Camden, Rockport + Rockland
48 HOURS-May 2013
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Susan Grisanti, Kevin Thomas + Jack Leonardi
Kevin Thomas Publisher
It’s March; snow still covers the ground, and I’m experiencing a feeling well-known to full-time Mainers: the nagging question, “when will this winter end?” I’m looking for a hotel where I can treat myself, not simply a place to drop my luggage, and the Camden Harbour Inn is just such a place. If the weather won’t cooperate, I know I can spend the entire weekend here and return home refreshed.
6:00 p.m. @ Camden Harbour Inn
My feet barely touch the ground before a valet is walking toward Lisa and me, offering to help with our luggage. We follow him up several stairs to the white Victorian building that has sat proudly on Bayview Street since 1874. The inn overlooks Camden harbor, beautifully serene at any time of the year, and back toward proud Mount Battie. Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest bought the inn in 2007 and have renovated it extensively. The interior does not say 1874 or Victorian. It is chic and sophisticated with bright red accents throughout the first floor.
6:15 p.m. @ Royal Dutch Suite
at the Camden Harbour Inn
This new suite, designed by Raymond and Oscar along with interior designer Annie Kiladjian, provides travelers with many luxurious amenities not often found in Maine hotels. We enter a living room where a sleek gas fireplace warms the room. The furniture includes a modern black sofa and a Barcelona chair. Past this room is the bedroom with glass doors that open to a deck looking out over the harbor. To the right is the luxurious bathroom, a room as large as many standard hotel rooms.
7:00 p.m. @ Natalie’s at the
Camden Harbour Inn
The restaurant, located on the first floor, is filled with the inn’s signature red on plush dining chairs, bar stools, and ceiling lights. This is the domain of chef Geoffroy Deconinck and mixologist Tom Laslavic. Maine magazine food editor Joe Ricchio wrote in our November 2012 issue that this restaurant is “one of the finest in the country.” After an amazing meal that included local sea scallops with cauliflower, bronzini with sunchoke, a gingerbread souffle, and extraordinary service, we concur.
9:00 p.m. @ Royal Dutch Suite
Raymond has appeared at the inn and offers us weekend planning advice. His energy sets the tone here, a rare blend of attention to every detail combined with a devil-may-care streak that says we’re all going to have fun doing it. His conviviality is contagious but we’re going to fight the urge to join him at the bar and instead enjoy our room. A freestanding UltraBain oval Jacuzzi bathtub sits in the middle of the floor of our bathroom and I intend to be in it with a glass of chardonnay.
6:00 a.m. @ Bayview Street to the Children’s Chapel
Lisa mapped out a morning run that will take us south on Bayview Street. This street is lined with beautiful summer- and year-round homes overlooking Camden harbor and out toward Curtis Island and Penobscot Bay. I note that there are three new homes under construction. Second homeowners provide work for many of us in Maine and I’m encouraged by the activity. We continue toward Rockport and Aldermere Farm, where distinctive Belted Galloways have been the subject of many a photographer. A left turn on Calderwood takes us down Beauchamp Point and we look carefully for the turn to the Children’s Chapel since no sign marks the way. Soon we find ourselves at the top of a small promontory and under the roof of the open-walled Children’s Chapel. This is a serene place that I try to visit every year and we let the good energy soak in.
7:30 a.m. @ Royal Dutch Suite
By the time we’re back from our six-mile run, I’m ready for our in-room sauna. That’s right, our suite has an amazing Finnleo sauna with ample room for two people and I marvel at the innkeepers’ foresight in including this amenity. We alternate between the sauna and the large tiled shower with a rainforest showerhead until we are fully recovered from our run.
9:15 a.m. @ Natalie’s at the
Camden Harbour Inn
Breakfast is included but not available to the public. We’re seated near the back of the dining area and in front of a fireplace. The alcove behind us, with its large, vintage, black-and-white photograph of long-ago diners, was the venue for a birthday gathering for my youngest son last June. I can still hear the laughter of my three sons and friends, and cherish the memories that are created in these special places.
10:30 a.m. @ Cellardoor Villa
We have made plans to meet one of my best friends, Bettina Doulton, at her Rockport business. Bettina recently collaborated with Art Collector Maine to offer her guests an art experience with a monthly featured artist, an art reception, and an art dinner at the farmhouse. This month’s featured artist is Abbie Williams and I’m looking forward to seeing her work.
11:30 a.m. @ Phi Home Designs
Phi Home is a general contractor and design firm but I’m stopping by today to show Lisa their custom furniture. Co-owner Mike Roy is a passionate fine-furniture maker and Phi continues to build custom designs that are shipped all over the country. There are a number of remarkable pieces on display and, unexpectedly, showroom manager Bob Talbot gives us a tour of their huge woodworking shop.
12:30 p.m. @ Megunticook Market
Lani Temple operates a market and catering business located on the way to Megunticook Lake. I stop by in search of a bottle of wine and snacks but am also excited to see the progress on her renovations. Lani is updating the exterior of the store as well as adding new displays, dividers, and cabinets, all made from bamboo and constructed by Phi Home Designs.
1:00 p.m. @ Long Grain
This is our favorite Thai restaurant in all of Maine. With fewer than 30 seats, Ravin Nakjaroen and Paula Palakawong’s restaurant typically fills quickly and today is no exception. We enjoy the mussels and I order my usual, beef curry, which has chunks of tender meat that fall apart easily under my chopsticks.
3:00 p.m. @ The Owl and Turtle
Bookshop Camden’s independent bookseller recently moved to Bayview Street. Although it is now smaller with a more limited collection, they still have an interesting selection for those of us that need a new book within reach at all times.
5:30 p.m. @ Cellardoor Art
Collector Maine Dinner
Chef David Turin from David’s in Portland is teaming up with Bettina Doulton and my colleague, Jack Leonardi, for a dinner in honor of artist Abbie Williams. We don’t have a seat at the table but stop by for a glass of wine and to meet Abbie. The Cellardoor farmhouse is one of my favorite spots in Camden and Bettina’s evening events are always special.
6:30 p.m. @ 40 Paper
Josh Hixson operates 40 Paper at the old mill building near the center of town. When we arrive, happy hour is well underway and the bar area is packed with a diverse group of locals.
7:30 p.m. @ Hartstone Inn and Hideaway
Mary Jo and Michael Salmon have an incredibly loyal following at their Elm Street restaurant. Many of the regulars join them on their annual food and wine trips to Europe. It’s Maine Restaurant Week and I don’t see an empty table in the place. The table settings are regal and we are served our food swiftly and thoroughly enjoy it with a bottle of Barolo.
9:15 p.m. @ Natalie’s at the
Camden Harbour Inn
Our night will end at the bar joined by several of our friends enjoying some of the award-winning cocktails created by Tom Laslavic, Within 20 minutes, they’ve all arrived and we’re standing three-deep at the bar, spilling out toward the dining room, filling the space with stories of our day.
10:30 a.m. @ Boynton-McKay Food Co.
After a short run, we realize we’ve miscalculated our timing for breakfast at Natalie’s. It’s okay because we’d be remiss in not stopping by Boyton-McKay’s. I love this place and their “system.” We wait for a table (there is a group ahead of us) and walk to the back counter to order our breakfast. Waitstaff brings us our oatmeal and granola and we help ourselves to coffee, tea, and juice. When done, we operate on the honor system and inform the cashier of what we ate so she can calculate our charge. As we drive out of town, I savor the friendships I’ve built throughout the state and remind myself, again, that slowing down and enjoying those relationships is as much the Maine experience as the lighthouses and lobsters we see along the way.
It’s one of those late winter days, on the verge of spring. Snow and rain mix and my car is encrusted with a grimy coat of dirt and salt as I head up Route 1 towards Camden. Mud season doesn’t slow things down at the Hartstone Inn. It’s a “cooking class weekend,” a package the inn offers that includes two nights lodging, breakfast each morning, afternoon tea, dinner, and enrollment in chef Michael Salmon’s lessons in the kitchen on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The inn is booked and can only offer me one night’s stay. I take it.
5:00 p.m. @ Hartstone Inn and Hideaway
I meet Suzette McAvoy, the director of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, at the inn for a glass of wine. She shares her perspective with me as we discuss Maine Home+Design’s annual Art Issue. She also fills me in on CMCA’s upcoming sixty-first season opening exhibition and reception on May 25 as well as each of the exciting and innovative shows and events that she has planned for the rest of the season. There’s not one that I will miss.
6:15 p.m. @ Fromviandoux
My friend Annemarie Ahearn is opening a new restaurant, Salt Water Farm Cafe and Market, in downtown Rockport and wants to introduce me to her head chef. We’ve made a plan for a little girl time with wine and cheese before dinner, but when we sit at the bar we change our minds and order margaritas in anticipation of our Latin American meal. We snack on a tasty assortment of charcuterie and cheeses as we catch up.
7:30 p.m. @ Comida Latin
For dinner we decide on this new spot opened by chef/owner Tom Sigler, formerly of Francine Bistro. It has the rustic coziness of a hole-in-the-wall where you go into the kitchen to find the bathroom. We order another round of margaritas and the Maine shrimp and corn cakes in a guajillo barbecue sauce for an appetizer. Justin Barrett joins Annemarie and me and the two share news about their own restaurant opening scheduled for late May. We select from the menu’s array of Spanish, Cuban, Mexican, and Central, and South American dishes. Annemarie and Justin both opt for the marinated flat iron steak and I try the sopa de mariscos, a hearty fish stew. We all agree that Comida is a welcome addition to Elm Street, adding the rare offering of Latin-inspired cuisine to midcoast Maine.
8:30 a.m. @ Hartstone Inn and Hideaway
The breakfast at the inn has a reputation of its ownAnnemarie comes to join me. We feast on fresh juice, poached pears with raspberry sauce, and Belgian waffles with bananas and candied nuts. She suggests cross-country skiing at Tanglewood, the Snow Bowl, or Aldermere Farmor ice fishing at Hosmer Pond at the base of the Snow Bowl. For now, we decide to meet our buddy Cig Harvey and her dog Scarlet for their daily walk.
9:30 a.m. @ Beauchamp Point
I get the chance to catch up with two of my pals as we walk along this pretty stretch of coastline with views of Rockport harbor and village. I get news about Cig’s family life as well as the happenings with her exquisite fine art photography.
10:30 a.m. @ RAYR the Wine Shop
As I always do when I’m in the area, I stop at this fabulous wine shop for the most delicious cup of coffee around, and to pick up a few bottles of Jason’s great recommendations.
11:00 a.m. @ Merryspring Nature Center
On the suggestion of Mary Jo at the Hartstone Inn, I decide to take a little hike around the nature center. While I spend quite a bit of time in this part of the state, I’ve never made my way down the little winding road marked by a sign on Route 1. I park my car in the lot and as I walk into the preserve, big snowflakes begin to flutter as if on cue, adding to the already magical beauty of the place.
12:00 p.m. @ Margo Moore Interiors
I’ve been working on a story in Maine Home+Design with designer Marcy van der Kieft, so as I make way my way back into town I decide to stop in to see her and to wander around her delightful home design shop, taking in everything from fine hand-milled soaps to colorful fabrics and furniture.
1:00 p.m. @ Josephine
Another spot I rarely miss on a trip to the midcoast is this fantastic clothing boutique. I check out all the new items for spring and summer and decide on a pair of simple, classic trouserssomething that, like most of the things I’ve bought here over the years, will last for ages.
1:45 p.m. @ Fresh Bakery + Market
I’m due for an appointment in 15 minutes, so I need to grab the quickest of lunches. I make my way down Bayview Street and ask a man for directions. He shouts after me, “Try a ginger scone, but leave one for me!”
2:00 p.m. @ Sanctuary Spa
I treat myself to a spa treatment by massage therapist, Reiki practitioner, and yoga instructor Michele DiGirolamo. She offers many beneficial suggestions on nutrition, exercise, and well-being.
3:15p.m. @ Seabright Pizza
I’ve heard that chef Brian Hill is opening a new pizza place and I want to peek in the windows. I text my friend, restaurant general manager Jim Haines, for directions; he replies that he’s five minutes away and would be happy to show me around. Based on Brian’s track record with Francine Bistro and Shepherd’s Pie, two of the best restaurants around, I’m very excited to try a slice.
3:45 p.m. @ Fresh Off the Farm
Michele from Sanctuary Spa has suggested a tea and an herbal elixir that are both available at this “Farmer’s Market Under One Roof” that offers all kinds of natural foods, homeopathies, and native produce.
4:00p.m. @ Bleecker and Flamm Maine Street Meats
Despite being quite late, I cannot resist making a quick stop at this full-service butcher shop. Owners Andrew Flamm and Sarah Bleecker Greer source all their fresh meat from Maine farmers. Sausages are made in-house and a wide variety of charcuterie items, including bacon, lamb belly, pâté, rilletes, and smoked sausage, are either house-made or from Italy. Flamm also bakes bread daily. The stop is well worth the hurried pace I will need to keep on schedule.
4:30 p.m. @ Camden Riverhouse
Hotel and Inns
After checking in and chatting with the friendly innkeeper, I have just enough time to hop in the shower, change for dinner, and rush out the door for my dinner plans. I’m sorry to miss the chance to enjoy the heated indoor pool.
5:00 p.m. @ Shepherd’s Pie
Jim has invited me for a drink before dinner and we have a quick visit over a glass of Maker’s 46 bourbon while he readies things for the impending dinner rush at this area favorite.
5:45 p.m. @ Cellardoor Winery
Earlier in the week, I asked my friend Bettina Doulton to join me for dinner while I was in town. As it turns out, my timing was perfect to attend the Art Collector Maine dinner she hosts monthly at the winery. I experience the best combination of a dinner outa feast prepared by chef David Turinand the wonderful camaraderie of a dinner party replete with a candid talk by featured artist Abbie Williams walking dinner guests through the stories behind her paintings. A lovely night to remember.
9:45 p.m. @ Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn
A crew from the dinner decides to keep the party going with a nightcap at Natalie’s. I happily find owners and good friends Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest sitting at the bar. We all enjoy delectable cocktails in the gorgeous decadence of the restaurant’s atmosphere. Before the night is over, Raymond and Oscar invite me for breakfast the next morning.
7:30 a.m. @ St. Thomas’
I’m up early and can hear church bells. I dress and make my way over to Sunday service at this inviting church on Chestnut Street.
9:30 a.m. @ High Mountain Hall
After a divine breakfast at Natalie’s, I head to meet Cig and Annemarie for a yoga class taught by the lovely and gifted (and aptly named) instructor Sunny Hitt. Bright morning light streams in through the windows warming the studio and hinting at the shift happening outside from winter to spring.
Art Collector Maine
I’m looking forward to getting away for the weekend to explore Rockland and Owls Head. I’m often in the midcoast, but inevitably my time is consumed by business. Staying in downtown Rockland with no predetermined schedule sounds like a setup for a perfect weekend. My wife Lynda meets me at the office at 3:30 and we head north, making a brief stop along the way to drop in on the opening reception of Figures and FacesAnimals Included at River Arts in Damariscotta. At 5:00 the show has just opened, and there are 75 or 100 guests taking in the exhibition that gallery director Linda Morkeski professes to be their best ever.
6:00 p.m. @ Captain Lindsey House Inn
Set in the heart of downtown Rockland, the inn offers guests the opportunity for a car-free stay with a host of art galleries, museums, restaurants, and shops all within a five-minute walk. The innkeeper, Patricia Payeur, gives us an overview of the inn and escorts us to our cozy room with a fireplace. After settling in we have a seat in the main parlor of the inn, where we enjoy the complimentary wine and snacks.
7:30 p.m. @ Waterworks
Restaurant and Pub
Just behind the Captain Lindsey, Waterworks is a local pub and tonight it is packed and lively. The menu includes classic pub fare. Being the picky eater that I am, I find this a perfect spot. Lynda tries the broiled scallops and I choose broiled haddock. Both are delicious and the portions are large, especially considering the modest prices. With a ten-step walk back to the inn we decide to call it a night.
8:30 a.m. @ Home Kitchen Cafe
The menu says “Breakfast served all day” and “Lunch served all day” and I love that. I’ve noticed on my recent trips through town that extensive renovations have been made, including a sweet second story deck that looks out to the water. Inside there is not an open seat but we are told we can have a seat at the counter. We feast on a fantastic breakfast, after which we are asked if we’d like to take home one of Fred’s famous sticky buns. We pass, but regret the decision a bit later.
10:00 a.m. @ Owls Head
I’m not exactly what you’d call a “car guy” but a friend suggested that we make a visit and I am completely blown away by the collection of classic cars and planes. The current show, “MGs and Microcars,” features more than 20 cars, including “the rolling egg” BMW Isetta. This is must-stop for anyone visiting the midcoast.
11:00 a.m. @ Owls Head General Store
We’ve heard about “Maine’s Best Burger” but we are still getting over our big breakfast so we opt for a couple of delicious, freshly made gingersnap cookies and coffee. Lunch here next visit.
11:30 a.m. @ Owls Head State Park
The drive out to the park is absolutely peaceful and the gorgeous changing water views are enhanced by the quietness of the season. I want to live here.
1:00 p.m. @ Cafe Miranda
Opened in 1993 by chef Kerry Altiero, Cafe Miranda is a staple of the Rockland food scene. Our friends, artist Don Rainville and his wife Michelle, join us for lunch. A friendly and eclectic atmosphere sets off a large, interesting menu. Everything is delicious, with the pizza being among the best I’ve ever tasted.
2:15 p.m. @ 3 Crow
Chef/owner Josh Hixson is nice enough to give us a preopening tour of his newest venture, which will offer a New American menu with heavy southern/Cajun influence. 3 Crow will have over 14 beers on tap, including six Maine craft brews and more than 40 whiskey offerings. There is an industrial, stylish feel to the space, which is nearly complete, and features contemporary lighting fixtures that Josh made from reclaimed materials.
2:45 p.m. @ Harbor Square
We walk back down Main Street to the Harbor Square Gallery. HSG, which has been in business for more than 30 years, is unquestionably one of the state’s premier galleries. HSG features the paintings of Harold Garde, Bill Crosby, Don Rainville, Jill Valliere, and Brian Mark, among others. The gallery also is home to the state’s premier sculpture gallery. The Muir Garden for Contemporary Sculpture includes the work of Leo Osborne, Cabot Lyford, and Roy Patterson, to name a few, and the gallery’s rooftop location is something very special. Gallery owner and master goldsmith Tom O’Donovan’s unique jewelry collection is displayed in the gallery and Tom succeeds in engaging Lynda as an earring model.
3:15 p.m. @ Dowling Walsh
The collection in this prominent Rockland gallery is wonderful. Large works of realism from Bo Bartlett and David Graeme Baker demand attention, as does a fine collection of smaller-scale work by Connie Hayes.
3:35 p.m. @ Caldbeck Gallery
Owners Jim Kinnealey and Cynthia Hyde have operated this gallery for more than 30 years. We are excited when we get inside to see director of operations Cyndi Prince in the middle of hanging the work of Lois Dodd. The gallery is classic, yet simple in its elegance, and each year it features some of the state’s most prestigious art shows.
4:30 p.m. @ Asymmetrick Arts
Asymmetrick opened in 2006 and features the work of emerging and established artists with a definite contemporary edginess. Today I am particularly drawn to the work of Eric Leppanen, who works with discarded materials to create abstract paintings and three-dimensional pieces.
4:45 p.m. @ Archipelago |
The Island Institute Store
+ Four Twelve
Whenever we are in Rockland we have to stop here. The ever-changing selection of jewelry, clothing, gifts, and art gives me reason to buy something on every visit. Today it’s a colorful wool scarf for Lynda. I’m also pleased to see the work of Maine artist Petrea Noyes on display. Lynda and I peek next door at Four Twelve, a stylish boutique with contemporary womens clothing.
5:00 p.m. @ Loyal Biscuit Co.
With a new puppy in our house we can’t pass up popping in. The store is chock-full of every pet need imaginable. We laugh out loud because there is no collar small enough for our pup Rosie. Instead, we decide to buy matching toys for Rosie and her pug cousin, Stella.
5:15 p.m. @ Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars
We are pleased to be educated about the extensive selection of olive oils and vinegars. Lynda samples several infused vinegars, including a chocolate one that she loves. Owner Pat O’Brien introduces himself and lets us know that the current olive oils in the store are all from the southern hemisphere; the changeover to the northern olive oils is a few weeks out. He encourages us to come back as he will be getting in a very special Spanish ultra-premium extra virgin olive oil, Oro Bailen Picual Reserva Familiar.
5:45 p.m. @ 40 Paper
We head to Camden to meet up with Tom O’Donovan for 40 Paper’s great daily happy hour featuring unique cocktail specials along with small plates starting at $5. I notice artist Carmella Yager enjoying a drink at the bar with her husband and I walk over and chat for a few minutes.
8:00 p.m. @ Fog Bar and Cafe
We noticed the crowd in Fog on Friday night and made it our plan to have dinner here tonight. The space has a hip vibe to it and although nearly every seat is taken, the soaring ceilings give you a feeling of space. The menu is contemporary comfort food featuring several seafood and meat dishes. We let our waitress select a bottle of wine and relax as we notice the classic movie playing on the back wall. After surveying the menu both Lynda and I choose one of the specials, pan-roasted haddock with grits (I change out the grits for mashed potatoes). The haddock is perfect and Lynda decides that she is now a fan of grits, at least when prepared in Fog fashion. We finish the night with espresso, but see a dessert being delivered to the table next to us that looks like it could feed a family.
8:30 a.m. @ Captain Lindsey House Inn
The inn offers a complimentary breakfast buffet. Some coffee, orange juice, and granola are just right.
10:00 a.m. @ The Farnsworth Museum
There are four separate exhibitions currently running, but we spend most of our time viewing American Treasures: Other Voices and Andrew Wyeth: Pencil Drawings and Watercolor Sketches. The American Treasures: Other Voices exhibition is particularly stunning and includes many works donated to the museum by the Alex Katz Foundation. We are especially drawn to Ruth with Cigarette. 3. by Julian Opie. There is no better way to conclude an art-filled weekend in Rockland than spending a few hours taking in all of what this treasure of a museum has to offer.