These are two of the great businesses in the Boothbay Harbor region that simply took me by storm. If you want the true taste and feel of another 'Downeast' Maine, these are but two of your must-visits for food, surrounded by the salty, yet sweet, smell of the Atlantic.
I was invited to the Boothbay Harbor Fest this year, again, and I instantly felt a fondness for the community, in particular the restaurants and shops that cater to foodies. And after treading the paths of the fishermen of old, I had the distinct opportunity of sampling dozens of dishes specifically prepared by these chefs and shop owners for the Fest, as well as having 'sit-downs' with those who owned and managed these great establishments.
One of these outstanding places was The Fisherman's Wharf. This was the first offering of Maine coastal cuisine I sampled and as the Flagship Inn accomplished, it set the pace and bar for everyone to follow.
I was instantly at ease and felt a comradery simply because of what they offered. I sat down to try a trio of Yankee mainstays. Blueberry Crisp, Apple Crisp and Spiced Indian Pudding.
All these delectable New England desserts truly were as authentic as they should have been and were obviously prepared with the heart and soul of a Mainah'. I don't know if Chef Keith Stafford is a native Yankee, but he certainly cooked with our Yankee flair and pride.
What I enjoyed mostly, though, was the Indian Pudding. Although Indian Pudding is generally reminiscent of a light bread pudding in texture, this offering was much more creamy and perfectly spiced, creating a rather super, satisfactory alternative. For those of you who have never enjoyed this centuries old pudding, this would be a great starting point to acclimate yourself to the true flavors of New England.
I had the opportunity to have stayed at this Inn/Restaurant last year during my stay and if there was another place on the water that had this kind of scenic view of the entire inlet, I didn't see it. Most restaurants and taverns have their decks for outdoor dining out back but the Fisherman's Wharf has one out front as well. You are instantly greeted by live music that is not too loud or of a disturbing tone. It makes you want to skip your way in to register to be honest. And once you are past the music and tables, you are constantly greeted by, what I see, as the most positive asset of Boothbay Harbor, which is friendliness, hospitality and a genuine kinship. They are located smack dab in the middle of everything you need for a fun-filled vacation or a simple stroll. Folks, you gotta check this place out.
My next article deals with a shop downtown that really does go head to head with every restaurant found downtown. Eventide Epicurean Specialties.
As many of you already know, I was one-upped by a lady who reminded me of a housewife, on a farm somewhere, who was cooking for her family. And I say that with reverence and a genuine connection with her.
When I first walked into Eventide, it was obvious the the patrons were there for the smell as much as for the huge array of domestic and international olive oils. In order to abstain from writing page upon page of glowing remarks for this little shop of goodness and list everything they have, it would be much easier to tell you what they don't have............................Well, I'll have to get back to you later about that, I can't think of anything right now.
Back to the one-upped show. I had the BEST Gazpacho I have had the pleasure of tasting. And YES, it was better than mine. I tasted this red, chunky and freshly fragrant soup and I had all I could do not to let on how good it was, or rather how much better it was than mine. Instantly gratifying with that sweet tinge of cucumber immediately passing my nose before even taking a mouthful. The taste of green peppers swam alongside fresh tomatoes and I was, I am sure, spraying soup as I was telling Kim Martin just how good it was. Kim, the owner, also makes Artisan breads if you want to sop up this soup, and I assure you, that will be a prerequisite after ordering.
Now to chose which bread to buy, you are in for another treat. She is constantly baking Italian and French Breads, baguettes, ciabattas and focaccias as well as daily specials. These include Challah, Cinnamon Raisin and a vast array of Old World Style selections.
If you are in the market for cheese, she has you covered as well. Keeping a selection of about 160 different kinds of cheeses from around the world will have you scratching your head trying to decide. I will tell you what I walked away with though. Now I adore American made cheeses, but there is nothing quite like English Cheddar, i.e. Cave-aged and Montgomery to name just two. And she has them!
After spending your first hour there pouring over her selection of the above stock, now you will notice that you truly can't go home without something to tempt the kids(and even yourself for that matter). From her original Scrumpies(a robust blend of fruits and nuts baked as a cookie) to cakes and pastries, these coincide perfectly with a bottle of wine(of course she carries that as well) and great ideas for a gift basket or two.
So after spending my way around all four corners of this specialty store, I am not only enjoying the best that Boothbay Harbor offers on an international scale, I have just begun my Christmas shopping..........begrudgingly that is.
I know this may sound like a plug, advertisement or a paid review, but I honestly am not writing this rave for any other reason but because Kim and her staff not only catered to me, but to every single customer that entered. She had no problem telling me "Hold on!" as she dealt with another customer. And that is exactly what I look for in a business. I am no better than the next person in line and although I have a gift of gab, every once in a while I need someone to tell me to be quiet, there's more people to wait on.
So to answer the question of what she doesn't have......I am still working on it. And by the way, Eventide Epicurean Specialties is open year round. So what's your excuse?