today.

Have a Great Thanksgiving.....a report later on how things went here in Northport.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I've been thinking about how to prepare my turkey for over a week now. We are having two turkeys this year because the guest list keeps growing...not sure I can cook a 30 lb bird! So far we have 17 people and I'm sure it will top 20 by Thursday.

Anyway. Greg is grilling a turkey outside. We found the perfect recipe for him....Turkey with a tawny port basting broth. mmmmm

I want to do something completely off the wall for me, so I finally decided to make a spicy turkey with a cilantro rub for under the skin.

I'll take a bunch of fresh cilantro and chop it up really fine before mixing it with garlic, chipotle powder, cayenne and line juice. I'll stuff the cavity with sliced hot peppers, onions, and lime wedges. Perhaps we should have margaritas as well. hmmmmmmm

I'm also making a spicy pumpkin cheesecake...yum

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Here is a great leftover dish my Mom used to call:
Chicken Tits and Worms
Pick over your roast chicken or turkey from the night before and chop the meat into small bits with your kitchen shears
Put a pot of water on to boil and cook your favorite pasta
Thats about where I end following dear old mummy's recipe and forge ahead on my own.
Depending on how much you are making, here is a wonderful Bechamel sauce recipe that works great every time. It makes about a cup, but you can double it if you feel the need
3/4 cup milk or half and half
3/4 cup chicken stock
(or conversely, you can use 1.5 cups of milk and a bouillon cube)
put liquid in a glass measuring cup with:
1/4 wedge yellow onion
whole peppercorns or fresh white pepper
dash of grated nutmeg
1 bayleaf
pinch of cayanne
two pinches crumbled rosemary.
put in microwave for 6 minutes on low to medium heat. Make sure the milk doesn't boil over
but be sure it gets warm.
melt 2 tablespoons butter
and two tablespoons flour in a pot. Constantly stir to cook, but do not brown.
Strain milk and pour over flour butter mixture. Discard onion bayleaf mess.
stir until thickened.
Add 1 cup grated cheese...chedder works best, or some leftover cocktail cheeses gouda and havarti or something. Stir stir stir and take off heat.
Combine chicken and pasta in an ovenproof bowl and pour cheese sauce overtop. Place in 350 degree oven until you can smell the nutmeg cooking and the sauce is bubbly.
Makes a bit of a mess, but its super easy.
Went to see Bridget Jones II last night with the girls. Before that we went to Rollie's in Belfast for dinner. Tried to go to Darby's but the waitress essentially turned us away because we didn't have a reservation, nor did she feel like putting two tables of four together for us. She was extremely rude and we just turned around laughing because of the attitude at a restaurant in Belfast, off-season!

Anyway, I had a very nice calzone at Rollies, probably one of the nicer meals that I've had there. Just wanted to give you an update.


Friday, November 19, 2004

Wouldn't you know it, while I sat down here to write out the dish I'd made several nights ago for dinner, I spilled tea on my keyboard. I spent two days waiting for it to dry no I had to get a new keyboard and in the meantime I kind of forgot what I put in the recipe to make it good. Well, here goes.

Lamb and beef shepard's pie
We tend to eat the same dishes over and over again because they are easy and I can do them by rote and its easy to go to the store. We have what we call "Little Chickie" night at least once every two weeks where we roast a chicken and have veggies and taters or something like that. Its mostly comfort food in this house and essentially I am gathering some good recipes together for when I open a restaurant and call it "Comfort Food." This Lamb dish would be an excellent addition. I didn't know how it would go over with the boys, but they loved it and ate almost the whole pan full in one night!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
make your favorite mashed potatoes. I leave the skin on my potatos and toss them with lots of butter and salt..a bit of chicken broth and garlic and top it off with fresh ground pepper
olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup chopped onions
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 lb ground beef
salt pepper to taste
a few crumbles of dried rosemary and oregano
1/2 cup beef bouillon
a splash of red wine
tablespoon of melted butter and one of flour mixed together and stirred in as a thickener
Sautee onions and garlic together with hot olive oil in an iron skillet and add lamb and beef browning and cooking. Drain off fat and excess liquid while cooking. After draining, add salt and pepper and herbs..continue cooking. Add bouillon, wine and butter/flour mixture
1/2 cup cut baby carrots
1 bunch baby asparagus tops and middles cut into 2" lengths
any other veggies you want
Add the carrots and and stir into meat mixture. After 5 minutes add asparagus and take off heat. mix well. Add mashed taters to the top of the skillet and place in oven until the potatos are crispy and golden brown on top.

Monday, November 15, 2004

I'm reading this book, its a detective story where the amatur sleuth is a caterer of all things. Throughout the book, when the character isn't looking for clues to the murder, she's making stuff up in her kitchen and she supplies the recipes in the storyline! She had this one dish that was potato encrusted monkfish...since I'm allergic to seafood, I usually don't prepare I adapted the concept to bonless chicken breast. I remember reading the recipe, but I didn't follow it, and ended up making my own recipe up. Here it is...I think it needs tweaking here and there, but the crew raved, said it was the best chickenbreast recipe they had eaten. Go figure!

Potato Encrusted Chicken Breast with Sauteed Fresh Vegetables
Four washed and trimmed boneless skinless chicken breasts
3-4 cups of grated raw potato (i used purple potatos since its what I had at hand) dried
three eggs
two cloves fresh garlic or shallots
pinch of cayanne
ground sea salt
vegetable oil for frying
Add the garlic or shallots to your grated raw potato
wisk the eggs cayanne, salt and pepper together to make an egg dip.
salt and pepper the chicken breast, dip in the egg mixture and then roll in the potato to fully cover. (you may have to pat down the potato to make it stick)
Place chicken breast in hot oil and sear each side on high for 1 minute. Turn heat to medium and cover, allowing the potato to brown and get crunchy. About 5- 7 minutes a side. Drain on paper towels and serve with:
Fresh vegetables sauteed with butter and leeks.
broccoli crowns
baby carrots
sugar snap peas
heat up butter and add fresh vegetables except peas and leeks
sautee with salt and pepper for five minutes
add sugar snap peas and the leeks
sautee for another five mintutes and serve.
As usual yesterday, we got up early to go to church. Now for those of you who either follow this ramble religously or just plain know us in the flesh, church is a spiritual place for us on Sunday mornings because we see all our old friends and chat people up. They have great coffee, which one needs in order to bargain at the tables strewn with life's little cast offs. Thats right, church is a fleamarket where we go almost every Sunday morning. We like to expose some of our friends to church as well, and it has now become a ritual with people. Some call the night before to make sure the eccumenical express (my truck) comes and stops at their door the next morning...some, like Vicky, call at 7:15 to tell us they are dressed and ready to go. More often than not, Vicky calls to wake us up!
What does this have to do with restaurant reviews you say? We usually go to breakfast afterwards. I don't write about this every week, because we love going to Dudley's in breakfast we've found so far and for the best price too. Alas, Dudley's was closed for a weeks worth of R&R so we decided to try the CO-OP brunch.
Now the CO-OP is a strange place for me. I find it pretentious, expensive, and downright unfriendly most times. They do have good bulk food and some of those speciality items one cannot find elsewhere. Its apparently the largest and most successful food cooperative in the state, but try and get a question answered...forget about it if they don't know you! We get there and I commented on the fact that they were already selling Christmas wreaths in the parking lot. I thought they should be selling Christmas Wreath making kits on recycled paper instead. Greg commented that the wreaths were made from boughs that had been gently blown off trees and were found already lying on the ground. He He He.

The Co-op Brunch, Belfast Maine
The food sounded good. Greg ordered an omlette with scallions, mushrooms, and swiss cheese with homefries and multigrained toast. I had two eggs with bacon homefries, toast and black spiced chai. A side of what looked like a good piece of coffee cake completed the meal. Everyone else had eggs with the homefries and toast as well. We ordered, found a table, chatted and went to get our orders as they called our names. The presentation was very nice, but the eggs were a bit liquidy, the homefries hard and undercooked and the toast was very, very, lightly toasted and cold. Greg's was the same. His mushrooms were undercooked as well. The coffee cake was moist, but didn't have the gooey sugary-cinnamon taste that one craves in coffee cake....I mean, why have coffee cake if it won't get you going on a sugar high??? Oh, Heather found the guy behind the counter taking orders kind of rude, as did we, but she got into a flap with him over taking a menu off a table.
The chai was a nice complement and the place was pretty cozy. The photographs on the wall for sale were just excellent and I would recommend that you go just for that.
Anyway I rate the place an A- for atmosphere and a C+ for food.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I've been away for too long! Sorry about being MIA for the last few months, but with a trip to Alaska in August and mainefoodie's real job getting so busy..there was just not enough hours in the day. PLUS we never went anywhere new around here!

So, it gives me great pleasure to say that I have finally eaten at the A1 Diner in Gardiner Maine...a place that I have been dying to try for such a long time. Greg, our irreverent friend Mary, and I took a road trip to Portland over Halloween weekend to see Mary's daughter in a play called "Zombies." It was quite a night to say the least.

but onto the review:

The A1 Diner, Gardiner, Maine
I love diner food and have been hearing and reading about the A1 for a long time. From what I heard, it not only served traditional diner food, but also served a bit fancier fare. I was very excited when the group took my "suggestion" that we stop there for lunch on our way to Portland. The diner is in an old rail car and is festooned with chrome and stainless steel everywhere. The interior was the original art deco, a bit down at the heals, but groovy nonetheless. I looked around at my surrounds and found that the original 1930s deco interior was pretty much intact, including the green slag glass in the cleristory (time to get out your dictionaries, though I'm not sure I spelled "cleristory" correctly.
We opened the menus and were happy to find so many choices. I ordered Tuscan minestrone and the Spicy Basque chicken paiella with peas. The soup was fantastic and came with a flaky biscuit. The paiella was not so spicy and a bit sticky and mushy for me. I'd give it a B for effort.
Mary went all out and had a calimari Greek salad. She said it was good for a diner...the calimari was not too chewy, and the salad portion was really large. Greg stayed with the traditional and ordered a bacon cheesburger which looked great...big and juicy. He also ordered the onion rings which were great. I prefer mine seasoned, but these were very crispy and tasty too.
We passed on the pie selection because we figured that we needed to walk and not roll out of the joint. All in all a nice place. Because of the atmosphere, I would try the place again, maybe for dinner some night.
Overall rating B+

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

July 4th Catered Affair

Ok, well we survived our first catering job, and even picked up another one from the party. The July 4th party was a family reunion for about 25 people and the day was to be fairly casual. I came up with a menu of hot and cold starters, then a course of mussels and steamers, then lobster and filet mignon. The host made tequila and limeade drinks and everyone was happy!
We had a ton of food left over and so I made a seafood chowder with the leftover potato salad, mussels and clams. It was a big hit with the host of the party.

I made savory sausage puffs which appear in the archives somewhere on this site already.
The cumin spiced cheese sticks served with a parmesan marinara sauce were also a great hit.
We made a kick-butt salsa and added fresh mint for a bit of a change...Got comments both ways on that, but when someone said it was the best they had ever tasted, that cheered me up.
I also made pounds and pounds of Roasted 3-potato salad with asparagus tips in a red wine thyme vineigarette dressing. By the time this came around people were stuffed! It became the base of my seafood chowder and added quite a twist to the recipe.

Cumin Spiced Cheese Straws
4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
same amount Parmesan
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 sheet (about 1/2 pound) frozen puff pastry, thawed
an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg with 2 teaspoons water
coarse sea salt to taste
garlic powder to taste

In a small bowl toss together all cheddar, 1/2 parmesan cheese, 1/2 of the ground cumin, garlic powder, and 1/2 of the cayenne.

On a lightly floured surface roll out pastry into a 14- by 12-inch rectangle and brush with some egg wash. Cut pastry in half crosswise, forming two 12- by 7-inch rectangles. Sprinkle cheese over 1 rectangle and top with other rectangle, egg-wash side down, pressing it firmly to force out any air pockets. Roll pastry out slightly to make layers adhere (rectangle should be about 12 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches). Brush pastry with some remaining egg wash and sprinkle evenly with remaining parm, garlic, cumin, cayanne, and sea salt.

With a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or sharp knife cut pastry into strips about 7 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Twist strips and arrange on buttered baking sheets, pressing ends onto sheet to keep strips twisted. Cheese straws may be prepared up to this point 2 weeks ahead. Freeze cheese straws on baking sheets 1 hour, or until frozen, and transfer to a resealable freezer bag. Do not thaw cheese straws before proceeding.

Serve with a simple marinara sauce
I made:
2-3 fresh tomatoes chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic
pinch of sugar
splash of marsalla wine
salt / pepper to taste
1 tblspoon parmesan

Sautee first five ingredients until broken down and thick and add parmesan. Serve hot with just baked cheese straws


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Sorry for being away from the site for awhile folks. I see by the counter that there are now more than just two of us reading the entries.... David, I'm not writing for just you anymore!

My day job and kitchen demolition here have kept me pretty busy. Ripped out the ceiling in my kitchen to expose the original beams and painted ceiling. Pretty cool, but pretty messy.

I've been asked to cater a lobster bake for fourth of July, this is my first attempt at catering, so be sure to tune in next week to hear the saga.....and a saga it will be, I'm sure. Right now its off to roast a chicken....I've discovered that a teaspoon or so of hot madras curry in the cavity of the chicken brings out the most delicious smells....amaze your friends and try it sometime.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Maine Foodie has been on the road over the last week, travelling up the Eastern Seaboard. It was a fast trip, so there was not really a lot of time to eat anyplace more elaborate than a Subway joint. But I do have some new recipes to share with you all.

Greg and I usually revert to making what is fondly called "glopnik" for our weekly dinners. Glopnik usually consists of ground meat and veggies over rice all cooked in a wok on the stove. We get a bit tired of ground turkey or ground pork glopnik, so last night I experimented and came up with something that both Greg and Vicky raved about. I know that when Greg has thirds, it has to be good!

Pork Tamale potpie with cornbread crust

I adapted this from a recipe on the internet, mostly to accomodate what I had in the kitchen last night.

1/2 a medium onion chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
package lean ground pork
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 can black beans drained
1 can diced tomato
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayanne
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hotsauce
1 tablespoon cornmeal


! cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tblspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
1 cup milk
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Monterey jack cheese with jalapenos

In a large cast iron skillet sautee onions and garlic in olive oil till soft and then add bell pepper. Add pork and sautee until its not pink anymore and add beans and tomatos. Add peas, spices and sauces and cook for 10 minutes then add cornmeal and salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture seems to have too much liquid, add some cornstarch to thicken. simmer for 20-30 minutes

Prepare topping by adding dry ingredients together and then adding oil, butter, milk and the egg and then stirring together. Add the grated cheese last and then drop by spoonfull ontop of the pork mixture in the skillet. Add more cheese on top if you desire

Pop the whole thing in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until top is golden brown.

serve hot and enjoy!


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Bebe's Burrito's, Biddeford,

Now there is a tongue twister if I ever saw one. What, you might ask, were we doing in Biddeford, Maine? The Miss Maine Pageant of course! Greg made a sheared beaver fur coat for the 2004 winner of the pageant and we were there to present the coat at the end of the festivities. It went over very well and we were really pleased. Anyway, we had a lot of time to kill between the dress rehersal and the pageant, so we explored Biddeford before going up to Portland. We walked into a Thai place on Maine street, but the waitress sneezed while serving food to a table while we were waiting at the entrance and I just couldn't bring myself to eat there. Next door was a very cute looking place called Bebe's Burritos, so we took a chance and were very happy with our lunch. First, the place is very well decorated with lots of small prints and photos on pleasantly toned walls. We were greeted with huge smiles and advice on what to order when we asked. Great place so far... We ordered at the counter, paid, and chose a sunny table near the window. I had the chicken quesadilla and greg had the beef. We had our choice of flavors for the homemade tortillas and I had spinach while Greg chose chili.
Now I usually like me chicken quesadilla grilled so that it is crispy on the outside and hot and tender on the inside. At Bebe's the tortillas are warm, but are not grilled. BUT, I have to give them so many kudos because they were fresh...fresh...fresh. The addition of perfectly salty chips and salsa on the side was a very nice touch. Greg scarfed his down in no time, so I know he loved the place. I will definitely go back.

Food: B+
Atmosphere: B+/ A-
Frendliness: A A A A (This is an important aspect of a review for me)


Sunday, May 23, 2004

Belfast Farmer's Market

I am so increasingly disappointed in this market. What happened to the the totally cool Reny's market? The year before last there was such great stuff and such cool people selling great veggies at very good prices. Then POOF! last year, the market moved downtown and got very spiffy. There is a soap seller, chesses, very expensive perennials for sale, meat, anything and everything except for lots of really good veggie sellers (they must go to Camden now where the good market is.) At the beginning of this year, there are about 6 dealers at the Belfast market. I coulda gone to the Co op for the same thing (and cheaper I think)

Bring back the old market when we knew everyone. We miss you Brian!

Thursday, May 13, 2004

When I burnt the pecans this morning, I should've taken that as a sign to get out of the kitchen.

Sometimes you cook and everything comes out perfectly...though this happens to me very rarely if at all!!

Today was not one of those days :-(

Tonight is our monthly potluck...The full-timers in our area rotate houses during the winter months (October to May here) and we all get together on the 2nd Thursday. It lagged for a while when everyone started bringing packaged food until word got around that we needed to start cooking for real. I was asked for a dessert this time 'round. A hankerin' grew in me to make a traditional Louisiana crunch cake, with a bit of an orange twist to it.

First off, I burned the pecans when I was just supposed to lightly toast 'em. This, at the same time I was making lunch, so I invariably burned the bagels for sandwiches too. Damn! OK, just start over. New bagels, new pecans......

As I was adding the five eggs to the butter sugar mixture for the cake, I dropped a half an egg shell in the batter and watched it go through the beaters....Should I just leave it? It is called a crunch cake after all! Nope...decided to fish it all out...think I got most of it...
The recipe tells me to make the glaze first and then pour into bottom of the pan, which I do. The glaze is just butter sugar and pecans. The pan I'm using is a tube pan with a removeable bottom. The butter ends up leaking out in the oven, giving me a pretty dry glaze on top....So I made more.....then Greg ate a slice and mushed the ends of the cake together, covering the top seam over with glaze...just like a little boy he is!!!

Anyway, here is the recipe:

Louisiana Crunch Cake

Louisiana Crunch Cake

1/3 cup sweet butter
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups sweet butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
juice from one orange
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9- or 10-inch tube or Bundt pan generously with cooking spray or wipe with butter.

Glaze: Melt butter in small saucepan. Add sugars Heat and stir until mixture boils. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract, zest, and pecans. Spread in bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.

Cake: Sift flour and baking powder together into medium bowl; set aside.

In mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping bowl after each addition. Beat in vanilla , zest and juice. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Mix well.

Spread evenly over topping in prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in the pan about 10 minutes. Invert onto wire rack; remove pan and cool completely.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Butter Cookies with Fruit Preserves

I'm going to get myself in trouble with these luscious cookies. They are amazing! As always, I was looking for a good recipe and came with several that looked nice...but not the best. So, I tweaked and combined and came up with the recipe below. I was looking for something to take to a friend as a gift. These were very elegant.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Rounded 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of one or two oranges
juice of one orange
1 large egg, lightly beaten
fruit preserves (I prefer orange marmalade)

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat together butter, sugar, extract, zest, and juice in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderately high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and beat well. Add flour mixture and mix at low speed until just combined.

If the consistancy comes out too sticky, add a bit more flour a little at a time until you get the dough into rolling mode.

Roll dough out on an unfloured surface (its hard, but you dont want the outside of the cookies to be floury) to a 1.2" thickness and then take a small wine glass or round cookie cutter and cut out cookies, placing the rounds on ungreased cookie sheet. dent the center of the cookie and fill with preserves.

Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

They are so much better the second day! This is what I mean by trouble...I could eat the whole batch myself. I made these for Mother's day in the shape of stars with raspberry preserves and I really prefer the orange marmalade.


Sunday, May 09, 2004

Pork Tenderloin
Made the nicest, juciest pork tenderloin last night. I was going to cut the tenderloin into roundles and sautee them up, because I was too lazy to dress the whole thing and wait around for a hour...but Greg looked at me with this pleading gaze and then he rubbed his stomach while asking me to do the tenderloin "the right way" because it is so good!! How can I resist the tummy rub????

So, I trimmed off the fat, cut the tenderloin open lengthwise and added minced garlic, Sweet chili sauce, red wine vinegar, and apple cider. Then I minced a few apples and a leek together and sprinkled those on top and around the edges of the pan. Salt and pepper the sucker and covered it in foil before popping it in the oven. There was a great juice and wonderful apple confit when it was done. Don't overcook it...such a shame to waste the juice.

Hey everyone I just added a comment section for the blog. I thank all of you for your emails, so I thought I'd share with other readers. Keep the emails coming, but also take a look at the comment card and add your own voice to my blog!


Saturday, May 08, 2004

Roast Chicken

Our newest favorite dinnertime meal is a small roast chicken that we throw in the oven with anything and everything. I remember as a kid, my mother used to do roast chickens and turkeys all the time, but she would stuff the birds with bread stuffing because thats what we all loved. I always thought of roast chicken as having to be dry.

We don't make Mom's chicken here. After washing and drying the bird, I sea salt and pepper the whole thing, inside and out, then stuff the cavity with apples, and onions, and lemons or oranges. I drizzle the top of the bird with olive oil and then rub garlic, cayanne pepper, thyme and sage over the top. I add a bit of white wine to the roasting pan with baby carrots, more apples, potatoes and put the whole thing in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes. The chicken is delicious.

Greg is sick and has a really bad sore throat, so I made mashed potatoes with butter, milk and garlic powder, salt and pepper to go along with it. We had the best steamed fiddle heads too. A little squirt of lemon on top and they are delicious.


Monday, May 03, 2004

So, of course, in a blog about food in Maine, there are times when it becomes nessesary to leave the state. For those of you headed to New York City for the weekend (I can't be there much more than three days at a time) I have a suggestion for a great restaurant that won't break the bank.

Greg and I decided to train it to the city and get some work done. We both had meetings and we tried to plan a bit of fun in between. We arrived there last Sunday, tired and sore from carrying our bags and our briefcases (mine always has heavy research materials inside) to the apartment. We laid down on the bed and thought we could just stay in and order out....but hell, we were in NY for a short time and should go exploring the neighborhood restaurants.

The Tapas Lounge, 59th and 1st Ave

We stumbled across this place while wandering around. We could hardly find the door with all the ornate grill work on the outside of the building! We read the menu and kept walking, still interested in finding some cute hole in the wall place to eat, not sure what we were craving. After an hour or so, we passed by again and found the door.

Inside was dark, the wall sponged a dark pumpkin and the furniture, heavily carved Spanish country baroque style (this is about the best I can do for a description of the style) There were some tables strewn about with two armchairs, but mostly the place was littered with upholstered divans with loose throw pillows centered around low coffee tables. The grill work around the windows meant that you couldn't see out to the street very well and subsequently, people couldn't see in either. There was a bar in one corner and racks of wine bottles everywhere. It was totally cool, except that the music didn't was a bit loud and a bit contemporary Spanish, not the muted romantic instrumental music I would've liked.

The staff was really friendly and brought us menus with specials. We each had two dishes and of course were going to share. I had the veal meatballs in a lightly spiced red sauce and potatoes with a spicy mayonaisse. Both were incredible. Greg ordered blanced asparagus with melted monchegno cheese and a lightly baked grouper that came to the table crusty on the outside and light and succulent on the inside. He said it was perfect. Desserts were a selection of flans and custards, which we didn't want, so after two drinks and the meal, we got out of there for $50.00
Atmosphere: A
Food A
Service A
Music B-


Sunday, May 02, 2004

Fat Boy's Diner, East Belfast

Just tried this place for the first time this morning and felt so strongly about it that I came home to review the place. This was probably the worst breakfast I have had on the mid-coast since arriving here three years ago! Greg has asked me to quote him by saying that it rates a 10 on the suck-o-meter.

I'm sorry, but its really hard to ruin breakfast and they did it. For one, its hard on the eyes inside the was taken to spruce the place up a bit. Only cold water in the bathroom. Greg and I both ordered the same thing....2 pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 sausage or bacon, and homefries. Pancakes were dough balls, scrambled eggs were hard, bacon was crispy, but miniature, and the homefries were hard and raw. I asked for buscuits on the side and hard little baking powder buscuits arrived, burned on the bottom and dry as a bone on the inside.......Needless to say, we left without finishing the meal. Don't try this place if you can help it.

Grade: F all around

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Jade Island, Waterville

Last Thursday I dragged Greg and Vicky to a dreadfully boring lecture at Colby College in Waterville. We enjoyed the museum opening there, but couldn't wait to burst out of our seats after the lecture and find somewhere to put our hunger to rest. I remembered a place we used to go 15 years ago when I was a student at Colby. Jade Island is off the beaten track but was open when we got there at 8:15. The kitchen was just about to close and so we were one of two tables in a vast, Orientalist interior. We ordered fried dumplings that were very good. They don't use wonton wrappers, but rather some kind of pastery dough for the wrapper. Also had cashew chicken that arrived with big pieces of both chicken and cashews! The sauce was very good. Greg had Egg Foo Yung which was really light and fluffy and wonderful. Vicky also ordered dumplings and soup which she liked very much. It was a fast and furious dinner but very good. Of course, we still compare food here, Chinese food in particular, to what we found in Chicago. Still haven't found Chinese food that nears what you can get in a big city, but it still works for us.
Atmosphere: B+
Food: B+
Friendly Service: A

Monday, March 08, 2004

Update on Dudley's Belfast

Have I said how much I enjoy eating at Dudley's? On Sundays in the Winter there is always a table somewhere and the cook has come out with my new favorite thing to eat potato sausage chedder cakes with a grilled biscuit and two scrambled eggs, Great way to get over the Saturday evening fogginess. I love Dudley's.....did I say that already?
Miss Portland Diner, Portland

I've wanted to go to the Miss Portland Diner ever since I saw it for sale on Ebay. I'm a big Diner fan and the pictures of the interior of this railcar diner looked pretty cool. Well, after spending the night thrashing around on a reeeaaaaally lumpy futon and getting my face batted by a purring cat all night long, I was ready for some good food to say the least. All I can say is...too bad we picked the Miss Portland Diner to satisfy my breakfast cravings.
I love meal of the day by far for me in terms of being served good food. I don't really love to make breakfast, but I will.....Anyway, bacon and eggs with a grilled biscuit or something out of the ordinary is always the call. Too bad the Miss Portland missed that calling.
We waited for a good 5 to 7 minutes before our server came over. She seemed hassled and was forgetful. After getting drinks and pouring over the measely menu, I chose eggs, bacon, and a grilled seseme bagel. My sister had homefries, bacon, and a bagel. A full 20 minutes later, our stomachs rumbling, our food arrived. The bacon was microwaved and looked like sizzlean, the eggs had a load of whiltes showing and the whole wheat bagel (see above) was sopped in grill grease and had no butter on it. Ann's bagel was completely burned through and the homefries were barely cooked cut up potatos with no seasonings. All for the astonishingly high price of $18.00. The Miss Portland is closing at the end of this wonder!
Food: A disappointment C-
Atmosphere: A Huge Dirty Disappontment C
Service: Whatever C

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Siam, Portland

Greg and I stopped in Portland for dinner on our way to Boston last week. It took us 3 hours to get down from home to Ptown because of the snow storm, so needless to say I was cold and grumpy when we got there. After splitting a bag of pretzels on the way down, I wasn't that hungry, nor did I want anything to drink, so much to our server's dismay on a Saturday night, we ordered just water and two appetizers.

I think Siam is a new place in the old port section of town. It appeared hip and cozy and had a huge salt water fishtank in back that was completely cool. Big stone sculptures adorned the walls as well as official portraits of the royal family of Siam that hung above the bar. Very cool. I had steamed dumplings with a spicy ginger dipping sauce that were heavenly and Greg ordered the Sate. Both portions were really ample and the sauces were fabulous. Once we explained to our server that we needed to get back on the road to Boston in the snow, she completely understood our situation and was very friendly. Great place, highly recommeded.
Food: A
Service: A
Atmosphere: A

Update on the Summer House Cafe, Belfast

So, Vicky and I decided after our 2 mile walk with the black beasties this morning that we should celebrate and do lunch somewhere....we thought about driving to Rockland and then going to the Farnsworth, but quickly lost our enthusiasm to drive so far and settled on the Summer House Cafe, the new gig in town.

If you read the last review I gave the place, we didn't even stay to taste the food, but left after the fifth time we were told that "someone would seat us in just a moment." This time we were seated right away.

I was dismayed to see that one isn't able to order breakfast food past 11am, even on weekends when that is really what one wants to order. Sigh......Ok, keep an open mind I thought. The menu is a bit cutsie for me...I didn't want to order the chicken salad with apples because I didn't want to have to say "I'll have a cluck fruitie on rye, please" So I went with the Thanksgiving gobbler...turkey and cranberry salsa with stuffing on bread. and Vicky had a cup of cream of mushroom soup and a 1/2 a grilled Reuben, which looked and smelled really good. She loved the soup and said the reuben was one of the best she's found in Maine so far. Mine was great too, though a bit skimpy on the turkey (one slice) and heavy on the stuffing.

We admired the decor, which is cute, but not overly so...blueberry rakes adorned the walls of the room we were in. The table was large and the chairs very comfy.

When dessert time came, the server talked me into the triple chocolate silk cake which she said was delicious. She must have had a different version, because this piece was terrible. I love chocolate, but this cake, which is supposed to be like three layers of mousse and or pudding, tasted like tasteless rubber. Thumbs down for that dessert. I have had their things in the past when the chefs worked in another location and I thought they were good. This must have been an off day for the silk cake though. Yuck.
Food: B
Atmosphere: B+ the green walls get to me after a while
Service: A- She talked me into dessert when I didn't really want it..mark of a good server

Chicken Stew with artichokes

What do you do when you find yourself and bachelor or bachelorette for the week with no food in the house and no one to cook for? Call a friend who will volunteer to bring chicken and wine as long as you have something to put the chicken in. "will a pan do?" I asked..."thats a start" retorted Vicky, causing me to scour the bare cupboards for something to make with chicken and wine. To my suprise, I found that a lot of unrelated ingredients can come together to make a tasty meal. Here is what I found in my cupboard:
dried basil
garlic powder
crushed red pepper
baby carrots
frozen lima beans
a can of artichoke hearts (something every kitchen should have all the time)
Vermouth (mmmm)
fresh orange juice
chick broth
a pack of Spanish rice

As soon as the 3 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) arrived, I washed it and trimmed the fat and cut into bite sized pieces. Then dredged the pieces in a mixture of the first seven ingredients above (a dash of everything except the flour and garlic powder) The allspice was really suprisingly tasty in this. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown the chick on all sides with some added minced garlic and an onion if you have it.
As soon as chick is browned, add a handfull of baby carrots and a smattering of lima beans and let the veggies get tender. The add the can of artichoke hearts and cut them up a bit in the pot with a knife and fork. stir the mixture up all the while to cook the chicken. Add the orange juice next (I used one orange) to glaze everything. Vermouth (just a dash) or white wine. Let the flavors meld for a while before adding about a 1/4 cup of broth. You don't want this to be soupy. After the broth addition, let the whole simmer down and then wisk in a tablespoon of the leftover flour mixture to thicken what sauce there is.

Serve over the rice. Makes enough for two.


Friday, February 27, 2004

Update on Angler's, Searsport

WOW, what a change in circumstances! We went back to one of our favorite places for dinner with Vicky and found the food to be really pretty bad. We ordered onion rings to start, which were still pretty good. Greg said his fried fish fillet was ok, but not as good as in the past. Poor Vicky had the crabcakes. Who knows what the cook did to these, I thought they were deep fried and had been waiting around under the heat lamp for a while. They arrived flat and dark and looking like a hamburger. I heard last night from a friend who had the crabcakes on his visit there who said his crabcakes were about the same, inedible. I had trouble ordering. We got there at about 6:30 and the place was out of chicken and hamburger. I saw one of their salads go by and knew I didn't want that...I ended up having them make me a grilled cheese with tomato and fries. It arrived as mostly fried bread and old fries. All I can say is: "Clean up your act Anglers!!"

Cedar Crest Motel Coffee Shop, Camden

Had never heard or noticed this place for the first two years I lived here. Then I noticed the "breakfast" sign as I drove south on Rte I just south of downtown Camden. It took me another year before trying the place.

Greg and I were famished coming back from hiking with the dogs, so we decided to try it. The place is totally tucked away and has windows facing the Camden Hills so it really is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Camden. The decor is curious. There are marine paintings on the wall for sale. A large coastal scene greets you when you come in the door...its by a 19th century Dutch artist and is for sale for something like $19,000. What caught my eye most about the work was the bit of gravy in the corner of the painting.

We were tired, parched, and so hungry. Greg ordered his usual deep fried fish and taters which was still not as good as the fish one gets at the Irving Station in Searsport. I had the chicken quesadilla, which was a huge portion and came topped with sour cream and canned salsa. It was ok, but the chicken should have had a bit more flavor and there needed to be more cheese. The service was really friendly and the place was pretty clean. I hear the breakfast menu is great.

Food: C+
Atmosphere: B+
Service: A

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Crusty Tuscan Flat Bread

So, I find this recipe and tweek it a bit to make it my own and Greg now asks for it every day around noon...."are you makin' bread for dinner?" he says. Jeez, I'm a bit tired of kneading dough. The thing is, its super easy to make.

Cup of lukewarm water
2 packs of yeast
2. 5 cups flour
fresh herbs if you want
sea salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil give or take
toppings of choice or eat it plain with butter!

So, take the the yeast and sprinkle over warm water...let stand for 15 minutes or so until the yeast becomes frothy

Put two cups of flour in a bowl with a pinch or two of sea salt and I cut up some sage leaves here...I've used lavender too which is nice and aromatic. I would use rosemary, but I don't have any in my winter herb garden (oh no, that sounds so martha and its not...just a couple of dried out old sage plants from the summer sitting in pots in the kitchen). Make a well in the center of the flour

Pour in the frothy yeast mixture and mix with a fork until combined and sticky...add about a 1/4 cup more flour and knead in the bowl until combined. Add 1/8 cup of olive oil and knead through your fingers until dough becomes elastic..keep adding oil as needed and knead for about 5-7 minutes right in the bowl (this is the secret to crusty bread). Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise for 1.5 hours.

Take bread out of bowl and place on cookie sheet shape into round or rectangle. cover loosely and let sit another 30 minutes. Preheat to 400 degrees

poke with finger to make divets, sprinkle with oil and more salt and whatever else you want to put on top...carmelized onions, tomatos, red peppers, etc and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and smellin' good.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Primo, Rockland

Last night we were treated to a fabulous dinner at Primo in Rockland. Primo is probably the best restaurant in Maine and I had never been there before. Our great friend Vicky took me there as a birthday present, with Greg in tow and with our friend Mary as well. I knew we were going to be loud and have lots to drink (wel, not me as I drove) and have a great time and we did. The food was of course, just fabulous. I don't think anyone left a morsel on their plates throughout the three courses.

We were ushered into a small room at the front of the 100 year old house that hosts the restaurant. We waited quite a while for our waiter to come by for drink orders and then even more time to get them (the bar is upstairs). After ordering, we were served an amuse bouche from the kitchen of potato leek soup with frizzled leeks decorating the top. The soup could have been thicker and have a richer flavor. I personally think curry brings out both flavors of the potatoes and the leeks and maybe that would have helped.

I ordered a chickory and citrus salad with candied walnuts that was out of this world. Excellent. I know the other salads were excellent too as there was not a morsel left on anyone's plate. Vicky had a salad with fried oysters that she loved. Greg had a stuffed grape leaf that he is still raving about and Mary had a green salad.

Dinner came and I had the bistro steak with frites and sauteed watercress that was to die for. It was creamy and lemony and delicious. Greg had the cod which he didn't let anyone eat. Vicky the Venison with baby brussel sprouts, and Mary the Pork Scallopini with garlic mashed taters. The flavors of each were distinctive and very good. No wasted food here!

We had to try the desserts and so we had the lemon souflee tart, the black and white creme brulee and the profitorales with hazelnut ice cream and milk choc. sauce. Everyone agreed that the cream puffs with icecream was the best, the lemon souflee with berry sorbet was second and the black and white creme brulee was a distant third. Along with these came the trio of ports (20 yr, 30 yr and 40yr old) and a sweet dessert wine all of which were great (I had tiny sips)

We all agreed that the service could have been better. We waited a while for our plates to be cleared from dinner and drinks were slow to arrive. I must say that the waiter caught some of our conversation because the profitarells arrived with "Happy 37th Birthday" written in chocolate around the rim of the plate. mmm mmm mmmm

Food: A+
Atmosphere: B+
Service: B-
Price: Oh My God, lets not go there!


Monday, February 02, 2004

3Tides, Belfast

I'll tell you up front here that Sarah and David Carlson, the owners of 3Tides, are very very good friends of mine, so this might be a bit biased, though I'll try to make it as objective as possible. When 3Tides opened in August, there was always an audible gasp from patrons who walked in the door. It was a gasp of disbelief that such an interesting and quirky place could suddenly appear on the mid-coast. I told David that his place was termed in my head "Industrial Chic." Its just such a cool place, everyone should partake of the atmosphere is a great escape from the sameness of other eateries on the coast.

The atmosphere is like no other on the mid-coast...interesting, warm, yet spare, welcoming, and cozy, with a side of hip. When I walked in yesterday around 1pm, Linda Ronstadt was on the satelite radio and there were candles lit all over the place with Sarah and David's crapepaper collage decorated tealight votives. It was very relaxing and the glow from the candles really shut one's mind off from the stresses of the day. There was some dude writing the great American novel at a booth while a couple finished up their grilled sandwiches. I got a big greeting from Sarah behind the bar and Ben Clarke in the kitchen. I sidled up to the bar with my menu and looked over the fare......I chose a cup of cream of broccoli soup and a personal artichoke heart and roasted red pepper pizza on Ben's homemade crust. A word of advice...If there is ever a dish that has something to do with Ben's homemade yeast bread or crust...just order it no matter what....His bread talent is quite amazing (I am very jealous of his bread skills)

The soup arrived with a smile from Sarah and a side of oyster crackers.......It was good, but could have been thicker and hotter. I like my broccoli soup to have chunks of broccoli, which this didn't have. I also like it so thick that the broccoli could stand up straight if it wanted to...Perhaps I'm a freak, but this is what I like.

The pizza was heavenly. Ben used sun-dried tomato oil in the crust as well as a pinch of fresh rosemary. there was fresh shaved parmesan on the top and it smelled and tasted really good.
I'll keep coming back for Ben's cooking and the big hugs I get from Sarah and David upon entering. Never thought I would have my own Cheers!
Atmosphere A
Food B+/ A-
Friendly Service A+

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Rollie's, Belfast Maine

Rollie's has new owners, a fresh coat of paint, the Maine no smoking policy, and great bar food. All of that adds up to a new place to have lunch in Belfast! We met our friends David and Sarah there last Monday during their day off from Three Tides. We had a really pleasant time as we hadn't really seen them in forever. Between tales of pipes freezing and problems of finding plumber in these cold days, we had beautiful onion rings, burgers, grilled cheese and tomato, and fried haddock (guess who ordered that!) The owner came over after we finished and chatted with us a bit. He is a super nice guy and should do well with the business...he did tell us that he was off to the Middle East for the next six months as part of the American Troop movement there. His wife, whom we did not meet, will be running the place. I wish them the best of luck and urge all who read this who might want a "new" place for a down to earth burger or a salad to try Rollies.
Food: B
Atmosphere B-
Friendliness A