The Weekly Whisk - 12/20/21

Musings from a foodie…

There are lots of reasons to visit Maine. On the dietary front, lobster (or, as we say, “lobstah”) would be one of them. Right behind it would be “Whoopie Pies” although there is some disagreement on where these delectable, culinary sweethearts were first created. On the non-culinary front, a visit to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine would be near the top of my list. It is the home of Wyeth Art – as in N.C. (grandfather), Andrew (father), and Jamie (son). This small museum is the home of the best of the best from the Wyeth collections. And, this past summer they received a very special bequest Betsy James Wyeth, the widow, collaborator, and muse of the icon painter Andrew. She provided the museum the bulk of her “private” collection and it is now on display. It’s an incredible addition to the pre-existing collection, including some of Jamie’s very first paintings. A trip to Rockland is critical if you are coming to Maine so I strongly suggest it.

Now, when you do come to Maine there are two ways to fly in. The first is via Portland, Maine – which tends toward the more expensive route. Boston is (in my personal experience) considerably less expensive and only about 2 hours further south of Portland. The good part is that if you plan your trip correctly, you can hit some local culinary sites. First on the list would be Bar 25 BNPT [* * *] where Chef Joe Messina serves as the master of Middle Eastern cuisine. As a person who has found not only the health of Middle Eastern cuisine but also the taste to be a preferred consumptive experience, I would definitely recommend Bar 25 NBPT. But, it had a few issues. The first and most significant was the exceptionally loud background music – at least on the night when I visited with some colleagues. I kept saying “Huh?” during our conversation which was disconcerting for me as well as them. Now, I must admit that all of this may be the result of rock music although I was much more a fan of Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and the like. Or, perhaps more realistically, it’s an aging thing. The bigger issue in these times of Covid was that almost all the available tables were community tables. While we sat at opposite ends, the space was small and did not leave much room for viruses to roam. On the other hand, Bar 25 had great hummus with veggies as well as wonderful, fresh bread, succulent swordfish, and couscous among other Middle Eastern delights.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, when you get to Rockland, Maine – you MUST stop at the Rockland Café [ * * * * * - NOTE: An extra star is provided due to the vagaries of a “diner” rating which requires special consideration]. I would characterize this cozy place as a “diner’s diner”. Every imaginable omelet, sandwich, type of soup, and culinary delight from the opposite end of the healthy spectrum is available for your delight. The seafood combo – if you’re into fried seafood for lunch – is to die for (and, that just might be the case, if you did every day). And the waitress was wunnerful!!! (I lost my piece of paper with her name on it but I think she’s the only daytime waitress). As a fan of diner food, I would head to Rockland in a microsecond for that kind of food. Everything that you’ve ever wanted, had in the past, or dreamed about for the future is available on the menu – trust me! So stop by and say “Hi” from Kevin. They won’t remember me but, I will remember them…

Check ‘em out: 1) Bar 25 NBPT (38 State Street - Newburyport, MA - 978-255-3322) and, for dine-in or takeout + only a 3-min walk from the Farnsworth Art Museum is: 2) Rockland Café (441 Main Street – Rockland, Maine – (207) 596-7556).

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