For information on this, the inn’s cooking classes, and extraordinary epicurean experiences (mushroom hunting, time with an artisan cheesemaker…) visit the inn’s website.
Archive for September, 2009
With the holidays on the way why delay increasing your comfort level in the kitchen? In fact, why not take a last minute getaway to the coast of Maine to check out the fall foliage/holiday festivities? Chef Michael Salmon of Camden, Maine’s Hartstone Inn is offering private one-on-one cooking classes in his restaurant kitchen. Spend an afternoon assisting Michael in preparations for that evening’s dinner and get specialized training on prearranged topics. The class begins with a review of the evening’s dinner menu and assignment of duties. After a quick tour of the kitchen and orientation, you will work side-by-side with Michael preparing dinner. A few hours later you’ll have picked up knife skills, received hands on training with a specific type of cuisine, become more comfortable cooking, and gained insight into the running of a commercial kitchen. Course costs $325 first person, add a second person for $50 (second apron included).
4 hour one-on-one instruction
Menu of the day
Personalized signed copy of Chef’s cookbook
Hartstone Inn apron
When not thinking about food, reading or shopping for coats I enjoy sitting surrounded by photographs. I found these treasures online recently and thought better than to keep them to myself.
Top two photos by Ryan McGinley from his series “I Know Where the Summer Goes.” Third and fourth from top Mikael Kennedy from his “Men in My Family” sequence. Bottom two by my friend Claire Rosen featuring lighting by artist Alex Randall.
As the temperatures cool outside I find myself thinking about bringing more greenery and life into my home. Winter is still months away and there are a few fall plantings in the garden to enjoy, but these pictures from Design Sponge and the (VERY) sadly retired Domino Magazine inspire me to get creative with plants in my loft.
Transitioning into fall means wearing sweaters or a light trench, falling leaves, crushed acorns, slightly shorter days, and cups of warmth between my hands. Black coffee, soy lattes, chai tea, or my favorite morning beverage hot water with lemon. Yawn, stretch, drink, hello morning.
I love these photos of artistic coffees.
I’m headed to CIFF in a few days. Hope you can make it! The Strand Theatre an Art Deco style cinema built in 1923 in Rockland, Maine, will be a primary venue. Four years ago it reopened after a near two year renovation, which my friend Donna Daly oversaw. I can’t think of a more enjoyable place to see a film and am thrilled to be able to support a film festival committed to generating interest in independent documentary films.
Saturday found me happily traipsing through the Maine woods hunting mushrooms with Chef Michael Salmon of the Hartstone Inn. Earlier in the summer Michael mentioned to me how excited he was about taking a summer long course on mushroom hunting through Merryspring Nature Center in Camden, Maine. Naturally I invited myself along on one of his fall forays to find some fungus.
With Michael as navigator knowing what defines prime mushroom habitat we headed to a nature preserve just outside Camden in search of dying trees, moist trail side areas, hardwoods, and oaks. Starting out my knowledge of mushrooms was limited to those I’d purchased (portobellos, porcinis, oyster, shitake, and button) from supermarkets and sauteed with butter. Who knows how many I’ve stepped on apart from few funky looking bright colored or large ones that stood out along hiking trails.
The day was gorgeous with the sun sparkling on Lake Megunticook, birds chirping (actually more like woodpeckers pecking), granite cliffs, and a green carpeted forest. Soon after we entered the preserve we began finding Bracket Fungi and Boletes (Sponge Mushrooms). A few of the traits Michael used to id fungi were whether they produced lactate, turned blue or orange, tubes (or pores) vs. gills, texture, color, and where found (growing on a dead stump vs. living hard tree).
Mushroom foraging can be exciting and if edibles are found rewarding. We did not find any edibles in good condition so we’re heading back fore Part Two this Saturday. Check the Hartstone’s website page FUN FOR FOODIES next summer to see if Michael has scheduled a fungi-themed cooking class.
Do NOT mess around with fungi ingestion! If you are interested in mushroom hunting go with an expert, because that delicate looking white one will kill you in two hours.
To find a mushroom identification class contact your local Slow Food chapter, gardening association or center, or Google mycological clubs in your area. I did and found the Boston Mycological Club. Purchase a good book or two. According to Michael no one book identifies all mushrooms, it is virtually impossible with so many kinds. The one he had on hand is Mushrooms Northeast North America: Midwest to New England by George Barron. Of course if you are hunting in Oregon or Washington State probably look for a book focusing on those areas.
Maine is perhaps best known for pots of boiling water awaiting the state’s popular red crustaceans, but what is becoming abundantly clear is the state is also home to an emerging and increasingly well regarded culinary scene with a growing population of small farmers (many of them organic) and artisan producers offering a wide array of locally grown/produced goods.
In Maine’s Midcoast Region the oyster farming industry is gaining a higher profile with people who appreciate a deliciously sensual bivalve (oyster). Full disclosure folks I find them completely irresistible. Thus it was with great joy I finally made good on a promise to myself I would visit Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm in Edgecomb, Maine. The source of so many very, very good oysters I’ve enjoyed at “white tablecloth” restaurants and high-end “raw bars” in Maine and New York City.
Founded in 1987, owner Barb Scully and her family are continuing a centuries old tradition of oyster farming begun by the Abenaki Indians who inhabited the area 2000 plus years ago. As part of their commitment to environmental sustainability and product quality they harvest exclusively by diving, hand picking each oyster off the bottom. Family run farm, sustainable, and delicious results? Sold, one dozen Glidden Point Selects (3-4 inches) and three Glidden Point XL (5-8 inches).
Oysters $16 – $24 per dozen. Yesterday the going rate for the XL were $1.50/piece.
Shucking oysters get a glove ($20) and knife ($15). Though you might want a screwdriver and hammer as well. Just trust me and my friend’s husband on this one.
If you visit the roadside stand Barb Scully run at 707 River Road in Edgecomb I recommend you spend time in the town of Damariscotta, nestled along the Damariscotta River it is home to a quirkly little arts center, shops, a variety of good restaurants, nature preserves, and a number of historic points of interest. Bring your walking shoes to the The Damariscotta River Association’s Salt Bay Preserve offers one of the most beautiful walking trails in the state. The Preserve contains Glidden Point’s ancient Indian shell heaps. Left by people who lived and fished on the Damariscotta River more than 1000 years ago, The Glidden Midden is the largest ancient mound of oyster shells in Maine. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Check out The New York Times article “Where Maine Comes Out of Its Other Shell” by Porter Fox on Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm for more photos and information on the farm and area.
I thought two things after grabbing lunch (that’s right standing up on the side of the road scarfing down a crab roll) from the roadside stand Dunton’s Doghouse in Boothbay Harbor, ME. today. One, you have not had a really good lobster or crab roll until you’ve had one of Bob’s (I don’t know his last name and am not entirely sure his name really is Bob I think it might be Gary, but that is all really a whole other story). Tons of meat, hot dog bun perfectly buttered and toasted. Second, this guy or whoever owns Dunton’s has no idea there is a “street food movement” going on he’s just doing his thing and has been for a long time. Bob’s tee shirt read “Save your issues for the tissues, and the drama for your mama.” Yup pretty much sums it all up. Picnic tables in the back. Located behind Boothbay Harbor Shipyard at 40 Sea Street. Open April through October.
Have no fear chocolatiers, Isle au Haut will not leave you stranded without chocolate thanks to Kate and Steve Shaffer owners of Black Dinah Chocolatiers. Chocolate connoisseurs seeking that perfect handmade chocolate truffle need look no further than the arsenal of choices Kate creates on a seasonal basis. With two decades spent in kitchens and on farms she knows plenty about sustainable foods and flavor combinations that make people happy. Steve’s natural business and innovative approach to solving problems makes them perfect partners.
There is little as satisfying as pulling back the charming wrapping on their delicious artisanal goodies. Every box a result of their never-ending quest for new flavors, commitment to local producers, and of course sourcing high quality fair trade certified cacao.
A shining example of sustainability is their Farm Market Collection created last year featuring 10 rotating seasonal varieties such as the Blueberry-Black Pepper Truffle with Blueberries from Stoneset Farm in Brooklin and Chevre & Nib Truffle with Chevre from Sunset Acres Farm in Brooksville. This primarily spring/summer based collection will give way to a wintery collection soon. I can’t wait to find out what flavors Kate has been playing around with!
While on Isle au Haut over the weekend I spent quality time with Kate and Steve at their (seasonal) cafe, located at the base of Black Dinah Mountain and loaded up on dark chocolate caramels and sipping chocolate. **Black Dinah Chocolatiers ships their chocolates nationwide so while a visit to the cafe is a treat, you can still enjoy a sense of the island and taste the chocolates at home. Their chocolates can also be found in Blue Hill, Boothbay, Camden, Rockland, and a few other towns.
It is never too early to begin thinking about the winter holidays!