Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Skiing Saddleback

This is just a brief post to highlight the special qualities of Saddleback mountain, a ski resort in Rangeley, Maine.  Many of you may now have heard or read about the financing challenges facing Saddleback’s owners in order to replace the Rangeley Double Chair – a $3 million investment that, if not possible within the next week or two, will mean the mountain will not operate for the ski season this year.

While I completely concur with the ownership’s decision to replace this 51-year-old lift, I have fond memories of that slow, cold, creaky ride up the mountain.  On particularly frigid days, you’d practically need another visit in the lodge to warm up after just one ride up the Rangeley Double Chair.  It allowed ample time for conversation with whomever you were on the lift with (hopefully a friend, given the duration), or time for reflection if alone.

The long-tenured Rangeley Double Chair is representative of the authenticity that has charmed Saddleback’s patrons over the years, and I was saddened to see the headlines about the resort’s potential closure.  I sincerely hope the financing needed is secured, enabling the mountain to operate this winter.  Saddleback is unique among Maine ski resorts in its sense of community and family-friendly environment – it fills a special niche that made it a favorite destination for my family and many others.

In case you haven’t seen them, below are a few news articles about this announcement:

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/07/20/saddleback-maine-wont-reopen-unless-it-gets-3-million-financing/

http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/wireStory/maines-popular-saddleback-ski-resort-season-jeopardy-32581099

http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/on-the-town/article.html/content/news/articles/ap/2015/07/20/Maine_s_popular_Saddleback_ski_resort_season_in_jeopardy.html

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Hot Doggin’ with Snappy’s Tube Steaks

A unique new hot dog ‘truckster’ has hit the Portland, Maine food scene.  Already vibrant, this business brings its own snappy personality to the growing number of food trucks and carts providing speedy and delicious food to locals and tourists alike. This is the hot dog cart to visit for dogs with a Maine flair and specialty toppings, featuring creative names like ‘The Salty Dog,’ ‘The Grange,’ and ‘Born to Brie Wild.’

Snappy manning the cart!

Snappy manning the cart!

Owned and operated by Ed Shevenell and Kari Williams, Snappy’s Tube Steaks stands out in its appearance, too.  The cart is a 1961 Cushman Truckster with a hot dog vending unit mounted on it. Ed has never been one to settle for standard when unconventional is possible, and Kari has long recognized the value of a strong brand, which Snappy’s is focused on building.

But the real highlight is all about the flavor. Drawing on their years of experience in the culinary industry, including time at some of Maine’s most renowned resort destinations such as Sugarloaf, Migis Lodge, and the Black Point Inn, Ed and Kari have created clever topping combinations that take your standard red snapper or all beef hot dog and deliver an entirely new and unique experience.  I’ve never had a hot dog quite like these. Take the “Don’t You Forget a Banh Mi” dog, for example – my choice largely for the addition of jalapenos – which features a special Banh Mi slaw, hoison mayo, and lime juice. I honestly could have eaten the topping all by itself – it was that good. In combination with the Pearl casing all beef hot dog, a smooth base for the tart and tangy flavors of the slaw, it was truly outstanding.

Simply stupendous 'Don't You Forget a Banh Mi' dog

Simply stupendous ‘Don’t You Forget a Banh Mi’ dog

Similarly, many people love the Salty Dog, which features savory sauerkraut, and the just launched ‘Born to Brie Wild,’ which I plan to try as soon as possible.  Snappy’s offers the Pearl casing, all beef hot dog I mentioned as well as the classically, fantastically Maine red hot dog.  Frankly, if you’re Maine-raised like me, you probably have fond memories of biting into many a red snapper at family cookouts, at fairs and festivals, and for dinner when Mom was away and Dad manned the grill.  A red snapper from the aptly-named Snappy’s will deliver a wave of flavorful nostalgia for you.  Stay tuned for a forthcoming blog post all about the history of the red hot dog.  It’s fascinating and not to be missed.

Most days, Ed, Kari, and the Snappy’s Tube Steaks truckster can be found on the Eastern Promenade in Portland from approximately 11am – 5pm. In addition to a stunning ocean view, this spot offers open space, a playground, and picnic tables, making Snappy’s a perfect lunch out with the kiddos.

Picture perfect setting for a classic hot dog delight!

Picture perfect setting for a classic hot dog delight!

In addition to the daily gig, Snappy’s is available for special events and can often be found at a craft brewery or festival over the weekend days. Keep your eyes peeled for your opportunity to experience tube steaks like never before!

Find them on Facebook or follow them @snappysmaine on twitter!


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Best Baking: Two Fat Cats Bakery

Bakeries abound in the bustling foodie city of Portland, Maine, sending tempting sweet and savory smells out into the street air to mingle with pedestrians and lure them in. I’ve had the very good fortune to visit a few of them recently, including Bam Bam Bakery, Holy Donut, and Big Sky Bread Company, while others include Rosemont Market, Foley’s Cakes, and more. While I found Bam Bam’s treats delightful, and Big Sky warm and welcoming with a gratifying approachability, my visit to Two Fat Cats just the other day was completely charming.

We ducked in briefly to wrangle some pastries and desserts for a brunch at my aunt’s home, but the few minutes we spent inside (not to mention the treats we enjoyed later) were sufficient to win me over. The space inside for customers is small, as if to say, “our focus is baking, after all,” and I found this very appealing.  This isn’t a place you go to take advantage of free wifi – it’s a place you go for excellent baked goods.

We were greeted by the sight of  a tall rack stacked with cooling pies.  Pretty, picture-perfect pies.  I couldn’t resist a little on-the-spot photography:

Oh yum...

Oh yum…

After descending a small set of stairs, we moved to the glass counter to make our selections, which showcased frosted cookies, fluffy scones, tidy turnovers, and other delights, and ended up with a colorful assortment:

Delicious!

Delicious!

I specifically chose two blueberry scones because they looked so good, but I’ll be honest, I was prepared for disappointment.  I’ve been excited about scones far too frequently only to be let down by dry, crumbling, flavorless bites.  I am so happy to report that Two Fat Cats’ scones are an outstanding exception.

Hands down, this is the best scone I’ve ever eaten.  Just moist enough, with a little drizzle of icing, it was spectacular.  Between the atmosphere and the product, I was and am completely sold on this bakery.  While I can’t speak for the other goodies personally, I can say the frosted sugar cookies were a big hit with my kiddie cousins, and my aunt couldn’t keep herself away from the peanut butter cookies, so I’d rank it a success all around.

If you are in the greater Portland area, this is a must-visit for any bakery needs!

Two Fat Cats Bakery
47 India Street
Portland, Maine 04101
207-347-5144


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Clam It Up in Yarmouth

Oh boy!! Next weekend brings to you my very favorite Maine summer event, the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Kicking off on Friday, July 17th, the Festival ushers in three days of fun and food, great for all ages.

I may actually squeeze in a visit this year (which is VERY exciting), before a big 50th anniversary celebration for my aunt and uncle at the beautiful Black Point Inn. In case I don’t, let me reminisce and share a few and recommendations now:

The arts and crafts show still stands as one of the best I’ve attended. Rows of original artwork and quality home craftsmanship stretch across the North Yarmouth Academy Lawn and are well-worth a visit, Friday and Saturday 10am – 9pm and Sunday 10am – 5pm.

Ladies, I’m thinking of you when I recommend the Firefighters’ Muster (wink), held on Saturday from 1pm – 330pm on Main Street at Memorial Green.

Naturally, there’s an impressive and varied selection of clams, other fried foods, and I imagine somewhere in the mix, something ‘healthy.’

There are road races, fun runs, live music, cooking demonstrations, carnival rides, and much more. Bring the sunscreen, family, and friends and be ready for a great time!