More Maine

Lest you think Maine is all about the coast and islands and boating, come with me a few miles inland. Very quickly it becomes rural making you think you are in a different place.

Town lines are far apart as are houses in the scarcely populated areas.

Along the road, cattle laze in the fields

and horses stare out to see what is interrupting the quiet.

Farm equipment suggests a way of making a living that is quite different than that on the coast.

With fall closing in, there is evidence of gathering for winter

and wagons are stacked high with hay that will keep livestock fed when grass is covered with snow.

Barns are as common as houses in the countryside.

Sometimes when I’m taking pictures, a curious neighbor comes out to chat which is a great way to learn about an area.  Folks like to tell what they know as happened with this barn.  It was built in the mid 1800’s by a gentleman who then owned thousands of acres that were farmed and provided timber.  Over the years, heirs lost interest in working the land and sold off the property bit by bit.The barn fell into disrepair until a few years ago someone who respected its architecture bought and restored it.  These days it’s used for nothing but storage, but the owner keeps it in pristine condition which is probably what caught my eye.

Another characteristic of these rural areas are general stores.  Keep in mind that Maine is made up of many small towns and grocery stores are few and far between.  

The general store provides basic necessities and serves as a gathering place for locals to meet and share what’s going on.  In some cases, it serves as the post office and an offsite bank.

It’s not surprising to find the general store is also the local eatery.

and I’m telling you there are some pretty good vittles there.

Yep, Maine has lots to offer if one takes the time to explore.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

 

 

 

Not Your Ordinary Winery

When you think Maine, it’s not likely you think wine much less a Napa/Sonoma style winery.

Well, let’s change that by visiting Cellardoor which these days is producing award winning wines.

The setting is pure Maine, rolling hills and beautiful vistas.

There are grapes growing in the vineyard, but they are mostly to convey authenticity  as most of the wines are made from grapes brought in from California and New York.

Production, however,  is on site in a very modern facility where barrels are stacked high for the aging process.

Cellardoor is located in Lincolnville, a few miles from Camden, and it’s a great place for visitors to experience.

After a tasting, the grounds are perfect for sitting in the sun to enjoy a favorite wine and a cheese plate or sandwich. 

Aside from producing wine,  Cellardoor hosts cooking classes by chefs well known in the area as well as special dinners throughout the year.

VinfestAs if that’s not enough some of the most fun events in the area are held in the vineyard.  You can count on incredible settings, great food and surprising entertainment.  When tickets go on sale, they are gone in a matter of minutes!

VinfestWe’ve been entertained by the Temptations, Huey Lewis & the News, Backstreet Boys and finalists from The Voice to name a few.  

Cellardoor is not just a winery, it’s a happening and if you are ever anywhere close, you don’t want to miss going there!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Beasts, Birds & Fish

I never know what is going to inspire a table setting.  This one, I think started with seeing a red, red robin bob, bob, bobbing in the fountain.  That made me think of bird topped cloches and birdhouses, all sitting on a bright orange silk runner from Vietnam that repeats the colors of spring flowers.

From here, everything takes on a life of its own. Placemats from Thailand trimmed in orange and green provide a neutral background for whatever dishes are chosen.

Though I have little bird napkin rings, I chose these carved wooden ones from Kenya. After all, beasts and birds do one another no harm.

As I’m putting this table together, my mind is thinking about what food to serve.  I decided on fish, salmon in fact because it fits right in with the color scheme.  With that decision made, choosing plates was very easy.  

As an afterthought, I changed the wine glasses from the etched ones to the orange globed ones that I seem never to think about except at Thanksgiving.  They add just the right amount of color and are a nice contrast to the textured Fostoria water glasses.

The beasts, birds and fish have no trouble coexisting, and for me the table represents some of what I like best about spring as well as brings back memories of places I’ve traveled.  It will be fun to share with the friends who are coming.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Tablescape Thursday

Football and More

img_8592All the talk about and around Houston these days involves the Super Bowl to be played here Sunday.

img_8595Downtown Super Bowl Center is alive with activity and thousands gather to participate in the goings on and, perhaps, spot a celebrity or two.

img_8594From what I see and hear there is something for everyone be it art or live performances.

Office View HoustonAs exciting as all this is, there’s more to this big city than Super Bowl activities, and, hopefully, visitors will have opportunity to take some of it in.

Houston is a city of bayous designed for drainage, but they are also becoming sources for outdoor activity.  Buffalo Bayou is the largest, and it has recently undergone significant change.

These days folks can hike and bike,  kayak 

bbayou-4-e1462310177369or take a scenic boat ride on the bayou.

img_1652-version-2For sure, visitors will find lots of good eats in Houston as it is one of the country’s best foodie cities with cuisines for every palate.  One could eat here for a very long time without having to go to the same restaurant twice.

img_7776sA don’t miss is TexMex.  It doesn’t get any better than at any one of the many Mexican restaurants here.

MFAHFor quieter moments, a visit to one of Houston’s outstanding museums is a delight

img_1205-1as is a stroll through a nearby park.

As I think about it, there’s much that Houston has to offer, but with the emphasis on football some visitors  may not get an opportunity to experience it.  Come Sunday, if I open the windows it just might be possible to hear the noise of the crowd cheering for a favorite team.  For a few thousand dollars I could be there, too, but I’ll be watching on TV with plenty of chips and queso handy.   

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Those Special Evenings

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him.  The people who give you their food give you their heart.”

Cesar Chavez

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are few things I like better than spending time with friends, especially those evenings when we gather around the table to share a meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the laughter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand the sometimes energetic discussions, most of which seem to evolve around politics. These days that subject can evoke a lot of emotion as well as some pretty funny comments.

Foodie Adventure Spain/fishDinner is always a treat,  and most of the time it is a meal to which we’ve all contributed.  That way no one has to spend all day in the kitchen, and everyone is comfortable having played a part in the preparation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat I particularly get a kick out of is the effort made to set a lovely table.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAgain and again I see how that is opportunity for one to express their unique creativity.  Too, an inviting table always makes the food taste even better!

So, what is your favorite way to spend an evening?

Joining

Tablescape Thursday

Favorite Things Thursday

Impressions and Tidbits

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 7 days it is not possible to experience all that Sicily has to offer, but we did get a good taste of the southern part with visits to Modica, Siricusa, Ragusa, Ragusa Ibla and Scicli plus a few other spots.  While none have very large populations, all have tightly packed residential and business areas.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASicily is largely agricultural, fascinating considering the rocky terrain.  Clearing the land must require back breaking labor and  what happens to all those rocks?   It appears that most become dry stone walls which mark plots of land and define boundaries.

img_8240Not all crops are out in the open.  There are literally thousands of green houses dotting the landscape which I suppose allow year round farming.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithout question there is a lot of food emphasis in Sicily, and I loved the combination of flavors in dishes like arancini.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFood goes beyond what is eaten.  According to our guide, food references are common to every day language.  For example, being told you look like mozzarella means you have a very white body.  Being compared to ricotta implies no muscle tone.  A nice person is said to be sweet as honey and straight, glossy hair is like spaghetti.  Are you getting the drift?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA real delight was learning that Sicily is known for cannoli, one of my very favorite sweets.  I made it a point to have at least one each day and justified it by telling myself that I was walking it off!   Can I tell you how good cannoli is when the shells are fresh made and filled with creamy homemade ricotta.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother find is Modica’s chocolate made in the Aztec tradition dating back hundreds of years. It has a somewhat grainy texture and is not as sweet as most chocolate. The bars are said to be good not only for eating but perfect for delicious hot chocolate made thick by adding a dab of cornstarch.  Hopefully, my chocolate will last long enough for me to try it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA special treat at the chocolate maker was trying traditional mpanatigghi biscuits filled with chocolate made from carob.  The  prickly pear was a tasty complement that required special skill to peel without puncturing a finger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASicily does not appear to be as noted for art and architecture as say Tuscany or Rome, but it has its own unique character and flavor.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is much to enjoy and for sure, no visit would be complete without a stroll along one of its beautiful beaches.

In a nutshell, these are some impressions and tidbits of Sicily.  Next, I will share the important part of a Foodie Adventure, time in the kitchen.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments  you leave behind