Friday, September 3, 2010

Vacations and the Last Days of Summer

Hello friends! Hello September!

I have lots of pictures for you today, having just gotten back from Portland, Maine. No pictures of the beach just yet, since I went old school and used my film camera for those. But I have lots of pictures of the food I ate.

It was the perfect way to spend the last days of summer. On the beach with a book, eating good food and doing absolutely nothing else. We stayed at Inn by the Sea, which is not only located right on the beach, but has the added bonus of housing an awesome restaurant.

This is a picture of our wine the first night we were there. That's my sister's crazy eye behind the bottle.

And the amuse bouche. I love amuse bouche. It sounds so fun, so quaint and French. This particular one was a ginger carrot soup. It was lovely. Lightly spicy with toasted coconut sprinkled on top. And I don't even like coconut.

The focaccia was exactly as it should be. Slightly crisped up and very subtly salted. Served with olive oil and ground pepper. I had to exercise great self control not to eat the whole basket of it myself.

Then came the seafood and lobster paella. It had been far too long since I'd eaten lobster. I'm really picky when it comes to lobster so I tend to only eat it when I'm on the east coast. Since I haven't been down east for a while my consumption of lobster has dropped drastically. I'd forgotten how much I missed it. The mussels and clams were delicious as well, but oh the lobster. I have no words for describing it, except that it's all I want to eat for the rest of my life.

For dessert we had blueberry shortcake. That's my mom's fork going in for a bite there. It was accompanied by an absolutely divine blueberry sorbet. Both were made with wild blueberries (from Maine), so I'm sure you know how I feel about it. This is how blueberries were always supposed to taste.

Now I have two words for you: Eggs Benedict. I love eggs Benedict. I mean truly love them. They represent everything that is wonderful about eggs. Poached to perfection, sitting on top of a salty piece of Canadian bacon, and an English muffin (made fresh in house). Of course the clincher is the hollandaise sauce. Sometimes I am disappointed when I order eggs Benedict, by mediocre hollandaise. Not this time. It was smooth and creamy, with that slight tang that makes it so good. One of these days I'll try my hand at hollandaise sauce, but for now I am content with ordering it at nice restaurants.

This lovely beverage is called a Sunset Martini. So called because of the subtle gradation of colour from red to orange. It was a mixture of orange juice, pineapple juice, vodka, and grenadine. As soon as I figure out the perfect ratio I'll let you know. It tasted like summer, citrusy and sweet, it tickled my tongue without being cloying.

This particular amuse bouche consisted of yellow watermelon topped with feta and a drizzle of balsamic. So simple, yet so effective.

This next one was actually ordered by my mom and sister. It was a mushroom tart, topped with arugula. And it. Was. Good. It makes all other mushroom tarts look like amateurs. Earthy mushrooms, complimented by nutty arugula and the slight tang of goat's cheese. And that balsamic drizzle to tie it all together. I'll have to see if I can recreate this one as well.

Butter poached lobster with gnocchi. Because I couldn't get enough lobster. Really I don't think there's any way this dish could have gone wrong. It's lobster poached in butter. And can you ever go wrong with butter?

These were my mom's scallops, which I had to take a picture of because it was one of the biggest scallops I'd ever seen. Again, scallops are something I only eat when I'm down east because I find they have a tendency to be rubbery sometimes. Not these ones. These were the definition of melt in your mouth scallops.

I was so taken by this buttermilk panna cotta that I had all but finished it before I remembered to take a picture. Needless to say it was delicious. Silky and creamy and sweet. It was also topped with roasted strawberries (yum!)

We also tried a peach sorbet, which I don't have a picture of. It was spiced with something, but when I tried to ask what it was, they told me it was just peaches, and all the regular ingredients in ice cream. I don't believe it for a second. So now I'm on a mission to replicate this peach sorbet. I'm starting with ginger and allspice, maybe cardamom. I'll let you know when I figure it out.

All food aside, the vacation was exactly what I needed. Nothing to do, no one to see, nowhere to be except the beach. I could get used to that.

But it's back to school on Tuesday. Time to usher in the fall and all the glorious food that goes along with it. Time for apple crisps, and pumpkin pie, apple stuffed pork, and cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and turkey dressing. Bring on autumn. It is my favourite season after all. And I'm ready for the sweater weather and all the warming comfort food that goes along with it.

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