|Limoncello, Balsamic Vinaigrette Strawberry...Victorian Sponge Teacake|
"This one" he said. "Yes, oooh, will you make this one for me?"
"No problem" came my immediate reply.
At this point, I was ready to bake, broil, stir fry, or whip up just about anything for him. My poor guy. Patrick had one no good, awful, pretty bad week...on his birthday week.
Houston highways can be a beast of a venue for making the daily commute to work. Drivers swerve over 6 lanes in one swoop. Cars stay in one lane for a few seconds and then, seemingly for sport, swap lanes, again and again...and then plunge several lanes over to get off onto the exit lane.
Patrick got hit in the rear of his car two weeks ago...his precious smokey grey sports car that he so loving cleans and polishes every weekend was hurt. This guy of mine lives for his car. I think he might have been the only newborn baby found clutching a little miniature sports car instead of the iconic silver rattle. I imagine him as a toddler pushing all of the other toys aside and reaching for anything on four wheels. He's o.k. No injuries but the car took a little jolt.
So the car goes into the shop. The car comes out of the shop and we hope things are a go again. Not to be. I get a call at 6:30am a week later...he's stranded on the side of the highway...clear across the city of Houston.
He knew it meant more repairs, more shop time, more trouble with his beloved car. He's right on the cusp of a huge project at work and this wasn't the best of timing. But, when does car trouble ever happen at a good time?
There just isn't much that rocks Patrick's boat. He is such an even tempered simple guy. I'm quite complicated and multi-layered and confusing so his quiet manner was such an endearing draw when we met years ago.
There were dreary conversations, moping, and despondency this week. He decided with a heavy heart to sell the car and move into something that can handle the tough Houston highways without as much worry.
I was determined that I was going to make a birthday dinner for him for this Sunday Supper that would make him forget the blues and count the blessings. I let him loose on my Pinterest boards and he chose the "Limoncello Balsamic Strawberries in a Victorian Sponge Teacake" from the enormously popular Australian blog, What Katie Ate.
Riley and I were still reminiscing over the "Pappardelle Pasta with Lobster in Cognac Cream Sauce" that we had while on our road trip. I managed to pull a few recipes together and came up with a version that when Riley took his first bite, he gave it a thumbs up.
With a beautiful bottle of red wine on hand, the Pappardelle Pasta with Lobster in Cognac Cream Sauce, finished off with an ample slice of "Limoncello Balsamic Strawberry Victorian Sponge Teacake"...I was going to remedy the week's trials and tribulations for my down-in-his-birthday-week luck, husband.
Indeed, it worked. He absolutely loved the meal from beginning to end. A new double-decker waffle grill (never knew they made this!), a luxurious down bed pillow, and we turned his birthday from a week of sourness into a sweet one.
|Pappardelle Pasta with Lobster in Cognac Cream Sauce|
My husband loves anything gadgety. So I took out the pasta roller, kneaded a batch of pasta dough, and the two of us spent time in the kitchen getting flour on just about every surface there was while gingerly cutting out the pappardelle strands of pasta.
A delicious recipe. A definite splurge meal to prepare on such an occasion. I ignited the cognac in the cream sauce and let it burn down. The lobster was cooked just for a few minutes so it was soft and velvety. Sauteed mushrooms and shallots bring out layers of flavors and who doesn't love all of that slowly stirred together with cream and butter.
So on that sweet and savory note, I'll leave the trials and travails of the week, and continue recalling the tale of our "Summer Road Trip: 2013" that my son and I took from Cape Cod to Prince Edward Island.
It started with this article about our stay on Cape Cod, here, moved on to our stop in Rockport, Massachusetts, here...and now we've made it all the way up to Bar Harbor, Maine. Enjoy.
|"Son, we're in Maine now. I'm pretty sure"|
Onward and upward we climbed through Maine. Riley and I were definitely on a mission now to make it all the way up to Prince Edward Island (coming next!)...but we were loving every minute of the robust and windy Maine scenery.
The scenery on the East coast of Maine isn't the kind of sweeping scenery that goes on for miles like you see on the West coast of Oregon and Washington State.
It is long finger-like peninsulas that jut out into the ocean. Small windy meandering roads drive along the edge of the long fingers. When arriving at the tip, there is usually (and finally) a windswept harbor town that makes one "stop", "breathe", and "swoon".
|"Lobster Pounds" right along side the roadway|
We planned to pass through Camden, Maine, but when we arrived there, I just about thought I had slipped into the colorful pages of a delightful and charming storybook village.
Camden is an adorable harbor town along the Maine coast that "has it all". I think it was the layout of the town that is one aspect that makes it so pleasurable. Many of the picture perfect shops are right off of the beautiful harbor. A stretch of green lawn extends from the classic New England library right into the harbor area.
Norman Rockwall's paintings come to mind when wandering around Camden. Quaint scenes are everywhere and I can't even imagine how amazing fall must be here. I would even love to see the wintery landscape of this adorable village. Camden, Maine...highly recommended.
|Coastline of Acadia National Park|
So we climbed higher and higher up the coast of Maine. More blueberry signs appeared along the roadside and we marveled at their teeny tiny size...rather similar to currants.
We drove with the windows down and the salty aroma of roadside "lobster pounds" scented the air. Lobster pounds are small mom & pop lobster and seafood stops along the coast of Maine. Huge steaming pots of boiling water are lined up on fires outside in order the boil the lobsters, clams, mussels, and oysters.
Our destination for the day was the little northern town of Bar Harbor, Maine. We planned to relax here a few days and get our energy up for the northward trek into the moose territory of New Brunswick.
First stop, however, was to spend a day in Acadia National Park soaking up forested trails and wild coastal views. We decided to drive along the Park's "Park Loop Road" and stop along the way to enjoy the scenery and walk down to the water.
|Scenes from Acadia National Park|
So Bar Harbor was to be our resting place. I was tickled with happiness when we pulled into this endearing little town. Bar Harbor has many of the likable elements of Camden, Maine, so I was looking forward to shopping, dining, and enjoying the quaintness of this seaside area.
|Stonethrow Cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine|
For this stop I chose a little B&B called "Stonethrow Cottage". I chose it quite on the fly as the Inn I had booked for those few nights was not at all what I expected. I was poking around in Bar Harbor to see if we could switch selections. I wasn't sure what I would think of Stonethrow Cottage as I had done only a quick review of their website. Happily, however, I am tickled pink to say that Stonethrow Cottage exceeded ALL of my expectations. No doubt, a 5-star B&B with all the trimmings one expects from this kind of experience! In fact, I am definitely going to submit this B&B to Karen Brown travel guides for consideration.
The lovely white sided home with its long front porch and pop up dormer windows is nestled back on a lush lawn with gardens extending all around and it.
Kim and Jerry Heist and their two daughters run this classically styled B&B. They were delightful to meet. Kim is a school teacher and Jerry is a boatbuilder. Opening this B&B is one of their life dreams and they are certainly off to a grand start.
With one daughter the same age as Madeleine, we quickly fell into chat about college transitions, freshmen year, and summer jobs.
From top to bottom, Stonethrow Cottage doesn't miss a detail. When we arrived in the afternoon, there was a spread of baked goods and coffee and tea in the dining room.
We wearily tumbled into our room and I was especially delighted with the very smart jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. I was ready to fill it with hot water and bubbles and take a long soak at this point.
|Bottom L: Beautiful Stained Glass window in downstairs powder room|
The decor of their home is as if Laura Ashley came in and swept through every room with a wand, adorning every room with all things sweet, floral, whimsical, and comfortable.
|Stonethrow Cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine|
Whereas some inns and B&Bs "wow" you when you walk in and let you down a bit when you get into the room, that does not happen here. From the thick down pillows and comforters to the painted floral sinks in the bathroom, and the sweet padded hangers on the wall, there just wasn't anything to disappoint here. Each room was impeccably decocrated and spotless.
|Stonethrow Cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine|
There was a back porch as well as a front porch. the back porch was relaxing and looked out onto a beautiful lawn that extended beyond into the next street.
Sweet bird feeders, beautiful flowers, and a serene quiet atmosphere made this back area a wonderful place to relax, read a book, or just have a cup of tea.
We knew breakfast was going to be special in the morning and we looked forward to it. After a rejuvenating and very restful night, we were ready the next morning to explore the village of Bar Harbor, do a little sight-seeing (and possibly some ice cream eating) and delight in the picturesque harbor area.
|The adorable family dog, "Buddy", an Australian Sheepdog|
When we came downstairs in the morning, lured by the aroma of coffee and something deliciously scented wafting from the kitchen, we chatted with 2 other couples and all swapped travel stories.
Whereas I love chatting with people and hearing their stories, I must admit, it was a bit awkward for my teen son at moments like this! He enjoyed the trip traveling with me but cringed at the "small talk" at the table where he felt a tad awkward that he was in a B&B with his MOM! Ha! He got over it quickly, though, once breakfast arrived at the table.
Along with baked morning breads, Kim and Jerry prepared lovely fruit, yogurt, and berry parfaits. They were served in painted glasses that matched the style of the home. Pumpkin seeds, tiny little blueberries, a dab of freshly whipped cream and a taste of mint was the perfect way to start off breakfast.
|Breakfast at Stonethrow Cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine|
I must also point out here that the coffee brewed at Stonethrow Cottage was the best of the trip. It was strong and fresh, unlike the weak and watery brews served at most of the other inns and B&Bs.
Jerry made some delicious waffles that were filled with thinly sliced salty ham and soft sweet apples. A wonderful breakfast all around, fresh and creative.
|Scenes from Bar Harbor, Maine|
Stonethrow Cottage is about 6 blocks away from the town park. The park is across the street from all the quaint shops, and the shops line up the area right on the water. It just doesn't get too much perfect than this.
We usually travel off season and places are usually quite untouristy. It was fun to see all the people having a great summer vacation, shopping, laughing. The park was filled with children running and couples enjoying an ice cream.
Riley and I sat by the water, watched the fishermen come and go, and had yet another delicious bowl of lobster stew with salty crackers. Does one ever get tired of eating lobster? We thought we would certainly test that question during these several weeks on the road.
We indulged AGAIN, in that wonderful Maine ice cream. We passed by Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium and were told that they were giving samples of Lobster ice cream. Riley and I looked at each other and said, "No thankyou". That was our personal limit for sure...no lobster in ice cream, for goodness sake!
|Bar Harbor Inn and Spa, Bar Harbor, Maine|
Sitting right on the water is this beautiful Inn and Spa, Bar Harbor Inn. It was very striking with the sweeping green lawn rolling right down into the harbor area. It looked grand and classically posh. But, I was thrilled with our B&B choice right up the road from the hum of harbor activity.
Bar Harbor was a perfect spot for spending a few days, relaxing, exploring Acadia National Park, and getting our energy back up for the northward trek towards Prince Edward Island.
I was anxious to see the island of Anne of Green Gables, but so much about the drive so far captivated and delighted me that I truly would have been just as content to base myself in Bar Harbor and explore more just in this area.
But, we did not! Onward we went. Prince Edward Island was explored, enjoyed, and captured in our memories. I'm looking forward to sharing those photos and stories here on "thyme". Prince Edward Island is a very humble and sweet place...the simple food, the delightful people with their lilting accents, and the maritime scenery is quiet and serene. As we drove the back roads, scenes from the many books of Anne of Green Gables' stories can be imagined and conjured as the scenery of the island unfolds.
**Recipe adapted from the Australian blog, "What Katie Ate"