We were waiting for the event since June. As we drove through the backroads of Blue Hill, ME and downeast to Harborside butterflies began to flutter in my stomach. I felt like it was the first day of school. Two days earlier we had been visiting my family in Rhode Island and enjoying our daily dosage of lobster rolls along with corn on the cob, our own PA tomato harvest, John’s pesto for Noah’s “green pasta”, and blueberry pies. Our New England culinary adventure seemed to have begun even before crossing Maine’s state line. After a 6 hour drive, we checked into our Blue Hill B&B, found an ice cream, “hiked” up Blue Hill and enjoyed a requisite blueberry french toast breakfast, it was finally time for the “Maine Event”.
We knew we were getting closer when we saw the handmade wooden sign to Four Seasons Farm and continued for a few miles down the dirt road to find the farm dinner.
We turned into the “homegrown vegetable mecca” and went to the reception in front of Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch’s house. What an honor to be standing on their 2 acre farm which is located in one of the most difficult growing regions and produces more vegetables than some farmers’ 15-20 acre properties! To visit their personal kitchen garden was a treat in itself and it was only the beginning…
We picked up a belgian beer from Allagash Brewery served by their brewmaster, which was deliciously cloudy and refreshing. We wandered towards the vision and aroma of pizzas being baked in front of our eyes. John and I were drooling, but in this case it was not over the food – it was over the pizza oven on the trailer ! Rumor has it that it was finished only a day ahead of time and made its maiden voyage (over a rough dirt road!) to attend the dinner. Needless to say, we want one! He did a magnificent job of picking the tomatoes 4 feet away that were cascading like a waterfall in Barbara’s greenhouse and prepared by two able assistants who garnished pizzas with their basil and local cheese – impossible to be more fresh. Our favorite pie was the arugula, spinach and garlic scapes. Yes, garlic scapes in August – another bonus of being in Maine!
As we enjoyed the reception, we wandered through the gardens and I suddenly transformed into a tacky Hollywood Paparazzi character desperate for the ultimate grocery rag photo. I could not stop snapping pics of the celebrities: broccoli, cabbage, artichokes (prepared to bloom annually!), giant fennel bulbs, chives, celery, merlot lettuce, covered pergolas, glowing ornamentals, various aubergine, mexican marigolds, butter colored sunflowers, tall toscano di nero, bright cutting zinnias – the guest list was endless and every one was so photogenic! I had to attempt the ultimate photo coup; the hosts: Jim Denevan with Eliot. If iphones had a zoom and I wasn’t shaking with excitement I could have provided you with a better snapshot, my apologies.
The rest of the evening unfolded with pleasant surprises of food, conversations, new friends, and a unique memorable experience. We were gathered together as a reminder of the purpose of the dinners; to celebrate the growers along with the harvest and share the pleasure of a meal with new faces gathered for the same purpose. Eliot and Barbara shared their stories and showcased their tips and techniques. Fore Street shined in the description that I always hear from previous patrons; a top choice incredible meal. The wines were felt with each course and we could laugh when it came time for bug spray – organic or non – take your pick! Our hosts were genuine and kind and I was jumping out of my skin trying to restrain myself from hugs and too many email exchanges. It is unlikely we will see our fellow dinner guests again since we all travelled from distances to be there for the moment. Luckily, we know that we can share the pleasure that we were there for all of those moments and enjoyed every bit of Outstanding in the Field.