The 420 mile Locavore or MA to ME and back in 24hrs
My Mom is now ensconced in her summer house for a month. She and the 3 cats drove up from VA last Friday and of course as is her luck on vacation the weather has been poo. I needed a break from the grind so Renee pushed me out the door of Create a Cook and demanded I take a few days off. The pooper had a vet appointment Friday and her latest round of old age induced incontinence meant that husband stayed home and I hit the road for a road trip.
I called Mom Thursday morning and reported that I was hitting the road, but informed her that there would be a few stops along the way, I'd get there, I reported, when I got there. My favourite kind of trip. A quick stop at the NH state liquor store for some wine meant that I would hit Kittery right around 11:00.
Why does 11:00 matter you ask? The well seasoned Maine traveler and the fried clam junkies will know that 11:00 on the dot is when Bob's clam shack opens and I, having not had fried clams a single time yet this "summer", was not going to pass on the opportunity. Surprisingly on a gray and might i add cold July afternoon, rte 1 was dead as a doornail. I pulled into Bob's stood second in the queue and ordered up my clams. No fries, no onion rings, no sides, just the clams please. I hopped back in the truck and opened up the $26.00 dollar of clams. Yes TWENTY SIX DOLLARS worth of clams and this is what greeted me.
$26.00, you would shriek, for that? Not only was it a paltry sum, but they were teeny tiny nickel sized clams that any clam aficionado would lament had ZERO bellies. Sigh. Oh well, at least they were fried clams. I snapped the pic above with my iphone and sent husband the picture with a note that read "I think you can guess where I am".
I pulled out of Bob's parking lot barely looking left or right since there was no traffic to speak of and headed left on route 1. I like to meander around and up and down until around Ogunquit and then hit 95 again to head towards 295N. I saw far too many vacancy signs on the B&B path and any tourists that I did see out and about walking were wearing thick and heavy sweatshirts likely purchased at the local tourist shop. In fact sweatshirts are probably the biggest tourist item this summer. At least someone is making money in this cold and rain.
Around Wells I pulled in to a DD's to get some iced caffeine to keep me going for the 2 hours I still had on the road.
I veered off at 295 in Portland and swung through the bay on my way North. My next stop, Hannaford's in Augusta. Mom's friend Lizzie was up staying with her and they already had dinner planned so I had to stop in and pick up some extra supplies. Of course I never, EVER leave Maine without a Whoopie pie.
This photo was snapped via the iphone and sent to husband along with a note that read..."And of course I had to buy some of these".
I had a lovely chat with a gentleman and his wife in the parking lot about the new restaurant being built on the hill in the adjacent plaza. The one offering, "a nice view", commented the husband. Sure, I guess if you like to watch the parking lot of Hannaford's and the Maine turnpike. Believe me in this part of town a new place to dine is BIG news. He lamented the closing of Rustler a few years ago and informed me the place was "some Texas chain". I hopped in the truck and I took a left again and headed down some of my favourite roads to see my egg lady. Her husband was out on his ATV in the driveway as I pulled in. He saw me and turned off the ATV. "Got any eggs?" I shouted. He turned it back on and drove over to his porch and I hopped out of the truck and rambled onto his farmer's porch. "How many?", "Two dozen please". I took my eggs and we chatted about the weather, like you do, and I asked if he was having a hard time getting his hay in. He said he only had 1 lot done and by now he should have 5. I asked him what the forecast was for the next couple days and in his dry drawl he said "Rain, and then rain the next day and then some more rain, and I think rain later." I chuckled and as I turned around to leave the porch I noticed the 2 freshly hatched kittens on the rocking chair and of course I squealed. He said "Take one." I looked back at him and he said, 'No, really take one". I gave each kitten a scratch behind the ears and he hopped back on his ATV, "Got to go catch a cow that escaped this morning" and off he went.
I turned right and headed down to Puddledock road to head over to Ballard's my favourite local meat market.
My buddy here is always waiting around on the other side of the door for a generous offering of bones or sometimes hot dogs. Another iphone snap I sent off to husband to keep him updated. I picked up 5 pounds of bacon that I just finished sealing up and freezing courtesy this lovely machine.
Ballard's will also cold smoke anything you want! In house that day they had house made smoked sausages and two smoked cheeses. One was a smoked blue (4 hours in hickory smoke!) and they buy a whole Cabot cheddar wheel and sell enormous chunks of it. I bought one plain and one smoked. Mac & Cheese might never be the same, but right now a piece of smoked cheese and some Laphroaig is a pretty good summer evening nosh and tipple. Especially when summer means 62F. I grabbed a few other lovely things and then headed back on the road to Mom. I passed a few private roadside grab and pay stands that didn't have enough goodies worth stopping for.
When I got enough bars on the phone, I rang Mom to ask whether I took a right at the old church or stayed straight on to head over to the organic farm. I pulled up on the gravel drive and heard the DING DING of an old gas station air hose bell. Instantly two barking and wagging Australian cattle dogs were at the truck door to greet me and little Sage popped her head out from the farm stand offering to take me on a farm tour.
I pulled this local yogurt out of the fridge(don't worry about the date, it's still quite lovely) while her mom came around the corner to tell me what had just been baked.
I took her up on the blueberry pie to bring home to husband. As I was leaving I snapped this picture and emailed it off saying "Your 3 favourite words!"
I took a left and headed off to Mom's. On the camp road I scoped out the mushroom situation. From the truck I could see Chanterelle and a few lobster mushroom, but I'm going to wait until I go the 1st week of August because I think just a few days of warm could make those woods pop! I pulled down the driveway towards the lake, margaritas and some kittie love.
Thursday night the rains began in earnst. By Friday mid-morning it was apparent that it wasn't going to let up so I packed up the truck and Mom followed me to Longfellow's to pick up a hanging plant to replace the one that drowned earlier this summer. I tucked it safely on the floor of the passenger seat, set my iphone up as my GPS system, waved to mom who was heading to ballard's for lobster for her and SD who would arrive that night and headed off to find the Whole Foods in Portland to pick up the few items we would need around for the weekend.
I hit the highway around Augusta and followed this poor couple who were obviously on a road trip holiday. the Harley itself was doing fine, but the trailer they were towing behind was hydroplaning like mad. I followed him slowly for a few miles to stop the 18 wheelers carrying Wide Loads from riding up his ass and then passing him at 80. Eventually he waved me on and pulled over under an overpass to wait it out.
Rte295 southbound is still closed so the North bound traffic can use it while their side is being paved. You could see them working hard on my drive up.
The detour on that stretch of 295 takes you on a lovely 2 lane stretch of road called 201. The road in fact passes by the dirt that Mom and SD bought last year to build on and retire to. It's close enough to be at the summer house more, yet not so far away they can't come mow the lawn and take in the mail. Sadly the economic nose dive has put a damper on all that for now, but I told Mom I would scope out her new hood for good food finds on the way home.
My first stop was the nostalgic and soooo adorable Rocky Ridge Orchard. I took a quick snap of the outside because I didn't want to be *that* food blogger snapping away at everything. Of course there was already a woman inside with her video camera, *sigh*. This little slice of perfect nostalgia has a wonderful old pie safe, 5 maybe six shelves high all covered in screen.
I picked up husband a peach and raspberry pie. As you can see upon my arrival home, he didn't even bother to wait for me to take a picture. He gave it his "Oh my" followed by food silence approval rating. This little gem of a place has homemade donuts, bismarks, cream horns, cider vinegar, local maple syrup, homemade rhubarb strawberry soda(!), sandwiches, crab rolls and soups set out in crock pots atop the vintage 1920's stove for self service. The creaking, slamming screen door just sealed the deal for me. I will be back!
I pulled out, took a right and headed further south on 201. A few miles down the road a pickup truck in front of me had his right directional on, as I slowed to wait for him to turn, I realised it was a farm stand and quickly pulled in after him.
It was the farmer making a delivery form the fields and he nodded and said hello. His daughter came out to tend the stand and I picked up some of the finest strawberries I have smelled or tasted all year. A container of just picked potatoes, some green beans and a zucchini polished off my order. The sign inside the little stand said they grew everything they sold. I asked the girl if the detour had been good for their business and she smiled and said "oh yea" with a nod. Another notch on my soon-to-return belt!
I knew that L.P. Bisson wasn't far from the farm stand so I turned right and headed for Meadow Road. I was here last year and learned all about this abattoir/butcher shop so I had to come back for more. Ideas for dinner had been forming in my head as I was picking up items along the way. I bought a gorgeous local chicken, some pork butt for freezing, a pork tenderloin that is brining in the fridge as we speak. A pint of unpasteurized chocolate milk for husband and I inquired about buying a roast with the skin on for crackling. I spoke to the gentleman and he said he always keeps some pork shoulder with skin on from their pigs in the freezer. Since my cooler was already full, I told him I'd be back in a week or so to pick that up!
I set my iphone GPS for Whole Foods in Portland, or course I had to explain no, not Oregon, Maine please, and took a right back on to 295S. Holy cow, what a Whole Foods! Ginormous! They have a granola bar to make your own, a macrobiotic and vegan bar, a sweet coffee bar, a rather decent beer and wine selection and parking lot CHOCK full. I had to circle for space along with every other kayak covered, Mt. bike strapped car heading for their weekend away. One volvo in the lot was loaded nose to gill with interesting looking drum equipment made of gourds and skins and interesting things.
Back onto 295S, coffee in hand and another 2 hours ahead of me. Everything was lovely until I hit 128S and ground to a halt around Lexington where we c-r-a-w-l-e-d until the Mass Pike exit. When the truck was finally unloaded and a cocktail was in hand I began to cook a dinner from all the things that I gathered. I called Mom and reported on my findings giving my seal of approval to her new neighborhood.
Can it be called Locavore or eating local when the goods came from 200 miles away? I think so but only if it involves a visit to see Mom.