When I told my friends that I was going to move to Maine, they consistently replied, “Aren’t the winters horrible?”
I always retorted, “Don’t be silly, Mainers know how to manage weather.” This was a naïve statement as I had only been to coastal Maine in July and August. Summer is when paradise descends on the rugged coast and mountains of Maine. A summer afternoon spent on a schooner, kayaking tidal rivers or sipping cocktails on a deck belie what is to come in the four bitter months that follow Thanksgiving.
In spite of my lack of experience it turns out I was right (pure luck). Yesterday, a day with a forecast of 12 to 15 inches of snow is a case in point. We had a cooking class scheduled at Cellardoor Vineyard. The chefs Lou Ann and Jason of Call Me Ishmael Catering were driving from Fryeburg, 132 miles away.
On Saturday, when the snow was only forecast, Lou Ann and I spoke and she said, “Let’s not cancel; its only snow.” Weather forecasters in Maine have an uncanny ability to be right. Starting at six in the morning I expected a phone call to tell me they had changed their mind. They didn’t.
Our barn is a great place to be regardless of weather. A snowy day is particularly beautiful. The trees get coated and the flakes fall in a silent reverie of accumulation. Once every ten or fifteen minutes a slide of roof bulk falls to the ground in front of the doors, creating a mound of snow that soon tops your bogs or muck boots.
Jason and Lou Ann arrived ten minutes before the class rather than the anticipated two hours early. They came fully prepared for a class of twelve. Within minutes of their arrival, five students came in. In spite of the weather they were in good spirits and anxious to get started. The remaining seven never came. It was the kind of day that you could easily talk yourself into staying in the house with a book or a series of old movies. I’m so glad the handful of hearty souls decided to venture out.
We’ve had many classes but yesterday was special. Maybe it was the effort to get out or the intimacy of the group or the ease that Lou Ann and Jason displayed as they explained the recipes to us. We started with Nori Rolls, fresh ingredients arranged and folded into a tight roll. The flip of the wrist is the key to a compact roll that holds. When the roll is sliced and plated you get a small work of art that can be eaten in two bites. We did herb crusted petite racks of lamb sliced into perfect little chops also two bites of wonder. Lou Ann placed a platter of fresh tomatoes, vibrant red and yellow peppers and fresh herbs on the baker’s table in the kitchen in preparation for Not Your Mother’s Stew. The colors were exaggerated by the gray skies and constant snowfall. The mixed smells of the dishes presented were a heady mix of comfort and simple joy.
At Cellardoor we like to share our experiences and we are sorry if you could not be here. We want to share the recipes from Call Me Ishmael with you. May your kitchen be filled with the simple pleasure of fresh ingredients melded into dishes of comfort for you and your family.
To view recipes go to http://www.mainewine.com/recipes.php?s=10 or simply go to the recipe page on this website.