Monday, September 11, 2006

The Maine Event

Yet another computer melt-down (HP, now is the time to offer me a free machine in exchange for some shameless grassroots promotion) is responsible for some of my recent silence, though the rest can be attributed to a week spent on vacation in the great state of Maine.

And what a week it was! If my inability to comfortably button the top button of my new tight jeans is any indication, I ate pretty well. It was all in the interest of research, which is why I happily wolfed down whoopee, chocolate cream, blueberry and rhubarb pies, local hard-shell lobster (including the 4 pounder my friend Julia bought and then had to hammer apart on the front stoop) and Glidden Point oysters, in addition to a few fried fish sandwiches, some fine cheeses, enough bottles of wine that I was embarrassed to bring the empties to the redemption center and a couple of squares of seaside-town produced fudge.

Here in San Francisco, good food isn’t particularly hard-won. Bay Area natives seem to consider pristine produce, excellent wine and local fish a birthright. This is, generally speaking, a good thing, to have so many nice people interested in good eating. But sometimes it can get a little tiresome. It can make you think, “Is there anything new under the sun?” Any good eater worth their San Fran salt knows about Chez Panisse and Marin Sun Farms, Frog Hollow peaches and Straus cream.

So it’s exciting to go to Maine, where folks aren’t making such a hoopla. In understated New England fashion, they are just doing their thing. At Primo, in Rockland, they are feeding their guests with food grown about 20 steps from the kitchen door, and raising piglets that are plate-bound. At Morse’s Sauerkraut, in North Waldoboro, they keep right on making sauerkraut and pickles and bockwurst, just as they have since 1918, and it’s no big thing. The Glidden Point oyster vendor at the Boothbay Farmer’s Market tells me that her kids eat the oysters—who wouldn’t like something so sweet and tender? And across the green from her stand, the “Maine-ly” Poultry man keeps a cooler of chicken pies, rabbits and whole roasters. He doesn’t bother to boast and brag that they’re organic, or that they have access to the great outdoors. How else would you raise a chicken? Drive by the farm in Warren and you can see them scratching around the yard.

After living here, I wondered if I could ever be satisfied, culinarily speaking, with the East Coast. Now I’ve no doubt. Sure, there are months when your freshest vegetable is likely to be a rutabaga. But the seasons balance one another out, and the abundance I experienced last week made me think that it’s a rich region only growing richer.

Want to read more?
For Morse’s, visit
For Glidden Point Oysters, check out
For Primo,