Wich, Please is De-Wich-ious

There’s a new sandwich gig in Rocklandtown and it’s delightful.  Malcom and Jillian Bedell, of From Away fame, have joined the corps of high-caliber restaurants in town with their food truck, Wich, Please.  This tiny kitchen, serving breakfast and lunch sandwiches such as a swanky BLT built on sourdough bread, with frisee, confited tomatoes and crispy bacon, began with a Kickstarter campaign and the faith of several hundred fans and supporters.

Tomato Confit BLT at Wich Please
Tomato Confit BLT

That belief has paid off and the food truck is open for business beginning this week.  Set up to handle two cooks max, Malcom and his assistant have very little room to maneuver in this small food truck.  Actually, the space looks pretty familiar – a lot like my galley.  No jumping jacks for those two, just the dance of two chefs moving from one place to the next weaving in and around each other to reach for the next ingredient. Cassie, my assistant cook, and I get this all too well.

Malcom Bedell
Malcom Bedell

My Rubenesque, a vegetarian Ruben made with roasted beets and Morse’s sauerkraut, was a well-balanced blend of texture and flavor.  The crispy bread off-set the crunch of the kraut and the easy bite of the beets – the flavors all complimenting one another.

The Reubenesque and The O.D.B. Grilled Cheese
The Reubenesque and The O.D.B. Grilled Cheese
De-Wich-ious sandwiches from ‘Wich, Please

Located on the edges of Rockland Harbor with the tang of the sea greeting the outdoor park seating, there’s no doubt that these two have a formula for success.  Oh, and try the grilled cheese too – ours was with caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, and chips.

The Spring menu at 'Wich, Please in Rockland's Buoy Park
The Spring menu at ‘Wich, Please in Rockland’s Buoy Park

Good luck to you both!  Today is taco Friday, friends, from 4-7pm.

Annie
P.S. My galley is still smaller.

Just a Whiff of One of My Favorite People

For years, a visit to the rustic fishing village of Stonington, Maine required a walk down Main Street to the Purple Fish, a little publicized, but revered little gallery run by Jan and Evelyn Kok.  When we shared with our guests the not-to-miss sites of Stonington, these two people and their gallery were always top of the list.  We described Jan and Evelyn as the oldest kids we knew.  With their heads of hair that had turned fully white and their backs bending to the weight of gravity a little more each year, the vitality and energy of this couple dimmed not one bit.

I say that when I grow up, I want to be like them.  As a couple.  As a person.  I always left the Purple Fish feeling as if I had my priorities straight.  Life is about good music, harmony, joy, stories, laughter, love, sharing… the important things.

Evelyn has now left us, but today in the mail I received a whiff of her essence in the form of her artwork.  Christina Ships, owner of Inn on the Harbor in Stonington and also niece to these incredible human beings, has taken on the project of sorting through Evelyn’s artwork and turning them into cards and stationary.   (We’ll be selling these in the ship’s store this summer.  Let us know if you’d like us to send you a set:  6 packs are $20 plus shipping for either of the Riggin shots or a collection of the sea shells.)

So for a moment, Evelyn was alive again, stories of her wafting across the screen of my mind leaving me with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart.

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Annie
Thank you Christina

What Should We Name Her?

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Our new wood stove, assembled, cleaned up, and ready to go into the galley.

Last fall, the wood stove that we inherited when we bought the Riggin 18 years ago, died.  Admittedly, it was a slow death, complete with many repairs and upgrades, but once the stove was out of position, like a soldier out of step with the rest of his/her unit, the flaws became more evident.  The first one being, no one should be able to look from the outside wall of the fire box and see through a crack to the grate inside.  No one.  Ever.

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The baking space, water tank, and stove space all waiting for Lucy.

But before we were able to get a good look at the stove from all angles, we had to get it out of the space it had occupied for almost 40 years.  (Remember that we inherited the stove with the Riggin.  The original installation would have been some time in 1977.)  To get the stove out required a feat of engineering, as with most anything involving schooners where everything is heavy and nothing is square.  The trick to getting the stove out had to include no one getting hurt, so just getting a bunch of crew muckled onto the thing and muscling it out of the space wasn’t going to work.  We’ve tried to fit more than three people in my galley space and trust me, there’s no room to maneuver a single thing, much less a several-hundred pound stove.

This would require the largest muscle of all – the brain.  Often in the schooner world, heavy objects are moved by rolling them over logs or poles rather than sheer brute strength.  This concept applied to the stove worked brilliantly.  Several oblong fenders were placed on the sole in front of the stove where I usually stand.  The stove was then carefully tilted on end to rest on top of the fenders and then rolled out of the galley space to in front of the stairs.  Then fenders were placed on the backside of the stairs and with a pulley system rigged to the boom, rolled up and out of the galley.  From there, the boom was able to swing the stove off the deck and onto the dock.

Once the stove was in the back of the truck, Cap. took it to be repaired at Bryant Stove Works, a well-known stove repair company in our area.  The sad news came when the owner of the store suggested that she had cooked her last meal and the best use for her was a 21-gun salute.  Good bye, old friend.

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Justin making it pretty.

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Lucy installed in her new home!

Hello, new friend, with your shiny chrome, your curlicues and your warming shelves.  Welcome to my galley.  I’m thinking her name should be Lucy.  It’s an old-fashioned name and a wood stove on a 1927-built schooner should have an old-fashioned name.  Plus, if some goes wrong I’ll be able to say, “Luuucy, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.”  I hope we will become fast friends, Lucy.

Annie
Making new friends

Cocktails – In Good Company

On a sunny day in March (they are happening more and more frequently), Elizabeth and I left the office for a cocktail adventure.  Sometimes work is so HARD!  As we entered the back door of In Good Company, one of my favorite restaurants in Rockland; well… in Maine; well… anywhere, we were greeted by Melody Wolfertz, owner and chef, and an unusual sound found in restaurants – quiet.

As she led us to the patina-ed walnut bar, she started right in, filling the quiet with the sounds of a restaurant – the click of ice falling into bar glasses, the dull chime of spirit bottles bumping up next to each other as they are pulled from shelves and amidst it all, the chatter of engaged creativity on my favorite subjects – food and cocktails.  We spent a good deal of time talking about flavor profiles, the wonderful freshness and ingenuity that has literally and figuratively infused the cocktail world over the past decade, and what she thinks about when she’s making a well-balanced cocktail.

The full recipe and article will be out in the May issue of Maine Spirits, but in the meantime, here’s a look at our fun afternoon together.

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A captivating array of bitters by the Fee Brothers and our local Sweet Grass Winery.
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Sharing The In Good Company, a Negroni and several botanicals.
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Talking, learning, sipping, and having fun!
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The In Good Company, a rif on a cosmo, made with rhubarb syrup and blueberry bitters.
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Ice ball made on site for those who like their spirits cold and only slightly watered.
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The bar at In Good Company in Rockland, Maine. You should go!

Annie
Sometimes a girls gotta work REEAL hard

Easter Celebration – Complete with Bunny Cake

Every celebration comes with traditions that we build around food.  In our extended family here in Maine, where very few of us are actually related, but most of us celebrate our holidays together, we have several traditions.  The first of which is that the Finger/Mahle house hosts the Easter meal.

Followed by… there are little girls running around collecting Easter eggs in the yard – usually hundreds of them – hundreds of what seems like little girls and, in fact, hundreds of eggs.  Before the actual hunt there is the boiling, dying, painting, and coloring of eggs in preparation for the hunt – an afternoon of spring color applied to eggs in all manner of ways.

But wait a minute.  This year, for the first time, we don’t have little ones running around at our knees (ours or anyone else’s) and our girls are old enough that dying eggs doesn’t hold the magic that it used to.  Neither does the hunting of them.  Our girls are firmly in teenager-land and while they weren’t quite ready to give up on the gift of candy, they were ready to let go of the traditional Easter Egg Hunt.  I, on the other hand, might have had to rally a bit to the new order of things and, in secret, wistfully respected the wishes and interests of the budding adults in our household.

Another tradition that we moms pensively released was the annual Easter Cake.  Long celebrated in our household with the usual argument of how the cake is actually constructed, neither the cake, nor the argument would be produced this year.  Until… Maggie, our newest crew member, walked in with a Bunny Cake – decorated in nearly the same way as the Easter Egg cake and a perfect serendipitous addition to our Easter table.

While our family traditions are changing, what matters the most – that we gather together to eat and laugh – will firmly and forever be a part of how we celebrate together – teenagers or not, Easter Egg Hunt or not, Easter Cake or not.

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Annie
Adjusting to change and grateful for the people around our table

The Baggywrinkle Cocktail – A Little Bourbon, A Little Pear Nectar…

This Easter, it being chilly and complete with a tiny dusting of snow, we set the menu accordingly and served lamb and several hearty accompaniments such as homemade baguette, rosemary roasted red and purple potatoes and roasted asparagus. As has become the new norm, I offered all comers to our Easter dinner a cocktail. This time, I had on hand fresh grapefruit juice, pear nectar and mango syrup. At first, people were sort of quizzical about a cocktail made with pear nectar, but by the end of the afternoon, as one person followed another, everyone, to a person, choose the pear nectar. Even my friend, who loves red wine, put the wine down for a while to sip on her own pear nectar cocktail.

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This cocktail is technically a shrub, a cocktail made with vinegar-ed syrup, due to the white balsamic. With Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. aromatic bitters, a Cranberry and Pear White Balsamic Vinegar from Fiore and home made pear nectar I created what we called The Baggywrinkle – a cocktail with a wonderful balance of sweet and spirit, sour and bitter.

For those who are not boat people, baggywrinkles are handmade chafe gear that look a little bit like furry logs. They are affixed to the topping lifts (You might not know what this is either, but it’s the wire that holds up the boom. If you don’t know what a boom is, might as well skip to the cocktail instead.) and prevent sharp bits of wire from creating a hole in the sails. This shrub is about the same manila or natural color as most baggywrinkles and because of the pear nectar, is actually has a little textural feel to it that could perhaps be described as, well, furry, if you wanted to stretch it, which I do because I’ve been wanting to call a cocktail The Baggywrinkle for some time now.

The Baggywrinkle

The Baggywrinkle
1 1/2 ounces Jim Beam Bourbon
3 ounces pear nectar
1/2 teaspoon Fiore Cranberry and Pear White Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 a dropper of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. aromatic bitters
ice for shaking and for the glass
slice of pear

Chill an Old-Fashioned glass with ice cubes. Combine the bourbon, pear nectar, vinegar, and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into the chilled Old-Fashioned glass, garnish with pear slice and serve.

Makes 1 cocktail

Annie
Cocktails for Easter!

Easy Cowl – Upcycled Turtleneck

Recycling used clothing has to be among one of the most satisfying ways to spend a cold Sunday afternoon (other than watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl – GO Pats!)  Easy, frugal, fun and useful all at the same time, this sweater became a pair of hand warmers for Ella, a mini-skirt for Chloe and a cowl for me.  Now the rule is that no one can wear their item on the same day.  Fair enough.

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Lay the sweater out on a cutting board.
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Cut straight across the top from sleeve seam to sleeve seam.
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Cut off the sleeves. They will need to be edged in some way. Create a thumb hole with a button hole attachment on your sewing machine.
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Trim the neck seam. Embellish with a blanket stitch in a complementary-colored yarn.
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Wear on the days that your daughters are not wearing their items!

Annie
New clothes!

Remember the Time… – Race Week Fun 2014

The actual race started out well and then drifted to a lumpy sea at the end, but man did we have fun. The entertainment began the night before with the small boat races.

There were two categories- rowing and sailing.  Oh, and a prize for the crew members who made the biggest fools of themselves.  Justin, Ella, Toni and Cassie got right into the spirit of things and dressed the part of pirates and… a moose?

In any event, Cassie and Toni, entered into the rowing race, had their oars pilfered at one point and were firing day old biscuits at competitors. Ella and Justin, the sailing contingent, resorted to using a bilge scoop to paddle the chamberlin failing enough wind and managed to both stay in their boat.  Unlike Cassie and Toni who ended up attempting to swim and tow the peapod.

Once back on board, the night ended perfectly with a collective round of Mingulay Boat Song and we went to our bunks with the harmony of the music still reverberating in our chests.

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Annie
So much laughter!

Hey Gang!  Come join us for a taste of Maine, some good fun and a lobster or three!

Photo credit: Susan Land