Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

eG foodblog: johnnyd - Dining Downeast II

Foodblog

  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
176 replies to this topic

#1 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,320 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 06 August 2007 - 04:06 AM

Posted Image

Welcome to Portland, Maine, at the mouth of the Fore River on Casco Bay. I, johnnyd, will be your designated foodblog pilot for the next seven days.

Posted Image

The teaser photos are taken from Spring Point Battery, one of three fortified defense points for Portland built in the 19th century.

Posted Image

Some members might recognize the following shot from my first foodblog: Dining Downeast I

Posted Image

The forts were fitted with giant gunnery...

Posted Image

...which, these days, are a perfect setting for Shakespeare and Wilde...

Posted Image

We had beautiful weather this weekend so I took these photos to introduce the area to members and visitors of eGullet who may not know or have heard much of our part of the world. Hey, you never know - I knew zip about Surinam (and it's fascinating foods) exactly one week ago - hats off to Mr. Morse for his soon-to-be legendary blog.

Posted Image

This a view of Portland from "Ferry Village", where I live, in South Portland.

Posted Image

Momentarily, I am headed out on my friend Jeff's Lobsterboat to help him lay a few strings, re-bait a few traps, and hopefully bring home some you-know-what for dinner. I won't be back at the computer for at least ten hours. You can come along on our day by listening in on the NOAA Marine Forecast for Casco Bay:

** Clickity ** choose "open with"

If you are patient enough to slog through the terrestial forecast and conditions, you eventually hear the current ocean buoy readings - wave height, wind direction and speed - and what the weather has in store for people foolish enough to agree to haul traps on a drizzly day in Maine. Jeff, however, has been a friend for a very long time, and his charm won me over. Pics to come. :cool:
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#2 christine007

christine007
  • participating member
  • 442 posts
  • Location:Suburbs of Cleveland, OH

Posted 06 August 2007 - 04:55 AM

wow, how cool!
I don't feel so bad, I had guessed England, and that shore really does resemble North Hampton in England.
I cannot eat lobster, But I'm still eager to hear how it went!
---------------------------------------

#3 markemorse

markemorse
  • participating member
  • 784 posts
  • Location:Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:09 AM

Very jealous over your being out on the water today...it's just hot and nasty here.
Really looking forward to it!

#4 gariotin

gariotin
  • participating member
  • 316 posts
  • Location:looking out on the Atlantic

Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:12 AM

I look forward to your blog!
As a Boston person, I agree that we have great New England food traditions and it will be fun to see your comments.
Are you going to talk about the different regional styles of chow-dah?

#5 Marigene

Marigene
  • participating member
  • 150 posts
  • Location:East central Kansas

Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:16 AM

Can't wait for you to get started as I was born and brought up in New England and very much miss all the wonderful seafood.....blog on!

#6 Shelby

Shelby
  • society donor
  • 2,074 posts

Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:22 AM

Hi Johnny! Can't wait to read!

#7 Kent Wang

Kent Wang
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,383 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 06 August 2007 - 07:00 AM

I know a lot of people that are not aware that Portland, Oregon is named after your city, or that Portland, Maine even exists at all.

#8 racheld

racheld
  • participating member
  • 2,677 posts
  • Location:Tawandaland

Posted 06 August 2007 - 07:24 AM

johnnyd!!! Maine!!! :wub:
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
Fairy Tea

My Blog--Thanksgiving and Goodwill

LAWN TEA

#9 Dave Hatfield

Dave Hatfield
  • participating member
  • 1,590 posts
  • Location:Rural France

Posted 06 August 2007 - 01:34 PM

Really looking forward to this blog.

Our last place of residence in the states was Rhode Island so we got a taste of New England.

Still, its a big transition for a native Californian (although there is, I think, a rapport between those who grow up on a coast whether it be East or West or North Sea a la my wife Linda) who lives in France and in a part far from the sea.

Blog on! I'm anxiously awaiting. Catch lots of lobsters & make me totally jealous.

#10 ghostrider

ghostrider
  • participating member
  • 1,754 posts
  • Location:swamps of Jersey

Posted 06 August 2007 - 04:18 PM

Mmmmmmm, looking forward to another week of fine Maine seafood, at least virtually.

I've been surprised that, as far as I've been able to determine, there's been no coverage on eG of the controversy over the proposed new lobster trap line regs that threaten to kill Maine's lobster industry, or at the very least make it much harder for lobstermen & lobsterwomen to earn a living. Maybe it's too political. Or maybe you can throw some light on the issues within the context of a foodblog.

Edited by ghostrider, 06 August 2007 - 04:20 PM.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

#11 Lady T

Lady T
  • participating member
  • 1,611 posts

Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:33 PM

:biggrin:

Ohh, now *this* will be choice. I fly into Portland International Jetport once a year, on my way to visit some of my favorite folks on the planet for Thanksgiving. They live in the Bath Historic District, one good solid sneeze from the Bath Iron Works. Once a year I get to revel in the aromas of pine and woodsmoke, and pet big dogs, and indulge in some serious old-fashioned pie-making. Not to mention sleeping in, and sitting and talking (all the traditional forbiddens: politics, religion, sex, death, AND taxes!) late at night over great food and good wine, and and and.

Blog on! I never get Down East during the summer!

:biggrin:
Me, I vote for the joyride every time.
-- 2/19/2004

#12 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,320 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:44 PM

It's been an interesting day. Much to tell, but I am, as you may imagine, pooped.

In the mean time, who can identify these?

Posted Image
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#13 Giagie

Giagie
  • participating member
  • 35 posts

Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:50 PM

They look like pig ears to me. That's my guess. :unsure:

#14 nonblonde007

nonblonde007
  • participating member
  • 385 posts
  • Location:Calico Rock, Arkansas New southerner, former Northerner

Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:51 PM

They look like pigs ears?
Brenda



I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

#15 christine007

christine007
  • participating member
  • 442 posts
  • Location:Suburbs of Cleveland, OH

Posted 06 August 2007 - 06:19 PM

Yup. I buy my German Shepherd pig's ears at Pet supply plus.
On the other hand, I'm sure they're something else.
ETA- I use to crab trap with my dad off the Virgina coast on vacation, are they some sort of bait?
We used fly blown chicken guts. :shock:

Edited by christine007, 06 August 2007 - 06:20 PM.

---------------------------------------

#16 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,320 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 06 August 2007 - 07:47 PM

I use to crab trap with my dad off the Virgina coast on vacation, are they some sort of bait?

Bingo.
Dried Sow's ears have a long shelf life underwater as bait in a lobster trap and apparently won the trials some years ago as the de-facto long term bait over leather pieces and other odd items like jerky thingies.

The short term bait-of-choice is herring. These are fished, netted actually, specifically for lobstering here in Maine. They are salted down in blue barrels and sold by the box, or "tote" to lobsterman on the way out to their trap-strings.

Posted Image

They produce an unholy smell when the weather is warm. :hmmm:
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#17 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,320 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 06 August 2007 - 08:06 PM

Thanks so much, everybody, for your kind welcome. I've been pumped up to do this blog for weeks. I will do my best to answer all queries as they arise, or shortly thereafter.

As I mentioned, I am pooped after a day I won't forget any time soon. Those who took the trouble to log-on to the weather link this afternoon will know what I'm talking about.

I need a good night's sleep and then I've a story to tell about three fishermen.Posted Image
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#18 MarketStEl

MarketStEl
  • participating member
  • 3,722 posts
  • Location:Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

Posted 06 August 2007 - 08:17 PM

Talk about leaving us hanging! At least we know the story ends well.

Portland is another of those US coastal cities that is beautifully situated and chock full of charm.

I know a lot of people that are not aware that Portland, Oregon is named after your city, or that Portland, Maine even exists at all.

View Post


I really can't blame the Oregonians for honoring where they came from. I recall reading that the land around the new settlement reminded them of Portland, Maine.

Also: The reason Maine exists was so Missouri could enter the Union. Prior to 1820, it was part of Massachusetts. But Northerners in Congress were not about to admit another slave state without admitting a free one, so Massachusetts split off Maine.

Back to the tale of the sea....
Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia
"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen
My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

#19 Abra

Abra
  • participating member
  • 3,186 posts
  • Location:Bainbridge Island, WA

Posted 06 August 2007 - 09:13 PM

Hey there, nice to see you blogging again!

#20 heidih

heidih
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 10,649 posts
  • Location:Los Angeles

Posted 06 August 2007 - 10:26 PM

I was enthralled, inspired and excited last time and look forward to your postings. Your scenic pictures really make my day. My little part of town was home to many tuna fishermen on the west coast in the 60's and I have an enormous amount of respect for the guys on the boats. Alot of kids at school had dads who were gone for weeks at a time chasing schools of tuna etc. off the coast (out of San Pedro) Many were Croatian immigrants who brought that life with them. So looking forward to your lobster tales (tails)...

#21 mizducky

mizducky
  • participating member
  • 2,407 posts
  • Location:San Diego, CA

Posted 06 August 2007 - 10:51 PM

Hurrah! Can't wait to absorb all that Down East flavor ... not to mention the food! :biggrin:

#22 Domestic Goddess

Domestic Goddess
  • participating member
  • 1,738 posts
  • Location:South Korea, orig. from Philippines

Posted 07 August 2007 - 01:23 AM

It's Johnnyd! Hey, don't forget to show us buckets and buckets of fried clams. I can't wait for your blog to develop! :wub:
Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

#23 Shelby

Shelby
  • society donor
  • 2,074 posts

Posted 07 August 2007 - 03:47 AM

I use to crab trap with my dad off the Virgina coast on vacation, are they some sort of bait?

Bingo.

View Post




:shock: I didn't know that!

#24 christine007

christine007
  • participating member
  • 442 posts
  • Location:Suburbs of Cleveland, OH

Posted 07 August 2007 - 05:16 AM

I was right? That never happens! :shock:
Regarding the smell, ugh, I can well imagine. That must be why the lobsters are attracted to them.
---------------------------------------

#25 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,320 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 07 August 2007 - 05:45 AM

Posted Image

We arrived at the dock about seven armed with take-out coffees and breakfast sandwiches of dubious nutritional value but enough calories to catapult our little team of three into a morning of lobstering. The goal today was to check 300 traps, retreive any lobsters within and re-fill bait bags that were certainly empty after a week.

Posted Image

Jeff and I have been friends for twelve years. He's been lobstering part-time for a few years longer, with the help of his Dad. When I was urchin diving in Casco Bay five years before I met him, we would hear over the radio about requests for a tow nearby, an equipment failure perhaps, a vessel taking on water or a man overboard. Word spread on the waterfront that it was always the same guy. With typical New England working waterfront flair, the name Captain Splash was afixed to the hapless fellow. Years later I started chatting with the barkeep of my local hangout and found we shared some fishing experiences. As the stories kept flowing I put it all together and realized that Captain Splash had been pouring my pints all winter. It was Jeff.

When I left full-time fishing I regularly checked in with Jeff at the Bar to catch up on all-things marine. Knowing I am reasonably nimble at sea he has cheerfully offered a spot on deck for a day out trap-hauling anytime. This week's foodblog was the perfect opportunity. And here we are.

Posted Image

Joining us is Jeff's regular stern man, Jim who is enthusiastic as the day is long (see pic above with bait herring). The marina is way down the Fore river, in an industrial waterfront area. Pretty soon we are motoring under the big bridge out into the harbor.

While we steam out to Jeff's trap strings, we fill soft-ball sized, bait nets with salted herring. These are hung inside the lobster traps and ooze delicious decay into the surrounding seawater, attracting just about everything with a mouth.

Posted Image

The first set of strings are fairly close by the Portland peninsula, so Jeff and Jim start hauling traps.

Posted Image

Jeff approaches one of his individually color-coded bouys at idle speed and snags it with a boat hook. He wraps it's line (or pot warp) around his hydraulic winch and up comes the first trap of four on the string.

Posted Image
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#26 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,320 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 07 August 2007 - 06:18 AM

Posted Image

After Jeff removes (hopefully) any of the World's Favorite Crustacean from his trap he slides it along the washrail to Jim, who takes out the bait bag - which is usually empty, but might still have a herring spine or two - and replaces it with a freshly-filled bag and a sow's ear.

Jeff was up until 11pm the night before drilling 3/8inch holes into the ears so Jim would have no difficulty pairing the two bait on the same line.

Posted Image

When that's done, Jim closes the parlor door, and slides the trap aft to the transom for redeployment.

Posted Image

Once all four traps are re-set, Jeff steers his boat to a spot he thinks has "good ground", and tosses the first bouy out in the water, holding the first trap of the string on the washrail until he's ready. He looks intently at the depth-finder, then at the surrounding proximity to islands or visible shoals, then back to the depth-finder, and when it feels just so, the trap splashes into the water. As I watched him do this, it reminded me of a water diviner I saw once. We are dowsing for lobsters here, I thought.

As he motors slowly forward, there is a coil of pot warp feeding over the transom and into the water, drawn by the water-borne trap as it settles on the bottom. In short order the next trap gets pulled off the transom and more rope feeds gently over the side. It's like those cowboys who trap crab off Alaska on the Discovery channel - only much, much less dangerous. To be clear, it is dangerous. Just like the TV show, if your ankle gets tangled in that warp-feed, you are going to get pulled in the water. The difference here is that Jeff would throw the engine hard in reverse, throw you a life-ring (assuming you are still on the surface), then grab the line and start hydro-hauling you out of the water and back in the boat. Once you've wrapped up your bruised or bleeding ankle, you light a cigarette and listen to everyone laugh and trash-talk your sorry ass. If it happens to you on a crab fishing boat off Alaska where things are ten times the scale of operation I would expect far worse consequences.

Anyway, suffice to say we kept an eye on the deck when the trap-strings went back in the water. Once the last trap slips off the boat and disappears, Jeff let's the end-bouy loose and there they float until he comes back in a few days to see if he's caught anything. After this trip he doesn't plan on returning for a week, thus the combination herring & sow's ear bait strategy.

Edited by johnnyd, 07 August 2007 - 09:47 AM.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#27 Kent Wang

Kent Wang
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,383 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 07 August 2007 - 06:40 AM

Pig's ear is common in Chinese cuisine.

How does one keep track of ones traps? Do fishermen have territories? Is poaching another fisherman's traps common?

#28 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,320 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 07 August 2007 - 09:55 AM

Posted Image

When Jeff finds a lobster in his traps he measures it using a special gauge. A legal lobster in the State of Maine has a carapace or body shell length that measures between 3 1/4 inches and 5 inches. The measurement is made between the extreme rear of the eye socket to the end of the carapace. This one's a "keeper".

Anything smaller, or larger, must be thrown back in the water to either grow to size or contribute to the breeding of more lobsters.

Posted Image

Rubber bands (with the wholesalers license number) keep lobsters from attacking each other in their holding pounds.
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#29 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,320 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 07 August 2007 - 10:23 AM

Posted Image

As the morning drifts into afternoon we settle into a rhythm. Each quartet of traps is separated by a little squirt of distance in between, all within sight of the inner islands of Casco Bay.

I have been busy filling bait bags with beautiful, smelly, salted herring. When Jim sets the traps on the transom, I spray them with white vinegar to try to keep vegetative growth from attaching to the trap grid. The miniature kelp growth draws nutrients from the bait. Then as we mosey over to the next string, I'm back to bait bagging.

The first bags were tidy layers of fish, their tails sticking out of top. "This will tempt a few into the parlors," I said to myself. But at this point in the day I'm thrusting my gloves into a dark stew of fish parts and fist a handful into the little nets, then yank the sucker closed. I wanted to take more pictures but my gloves were so frrreakin' gross and hard to pull off and put back on it just wasn't going to happen.

Hours went by. I began thinking to myself how far Jeff had come since his Captain Splash days. Even though he always said he was selling the boat and getting out of the business I just knew he loved lobstering too much to go through with it. Besides, we had all agreed during a break that morning that we were the luckiest guys on the planet.

When we stopped for a sandwich ( Mrs. johnnyd made a pile of smoked ham & swiss on marble rye), we didn't notice that it was raining... raining pretty hard. We all knew that the forecast called for it [did anyone listen?] but what's a little rain in the summertime?

Posted Image

Oooooooh, crap! :blink:
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#30 MarketStEl

MarketStEl
  • participating member
  • 3,722 posts
  • Location:Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

Posted 07 August 2007 - 10:50 AM

Great writing, excellent cliffhanger pacing of your story, and how do you manage to get those pictures while working?
Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia
"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen
My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Foodblog