Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eat your Maine from a basket.

Fig.1. Swimming in a sea of beige. Clockwise from left: Clam chowder served in a bread bowl, fried scallops, fried clams and fried haddock and chips. All from Bob's Clam Hut.

I’m a sucker for food in a basket. It comes with the expectation of having to eat with your fingers and the absence of pretension. My recent trip to Maine was packed with such unpretentious and delicious basket food. Also in abundance was some marvellous New England style Americana which came in the form of roadside stands and signs.

Fig.2. Out of all the fried clams I consumed, Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery was the best. The place was full of men working on their gout as they waited for their wives who were busy in the numerous, surrounding outlet stores.

Fig.3. US Route 1 through Maine is adorned with great antique stores and signs such as the one above. Lobster in The Rough was recommended to us by some locals. It has no address and is only opened during peak season. As the name suggests, tourists and locals alike eat on outdoor picnic tables surrounded by trees and then get drunk around an opened air bar. Add some oyster shots and a CCR tribute band and a good time is had by all--except for the lobsters of course.

Every food writer knows it’s not so much the food as it is the experience. Ocean-side eating is a perfect example of this: Eating a Lobster in Montreal can be a great experience, but eating one on the beach, feet in the sand while listening to and smelling the surf pound the shore can be sublime. There are many such experiences to be had in Maine, especially as you drive along US Route 1 from Kittery to Kennebunk.

Fig.4. A short walk from the beach, Fox's Lobster House,on York Beach, is situated on Nubble Point next to the Nubble Lighthouse.

Fig.5. A lobster roll and a bowl of clam chowder from Fox's. I don't get the allure of the lobster roll, as for the clam chowder, the best ones are an hour's drive south in Boston.

Fig.6. Steamed clams from Barnacle Billy's in Perckin's Cove. It come with drawn butter and some water to wash off any sand still stuck to the clam. The restaurant was a bit of a tourist trap but the food was surprisingly good, especially the fried scallops.

Fig.7. The only way, it seems, to get color in your diet in Maine is to eat lobster. I couldn't find a vegetable anywhere. (OK, maybe I wasn't looking in the right place...or looking at all for that matter.) This beautiful specimen was consumed at, Lobster in The Rough. Served with some drawn butter, it was sweet, juicy, and delicious. A great example of proper, honest food.

Bob's Clam Hut, 315 US Route 1, Kittery 207-439-4233 http://www.bobsclamhut.com/

Barnacle Billy's, Shore road, Perkin's Cove, 1-800-866-5575 http://www.barnbilly.com/

Fox's Lobster House, Nubble Point, York Beach 207-363-2643 http://www.foxslobster.com/

Lobster in The Rough, somewhere in York off of Route 1 in the deep woods.

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