So here begins the long overdue Maine “the state of food splendor” blog post. I’ve decided to organize these entries into separate posts by theme, or else this would be one monster of a read, and I’m starting with breakfast (obviously).
Yes, the Best Bagels are Found in Maine:
For the past few years we’ve added one essential stop to the beginning of our trip, and I only wish I lived closer because then I could go there everyday for breakfast and they’d know me by name so I’d reach regular (groupie) status; but alas, I have one day a year to savor 158 Pickett Street Cafe in South Portland. I’ve gushed about this bagel nirvana shack before, but it’s worthy of continual awe and admiration. The bagels are made from a coveted starter dough, cooked perfectly (crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside), and then not just topped with beautiful and fresh ingredients like smoked salmon, eggs, prosciutto, jam and housemade hummus, but done so with a rustic-artistic eye (see my salmon bagel above). I also tried their homemade chile-garlic cream cheese for the first time which was just crazy delicious. One other thing I love about Pickett St (besides the good coffee and the charmingly janky backyard patio) is that when you order an everything bagel it’s not the usual bagel patted down with a sad sprinkling of seeds that all fall off when you cut into the thing, but an extremely generous crusting of sesame and poppy seeds, salt and pepper, onion and garlic, so that it is exactly what an everything bagel should be and more.
I normally do all of the cooking in our Maine rental cottage and I’m not complaining, (maybe just a little bit), because it’s the best kind of cookingâfresh fish, local vegetables, wild berries that need little to improve upon themselves besides some salt, pepper, good olive oil, and lemon juice. But…that’s not to say that I don’t welcome it when someone else comes along and bangs out an amazing meal or two. This year we got super lucky because my cousin Veronique from Paris came with us and she is the best crepe maker in the entire world.
She made us crepes EVERY DAY. We literally gorged on them, slathered with whole milk yogurt from a nearby dairy (see below) and topped with wild blueberries, drizzled with maple syrup, sprinkled with brown sugar and lemon juice, then rolled and sliced. Eating warm, sugary, lemony crepes with Belle and Conor, brought back wonderful memories of my own childhood summers spent in Brussels, and my Belgian grandmother (who is the one who taught Veronique how to make crepes) making them for me every morning. I love how food can do thisâit’s the best kind of time machine because it’s edible.
*Here is a lovely vintage video of Julia Child making crepes and my one tip is to get a non-stick pan that is a dedicated crepe pan. It may seem indulgent to have a pan just for making crepes, but it makes a huge difference if you want fast, foolproof crepes, and you can also use it for other things like grilled cheese. THIS is the one we used and it was awesome.
Yes, the Best Dairy Is Also Found in Maine:
Our breakfasts also benefited from a steady flow of Maine dairy products, specifically the raw milk and yogurts we discovered at the Rockport and Belfast Co-Ops from these two local dairies: The Milk House and Swallowtail Farm and Creamery. Maine is so far ahead in terms of raw dairy products that it’s ridiculous. Milkhouse sells milk that is not only non-pasturized, but from Jersey cows (most supermarket milk is from Holstein cows, which is a more prolific milk cow but not as rich and some argue produces a milk that is harder to digest for those who are lactose intolerant). The cream and milk from Milkhouse was so rich and lovely, I don’t think I’ve drunk that much whole milk since the late 80’s when I had a regular Ovaltine habit. I also whipped their cream to add to roadside raspberries…
The yogurt from Swallowtail had a cloud-like, whipped consistency with flavors likeÂ blueberry-lemon and rhubarb. Mixed with co-op granola (and in case you’re wondering why I keep referencing the co-ops, I don’t have a co-op anywhere near where I live in the Jerz, so it makes me crazy excited when I get to shop at one…how do I start a co-op?) for snacking and desserts, the yogurt made us all very happy…
Next up: a post on my favorite Maine shops, how to cook a lobster outdoors, cocktail spreads, vacation salads for large posses, sunsets, fairy houses, and more!