Friday, April 9, 2010

Down East with Tony and No Reservations

As a woman born and raised in New England (with stops in Paris and now here in Florida), I have to say  -

It seems that he's been just about EVERYWHERE, and he's FINALLY getting to Maine (just a thought for a future show Tony - check out Providence, RI for some GREAT restaurants and interesting art). So, Down East it is for Mr. Bourdain this week. It's an area that I'm quite familiar with.

Of course, Portland is the first stop. Portland  has been dubbed  "America's foodiest little city". Why? Well, did you know that there are more restaurants per capita than San Francisco! It's just a guess, but of course Tony and his friends will be testing the theory out (tough job?). Tony and his friend Zach head over to J's Oyster. There's nothing like a local joint with beer, shellfish, and steamer clams (Tony - they're simply called "steamers" - no need for the word clams. If you're in New England everyone will know what you mean.). With women everywhere (owner, waitresses, etc) will Tony be able to be his usual self? We'll have to wait and see. Then it's on to  Street & Co. where the pair will get to taste some of the area's BEST. Yes, seafood. Tony chats with owner Dana Street and Portland fishmonger George Parr while dining on Maine shrimp, Monkfish, and Cuttlefish. Me, I'm waiting for the Maine Lobster!

Primo, just about an hour and fifteen northeast of Portland (in Rockland)  is run by the wonderful chef, Melissa Kelly. Melissa is the winner of the prestigious James Beard award (having  graduated in the top of her class at the Culinary Institute of America). I'm sitting at my computer and DREAMING of what she's got in store. The best part is that her restaurant is sustainable, seasonal, and locally-sourced. Home grown veggies and locally sourced -  Tony asks."Are you hippies?" Look who's asking? I have this vision of Tony in the late 60's, early 70's and it DIDN'T include Disco Fever. Just sayin... Hippie's aside,  Tony enjoys Kelly's homemade specialties including a charcuterie course from her own pigs, pasta, veal and pork chops.

Now here's what I've been waiting for. They're heading to Conte's 1894 Restaurant (in Rockland). The owner (John Conte) is well known for his grumpy attitude in the kitchen, thankfully I've never been in his kitchen - all I care about is watching Tony and Zach.taste some of everything John can dish up including Maine shrimp, lobster, haddock and mussels. MMMM......LOBSTER. Finally! When in Maine - forget about everything's LOBSTER territory.

Finally, it wouldn't be a trip to Maine without venturing inland. Zach introduces Tony to his family's home of Milo, where the population is around 3,000. This is the "Cheers" town, you of those places that everyone knows everyone else. Be prepared for some family activities. Oh and did I mention BBQ  in a railroad car? That's what I hear.

I'll be visiting my old stomping grounds in Maine along with Tony this Monday, April 12 th from my armchair at 10:00 PM! I hope that you'll join me.


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