The Maine Farm Table Summer Road Trip #2: Daytrip to the Midcoast

Note: In this series, I'm putting together a few summer road trip itineraries that follow our stomachs, using The Maine Farm Table Cookbook and the amazing food that's being produced and cooked around the state as a guide. For a limited time, you can purchase a signed copy of the cookbook that inspired this series for 10% off. Use code HITTHEROAD2024 at checkout.

 If you were an 80's kid like me, you might remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Need a refresher? These were adventure stories written in (the tragically underutilized) second person POV, where you (the reader) are the star and have the opportunity to make choices about the direction of the story at key plot points. Depending on your choices, you were rewarded with great treasure, or long adventures, or certain death. They were awesome!

I think of these road trips like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books. You can mix and match, add or subtract stops, or go a different direction altogether. In this one, I've included my own alternate ending, but you might find something else along the way that looks interesting. If you do, let me know!

This is a long day to the midcoast and back from Portland. And remember, we're following our stomachs here, so there's a lot of shopping for food and eating along the way. So, grab a big cooler, throw in some sturdy ice packs, and let's hit the road!

Stop #1: The Lost Kitchen, 22 Mill St. Freedom

(Photo by Derek Bissonnette for The Maine Farm Table Cookbook)

We're headed to the northernmost stop on our route this week, 1 hour and 33 minutes from Portland. And, nope, you don't need to send in a postcard and hope you get picked from a pile of 20,000 others to visit the Mill where famous restaurant lives. Erin French and her team have curated a stunning collection of artisan goods and goodies from Maine and beyond and have arranged it all with their signature aesthetic in the TLK shop, which is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10-2, all summer long. 

Read more about Erin and TLK starting on page 62 of The Maine Farm Table Cookbook.

Stop #2: Misty Brook Farm Store, 156 Bog Rd., Albion

Drive 11 minutes east on Route 137, and you'll find yourself at one of Maine's true iconic farm stores. Open "dawn 'til dusk, 365 days a year", the Misty Brook farm store is a self-serve repository of ultra fresh, organic raw cow and sheep's milk, beef, lamb, pork, eggs, milled grains, dried beans, in-season veg, ferments, frozen fruits, and maple products. And when I say self-serve, I mean it. Last time I was there, I used a little calculator to add up my purchases, and put my money in the cash box. You can also make your own change. This is Maine at it's best. 

(Photo by Derek Bissonnette for The Maine Farm Table Cookbook)

The Holmeses have an open-farm policy, and you are welcome to wander around and check things out. If you happen to run into one of the family on your self-guided tour, they may be happy to show you around as well. Just remember, this is a working farm; be careful, use common sense, and to please do not touch the animals or machinery. 

Read more about Misty Brook Farm and the Holmes family starting on page 110 of The Maine Farm Table Cookbook.

Stop #3: Morse's Sauerkraut, Route 220, 3856 Washington Road, Waldoboro

(Photo by Derek Bissonnette for The Maine Farm Table Cookbook)

Take your time meandering due south through open fields and dense forests, and you'll eventually end up at Morse's Sauerkraut. If you're not familiar with this midcoast institution, be ready for a little trip through the looking-glass. Morse's isn't just sauerkraut made with cabbage grown in neighboring fields; it's a full-blown European deli in the middle of nowhere. While gone is the charming Germanic restaurant and bakery that used to be a part of the business, the store is still packed with a wide variety of cheeses, cured meats, crackers, snacks, beer, and wine from all across Europe. Morse's makes fresh, living sauerkraut that I could eat straight; but they also make pickles, relishes, and mustard.

Stroll slowly through the aisles and choose items for your picnic. Be adventurous! Anchovy paste? Yes! Mayonnaise from a tube? Also yes! Iberian ham-flavored potato chips? Please! Mustard pickles? Do you even have to ask? Aren't we in Maine? Just do it.

Read more about Morse's Sauerkraut on page 289 of The Maine Farm Table Cookbook.

Stop #4: Ayer Park on Seven Tree Pond, 294 Depot St. (or thereabouts), Union

When I was traveling to and fro between Portland and Isle au Haut in the first few years of moving Ragged Coast to Westbrook, I always took the long way. Stops would often include Beth's Farm Market or Morse's, and a picnic lunch at the roadside boat launch on Seven Tree Pond. The park isn't big--a few picnic tables, a boat launch, a marshy indent in the trees to put-in kayaks and canoes. But it's peaceful and pretty and just perfect for a mid-summer meal al fresco. If you thought to bring a blanket or an picnic table cover, use it to lay out your feast of bits and bites gleaned from your first three stops. 

If it's July 18th, proceed to Stop #5.

If it's any other day, skip to Stop #5a

Stop #5: Fairwinds Farm, 555 Brown's Point Rd. Bowdoinham

June and--if we're lucky--early July in Maine means strawberries and July means raspberries! Fairwinds Farm opens their fields for U-Pick beginning in mid-June. Give a call to see what's ripe: 207-232-1516. Containers are available for purchase on the farm, or bring your own!

Stop #6: The Hive at Dandelion Spring Farm, 961 Ridge Rd., Bowdoinham

(Photo by Derek Bissonnette for The Maine Farm Table Cookbook)

Every third Thursday all summer long Dandelion Spring Farm is hosting taco night in their event barn from 6-9 with a rotating guest chef. On July 18th, Richard Yu-Tang Lee and Claire Guyer--the duo behind Little Brother Chinese Food--will be whipping up red-braised pork or tofu "tacos" (served on Chinese-style steamed bread) with pickled veg + a cup of jus for dipping. A cucumber + radish salad with garlicky sesame vinaigrette and a snack of big shrimp chips will round out the options for dinner. But they had me at dessert: Hoodsie Cup Chili Crisp Sundae - ice cream cup with whipped cream, crushed peanuts, and LBCF Chili Crisp. I'll take two.

Hold your spot by purchasing a ticket to ride on the Dandelion Spring website for $5. Tacos and everything else--including adult and AF bevvies--are pay as you go once you're there. 

Learn more about Beth Schiller and Dandelion Spring Farm beginning on page 52 of The Maine Farm Table Cookbook.

From Dandelion Spring, it is a mere 40 minute drive back to Portland. 

Stop #5a: Rockport.

Skip the crowds in Camden and Rockland, and visit the middle child village of Rockport instead. Take a stroll through the peaceful streets, wander in and out of the galleries or walk to the Marine Park and watch the lobster boats come in and land the day's catch. If it's hot, you could take a dip at Goodies Beach, or just wade in along the shore. 

Stop #6a: Nīna June, 24 Central St., Rockport


(Photo by Derek Bissonnette for The Maine Farm Table Cookbook)

Chef Sara Jenkins changes the menu at her Mediterranean restaurant each week and posts it on Instagram (along with mouthwatering photos of her beautiful dishes). The seasonally-inspired menu always features handmade pastas accented with bright flavors and locally produced bits. And, as you'd imagine, seafood plays a major role as well. Sara is a tried and true pro at the helm of restaurant she built with heart. 

(Photo by Derek Bissonnette for The Maine Farm Table Cookbook)

Read more about Sara Jenkins and Nīna June beginning on page 92 of The Maine Farm Table Cookbook.

Portland is an hour and 45 minute drive from Rockport, so opt in for espresso, and roll down the windows. You'll be home before you know it. 


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