Sunday, July 29, 2007

Schoodic Sculpture Symposium

From July 25 until September 10 the public is invited to attend a free and open to the public sculpture symposium right here on the Schoodic Peninsula. In fact for several weeks you can watch a half dozen artists from all over the world create incredible sculptures out of raw granite, pieces that will be placed in several Maine towns, including Ellsworth, Milbridge, Sullivan and Winter Harbor.

I just returned from my first outing there and look forward to tracking the progress of these wonderful works of art as they take shape over the next few weeks.

The Schoodic International Sculpture symposium is part of a series of symposia that began in 1959 and are held around the world. This year the participating artists are from Poland, Germany, USA (Maine), Sweden, and Japan.

The cool thing is it is absolutely free and open to the public. Plus there are workshops that you can sign up for and the ocean is just a stone's throw away!

How cool is all that, eh?

Click here for some of my early photos of the symposium.

To find directions and more details about this year's symposium just visit www.schoodicsculpture.org

Moving to Providence and Returning to Paris

The Big News is that we finish here in Winter Harbor on Labor Day, and move, we hope, to an apartment in Providence, RI.

OK that's not the really Big News, which is that we are returning to Paris! That's right sports fans we just bought our tickets yesterday. We fly Delta out of Boston nonstop for Charles deGaulle 19 September and hopefully will be living in the 11th arrondissement. We leave Paris 31 October -- what a great way to spend Halloween, eh?

Or then again maybe we won't.

Ciao for now,

Steve

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fog, Food and Henry the Eagle

Although the fog has dominated much of our world during the past few days, it is a gorgeous Thursday morning here in Winter Harbor, Maine. Whether the weather has anything to do with business who can say but there have certainly been plenty of folks coming into the cafe lately for sandwiches, take out food and of course pastries, ice cream and fudge.

Timing in such matters is everything.

Pastries and coffee are the big draw in the morning, although a few folks will pick up freshly baked bread to take home. By midday attention starts to shift toward sandwiches and salads from the deli case as people start giving serious thought to lunch and even beyond.

By mid- to late-afternoon you can almost see the shift in direction when people enter the cafe: rather than heading toward the back of the cafe where the deli case is and where they would place orders for sandiwches once inside the door they slide sideways and head toward the ice cream.

By early evening traffic falls off somewhat although the evening can bring a burst of activity as people drop by looking for an easy dinner to take home and put on their table with no fuss and no muss.

Just like we did yesterday.

That's right. Last evening we were planning on going out to eat in at Bunker's Wharf restaurant in Birch Harbor, just a few miles from here. Although the restaurant has had a superb reputation locally they have been closed all season and when word got around that they were going to reopen you could just feel the excitement in the air (things are a bit quiet here after all), that at last the Schoodic peninsula was going to get one of its (few very few) better restaurants back.

Word quickly got around that the food is good, the service great and the prices reasonable. Folks who have gone to Bunker's Wharf so far have been very pleased with the results. And word has a way of making a difference as we found out when we dropped by last evening about half past seven and found the place packed. It's in a beautiful location right along the water and the parking lot was full, a clear indication of what we could expect inside.

Since we were tired and hungry after working all day -- Susie is still baking nonstop all day long and I worked the better part of another person's shift who got scheduled incorrectly -- and rather than wait a half hour or longer we just made reservations for this Friday and left.

So we headed off to Gerrish's and bought some of Rosemary's great food out of the deli case. We can now see what the big fuss is all about coming to Gerrish's for food to take home. We tried Rosemary's chicken, potato, orzo and mozzarella and grape tomato salads. Delicious!

Finally, unbeknownst to us there is an eagle (or eagle family) living near Winter Harbor. Locally referred to us "Henry" and "Henrietta" because they hang out along the shores of Henry Cove looking for mackerel (so I'm told) Susan first spied "Henry" the other day, then I did on two other occasions and sure enough we both watched him sitting on a pile of nearby lobster traps for hours on end.

Amazing.

Wish you were here,

Steve

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ligne 1 of the Paris Metro

Just a very short clip taken on the metro during our stay in Paris.

Six weeks left

Only six weeks to Labor Day; only six weeks left on our tour here in Winter Harbor.

Here on the eastern side of Frenchman Bay this past week has been primarily dedicated to fog: everything from thin, soupy, guel-like fog to the thick, grey gauzy fog that you could (and often had to) cut with a knife. One day the visibility was down to less than 50 feet. I cannot imagine how the fishermen do it: go out in their 35- or 40-foot boats in this stuff looking for their little bouncing M & M-like buoys that mark the location of their traps. Amazing. (photo: wildlife at Schoodic Point.)

But then we're quickly rewarded in the most simple and pleasurable way: the fog breaks and you are given the most stunning vistas in the world and literally right on your doorstep. As an added bonus we are often reminded of the fact that this is still, notwithstanding the development of human settlement along the seacoast here, that this is nature's playground still.

Last Saturday morning Susan left the apartment about a quarter to six and as she started to walk up to Gerrish's she noticed a large bird, a very large bird sitting on a small outcropping of rock just across from the apartment in Henry Cove. Naturally she investigated.

As she got closer and closer to this bird, which paid little heed to her, it soon became evident that this was in fact and indeed an American bald eagle. Just sitting, waiting.

It ignored her so she left and walked up to start baking for the day.

Susie finished about 1 in the afternoon and we headed off south to Massachusetts and to Dick and Dorothy's house for a quick overnight trip. There were several items in boxes that I needed to bring back and it was a reasonably viable excuse for a road trip. I grabbed a tripod (no more jittery camera work I hope), my Paris cemetery notes and books as well as some video I shot in Pere Lachaise and a couple of other bits of raw video footage from Paris. I also brought back a 5-liter bottle of Lilliano Chianti that we had been saving since 1994 because there is a parety looming here in Maine. . . . But more of that later (the party and where that huge bottle came from).

We had a very short but very sweet visit -- D & D kindly grilled pork tenderloins as a late dinner for the four of us -- and the next morning we began our trek back north.

It's a gorgeous day here in Winter Harbor, sunny morning with warm temps and plenty of sun predicted for much of the remainder of the week.

Wish you were here,

Steve

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fog and sandwiches

Today being Friday I am tasked once again with making sandwiches at Gerrish's cafe. But hey I'm here pretty much all the time anyway so why not? And I make a pretty mean sandwich too I must say. (photo: l-r coffee cake, croissand d'amande, blueberry cheese danish, brioche d'amandes and blueberry muffins.)

Anyway it's still foggy here in Winter Harbor -- Susie, Rosemary and I drove over to just this side of Ellsworth last night for dinner at the Tidal Falls restaurant and it was even foggier over there. But we had good food and got to watch the harbor seals playing in the river! Check out my more detailed review at eatamerican.blogspot.com.

Susie has been working nonstop baking up such wonderful pastries -- all her creme puffs sold in one fell swoop, her lemon tarts continue to be scooped up and her brioche and croissant d'amandes are a hit for sure.

The garage in the back is quickly being turned into a wine shop: the electricity went in the other day and now they're putting in insulation and I assume paneling of some sort before turning to the nuts and bolts features of a retail wine store. I can't wait. . .

Wish you were here,

Steve

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Now for the front room

OK so we've seen the kitchen, the back room at Gerrish's, but how about the front you might ask? And well you should! here it is:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Playground of the Gods

It's funny but you put adults on the rocky playground of Schoodic Point and they immediately start acting like children: hopping from one ledge to another, seeking out the hidden secrets in the cracks between the fissures, looking for pirate treasure perhaps. I suppose that is one of the main attractions of this place: it is really the playground for the children of Gods long gone. Check it out:

Back room at J. M. Gerrish

Here's a short but sweet peek into the kitchen at Gerrish's cafe in Winter Harbor:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Boats off Schoodic Point

Off of Schoddic Point we've seen ocean liners in the distance, apparently leaving Bar Harbor; I've even seen the Cat ferry to Nova Scotia comning into Bar Harbor. Here's just one more reason to sit on the rocks at Schoodic Point:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Still in a fog

It’s been incredibly foggy here for the past several days. Today we were going to drive up to Lubec – Susie’s day off – but the fog just stayed put. Of course there have been moments of beautiful blue sky and bright sun but you go inside for ten minutes and come back out and there is the fog rolling in. And this stuff takes a day or two to burn off. It lingers like smoke but without the smell – how do the fishermen go out in this stuff is what I what to know. How do they go out, do their thing, and find their way back without winding up in the Canary Islands. Beats me. (photo: sighting of the Schoodic wildebeest, in the fog.)

Gerrish’s has been pretty busy this past week – or rather it stays pretty busy through much of the day, but that’s old news by now. Rosemary continues to grill like a fiend and Susie continues to put out the standards: muffins, scones and coffee cakes but surprisingly enough lots of folks are eating her croissant d’amandes and her brioche d’amandes (photo below). And the crab rolls and lobster rolls are going out the door almost as fast as the staff can make them. Between Susie’s fresh-baked brioche rolls with a healthy dose of Rosemary’s lobster or crab salad, mmmmmm good!

As for me, well, I’ve reduced my hours to Friday’s only and only doing kitchen prep and making sandwiches. Too many headaches and way too much stress trying to manage the café while, uh, learning to manage the café. I do miss the customer interaction though. Oh, and I’m still on tap to run the wine shop when it opens sometime in early August. Stay tuned for that one. Since Gerrish’s is the only (free) internet connection in town I end up spending a fair amount of time there anyway, lingering over coffee and watching the human condition.

Speaking of being in a fog we are stumbling toward some sort of future plan. We finish here labor day and then hope to find a place to live – we’re leaning toward Providence, RI – and then it’s off to Paris so Susie can go back to work at Pascal’s for a month or so from the end of September to the end of October. I may only stay in Paris for a week or so and head off to Italy for a few days before returning to the US and begin (continue) the process of settling in. We’ll see.

Wish you were here,

Steve

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Happy Bastille Day!

We would've loved to have been in Paris for this holiday to be sure: Bastille Day! The Cool thing is how many cities in the US have "Bastille Days" as well: Seattle and Portland and Boston to name just three.

Some folks may not like to hear it but the truth of the matter is that if it hadn't been for the French, the United States might very well not be here at all. So in a way they're partly responsible for, among other things, gas-guzzling, obese Ameericans who elected (more or less), with great pomp of pride and stupidity, George Herbert Walker Calvin Coollidge Henry Harrison Butler Yeats Bush. Is that weird or what?

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Stormy Fourth

Here's a look at Mother Nature's celebration of the Fourth of July at the tip of Schoodic Point. Beyond all that fog and all those rollers is the Atlantic Ocean, on the other side of which you will find France, among other countries.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Oca wins the first Siena Palio of 2007

On 2 July the first Palio of 2007 (known as the Palio di Provenzano) was won by the Contrada dell’Oca, "The Goose".

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Typical day at Gerrish's Cafe

The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. But as you might expect the hours spent by the staff working there are in fact much longer. (photo: Susan's mom's caramel apple pie.)

Susan arrives usually between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. nearly every day and jumps right into to preparing her morning baked goods. Not long after Rosemary slides in and begins her day of cooking, grilling and making great salads. At about 7 a.m. Jessica, the new manager, arrives and at 7:30 a.m. Alex and one other opener arrives to begin the process of putting things in order before the doors open.

Alex works on getting the breads ready to be put out for sale and for sandwiches and then gets his stuff out of the walk-in refrigerator for the morning egg sandwiches. Jessica and the opener start making coffee, putting out juices and doing the myriad other things to get ready to unlock the front door.

Throughout people drift in and out, some of them locals and a few of them regulars, joined by the tourists passing through, all getting coffee, coffee cake, blueberry muffins, maybe a pie, and then around noon they start ordering sandwichs and salads and whatever else Rosemary has put together for folks to take home for dinner. (photo below: Susie's strawberry chocolate dacquoise)

At the end of the day the front door is locked, chairs put up on the tables, the espresso machine is cleaned, coffee airpots emptied and then filled with hot water ready for the next day. Floors are swept and mopped, food is covered, lights turned off and that's it. Well, OK, there's plenty more to it of course but you get the general idea don't you? I know I do.

Ciao,

Steve

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Day after Independence Day

The weather became increasingly nasty overnight and by early Thursday morning when we headed off to Gerrish's the rain was steady, the wind was blowing and it was just generally unpleasant. The rest of the day contnued this behavior and more was predicted for Friday.

But that said Friday was a most interesting day indeed. The cafe was steady pretty much all day with several serious spikes in business. It was during the lunch rush that I caught sight of the actor Josef Sommer. While you might not recognize the name you will certainly recognize the face. Think back to the movie Witness with Harrison Ford. Do you remember the character who was Ford's boss and he thought his best friend but who was actually the archvillain of the movie? Well that was Josef Sommer. As he and his wife were leaving the cafe I walked over and said to him that I thought he was a fine actor and that I enjoyed his work.

A little after 4 pm Susie and I left the cafe and after a brief stop at home drove out to Schoodic Point. The fog was in but so were the waves from the northeast. Huge rollers crashing on the rocks and setting off geyser-like plumes of water 30, 40 50 feet in the air! People were standing everywhere, riveted by the spectacle of nature pointedly showing us how truly terrifying she could be.

Wish you could've been there,

Steve

Fourth of July in Winter Harbor

Although today is overcast, rainy, windy and just downright lousy weather, yesterday, the day we celebrated national independence, was gorgeous with perfect temps, beautiful clouds stretching beyond the horizon everywhere you looked and brisk business at Gerrish's. (photo: Susie and Alex.)

A week or so ago Lois, one of the cafe semi-regulars who lives in Rhode Island most of the year, was in the cafe sipping a cappuccino when she overheard a gentleman ask me (like I would know anything) if we knew what an Eccles' cake was. Naturally I replied no, sorry. Nor had Susan heard of such a pastry. After he left Lois came up to me, introduced herself and said she knew what an Eccles' cake was: puff pastry wrapped around a fruit filling usually of currants and raisins. Well lo and behold she brought us one from Rhode Island to try! What a sweetheart! The pastry was nice and flaky and the general consensus by the kitchen was that the filling seemed to remind us of a jelly doughnut. Thanks Lois!

Well as I said the day kept most of us busy. The kitchen was hoppin' as well. The other day Susie, Rosemary and I rode into Ellsworth to have dinner and pick a few things up for the store. Among the items we picked up was a small Weber tabletop grill and Rosemary spent a large part of the Fourth out back behind the cafe grilling up baby back ribs and hangar steaks. She's also got crab cakes in the deli case as well as a number of her great salads. She's got plenty of other grilling ideas waiting in the wings. What a great concept for such a place as Winter Harbor: providing grilled food to go! (photo below: Rosemary at work.)

Susie's lemon trifles and apple streusel custard are selling very well as is her brioche. Of course the standards of scones and muffins and coffee cakes sell out pretty much every day it seems.

Later in the evening a group of us from the cafe met up out at Schoodic Point to see if we could see any of the fireworks from Bar Harbor. We did catch a glimpse of the fireworks at Southeast Harbor (we think) but they looked to be about an inch and a half high from our vantage point. The wind was up and the sky very overcast so the trip turned out to be a bust -- but it was good for us all to chat about something other than the cafe in a venue other than the cafe, if you get my drift.

And speaking of Schoodic, here are just a couple of images I took from there recently:


The Fourth was also our last day of closing at 5 pm. Beginning today (Thursday) we stay open until 8 pm. And speaking of staying open we will, however, be closed for an hour Friday afternoon from 3-4 for a staff meeting.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Opening day at Gerrish's

Here's a short video of some footage I shot on opening day at Gerrish's last month. It's the quiet before the storm.



Ciao!

Steve

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday again of course

Susan and I both took Sunday off so Saturday afternoon we drove down to Massachusetts to check on our household goods that had just arrived from Paris. It's good that we did since we found several problems, one of them quite serious.

We both worked Saturday morning and got an early afternoon start for Dick and Dorothy's house. It was a beautiful day for a drive and the traffic was light -- the northern part of I-95 is actually not too bad -- and we arrived a little after 6 p.m. The three of us -- Dorothy was in Washington state visiting her mom -- went out to eat at Via, a new restaurant in Worcester, owned by the same folks who operate the Sole Proprietor. It was noisy, packed and lively with activity. The place is huge, the food good (and large portions which Americans love) and the wine list short but sweet.

Susan, Dick and I had a nice time and brought each other up on all the news that's fit to print.

Sunday morning we slept in for the first time in days -- our normal schedule is to get up at 5 am. After coffee Susie and I went down to the basement and started going through the boxes that had been delivered the previous Wednesday, and discovered a broken plate, a couple of missing kitchen things and all my camera equipment. That's right, my entire Nikon digital SLR system gone who knows where now. Fortunately we had the foresight to spring for the insurance and we sent a note off Sunday evening to our mover in Paris. They responded immediately with a simple claim form. Now we just have to wait and see what happens I suppose.

After repacking everything -- well OK we brought a few things back to Winter Harbor -- we said arrivaderci to Dick and headed back north, stopping at the Berghman's in Orono for dinner. We were back in the apartment in WH by 9 pm after stopping at Gerrish's so Susie could get a few things ready for the Monday morning oven.

And speaking of Monday it's been beautiful here in WH this Monday before the Fourth. business has picked up and so far we're all adjusting to the changes OK. It's occasionally frustrating and often confusing but with a change of ownership adjustments in the routine and layout of the space needed to be done. We do miss Patrick to be sure. So be it.

Business is brisk right now and Natalie and Jessica are up to their elbows in ice cream and coffee, Alex is making sandwiches and Elena is squirreled behind the deli counter ready to pounce on the next sandwich order.

Rosemary and Susie are going like gangbusters in the kitchen: for example, this morning Rosemary made a breakfast bread pudding with blueberry sauce and for dessert this afternoon Susie made an apple streusel custard! We're also starting to roll out the food to go. Rosemary's got homemade guacamole, tzatziki, tapenade, chicken piperade, lemon chicken kebabs, cod cakes, BBQ salmon, just to name a few items.

Man it's making my hungry just writing about all this stuff!

Wish you were here!

Steve