We just finished six weeks in the South of France, on the Cote d’Azur, in a little village just next to Nice called Villefranche-Sur-Mer. As we have done for the past three years, we’ve been trying to improve our French language skills (while, incidentally, escaping the Maine winter. This year proved to be a great year to be away from Maine!) Here are a few pictures of our activities — when we weren’t studying our French. (Click on the small image to see a larger version)
Local Scene & News - Coveside Blog
So it hasn’t been as pleasant as we expected here on the Cote d’Azur — lots of rain and chilly temperatures. It’s still a lot warmer than Maine; especially this year! We’re spending almost two months in France this winter, most of it in a little fishing village next to Nice, on the Mediterranean — Villefranche-sur-Mer. We’re continuing our efforts to learn to speak French reasonably well with courses at the Institut de Francais. And, of course, we plan to absorb French culture, food, wine, etc. The weather reports predict an improvement, and we’re looking forward to putting our umbrellas away for a while.The picture above is the view from our school, looking toward Cap Ferat. A lovely spot. If you wish, you can follow our travels on our travel blog here.
Late summer and fall are the time to find ripe red tomatoes in the farmers market. It’s a bit harder to find green tomatoes (unless you have them growing in your own garden!). We ordered a bag from our favorite farm stand and decided to try a popular southern dish, fried green tomatoes, as an unusual addition to a breakfast menu. The results were so popular we’re adding them to our regular breakfast repertoire. We served them with herbed scrambled eggs, cheddar-chive scones, and Niman Ranch sausage links. Delicious!
Making fried green tomatoes couldn’t be easier. Core and slice firm green tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices and place them on a baking sheet. The secret is then to sprinkle both sides generously with salt and sugar (like you were seasoning a steak) and let them sit 30 minutes or so to draw out the water and insure a crispy coating. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat and add two tablespoons olive oil and two tablespoons unsalted butter. Gently press each slice between layers of paper towels to dry and then dip each first into lightly beaten egg, and then press into a mixture of half panko bread crumbs and half grated Parmesan cheese, until both sides are thoroughly covered and the crumb-cheese mixture adheres well. Make sure the oil is hot but not smoking. Fry until bottoms are golden brown; turn and fry other sides till golden, adding more butter and oil if necessary. Top with eggs — scrambled, poached, or fried. Or try a fried green tomato benedict, using the tomato instead of an English muffin, topped with ham or bacon, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. We found the basic recipe for the tomatoes on one of our favorite food blogs, Amanda Hesser’s Food 52. The recipe for the delicious cheddar-chive scones is in the new cookbook from Portland’s Standard Baking Company.
Local Georgetown restaurants are frequently closed one or more nights during the week in the autumn, a particular problem for guests arriving in the evening after a long drive. We decided to offer the option of dinner at Coveside on several fall evenings when a number of guests were scheduled to arrive. We invited our Georgetown neighbor, Robert Masciola, to be guest chef. Rob’s family comes from the Abruzzi region of Italy and he is an accomplished cook. He (aided by his wife, Amy) prepared a memorable meal that featured vegetables from our local farm market, home-made pasta, local Five Islands Lobster, and a delectable apple caramel tart prepared by Carolyn (served with Tom’s home-made salty caramel ice cream). The menu and pictures (by Amy Masciola) are below.
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:
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: