Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Thank You, Summer" Ratatouille + 36 Hours in Midcoast Maine.

good times, (metaphorical) noodle salad.
"Thank You, Summer" Ratatouille
36 Hours in Midcoast Maine.
summer kicks ass.

When I originally posted this recipe just about a year ago my folks were packing up the last of their boxes and getting ready to make the permanent move from Virginia to Maine and I wasn't handling it particularly well. It's hard to let go of a place where so many of your firsts happened. First steps, first words, first kiss, first love, first know the drill. At the time it felt like the end of an unbearably large number of things; I pulled out of the driveway for the last time
and cried all the way across the blue ridge mountains. 
Melodramatic, I know, but that's how it went down. 
And that's probably why I gave this recipe such a depressing name the first time around. Summer's End Ratatouille?? Sheesh. Shoulda just called it "we all die" vegetable medley... Over the past year I've come to realize that home is where your people are, that past is past, present is present, and memories are yours regardless of where your parents live. I've also come to realize that (as a tidy little bonus) coastal Maine is a pretty kick-ass place for said people to be, especially in the summertime. 
So, in the spirit of newfound emotional maturity,
I'm re-branding this recipe "thank you, summer" ratatouille. 
No melodrama, no sad-sackery. 
Just an unabashed appreciation of the season, while it lasts. 
Knowing full well it'll be back around again soon enough.
Nothing but good times and noodle salad (bonus points if you get that reference).

every little bit of it.

"Thank You, Summer" Ratatouille
now with even less melodrama
(serves 4-6) 

3Tbsp olive oil
2-3Tbsp red wine 
1 large onion (yellow or red), thinly sliced
1 full head of garlic, cloves finely minced
two bell peppers, green red or yellow, sliced thin
Diced eggplant (any variety), about 3-4 cups
1-2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
3-4 medium-sized tomatoes, diced (about 2c)
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2c shredded fresh basil leaves

full recipe here.

And now a few of my favorite Maine-based things:

THIS PLACE. Currently topping the ever-growing list of reasons to hop in the car and head north (sorry, mom) is the Holy Donut in Portland, ME, the cutest little donut shop you ever did see. They make a traditional Maine potato donut and now offer TWO (squee!) daily vegan flavors- cinnamon sugar and a rotating berry glaze. 
They sell out super quick in the summertime, so get there early. Or, if you give 24 hours notice, they'll make you a dozen special order style. I've been three times this summer and come out empty handed twice. My look of disappointment must have been absolutely soul-crushing the last time because the lovely woman behind the counter pulled me to the side and placed not one but two free donut coupons in my hand. A hero among mere mortals, she is. 

donut shops in the sunshine.
insert simpsons joke here.

Chase's Daily in Belfast, ME is climbing the list rapidly. A gorgeous vegetarian restaurant, cafe, bakery, indoor farmers' market that I've heard about for years but somehow never been to. Setting aside the food (which was SPECTACULAR) for a moment, the produce set up in the back is something out of a dream. Spare walls lined with rows of gorgeous fruits and vegetables, all grown on the restaurant owners' family farm and all displayed within perfectly weathered wire bins or antiqued enameled bowls and buckets. Swoon. Produce as art/ produce IS art. 
This place gets it. 
Now for the food- Mom ordered the pasta special (all made in-house) and I ordered the yellow curry fried rice (brown rice cooked with a lightly spiced yellow curry, scallions, bok choy, potatoes, thai basil, parsley, lightly crisped tofu and pickled Hungarian peppers- all veggies from the Chase's Daily family farm). One of the best meals of my life. Seriously. So simple but perfect in every conceivable way. 
I'm trying to replicate it as we speak. 

produce as art/ produce IS art.

nice stems.

this color.

Then there was Harvest Moon pizza in Waldoboro. Again. Perfect every time. 
get there.

stop showing off, maine. 
scenes from the damariscotta farmers' market.
"the edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place"
the rachel carson salt pond preserve, new harbor, me.
pemaquid point, new harbor, me.
backyard blackberries.
it runs in the family.
high tide.
different water.
(webber) pondside.
all the tomatoes forever and ever till they're gone.
I-95 sunset. 


  1. Ratatouille is definitely one of the best things about summer and THAT DONUT LOOKS FREAKIN' FANTASTIC. Your pictures make me smile. :)

    1. Aww, thanks! And it was pretty freakin' fantastic. ;)

  2. I had no idea the Holy Donut had vegan flavors other than cinnamon sugar. This is highly valuable information!

    1. Right?? I almost shrieked when I saw them. The cinnamon-suagr are dope, but this one was on a whole 'nother level.