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johnnyd

eG foodblog: johnnyd - Dining Downeast II

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johnnyd   

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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.

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

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

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The forts were fitted with giant gunnery...

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

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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.

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

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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:

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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!

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Very jealous over your being out on the water today...it's just hot and nasty here.

Really looking forward to it!

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gariotin   

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?

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Marigene   

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!

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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.

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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.

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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 (log)

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Lady T   

: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:

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johnnyd   

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?

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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 (log)

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johnnyd   
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.

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They produce an unholy smell when the weather is warm. :hmmm:

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johnnyd   

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.gallery_16643_4962_797.jpg

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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.

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....

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Abra   

Hey there, nice to see you blogging again!

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heidih   

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)...

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mizducky   

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

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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:

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

:shock: I didn't know that!

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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.

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johnnyd   

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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