August 14, 2011
I was fortunate to get away to Maine this past week for a little R&R. We started our trip in Portland, in the Old Port area. Beautiful waterfront history and many restaurants. First stop – Stonewall Kitchens. A little taste of champagne blueberry jam (not a fan), double chocolate fudge sauce (needed to put this one back), Major Grey’s chutney (bought some), and several mustards. A salted caramel sauce was a contender, but ended up leaving with a blueberry jam instead. OK, off we go to find some lunch. We head to the oldest pub in Portland – Gritty McGruffs. Wooden floors, multiple rooms and a decent menu. Sadly the tips on my salad were tough (guess I should have had lobster, right??), and the salad was nothing special. We head off to walk the town, explore, and then head to our hotel. Dinner resulted in a waterfront very casual Portland Lobster Company picnic table. Great live entertainment, paper plates and plastic wine glasses under a beautiful summer sky. Scallops with applewood bacon and lemon cream sauce, corn on the cob and a baked potato were really very good. Well cooked, and seasoned. My hubby had swordfish that was tasteful, tender and fresh. Next morning a quick coffee and muffin at a little cafe then off to see seals, lighthouses and a city tour. We had lunch at the Dry Dock between tours. Lobster soup (heavy cream with a few pieces of well cooked lobster served lukewarm) a nice salad and a crab melt for my hubby. Despite taking 20 mins to get our food, the crab melt was pretty good.
Dinner we headed to five fifty five on Congress Street. A little more upscale, but for our last night in Portland we splurged. Amazing cucumber and melon soup with a touch of crabmeat. Cool, smooth and well seasoned. My hubby had pepper crusted scallops that were beautifully cooked, and heavily peppered. For me, mussels in a red pepper broth that were delicious. Chived butter on squares of sourdough bread were a nice start with a blueberry gin drink and we finished with a shared trio of ice cream – apricot, chocolate hazelnut and a cherry grasshopper – fresh mint ice cream with little chunks of chocolate and cherry in it – our favorite flavor. Delicious and great service!
Off to Bar Harbor after a great omellette breakfast at Becky’s (see DDD on Food Network – Guy ate here)…..a beautifully set tourist area inside of Acadia National Park. We walked around town, ended up in quirky Geddy’s, full of signs, license plates and good spirits. We shared seafood balls (all cracker and no hint of the scallops, crab or fish they promised) and a lobster pizza on a whole wheat crust. That was really good, and the lobster very tender. Back to our inn to sleep off a full belly.
The next day we went to Jordans – famous for its blueberry pancakes. We are not fans of pancakes, but I did order a waffle with fresh blueberries. Good blueberries, but disappointing log cabin syrup and mix tasting waffle. My hubby’s egg sandwich was nothing special either….not bad, not great. Oh well. Rode them off in Acadia by bicycle – hilly!! An early dinner at the Terrace Cafe on the water offered really really good chowder, crab melt, boullabaise with fresh thyme, and warm blueberry pie with a very light flaky crust and full of berries. A must eat at place on the waterfront! Next day we had a yogurt, coffee and a muffin for my hubby. Off to see the whales – amazing time with a mom and calf who breached several times, waved and rolled for us like a performer. Heavy fog that lifted in time to see puffins and a great ride on the Atlantic Cat high speed catamaran filled our morning. Sea air always make us hungry, so we headed to the Thirsty Whale, a little bar “hole in the wall”. But what they say is true – good food at the “diviest” places! A grilled salmon sandwich with a dill mayo and a haddock and asian cole slaw wrap – well seasoned and cooked beautifully. After driving through Acadia, up Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole and some walking we were ready for dinner. Off to the Portside Grill. Here we ended on a mixed bag. My hubby’s chowder had an odd tangy flavor to it and his lobster roll tasted flat and water logged. Crab cakes were full of crabmeat, lightly fried and delicious. My salmon was done perfectly with tomatoes, capers and wonderfully cooked green beans with tarragon on the side. We headed to a local ice cream parlor to have a little fig and walnut gelato (for him) and a chocolate pretzel caramel ice cream for me that really hit the spot. Oh, and if you think lobster tastes good in EVERYTHING……well, not in vanilla ice cream. Trust me.
March 7, 2011
It is time for dessert…..you are in a fancy restaurant, trying to appear worldly to your dinner mate, and you are asked to choose from a lemon tart and a chocolate torte. Which do you order?
If you like pie, you order the tart, which is a small pastry shell, usually very low sided, baked in a spring form pan, and typically filled with a custard type filling topped with fruit, or a chewy nut filling and/or whipped cream. Fruit tarts are often glazed with jam, to make it shiny and really pretty. Lemon tart is common with a lemon curd style filling. All are single crust, low profile. Pies are taller, and typically have two crusts, in case you were wondering…..
Tarts can also be savory, as in a tomato and cheese tart….but this is a conversation about dessert today.
A torte is a cake made primarily with eggs, sugar, and ground nuts instead of flour, served in one layer, unfrosted, and can also be a savory dish (see above). Chocolate torte can be a very thin multilayer loaf shaped cake, still nut based, usually filled with very rich, decadent flavored. It is baked in a special pan – think very tall, thinner loaf pan- and sliced into many layers. Then each layer is filled with a cream, curd or jam type of filling. These cakes are not frosted, but may be dusted with powder sugar or cocoa. But you are saying – hey, what about a Linzer Torte? That yummy jammed filled cookie? How does that fit in? Well it is a nut based dough, cut into a shape and then filled….so a variation on the cake version of a nut based dough.
Confused yet? Well think back to high school logic – Tart is to Torte as Pie is to cake. Better? Heck whichever you choose, eat dessert first. Dinner is so much easier…..