Sunday, July 20, 2008

Maine Part III: Cooking Locally at the Campsite

I was disappointed to learn that I would miss both the Portland and Bar Harbor Farmers Markets by just a few hours each due to our traveling schedule. To compensate, I packed food from the Union Square Greenmarket that I thought could stand the trip - butter, honey, maple syrup, potatoes, onions, zucchini, and eggs. I was also buoyed by the fact that restaurants in Maine make an effort to serve locally produced food - more on that later. And I figured there would be plenty of farm stands to provide fresh veggies during our week-long stay.

Since we ended up going out to eat more than I expected, we only needed to pick up groceries a couple times. One of those times was a trek to the western side of the island to Beech Hill Farm, an organic farm run by College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. Their farm stand offers produce from Beech Hill, along with produce, meat, dairy, etc from other local farms. We picked up dried blueberries (which went into pancakes), milk (into coffee and pancakes), bacon (an impulse buy from Jesse that I eventually appreciated because it helped a morning hangover and was cooked with scallops below), and swiss chard (cooked with tacos and scallops below).We got a terrific recommendation from our server at a bar to go to Parson's (64 Eagle Lake Rd/Rt 233 near Bar Harbor) for fresh fish to cook. It's a total mom and pop operation where the fish comes in fresh everyday (though you never know exactly when and what she'll have in stock!) She said everything is caught locally in Maine, which made me happy.

At our first visit to Parson's, we picked up haddock and clams. Jesse does most of the cooking when we go camping because he knows how to light the camping stove and I don't - ha! I sliced zucchini (from NY farmers market), sprinkled it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and put it over the fire in an aluminum pouch. It took a while, but it did actually work, unlike our previous foible with potatoes. Meanwhile, Jesse cooked quinoa over the stove, steamed clams in a Bar Harbor ale, and finally sauteed the haddock with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The end result was a huge heaping meal. I yelled at Jesse for getting too much fish (a pound and a half for two people!), but the leftovers went into fantastic tacos with tortillas, beans, salsa, and local swiss chard the next night.
After getting bacon from Beech Hill, Jesse became possessed with the idea of making bacon-wrapped scallops. We visited Parson's the next day, but they were already out of scallops. Back we went the next morning with a mission on our mind. This time, the scallop guy hadn't yet made his delivery. We went again to Parson's that afternoon, and still no scallops. Finally, an hour later after some beers in nearby Bar Harbor, we were rewarded with scallops!

Following Liz's advice, this time I threw an aluminum pouch of chopped potatoes (coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper of course) right into the fire. A few of them burned, but the rest cooked right into tender bites before the rest of our dinner was done. Amazing!

Meanwhile, I cooked just one strip of bacon in a pot, then tore it up and threw it back in the pan with swiss chard and onions in the same pan to soak up all the bacon flavor. Jesse painstakingly wrapped the scallops in the rest of the bacon and sauteed them until browned and firm. It was another delicious and overwhelmingly huge meal, with all those bacon and scallops. The leftovers went into tacos again with more smooshed beans, onions, and hot sauce (out of salsa at that point) for a surprisingly delicious breakfast. We made more intricate meals than we have on past camping trips, as our priorities change, and it made us happy to eat like kings, as Jesse put it.

To be continued...

Other posts in the Maine vacation saga:

V. Drinking in Bar Harbor
IV. Lobster Pounds on Mount Desert Island

II. Camping in Acadia National Park

I. A Night on the Town in Portland

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