I should say right off the bat that I never would have ended up on vacation in Camden, Maine this past August- and enjoyed all of these wonderful meals-  if it weren’t for Nancy Harmon Jenkins‘ sage advice. So really, I am indebted to her. That being said, if you’re interested in seeing Maine through her eyes (and stomach!), check out her website. There’s no better person for this.

I grew up going to the Lakes Region of Maine, to a town we affectionately referred to as “Stinkin’ Lincoln,” thanks to the memorable aroma of its paper mill.  Although in the same state, this area is as different from the Midcoast as Tennessee is from Connecticut. And so I arrived in Maine a few weeks ago as a newcomer.

CornSoupFrancineBistroCamdenMEFor dinner that first night, we joined Nancy and her daughter Sara Jenkins, the talented Chef owner of Manhattan’s Porchetta and Porsena. (Their book The Four Seasons of Pasta will be released on October 6 – I cannot wait to read it).  We dined at Francine Bistro in Camden where Chef and owner Brian Hill serves a daily menu based on whatever is best locally. We enjoyed a long long meal of squash blossoms, steak, pork ribs, beef (we shared!) and plenty of wine. I especially enjoyed this simple jewel:  sweet corn soup topped with chanterelles. A stunning showcase for  the taste of native corn, with just enough cream and butter to complement it, topped with crunchy and nutty chanterelles.

Popovers,High Tide Inn, Camden,MaineWe stayed that week at a lovely place called the High Tide Inn, perched atop a hill with a winding road down to a rocky beach. Aside from the water views, my main attraction to this place was the Popovers at High Tide Inn, Camden. Mainefact that the innkeeper Jo Freilich  serves fresh homemade popovers for breakfast. Each and every morning, she bakes trays full of air-filled, light as a feather, glorious popovers. With plenty of butter and jam on the side. The popovers did not disappoint. Reader, they were as wonderful as I hoped. A browned, crusty exterior,  a hollowed center that was light and moist.

After an afternoon tour of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay on the “Lively Lady,”which included pulling up a lobster trap and learning more about which are kept and which are returned to the water, it was Spicy Lobster Tacos at Cappys Chowder House in Camden, Maineconvenient to stop by the pub at Cappy’s Chowder House, a family owned institution in Camden. The “Lively Lady” tour had me in the mood for lobster and so I opted for the day’s special:spicy lobster tacos. The lobster was fresh and perfectly cooked, served in fresh corn tortillas with just the right amount of spicy creme – enough for good heat, but not so much that it drowned out the lobster.

Next up, a stop at the historic Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro. This roadside spot (established in 1927) is known for its whoopee pies, but since blueberries were BlueberryPieMoodysDinerWaldoboro,Maineirresistibly in season, I tried the blueberry pie- spectacular! I’ve served as a judge for a pie contest before and tasted more blueberry pies than I can count. I can’t speak in an educated way about what makes a blueberry pie just right. But as United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said,”I know it when I see it.” And this was it.

BiscuitsMoodysDinerWaldoboro,MaineAlso of note at Moody’s were the piping hot, just-right salty biscuits, no gravy required.

On a deserted windy road in Saint George, en route to the iconic Marshall Point Lighthouse (don’t  all lighthouses feel iconic?), I happened across a recently opened roadside picnic-style restaurant called  Yardbird Canteen. Owner Mike Mastronardi (a Connecticut native)

FishChipsYardbirdCanteenSaintGeorgeMainelives on the property and cooks in a small freestanding kitchen with a take-out window.  He spent time working in restaurants in West Hartford and Portland and knows how to prepare local seafood the best way possible- simply.  I loved my fish and chips made with Port Clyde Haddock. Yardbird even has a nice little beer and wine list, which adds to the warm communal atmosphere under the white tents where diners enjoy their food.

On the way back from Marshall Point, we stopped at the restaurant I had most anticipated – Melissa Kelly’s Primo. Although Kelly has become more widely known since winning a James Beard award in 2013, she has spent 15 years making Primo the extraordinary vision that it is. The restaurant sits amidst acres that house both gardens and animals that supply the kitchen.  I talked briefly to Kelly on my way in (there were 50 people in line by the time the doors opened!) — Kelly was arm deep Wild Damariscotta Oysters Primoin preparing the evening’s fish– she spoke with the energy and passion of someone who has only just embarked on a mission of love. And that’s the way the food at Primo tastes. We opted to sit in the more casual bar area, where- lucky us- we were able to enjoy $1 wild Damariscotta oysters. Oceanic love, accompanied by a “Summer Rebel,” prepared SummerRebelPrimoMainewith Bulleit Bourbon, strawberry puree, lemon bitters and muddled sage. I had more than one of these.
DatesPrimoMaineThe next dish made my heart beat fast and I think you’ll feel the same just by reading what it was: dates stuffed with Silvery Moon Creamery goat cheese, orange, pistachio, orange blossoms and brandy syrup. Tiny fruits exploding with complex flavor.

Then a taste of Kelly’s whipped house ricotta, served with some garden greens and zucchini….after full fat, how can we ever go back? HousemadeWhippedRicottaPrimo

VealAranciniPrimoMaineNext, arancini with veal. The veal was succulent, and the rice interior al dente. It took me back to my days on Mulberry Street in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City, where arancini were always made fresh and readily available at the prepared food counter of the local deli.

We finished the savory portion of the meal with chicken drumsticks that had been ChickenDrumsticksPrimoMainedipped in duck fat, buttermilk and flour, then deep-fried and drizzled with sage honey. If you love  dark meat, you will love these drumsticks. Rich, complex, earthy flavor, accented by the crunchy, fatty exterior- and that splendid sweet topping.

Luckily, I saved room for dessert (if can you imagine?!). Again, with wild blueberries in full force, I chose with that in mind and ordered a peach and blueberry crostata with toasted almond PeachBlueberryCrostataPrimoMainegelato.  It was an ideal way to end the night- fresh still-firm fruit bursting with flavor- atop crunchy pastry. And that toasted almond gelato was a grown up version of  my childhood ice cream truck flavor of choice: The Good Humor toasted almond bar.Delightful.

As you can well imagine, I went to sleep sated that night.

A small note: I also enjoyed takeout from another of Nancy’s favorite spots- Long Grain in Camden. It was excellent Thai food and I didn’t take a single photograph of it. But if you are in Camden. you should go there.

On my very last night, I visited The Slipway Restaurant in Thomaston. My desire for this place was inspired by a photo Nancy posted of fried oysters on Facebook. IFriedOystersSlipawayThomaston,Maine usually prefer my oysters raw, since a poorly fried oyster can mask its flavor. But “Nancy’s” oysters looked so incredible that they floated in my brain for months. We sat at a wooden table on a long dock, with a quiet beautiful water view. Some people even arrived by boat while we were there. And then they arrived– those famed fried oysters. That night they were served with a beet ginger shallot dipping sauce. These oysters were magnificent- full of their “oyster” taste- cleanly and flavorfully fried. All kinds of yes.


For my entrée on the Midcoast of Maine, I enjoyed my first encounter with soft shell lobster. How have I lived on this earth for 42 years and never tasted this before? Apparently the just-molted soft shells don’t travel well and so it makes sense that I hadn’t tasted them on the Connecticut shoreline or in New York City. If I had access to soft shells always, this is the only kind I would eat. Although the meat yield was less than a hard shell, the reward was great. Sweet, delicate meat. The best I’ve had. And the perfect way to end the week in Maine.



I’m so happy to share the article I wrote about my Great Aunt Phil’s blue crab sauce for the August 19th 2015 edition of the Washington Post Food Section. This story is near and dear to my heart and I hope you enjoy it.  Please click on the image below to read both the recipe and the story.





I’ve been dazzled week after week this summer by the bounty of an organic CSA share with Susan Willis of Bitta-Blue Farm in Killingworth, Connecticut.

I love  (and sometimes dread!) the insistent demands of a CSA, which force me to experiment and explore new types of produce. Susan makes the whole adventure fun by not only enduring my endless questions each week regarding varieties, but by making preparation suggestions.
MortgageLifter TomatoI was thrilled two weeks ago that her heirloom tomatoes had finally arrived. The first she included in my share is called a “Mortgage Lifter.” I read the origin of its name on the “Territorial Seed Company” website:

95 days. As the story goes, a tomato farmer facing bankruptcy selected a tomato that produced so well, he was able to sell the plants to pay off the mortgage.”

I took this first photo in hot afternoon sun. I love its imperfect shape and natural dents. This is what a tomato should be.

The next day, inside, it was time to delve in. A tomato like this needs no accompaniment at all. I sprinkled some MortageLifterTomatoseller’s salt over it. And inhaled. What an aroma! Pure “tomato!” Next the taste.  What over-used words can I use to describe it? Luscious? Divine? Nothing less than “spectacular.” And it just ruins me for the tomatoes I encounter outside of this season. For now I am going to relish this wonderful variety- and look forward to Susan’s next selection.



Farmer’s Plums

by Foodie Fatale on August 3, 2015

in Connecticut,Farms/Growers


Each summer, I eagerly await the “Farmer’s Plums” I buy from “Jake’s Farm Stand” on the Boston Post Road in Madison, Connecticut. Jake opens shop for just a few months on the side of the road, bringing with him the bounty of his family farm in Northern Connecticut. He uses a pencil and paper to figure out up your purchase and always rounds down. My favorite of his treasures are what he calls “Farmer’s Plums,” which are more widley known as “Methley” plumsThese plums grow for 2 to 3 weeks per year on 22 trees that belong to Jake’s father and are the the sweetest I’ve ever tasted–and the fact that I can only taste them for such a short time certainly adds to their sweetness.



Grilled Connecticut Corn

by Foodie Fatale on August 1, 2015

in Connecticut,Farms/Growers


I have no data to verify this, but it seems like native corn varies from year to year. Some years are better than others. This season, without a doubt, the native Connecticut corn is absolutely spectacular. Several days a week, I stop at Jake’s farm stand in Madison, and buy as much corn as I can eat. Once home, I remove the silk, peel back a few outer leaves and then toss onto the grill. It’s the best way to get that nutty, the caramelized flavor which comes when the kernels get nice and brown. What pleasure to peel back the husk and inhale the aroma! A little butter and salt and I’m ready to enjoy this most perfect summer delight.


Southern Cooking for Company by Nicki Pendleton Wood

by Foodie Fatale on July 27, 2015

in Recipes

I’m thrilled to have contributed my first recipe to a cookbook: Southern Cooking for Company by Nicki Pendleton Wood is a great collection Southern-Inspired recipes. My French Toast Casserole with Peaches, Bacon and Maple Bourbon Pecans is a tribute to my cousins and a memorable day we shared together…..SouthernCooking


You May Have Noticed…

by Foodie Fatale on July 21, 2015

in Women In Food

Hello friends. You may have noticed that I haven’t been contributing to this Foodie Fatale blog as often of late- and the good news is– it’s because I’ve been writing so much for so many other outlets like Food & WineRelish and Parade. If you want to keep up with where I’m writing and what I’m eating, please join me on my Facebook page. There is always a lively food-centered conversation going on there- and I’d love you to be a part of it. Thanks for visiting.




I’m incredibly proud of the students in my Food TV class at Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center,  Thanks to Homeworks for generously giving us their space, FoodWorks Natural Market for the food, GCTV and Shannon Gale for filming, and to Meteorologist Matt Scott for capturing the culmination of this collaboration and the students’ hard work. Please watch this story that aired on FOX CT on February 26, 2015 by clicking on the link below:



From PARADE Magazine‘s December 28, 2015 Issue: “The Party Starts Here,” My story on how to plan a GREAT New Year’s Eve Bash. With sage advice from Mary Giuliani Catering & EventsLe Cirque,The Improvised LifeMarcy Blum AssociatesLaura in the Kitchen, Dr. Meg Urry, and great products from Whole Foods MarketMartinelli’sCostcoPOM WonderfulPerfectPotluck.com. These ideas work well for Any occasion— Be inspired!


Italian Cookie

by Foodie Fatale on January 15, 2015

in Connecticut,My Family


If you’ve read the About section of my blog, you’ll know that my first word was “cookie,” rhythmically chanted as both a celebration and a request when I was 9 months old. Somehow though, baking my own cookies  hasn’t been a part of my December ritual. When I was little, spending my holidays with my extended family, it was my great Aunt Mary who made the cookies. And there were always an assortment of cookies given as gifts to my great Aunt Phil.

But this year, I craved not only the tastes of those Christmas cookies, but that connection to my past. To these tastes. And so, armed with a bottle of prosecco, a seemingly endless supply of butter and a 30 year old community cookbook from New Haven’s Wooster Square (the epicenter of Italian American culture in the city), I set about making cookies that embodied the tastes and smells of my childhood.

The recipes sometimes took deciphering (“Knead for a while”). But the deciphering was part of the great pleasure of making them. Without my grandmother, or my great Aunt Phil, or great Aunt Mary to help me learn, I worked with the women of St. Michael’s Church in New Haven- Ann Confrancesco, Margaret Ruotolo, Carmel Consiglio and Theresa Argento who, in the early 1980′s took the time to write down recipes that were second nature to them- infused with the ordinary traditions of Christmas and the tastes of family.