Harvest time at the Bath farmers market, located along the waterfront park on the Kennebec River, is one of the joys of living in mid-coast Maine. We’ve been buying all the produce for Coveside Bed & Breakfast at the market since we opened, 16 years ago. In that time the market has grown in size from ten or twelve vendors to several dozen, and the variety has increased dramatically. In addition to nearly a dozen purveyors of fruits and vegetables, nearly all of whom are certified organic, there are several artisan bakers and cheese producers, a fabulous mushroom vendor who sells both farm-raised mushrooms, and wild mushrooms gathered in the mid-coast area. And there is farm-raised beef, lamb, pork, and poultry, farm-fresh eggs, even local wool from both sheep and alpacas. The pictures tell the story of the harvest bounty:
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Carolyn and I are 1967 graduates of Whitman College, a liberal arts college in Walla Walla, Washington. Thirteen women, members of the same sorority during the late 1960s, held a reunion at Coveside this September — their 40th annual get-together. The living group was Delta Delta Delta (the “Tri Delts”) and they took over the entire inn for 5 days, exploring a part of the country many had not seen, reminiscing, and bringing each other up to date on personal happenings. These events started in the early 70s, with weekends in each other’s homes. The group has expanded and contracted over the years with changes in personal circumstances — marriages, births of children and grandchildren, divorces, several deaths — but a core group has attended virtually every one of the 40 yearly events. We had a great time getting reacquainted with classmates, many of whom we hadn’t seen since graduation. And we envied this group who have managed to keep such a meaningful tradition going through so many years.
John Koelsch, a professional photographer based in San Francisco, and his wife, Leslie, spent a couple of days at Coveside earlier in the summer. The weather wasn’t ideal — it was foggy and wet. But it proved perfect for this lovely photograph that he was kind enough to send us. It was taken looking down toward the cove, though the cove was not to be seen through the mist. His on-line gallery, full of striking images, can be found here.
The Georgetown Working League Fair, a staple of Georgetown summers for a century, celebrated its 100th birthday this past Saturday, August 10. The Working League began as a women’s group at the First Baptist Church in Georgetown, but has evolved over the years as a service organization devoted to raising money for the betterment of the community. The major fund raisers are the fair — traditionally held on the 2nd Tuesday of August, but moved this year to the second Saturday (a change much debated in the league), and the design and execution of an heirloom quilt, all hand-made by the master quilters of the league.
The fair consists of a large “white elephant” sale (of lightly used toys, nick-nacks, household items, and miscellany), a bountiful luncheon of lobster or chicken salad (served with focaccia, fruit, macaroni salad, blueberry cake, and a drink, all for $12!), an extensive sale of art works by local artists, a kid’s tent with face painting, stories, music, and an entertainment tent with music continuing throughout the day.
Proceeds from the money-raising activities of the Working League support scholarships for local students, and grants by the League for various efforts to improve the community.
These scones are always a favorite at Coveside’s breakfasts. They’re best fresh from the oven, served with lemon curd and berry jam. (You can buy lemon curd at specialty food stores, or there is a recipe here.)
Lemon Cream Scones
(Makes 12 scones)
3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one lemon
6 Tbsp cold butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp lemon extract
Preheat over to 400 degrees
Pulse dry ingredients in a food processor, including the lemon zest. Cut butter into 6 pieces and add to dry ingredients. Pulse only until butter is the size of peas. Whisk eggs and heavy cream together and then add the lemon extract. At the B&B I prepare the ingredients the night before and keep them in the refrigerator. This way the ingredients are very cold and make for a better scone. Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and slowly add the egg/milk mixture, gently combining with a fork. Add a little more cream if necessary to hold the dough together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently, just until dough becomes smooth and holds together. Divide dough into two pieces. Pat each piece into a circle 1 inch thick and 6-8 inches in diameter. Place circles onto baking sheet and cut each into 6 wedges.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown; serve warm.
Here’s how they look, ready to eat with lemon curd and strawberry jam. Yummm!
One of the joys of summer in Maine is the number and variety of local festivals, fairs, and community events of every shape and color. We discovered over Memorial Day weekend – a bit of a washout weather-wise – a fair in nearby Damariscotta Mills (just up the river from Damariscotta) held each year to raise money for the restoration of the fish ladder that allows alewives to bypass the dam at the end of Damariscotta Lake and spawn in the upper reaches of the river. Alewives spend most of their lives at sea, but each spring fight their way up coastal rivers to spawn. They are an important part of the ecosystem, providing food for both shore birds and fish, to say nothing of bait for lobstermen. They are also smoked for human consumption (though we understand they are an acquired taste.) The species has been much diminished by the dams along coastal rivers and this fish “ladder,” actually a lovely series of rock pools and small falls that the fish can easily negotiate, is an important ecological success.
The three-day festival included music, a pig roast, roasted hot dogs, a beer tent, special “fish eye” ice cream (chocolate with M&Ms) and other homemade deserts. Visitors to the festival are invited to walk up the cascading pools of the fish ladder (which actually runs through the back yards of a number of local families) and watch the fish jump their way to the lake. Here are some pictures of the festivities:
Not to soon to think about paddling! The Midcoast of Maine is a world-class kayaking destination and we invite current and potential paddlers to take a Maine Kayak Getaway in our spectacular location. Coveside Bed & Breakfast is ideally located for kayakers: our dock on Gotts Cove provides direct access to Sheepscot Bay. The incredible number of nearby inlets, coves, and islands provide a variety of interesting destinations. Easy paddles include the short trip to Five Islands (and its famous lobster wharf, perhaps for lunch), or a circuit of nearby MacMahan Island. More adventurous paddles lead to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Beale Island, Robinhood Cove, the islands of Hockamock Bay, or across the Sheepscot to our favorite picnic island (pictured below) or to Oliver’s, a great little dockside restaurant with its own kayak dock on Cozy Harbor.
Paddlers can put in here at Coveside, either in their own boats or prearranged rental boats, delivered to our dock. We can prepare lunches and have suggestions for favorite beaches or coves for picnics. Novices can join a directed paddle for a morning or afternoon, organized by Sea Spray Kayaking, departing either from their headquarters on the New Meadows River or from Sebasco Harbor Resort on the Phippsburg peninsula.
We have put together a kayaking package for those staying with us at least two nights. It includes half-day paddle (including boat rental and all equipment) with a leader/instructor with Sea Spray and, to celebrate a great day on the water, dinner for two at our favorite Bath restaurant, Solo Bistro. The cost (not including lodging charges) for this $175 value is $150. If desired, $90 of the package cost can be applied to kayak rental and delivery to Coveside.
Click here to check on availability, or phone or email us; we’re always happy to talk about paddling in our special location.
We learned about Easter Pie years ago, when visiting the family of an Italian-American graduate school friend, John Agresto (who recently published a cookbook full of great recipes and reminiscences of growing up in Brooklyn, Tomatoes, Basil and Olive Oil: An Italian-American Cookbook). In addition to an Easter dinner of monumental proportions, their holiday was marked by a tasty spinach/cheese/meat pie that simply sat around in the kitchen for snacking in the unlikely event that someone was hungry. Carolyn and I spotted a recipe a few years later (1972!) in the Sunday NY Times for “An Elegant Easter Pie,” a recipe by Jean Hewitt under the title “Anita Sheldon’s Torta Di Spinaci.” It wasn’t quite the same as the Easter pie we remembered at the Agrestos, but it was mighty good and it became a family tradition at Eastertime until we lost the recipe some years back. It was, thankfully, recovered recently at the bottom of a file cabinet and it’s been reinstated in our holiday repertoire. We served it most recently at our annual Easter Brunch. While it has holiday credentials, it also makes for great picnic fare, or an easy luncheon dish. We just noticed that the recipe has also been published in Amanda Hesser’s wonderful new The Essential New York Times Cookbook.
Here’s the recipe, with thanks to the New York Times, Jean Hewitt, Amanda Hesser, and Anita Sheldon.
ANITA SHELDON’S TORTA Dl SPINACI
Serves 8 to 10 [or more — it’s a generous size]
For the Pastry
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces [put in all this butter; the pastry is rich, but delicious!]
1 large egg yolk
Approximately 3 tablespoons water
For the Filling
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 3/4 pounds fresh spinach, trimmed and washed well, or two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach
Three 1-inch-thick smoked pork chops or pork loin (about 1 pound), any fat and bones removed and meat diced, or 1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 5 ounces)
1 cup (8 ounces) ricotta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1. To make the pastry, place the flour, salt, and butter in a bowl. With a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.
2. Mix the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons water and sprinkle over the mixture. Stir with a fork, adding only enough extra water to make a dough that just clings together. Divide the dough in half and form into 2 disks. Wrap each one in wax paper and chill briefly.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions until tender but not browned. Set aside.
4. If using fresh spinach, place the washed spinach leaves, with just the water that clings, in a large saucepan, cover tightly, and cook until the leaves wilt. Drain well and let cool enough to touch. In batches, gather the leaves in your palm and press out all the liquid by squeezing as firmly as possible. Chop the spinach. Or, if using frozen spinach, cook according to the package directions; drain well, cool, and squeeze dry. [Note: the squeezing part is really important — get all the water our or you’ll have a soggy crust!]
5. Combine the chopped spinach and onions in a bowl and let cool completely, then add the diced smoked pork, Parmesan cheese, ricotta, salt and pepper to taste, and lightly beaten eggs.
6. Heat the oven to 425°F. Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured work surface into 12-inch circle and line a 10-inch pie plate with it. Brush the bottom and sides of the shell with the lightly beaten egg white. Pour in the filling.
7. Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the filling. Trim, seal, and crimp the edges. Make a steam hole and if you’re up for it place leaves, cut from the pastry scraps, around the hole (not over it). [We put leaves around the edges for an elegant spring look.]
8. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and done. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.
The torta can be baked early in the day and reheated in a 375°F oven. Cover loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning. [It is also just fine at room temperature or slightly warmed]
To celebrate Memorial Day, the opening of our 16th season, and to encourage visitors to experience the Maine coast in the quieter days of early summer, we have put together a irresistible package for a Memorial Day Getaway, good through May 31. For any new bookings in May that include at least three nights at Coveside, we will provide — at no additional charge beyond our low-season room rates — some great additional benefits
- *dinner for two at our favorite Bath restaurant, Solo Bistro.
- *free admission for two at your choice of the Mid-coast’s two most popular
attractions, the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath or the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in nearby Boothbay. The Maritime Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into Maine’s shipbuilding and seafaring past and present. Admission includes a reduced cost for their popular boat trips on the Kennebec. The Botanical Gardens are the largest in the Northeast and have become Maine’s second most popular tourist destination (after Acadia National Park) and a spectacular addition to our area.
- *two decadent lobster rolls at the ever-popular Five Islands Lobster Company, a five-minute walk from Coveside and always on lists of Maine’s best lobster wharfs. The view, and the lobster, are the best!
This is a $140 value, at no additional cost! And, of course, our guests always enjoy a complementary gourmet breakfast and free access to our bicycles and canoe.
Click here to check availability and make a reservation.
A sure sign of spring: oystering has begun on the Maine coast and our favorite spot for quaffing them (along with a pint of Pemaquid Ale ) is King Eider’s Pub, on the main drag in Damariscotta. This delightful village is about a 40-minute drive north of Coveside on highway one. It sits at the top of the lovely Pemaquid peninsula, home to lighthouses, a favorite summer restaurant — Shaws Fish and Lobster Wharf in the village of New Harbor, and great scenery. We think these oysters from Darariscotta River, raised in the chilly waters of Maine, are about the finest oysters we’ve ever tasted. But ice in the river prevents their harvesting during the winter months. All the more reason to take advantage of these treats when they are available!