Tuesday, December 6, 2011

eat, drink & be merry

Lokel Yokel returns from hiatus.

Leave it to me to take a stellar locavore evening at the elegantly-appointed Salt Water Farm and make it about beer and sausage! But here goes.

Last Friday, Eric and I attended a wood-fired cooking class at the farm, just two miles up the road from Birchwood (which in Maine makes us close neighbors). The rustic fall dinner menu cooked entirely in their dual-hearth (open fire and brick oven) featured sausage, kale and root veggies — sounds basic until you factor in caramelization, smoke and heavy cream! — along with oysters, focaccia, and a sensational dessert of roasted pear and creme anglaise (made with duck eggs).

you're nothing without caramelization
Dinners are BYOB. A dinner of oysters and sausage calls for ale. Local ale. Even better, a new local ale. Enter Oxbow where they conveniently pour growlers for retail sale on Fridays from 2-6pm. (Found locally on tap at 40Paper in Camden).

love everything about them, even their sign

A gorgeous drive with my fella to the Oxbow homestead (in Newcastle, a few miles beyond the Alewives fishladder in Damariscotta Mills) to chat with the brewmasters, sample beer and fill some growlers was just the start of a perfect date. That night we left with both stellar offerings — the Pale Ale and the Saison Noel.  (For advice on other local ales, spirits or wine stop in and ask the clever fellows at RAYR who are always able to suggest a nice pairing.)

paired pears 
My words don't capture how much fun it was to slowly and consciously prepare a meal in a traditional way, in a beautiful space, with two young, enthusiastic chefs. (And don't count on my photos to help either. How well I recorded the evening is inversely proportional to how much I enjoyed myself.)  Experience it for yourself and find a way to make it over to Salt Water Farm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Donuts, AGAIN!

June 3 is National Donut Day but for me Donut Day is anytime I pass Willow Street Donuts, Boynton & McKay or Chase's Daily. French & Brawn – our sweet local market in the heart of Camden – is a new addition to my donut list for bringing back the Persian Bun. Locals so lovingly describe this treat from the past that it became a personal quest to find one.

Digging further to find one I'd often hear "Impossible! Only Brad can make the true Persian Bun." Having sampled Brad's other wares at Dot's I added him to the list. I managed an introduction once but Brad artfully dodged my inquiries.

There is some comfort in company. Online research offered up a Persian Bun fan page on Facebook "Friends of the Persian Bun. We will not stop until the first bun is frosted!" 197 likes. Kinship is sweet.

the domesticated Persian Bun in captivity

So we wait for Brad. But on a recent visit to the deli counter at French & Brawn to pick up some Heiwa tofu (Yes, tofu. Try the Maple Glazed Tofu recipe and you will convert.) I passed a new tray in the baked goods section – Persian Buns!!

"Stop it. You're here for tofu." said my left brain. "So? You're hungry now!!" shouted my right. Or maybe all this noise was just my stomach grumbling. Stomach always trumps conscience and so the Persian Bun was bagged. Forced at checkout to announce "Persian Bun" as the contents of my bag another customer commented, "It's the closest thing to the original I've had in a long time."

Never lucky enough to sample an "original" I did find it tasty. I peg this sweet treat as 50% cinnamon bun and 50% fried donut. The frosting was almost too much. Not my favorite but certainly worth a try. And the quest continues...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Who's on first?

"Where do the locals eat?" is a common question from our guests. When we reply, "The Waterfront." they frequently counter with "Ok, but what's the name of the restaurant?" "Umm, that is the name." Our own Abbott & Costello routine.

Schooner Olad sails right past our table at the Waterfront

Why? Because it is where Camden locals (and plenty of visitors) go, where we'll be welcomed by the owner and see local kids busing and waiting tables, and where we can eat a nice meal at a nice price with a great view.

local Maine crab melt, fresh cole slaw, locally-brewed Andrews Ale

On a rare quiet afternoon in summer Eric and I will hang the shingle and sneak out for lunch. The Waterfront is our spot. Just a few minutes into town and we're sitting out on the dock enjoying the picturesque harbor views of the bay, Curtis Island, our stately library (voted one of the prettiest public libraries in the U.S.) and Mt. Battie. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Let the sun shine

There's always something pretty in the gardens welcoming guests to Birchwood Motel

Birchwood Motel officially opens for the 2011 season by Memorial Day weekend. A bit later than usual but some exciting winter projects will make it worth the wait.

Taking to heart Scott Nearing's words "Do the best that you can in the place that you are. And be kind." we apply this back-to-the-land philosophy to our life and our business. Birchwood Motel is currently the only green roadside motel in Camden, Maine and is Maine-certified as an Environmental Leader in lodging.

Hot showers and clean laundry at Birchwood Motel now powered by the sun

Time, effort and community made this possible. Recycling cans and bottles and changing lightbulbs were our first simple steps years ago. Over time we greened up our housekeeping, purchasing and gardening practices. And now we announce our biggest, proudest effort to date:

For the 2011 season we deliver to our guests solar thermal heated hot water, eliminating the need for propane, electric and a whole lot of heating oil. No longer will the furnace kick on during those hot summer days. YAHOO!

Our deep gratitude to Efficiency Maine, Finance Authority of Maine, and the USDA for supporting small business in America. Without this combined support our solar thermal system would not be possible. Rousing applause and praise for our professional installers IRC Solar Roof Systems and Pine State Services. We call them the Boy Scouts of solar installers because they left our place better than they found it.

Look for future posts about our other winter projects. Hint: more garden space and greener interiors!

We look forward to providing our guests clean, green, simple and affordable lodging this 2011 season. Hope to see you soon!