Bountiful Maine

No matter how many times I had heard about the beauty of Maine, I was nonetheless unprepared.  Unprepared for the rocky shore and the tidal pools at low tide…

 …the seemingly endless stretches of summer cottages…

 …the joy of a perfect beach day…

 …the sunsets…

…and the food!!!

One fine evening our gracious hosts in York Harbor, Maine, suggested we drive to nearby Ogunquit to check out Arrows Restaurant.  Arrows is owned and operated by two chefs, Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, who ventured out East from the West Coast about twenty years ago.  Mark and Clark met in 1985 while cooking at Jeremiah Tower’s Stars restaurant in San Francisco.  They moved to Maine to pioneer the farm-to-table concept by growing their own crops, curing their own meats, and making their own cheeses.  Topping off their list of achievements, in 2010 they were awarded the James Beard “Best Chefs of the Northeast”.

To
interject with a bit of background, Harvard-educated Jeremiah Tower is
said to have applied for a job at Chez Panisse after having tried a
berry tart at the then-unknown restaurant.  As Executive Chef and
business partner with Alice Waters, Tower is often credited alongside
Waters and Wolfgang Puck as developing the culinary style known as
“California Cuisine”.  Needless to say, when it came to checking out Arrows, I was all in.   

Arrows is located off a winding road in a restored farmhouse with hard wood floors, exposed wood beams, and large picture windows overlooking the gardens.  Twinkling lights abound in this exquisite setting where the focus is on attention to detail, the high quality of the food and impeccable service.  Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted
by Chef Clark Frasier, who also came by our table during
the meal to ask if we were enjoying ourselves…if there was anything
more they could do.  Rumor has it that the chefs enjoy being visible in the restaurant and are open to signing their cookbooks and menus.

Herb gardens in the walkways leading to Arrows

Happily ensconced at a four-top with a lovely view of the gardens, we ordered the featured cocktail, “The Blue Honeybee”, a combination of blueberry-infused vodka, local mead, lime juice, and soda garnished with orange-marinated Maine blueberries.  Mead was a first for me, as I was picturing a strong honey wine not unlike what Robert Baratheon would have been drinking in the “Game of Thrones”.  But the drink was subtle, not overpowering…a theme for the food in general.  I felt the kitchen let the food speak for itself, without the fuss of heavy sauces.  

While we sipped our cocktails, the waiter presented us with a choice of four types of bread along with a choice of tasty “Little Heart” appetizers that were displayed on a tea cart.  We opted for the Strange Flavored Eggplant with Sesame Chips (evoking the senses of the Orient with ginger, soy, garlic, sesame oil), and the Deviled Green Eggs with Ham ( eggs seasoned with herbs from the garden such as parsley and tarragon).  Unable to make a decision on the entree, we went for the whole enchilada: the six course tasting menu with paired wines.  As the menu changes seasonally, even monthly, with Chefs Frasier and Gaier choosing only the freshest ingredients from their garden and the local community, the menu from our meal in August 2013 was as follows:

Mascarpone Tortellini with Mini Meat Balls, Preserved Lemon Sauce and Garden Squash
2010 Novellum Chardonnay
Summertime Salad: Everything in the Garden
2011 Chateau Tuilerie Pages White Bordeaux
Plancha Seared Redfish with Warm Vegetable Salad, Garlic Chive Pesto,
 Crispy Grit Croutons and Herb Sabayon
2010 Chateau de Campuget Rose
Clark’s Peking Duck in Three Preparations
2011 Gerard Bertrand Pinot Noir
Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Swiss Chard, Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette,
Summer Squash “Fries” and Gruyere Fondue
2009 Buried Cane Cabernet Sauvignon
Olive Oil and Almond Cake, Brown Sugar Roasted Peaches,
Thyme Streusel and Mascarpone Ice Cream
2010 Sauternes 
The hands down favorite was the tenderloin with the Gruyere fondue.  Paired with a tiny copper pot of Gruyere fondue for dipping, it was brilliant.  The Duck was also a big hit, served in three small portions: a duck liver dumpling in duck consumme, duck with skin served in a thin crepe, and, my fave, duck confit.  

Maine, where have you been all my life?  I shall blog about you some more…until then, eat well, and eat big!

Just one?

 

In Acadia Nat’l Park, a scene right out of Blueberries for Sal
Chilaxin’

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