Monday, October 22, 2007

Wine Fest, Stuffed Dates, and Friends

What a time! So much has happened.

I can’t believe you aren’t here—enjoying the sunshine, the orange and scarlet trees, the apple pie Charlotte baked… I was Ms. Cook this morning and almost everyone ordered the omlette with avocado and boursin cheese. And Smith’s Smokehouse bacon is still getting raves.

My dear friends Ms. Dorothy and Karen (Dorothy’s daughter) from Western Massachusetts came to visit last weekend. They both play the piano and organ so I got them to try the melodeon, which I believe to be from 1857. If I have the story right (and I generally get about 50% of any story right), the previous owners bought it at an auction in Deer Isle, during a storm, rescuing it from standing in many inches of water.

The second annual Foliage, Food and Wine Festival—fabulousy fun!—started with me getting to be on TV (WABI-5, a local station). They showed a clip of me saying that climbing Blue Hill Mountain legitimizes dessert—how many of you have heard me say that?! Thursday night I snuck away from the inn and went to the Arborvine’s wine dinner with my friend Paige Lilly. I loved the tuna that night—one of those dishes that demand closed eyes and rapt attention. Their regular menu includes Bagaduce River Oysters—on the half shell—with a frozen sake mignonette, an amazing combination.

Friday night we offered a six-course, nine wine dinner at the inn as part of the festival. I was nervous—Mary and Don, the previous innkeepers here, left big shoes to fill— but fun was had by all. The crispy bacon wrapped dates (recipe below) won best food offering—and they were masterfully paired with a 2005 Californian syrah, Neyers by Steve Tartaglia, our fabulous wine guy from Maine Distributors.

On Sunday I brought pecan muffins (see Oct. 4’s entry for the recipe), chocolate chip cookies, and the crazy Lake Champlain Aztec chocolates to the town park where live jazz and food vendors filled a big white tent. The best part for me—well, there were so many. I got to meet Margaret Whalen, the artist who did the great poster image for the festival (which my photo doesn’t show well at all) and Barbara Martin, owner of Gallery 66 where Margaret’s work is shown. I also got reacquainted with Steve Schaffer, who with his wife Kate, have started Black Dinah Chocolates out on Isle au Haut. I’m already planning for next year’s event. Book now for a great weekend.

Another friend came to visit me this month—Mo Ringey. The tagline to my blog could be “inspired by Mo” as reading hers over the years has definitely given me help getting started. Visiting her website or reading her blog is like a creativity outing, and we should all go on more of those.

I have the nicest guests—just the nicest guests--Angela and Jess Correll made a fabulously generous donation to the Emmaus Homeless Shelter on behalf of the inn. The shelter is one of the nonprofit organizations we support. Blue Hill Heritage Trust is another. They own and maintain property on Blue Hill Mountain, including the summit. I managed to get out and climb it again recently--stunning--and I so regretted not having my camera. The autumn colors against the blue blue sky—scrumptious.

Long-time guests “Mea Culpa Morris” from Old Greenwich, Connecticut, got a laugh from me the other morning at the post office. They had departed with a key to their room (not their regular room, 10, which was already booked by the Whitakers from Laguna Beach, California—what could I do? If a guest calls months ahead of time to book a room, I can’t kick them out…). So the Morrises dashed off with their key but had a change of heart and mailed it in to the “Key Dept.” at the Blue Hill Inn. The key department is located in the same corner of the kitchen as the innkeeper’s office, the reservations desk, the concierge stand, the kitchen manager’s office, personnel department…

The inn is a member of the Select Registry, which assures guests that we undergo a thorough inspection on a regular basis. The Courts, guests from California, just left but not before noting that the inn passed a very important criterion not included on too many inspection lists: there are no stuffed animals. Rest assured, we aren’t a stuffed animal, Raggedy Ann doll sort of inn. The rooms aren’t too fussy and we’re friendly and approachable, never arrogant. (We have been known to leave an extra pillow chocolate for the teddy bear a guest brought--keep that in mind if you like the Lake Champlain candies.)

Here’s the recipe I promised you from the wine dinner. Serve them with a big bold red wine.

Crispy Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates

Serves 8
16 large Medjool dates, pitted
16 roasted almonds, slivered
Scant ¼ cup mild goat cheese, crumbled
8 slices of bacon (about 7 ounces), halved crosswise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a lengthwise slit in each date. Stuff with one slivered almond and about ½ teaspoon of the cheese. Pinch closed. Wrap each date securely in a slice of bacon and arrange, seam side down, on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Bake, turning once after ten minutes, for about 20 minutes or until the bacon is browned and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature.

No comments: