Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Glamorous Life of an Innkeeper

If you ignore the fact that I’m writing this while sitting at the car repair shop, life as an innkeeper at the beginning of the 2008 season is gorgeous. Researching new restaurants and recipes and wines is a hard job, as they say, but someone has to do it and on behalf of you, I’ve stepped up.

Most recently, a friend Cara and I met at Three Tides in Belfast. People have been telling me for months to go there, but had described it as a martini bar. Not being a huge martini fan, I didn’t make it a priority. Big mistake. Back in Wisconsin, along the Mississippi, casual summer bars pop up along the riverbanks so boaters have destinations. Three Tidesreminded me of that, but with a fabulous Maine twist—a lobster pound right next door. Right on the water, you know the seafood they serve is fresh fresh fresh. And, and!, they brew their own beers! They have eight on their list right now and are developing a ninth in honor of the Celtic Festival. Cara and I sacrificed on your behalf and ordered the beer sampler tray—five beer samples for $5. My favorite was “Wrecking Ball Baltic Porter,” big and bold and sweet with molasses. When they described the offerings as “craft brewed,” they’re serious. Two are on nitro, some are dry hopped, and some are wheat. Dazzled by their choice of bubbly wines, I had to save sampling the Maine organic blueberry vodka for next time. Lest you think it’s just a bar, let me tell you about the delicious pear and goat cheese salad (pine nuts make a dish, don’t you think?). We also had mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat, artichoke dip with crostini, and an amazing carrot cake with a caramel filing (Cara is a great dining companion—she’s enthusiastic about drinking bubbly and leaves 99% of the dessert to me!). The great selections of food and drink and the magic location right on the water would be enough to warrant a swooning recommendation but there’s more! We ate our dinner on an outdoor deck, and then moved down to waterfront, fireside seats. And, Three Tides has the best, coolest bathrooms (well, the ladies room, anyway) this side of Francine’s in Camden. Owners David and Sarah are marvelously friendly, as all the staff seem to be.
I also had lunch recently, at the Cockatoo, on my way to hike to Barred Island (my favorite place in the whole world, as you know). My friend Sue was visiting from Brunswick, Maine, delivering a set of brandy snifters (note to self: sample brandies). I’m a sucker for a homemade French fry and the Cockatoo delivered. The view is the best ever plus you can hear the fog horn from Mark Island lighthouse. Pure Maine bliss—and that was without trying their lobster roll, which is fresh cooked and full of butter but no mayonnaise. I’ll try one next time and let you know.

This is my first spring at the inn and I’m marveling as each new season—not spring, summer, and fall, but the tiny seasons in among them like firefly season. This beautiful painting is by Robin Street-Morris. It's titled Firefly Watching II. You can call them lightening bugs. If you live in the big city, I’m guessing you haven’t seen them this plentiful since you were a kid. And on a clear night, the backyard is full of twinkling lights and so’s the sky. This is Maine in late June.

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