07 August 2009

Summer holiday...

We traveled to Westport Island, Maine this year and paid another visit to The Squire Tarbox Inn, undoubtedly one of the most pleasant, home-away-from-home kind of places to be. An organic farm, run by the son of the owners, occupies a large part of the property and many of the vegetables are available daily in an adjacent farm stand as well as the Bath farmer's market on Saturdays. The busy Tarbox hens lay the eggs for our breakfast, hummingbirds dart from flower to flower, goldfinches, chickadees, and warblers race to the feeders, just out of reach of Molly, a family cat whose fondness for birdwatching rivals my own. A gregarious Bernese mountain dog rambles about, visiting guests in the dining room. It is the sort of place that induces pangs of homesickness whenever I contemplate having to leave it.

I bought these now tired looking black radishes from the farm. I'd never tried them before and in their raw state, their spiciness was incendiary! Beautiful to look at though, from a distance.

Part of the 1200 miles we drove were located in Ellsworth, where we had a ravingly good dinner at Cleonice. We had the marinated olives, organic beet, walnut, and gorgonzola salad, and the scungilli salad to start, with bluefish and steak frites to follow. The service was friendly and professional and the food just delicious! I was hoping to find the locally grown heirloom bumblebee beans, so named because of the maroon beelike shapes that mark their exterior, but found local calypso and big yellow eye beans instead at John Edwards Market.

I usually prepare them by soaking the beans overnight, then cooking them until meltingly tender, drain them and pummel them slightly into just a hint of a mash, add generous amounts of olive oil, lots of freshly crushed garlic, chopped parsley or any other herb lying about, large crystals of crunchy sea salt, and fresh Tellicherry pepper pounded in a mortar. Eaten while the beans are still warm, with the steam wafting gracefully upwards, and the sea salt, herbs, and pepper pungent and bracing, this is, for me, an ultimate comfort food.

A trip to the beach inspired me to start collecting seaweed. Foof was impressed and claimed it for her own. We also went to the Maine Coast Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. There was an exhibit of work by the sculptor Wendy Klemperer who creates these beautiful, feral metal sculptures of wild animals.

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