Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Going Home to Maine
I can honestly say that I'm sort of a Mainer, as I lived in Fryeburg (inland near the New Hampshire border) and Cape Neddick (south of Ogunquit, north of the Yorks) when I was in kindergarten through 3rd grades. The house in Cape Neddick still stands today but has been very remodeled. About six years ago my sister, JK and I came this way to visit an old family friend Arnie Ginsburg when we arranged a memorial dinner for the family in New Enlgand who couldn't make it out to Colorado for her funeral. Arnie is still hale at 84 and still at the wheel. On that trip we also found the old rock beach down the road from the house that we used to play on. I've always had an affection for the Maine coast.
We had a tremendous lunch (lobster for JK and fried clams for me) and also met Arnie's friend Carlos who chairs the Spanish Dept. at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Arnie is now taking care of Carlos' Mom's dog (Pinion) as she recently passed away. Arnie really loves the little doggie, who is cute as can be.
After a lovely visit, we headed up the road to Portland, about an hour north. We checked into our hotel and decided to have a walkabout the downtown area, especially the Old Port Area that is being renovated with shops and businesses as well as housing. Even though we had a large lunch in Perkins Cove, we were ready for a wee bite and a beverage and stumbled into The Salt Exchange, a new restaurant that could give many places in Sacramento and San Francisco a run for their money.
It was late and we chatted up the owner, finding out that he and his wife were both artists (hence the wonderful paintings on the wall) and were part of the "Keep Portland Independent - Buy Local" movement. It's a membership group that publishes a handy guide which we've been using to find what we need while traveling here. They are also part of the Slow Food movement as are many other local restaurants.
The next day, it was off to New Brunswick (about half hour north of Portland) to see Das Rheingold at a movie theatre that was participating in the Met Opera's Saturday afternoon simulcast. I was really interested in seeing how Robert Lapage would stage this. He used this huge system of gears and levers so that the elevation of the seemingly simple set could be changed.
Sometimes different pats of the stage moved while other parts stayed flat. Another interesting thing was that they showed video of the singers in rehearsal getting over their fears of using such a set to which they were attached by harnesses under their costumes. It wasn't only the set, lighting and costumes (which totally rocked) but the singing and music was wonderful too.
That night we decided to have dinner at a less upscale place and found J's Oyster House on the dock, which is one of the local's favorites. I had a lobster dinner which even included a few steamers while JK scarfed down a huge bucket of steamer clams.
On Sunday, we decided that brunch was in order and found a wonderful place called Local 188 in the arts district within walking distance to the Art Museum. It was a funky place whose decor could be called green in that they were recycling fools - using church pews for benches upon which to wait until a table was ready and the wait staff were all wearing thrift store aprons! The food was terrific - JK had a scramble of the day with organic local veggies and I tried the Caribbean corned beef hash with poached eggs - out of this world.
Then was waddled over to the museum.... but that's a post for tomorrow... check out the Flickr site for more photos and a sneak preview.