Saturday, August 15, 2009

I’m Back!

Did you miss me?

What? You didn’t know I was gone? awwwww….

Well, for anyone who did miss me, or for anyone who wonders where the heck I went, for the past week, I was traipsing around Acadia National Park, Maine. And what a beautiful, glorious kingdom it is! Seafood to your heart’s content, picturesque views at every turn, weather that changes by the minute, and the unforgettable smell of the ocean infusing every breath you take. I’ll share a smattering of photos below, but if you’re interested in non-food related photography of Maine, you can check out additional pictures from my trip here.

But before I share with you my Maine foodie finds, I must comment on what occurred while I was away: Big Man Bruni slapped four stars on Eleven Madison Park!?! For real? No doubt Eleven Madison is one class act, but this here Maine-loving vacationer can’t help but wonder how much this rating has to do with Bruni going out with a bang (before Sam Sifton takes the reigns), as opposed to how much EMP actually deserves those stars. …Is it really up there with Per Se? Le Bernardin? Who knows, very possible, I suppose. Guess I was just surprised to come back to the coveted, four star rating.

Anyway, back to magnificent, wondrous Maine:

After eight solid hours in the car ride up (more like nine with traffic and rest-stops), quaint lobster shacks began to dot Route 3. I really wanted to hold out until I got to Bar Harbor to devour my first lobster, but when I saw this cute little shack in the town of Trenton, I couldn’t resist:
Once I had pulled in and wiped the drool from my mouth, I realized that the shack, the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, was the same one recommended by loyal reader and newfound texting buddy Todd (“It’s good, right?” he texted, after my message to him: “Trenton Lobster Pound: THANK YOU”).

It’s good, all right. Like, the freshest, most succulent lobster I’ve ever tasted. Prepared in seawater over wood-fired cookers, and served with melted butter and a soft, doughy roll.
You can eat it outside on a picnic table, and then wash your hands with a garden house before driving off on your merry way.

For breakfast almost each and every morning, it was Jeannie’s on Cottage Street, Bar Harbor, Maine (a good home base for those interested in hiking Acadia).
The cheery yellow walls, the servers who treated us like regulars after only our second visit: it was just a good, welcoming way to start each morning. Breakfast was pretty basic, but the homemade oatmeal bread was first-rate. Served as a side with any breakfast order, or as the French Toast, extra thick, this bread was all kinds of hearty hotness. Also delightful was the bowl of strawberry-rhubarb jam left on each table, perfect for smothering said bread. Seriously. I know everyone talks about the wild Maine blueberries (yes, blueberries were everywhere: in jam, juice, ice cream, growing in the wild, pie), but the strawberry rhubarb jam was the reason we kept coming back to Jeannie’s. I bought two (ahem, one now) jars before I left, but guess what? You can order it too, from Jeannie’s web site! (Be forewarned: it is addicting.)
We also sampled Cafe This Way’s breakfast. Isn’t it adorable?
There were definitely no complaints with my breakfast burrito:
But we had a “where everybody knows your name” thing going on at Jeannie’s. And that’s hard to find on vacation.

The only place to eat once you’re inside the actual National Park is Jordan Pond House.
You’d think that the folks over there would be phoning it in with the monopoly they’ve got, but instead, they’re serving up scrumptious meals in a stunning locale. Not to be missed are the popovers. And you won’t miss them because servers bring you a complimentary basket along with whipped butter and strawberry jam (not as good as Jeannie’s) before your meal. They simply melt in your mouth.
You can have afternoon tea and popovers at Jordan Pond House, but with all the hiking we were doing each day, we had a full lunch on two occasions. The first day was all about the lobster roll:
This was very good. Generous serving of lobster, well-seasoned, served on buttered, toasted bread. Ironically, New York City’s Pearl Oyster Bar still beat out Maine’s Jordan Pond Lobster Roll.

I also tried a cup of the seafood chowder, described on the menu as scallops, shrimp, haddock and potatoes in a creamy broth:
I think you can see from the picture that the soup wasn’t too creamy. The consistency was more watery and oily. And while there were plenty of potatoes and some haddock in there, I don’t think I got a single scallop or shrimp. Still, the flavor was decent. Maybe everything just tastes better when you’re eating outside and looking at this:
Here’s a pic of the wild blueberry crisp:
And the homemade coffee ice cream with Oreos:
Both were enjoyable and refreshing, but not slam dunks.

Afterwards, stroll down to the pond and pick wild blueberries (they’re everywhere, I tell you!), and if you’ve eaten too much, do the three-mile loop around the pond. (It’s a gorgeous, mostly flat walk.)

I had such a jones for fried, full-bellied clams before I went to Maine, perhaps that was the reason I got suckered into the tourist trap Stewman’s Lobster Pound.
The location is suh-weet, right on the wharf, with a stunning outdoor deck overlooking the whale watching boats coming in, and kayakers going out, but perhaps this prime locale is why Stewman’s doesn’t have to try too hard. Our food was just ok. My fried full bellied clams got the job done:
but take a look at these desserts. Here is the “Wild Maine Blueberry Pie”:
This looked/tasted like Entenmann’s.

And the “Very Berry Shortcake” (“Fresh summer berries, fruit coquille, and vanilla bean ice cream”):
I.e.: Sara Lee pound cake, frozen berries, Cool Whip, and Breyers. So disappointing. Especially when we could’ve had ice cream or homemade fudge in town instead.

We saved ice cream for the following day. A local told us the best and most unique flavors came from the famous Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream on Firefly Lane.
“Unique” is an understatement. Ice cream flavors include: chocolate wasabi (it actually works), hot chili chocolate, white Russian, nutella. And a sampling of sorbets (made with fresh fruit): grapefruit tarragon, strawberry champagne, and mojito. I sampled Salt Caramel ice cream dipped in chocolate sprinkles, which was pretty effing wonderful:
However, that night, I had the strangest, Dali-esque dreams I’ve ever had in my entire life. Coincidence? You decide.

Well, I suppose those are the standouts from my trip. I hope this is useful to you if you plan a trip to Acadia (and you should!). And I hope you enjoy my pictures!

So. Any places I should sample now that I’m back in Westchester?

Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound
Route 3 (just before the bridge onto Mt. Desert Island)
1237 Bar Harbor Road
Trenton, Maine 04605

Jeannie’s Breakfast
15 Cottage St
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Café This Way
14 ½ Mount Desert Street
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Jordan Pond House
Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park
P.O. Box 24
Bar Harbor, Maine, 04605

Stewman’s Lobster Pound
Rte 3, 35 West Street
Bar Harbor, Maine

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream

7 Firefly Lane
Bar Harbor, Maine


  1. Well, thank god I had a huge dinner, otherwise I'd be drooling all over the keyboard by now! I wonder what the grapefruit tarragon sorbet tastes like... I love those flavors separately, but never would have thought to combine them.

    By the way, your landscape photos are beautiful. I'm really impressed!

  2. These pics are delicious. So... hungry now.

  3. Wonderful write-up, Sharon. Looks like you had nice, clear weather for Jordon Pond. I could just eat the scenery...nevermind the popovers. But they're good, too. ;-) I've heard lots about the Trenton Lobster Pound, but have never been. I will be sure to stop in on my next visit!

  4. Beautiful pictures a great posting as always! I am very impressed you managed to organize and remember all those dining experiences as most surely could not.
    Is it wrong that I'm kinda glad that Pearl Oyster Bar still takes top notch? :)

  5. I feel like a celebrity making the blog!!! So cool.

    Even a lifetime Mainiac like me was intensely reading every word to see what I may have overlooked in my years there. I have never tried the Jordan Pond House and was interested to find out it may not just be a tourist trap (I should have warned you about Stewman's and the countless others that have the 'outside appearance only' with poor food quality).