Thursday, October 20, 2016

Talk About Home!!!

I have often(probably TOO often)used the ambience of a restaurant as a measuring stick for whether or not I would return to a particular place. I even, and don't ask me how, use it to gauge how good the food is.

The Cod's Head in Boothbay Harbor, Maine entices you with this great quality and once you have plunked your butt into a chair, everything seems to fall into place perfectly.

Although the barbecue aspect of this restaurant is their driving force, it is the smiles you notice on everyones faces and the perfect dishes that come from the kitchen, and from the hands of cooks and servers, that made me continually return.

I know I should probably be talking about the sample Ronaldo and I enjoyed during the Harborfest, but if you don't let me indulge about the many other aspects of this "downtown" eating establishment, I honestly will not be able to write another review. Yeah, I hate not finishing one project before starting another!

Every year I visit Boothbay Harbor, I am compelled to return to this place. It was such a pleasure, first off, to have the master barbecue man show me exactly how they strut their stuff around the outdoor smoker. This is the perfect example of less is better. All they have is a small smoker on their back porch, yet their smoked, barbecued dishes rival ANY Southern pit I have tried, bar none!

Rarely can you find a Fish House and "pit" that is owned by a someone who also owns 2 others restaurants in the area and STILL keep the quality and same friendly staff on a level playing field at all times, but they remarkably have done so here.

                                                                        MINE OYSTER

Mine Oyster is one of the restaurants of which I will be posting about in the next week or so is just as memorable as the Boathouse Bistro.....both of which are a world apart from the Cod's Head, yet equally as culinarily significant.

This "family" not only won me over, but with a smile and a great attitude, they silently beckoned Ronaldo Linares and his family for breakfast the next morning. The ONLY reason I didn't go was pure laziness, I wanted to sleep in. What a mistake that was! For the next full day, all I kept hearing was how great the food was and how busy they were. Lesson learned.

The Boathouse Bistro

In closing, I just cannot say enough about how this place was truly a dining experience that made me feel at home and their uncomplicated, inexpensive and impressive portions continually beckon me every single time I go to Boothbay Harbor.

Well done my friends and if there were one restaurant I would feel comfortable going into at anytime of day without having to don a dress jacket and clean shoes, this would be it. And that is a feeling that stays with you even when you are long gone.

Ohhh....almost forgot to mention the sample during the Boothbay Harborfest. The Pulled Pork Slider.....O M freaking word......The tastiest mouthful of barbecued pork. I am so shocked they didn't kick Ronaldo and I out after our 3d and 4th mouthfuls, hahahaha. And when you tempt a Yankee with a Watermelon Mint Julep just as many times....both of us went away more than satisfied and quite willing to go back for more the second we exited. Bravo, bravo, bravo my friends......


Friday, October 14, 2016

A Cake With No History

Most recipes can be traced back, at least somewhat, to a particular era but not Dump Cake. The classic presentation(never thought I would use the word classic with dump)uses cherries and pineapple as the bottom layer and a type of vanilla cake mix poured, or dumped, on top and then baked. When it comes out of the oven, it resembles a cobbler in some ways and a grunt in other ways.

Some "authorities" ascribe this cake as being made during WWII while others say it stemmed from the late 1980s, when both parents began working, leaving little time to properly prepare dishes for their family once at home.

Regardless, I don't think it matters all that much because this is one of those recipes that is easy to make and the kids can have a go at it as well. And one more thing. Don't bother with premade cake mixes when you have everything you need right up in the cupboard.


Yankee Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake

This is one of those simple cakes that will be the most moist you can possibly make. When served straight from the oven, you will notice a puddle of deliciously fragrant cider pooling in the bottom of the pan. But when chilled completely, this cake explodes with flavor, with all this spiced liquid being absorbed into the cake, which is my way of enjoying it!


Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon each baking powder and cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup canned, pure pumpkin(NOT pumpkin pie-flavored)
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup crushed gingersnaps
1/4 cup small, diced papaya, frozen, fresh or canned *
1 1/2 cups boiling apple cider or juice

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Dump flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix well. Dump eggs, pumpkin, butter and vanilla in flour mixture and stir until just combined. Dump batter into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, mix ginger snaps with papaya and dump on top of cake batter, evening out. Dump boiling apple cider evenly over the top and bake 50 minutes, or until it bounces back in the center when touched.

Remove from oven to cool slightly before serving hot with ice cream if desired, or wait until it is thoroughly chilled before serving.


* Or use whatever fruit you have on hand, or none at all.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hands Down the Best Lobster Roll

I was invited again this year to judge the prepared dishes offered by various restaurants in Boothbay Harbor during the Boothbay Harborfest and our culinary journey couldn't have started on better footing. I say OUR because I was accompanied by a true friend who is, himself, a celebrity chef from New Jersey, Ronaldo Linares.

We were BOTH blown away by the attention and friendliness of Tom Philbrick and his wife, at the Boothbay Lobster Wharf, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.


We were very pleasantly surprised that the entire staff welcomed us without even knowing who we were. Both Ronaldo and I walked around, saying hi to people we didn't even know and on top of that, we were welcomed to take a peak behind the counters in order to watch how they cooked their fresh from the ocean lobster and steamers. We availed ourselves, some may say took advantage of the generosity provided, by walking through their on-site buildings and poking around the lobster tanks and fish market.

If either one of us ever dared to try this in any other place in the country, we would have been promptly thrown out and handcuffed. But because we were in Maine, downeast Maine, Boothbay Harbor....The Boothbay Lobster Wharf to be precise, we were treated as old friends. (Young friends I would like to say....Just once, let me relive my younger days, will ya?)


After taking advantage of their kindness, we were all set to do some sampling. And the word sample simply was not in their vocabulary. They introduced Ronaldo and me to simply the best lobster roll found(and devoured)anywhere!

For $20...hear me was the largest, freshest, meatiest and most delicious lobster roll either of us has ever tasted, hands down!

It turned out great I might add because Ronaldo wanted to go have lunch after, but after relishing this treat, neither of us ate again for many hours.

You may say, and I understand, that our opinions may have been tainted because of our roll at the Harborfest, but I can assure you, that is the farthest from the truth. This was a monster of a sandwich! And what we both liked most about it was that it was simply freshly cooked lobster meat, IN LARGE CHUNKS, with mayonnaise...THAT IS IT!!!! When you pile this into a New England hot dog roll that has been buttered and grilled, you just blew us away. It was that simply grilled roll that still has Ronaldo talking about it.

Without rambling on and on(as I did when I posted about The Flagship Inn), I simply have to add that the Boothbay Lobster Wharf was a pleasure a full 360-degrees around, much like the scenery you get when you sit down either outside at their tables or opt to dine and drink inside their equally, casual tables.

Thank you my friends and we will see you again next year....or when I am hungry again.



It's Just That Simple!™

Sunday, October 2, 2016

2016 and The Flagship Inn.....(and everything else)

A vacation, or working trip, is truly defined by your initial reaction when walking into your home away from home. Not only does it set the tone for what lies ahead, but throughout your trip as well.

No matter what type of day you've had, when you enter your own domicile that is the substitute of your own home, you should be able to unwind without any cares what-so-ever. And The Flagship Inn is honestly the finest Inn I have ever had the privilege of staying at. And I truly mean that!

This has been my sanctuary for the past 3 years as I join Lori Reynolds on my rounds and book signings 
 during the Boothbay Harborfest every year. I walk into the office and ...BAM...they smile. That alone is worth the stay, but when they add friendly banter and a tone that reminds me of going to the back fence for a  neighborly chat, then I am all theirs!

I don't even know where to begin besides simply saying that the owner, Aaron, knows how to keep his guests happy, content and looked after. And this same sense of responsibility is ingrained in his staff, almost as if that was a prerequisite for hiring.

Putting the superbly, amicable disposition aside, the Inn is immaculately cleaned and as homey as you could possibly wish. Their repatronization rate must be off the charts!

And this is all readily noticed within the first hour of signing in. Wait until you wake up in the morning.

After brewing my own coffee while I was preparing for the day, I missed the comradery of my family so out the door I went. I walked roughly 300 feet to the 'breakfast building' out back, opened the door, and I was home. I was instantly greeted by 2 ladies who turned into my surrogate mothers for the morning. They beckoned me to 3 huge tables laden with food and beverages enough to feed everyone at the Inn a few times over.

You think a free continental breakfast is a draw to where you will be spending your vacation repose? Think of more.....MUCH MORE.

Not only was the staff friendly, but you could tell the Inn guests were just as friendly. This was because their day was beginning on their best foot forward, simply because of this breakfast treasure.

I could ramble on and on and still not cover just how child-friendly and wonderful the Flagship Inn is. The pool, playground, cleanliness, amenities (both on-grounds and within walking distance) and the honest to goodness care that is shown by all who works there harkens me there over and over again.

Forget about the other hotels in the area that charge well over three times the going rate at The Flagship Inn, I would rather pull up my chair right outside my room and admire what is surrounding me. And that would be the charm of it all.....


It's Just That Simple!™