After 10 days in the Baltics and the past week in Canada it is time to get back to the good old U.S.A. in Bar Harbor, Maine. This is a place I have always wanted to visit as it has been on many people’s must see places for its beauty, scenery and of course, seafood. The morning starts off rather gray and cool but even so, the place truly is stunning.
We have 2 vans today to take us around (good thing with the impending rain) and head over to the Fiore Artisan Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room. Owner Nancy O’Brien. who received the Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year award for Fiore, gave me a wonderful lesson on the purity of olive oils and a tasting of some exquisite unfiltered extra virgin ones along with an 18 year old and a 25 year old aged balsamic vinegar. The tasting method for the oils is similar to tasting wine since you need to allow the flavors to develop by swirling a bit in your mouth before swallowing. Once you taste these you just can never buy supermarket oils and vinegars again.
Before our visit to the spectacular Bar Harbor Inn where I was meeting with Chef Lou Kiefer at the Reading Room Restaurant, I just had to stop at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium as I heard they actually serve Lobster ice cream. Being in Maine, you might expect something like this and after trying tar ice cream in Finland, I figured I might as well go for it. So, how was it? Strange is all I can say. I mean it is basically creamy, buttery vanilla ice cream with chunks of yummy lobster mixed in it. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either. I suppose it’s one of those things you just try once. It was nice to be given some home made fudge for the crew when I left.
Now it was time for a delicious meal at the Reading Room Restaurant where Chef Lou was actually preparing for 2 weddings later in the day but still took the time to cook and share some wine and stories with me. Sitting in the gorgeous and elegant dining room overlooking the ocean at Frenchman’s Bay, I indulged in his special Ginger Seared Diver Scallops with Smoked Baby Maine Shrimp over pappardelle followed by tastes of an incredible flourless chocolate torte, blueberry pie and Grand Marnier creme brulee. The Chef was disappointed that he couldn’t show me his special herb garden (since the rain chose not to hold off) but he described his passion for always seeking to perfect his dishes with the freshest ingredients possible. His excitement and enjoyment for what he does is clearly apparent in his attitude and in his food and what a privilege it was to meet him. As if this wasn’t enough, my whole crew and I were invited to stay for lunch.
Although it was raining, a trip to Bar Harbor would not be complete without at least a short drive through Acadia National Park. And, since my trips are all about food, I had to stop at the only restaurant in the park, The Jordan Pond House Restaurant famous for its homemade popovers. Popovers are made out of a batter and baked into a puffy, eggy, light and crispy type of roll. If you have ever seen or tasted yorkshire pudding that is what they most resemble. Here, they are served with jam and butter and are best straight out of the oven, piping hot and still steaming. I can’t even imagine how many popovers they bake every day. This is on top of everything else they make including lobster stew that is creamy, buttery and filled with big chunks of lobster meat. It’s just too bad I wasn’t able to sit outside on the lawn overlooking the pond and mountains. I was told is a must do when the weather is nice and so is a good reason to return.
It’s a 20 minute ride back through the park and back to the Veendam for our final night on board the ship.
Cheers and all the best,