This post from Back Road Journal says it all – Maine, The Way Summer Should Be
You can’t say I didn’t warn you about the forthcoming barrage of salad and other veggie-heavy recipes. My cousin Cathy has made a stawberry and spinach salad for years – it’s consistently served when we have dinner at her house – and I’ve always loved it, yet never made one myself. When I came across this recipe in Maine Home Cooking, I couldn’t resist. It can be found under Fresh and Seasonal, page 220.
- 4 to 8 ounces of spinach
- 1/2 large red onion, or to taste
- 1 cup (or less) strawberries
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon red wine, malt, or balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the big stems from the largest spinach leaves and shred the spinach into a bowl. Chop the onion finely and toss into the bowl with the spinach. Slice the strawberries and add them to the spinach to suit your taste. Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and olive oil, and sample the dressing by dipping a spinach leaf into it, then add salt and pepper to taste. Dress the salad lightly just before serving.
While this recipe sounded great with no additions, I made two adjustments. First, I added goat cheese. I had a feeling that it would become a deliciously creamy addition to the vinaigrette, and it did. Second, on Nick’s serving, I added cooked and chopped chicken, so he’d have a bit more protein to bulk up the meal.
We both loved this salad – it was every bit as tasty as I’d hoped, and we’re adding it to our meal plan on a regular basis.
Today, I’m following up my post on Blacksmiths Winery with a post about craft beer and a great opportunity to enjoy it, and the great city of Portland, this weekend at The Festival. Brought to you by the Shelton Brothers, The Festival features three tasting sessions with brews and brewers from all over the world. What makes this festival different (and worth the ticket price) is that it focuses on showcasing small, craft brewers and cideries from all over the world – and the people who make them will actually be there to meet you and talk with you. In addition, session attendance is limited to no more than 1,200 people per session, so you’re less crowded and the brewers have more time to talk with you.
The sessions begin tomorrow, June 21st, with Session 1 running from 6:30pm – 10:30pm, and Sessions 2 and 3 on Saturday, June 22nd, from 1pm – 5pm and 6:30pm – 10:30pm, respectively. The event is being held at the Portland Yacht Services Building, 58 Fore St., Portland, Maine. Among the brewers participating, there are several local businesses: Maine Beer Co, Maine Mead Works, Allagash (a personal favorite!), Oxbow, Rising Tide, Bull Jagger, and Marshall Wharf.
Food vendors include The Thirsty Pig (a favorite of my mom’s – and eventually, a topic on this blog), Bite Into Maine, Pizza Pie on the Fly, Hella Good Tacos, Binga’s Wingas, and Small Axe.
I only wish I had known about this event sooner! Keeping track of it for next year (even if it’s not in Maine)!
It appears that Saturday afternoon’s Session 2 is sold out… but follow the link below for tickets to Session 1 and 3:
Over the last decade, the popularity of wine has grown rapidly throughout the US. A well-loved beverage throughout human history, wine does carry an intimidation factor – those who don’t know much about it have simply avoided it in the past – rather than being forced to discuss flavors of pear and citrus, or smoke and plums, with their wine-wise friends. From my perspective, one of the benefits local wineries and vineyards offer to those formerly intimidated by the world of wine is an accessible, relaxed atmosphere in which to try it and learn about it.
Maine has not been immune to the wine fervor, with vineyards and wineries popping up around the state. I hope to visit more of them in the future, but this post is all about Blacksmiths Winery and my experiences there at wine tastings. It’s no secret that Nick and I enjoy a good glass of wine, and my mom actually introduced us to Blacksmiths on Nick’s first trip to Maine with me more than four years ago. Nick knows much more about wine than I do, and he is the person who taught me most of what I know.
Our first venture into Blacksmiths was a great experience. Located in South Casco, Maine, we headed there from my parents’ home on Sebago Lake to pick up some wine for Thanksgiving dinner (and of course, enjoy a tasting!). The tasting room space is charming and rustic – the decor very fitting for a New England winery – and includes a gift shop space with wine-themed items for purchase.
From the colonial exterior to the comfortable, warm ambience inside, I enjoyed everything about my first, second, and ongoing experiences at Blacksmiths Winery. This is a great spot to stop for a bachelorette party, girls’ (or guys’) night out, a family visit (they have soda for the under 21s), and more.
Their beverage list is quite extensive and has grown in recent years. On my first visit, they offered soda and wine, but most recently, I saw that they are also offering hard ciders under the brand Fatty Bampkins. So far, I’ve stuck with the wines, and primarily the French varietals at that, but I think next time I’ll give the ciders a whirl. Of the wines I’ve tried, the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are my favorites. They make a big, flavorful Cab, with a strong smoky taste – really perfect for a steak or roast.
As ice wines go, I thought their Vidal Ice Wine was outstanding. I prefer dry wines over sweet, but with this dessert wine, you don’t even need the dessert itself. It’s that good!
I hope you’ll make time to visit Blacksmiths on your next visit to that part of Maine – I can assure you won’t regret it. They also offer shipping to 19 states (see list here) and use vinoshipper.com. They ship to NC, so I do see a purchase in my near future!
Blacksmiths Winery Contact Information & Address:
967 Quaker Ridge Road
P.O. Box 86
South Casco, ME 04077
Brace yourselves for an onslaught of salad recipes! There is something about these early days of summer that makes me crave a crisp, refreshing salad (and it has nothing to do with the beginning of bathing suit season). Frankly, I should be eating more salad and other leafy greens year round, but my own early-summer cravings, in addition to my husband’s request that we eat a bit lighter (hmm, do you think I make too much pasta?), led me to peruse my Maine cookbooks in search of some delicious, exciting salad recipes. They didn’t disappoint.
If you’re thinking, ‘a Mediterranean Chicken Salad recipe from Maine? Yeah right,’ you do have a point. I pulled this recipe from my Maine Home Cooking cookbook, under the Modern Maine Cooking section. In an introductory paragraph, Sandra Oliver acknowledges that many of the recipes in that section are a reflection of outside influences, both international and national. Maine home cooks, like cooks elsewhere, want to experiment at home with the recipes they’re able to try at restaurants. The following recipe serves 3 to 4 people.
- a whole chicken (cooked), breasts and a thigh
- 1 big fistful of green beans
- 2 tablespoons capers
- a dozen black olives, pitted and chopped
- handful of cherry tomatoes (optional)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- dried oregano
- finely minced parsley
- salt and pepper, to taste
- washed and torn lettuce or baby greens
Because Nick and I certainly don’t need to consume an entire chicken between us (and I’m not a big fan of salad leftovers – in my opinion, the greens just don’t keep well), I poached a couple of chicken breasts in a broth with onion, several peppercorns, and some white wine. After it was cooked, I shredded it for use in the salad. I also think a rotisserie chicken would be a delicious and speedy answer for cooks who would rather not undertake cooking the chicken themselves.
Pull the meat from the bones, cut into bite-size pieces, and put them into a bowl. Snap the beans and blanch them in hot water or cook until tender – your choice (I simmered mine until they were slightly tender, but retained a little bit of crunch). Add them to the chicken. Sprinkle capers on to taste, add the olives, slice the tomatoes in half (if you wish), and add them. In a small jar, shake the olive oil and lemon juice together and dribble over the salad to taste. Sprinkle on some dry oregano, parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste. Let rest at room temperature. Serve the salad on the lettuce or greens.
This salad was every bit as good as I imagined it would be when reading the recipe. Personally, I love the caper and lemon flavors, and with the addition of chicken, it was a light but filling meal that really hit the spot. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
In lieu of a post today, I want to direct you to a Portland Press Herald article I read and enjoyed this morning. Written by Meredith Goad, Staff Writer, this piece, with the headline “Portland’s hardest-working chef piles more on his plate,” is all about Harding Lee Smith, owner of the popular “Room” restaurants. Personally, I very much appreciated Goad’s balanced approach to telling Smith’s story – covering not only how his upbringing and youthful experiences contributed to his current and future success, but also the ways in which the negative press has dogged him at times. I would say his success speaks for itself, and I wish him all the best with this new endeavor.
I hope you enjoy this article as well, and I know I’ll certainly be visiting one of Smith’s restaurants during my next trip to Maine!
Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org