Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kitchen Dreams

I love food. It seems as though I spend a lot of time thinking about preparing meals and then eating them. And because I love to cook I spend even more time thinking about how and where I can prepare that food. When I am in my small European style galley kitchen I dream of what my ideal kitchen would look like. So when I was visiting Midcoast Maine and stumbled upon an advertisement for a kitchen tour featuring some of the best chefs in the area, I just knew I had to go. And I'm so glad I did because it provided me with an opportunity to sample some tasty food and see some beautiful houses and their kitchens. What more could a food lover ask for?

A annual fundraiser for Merryspring Nature Center, the event was organized in the same fashion as a garden tour; in this case the kitchens of nine houses were made available for visitors to tour. The locations and architecture were diverse as were the foods offered by the chefs at each location. The houses ranged from modern new construction and classic New England capes to the historic renovation of an 1802 Federalist home and everything in between. A couple of the kitchens were quite spacious while the rest were compact but well laid out proving that when it comes to kitchens, size doesn't always matter. Kitchens with a view were inspiring; I can't help but think that looking at the islands in the bay would make washing dishes much more pleasant. Stainless steel appliances are still popular but soapstone counter tops and solid cherry butcher blocks seem to have replaced granite as the current fad and after seeing several renditions, I must say I am now a fan. I was less fond of the white cabinetry that graced many of the kitchens; give me natural colored wood any day.

And of course there was the food. At each kitchen we were invited to sample tasty tidbits from local chefs. It had been awhile since I spent time in the area but judging by the creative array of offerings, the Midcoast dining scene has changed a lot in the past twenty or so years. It is black trumpet mushroom season in Maine with several dishes featuring this foraged food. I've been developing a taste for wild mushrooms and and amongst other dishes, loved the flat bread pizza and crostini featuring these wild mushrooms. And because this is Maine, seafood featured prominently in several of the dishes. All I can say is yum!

So did I see my dream home? Not really. But if nothing else I ended the day filled with lots of ideas about what I do and don't want in my future dream house. Did I eat some good food? Absolutely and I'm a bit disappointed that I won't have the opportunity to try out several of these restaurants. But I am planning on trying to recreate a few of the signature dishes in my tiny Belgian kitchen. If I close my eyes while I'm eating I just might be able to pretend that I'm back in one of those Maine kitchens enjoying the view.

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