Archive for February, 2011

BOOTHBAY, MAINE INNKEEPERS’ NITE OUT: DINNER IN BATH, AN AUSTEN PLAY IN BRUNSWICK AND NARY A MUMMIE OR A ZOMBIE OR A SEA MONSTER IN SIGHT …

February 24th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

Our "first date" in our new home ...

Last week Richard and I decided it was high time we went out on our “first date” in our new home and what better time to do it than around Valentine’s Day.   So we made plans … dinner first, followed by a play.  We were both very excited and found ourselves looking forward to our night out!  It was a huge success, I am happy to report!

For dinner we chose a restaurant in Bath recommended by a fellow Barter’s Island Community Club member. 

Solo Bistro decor is "Maine Modern"

The Solo Bistro (www.solobistro.com) was super!  The décor is “Maine Modern” with pale wood tables and brightly colored chairs.  The choices were wide ranging and the prices competitive.  We opted for the three-course Prix Fixe menu of the evening.  We had no regrets as we savored our spinach salad with vanilla white balsamic vinaigrette; Maine Shrimp Risotto with tomato, leek, eggplant and Greek olives; and chocolate chip cookie sandwich with pumpkin marshmallow ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce.  Our waitress was friendly and attentive, but not intrusive and we left knowing that we would definitely put the Solo Bistro on the “must do that again” list.

Then it was off to Brunswick and the play.  The play was a production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the Theater Project adapted by Joe Hanready and J.R. Sullivan and directed by Christopher Price.

The Theater Project (www.theaterproject.com) was founded in 1972 as a non-profit community-based theater in Brunswick, Maine.  Its mission is “to change young and old; to enrich and inspire their living, and provide a safe environment for original and dynamic exploration.”  If this production of P&P is any indication I would have to say that they wholeheartedly fulfill their mission.

Now I must admit I am a Jane Austen devotee and am pretty fussy about adaptations of her work, but I am happy to say that the performance and staging at the Theater Project was fabulous – just fabulous and did Miss Austen’s work great justice!

The auditorium seats about 75 or so and it was a SOLD OUT performance.  The ages of the audience ranged from vivacious and charming college students to low key and charming old timers (like us). But one thing was clear – everyone there was enjoying the play.  The set consisted of one small round dining room table, four would-be Chippendale chairs, two upholstered benches, two wooden benches, two topiaries and a crystal chandelier that magically appeared or disappeared as was needed to indicate that we had moved to Pemberly or to the infamous residence of the infamous Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  The furniture was moved in and out of position by two young ladies attired as servants who occasionally draped a lace tablecloth over the small round table and topped it off with a vase (pronounced with a short “a” sound of course) of flowers and who always curtsied. 

The ensemble cast was very good, especially the actress playing Elizabeth.  She was delightful and I would liken her performance to that of Jennifer Ehle’s in the A&E version also starring Colin Firth.  But it was the actor playing Mr. Collins, who in our opinion stole the show!  He was awkward, self-effacing, slimy, cow-towing … and that smile – Yuk! In short, he was perfect!

Richard and I thoroughly enjoyed it – we discussed it on the way home and again over the next few days.  And of course it inspired me to once again drag out my much beloved, dog-eared copy of P&P … you know what they say:  once an Austen devotee, always an Austen devotee.

HODGDON ISLAND INN BOOTHBAY HALF HOUR’S DRIVE TO BATH AND MAINE MARITIME MUSEUM

February 24th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

Bath, Maine - a New England City

If you have ever driven along Route 1 headed towards the Boothbay Region from the southern part of the state you have passed through Bath, Maine.  You would remember it – It has a very unique profile.  Bath, built along the shores of the Kennebec River and unlike the towns of Boothbay Harbor or Damariscotta for instance, is a city. On one side of Route 1, the view is that of a very typical New England city – tall white church spires, domed public buildings and preserved remnants of impressive 18th and 19th century mansions and storefronts.  On the other side of Route 1 is one of the city’s crown jewels: the Bath Iron Works (BIW). 

Massive cranes tower above Bath Iron Works where state-of-the-art military vessels are still built

This center of shipbuilding is outlined by the massive cranes which tower above the facility where state-of-the-art military vessels are still built.  And just beyond BIW is the other of the crown jewels in the City of Bath: the Maine Maritime Museum.

Now several times this winter, Richard and I have set off to explore any number of sites within a half hour’s drive of Hodgdon Island Inn and Boothbay, and somehow we have found ourselves back at this, and I quote, “mecca for boat lovers” and history buffs.

Maine Maritime Museum: the state's premier marine museum!

It is no wonder that the Maine Maritime Museum is the state’s premier marine museum!  The setting, on 20 acres along the Kennebec River, includes the award-winning Maritime History Building and Welcome Center (where the permanent and temporary displays are housed along with the gift shop), the restored original buildings from the Percy & Small Shipyard where wooden schooners were built in the 19th century; a late Victorian home; and the boat shop where volunteer craftsman build and restore small boats.  The displays and artifacts are amazing!  The staff welcoming and the volunteers enthusiastic and knowledgeable!

You definitely don't want to miss this!

 On February 19th, a new exhibit opened in the John G. Morse, Jr. Gallery.  It is called “Cold Waters, Cold War:  The 21st Century Navy in Maine”.  It is an amazing story about the part Maine played in naval and defense operations during the Cold War.  If you’re a Tom Clancy fan, you definitely don’t want to miss this!  If you consider yourself a patriot, you definitely don’t want to miss this either!  The exhibit runs through August 7, 2011.

To get to the museum (www.MaineMaritimeMuseum.org) from Hodgdon Island Inn, Boothbay:  take Barter’s Island Road, making a slight left on to Corey Lane which becomes ME-27.  Take ME-27 to US-1 South.  Take US 1 South to exit for ME-209/DOWNTOWN HISTORIC BATH/PHIPPSBURG (you’ll be on Vine Street). Turn LEFT under bridge on to Washington Street.  Go past BIW and MMM will be on the LEFT.

MAINE COAST BOOK SHOP AND CAFÉ SHORT DRIVE FROM HODGDON ISLAND INN AND BOOTHBAY HARBOR

February 16th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

A town in Maine called Damariscotta

In a town in Maine called Damariscotta (pronounced dam-uh-riss-COT-ta) on the Pemaquid Peninsula, about 15.5 miles from Boothbay Harbor, there is an incredible local book shop and café right on Maine Street.

The Maine Coast Book Shop and Café  is probably Number Two on Richard’s and my list of favorite places to escape to.  It’s about a 20 minute drive from the inn along River Road just off Route 27.  (An easy way to find the turn off for River Road is to remember that River’s End Farm is located just across the street from it).  River Road meanders (a quintessential Maine descriptor) along the Damariscotta River, past beautiful 18th and 19th century Federal and colonial-style homes and several impressive brick structures (Damariscotta’s sister town, Newcastle, was not only a thriving shipbuilding town in the 1800’s, but a brick making center as well) and the Glidden Point Oyster Sea farm.  The topography of the land is such that the drive is anything, but monotonous.  You go up and down and around bends, through stretches thick with trees and then along open fields until the harbor at Damariscotta pops into view.  I find myself momentarily reverting to that childhood habit of eagerly watching for that first glimpse of the town and its buildings reflected in the river and being the first one to shout out “there it is”!

Maine Coast Book Shop short drive from Hodgdon Island Inn

Richard and I are book lovers and avid readers.  I’m afraid we have yet to make use of a Kindle or a Nook, and it’s not because we are against the concept as we read the NYT daily on our iPhones, it’s more because there is something comforting to us when we hold that tome in our hands.  I also feel connected to my now deceased parents and grandparents as I turn pages – I can hear the shushed reminders to turn the pages quietly and be careful not to break the book’s spine … SIGH.

The book shop in Damariscotta has something for everyone.  They seem to have a sixth sense about what they stock and it’s very hard not to come out without making a purchase.  The staff is also very obliging and very knowledgeable.

Richard and I are proud members of the Cafe's "Coffee Club"

The café is an amazing place as well.  Richard and I are proud members of the “Coffee Club” (purchase ten coffee-related drinks and the next one’s free!).  There are many wonderful coffees to choose from as well as fine teas and fruit drinks, but it’s their cappuccino smoothies topped (translation: the space between the top of the liquid and the top of the domed cover is filled, and I mean filled), with real cow-made thick, rich sweet cream that do it for us.  They also offer an array of fresh baked goods, sandwiches, soups and chowders.

You can literally unwind and watch the world go by ...

Sitting in the café, looking out at Main Street, you can literally unwind and watch the world pass by.  The cars whizz by; drivers with their tongues between their teeth, attempt to parallel park; people glide in and out of any one of the very cute, very different and/or very eclectic shops, galleries or restaurants; run into the ReXall Drug Store complete with a 1940’s soda fountain; or just pop into the Post Office. Invariably they end up in the book shop or the café.

People glide in and out of any one of the shops, restaurants, galleries, etc.

“They” are mothers and daughters in the middle of a shopping spree, friends meeting to catch up, young people socializing after school, business folks checking in (free Wi-Fi), and oh yes, did I mention innkeepers catching their breaths?

If you’re in our area, this is definitely a must-see/do!

RASPBERRY BAVARIAN

February 16th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

Ingredients

1 package (4-serving size) Jell-O Brand Gelatin, Raspberry flavor

¾ c boiling water

½ c cold water

Ice cubes

1 c  heavy or whipping cream, whipped

2 TBS sugar (or if following a low carb diet, add 1 to 2 TBS of sugar equivalent, such as Splenda or Equal. Adjust to taste.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberries (garnish optional)

Mint leaves (garnish optional)

Directions

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water.  Combine cold water and ice cubes to make 1 cup.  Add to gelatin.  Place bowl in larger bowl of ice and water.  Let stand, stirring occasionally, until gelatin is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, whip cream.  Put cold heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl. With an electric hand mixer or a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat cream (you can use a hand whisk; it just will take longer).

Fold in whipped cream.

Spoon gelatin/cream mixture into individual soufflé cups with paper collars (see note below).

Chill until firm, about 2 hours.  Remove collars.  Garnish with raspberries and mint leaves, if desired.  Yields 4 servings.

Note:  To make collars, cut pieces of waxed paper or foil long enough to wrap around dishes and overlap slightly; fold in half lengthwise.  Wrap doubled paper or foil around dish, extending about 1 inch above rim.  Secure with tape.

 

Barm Brack or Barm Bread

February 16th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

Ingredients

2 c diced mixed dry fruits (raisins, currants, golden raisins, diced apricots, cherries, etc.)

1 c plus 2 TBS packed brown sugar

2 c cold, strong black tea

2-1/2 c self-rising flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

Butter

Directions

The night before baking, put dried fruit in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Add tea.  Cover and let soak overnight.  To bake bread, preheat oven to 350F.  Generously grease a 9”x5” loaf pan.  Sift flour into medium-size bowl. Mix egg into dried fruit.  Stir in flour just until well blended.  Spoon into loaf pan and smooth top.  Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold, cut in slices and spread with butter.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.

COASTAL MAINE INNKEEPER’S WINTERTIME REMINISCENCES, RESOLUTIONS, RECIPES AND WRITING BLOGS – PART TWO

February 16th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

The sun is beginning to set on Hodgdon Island Inn

It is now Friday afternoon and the sun is beginning to set.  Richard and I have had a wonderful day here on our tiny little island in Maine. (I read somewhere recently that Maine has more than four thousand islands, but I will not digress).  We have progressed a little further on our current re-decorating projects (more on that later); we fed our resident seagulls and crows who are experts at landing on what you and I would deem slippery spots; we stretched our legs and walked over to the Post Office while dodging incoming cars to the Trevett Country Store at lunchtime; and stopped by our neighbor’s and got invited to have tea. As I said, it’s been a lovely day.

Maine has more than four thousand islands ...

That’s been one of the surprises that we have discovered in our new life here in Boothbay – there are so many places to explore (this week alone we have been to Newcastle, Damariscotta, Wiscasset, Bath and Brunswick), so many things to do; so many people to meet  and nasty bronchitis to get over once and for all.

SO, what all this boils down to is that I am way behind on my New Year’s resolution (like I am all alone here!) to test and post some new Hodgdon Island Inn or Pamela Byrne Riley-favorite recipes each month.  But henceforth (I have always wanted to use that word) I will endeavor (always wanted to use that one too) to adhere to my resolution.  Going forward, if I do not have a new recipe posted, let’s say, by the 15th of each month, you have my permission to nag me, okay?

This is NOT your grandmother's plum pud!

To get the proverbial ball rolling, I have already shared the much requested Baked Plum Pudding recipe which I was originally going to post in keeping with the old English tradition of serving a second plum pudding on New Year’s Day and will be posting my February recipes:  Barm Brack or Barm Bread in a tribute to my Mom and her favorite Irish saint, St. Brigid (see blog titled Nine Room Bed and Breakfast Inn On The Water Located Four Miles From Boothbay Harbor, Maine), second only to St. Patrick himself and  a super easy-to-make Raspberry Bavarian soufflé in honor of Valentine’s Day.

In honor of the Irish saint, St. Brigid, second only to St. Patrick himself.

Easy-to-make Raspberry Bavarian souffle

 

For March we must have something for St. Paddy’s Day of course, but the question is what?!

These recipes and more can be found at www.boothbaybb.com/blog

As always, please feel free to share your favorites and if you have any suggestions re: recipes for me to try, I would love to hear from you!

“SWEETHEART OF A DEAL” SPECIAL FROM HODGDON ISLAND INNKEEPERS, PAMELA BYRNE RILEY AND RICHARD B. RILEY

February 15th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

Easy- to-make Raspberry Bavarian Souffle

Richard and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a world of happiness, not just on Valentine’s Day, but always!

 Check out our “Sweetheart of A Deal” special:  reserve a two night minimum stay on or before March 31st and save 10% (2011 rates go into effect April 1st).  Offer based on double occupancy and availability.  7% Maine state lodging tax is extra.

 To find this recipe and other Hodgdon Island Inn recipes, go to www.boothbaybb.com/recipes

COASTAL MAINE INNKEEPER’S WINTERTIME REMINISCENCES, RESOLUTIONS, RECIPES AND WRITING BLOGS – PART ONE

February 15th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

Our "Old Kentucky Home", the Piatt-Fowler House, circa 1817

It’s Friday, February 11, 2011, the sun is shining, the sky is bright blue, the water is deep, dark blue, the temperature has warmed up to 14 degrees (Fahrenheit, that is) and I find myself sitting at my desk looking out at the receding snow piles that once stood 10 feet high and looked liked lookout posts for our fortress.  It’s beautiful!  But life does go at a slower pace here in the winter than where we came from (the bluegrass state) and it gives one more time to reflect …

This morning over breakfast (which by the way was Oatmeal Brule with blueberries, walnuts and bananas), Richard and I were reminiscing about where we were and what we were doing this time last year?  Now, we do have to admit that parts of last year went by in a bit of a blur, but this particular week we can recall with perfect clarity!

Moving Day! Of course, Mother Nature does not always cooperate ...

We were back in Kentucky, packing up the last of our belongings while our moving crew was simultaneously beginning to load said belongings.  Of course, Mother Nature does not always cooperate, and while this move was underway, we had some serious snow.  So serious in fact that they couldn’t get the moving truck up our old driveway to the Piatt-Fowler House and the movers had to resort to using a small rent-a-truck to shuttle loads out, but of course it didn’t stop snowing in between loads and every time, Richard and the guys had to dig the shuttle out.  We hoped it wasn’t an omen … at the end of the second day; everything was onboard except for our second car (which we had packed with everything from Richard’s paintings to the large antique family portraits).  As we stood in the cold, pitch black of night being whipped with blinding snow watching our car being crept up two narrow planks into the dark cavern of the moving van, I finally understood the expression: “my heart was in my throat”.  It all seemed so unreal, surreal and not to mention scary!

Unloading the car was a different story ... going into the truck my heart was in my throat!

The next couple of days were indeed unreal as we said good-bye to family and friends and began the 1,060 mile trek, with our beloved feline companion, Charlie Darlie, to our new home in Mid Coast Maine.

Thankfully we, our belongings and the fantastic North American Van Lines crew arrived safely in Boothbay and on Saturday, February 13th.  Richard went up to meet the truck and guide them to Hodgdon Island Inn.  He said then, and again this morning, that the sight which greeted him is one that he would never forget: 

It caused quite a commotion in Boothbay!

there was this huge moving van straddling the side of Route 27 as close as was possible to the Civil War monument right in the middle of Boothbay Common!  As you can imagine, it caused quite a commotion, especially as they made their way down Barter’s Island Road past the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (www.mainegardens.org), over the bridge and onto our tiny little island, but I’ll save that story for another day …

The perfect end to the 1,060 mile trek from the bluegrass state to the pine tree state.

BAKED PLUM PUDDING

February 10th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

Ingredients:1 c sugar

6 eggs

1c each raisins, currants and pecans

1/8 c all purpose flour

2 c bread crumbs

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp allspice

 

Directions:

Beat butter and sugar until creamy.

Add eggs, one at a time.  Beat until light.

Sprinkle raisins, currants and pecans lightly with flour and add to the butter mixture.

Combine bread crumbs, cinnamon, cloves and allspice and add to the butter mixture.

Bake in a greased pudding bowl lined with a parchment circle for ½ hour at 375 degrees or until lightly browned.

Serve with hard sauce, lemon sauce or custard sauce.

 

1/2 c butter

CLOSE TO BOOTHBAY HARBOR,HODGDON ISLAND INN, MID COAST BED AND BREAKFAST IS PERFECTLY MAINE!

February 6th, 2011 by richard-pamela-riley

Boats, boats and more boats

The 2011 Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce (BBHRCC) Visitor & Resource Guides are now available.  Richard and I, as innkeepers of Hodgdon Island Inn, are members of this fun and resourceful organization.  This past Friday, feeling the need to get out and about after our glorious blizzard on Groundhog Day, we stopped by to pick up some up.  This year’s theme is “Boothbay Harbor 2011:  perfectly Maine!”I like that and I am in total agreement!  Call me prejudiced, but the Boothbay Region (Boothbay Harbor, Boothbay, East Boothbay, West Boothbay and Southport Island) is “perfectly Maine!” We have rocky coastlines, quaint villages, lobster wharves, art galleries, sassy shops, Mom & Pop restaurants, looming lighthouses, boats and more boats and pink sunsets.

A heated-to-perfection in-ground pool!

Of course, I have to say that Hodgdon Island Inn’s own spectacular Boothbay location plays its part and provides the picture-perfect Maine getaway:  slightly-worn Adirondack chairs perfectly situated at the end of the lawn overlooking our deepwater frontage and providing front row seats for our pink-of-perfection sunsets; a quaint general store directly across the street known for their near-perfect lobster rolls; a heated-to-perfection in-ground pool; and nine uniquely appointed guestrooms, all with private baths and water views making them the perfect haven to come home to away from home.  But then, I might be slightly prejudiced on that score too.

Come see for yourself!

Another one of our pink-of-perfection sunsets

Perfectly situated Adirondack chairs