Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More Maine Food

Continuing my Maine visit, I made two more coastal food stops. One was Five Islands Lobster Co. Located at the town wharf with a view of islands and marina. I had never been there, but it was mentioned by Jane & Michael Stern in the current issue of Gourmet. They raved about the lobster.

For some reason, I felt that eating a lobster is a social activity, so being solo I had a lobster roll. It had lots of really tasty lobster meat and no mayo at all, so I mostly skipped the roll and just picked out the chunks of meat. As accompaniment, I had onion rings, cole slaw and a bottle of Moxie, one of the oldest brands of soda still made, and hard to find outside of Maine. It's rather medicinal tasting, but I like to have one every couple of years.

As with many of the old places, you go to the building where they cook the lobsters for lobsters and steamers (steamed clams), and to a separate place for everything else. In this case, the Love Nest Snack Bar.

The next day I sneaked in one more waterside meal at Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster in Freeport, one of my old haunts. It's also located at a town wharf. I had a serving of steamers followed by one of my old favorite lunches, a clamburger with onion rings. A clamburger is a clam cake (chopped clams and breading made into a disk and fried) on a bun. The onion rings at Harraseeket are my favorite. Although I prefer my clams in crumbs, I like my rings in batter. I enjoyed these much more than the rings at Five Islands. I got so much into the food I forgot to take a picture until I was nearly done.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Clam Up!

Planning a quick trip to Maine, I was as anxious to enjoy some of my favorite foods as I was to see the ocean. Fortunately, there are some places where you can do both. One of the best is the Lobster Shack near Portland.

I first ate at the Lobster Shack 30 years ago, and I think nothing has changed except, of course, the prices. The years I lived in Maine, we would always go opening weekend which was around my birthday.

Last night's dinner was a clam plate. There has always been controversy as to whether fried clams should be made with batter or crumbs. I come down firmly on the crumbs side, and so does the Shack. The french fries are frozen crinkle cuts. But the cole slaw is home made with a light dressing of mayo and the secret ingredient, pineapple juice. I like that you can fill your own cups of tartar sauce.

Arriving at 7:15 on a Sunday evening, I was served at 8:00. The order line remained long until just before official closing time at 8. But waiting here is not a problem considering the scenery.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Maine Italian

Pictured above is a "Real Italian" from Amato's sandwich shop in Maine. The Maine "Italian" is one of those few remaining true regional foods.

It's claimed that a man named Amato created this sandwich about 100 years ago, selling them to fellow immigrants working the docks in Portland.

I'm sure it has evolved over the years, but today's standard version, same as when I moved to Portland 30 years ago, consists of:

a very soft bun
a thin layer of boiled ham (I'll bet Mr. Amato used salami)
a thin layer of mild provolone
sour pickle spears
tomato wedges
green pepper slices
black olive halves
salt, pepper, oil

One thing that makes it very different from most subs is that there is a lot more vegetable matter than meat and cheese. Its simplicity is its elegance and appeal.

The Italian pictured above -- which I order sans olives -- was enjoyed on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, just down the road from an Amato's location in Scarborough.