Down East http://www.downeast.com The Magazine of Maine Tue, 28 Apr 2015 15:18:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 May 2015 http://www.downeast.com/may-2015/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/may-2015/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 11:00:03 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18405 The post May 2015 appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Click here to purchase this issue. 

Features

Postcards from the Edge

Maine’s Bold Coast has its own culture, pace, and charm. We head Down East to Eastport, Lubec, Jonesport, and Beals. By Virginia M. Wright.

The Throwbacks

It’s always 1861 when Maine’s Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club takes the field. Put your knickers on and play ball with Maine’s old-school boys of summer. By Rob Sneddon.

Walking in Solitude

For some, hiking’s biggest reward is not at the summit. Is there peace of mind waiting on a Bigelow Mountain trail? By Virginia M. Wright.

Best. Maine. Summer. Ever.

Concerts, hiking trails, small-town festivals, food trucks — we didn’t hold back. Our annual summer planner lays out 137 options for designing your perfect summer itinerary. By Caroline Praderio.

 

Departments

Where in Maine?

Can you identify this colorful beach?

Editor’s Note

I love my job.

Letters to the Editor

What You Said

Your Maine

What Maine summertime event are you looking most forward to?

 

North by East

Opinions, Advisories, and Musings from the Length and Breadth of Maine

Down East Dispatches

News You May Have Missed

Oil Gear Agitator

A Crusade for Better Women’s Lobstering Gear

What’s in a Picture

The Call of Kezar Lake

Talk of Maine

Maine’s Salmon Wars

 

Dooryard

Living the Maine Life

Home

Cottage Living All Year Long

Making It in Maine

Transformit

Room With a View

Notes on Springtime

 

Guide

What to Do in Maine This Month

Dining

Ports of Italy, Boothbay Harbor

Event

The Portland Symphony Orchestra Turns 90

Music

The Mallett Brothers Band

Art

Rose Marasco at the Portland Museum of Art

Theater

Papermaker by Monica Wood

Book

An Excerpt from George Mitchell’s The Negotiator

Calendar

Go here. Do this. See that.

From Our Archives

Puffins From the Past — May 1977

 

Cover: The Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club, New Gloucester, August 2014, by Séan Alonzo Harris.

The post May 2015 appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/may-2015/feed/ 0
The Wild Women of Vinalhaven http://www.downeast.com/the-wild-women-of-vinalhaven/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/the-wild-women-of-vinalhaven/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:38:51 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18863 A gritty, hard-working island attracts unconventional artists by allowing them to focus on what matters most.

The post The Wild Women of Vinalhaven appeared first on Down East.

]]>
A gritty, hard-working island attracts unconventional artists by allowing them to focus on what matters most.
By Edgar Allen Beem
Photographed by Erin Little
Vinalhaven, a thorny, rocky island 15 miles out to sea, is one of Maine’s last working-class islands. While there is a large and distinctive summer community, the island is bigger and bolder than its visitors, who seem to get swallowed up by the wild interior and shattered shoreline as soon as they leave the ferry at Carvers Harbor. Its remoteness and hardworking community have tended to attract maverick artists, from the wanderer Marsden Hartley, who spent the summer of 1937 there, to the fugitive Robert Indiana, who has lived on Vinalhaven year-round since 1978. Today, some of the most inspired art on the island is being created by a group of imaginative, independent, and free-spirited women. Vinalhaven is not their subject, but it is their muse.
 

Marguerite White

Drawing Energy from the Island’s Stage

“I feel like I’m in a Fellini movie when I’m on Vinalhaven,” says Marguerite White. “There is a sense of drama. The harbor is like a stage, and players enter and exit. Vinalhaven isn’t really all that remote, but it’s so theatrical.”

That drama had a profound impact on White in 1988, when the artist, then a newly minted graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, visited the island for the first time. “Until I came to Vinalhaven and started painting,” she says, “I never had a language of my own.”

White lives in Boston, teaches drawing at the College of the Holy Cross, and works part-time as a house painter. Her Maine base is Rockland, where she lives in an Airstream travel trailer and works in a metal boxcar that is filled with the silhouettes and cutouts of paper figures that populate her shadow plays and light shows.

Passenger, her installation for the 2013 Portland Museum of Art Biennial, combined the shadows of thistles, a bird, and a streetlamp with recordings of insects and the voices of the departed. It was animated by an old-fashioned turntable as a beam of light swept across the scene like a passing car. The overall effect was one of lyric sadness, the passage of time, and the transient nature of life.

White visits Vinalhaven frequently, staying at Calderwood Neck in the whimsical work-in-progress of a house that belongs to her “most influential artist friend,” Diana Cherbuliez. It was Cherbuliez who, 12 years ago, encouraged White to veer away from traditional painting and to create art that was “an immediate response to something real.” Soon White was drawing the Vinalhaven ferry repeatedly and obsessively. While images from the waterfront continue to appear in her work, these days White’s art is more likely to be influenced by Vinalhaven’s energy than by appearance.

VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-5 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-4 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-24 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-13 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-15

 

Alison Hildreth

Wandering Paths Real and Imagined

Alison Hildreth lives in Falmouth and maintains a studio in Portland, but when she really wants to think and work, she comes to Vinalhaven, where she tends to a 35-acre family compound on Smith Cove that includes cabins, cottages, barns, and studios. “I have a lot of alone time,” says Hildreth, who has been coming to the island since 1967. “I have the luxury of taking long walks. One thing leads to another. You have the freedom to travel in your mind.”

A painter, printmaker, and installation artist, Hildreth especially loves Vinalhaven’s rawness. “There’s not a straight line or flat surface out here,” she observes. “It’s a coarse, thick, hard, lonely place. And it remains adamantly a working island. Clammers at work at dawn at low tide have little regard for summer cottagers who are still abed.”

And that is as it should be, she believes. Vinalhaven is a place where your social status is determined not by how much you own but by how many ancestors you have in the ground. “This place is full of stories,” Hildreth says. “The old people are remembered and talked about. There is a sense of community because people have to depend on one another.”

Most of Hildreth’s ideas come not from observation but from books, particularly philosophical fiction by writers such as W.G. Sebald, Albert Camus, Orhan Pamuk, and José Saramago. Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert inspired perhaps her finest work, “The Feathered Hand,” an installation of prints, drawings, and hanging glass and paper puppets now hanging permanently at the Portland Public Library.

In recent years, her two-dimensional art has read like maps, charts, diagrams, and plot plans of imaginary journeys and imagined places. These are the places her mind travels as she wanders the rugged Vinalhaven landscape of blackberry brambles, pitch pine woods, bogs, and ledges. “The island is not a source of material or imagery, it is a place to work,” she says. “The physical space determines the psychic space.”

VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-34 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-44 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-37 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-47 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-33

 

Diana Cherbuliez

Finding Freedom in Isolation

Diana Cherbuliez is in many ways the true art spirit of Vinalhaven. She first came to the island with her family in 1967 as a 2-year-old and has lived there year-round since 1993. A striking figure with her wild nest of blond curls, she supports herself as a carpenter in order to have the freedom to make art.

“The thing about being out here is the beautiful resourcefulness of being isolated,” says Cherbuliez, who lives far from town on the back side of the island. “The island requires independence and interdependence. There is a huge respect for labor and craft.”

Cherbuliez pointedly does not create beautiful objects for the luxury market that is the distribution system for most art. Among her memorable, serio-comic creations, many inspired by myths and fairy tales, are a proffered apple fashioned from wooden matches and beeswax, a garland of cigarette butts, a Tower of Babel made out of New York Times crossword puzzles, a funerary flag stitched together from her old party dresses, and a glass-encased Snow White–Sleeping Beauty figure modeled from a year’s worth of dust from beneath her bed.

For the 2012 Maine Women Pioneers exhibition at the University of New England, Cherbuliez created a piece that distills the essence of her art practice, which is to challenge conventional wisdom. Entitled “Let Myself Down,” the work consists of an 8-foot rope braided from her own hair and draped over a hand-carved apple-wood bracket. Subverting the tale of Rapunzel, “Let Myself Down” asks why a fair maiden would need a prince to rescue her from a tower if she could simply let herself down by her own hair.

Cherbuliez often spends months on her elaborate, eccentric constructions. “I’m indulging in my ability to spend my time the way I want,” she says. “Time is the most valuable thing we have, the most valuable thing I can give anyone.”

VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-77 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-59 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-69 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-55 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-66

 

Kitty Wales

Tapping a Wellspring of Creativity

Kitty Wales’ observations of the animal world have taken her to Scotland’s Isle of Rùm to study wild goats, to the Pyrenees in search of bearded vultures, and to the Caribbean to swim among reef sharks, but Vinalhaven is where she goes to create most of her animistic sculptures and animatronic animals. “The island is just so conducive to the creative spirit,” says Wales, who teaches sculpture at Boston University.

Wales recalls the exhilarating freedom of childhood summers spent playing in the island’s thick woods and abandoned granite quarries in the 1960s. “It was an awe-inspiring playground,” she says, “an otherworldly landscape of broken geometry and ordered chaos.”

Today, Wales works in a sunny studio above the family’s woodsy cottage on Seal Cove. Her kinetic sculptures of animals, birds, and human figures often have the playful look of mechanical toys or, in the words of Maine Sunday Telegram art critic Daniel Kany, “mad-genius automatons.” Last summer’s installation in the barn next to Vinalhaven’s New Era Gallery included a mechanical woman fashioned from an antique washing machine, feral goats made from rusted exhaust pipes and shredded tires, and the life-size figure of a Dutch Renaissance woman made of scrap wood and trailing a train of wooden chairs, most of which were found at the Vinalhaven dump.

Wales’s focus on animal life reflects her concern about global habitat displacement and the divorce between humans and other living beings. “Humanity has made a lot of mistakes,” she says. “I vote for the animals.”

Whenever she is on the island, Wales swims in Seal Cove every day no matter the weather, reads copiously, and visits with her artist friends, chief among them Elaine Crossman, who owns New Era Gallery, and Alison Hildreth. “We talk about the creative process and read books together,” says Wales. “We’re kindred spirits.”

VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-88 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-80 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-93 VINALHAVEN_LITTLE-84

The post The Wild Women of Vinalhaven appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/the-wild-women-of-vinalhaven/feed/ 0
Going Green(er) http://www.downeast.com/going-greener/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/going-greener/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:37:54 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18831 Nine steps to a healthy and lush organically grown lawn.

The post Going Green(er) appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Nine steps to a healthy and lush organically grown lawn.
By Edgar Allen Beem
Last month, when Down East presented the town of Ogunquit with its 33rd annual Environmental Award for its pioneering ban on the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides in March, some of our readers sought guidance on how they too might transition to organic lawn and garden care. We consulted a trio of experts for advice on going green: Paul Tukey, founder of SafeLawns.org and the author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual; Eric Sideman, crop specialist with Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and John Bochert, lawn and garden manager at Eldredge Lumber and Hardware in York, who will be leading workshops in Ogunquit this spring. A few things you should know:

1. Organic lawns are safer.

“Every single product you put on your lawn to kill bugs and unwanted plants is labelled caution, warning, or danger,” says Paul Tukey. “Some pesticides stay around for years. So, when, if ever, is it safe for your children and pets to go back out there? Why on earth would you take such a chance for the sake of a dandelion?”

2. Get a soil test.

Good soil is the secret to a healthy lawn and garden. A soil test, analyzed by a qualified lab, will tell you what’s in your soil — and what’s missing. “Spending any money on fertilizer without getting a soil test is just guessing,” says Tukey. He recommends the Maine Soil Testing Service at the University of Maine, which charges $22 for a comprehensive soil analysis, including acidity and nutrient levels. For details, visit anlab.umesci.maine.edu.

3. Mow high and leave the clippings.

Taller grass is healthier, provides more leaf for photosynthesis, develops deeper roots, and resists weeds. Clippings serve as natural fertilizer. “Lawns mowed at 4 inches are the most weed free,” Tukey says. “If you only did one thing, adjusting your mower height would be it.”

4. Water infrequently.

“Water only in the morning and just do it once a week if you do it at all,” says Tukey. Frequent watering encourages shallow roots.

5. Plant white clover with your grass.

White clover competes with weeds, and fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere, reducing the need for nitrogen. John Bochert recommends a seed mix of white clover, perennial rye (which germinates quickly), fescue, and bluegrass. Use about half a pound of clover seeds to 5 pounds of grass seed. Five pounds of grass seed covers roughly 1,000 square feet.

6. Spread compost on your lawn.

Compost helps make lawns lush and weed free. “Weeds need light in the spring to grow,” Tukey says. “Spreading compost across a lawn in the spring gives it a dark coating so the weed seeds can’t geminate.”

7. Listen to the weeds . . .

“Weeds are nothing if not messengers,” says Tukey. “Dandelions are telling you the ground needs more calcium. Plantains are telling you the ground is too compact and needs aerating. Don’t kill the messenger.” The vast majority of weeds can be eliminated with the chemical-free strategies described in these nine steps.

To kill weeds on driveways and pathways, John Bochert recommends hard-to-find horticultural vinegar and garden products with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) label.

8. . . . and to the insects.

Perhaps because they don’t get their soil tested and don’t know the square footage of their yards, many homeowners use as much as 10 times more synthetic pesticides per acre than farmers use on their crops. But there are safer ways to deal with pests.

“Beneficial nematodes are very effective against grubs,” Sideman says. “But the grubs also may be telling you that your lawn is under-fertilized or the pH is too high.” Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms that eat some 200 different species of insects, including grubs that become Japanese beetles. You can buy 10 million beneficial nematodes for about $30 from organic farm and garden stores. Mix them in water and spray them on your lawn and garden.

9. Stick with it (it’s cheaper in the long run).

The secret to a healthy, beautiful organic lawn and garden starts with creating healthy soil. Getting there may require a bit of an investment up front — soil tests, fertilizers, nutrients, compost — but it pays off in the end. “The first year or two it can cost 20 to 25 percent more,” Tukey says. “Top-dressing your lawn with compost is the expensive part if you don’t have your own compost. But by years four and five, it’s less expensive. The Holy Grail of organic lawn care is you never put anything on it anymore. Let the clover grow, leave the grass clippings, and just mow it. If you want Fenway Park in your backyard, you can get it organically. It’s not more work, and it’s not more money. It’s just a different way of thinking.”

Photo credit: White Dutch Clover by anneheathen via Flickr. This image is available under a Creative Commons license.

 

The post Going Green(er) appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/going-greener/feed/ 0
american flag waving over the maine coast http://www.downeast.com/american-flag-waving-maine-coast/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/american-flag-waving-maine-coast/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:08:22 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18805 Great day in ‪‎Ogunquit‬ and on the Marginal Way, Ogunquit, ME near the beach mere inn no snow and the American flag waving over...

The post american flag waving over the maine coast appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Great day in ‪‎Ogunquit‬ and on the Marginal Way, Ogunquit, ME near the beach mere inn no snow and the American flag waving over the Maine coast

The post american flag waving over the maine coast appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/american-flag-waving-maine-coast/feed/ 0
Priceless http://www.downeast.com/priceless/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/priceless/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:31:26 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18768 Sometimes the only way to explain the allure of nature is to talk dollars and cents.

The post Priceless appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Sometimes the only way to explain the allure of nature is to talk dollars and cents.
By Paul Doiron
A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to see a rare falcon that had been spotted chasing ducks around Wells Harbor. News of the gyrfalcon — a native of the Arctic tundra — had ping-ponged around the little corner of the Internet frequented by Maine bird nerds. When Kristen and I arrived at the boat ramp where the raptor had last been reported, we found a crowd of people scanning the marsh with binoculars and scopes.

The day was gray, but the mood was festive. Many of us knew each other from previous chases. We’d met on trips to see “Troppy,” the red-billed tropicbird that summers out on Seal Island, or we’d shaken hands on forays to find the directionally challenged crested caracara that appeared in Unity last year. There were plenty of new faces too. Birders had made the pilgrimage that blustery morning from all over the Northeast.

The only one who seemingly hadn’t gotten the invitation was the gyrfalcon. She’d evidently put on a show an hour before we’d arrived, harassing gulls, dive-bombing eiders. Then she’d vanished. But we were hopeful that she’d return soon enough. Every now and again, men would emerge from the nearby boatyard and stare at the strange people who had taken over the public landing. They’d shake their heads and laugh and go back inside.

After a while, an Audi A4 pulled into the parking lot and a couple got out. I had the feeling that they had just come from brunch in Ogunquit and were out for a leisurely drive. They came toward us with questioning smiles on their faces.

“What are you all looking at?” the woman asked me.

“There’s a rare falcon that we’re hoping to see.”

She turned to the man beside her. “What did I tell you?”

He didn’t seem to believe me. “It’s not a moose?”

“No,” I said. “We’re here to see a gyrfalcon.”

“What? All of you?”

“Gyrfalcons live in the high Arctic and don’t normally get this far south,” I explained. “It’s been years since anybody saw one in the Northeast. There are people here from New Jersey who came up just to see this one.”

Now he was certain I was having a joke at his expense. “They drove from Jersey just to see a bird?”

When I first took up birding nearly two decades ago — a prerequisite Kristen had imposed as a condition of courting her — I felt self-conscious about my new pastime. I thought of birders as people wearing funny hats and pants tucked into their socks. But the best birders I have met are all-around outdoorspeople whose knowledge of the natural world is awe-inspiring. So it no longer fazes me when non-birders find my hobby bewildering. Instead, I take it as an educational challenge.

“Gyrfalcons are the largest falcons in the world,” I explained, thinking that detail might impress him. “They’ll even eat other hawks.”

He smiled, glancing at his watch.

I tried a different approach. “In the Middle Ages, they were so valuable that only kings were allowed to hunt with them. Even today, they’re worth a fortune to smugglers.”

His eyes widened. “How much?”

I hesitated, but he didn’t strike me as a man with connections in the black market for wild animals. “Tens of thousands of dollars. Gyrfalcons are status symbols for some of the Arab royal families.”

I asked if he wanted to borrow my binoculars to see the rough-legged hawk soaring over the tree line. He accepted my invitation with real enthusiasm.

“How much is that one worth?” he asked.

He might never take up birding, I thought, but it was a start.

Photo credit: chrisdupe | Flickr. This image is available under a Creative Commons license.

 

The post Priceless appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/priceless/feed/ 0
Sunset over Crystal Lake http://www.downeast.com/sunset-crystal-lake/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/sunset-crystal-lake/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:10:30 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18734 Sunset over Crystal Lake in Gray. The colors are reflected in the puddles on top of the ice.

The post Sunset over Crystal Lake appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Sunset over Crystal Lake in Gray. The colors are reflected in the puddles on top of the ice.

The post Sunset over Crystal Lake appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/sunset-crystal-lake/feed/ 0
Morning on marsh http://www.downeast.com/morning-marsh/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/morning-marsh/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:06:12 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18732 Early morning on the marsh at Range Pond in Poland. A heron glided in for breakfast. The melting snow and ice caused a thick...

The post Morning on marsh appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Early morning on the marsh at Range Pond in Poland. A heron glided in for breakfast. The melting snow and ice caused a thick fog to form over the open water.

The post Morning on marsh appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/morning-marsh/feed/ 0
Ring-necked Ducks http://www.downeast.com/ring-necked-ducks/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/ring-necked-ducks/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:05:02 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18677 A small flock of ring-necked ducks visit Acadia on their way north.

The post Ring-necked Ducks appeared first on Down East.

]]>
A small flock of ring-necked ducks visit Acadia on their way north.

The post Ring-necked Ducks appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/ring-necked-ducks/feed/ 0
Horses at Spruce Head http://www.downeast.com/horses-spruce-head/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/horses-spruce-head/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:04:05 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18599 Miniature horses.

The post Horses at Spruce Head appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Miniature horses.

The post Horses at Spruce Head appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/horses-spruce-head/feed/ 0
Timeless Turning of the Tide http://www.downeast.com/timeless-turning-tide/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/timeless-turning-tide/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:03:11 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18618 A couple stops to enjoy the sights and sounds of a changing, rolling tide rolling at Two Lights State Park. Perfect relaxation with the...

The post Timeless Turning of the Tide appeared first on Down East.

]]>
A couple stops to enjoy the sights and sounds of a changing, rolling tide rolling at Two Lights State Park. Perfect relaxation with the rolling tide and sounds of breakers against the rocks of the Maine coast. Who wouldn’t fall in love with Maine and be enchanted forever? Photo taken last summer, with broken clouds and sunshine.

The post Timeless Turning of the Tide appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/timeless-turning-tide/feed/ 0
Boats in mooring at Stonington http://www.downeast.com/boats-mooring-stonington/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/boats-mooring-stonington/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:01:40 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18597 Misty, foggy morning.

The post Boats in mooring at Stonington appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Misty, foggy morning.

The post Boats in mooring at Stonington appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/boats-mooring-stonington/feed/ 0
Eagle Lake http://www.downeast.com/eagle-lake/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/eagle-lake/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18595 On Eagle Lake at Acadia National Park.

The post Eagle Lake appeared first on Down East.

]]>
On Eagle Lake at Acadia National Park.

The post Eagle Lake appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/eagle-lake/feed/ 0
male Ring-necked duck http://www.downeast.com/male-ring-necked-duck/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/male-ring-necked-duck/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:59:15 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18562 A male ring-necked duck takes a break in Somesville on his migration north.

The post male Ring-necked duck appeared first on Down East.

]]>
A male ring-necked duck takes a break in Somesville on his migration north.

The post male Ring-necked duck appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/male-ring-necked-duck/feed/ 0
New Harbor http://www.downeast.com/new-harbor-3/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/new-harbor-3/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:58:36 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18593 Facing east, down the harbor.

The post New Harbor appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Facing east, down the harbor.

The post New Harbor appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/new-harbor-3/feed/ 0
A Foggy Day at Sand Beach http://www.downeast.com/foggy-day-sand-beach/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/foggy-day-sand-beach/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:56:27 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18544 A foggy day at Sand Beach

The post A Foggy Day at Sand Beach appeared first on Down East.

]]>
A foggy day at Sand Beach

The post A Foggy Day at Sand Beach appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/foggy-day-sand-beach/feed/ 0
Welcome to Mud Season in Maine http://www.downeast.com/welcome-to-mud-season-in-maine/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/welcome-to-mud-season-in-maine/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 14:55:56 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18687 In which we muckrake about the season that turns our world into mush.

The post Welcome to Mud Season in Maine appeared first on Down East.

]]>
In which we muckrake about the season that turns our world into mush.
By Virginia M. Wright
Maine has five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, and mud. That’s not a punch line. Mud season is real, and we happen to be knee deep in it right now. During mud season, dirt roads swallow our cars and hiking trails suck the shoes off our feet. So unappealing is mud season that our finest inns resort to rock-bottom rates to lure unwitting tourists who don’t realize that their complimentary foot soak will be a walk on that sponge called a lawn.

Mud season, which runs roughly from late March to early May, is not a uniquely Maine phenomenon, but the state does happen to excel at it. “It’s a time when all the snow has melted, and you have a lot of water in the landscape,” says University of Maine professor Ivan Fernandez, a soil scientist. “The trees and plants haven’t started to grow, so they haven’t started to take up water from the soil and transpire it out of their leaves as vapor. In addition, the soils of Maine tend to be young and shallow. The glacier was here 12,000–14,000 years ago, so we haven’t had millions of years to develop really deep soils for the water to percolate down through. So in spring, there’s excess water everywhere, and when water can’t escape, we get mud.”

Some soils also are more prone to becoming muddy, and Maine is rich in them, most notably marine soils that extend along the coast and stretch inland 40 to 50 miles. Composed of heavy clay and silt (also known as rock flour, a product of glacial erosion), these soils are often wet no matter the time of year. “And in spring,” Fernandez says, “they make mud even faster.”

If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of mud season, check back with us in a few decades. Over the last 100 years, the length of the snow-free period bridging winter and spring has increased by about two weeks, says Fernandez, who is a researcher with the Climate Change Institute at UMaine. “Our projection is we’re going to get another two weeks by mid-21st century, so it looks like there will be more mud season in our future.”
 

An Expert Slings Some Mud

I work with glacial marine clay. There’s a ridiculous amount of it in Maine. You find it around lakes and rivers because it holds in water — that’s why they’re there. Gardeners and contractors curse it. I worship it. I think it’s the most amazing stuff around because I get to go out and dig it myself — being outside and connecting to my material is important to me.

— Malley Weber, of Hallowell, one of a handful of Maine potters who harvest their own clay

 
Mud-splatter

A Few Soilient Facts

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service recognizes

23,000

soil series, or types, in the U.S.

119

of them can be found in Maine, and

87

of those were first identified here and given names like Bangor, Hermon, and Saco (Northeastern University researchers aren’t saying in which one they recently discovered a powerful new antibiotic). There is, however, only

ONE

Maine State Soil — Chesuncook, a forest soil distinguished by its visually distinct layers, which go from a black topsoil to pinkish gray to reddish brown to dark yellowish brown. The final layer, some 20 to 65 inches below the surface, is light olive brown. Chesuncook was officially recognized by the legislature in 1999.
 

4 Down-and-Dirty Obstacle Courses

Keep the spirit of mud season in your heart all summer long.

Into the Mud Challenge. Caped crusaders, ballerinas, and other costumed contestants negotiate 2.5 miles of mire and other obstacles in this scholarship fundraiser. May 3. Gorham Middle School, Gorham. intothemudchallenge.com

Dynamic Dirt Challenge. This woodsy 4–5 mile course alternates between slip-and-slides and mud, hay bales and mud, culverts and mud, swamps and . . . you get the idea. May 31. Pineland Farms, New Gloucester. dynamicdirtchallenge.com

Tough Mountain Challenge. Every year, the mud pits that bookend this alpine course get longer, deeper, and muckier. And in between? Expect a manmade snowstorm — and more mud. July 25. Sunday River, Newry. toughmountain.com

Tough Mudder. This grueling 10-mile course includes a climb in a muck-coated tube, a rope swing over dirty water, and — we kid you not — a muddy slog under dangling live wires. Sept. 26–27. Sunset Ridge, Westbrook. toughmudder.com

Mud-splatter-2

Featured photo by Roban Kramer via Flickr. Mud: Ultrashock | Shutterstock.

The post Welcome to Mud Season in Maine appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/welcome-to-mud-season-in-maine/feed/ 0
Muhammed Ali, Russell Lamour, and Maine’s Boxing Legacy http://www.downeast.com/muhammed-ali-russell-lamour-and-maines-boxing-legacy/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/muhammed-ali-russell-lamour-and-maines-boxing-legacy/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:13:17 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18646 Bob Russo of the Portland Boxing Club knows what really happened during the famous Ali-Liston fight in Lewiston in 1965.

The post Muhammed Ali, Russell Lamour, and Maine’s Boxing Legacy appeared first on Down East.

]]>

Bob Russo of the Portland Boxing Club knows what really happened during the famous Ali-Liston fight in Lewiston in 1965 — plus plenty more about Maine’s boxing history. Read more about Russo and the “phantom punch” in our May issue, on newsstands April 28!

Video by Kevin Sennett

The post Muhammed Ali, Russell Lamour, and Maine’s Boxing Legacy appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/muhammed-ali-russell-lamour-and-maines-boxing-legacy/feed/ 0
An April Shower of Seeds http://www.downeast.com/an-april-shower-of-seeds/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/an-april-shower-of-seeds/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:46:22 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18622 Novelist and gardener Richard Grant says it's still a fine time of year to sow your dream garden.

The post An April Shower of Seeds appeared first on Down East.

]]>
It’s still a fine time of year to sow your dream garden.
By Richard Grant
Illustration by Marty Braun
There’s a rule about timing in Maine. You hear it in various forms, but I’ll give you the textbook version: To the question When should I do X in Maine?, the answer is always Two months ago.

Actually, I’m not sure this is a real rule, but it ought to be. God knows I hear it enough. There’s something about the way the seasons roll along here: time can seem to stop, days piling on days like the leaves you should have raked before the snow started (see what I’m talking about?), until suddenly the world has changed around you. When did it happen? How did it happen? The winter that was never going to end is barely a memory. The sun is hot, and the mud just swallowed your shoe, and you never got around to ordering seeds for the garden this year, did you? Let alone rounding up trays and buying seed-starter mix and getting them going on the windowsill. Now it’s April, and April is about two months too late.

Or is it?

As an indolent Maine gardener, I’ve adopted my own rule: the best time for doing things is whenever they happen to pop into your head. Early spring is a great time for popping, though not much else. The soil around your house is probably waterlogged; if you go digging around out there, you’re likely to compact it, which is bad for the roots. Pruning is doable, if you’re careful where you step. But seeds — now there’s something to think about.

I’ll grant you that April isn’t the best time to start planning your herb garden or your vegetable patch if you’re hoping to grow your thyme or heirloom tomatoes from scratch. You’ll want to have well-established young plants ready to set out as soon as the danger of frost is past, which ought to be pretty soon now. But the realm of gardening is vast, and there’s an enormous range of plants that are both beautiful and easy to grow from seed — and April is a fine time, maybe even a perfect time, to get to know them.

Let’s consider four general categories of garden seeds that will do just fine, and might even benefit, from a late-spring sowing:

small-seed-bagFlowers and herbs you can sow directly into the ground.

Some of our favorite flowers fall into this category: lupines, whose tender roots don’t take to transplanting; foxgloves, whose thousands of tiny seeds are hard to handle, but spring up readily where they’re happy; Nicotiana sylvestris, a stately, fragrant annual; Adenophera or lady bells, an elegant colonizer often found in old gardens; and Hesperis matronalis or dame’s rocket. Calendula, or pot marigold, often grown for medicinal purposes, can be scattered right on the ground and even on unmelted snow. But my greatest personal success has been with wildflower mixes, which I sprinkled all around our newly built cottage several Aprils ago. A typical mix contains 20 or so varieties, of which only a few will likely make much of a show — but what a transformation, from waste ground to a scrappy, colorful wild garden.

Perennials and biennials that can be sown late and will bloom the following year.

My earliest garden dreams were fired by those perfect English gardens I’d glimpsed in coffee-table books and on Masterpiece Theatre. I turned to seeds mostly out of economic necessity: those elegant drifts of helianthus, backed by delphiniums and other blooms, would cost more than my car if I bought them as full-grown plants. And as it turns out, many perennials do grow readily from seed, with the caveat that they won’t come into flower until their second year in your garden. So there’s no need to hurry. Start the seeds now, plant them out in early summer. Excellent candidates include echinacea, rudbeckia, liatris, shasta daisies, coreopsis, gaillardia, hollyhocks, and Japanese iris — the last is a bit of a surprise, but they sprout like magic and grow like weeds. There’s a lot of room for experimentation and discovery here.

Uncommon plants you can only get from seed.

You don’t have to be a snob to enjoy growing plants nobody else has. Nor is there anything sinful about falling in love with some ravishing specimen in a catalog that you’ll never see at the local garden center. I’ve had particular luck with a few genuses — Campanula, Geranium (the perennial kind, not the popular tender plants that are actually Pelargonium), Viola, and Dianthus (which includes carnations and “pinks”) — that are wonderfully diverse and rewarding to grow, but are represented in the plant trade by only a handful of varieties. Others, including wild natives like Silphium and Eupatorium, will grow (often to daunting stature) for anybody who cares to sow them. There’s even an ornamental rhubarb, Rheum palmatum, that will trigger a pleasing double take by your garden visitors. File this under guilty pleasures, I guess.

Plants that are so fun and easy to start from seed that you might as well just grow them.

The quickest way to get your head around this is to glance at those charming little “My Own Garden!” packages that are marketed for kids. Typically they contain things like sunflowers, nasturtiums, sweet peas, marigolds — large, easy-to-handle seeds, guaranteed to sprout, fast growing and early flowering. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this kind of thing, and the variety of black-eyed Susans (to offer just one example) that you can grow from seed is greater than you’d imagine.

I’ll wrap up my case for an April seed adventure with one last thought. Gardening in Maine is an iffy thing. Our climate runs to extremes, our soil is often poor and hard to work with, our growing season is short, and many of us are here for only part of it. It goes without saying that many of our bold garden projects don’t pan out. So it is with growing plants from seed. But with seeds, the cost of failure is low, and however things turn out, there’s an element of participation and excitement that you don’t get from buying a full-grown plant and plunking it into the ground. When we succeed — which we do, at least as often as not — the reward feels out of proportion to the modest effort involved. It’s cool, it’s worth doing, and you can start right now.

 

Tools and Tips

You will need: a tray, seed-starting mix, a spray bottle, and a small pair of scissors.

I like the kind of tray that comes as a kit, with a clear lid and molded containers for the plants — but not one that already contains starter mix, which is usually of poor quality. A good mix should be finely milled and not composed only of peat moss. Read the directions: some mixes need to have water added while in the bag.

Pour the mix loosely into the planting compartments, then moisten if needed (pour water into the tray base, wait until it’s absorbed, then drain off the excess). Place seeds gently on top of the mix — don’t bury them — then sprinkle enough mix to cover them to the recommended depth. If no depth is given, cover just enough to hide them from direct sun. Don’t pack them down.

The principle here is that seeds germinate quickest, and are least prone to rot, when they’re kept moist, but not wet, with plenty of air around them.

Cover with the clear lid (or plastic wrap, but keep it out of contact with the mix). The cover shouldn’t be airtight.

Place the tray someplace that will stay evenly warm (i.e., with minimal fluctuations). “Warm” to a plant means roughly 70–74°F — just a bit higher than normal room temp.

If the mix starts to look or feel dry, moisten it with the spray bottle. When seedlings emerge, remove the cover. Thin, as needed, with scissors. When permanent leaves appear (after the 1 or 2 “baby” leaves), move to a cool, bright window. “Cool” can be as low as 50°-ish, especially at night; “bright” means as much sun as the baby plant will tolerate — ease the transition and mind how it’s getting on. Artificial light can work, but again it should be cool (fluorescent or LED) and bright (less than 1 foot above the plant).

As always, keep the mix moist but not sopping: water from below, then drain.

If the mix does not contain nutrients, feed lightly with an organic fertilizer (e.g., fish emulsion, seaweed extract). Rule of thumb: read instructions, cut dose in half. If the plants look leggy or tender, they need more light and/or lower temperature.

That’s it. You’re good to go.
 

Where to Buy

Fedco Seeds, PO Box 520, Waterville. 207-873-7333. fedcoseeds.com

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 955 Benton Ave., Winslow. 877-564-6697. johnnyseeds.com

Pinetree Garden Seeds, PO Box 300, New Gloucester. 207-926-3400. superseeds.com

Wood Prairie Farm, 49 Kinney Rd., Bridgewater. 800-829-9765. woodprairie.com

Allen, Sterling & Lothrop, 191 U.S. Rte. 1, Falmouth. 207-781-4142. allensterlinglothrop.com

 

 

The post An April Shower of Seeds appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/an-april-shower-of-seeds/feed/ 0
Lost in Transition http://www.downeast.com/lost-in-transition/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/lost-in-transition/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 14:07:16 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18571 At home in Freedom, chef Erin French of The Lost Kitchen is rebuilding a restaurant — and a life.

The post Lost in Transition appeared first on Down East.

]]>
At home in Freedom, chef Erin French of The Lost Kitchen is rebuilding a restaurant — and a life.
By Suzanne Rico
Photographed by Séan Alonzo Harris
On a humid summer night in central Maine, inside a defunct 1834 gristmill, Erin French is working in an open kitchen, moving purposefully between an elegant Lacanche range and a white double farmhouse sink. The dining room’s seven tables are full, and candlelight softens the faces of the guests, just barely illuminating the rough wooden walls and the beamed ceiling, still ornamented with the mill’s original pulley system. French is putting the finishing touches of flash-fried fresh rosemary on an appetizer of cherrystone clams in a garlic-studded broth. Her shoulder-length blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail. She seems oblivious to the dining room beyond her countertop, unsmiling and focused on the plate in front of her, as if far more hinges on her perfect execution than only the success of this meal.

A 34-year-old self-taught chef who has cooked professionally for just four years, French is hoping that her new restaurant, The Lost Kitchen, will be her comeback venture following a humiliating downfall. In the span of a few months in 2013, she went from being an acclaimed restaurateur, invited to host a dinner at the renowned James Beard House, to losing her first restaurant, along with her home, marriage, and custody of her only child. It was a dramatic fall from grace — complete with drugs, booze, lost love, the works — and it gave the gossip mill in her then-home of Belfast a story to grind for months. For French, it was a tumultuous time of self-loathing — and self-discovery.

Until a couple of years ago, the Mill at Freedom Falls was a boarded-up wreck. French grew up in Freedom and remembers the place from her childhood: “a dilapidated old place with all the bad boys hanging around . . . my mom used to tell me to stay away.” In 2012, a retired investment banker from Camden began an 18-month passion project — a complete renovation during which the mill’s moss-slicked stone foundation was rebalanced and fortified. Around the time the project was being completed, French was doing some internal rebalancing of her own. When a local farmer told her that the mill’s new owners needed a ground-floor tenant, she saw an opportunity to dust off her psychic grime and move forward by doing what she loves: using fresh, locally grown ingredients to create meals infused with her country-girl personality.

“I’ve come full circle,” French says one morning, seated in the empty restaurant, gauzy light streaming through the paned windows. “You know? ‘Freedom’ found and all that.”

The Lost Kitchen occupies the ground floor of the restored Mill at Freedom Falls.

The Lost Kitchen occupies the ground floor of the restored Mill at Freedom Falls.

Open since last July, The Lost Kitchen is already booking reservations weeks in advance, its reputation attracting diners who might otherwise have little reason to drop in on Freedom, population 719. From the handwritten guest checks (no computer screens here) to the austere metal coat rack and plain pine hangers in the entry hall, every detail at the restaurant embodies the simplicity that French says she now craves. The restaurant’s only other full-time employee, helping to serve, seat, and clear tables, is French’s 59-year-old mother, Deanna Richardson.

When French was a kid, her parents owned a diner just outside Freedom called Ridgetop Restaurant. She started learning to cook there when she was in kindergarten, around the same time she was learning to ice-skate on the pond next to the dilapidated old mill. On weekends and after school, French flipped burgers and stuffed lobster rolls, picking nasturtium flowers from her mother’s garden for garnish. At home, she played restaurant instead of house. Whether her mother was serving hot dogs or spaghetti for supper, Erin would often decorate the table with candles and colored lights, placing a handmade menu next to each plate to create a dining experience, never wanting a meal to be consumed without contemplation and care.

It was a dramatic fall from grace — complete with drugs, booze, lost love, the works — and it gave the gossip mill a story to grind for months.

It wasn’t until in 2010, when French turned 30, that she started taking seriously the prospect of a career in cooking. By then, she was a college dropout getting by on waitressing, bartending, and catering gigs. She’d been married since 2006 to a Belfast boatbuilder, Todd French, and the two were living in Belfast, raising her eight-year-old son from a previous relationship. With her 20s behind her, French suddenly felt a pressure to make her mark, and the place she felt most comfortable doing it was in the kitchen. Without any formal training, however, she knew she’d be lucky to find work as a line cook.

So instead, French launched a series of informal dinners that she called Secret Suppers, served on Saturday nights in a rented apartment on the top floor of Belfast’s Gothic Building, a landmark 19th-century former bank. Each week, two dozen diners paid up to $40 (a suggested donation) for a seat at French’s table, where she served traditional Maine favorites with a twist, like miniature lobster rolls with baby arugula, aioli, and pickled purple carrot slaw. The first Secret Suppers were attended by friends and acquaintances, but within Belfast’s burgeoning foodie community, word quickly spread that something special was cooking at the Gothic. Within a couple of months, French’s Secret Suppers email list — and waiting list — had grown long.

“I wasn’t surprised that it caught on,” says Nancy Harmon Jenkins, a Camden-based food writer who attended some of the Secret Suppers. “Her food was glamorous, but not over the top.” French’s presentation, Harmon Jenkins says, was extraordinary. “Every time I posted something [about the suppers] on Facebook, there would be people asking, ‘Where is it? How can I get in?’”

The success of the Secret Suppers gave French an abrupt underground foodie cachet — no culinary education needed. And to this day, she makes no bones about her up-by-the-bootstraps pedigree.

“It makes me uncomfortable when people call me a chef,” she says. “I’m like, nope! I’m just a girl who cooks.”

In May of 2011, the girl who cooks and her husband took out a mortgage and bought the Gothic Building. Six months later, she opened a restaurant on the ground floor called The Lost Kitchen. It was more or less an instant hot ticket, garnering attention from the likes of The New York Times and Elle Décor. French threw herself into the work, creating five new menus a week, cooking on the line in the evenings, handling the demands of intensely local sourcing, keeping up a rather grandiloquent blog — and, of course, parenting her son.

“I felt like I got permission to follow my dreams,” she says.

The Lost Kitchen had been open for more than a year when the James Beard Foundation invited French to Manhattan, to host a dinner at its prestigious Beard House series. It was a huge vote of confidence. But as French’s culinary star rose, so did her stress level. She was putting in 18-hour workdays. Before long, the glass of wine she liked to nurse while cooking turned into two or three, then a whole bottle. She started taking, then abusing, prescription drugs for anxiety and depression. As her downward spiral gained speed, her already tumultuous marriage — a seven-year union that included fights so virulent, the police were sometimes called — exploded like a poorly built house in a hurricane.

“The restaurant tipped our stress point beyond what it could handle,” French says today. She keeps her tone neutral and chooses her words carefully when discussing her marriage, as if picking a path through a still-dangerous territory. “And it was bitter. You know how you get those nasty divorces? Well, this was in the 1 percent of the nasty ones.”

But as French’s culinary star rose, so did her stress level. She was putting in 18-hour workdays. Before long, the glass of wine she liked to nurse while cooking turned into two or three, then a whole bottle.

In April of 2013 — a year-and-a-half after launching The Lost Kitchen, and just weeks before what was to be her triumphant Beard House dinner — the court battle resulting from her divorce left French locked out of both her restaurant and her apartment. Of the restaurant, the only thing French still owned was the name.

“One flip of a lock, and I lost everything,” she remembers. “Every whisk. Every skillet.”

Worse still, a magistrate awarded temporary custody of French’s 10-year-old son to his father.

“I considered suicide, big time. Between losing my job, my apartment, and my son, there didn’t seem to be much reason to go on.”

French’s mom saw the warning signs. A lifelong educator who has worked with troubled children, Richardson begged her daughter to get help.

“I stayed with her for weeks to make sure she was eating and safe and sleeping,” she remembers. “We worked out a rating scale from 1 to 10, a 10 meaning that she felt good. She would say a number — ‘I’m a 2 today, Mom’ — and I would know she was feeling bad.”

Bill collectors started calling. French’s depression was devastating. She agreed to enter treatment at a women’s rehabilitation center in Chicago. Then, at the airport, French suddenly balked: If she left now, would she have anything to come back to?

“I don’t often use the f-word, but that night I did,” says Richardson. Even now, at the memory, the emotion sets her mouth into a tight, protective line. “I said, ‘You are getting on that f-ing airplane!’ She was so distraught.”

French boarded the plane, landed in Chicago, and checked into rehab.

She stayed two weeks in treatment before her insurance company refused to cover any further bills. Still detoxing, French flew to Arizona to stay with friends for two more weeks, attending outpatient programs and enduring the last tremors of withdrawal. She returned to Freedom on Mother’s Day — shaky and skinny, but clean and sober. Not a week later, she traveled to New York to host her sold-out dinner at the Beard House.

“I think of it as ‘The School of Me,’” French says of rehab. “I walked in there and met so many women who were in for so many reasons. This one was depressed, this one was an addict — but we were all basically just these women in pain.”

Seated in the empty Lost Kitchen dining room, French looks across the room at her son, engrossed in a book at one of the nearby dinner tables. She now shares custody with her ex.

“It was amazing to sit in there,” she says, lowering her voice, “and just to spill out this shit-ton of pain. It’s amazing the healing you can accomplish.”

These days, French dedicates Sundays to rest, family, and good food — even talking about work is forbidden.

These days, French dedicates Sundays to rest, family, and good food — even talking about work is forbidden.

A month after coming back, French borrowed $5,000 from friends and family to buy a 1965 Airstream trailer and parked it by the pond near her parents’ farmhouse. She took a sledgehammer to its interior (extremely satisfying, she says), installed an upgraded kitchen, and, come summer, revived her old email list to let people know she was cooking again. French started offering private pop-up dinners much like the Secret Suppers, parking the Airstream in idyllic, handpicked spots around the midcoast: freshly mowed fields, apple orchards, an old barn sitting off a dirt road. The Airstream became a mobile haven that allowed French to bring “fork to field,” as she wrote in a blog post. Her blog went on to detail the list of things she accomplished that summer. Among them:

Used a skill saw for the first time.

Got a wicked suntan. Years overdue.

Dried zillions of calendula blossoms. Still wondering what to do with them.

Adopted a dog. Still question who rescued whom.

By fall, French had signed a lease for the mill space. Her goal was to transform the loft-like ground floor into a simple, homey-yet-elegant restaurant. To do it, she used a small settlement from her divorce, investments from friends, and cheeky determination. When she found a range she couldn’t afford, she cold-called the French company Lacanche and described the restaurant she envisioned. They said they loved what she was doing and negotiated a price she could afford. French reached out to the local women farmers who’d stocked her larder at the Belfast restaurant and asked them to play a role in the reboot.

From the dining room, she points into the kitchen at a lithe, tattooed woman with a suntanned face. “She raises and kills the ducks,” French says, “and her daughter is washing dishes while she’s home from school.”

Every detail at The Lost Kitchen embodies the simplicity that French says she now craves.

When they’re not in the field with their crops, these women help French cook and serve the meals she creates each week. They are central to the restaurant’s success in more ways than one: French’s culinary philosophy is to let their bounty determine the direction of the menu.

“I don’t think about what I’m going to do for the week and then go out and buy the food,” she says. “I see what comes in, and then I create the meals around that.”

In cooking, as in life, French has learned how to start from zero, and then assemble things using only what’s at hand. She starts with clean, earthy flavors and follows her intuition to put them together in inventive ways. She’s up front about her shortcomings and how keeping things simple helps to compensate.

“I don’t know how to make sauces,” French admits, “so I just don’t sauce things. This is place-driven food. Here we are, right now, and this is what’s for dinner.”

A recent dinner at The Lost Kitchen started out with skillet-roasted clams with rosemary, lavender, and lime, followed by golden beet soup with a dollop of goat cheese and roasted walnuts. Then came line-caught, sushi-grade bluefin tuna niçoise, served with red potatoes hardly bigger than pearls. The farmer who grew them happened to be the waitress, so she offered some background on the soil and weather conditions in which they thrive.

“Erin loves them,” said the farmer-waitress, before retreating to the kitchen. “So we save all of them for her.”

The restaurant’s tranquil atmosphere evokes a time when high technology meant water rushing through the big wooden waterwheel outside — the stream’s steady whisper is part of the restaurant’s soundtrack. When French wants flowers for her tables, she walks through a field behind the restaurant and retrieves them from a neighbor’s greenhouse. During the day, the farmers come and go, delivering shining Bermuda onions or chickens freshly plucked, sometimes pausing to suggest a new dessert item or remark how fast the corn is ripening. Whether The Lost Kitchen’s idyllic insularity will be an asset or a drawback remains to be seen.

“All the way out in Freedom?” wonders food writer Harmon Jenkins. “In the summer, sure. But in November? We’ll see if she can sustain that.”

“It makes me uncomfortable when people call me a chef,” French says. “I’m like, nope! I’m just a girl who cooks.”

As for French, she’s the first to admit that she’s still learning to sustain herself. Much like Freedom’s restored mill, she is sturdier now, but still vulnerable. To keep her stress level in check, she opens the restaurant just four days a week and dedicates Sundays to rest and relaxation — even talking about work is off limits. For someone who identifies as “just a girl who cooks,” she is increasingly savvy about marketing: French has a manager in LA, a potential TV project in development, and a cookbook on the way from a Random House culinary imprint, inspired by the town she grew up in and the state she loves. After living for more than a year in the Airstream behind her parents’ house, she’s recently moved into a place of her own — though French says she’ll always keep the trailer as a reminder of how fast life can veer into a ditch.

Walking out across the narrow bridge that spans the stream behind The Lost Kitchen, French turns around to look at the resilient old building that’s provided her this second chance.

“I’ve been imbalanced for most of my adult life,” she says. “I never let the restaurant suffer, but I let myself suffer. I let my marriage suffer. So I’m really working on balance. Because I never want to mess this up.”

 

Read our list of Maine’s Best New Restaurants, from the April 2015 issue, including The Lost Kitchen!

The post Lost in Transition appeared first on Down East.

]]> http://www.downeast.com/lost-in-transition/feed/ 2 Play, Paws, Record http://www.downeast.com/play-paws-record/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/play-paws-record/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 04:37:27 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18550 Samuel James and Jim LeJames are bringing Portland's music scene to new ears — pointy, fuzzy ears.

The post Play, Paws, Record appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Samuel James and Jim LeJames are bringing Portland’s music scene to new ears — pointy, fuzzy ears.
By Brian Kevin
Photo by Mark Fleming
Before her recent performance at Down East‘s editorial office in Rockport, Portland singer-songwriter Sorcha Cribben-Merrill had played cafes, clubs, bars, and theaters. She’d even played jazz gigs at assisted living centers and kids’ concerts at art museums. But she had never put on a concert in the offices of a magazine before. Also, she had never put on a concert for a cat.

Cribben-Merrill graced us with her talents this winter for an episode of the oddball, yet surprisingly heartfelt online video series Kitty Critic, which just wrapped its first six-episode season. The Kitty Critic concept is simple: A Portland musician of some repute arrives at a fan’s home (or office, in our case) and sits down to perform an intimate, artfully filmed, and occasionally rather stirring concert — all for that fan’s cat.

“Isn’t it weird that nobody has done it yet?” asks Kitty Critic progenitor Samuel James, himself an accomplished touring blues and roots musician and the owner of two cats (White Blacula and Robles). James hatched the Kitty Critic idea while driving to a friend’s wedding in Tennessee last June. It would be the golden intersection of two arenas in which the Internet already excels, he figured: music videos and cat videos. Still driving, he called two friends back in Maine, Jon Reece and Jim LeJames, to get them on board. When he got home, he convinced Coffee By Design to sponsor the project.

A Portland musician of some repute arrives at a fan’s home and sits down to perform an intimate, artfully filmed, and occasionally rather stirring concert — all for that fan’s cat.

At Down East HQ, the three men set up an impressive mobile recording studio: two HD digital cameras, foam core reflectors for lighting, a condenser mic — the works. Photographer Reece handles Kitty Critic‘s videography, which cuts between long takes of the performers and close-up feline reaction shots. LeJames, meanwhile, is the show’s blazer-clad, tongue-in-cheek host, introducing each episode and, afterward, conducting Daily Show-style interviews with each bemused cat owner (James, 36, has known LeJames, 37, since high school, and he calls his laconic friend “the funniest person I’ve ever met”). As Cribben-Merrill tuned her ukulele in the office of Down East design director Mirek Jurek, the concert’s beneficiary — Willow, Jurek’s orange, 4-year-old Maine coon and our January cover cat — sat curled up in Jurek’s wife’s lap, snoozing obliviously.

That obliviousness is a big part of Kitty Critic‘s kooky, subversive genius. The show is in part a commentary on the complex relationship between performers and audiences. James, who’s been playing professionally for almost a decade, recalls one bar gig where most of the patrons sat with their backs facing him, watching a Patriots game on the far side of the room. Kitty Critic asks whether music still retains its power when it’s performed for a hostile or indifferent listener.

“And what could be more indifferent than a cat?” James asks.

Of course, the videos are also good for a laugh, and they showcase Portland’s abundance of musical talent. Episodes have featured soul singer Kenya Hall, songwriter Dana Gross, Nick Poulin of indie-folk act Tall Horse, and James himself, among others. On April 10, all six artists from the first season will perform at Portland’s SPACE Gallery for a wrap party and fundraiser benefitting the Homeless Animal Rescue Team of Maine. Can James envision a day when Kitty Critic exhausts Portland’s talent reserve and has to look elsewhere?

“Not a chance,” says James. “Not in Portland. We’ll run out of cats before we run out of musicians.”

Sorcha Cribben-Merrill performs for Willow, above, in a very special episode of Kitty Critic. Visit kittycriticmusic.com to stream more episodes. On Friday, April 10, Cribben-Merrill will play alongside every other performer from Kitty Critic’s first season at Portland’s SPACE Gallery.

The post Play, Paws, Record appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/play-paws-record/feed/ 0
Maine’s Best New Restaurants http://www.downeast.com/maines-best-new-restaurants/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/maines-best-new-restaurants/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 16:59:40 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18410 Presenting our 31 favorite Maine restaurants to have opened in the last two years. Hope you're hungry.

The post Maine’s Best New Restaurants appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Barbecue. Small plates. Noodle shops. There is so much happening in Maine dining right now that it’s hard to keep up — but we have. Presenting our 31 favorite Maine restaurants to have opened in the last two years. Hope you’re hungry.
Photographs by Adam Detour

 

Sous chef Rose Valentine in the kitchen at 3Crow.

3Crow
Rich Southern food meets (mostly local) craft beer and an expertly curated whiskey selection at Rockland’s 2-year-old 3Crow. Sleek, modern décor and a warm, candlelit atmosphere strike the perfect balance of urban cool and cozy comfort. Best reason to go: Every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, with inspired tacos (think smoked brisket, local cabbage, and grilled corn) for $2.22 each and special prices on tequila drinks.

449 Main St., Rockland. 207-593-0812. 3crow.com

11 Central
This dinner-only spot in downtown Bangor has a menu that’s mildly supper-club-ish — pork chops, grilled swordfish, seafood alfredo — in a contemporary, but unintimidating room that takes advantage of the building’s exposed brick and a rotating crew of featured artists. Best reason to go: The creative pizzas (lobster artichoke, Thai chicken), thoughtful wine list, flowers, and candlelight make for a lovely and rather affordable date night.

11 Central St., Bangor. 207-922-5115. 11centralbangor.com

Slow-roasted pork shoulder crowds a bowl of shoyu ramen at Anju.

Slow-roasted pork shoulder crowds a bowl of shoyu ramen at Anju.

Anju Noodle Bar co-owner Julian Armstrong.

Anju Noodle Bar co-owner Julian Armstrong.

Anju
Co-owners Gary Kim and Julian Armstrong already had a thriving kimchi business under their belts when they opened Anju Noodle Bar, their brick-and-mortar Korean noodle shop serving ramen, pickled Maine tofu, and more. Best reason to go: The impossibly fluffy, house-made pork bun, stuffed with shredded pork, pickled cucumber, hoisin mayo, and red onion.

7 Wallingford Sq., Kittery. 207-703-4298. anjunoodlebar.com

Bao Bao Dumpling House
Rising star Cara Stadler already had a hit on her hands with Tao Yuan in Brunswick, and when she opened this more casual Portland cousin last October, the crowds descended. Who wouldn’t love small plates of mix-and-match dumplings filled with creative innards like kung pau chicken or lamb, black bean chili, and peanut? Best reason to go: Bao Bao is a crazy popular lunch spot, and with a kitchen that’s open until 1 a.m. on summer weekends, it’s giving Boda a run for its money as Portland’s late-night go-to.

133 Spring St., Portland. 207-772-8400

Wash down your Seoul dog and tater tot poutine with a cold Thai ice tea at Portland's Blue Rooster Food Co.

Wash down your Seoul dog and tater tot poutine with a cold Thai ice tea at Portland’s Blue Rooster Food Co.

Blue Rooster Food Co. co-owner Dan McCarthy.

Blue Rooster Food Co. co-owner Dan McCarthy.

Blue Rooster Food Co.
The eccentrically named sandwiches and hot dogs at Blue Rooster Food Co. reside at the delightful intersection of casual feel and gourmet flavor. Case in point: $5 hot dogs come slathered with house-made condiments like sauerkraut and chimichurri. Best reason to go: Unbridled decadence, manifested in dishes like bacon-wrapped hot dogs, delicately fried brussels sprouts, and tater tots smothered in gravy, cheese curds, and bacon.

5 Dana St., Portland. 207-747-4157. blueroosterfoodcompany.com

Bramhall Pub
Billing itself as a “neighborhood place,” Bramhall Pub serves up the kind of hearty eats you’d expect from a low-key bar (beer-braised sausage, bacon-infused burgers) with a few surprises, like prosciutto-wrapped Maine salmon with asparagus and wild rice, or smoked turkey spring rolls with roasted squash and apple cider gastrique. Best reason to go: Unbeatable drink specials — like a shot and a pint for $7 and select bottles for just $2.

767 Congress St., Portland. 207-805-1978.

Read our review, from September 2014.

Read our review, from September 2014.

Central Provisions
This Portland hotspot still draws crowds more than a year after its launch in February 2014 — all thanks to a tailored menu of tasty small plates (categorized as either Raw, Cold, Hot, or Hearty) like crab and waffles, roasted bone marrow, and fried artichoke salad. Best reason to go: The order-as-you-go adventure. Let go of the traditional progression of appetizer, entrée, and dessert — here, dishes arrive as they’re prepared, and diners frequently keep a menu at the table, should another plate pique their interest.

414 Fore St., Portland. 207-805-1085. central-provisions.com

David’s KPT
David’s KPT (the third of four restaurants opened by acclaimed Portland chef David Turin) offers a little bit of everything, from traditional faves like chowder to exotic options like a Catalan seafood-and-bread stew. But the real draw is the knockout view of Kennebunkport Harbor out the giant picture windows. Best reason to go: That up-close harbor view makes any meal — even a casual lunch — feel like a ritzy summer vacation.

21 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport. 207-967-8225. boathouseme.com/dining

Dutch’s
Breakfast and lunch get the all-star treatment at Dutch’s — think egg sandwiches made with tender, from-scratch biscuits and topped with house-made maple sausage, or a chicken salad sandwich featuring feta-brined chicken, olive tapenade, and a touch of sweetness from juicy Asian pear. Best reason to go: The Big D, a hot dog dressed in pimento cheese and whole-grain mustard, encased in a flaky croissant blanket. Otherwise known as an undisputed breakfast of champions.

28 Preble St., Portland. 207-761-2900. dutchsportland.com

Ebb & Flow
As the name suggests, Ebb & Flow is all about the ocean. Mediterranean-inspired dishes include whipped roe, charred octopus, cioppino, seared Maine scallops, and grilled whole branzino. Best reason to go: The crudo bar, where extreme seafood lovers can savor fresh selections of raw fish.

100 Commercial St., Portland. 207-780-0227. ebbandflowme.com

El Rayo Taqueria
El Rayo’s flagship Portland location has been around since 2009, and their expansion to nearby Scarborough last year ensured that even more Mainers can enjoy perfectly priced Mexican standards in a cheery, colorful dining room. Best reason to go: Five-dollar burrito Mondays. El Rayo’s 1-pound burritos come with a choice of seven savory fillings: chicken, steak, carnitas, beans, vegetables, sautéed mushrooms, or grilled fish.

245 Rte. 1., Scarborough. 207-494-1000. elrayotaqueria.com

Elsmere BBQ and Wood Grill
This garage-turned-BBQ joint boasts an impressively varied menu (from grilled pizzas to barbecued oysters to blackened catfish) plus the expected Southern standbys. Best reason to go: Elsmere’s custom-built meat smoker (named “Mama” by the owners) holds 600 pounds of melt-in-your-mouth meat at a time — and it’s claimed to be the only one of its kind north of D.C.

448 Cottage Rd., South Portland. 207-619-1948. elsmerebbq.com

Read our review, from March 2014.

Read our review, from March 2014.

Empire Chinese Kitchen
Opened in late 2013, this casual spot introduced dim sum — traditionally, a Chinese brunch of small plates — to hungry Portlanders. Best reason to go: Lobster dumplings. East Coast meets Far East in these chewy, intensely satisfying steamed pockets, each stuffed with lobster meat, coriander, and fresh bamboo shoots and served with salty soy sauce for dipping.

575 Congress St., Portland. 207-747-5063. portlandempire.com/kitchen

Enio’s Eatery
Simple, elegant Italian dishes rule the day at Enio’s — from sautéed calamari to bowls of house-made cavatelli to wood-grilled lamb and veal. Best reason to go: The intimate atmosphere. With just 36 seats, one dedicated cook, and not much elbow room to speak of, an evening at Enio’s has all the trappings of a repast at a real European café.

347 Cottage Rd., South Portland. 207-799-0207. enioseatery.com

Forks in the Air Mountain Bistro
This contemporary Rangeley outpost proves that you don’t have to stay in Portland for a fresh, show-stopping meal. Best reason to go: A welcome break from the seafood-saturated coast. Spring for comfort food like mac and cheese with Pineland Farms cheddar or grilled pork tenderloin with apricot chutney atop a cheesy, red pepper–studded brioche strata.

Read our review, from November 2014.

Read our review, from November 2014.

2485 Main St., Rangeley. 207-864-2883. forksintheair.com

The Gothic
The fourth restaurant in famed vegetarian chef Matthew Kenney’s empire, The Gothic serves meals that are at once excitingly innovative and comfortingly familiar. Best reason to go: Chef Ryan McKeown makes an art out of veggie cuisine. You’ve never had potatoes, cauliflower, or kale as elegantly prepared and beautifully presented as this.

108 Main St., Belfast. 207-338-4684. matthewkenneycuisine.com

Read our review, from January 2014.

 

Hugo’s
Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley, and Arlin Smith have reinvented the venerable restaurant founded by their mentor, Rob Evans. Dinner is a multi-sensory experience, with most of the seating at a bar overlooking the kitchen, and the small plates of meats, seafood, and veggies arriving with choreographed precision. Best reason to go: The zen atmosphere. The cooks are serene preparing Hugo’s genre-defying cuisine, their soothing rhythm washing across the dining room.

88 Middle St., Portland. 207-774-8538. hugos.net

Read our review, from December 2014.

Read our review, from December 2014.

 

Lolita
The menu at Lolita spans the breadth of Mediterranean culture: Tuscan white bean soup mingles with Moroccan chickpeas and Spanish hams. Guests can order small plates to share or choose more traditional entrée portions for a hearty meal. Best reason to go: The enormous wood-fired grill at the center of the restaurant. It adds warmth to the room and rustic, smoky flavor to Lolita’s artful dishes.

90 Congress St., Portland. 207-775-5652. lolita-portland.com

The Lost Kitchen
Impossibly rustic, intensely local, über-buzzy, with a talented chef whose backstory comes straight out of Joseph Campbell. Erin French was an up-and-comer when she first opened The Lost Kitchen in Belfast in 2011; this reboot is one of Maine’s most intriguing new restaurants. Best reason to go: The farm-to-table ethos is palpable, local produce really shines in every dish, and the renovated grist mill setting is as romantic as they come. For more on Erin French and The Lost Kitchen, including photos, read “Lost in Transition,” our companion feature from our April 2015 issue!

22 Mill St., Freedom. 207-382-3333. thelostkitchen.tumblr.com

Mill 67
Mill 67 delivers laid-back pub food (fish and chips, burgers, cheesy bread, bacon meatloaf) in a newly renovated space that used to be home to a textile mill. Best reason to go: The relaxed atmosphere and stunning décor — exposed brick, soaring ceilings, gigantic windows, and rough wooden accents all pay homage to the building’s past. Eater Maine voted the spot that state’s best-looking restaurant in 2014.

61 Washington St., Sanford. 207-324-6767.

Millbrook Company
After taking over a storied, shuttered drive-in (with a dramatic view of the Bagaduce River), owner Jill Smith nixed nightly dinner service this winter (it’ll be back a couple nights a week after the restaurant’s spring break), but Millbrook is still a brunch must-stop for creative benedicts, hashes, and baked goods. Best reason to go: Blue Hill peninsula-dwellers line up for the sticky buns.

160 Snow’s Cove Rd., Sedgwick. 207-359-8344. millbrookcompany.com

Our April cover dish: Gulf of Maine lobster gnocchi with asparagus from Portland's Outliers Eatery.

Our April cover dish: Gulf of Maine lobster gnocchi with asparagus from Portland’s Outliers Eatery.

Outliers Eatery executive chef Jonathan Dexter.

Outliers Eatery executive chef Jonathan Dexter.

Outliers Eatery
Once home to notoriously rough dive bar Popeye’s Ice House, this Old Port space got a chic reinvention in 2013. Now Outliers Eatery, its ever-changing New American menu — big on locally sourced ingredients like redfish and crispy pig ears — has earned rave reviews ever since. Best reason to go: Creative cocktails that nod to literary greats like Hunter S. Thompson (Rum Diaries, a blend of rum, yellow chartreuse, celery syrup, celery bitters, soda) and Ernest Hemingway (A Well Lit Place, a refreshing mix of light beer, rum, guava, and grapefruit).

231 York St., Portland. 207-747-4166. outlierseatery.com

Read our review, from July 2014.

Read our review, from July 2014.

Piccolo
Central and southern Italian cuisine — heavy on seafood, citrus, and bright spices — form the foundation of the menu at this cozy, 20-seat hideaway. Sip from the all-Italian wine list for added authenticity. Best reason to go: Sunday Supper. Each week, the kitchen cranks out a unique, five-course meal for lucky diners who make the reservation list.

111 Middle St., Portland. 207-747-5307. piccolomaine.com

Salt & Honey
After a successful first year in Dock Square, chef Jackson Yordon has expanded the homey breakfast and lunch spot to include full dinner service. Best reason to go: Simple French toast gets an unexpected burst of summery flavor from sweet, warm peach butter.

24 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport. 207-204-0195. thesaltandhoney.com

Jerusalem artichokes with bacon, watercress, parsley, and grain-mustard-and-lemon vinaigrette at Rockport's Salt Water Farm.

Jerusalem artichokes with bacon, watercress, parsley, and grain-mustard-and-lemon vinaigrette at Rockport’s Salt Water Farm.

Salt Water Farm
Stop in for an unfussy, farm-fresh breakfast, lunch, or dinner at this rustic-yet-elegant midcoast spot. Many of its ingredients come straight from its sister farming operation in nearby Lincolnville. Best reason to go: Outdoor deck seating overlooking the boats and glittering waters of Rockport Harbor — it’s a summer lunchtime favorite of Down East staffers.

24 Central St., Rockport. 207-236-0554. saltwaterfarm.com

Salvage BBQ
Owner Jay Villani and his team traveled all over the American south to learn the ways of authentic barbecue before opening Salvage in the fall of 2013. The result? A simple menu starring slow-cooked brisket, ribs, chicken, and pork with all the traditional fixings. Best reason to go: The down-home dining experience: Order at the counter, sit family-style on long benches, and eat from paper-lined metal trays.

919 Congress St., Portland. 207-553-2100. salvagebbq.com

Slab
Chef Stephen Lanzalotta made his thick Sicilian pizza famous at Miccuci Grocery until a much-publicized falling out in June 2014. With the opening of Slab, his solo venture, Portlanders can once again get their cheesy, chewy fix. Best reason to go: The Slab, of course — and, if you’ve got room to spare, try a funky dessert, like an “ice cream” sandwich with ricotta semifreddo between two sweet macaroons.

25 Preble St. Ext., Portland. 207-245-3088. slabportland.com

Sur Lie
Portland’s renaissance of shareable small-plate restaurants continues with Sur Lie, where dishes are separated into three intriguing tiers: Crisp (endive salad, minty sweet pea hummus), Pleasant (cream of white beans), and Bold (BBQ mushrooms and shrimp-topped garlic bread). Best reason to go: Addictive bites like baked-then-fried peewee potatoes, served with cool aioli and a punchy, umami sprinkling of seaweed dust.

11 Free St., Portland. 207-956-7350. sur-lie.com

Timber
Attention, Portland-area carnivores: Timber offers an astounding selection of locally sourced, 100 percent grass-fed angus beef, plus whole and half chickens cooked on-site in a giant rotisserie oven. Best reason to go: Three words: batter fried bacon. It’s decadent, to be sure, but with a drizzle of Maine maple syrup, we’re tempted to file it under “a few bites won’t kill you” and just enjoy.

106 Exchange St., Portland. 207-805-1469. timberportland.com

Van Lloyd’s Bistro
This father–son–daughter-in-law operation embraces a from-scratch philosophy and global influences: the daily house-made sausage might be Italian; the house-made pasta could appear in an Indian-influenced tikka lasagna (with house-made ricotta). A cozy, unexpected find on the Damariscotta waterfront. Best reason to go: No predicting what’s going to pop up on this eclectic menu — feral boar ribs, anyone?

85 Parking Lot Ln. (behind Main St.), Damariscotta. 207-563-5005. vanlloydsbistro.com

Read our review, from March 2015.

Read our review, from March 2015.

Vinland
Vinland takes the locavore movement to its pinnacle: it claims to be the country’s first restaurant to serve 100 percent local and organic food. Every last ingredient on the menu is sourced from the state of Maine. Best reason to go: The Tasting Menu. It’s a splurge at $90 per person, but it’s an unforgettable, eight-course study in the bounty of Maine-grown food.

593 Congress St., Portland. 207-653-8617. vinland.me

 
 
 
 
 

Plus 10 to Watch in 2015

Now that you’re hungry, a few of this year’s highly anticipated restaurant openings.

Comida
This month, Comida uproots from its original Camden location and relocates to downtown Rockland, where the menu will depart from Mexican classics to include more Spanish cuisine, plus a full selection of Latin-inspired craft cocktails and Spanish and South American wines.
421 Main St., Rockland. 207-230-7367. comidarestaurant.com

East Ender
In March, Karl Deuben and Bill Leavy of the much-loved Small Axe Food Truck took over this pubby room, which always felt more like a neighborhood joint than a destination restaurant (for better or for worse).

47 Middle St., Portland. 207-879-7669. eastenderportland.com

The Honey Paw
The team behind Portland’s Eventide Oyster Company and Hugo’s adds a third venture with this “nondenominational noodle shop,” opened in March.

78 Middle St., Portland.

Isa Bistro
NYC restaurant vets (and husband and wife) Isaul Perez and Suzie St. Pierre opened this cozy Bayside bistro in February, offering an eclectic, seasonal array of plates.

79 Portland St., Portland. 207-808-8533. isaportlandme.com

M.C. Union
Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, proprietors of M.C. Perkins Cove and Boston’s Italian-inspired M.C. Spiedo, forge ahead with M.C. Union at the Portland Press Hotel, a boutique hotel in the renovated Press Herald building, set to open in April.

119 Exchange St., Portland. 800-971-2000. thepresshotel.com

Pig + Poet
Top Chef finalist (and one of People’s “sexiest men alive”) Sam Talbot will prepare signature pork dishes and reinvent Maine classics like fish chowder at the Whitehall Inn, old haunt of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

52 High St., Camden. 207-236-3391. whitehallmaine.com

Sam Hayward and Dana Street’s New Venture
There’s much buzz about the Fore Street team’s plans for a (yet unnamed) seafood restaurant on Portland’s waterfront. Details remain elusive — which, of course, creates more buzz.

68-72 Commercial St., Portland.

Tempo Dulu
Opening in late April in the Danforth Inn, this Portland spot promises intriguing cuisine — Dutch-influenced Indonesian food — in a classic, fine-dining atmosphere.

163 Danforth St., Portland. 207-879-8755. danforthinn.com

Tiqa
Tiqa opened in January with an enticing “pan-Mediterranean” menu — everything from falafel and hummus to Spanish paella with Maine lobster.

327 Commercial St., Portland. 207-808-8840. tiqapm.com

The Velveteen Habit
Any restaurant launching in the farmhouse once occupied by Ogunquit’s beloved Arrows will have big shoes to fill. All reports indicate that owner Benjamin Goldman, who’s planning a “farm-style” menu supplemented by the onsite garden, will be up for the task. It’s slated to open this month.

37 Ogunquit Rd., Cape Neddick. 207-216-9884. thevelveteenhabit.com

 

Did your favorite make our list? If there’s a restaurant you love that’s opened in the last two years and that you feel we’ve slighted, tell us about it in the comments!

 

The post Maine’s Best New Restaurants appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/maines-best-new-restaurants/feed/ 1
God bless the USA! http://www.downeast.com/god-bless-usa/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/god-bless-usa/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:42:57 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18447 Proud to be an American and proud to have grown up in Alfred Maine. Taken by Heidi Reed

The post God bless the USA! appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Proud to be an American and proud to have grown up in Alfred Maine.

Taken by Heidi Reed

The post God bless the USA! appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/god-bless-usa/feed/ 0
Farewell to winter on Cousins Island http://www.downeast.com/farewell-winter-cousins-island/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/farewell-winter-cousins-island/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:41:44 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18450 Labrador Kip enjoying one of the last remaining icebergs on Cousins Island. Yarmouth, ME / March 2015

The post Farewell to winter on Cousins Island appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Labrador Kip enjoying one of the last remaining icebergs on Cousins Island. Yarmouth, ME / March 2015

The post Farewell to winter on Cousins Island appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/farewell-winter-cousins-island/feed/ 1
Ancient Trade http://www.downeast.com/ancient-trade/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/ancient-trade/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:39:52 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18443 Waterboro in fall Taken by Heidi Reed

The post Ancient Trade appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Waterboro in fall

Taken by Heidi Reed

The post Ancient Trade appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/ancient-trade/feed/ 0
Tractors http://www.downeast.com/tractors/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/tractors/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:39:16 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18445 Antique pull in Alfred Maine Taken by Heidi Reed

The post Tractors appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Antique pull in Alfred Maine

Taken by Heidi Reed

The post Tractors appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/tractors/feed/ 0
Beauty in the backwoods of Maine http://www.downeast.com/beauty-backwoodsof-maine/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/beauty-backwoodsof-maine/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:36:28 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18441 View from Daiecy Pond campground in Baxter State Park Heidi Reed

The post Beauty in the backwoods of Maine appeared first on Down East.

]]>
View from Daiecy Pond campground in Baxter State Park

Heidi Reed

The post Beauty in the backwoods of Maine appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/beauty-backwoodsof-maine/feed/ 0
Christmas Cove http://www.downeast.com/christmas-cove-2/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/christmas-cove-2/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:35:05 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18452 Beautiful day at a very scenic harbor.

The post Christmas Cove appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Beautiful day at a very scenic harbor.

The post Christmas Cove appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/christmas-cove-2/feed/ 0
summertime fun. http://www.downeast.com/summertime-fun/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/summertime-fun/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:34:02 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18437 Bubbles,balloons, Harpswell Maine Taken by Heidi Reed

The post summertime fun. appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Bubbles,balloons, Harpswell Maine
Taken by Heidi Reed

The post summertime fun. appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/summertime-fun/feed/ 0
5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Portland Sea Dogs http://www.downeast.com/5-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-portland-sea-dogs/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/5-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-portland-sea-dogs/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 13:45:37 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18520 As we gear up for baseball season, a few pieces of left-field Sea Dog trivia.

The post 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Portland Sea Dogs appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Portland’s minor league baseball team is coming off its best win-loss record in the team’s 22 years. The Sea Dogs won their Eastern League East Division in 2014, and Baseball America, the biweekly bible of baseball geekery, picked them from 120 teams as the Minor League Team of the Year. As we gear up for this season’s first pitch, we toss out a few pieces of left-field Sea Dog trivia.
Portland Pilots, 1947 — Portland Press Herald Still Film Negative Collection, Portland Public Library Archives.

Portland Pilots, 1947. Photo courtesy of Portland Press Herald Still Film Negative Collection, Portland Public Library Archives.

1. Minor league baseball teams in Portland went through multiple franchises before the Sea Dogs arrived in 1994. Their team names, ranked in ascending order of weirdness: Pilots, Gulls, Eskimos, Duffs, Hustlers.

 

Kathie Lee

Kathie Lee in 1994. Photo by Jim Ellwanger via Flickr.

2. On opening day of the Sea Dogs’ inaugural season in 1994, Kathie Lee Gifford sang the national anthem.

 

Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon. Photo courtesy of the Portland Sea Dogs.

Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon. Photo courtesy of the Portland Sea Dogs.

3. The Sea Dogs’ current manager, Billy McMillon, is the team’s first manager to have also been a player. McMillon played for the Sea Dogs in 1995 and last year was named the Eastern League Manager of the Year.

 

Images courtesy of Portland Sea Dogs and modified (character trimmed) from Karen Green via Flickr.

Images courtesy of Portland Sea Dogs and modified (character trimmed) from Karen Green via Flickr.

4. Although he has a rather dog-like face (and the costumed version walks on two legs), Sea Dog mascot Slugger is a harbor seal, designed by the same cartoonist who draws the venerable Nancy comic strip.

 

Slugger. Photo by Eric Kilby via Flickr.

Slugger. Photo by Eric Kilby via Flickr.

5. Last year, Slugger walked 114 miles from Boston to Portland, raising $15,500 to fight Tourette Syndrome, chronicling the journey on his Facebook page. Also, Slugger has a Facebook page.

 
Featured image of Slugger by Eric Kilby via Flickr.

The post 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Portland Sea Dogs appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/5-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-portland-sea-dogs/feed/ 0 Slugger. Photo by Eric Kilby via Flickr.Slugger. Photo by Eric Kilby via Flickr.Slugger. Photo by Eric Kilby via Flickr.
Photo Gallery: State of the State 3 http://www.downeast.com/photo-gallery-state-of-the-state-3/?utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=flipboard_rss&utm_campaign=down+east http://www.downeast.com/photo-gallery-state-of-the-state-3/#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 01:13:22 +0000 http://www.downeast.com/?p=18368 Down East was proud to sponsor the State of the State 3 concert, showcasing the best of the Maine music scene.

The post Photo Gallery: State of the State 3 appeared first on Down East.

]]>
Down East was proud to sponsor the State of the State 3 concert on March 21, showcasing the best of the Maine music scene at One Longfellow Square and the State Theatre in Portland. A full day of concerts in every genre included knockout performances from Denny Breau, Tumbling Bones, Tricky Britches, David Mallett, Tall Horse, When Particles Collide, Crusoe, Spencer Albee, and 6gig. Rapper Spose put in an appearance at the end of the night, and the incredible Maine Youth Rock Orchestra got on stage with every single performer all day and night long. Check out a photo gallery of some of our favorite moments, and thanks to Katalyst for orchestrating a great event. David Mallett fields questions during a songwriters' roundtable. Tumbling Bones Tricky Britches Nick Poulin of Tall Horse sings a cover of Maine country legend Dick Curless's "Bury the Bottle With Me" The Maine Youth Rock Orchestra with Spencer Albee David Mallett The Maine Youth Rock Orchestra with Tall Horse Crusoe The Maine Youth Rock Orchestra with When Particles Collide When Particles Collide Spencer Albee The Maine Youth Rock Orchestra delivered amazing performances all day and night. Spencer Albee David Mallett and Denny Breau kept things loose during their songwriters' roundtable. When Particles Collide SOTS master of ceremony Hollly Nunan, backstage with Samuel James

The post Photo Gallery: State of the State 3 appeared first on Down East.

]]>
http://www.downeast.com/photo-gallery-state-of-the-state-3/feed/ 0