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johnnyd

eG Foodblog: johnnyd - Dining Downeast

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Hi Gang!

Most mornings I ride my bike over to Spring Point to get a lungful of sea air and see what's going on in the channel. Spring Point juts into Casco Bay on it's western side, just outside the mouth of the Fore River where the city of Portland sits on a peninsula.

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Around the bend from the point is Willard Beach, a typical New England seaside neighborhood with a mix of summertime folk and year-round dwellers who make the short commute over the bridge into Portland for work.

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At the little town square there is a bakery called One Fifty Eight owned and operated by eGullet's KeysToVt where I like to stop in and get a peach muffin or some local cheese, but today I didn't have time. We'll catch her later this week.

Welcome to Maine, everyone!

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Hooray, johnnyd!

What a great time of year to eat in Maine. Can't wait to read more.

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Yes, indeedy.

Maine has about ten weeks to grow things, then pffft!, it's all about snow, ice and mud. The season was a bit late to start but I've been watching the local Farmer's Markets and there is a lot of tasty stuff being harvested now. The corn finally appeared just last week and is delicious. No heirloom tomatos yet but I haven't checked all the spots that sell them yet.

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This decidedly un-Mainey bit of produce was actually grown on my Mom's porch in Florida. One day she threw a few papaya seeds into an idle flowerpot and before you know it, she's got five gigantic fruit which were about to get ripe before her trip here. She picked the biggest one and dragged it on the plane, through security, the works. I squirt some fresh lime on it and call it breakfast.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

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Hey, John - great to see you blogging. What a beautiful place you live in!

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Looking forward to your blog from Maine johnnyd!

Any blueberries around still?


Edited by ludja (log)

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Yes! This will help me glean just a few more days of vicarious vacation in as I trudge back to the daily grind. Johnnyd, just seeing your name up there gave me a charge! That papaya looks excellent. Those special plants that come up when we nonchalantly chuck seeds in pots are the best kind, especially if they produce FRUIT! :cool:

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Pretty! I miss seeing large bodies of water...

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Plenty of Blueberries, Ludja. Saw a quart of small wild ones for $5 this weekend and a colleague brought in a bucketfull he and the kids picked themselves over the weekend. These were larger berries that grow on tall bushes, not the short, scrubby, heather-like plants that are on acres of land way Downeast. We ate way too many, if that's possible, they were scrumptious.

Pretty! I miss seeing large bodies of water...

If things work out, you're going to see what's going on UNDER this particular large body of water! Those who know a bit about me might remember I was a diver for sea urchins a few years ago (see bio) here in the Gulf of Maine. I still keep in touch with old dive pals and every so often we get together and jump in the water for old times sake. I thought it would be fun to take a few pics underwater this week, assuming the conditions stay stable weather-wise, boat details are ironed out and I find something down there I can eat.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

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I did remember, and I LOVE sea urchins. I'll keep my fingers crossed for good weather.

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Underwater photos and sea urchins! Yay! Maine! Yay! I'm looking forward to this.

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Ok, johnny . . . fess up. You scanned a postcard for that first picture, didn't you now. :biggrin::raz:

Ah . . . Another blog in the frigid north. That is really refreshing from down here where the temps are still in the mid to high 90s and humidity hovering in the 70% range.

I have everything crossed that can be crossed that you can get those underwater pictures. I am going to put in an order for a scallop snapping along.

Blog on.

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Ok, johnny . . . fess up. You scanned a postcard for that first picture, didn't you now.  :biggrin:  :raz:

Ah . . . Another blog in the frigid north. That is really refreshing from down here where the temps are still in the mid to high 90s and humidity hovering in the 70% range.

I have everything crossed that can be crossed that you can get those underwater pictures. I am going to put in an order for a scallop snapping along.

Blog on.

fifi, dahling! You flatter me so, :wub: That was a great shot I must admit, finestkind as they say around he-ah. Took a few this AM but only a couple made the cut.

I had originally hoped to capture a scallop snapping along just above the seabottom (they are hysterical when they swim) but I realized that a really expensive underwater camera case would be the only way to do it. Scallops live in water 35 feet or deeper so the el cheapo underwater disposable camera I bought instead will get crushed down there. Therefore I'll have to stay relatively shallow. The in-shore lobstering is still quite active so a string of traps, up close and personal, might have to do.

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Johnny, this is going to be an awesome blog. I won't have much time to follow it as it goes along, but I will try to check in periodically. You do have a fascinating bio!

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Uh oh! Someone in this bunch?! Look out folks! :cool:

So I went downtown at lunch and got lost at the Portland Public Market,

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There are lots of tasty things here. This is some local produce.

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Cheese from around the world,

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Cheese from here in Maine, too.

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Some crazy sour mustard pickles from Waldoboro...

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Wonderful smoked seafood,

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...and a guy who makes sausage. This is Mark who works for Maurice Bonneau's Sausage Kitchen.

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We got to talking and they pulled me in the back to check out some of their gear. This is Maurice and their super-fast link maker. This thing winds up a pound a second...

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This handsome grinder unit handles 50 pounds of sausage a whack...

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...and this is their industrial smoker! I know a couple people here are drooling...

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Finally the oyster bar at Scales, way down at the end of the market.

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So the deal this week is that Mrs. Johnnyd and I are living in two places. We rented a summer "camp" or cottage in Cape Elizabeth this month so my 84yr old mom can get the hell out of Florida for a bit. Maybe escape a hurricane or two. Turns out she had to return last week for health reasons and just in time for a storm to bear down on her town. It's crazy how things go sometimes, eh?

Now this camp was built in 1909 way out by a point of rocks called whaleback rock. There are a couple other houses there inhabited by people who used to go there as kids in the summer. They all have grand kids now so you can guess this little bit of paradise has been in the same hands for decades. There is no phone, TV or internet access so if I am away from the blog for a bit, that's the reason.

Another good point is that those grandkids do a lot of lobstering off whaleback rock so we'll be sure to check in with them to see how things are going! :wink:


Edited by johnnyd (log)

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johnny... was listening to Democracy Now! today @ work and thought of you and when your blog was going to be up. I opened up the thread and my gf said, "Wow, that's pretty, where is it?" I told her and she just laughed..we had actually been there once before during the early wooing stages of the relationship. And we're actually going to Hugo's this Saturday for our 1 yr anniversary, which I am VERY excited about.

Are you still planning on coming to the restaurant this week? Going to hit the farmers market for the blog on saturday?

Oh and I stopped by Honey's tonight. Had a good talk w/Sharon--she just rocks.

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Johnny... wonderful blog... thanks so much for giving your time to this pursuit. I hear that Portland ME is a wonderful mecca for good eats.

(BTW, so is Portland, OR!) :biggrin:

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Johnny, your fried clam throw-down on the New England forum got me started on my own local "clam crawl" this summer--though I've yet to post any pictures and reviews (sorry!). Looking forward to more challenges here. Please include recipes!

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Uh oh!  Someone in this bunch?! Look out folks! :cool:

Well, you can eliminate the bald guy and the beautiful woman to his right from the list of potential bloggers. We'll be away on vacation! Hint hint hint ....

Really loving this Johnny. How large is the Public Market in Portland? The architecture looks somewhat similar to Granville Island in Vancouver, BC, but saddly, we have no industrial smoker of which I am aware. :sad: I'm also really looking forward to the seafood ... please?

A.

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Talk a bit more about the blueberries, and where they grow. In northern MN, they are a late July/early August thing, and mostly found way, way up north In Our Secret Blueberry Spot. We've had several of these secret spots, and they tend to pop up a couple of years after a granite ridge has been logged off.

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I've been looking forward to your blog for a good long while, johnnyd! It's already bringing back some memories of my childhood (grandparents in Waterville):

Some crazy sour mustard pickles from Waldoboro...

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Do you think you can snag a recipe for those? Or does anyone have one? These things are killer....

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I've been looking forward to your blog for a good long while, johnnyd! It's already bringing back some memories of my childhood (grandparents in Waterville):
Some crazy sour mustard pickles from Waldoboro...

gallery_16643_3_531.jpg

Do you think you can snag a recipe for those? Or does anyone have one? These things are killer....

I have a recipe for them somewhere. . .from my own grandmother in Waterville.

If nobody else comes up with one by the end of the blog, I'll start a hunt through the endless unorganized files I have. . . :biggrin:

Expensive recipe, though. I remember buying lots of powdered mustard last time I made it, lots lots. Probably better to hit the spice stores rather than the grocery store for that. . . :wink:

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How large is the Public Market in Portland?

It's 17,000sq feet of floor space including walk-ins and storage. The douglas fir beams are 45 feet long. A bit about the market's history here.

Talk a bit more about the blueberries, and where they grow.

The blueberry is indigenous to northern Maine where about 60,000 acres are covered with 'em. When I drove downeast in october to urchin-dive, the blueberry barrens were a riot of reds and orange, a spectacular foliage effect on millions of little leaves. They are harvested by locals and migrant workers, a lot of jamaicans, who do the apple circuit in Vermont as well. Excellent page on Maine's blueberries here from the University.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

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