Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maine-ly Lobster

It has a face only a mother could love -- the rest of us love it for other reasons. And the best place in the world to eat lobster is on the coast of Maine. Our press group had ample opportunities to try this indigenous delicacy and we got a great lesson in lobster lore from Buddy Hall, owner of Anglers in Searsport, Maine.

Here Buddy is giving us a tutorial in lobster sexing. I promise I will never be trying it out myself -- all those creepy claws and legs will keep the lobster's secrets secret. Female lobsters can carry their eggs up to two years -- the last half of the time they are glued to the underside of her tail. When a lobsterfisherperson (yes, there are lobsterwomen) catches a female with eggs, he cuts a notch in her tail and tosses her back so if she gets caught again, she will be released. That keeps the population going.

In young lobsters, the claws are about the same size but as the animal grows, they differentiate into the larger crusher claw and smaller pincher claw.

The lobster's face is interesting. I could identify the eyes easily enough but I'm not sure I could find the mouth. Buddy did -- and, wh0 knew -- lobsters have teeth!

Here's a sampling of lobster dishes we tried: lobster salad,

the ubiquitous lobster roll,

and the whole lobster. I deliberately chose a small lobster (notice the claws) because I discovered that, with my braces, lobster takes a lot more chewing than without them. I managed to get through both claws and about 1/3 of the tail about the same time everyone else at the table was finishing dessert!

This is part of the group the night we ate at Weathervane in Belfast. Are we having fun yet? You bet!

Tip to tourists: in choosing a place to eat lobster, look for one that has a pound. This is a tank that circulates sea water around the lobsters. Buddy also told us you could tell how long a lobster had been held in a tank because they start to bite off one anothers' antennae. Avoid the stumpy antennae!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Take Me Away!

I got a nice break from the oven that is Oklahoma with a trip to Maine. Above is a picture of my snug little cabin in the woods at Lookout Point Resort. Below is the bedroom area of the cabin which had a neat little kitchen and a wonderful screened-in porch.

The resort sits on almost 400 acres of woods sloping up from a small strip of beach. I walked down the hill from my cabin to check out the water. I think it was about 1/2 to 3/4 mile down to the water.

This great dane was having a super time retrieving sticks from the surf. I must be getting old -- I think this is the first time in my life that I've been on the ocean (okay, technically Penobscot Bay) without actually sticking a toe in the water. I just couldn't stand the thought of walking back up the hill with sand in my sandals. And I swear it was five miles back to the cabin -- uphill the whole way!

On one of our outings, we went sailing on the schooner Olad, out of Camden. I'd never been on a sailboat before -- I loved the quiet.

We sailed by this picturesque lighthouse on Curtis Island at the mouth of the harbor.

We were out almost two hours but headed in as we watched the rain moving in. We weren't the only ones headed for harbor.

The rain just missed us and the sun was shining when we docked. Camden is such a pretty town and their harbor is beautiful, too, don't you think?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Going to Waist in Wichita

I'm eating again! This time in Wichita. I was there working on an assignment about meetings and conventions so I spent a lot of time doing site visits. I did get to see some of the beautiful attractions, though. And talk about feeling pampered -- Carol Jones and the sign at the CVB -- Go Wichita -- couldn't have been more welcoming. My host, Ken Vandruff and his co-worker Rachel Janes took me to lunch at a neat Latin American American restaurant, Sabor, in Old Town. I tried to go light with a wonderful soup -- Sancocho Soup -- a chicken broth (the red color is from a chile paste) with chicken, corn, onion, peppers, plantain, potato and avocado. Not so light -- the appetizers included fried calamari with a pepperoncini garlic mayo and a white cheese queso with corn and roasted tomato served with flatbread triangles!

More site visits after lunch then dinner at Hangar One Steakhouse. I'm not eating steak these days because of my braces but there were several other good choices including the one I ordered -- L-Bird Chicken Pepper Pasta -- diced chicken, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, lemon pepper pasta and a light wine sauce. I righteously rejected any suggestion of dessert!
After dinner, Ken took me out night shooting. The iconic image of Wichita is the Keeper of the Plains which stands on a rock promentory above the Arkansas River.
There's a pedestrian bridge which crosses the river there -- the design reminiscent of native bows -- most attractive.

Breakfast this morning was at the Hyatt where I was staying. Rachel and I split a breakfast burrito. It came with salsa verde, queso, grated cheese and a stuffed mushroom. The burrito was super and the salsa much bolder than I expected. Most restaurants outside the southwest in general and New Mexico in particular just don't "get it." This one did!
We toured the Hyatt and the adjacent convention facilities -- pretty amazing -- then flew by the River District museums -- Botanica, the art museum, the science museum, the American Indian museum and Old Cowtown -- looking, again, at meeting spaces.
And it was time to eat again. This time we pigged out at Pig In Pig Out. The chef-owner, Derek Cochran knows his 'cue -- the walls are covered with ribbons he's won at BBQ competitions. Again, the braces kept me from attacking everything -- but the chopped brisket and the pulled pork worked fine -- and I wound up bringing home containers of both the hot and mild sauces. I'd have brought meat -- but several hours in the car without a cooler seemed a little risky to me.

Wichita was wonderful. I couldn't believe how much is going on there -- lots of cultural opportunities, entertainment and great attractions. Can't wait to go back and play tourist!