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Clementines that actually taste good

Can anyone recommend any good clementines? Ones that are actually seedless and sweet? I got one bag from Trader Joe's last week that was from Chile and they were amazing. This week they were from Morocco and they are awful. I am looking for ones that are similar to the tiny oranges you get in China. I'm not sure what they are called in China, but they are tiny, very orange, very sweet, seedless, and peel easily. We've had them there several times. Great for kids.

Maine shrimp season cancelled.

Miserable news. Literally the ONLY thing I like about winter around here.

best corned beef to buy?

Anyone ever try the one from Wilson's Farm?

Maine Maple Syrup

I know that Maple weekend is coming up in a few weeks, but we are heading up to Boothbay Harbor this weekend. Is there anywhere selling this years maple syrup yet? Ideally, anywhere between Boston and Rockland, and not too far inland. Does the maple store in Rockland have any of this year's maple items yet?

Would you eat Gumbo or a Shrimp Beignet for Breakfast?

Absolutely. I've been on a bit of a campaign recently about this. I actually made extra jambalaya the other night to have a serving for breakfast. A co-worker came by while I was eating the jambalaya at 9am and said "that looks like lunch" and I pretty much jumped down her throat asking "WHY?" and "Who decided cheerios are for breakfast and rice and beans isn't" and "Other parts of the world aren't like that" and on and on.

Mar 02, 2011
CookingGirl in General Topics

Razor Clams?

I saw razor clams prepared on (of all places) channel 7 news "The Dish" last night and now I'm somewhat obsessed. Any ideas where I can buy these? Metro West would be nice, but I'm guessing I'm more likely to find them in Boston. Also, if I do manage to find them, any "secrets" about cooking them? I hear they are very sandy? Thanks!

What discontinued products do you miss?

Chewels gum, Orange Bubblicious Gum, and Shake Ups.

I associate Chocolate Shake Ups with the standard "sleepover supermarket run" to Heartland before a big night of Lawrence Welk with my grandparents.

Oct 18, 2010
CookingGirl in General Topics

Dinner in Quebec...which one?

Take a look at my recent review, too. From your list above, we went to l'Echaude, Sous le Fort, and Lapin and enjoyed all of them. I would say l'Echaude was the "nicest". I definitely wouldn't call Sous le Fort more polished, though. However, it was very good. We loved Lapin Saute. I'd have a tough time picking between L'Echaude and Lapin-they were both so delicious. Either is a good choice, perhaps you should take a look at the menus and decide that way. I think some people consider Lapin to be a "must try" in QC. Regarding Pain Beni, I covered that in my review as well. I will agree that the serving of cod was paltry. It was a good restaurant, but I guess it was just so hard to live up to the hype I had read on this board. Plus, I don't get too excited about "foams" and things like that. Have a delicious time!

Seeking tips on Quebec City essential eats

Hi! Read my recent trip report. It will certainly answer all of your questions. It sounds like we did the exact trip you are trying to plan...Enjoy!

Beat Ice Cream Place on Anna Maria

Not directly *on* Anna Maria, but right over the bridge to Cortez is Tyler's. Homemade ice cream, lots of flavors, really nice owners. We go there during the day for a beach break. We also enjoy the place that used to be Mamma Lo's...I think it's called Scoops now. Not so much that the ice cream is the best, but they have lots of flavors, the portions are big, and the location is great...you can get your ice cream and then walk out on the City Pier to enjoy it. Aaah....AMI...

Sep 16, 2010
CookingGirl in Florida

Quebec City Trip Report

I just returned from a trip to Quebec City. What an amazing culinary city! We ate so much great food, and I have a feeling we didn’t even scratch the surface. We purposely did not go to any of the very high end places. Here’s my summary:

Le Hobbit: Dinner. Excellent bistro fare. Rabbit sausage special app was tiny (we shared) but delicious. Entrees were excellent and the prices were very fair. Sat on the terrace, but the inside dining area looked great. Service friendly but spotty on the terrace. Recommend for a casual dinner, or lunch.

L’Echaude: Dinner. Loved it! Very interesting app with spinach/smoked salmon/egg salad. Quail kebab entrée was excellent, as was the duck confit. Great terrace dining, very romantic cobblestone street. No reservation, wait was maybe 20 minutes, sat at the nice bar area inside. Good value.

Lapin Saute: Dinner. Amazing. Told there would be at least a 1.5 hour wait at 8:15 on Friday night with no reservation. Ended up being closer to 45 minutes. You can sit in the park next door or there’s a little bar across the way and they will call you there. Delicious, amazing food, great portions, super romantic terrace. Onion soup was excellent, not too salty as it can often be. The rabbit rillettes app was incredible! I couldn’t believe how much rabbit they gave you, and it was delicious. Rabbit pie was excellent, and the rabbit confit cassoulet was as well. Good value.

Teatro: Dinner. Huge menu, pretty typical Italian food. Music was a little loud and techno for my liking, but other than that, the terrace was great. Also, watch out for intermission at the theater: all of the smokers come out and stand right next to Teatro’s terrace and it’s like a gas chamber, but only briefly. Polpetti app was delicious. Lamb stew was not really a stew, but more like a ragu over tagliatelle. Great flavor. Veal dish was a little tough, but otherwise flavors were good.

Pain Beni: Dinner. It was hard to live up to all of the hype we ha d heard, but it was very good, especially if you are into foams and things like that. Quebec Fois Gras app was good. The sweet soy cake went very well with it, but the savory shitake sorbet was very salty and odd. Black cod with parsnip foam over gnocchi was excellent, but small. Lamb ravs were absolutely delicious! This was our most expensive dinner, but not the best dinner. Again, great terrace dining.

Pain Beni: Breakfast. Awesome. We stayed at this hotel, so the breakfast was included and was a great deal. You order off of the menu, and there are plenty of choices, all of them good! Of note, the service at dinner was great, while the service at breakfast was mostly awful. They seemed understaffed at breakfast. Also, you cannot eat on the terrace at breakfast. Favorites were the American breakfast, steel cut oatmeal, croque monsieur, “pain beni” French toast, and the Museli. They all came with a tiny fruit salad, and most of them came with great buttered wheat toast and delicious bread pudding.

Bistro Sous le Fort: Dinner. Yum! Teeny tiny terrace. I thought we were going to be very uncomfortable at first, but once we relaxed about it, it was less claustrophobic. App of duck rillettes was super…rillettes became one of our favorite food groups! Entrees of chicken with camembert/shallots and Walleye were very well prepared and delicious. Great value.

Le Billig: Lunch. As promised, this place rocks for authentic Breton crepes. I had the duck confit crepe…since I don’t do goat cheese, I subbed swiss and it worked perfectly. Crepe with scrambled egg, cheese, and “bacon” (more like Canadian bacon) was excellent. Crepes were super thin, almost lacy and somewhat crisp. Great value, excellent food.

Brynd Smoked Meat: Lunch. Outrageously good. We split the two sandwiches with fries plate, and it was more than enough food for two. The frites were excellent. We requested the “lean” meat—which I know some diehards would say was a rookie mistake—but I have to say it was the most moist, flavorful meat ever! There was practically no fat on it, it was appropriately seasoned, without being too salty. The meat-to-bread ratio was very high on the meat side. There was just a touch of mustard on the bread. I love pastrami in the US, and I felt that Brynd was way better than any I’ve had in NYC.

Buffet des Antiquaires: Lunch. Pretty good. Disclaimer: this is not my “kind” of food, but I wanted to have something pretty authentic. Sure enough, we were surrounded by mostly locals. We saw several locals eating a spaghetti/meat/mushroom/melted cheese dish that looked great. We would have never ordered it if we hadn’t seen them obviously enjoying it. We got it and it was delicious! I got the meat pie…it tasted like pot roast to me, which I hate. It was very heavy and salty. I asked for the special meat pie, but I have a feeling I got the regular meat pie by mistake. Both came with soup. The pork/veggie was very oily. The pea soup was excellent. It also came with coffee (terrible) and these funny wrapped white rolls. Overall, happy we went, I’d go with breakfast food next time.

Chez Ashton: Went specifically to have our poutine fix. It’s the first and only poutine I’ve ever had so I may not be the best judge, but I thought it was super. Their fries are crunch y enough to stand up to the gravy. I know the curds were fresh, because they were really squeaky on my teeth.

Palet d’Or: Snack. Almond and chocolate croissant was to die for. I actually asked Mr. CookingGirl to pinch me to make sure I was not in heaven. It was that good…and I’m not a sweet person.

Paillard: Snack: Chocolatine and macchiato. This was our first croissant of the trip, so it seemed to be awesome, until we went to other places. Still, I liked the vibe at Paillard very much.

Nektar: Coffee. Macchiato and cappuccino were literally perfect—smooth and delicious, great foam. They were so excited to be the only place in the area serving George Howell coffee.

Old Port Market: Amazing selection of produce and other items from local farms. Everything was gorgeously presented, and would have cost a fortune in the Farmer’s Markets where I live. Lots of tasting for berries and items like pates, spreads, wines, etc.

Rue Saint-Jean: We just called it “the food street.” This is where JA Moisan is located, as well as lots of other food shops and bakeries and Le Billig and Hobbit are located. The closest supermarket is here, too.

Ile d’Orleans: too many individual places to list, but it’s well worth the visit for a food/artisan/scenic adventure. You must stop at the information booth and get the map depicting the different restaurants, farms, and shops. Then just drive from place to place and taste, smell, buy, and talk with the locals. We returned with jellies, spreads, wines, chocolates, leather goods, berries, syrup, cornichons, etc. The fries at The Friterie here are great, too. They have poutine, too. Wonderful people, beautiful countryside, and great products.

My general advice is to get out of the walls and walk everywhere until you can’t walk anymore. When you need a break, sit at a terrace anywhere and have a cappuccino or a beer or a Bloody Caesar. Duck into a bakery and grab an olive fougasse and stuff it in your pocketbook and munch on it as you walk through the cobblestone streets.

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Brynd Smoked Meat
550 Boul Pere-Lelievre, Quebec, QC G1M3R2, CA

Le Billig
526 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC G1R1P6, CA

Mid-Coast Trip report

We took a trip to the mid-coast area a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d post some reviews.

Seabasket, Wiscasset-Woo hoo! We had no idea they were open already (early March), so when we were driving by and saw the “open” sign we turned in on two wheels. It was awesome, as usual. ME shrimp side was great, haddock huge platter was great. It was the quietest we’ve ever seen it at lunch time. Really, it was just us and all locals which was cool. Met some nice people. Love it there.

Francine Bistro, Camden-excellent. It was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday night. Way less bustle than when we were there a few years ago. Broccoli rabe soup app was great but surprising. For some reason I expected a brothy soup with the rabe floating in it. This was a cream soup, bright green, with no hint of the bitterness you’d expect from rabe. Spicy ME shrimp pizza was great, appropriately spicy. Entrees of pan-cooked chicken and black cod (or bass?) were excellent with inventive sides.

Hartstone Inn, Camden. Dinner. It was the Restaurant Week menu. Celeriac bisque with ME crab was great, as were the butternut squash raviolis. Entrees (pork and haddock) were fine, but sort of blah. It struck me that the sides were totally boring and the same for both dishes—steamed broccoli and carrots and an ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes. Seemed a little like banquet food. Pear tart was great, chocolate trio was pretty good.

Hartstone Inn. Breakfasts, etc. They rotate sweet and savory, so we were bummed to start on sweet, which stuck us with two whipped-cream topped breakfasts. Waffles were boring. Crunchy French toast was delicious, and I’m not a French toast person. Bacon-wrapped sausage was OK. Sausage was good, bacon was just soggy-one or the other would have been better. First course yogurt parfaits were good, one day it was a ricotta cheese flan that was good. The savory dish we had was shirred eggs covered with a very thick layer of cheese and some pesto cream. It was greasy but good. Mr. CookingGirl commented that the chef was trying to kill us. Coffee was terrible, and I found it annoying that they didn’t serve any one of the several good locally roasted coffees. They left Lindt truffles in the room. Seemed very lame for an Inn with such a great culinary rep. At least make some little treat or if you do buy chocolates, get something local.

Brevetto, Camden. Disaster. This was a Tuesday night of Resto Week. The place was still pretty quiet, but even so, they were unprepared with just one waitress covering everything. I could tell it was going to be a drag the minute we walked in and had to wait forever to be seated in the third-full restaurant. Sat down next to a table of a zillion dirty dishes. Everything took forever. Did not do Resto Week menu. Pesto flatbread was good, but too heavy on the cheese. Veal/pork Bolognese over polenta was good, but presented very sloppily, and it was a tiny serving. Perhaps they gave us the Resto Week serving. Sauteed kale was great. Chicken ragu with morels sounded great so I gave it a try. I took a bite and it was as if I was eating a mouthful of sand. Not just a grain, a mouthful. I tested a few more times to see if it was just the first bites, but it was through the entire dish. It was clear that they did not rinse the morels, or they used the soaking water, including the dirt. I NEVER return dishes, but I had to. I switched it for the haddock, which was breaded and pan-fried. Uninspiring. All through the meal we had to ask for utensils, water, bread, etc. Service was awful. For the miserable sandy dish, we got two free coffees, and $4 off the haddock. Hardly commensurate with the absolutely inedible dish I was served. Awful, the kind of place I would not give a second chance to.

Blue Hill Food Co-op, Blue Hill. Lunch. Turkey minestrone was delicious. Tuna sandwich from prepared food case was embarrassing. Bread was completely soggy and inedible. If you can’t figure out a way to keep something fresh, don’t put it in a case like that.

Rock City, Rockland. Had a few cups of great coffee there. Cappucino was so-so...foam more like soap bubbles than microfoam. Brought home some of their Darkstar beans and they are awesome. I want to drink it constantly. I like the roastery location better than the coffee shop because the coffee shop was always crazy crowded and very hot.

Sweet Sensations bakery and café, Rockport-delicious toasted pecan biscotti. Éclair tasted very good, but the chocolate on top was more of an icing or hard shell and it cracked and fell off in two huge pieces when we attempted to bite into it.

Roberts, Kittery-stopped here on the way home because we had a gift certificate. Wasn’t expecting much. Fish and chips were excellent. Seafood paella was not good, and they totally left out the shrimp. We ended up getting it comped. It filled the hole and was an easy stop for us.

Farmer’s Fare and Maine Cheese Co., Rockport-we brought home a bunch of delightful stuff from both of these stores. Already made an awesome black bean soup with the turtle beans from The Beanery we got at Farmer’s Fare.

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Hartstone Inn
Camden, ME, Camden, ME

Brevetto
43 Mechanic St Ste 12, Camden, ME 04843

It's Sunday...How About Brunch in Camden, Maine?

dbookham-can you provide any more info about the restaurants in Camden and the surrounding areas that are open in the off-season for dinner? I know about Francine. Anything else both for fancy and not-so-fancy-at-all places? I love a good dive, too.

Mid Coast Maine VS. Boston

Hi mainecoastchef-I'm from Boston and adore eating in Maine, too. We are considering a long weekend next weekend (1st weekend of March) in Camden and I'm wondering of the places you list, which in Camden are open? I know that Francine is and we will be eating there one night. Can you provide any more info about the restaurants you listed (ie, why you like them) and if you think they are open off-season? Also, do you know of any other food adventures (farmers markets, great food stores, etc) in the area? Thanks so very much.

Five Guys coming to Natick!

I didn't see this posted around here yet, but I was at the "9/27" shopping area in Natick (Stop and Shop, Panera...on Rt 9) and saw that there is a Five Guys going in next to Panera. The signage is up both on Rt 9 and on the actual space. I figured this would be exciting news to Five Guys fans. I don't eat burgers, but Mr. CookingGirl (otherwise known as EatingGuy) is pretty pleased.

Maine Shrimp at Market Basket Through Saturday

Hi-I usually just get my ME Shrimp at Whole Foods but today I thought I'd give MB in Ashland a try. I have to say that they were terrible...they should be embarassed to sell them in the condition they were in. They smelled fine, so it's not as if they were rotten, but they were mangled-mushed, twised, broken, etc. I got lots of pieces of just the tail with no shrimp attached. It seemed as if they buy the "Grade B" shrimp or something. The price is right and they taste fine, but the presentation is awful. Making Maine Shrimp and Grits...yum!

"Southern" food in OBX?

Last year when we were in Charleston, SC we really enjoyed what I would call "Southern" food from places like Boulevard Diner, Momma Browns, and Gullah Cuisine. We are headed to the OBX in a few days and I was wondering if there are any places like this ("meat and three", etc) there. Thanks in advance.

Help-OBX coffee shops, ice cream, bakeries, farmers markets, etc

We are taking our first trip to the Outer Banks in late September. I have a pretty good idea from reading posts here about where to go for dinner, but we need some help with other vital parts of a good foodie experience...local coffee shops, ice cream, bakeries, candy stores, farmer's markets, and other goodies. We'll be spending most of our time around the "central" area (SS, KH, KDH, NH), but we'll be taking rides to Duck and visiting Ocracoke also, so anything is really game!

Also, if there are any local foods (or drinks!) that you "have" to have while in the Outer Banks, let me know. Thanks very much!

Where can I still get Maine Shrimp?

My local Whole Foods (Framingham) told me they were gone for the season, too, about 2 weeks ago. I saw them at the Ashland Market Basket this weekend for $5.99/lb.

Seafood and more in Portland, ME

FYI Chow Maine just reported on 2/1 that this policy at Fore Street has changed, at least temporarily:

"...he is adopting some new policies as a consequence of the slowdown. "We have put aside our walk-in policy," he said -- that policy kept a third of the restaurant's tables held open for walk-ins. Instead, anyone who calls for a reservation while there is a table available will get it..."We're allowing people to reserve all of the tables when they want. It's an experiment, we'll see what happens."

Seabrook Island help!

Hi! Thanks for the response. I'm at Java Java at Freshfields...sort of a Disney-like atmosphere, but has been good in a pinch.

I just wanted to let everyone know that Cindy's is closed (bummer).

Fat Hen tonight, I'll post a review soon!

Low country/local cuisine in Charleston

Hi uptown jimmy (it wouldn't let me respond directly to your post)-It sounds like you know a fair amount about the area. I'm going to be down there next week (Seabrook). You said "Many of the best places in Charleston do not specialize in "local cuisine"" so who does? Where is a good place for an out-of-towner to go to for "local cuisine"? Which, I guess brings up the question, what exactly IS "local cuisine" in the area? Thanks!

Seabrook Island help!

Thanks so much for responding. The silence was really making me think that there was *nothing* notable on the island. We will most certainly go to Charleston, but for nights when we don't feel like driving or want to have an extra cocktail or two, it's nice to know that there's something decent nearby. It sounds like two you mention at Bohicket (Up Da Creek and Rosebank) would be our type of place. We love local food and super fresh seafood.

Seabrook Island help!

Hi: We are considering a week long vacation to Seabrook Island, SC. We are normally not into that "gated community" thing, but we are planning it for last minute and can get a deal there. Plus, the scenery looks nice. The only thing is I'm afraid of that Disney-esque feel to the restaurants/coffee shops/etc. Of course I know we can drive to Charleston, but I'd also like to know if there are any local places so we wouldn't always have to make the late night drive back. And yes, I know we can cook.

To give you an idea of what we like, we enjoy places like O'Steens or Caps in St. Augustine, Rod&Reel on Anna Maria, and any lobster shack in Maine. Not pretentious, not touristy, not fancy.

Help??

Pici pasta

Yes, I fell in love with it, too. What about recipes without an egg? I've seen some that use half semolina/half white flour and water, and some that use just one or the other. Does anyone have a tried and true recipe without an egg?

Sep 16, 2008
CookingGirl in General Topics

Where can I buy hulled barley?

Hey, thanks, mwk. I was starting to wonder if it was just me...

Where can I buy hulled barley?

Thanks. When you say "most supermarkets" can you give me an example? I checked 5 supermarkets in Metro West (Natick/Fram) and no one has it, with the dried beans or anywhere else. Polcari's only has it intermittently, they didn't have it the last 3 times I was there. The Job Lot suggestion is great...I'll have to find the closest one to me. Thanks!

Where can I buy hulled barley?

I'm looking to buy hulled barley in the Boston-out to Metro West area. I know Bob's Red Mill makes it, but I haven't seen any stores that carry it. Whole Foods (at least the one in Framingham) doesn't have it, either in bulk or packaged. I know you can buy it online, but the shipping can be outrageous. Thanks!

Bar Harbor & Boothbay Harbor, ME

We had never been to Boathouse Bistro on any of our trips up to BBH as we usually steer clear of anywhere trying to be "fancy" ie, we just eat at lobster pounds and such. Anyways, we tried it this time after hearing about the new owners/menu and it was really great! The blueberry-pomegranate sangria was incredible. For tapas, the pesto ME shrimp (cold) and garlic ME shrimp (hot) were excellent and good portions for tapas. There was a nice crowd there on an otherwise dead Sunday night...it just had a nice feel to it up on the top roof deck. I would certainy recommend it for the sangria and tapas and the fun, relaxed atmosphere.

Best restaurants in Portsmouth NH?

I have to pile on regarding Blue Mermaid. We've done all of the "good" restaurants in Portsmouth, and we had a coupon so we figured we'd save some cash and give Blue Mermaid a shot. It was a terrible experience from start to finish. It was way early and they were already out of the fish we wanted. So we changed our orders and then they came out all wrong. Wrong sauce on wrong fish, wrong sides on the plate. Just terrible. The server knew they were wrong as she placed them in front of us. She just said, "I'll get another plate and you can straighten it out." So there we were trying to move around (gross) mashed potatoes, and scrape sauces off and swapping them. I know I could have just sent it back, but at this point I just wanted to get out of there. Overall, awful experience, if you want to do cheap, there are plenty of other good alternatives.