On a November drive on the Maine coast north of Portland, we stopped in at Morse’s Sauerkraut for a quart of their brined cabbage. I love the sour crunch, hot or cold. We met one of the owners and learned that the sauerkraut-making and farm had its beginnings back in 1910, and its farm store now includes a well-stocked German-Euro deli with a tiny restaurant in the back - the “Little German Cafe,” with specials like goulash and sauerbraten. In the deli, they had some just-sliced local pastrami from Bisson’s right down the road in Topsham… so cool, where else do you see local pastrami? We had to have some of that. Later at the cabin we’d make hot sandwiches, but in the car, we pulled out strips of the pastrami to try – simply dried beef with good saltiness, and not too peppery. It was delicious.
On that Thursday afternoon we had no particular schedule, which was pretty amazing in itself. But it was also a clear, cold Maine fall day. In the bright sunshine we drove the curving, rising two-lane road to the honor stand at the Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm. Past farm fields and spruce woods, stood the small and tidy building – maybe 15-feet across – beside a house where several wetsuits were hanging over the porch rail near the back door. (They dive for the oysters in the Damariscotta River below.) You pick out the oysters you want and leave your cash in a wooden box. One by one, we counted out a dozen each of the icy Damariscotta singles that are known to be clean and sweet tasting (they definitely were); and of the flatter, rounder and more iodine-tasting Belon oysters. (I’ve been learning about these, the French-Euro oyster that Julia Child wrote of eating in Provence, and that was introduced in Maine waters in the 1950s.) An elder Mainer pulled in just after us. Wearing a flannel shirt and walking slowly with a cane, he made his way over to the coolers to choose three of the “jumbo” singles (big as my hand) that go for $1.50 each. He didn’t look up for talking, but as he counted his change into the cash box, I said hello and asked how he’d eat the big oysters. “I eat ‘em with a spoon,” he said, “like any other oyster.”
At the cabin the next day, we got into the sauerkraut and pastrami for an early lunch – made a Reuben version – and a few hours later, we iced down and pried open the Belons to eat on the half shell with lemon, followed by sips of Madeira. By then, the temperatures were in the mid-thirties and I had a fire going in the woodstove.
- Sandy Lang, December 2009 (images by PFE)