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johnnyd

eG foodblog: johnnyd - Dining Downeast II

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OMG! Those clams are sooooo making me homesick for New England! Thanks for the great blog, Johnny, it has been most enjoyable.
I confess: they were pretty good!
What a great blog! I haven't been to Maine since the early 70's...time for a visit..you've brought back a lot of great memories..thank you!
Yes! it's time for a visit! That goes for all of you! :smile:

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Nice job JD, as usual!

I have been vacationing "without internet" for the last few weeks and was thrilled to get a full dose foodblog from Maine, start to finish in a single sitting. Fantastic!

Each summer I "rent" a full season of 24 (starring Canadians Keifer Sutherland and Elisha Cuthbert) and try to watch the whole thing in real-time, though I have not actually done it yet. This egFoodblog was equally dramatic and entertaining but no where near as exhausting.

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Hey Peter! Keifer Sutherland was in town a few weeks ago - haven't a clue why. He played a few games of pool at my pal Bruce's place, Amigos, a mexican restaurant and bar, #5 Dana street, right in the Old Port.

Just got back from periwinkle (called wrinkles by some) harvesting. I'm going to cook those suckers up and see what they're like.

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I went out to the end of the rocks...

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They weren't exactly hard to find! Studded all over the rocks, they were...

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I scooped up a few handfulls and a bit of rockweed to keep them company on the ride home.

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Outside of Yosaku is a statue of film Director, John Ford, who grew up in Portland, Maine.

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I thought he might help Carrot Top, Dejah and I think of a title for a movie with a giant, mutant lobster.

Mr. Ford, looking out to sea from his bronze director's chair, surrounded by granite blocks representing his academy awards, offered no advice.  :hmmm:

It's a rarely shared fact, known only to the cognoscenti, and even they do not share it but on those rare evenings when too much whiskey-and-moxie has been consumed, that John Ford was indeed inspired by the red beast of commerce and gustatory delight that we call the lobster.

Several of his films were initially titled but then re-titled into the more common ones we now know after long summer afternoons spent on rocky beaches where the entertainments meandered delightfully between tying down the tarp for a lobster bake and setting up two or three or more big lobsters on the picnic tables on their heads and showing how they can be hypnotized into posing with tails in the air, claws cutely holding up their bodies.

These titles are:

*How Green Was My Ocean (How Green Was My Valley)

*She Wore a Rubber Clawband (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon)

*Young Mr. Lobster (Young Mr. Lincoln)

*What Price Lobster? (What Price Glory?) and

*We Eat at Midnight (We Sail at Midnight)

............................................................................

I had a Chinotto the other day and was reminded of Moxie. It was like a kinder, gentler Moxie.

My grandmother used to always have Moxie in the house. She did not consider it a beverage but rather, a "tonic". :biggrin:

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OMG! Those clams are sooooo making me homesick for New England! Thanks for the great blog, Johnny, it has been most enjoyable.
I confess: they were pretty good!
What a great blog! I haven't been to Maine since the early 70's...time for a visit..you've brought back a lot of great memories..thank you!
Yes! it's time for a visit! That goes for all of you! :smile:

:cool:

I'll be in Bath for Thanksgiving week. This is a finest-kind (:biggrin:) preview, and I'll think of you kindly while I'm baking pies for my keep and taking long walks around those tough granite outcroppings by the Kennebec.

:biggrin:


Edited by Lady T (log)

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What a great blog! I haven't been to Maine since the early 70's...time for a visit..you've brought back a lot of great memories..thank you!
Yes! it's time for a visit! That goes for all of you! :smile:

If Barrymore's -- or whatever the name of that bar just south of downtown on one of the main streets was; it was one of three gay clubs in the city (that's a lot for a city of 60,000) -- is still open, I fully intend to drop in and ask them to make me a cocktail with Moxie.

Or maybe I'll just save that for a meetup with you and yours. You've provided lots of entertainment, great food, great storytelling, and plenty of reminders of Portland's charm in this foodblog.

Let me know when you start filming on Claw.

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So the wrinkle prep is going well - although, if I were a chef, I'd definitely get the new guy to do these...

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Itinerant beastie found among the harvest...

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stay tuned. :cool:

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When I tried to buys these at a nice fishmarket in NJ I was told they were illegal, then I promptly saw them at a Korean market. Still havent bought any because the Korean store just overwhelms me. They were very tasty when I had them in France but even better were the small whelks...which they also only have at the Korean market here...and they are frozen....

I am getting hungry again

tracey

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I see these, too, all of the time at my local Asian Market, so I am staying tuned for suggestions!

John, one of the things that has so enchanted me about your blog is all of the water. I'm a cabin nut (fortunately, I married into one) and I'm bereft when it comes to living landlocked.

I look forward to the periwinkles, and have loved coming home from our big water to look at your even bigger water.

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A most excellent blog, JohnnyD, thank you! I'll be passing through Portland this Tuesday for work, and your photos and words have me eagerly counting the hours till then.

Can you make any recommendations for a quick late lunch of fried whole belly clams? I haven't had the energy to stand in line in Ipswich this summer.

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Is the sturgeon skin just for show, or is it edible?

All the frozen periwinkle I've found at Asian markets in the US have a terrible formaldehyde-like flavor to them. I've only had good periwinkle in Asia.

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Dying to see how you prepare the periwinkles. When I was a kid, my mom and I would drive up to Cape Ann and gather them on the rocks. Then we'd head home, clean them in a few changes of water, and steam them. Finally, we'd pick 'em out of their little shells, flick off the operculum (the little door -- thanks, google :wink:), dip them in butter, and feast. The rest of my family thought it was nuts, but I loved it.

I didn't have them for a couple decades until recently at Au Pied De Cochon, where they were in an inky, licorice-y coating. I'm on tenterhooks!

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Well, I got most of the little bastards out of their shells (which wasn't too bad after a flashing in a salted rolling boil - 6 minutes) and found, to my delight, that the little hard disc on the foot that seals the shell aperture when they find themselves above tidal waters just, plain fell the hell off. I was informed that one takes each tiny bugger and cuts this item away. Not the case. This makes these critters more possible to consider as a Thursday night special in an adventurous restaurant... maybe. :unsure:

I sauteed them quickly in butter, garlic and parsley - I was afraid of overcooking these tiny gizmos.

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Casco Bay Wrinkle Crostini!

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MMMM!! :wub: Turned out GREAT!!! A touch of grit, but steamers have grit too, right? RIGHT?? :huh:

We also had those Damariscotta Oysters,

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I set 'em a-top some seaweed, of course. The middle vessel has a killer mignonette I've been working on.

I made a rib-eye we bought from Whole Foods and some of our Market veg for the main,

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Could have used a cherry tomato for color but they're not ripe yet (we have a few growing outside).

One more post to go...

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Many members have asked me about diving for sea urchins. I moved to Maine from Vermont in 1994 to do it.

It was the best job I ever had.

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Since I didn't get to dive this week as I hoped, I thought I would share a few memories of urchin diving. These are digital photos of prints I made during dozens of dives up and down the coast of Maine. I jiggied them a bit.

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A small dive operation can drop divers tight in shore. They swim in to a shallow water where the kelp grows thick and harvest urchins that feed off the kelp. The big boats use chase boats that drop divers in shore, keep an eye on them, then pick up full net-bags that are marked with a bouy. If anyone needs help they are there - usually :hmmm:

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If a boat is exploring a new reef or shore, we send out a "spec" diver who collects samples. We learned early on that the best sea urchins came from shallow water with a lot of turbulence.

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In the early '90s, there were so many down there it seemed like an infestation. It was just a matter of picking up as many as possible. Sometimes we didn't have enough room on the boat for them all.

After a while, the easy ones were gone and divers had to swim a little further and work a little harder to find them. All this time, there were (are) zillions of the critters in deeper water - their market value, however, is zero, as there is not the same nutritious bounty down deep to feed upon as there are up in the shallows.

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Sometimes we found a sea monster...

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Often we were the sea monster...

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In 1994 there were over 2000 licensed sea urchin divers. The fishery was the 2nd largest seafood product in Maine that year. Ten years later there are 200. They are still diving and finding a few - just not the quantities we found back then, There is competition now from Korea, Russia, Chile and other areas that keep the price low.

It's not the Wild West dealio it used to be. That's good because we lost a few good boys in those days.

This is johnnyd:

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I have been your designated foodblog pilot for the last seven days.

Thank you for your time.

:wink:


Edited by johnnyd (log)

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Johnny, the end of your blog has brought a lump in my throat. I have thoroughly enjoyed your weeklong blog and can't believe it is over. Your pictures of the sea and its bountiful harvest has reminded me of home (granddaughter of a deepsea fisherman).

May the seas always be calm and may you always return home to land safe. - (Filipino fisherman prayer)

Doddie

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TOTALLY have enjoyed this blog and your glimpse of life in the opposite corner of the country from me. And your coast, so different from SoCal's wide, sandy beaches. LOVED it. Thank you for taking us into your world.

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Fabulous blog, sir. Many thanks for the lovely tour of your fair city.

(Even though that Moxie cocktail gave me The Fear. :wacko::laugh: )

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Can you make any recommendations for a quick late lunch of fried whole belly clams?
You know, Gilbert's isn't bad - it's the bloody parking. There are handy garages nearby however. If you go there, try for a table outside. Just down the block is J's Oyster, a local favorite - some parking spaces right there, too. Then down another block is Portland Lobster Company right next to DiMillo's Wharf. PM me if you are in trouble, and post your opinions of your choice of fried clam venue on the New England Forum when you can! :cool:

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Johnny, Thanks for a wonderful blog.

I really enjoyed it, and I don't eat seafood, so that should tell ya, you did a great job!

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Thank you all, very, very much for your kind words of appreciation. I had a great time too. I will try to clear the deck of missed questions and musings so we can all go party in Madrid.

When I tried to buys these at a nice fishmarket in NJ I was told they were illegal, then I promptly saw them at a Korean market.
I hear you can buy scallops in the shell with roe-sac in Chinatown, but it's illegal to land scallops like that here in Maine. I can't find any licensing or notes on periwinkle harvesting on the Marine Resources of Maine website. I think local people totally ignore them. Whelks, however, are harvested and pickled in huge jars downeast. They sit on convenience store shelves next to the beef jerky.
All the frozen periwinkle I've found at Asian markets in the US have a terrible formaldehyde-like flavor to them. I've only had good periwinkle in Asia.
Sounds revolting. I hate frozen things that I don't freeze myself. I'm a huge fan of periwinkles now, and will continue to experiment with them, thanks to an idea brought on by a walk on the beach at low tide.
When I was a kid, my mom and I would drive up to Cape Ann and gather them on the rocks. Then we'd head home, clean them in a few changes of water, and steam them. Finally, we'd pick 'em out of their little shells, flick off the operculum (the little door -- thanks, google wink.gif), dip them in butter, and feast. The rest of my family thought it was nuts, but I loved it.
Changes of water? Hmmm. Steaming? Hmm, Hmmmm. I'll try it that way. Might de-grit them better. Thanks for the name of the little "door", operculum. My collander was littered with them. Glad for the elimination of a step in prep.

I swear the little snots tasted sooo much like escargots I think we have a viable fishery in it's nascent state. And you know what happens when I get hot about an underserved fishery! :biggrin:

I'll be back to finish in just a wee bit...

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thanks for taking me to Portland, johnnyd! I really enjoyed it - your writing, the seafood, the clear blue skies, the fishing trips.

And I saved your braised pork recipe, that looked so good.

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