September 2017

I’ve been making this sweet and sour pot roast for years ever since I found the recipe in an obscure cookbook called Menus and Memoirs: Confessions of a Culinary Snob by George Spunt who spent his formative childhood years in a wealthy French-Austrian Russian family who emigrated to Shanghai in the early part of the 20th century and lived there until communist rule took over. He spent his remaining years in San Francisco and wrote several more books including a step by step guide to Chinese cooking, which he learned from the family Shanghainese chef who was commandeered by various family members to cook middle European food in the Chinese manner. It’s an interesting compilation indeed.

Fall roses and pot roast

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Sunset fell at 6:50 PM.  The fog was rolling in as thick as a crypt, and by the time we pulled up to the front door of the imposing visage of the Black Point Inn looking like Manderley on the mount, it was already dark at 7:05.

The setting earlier this summer

But when we decided to go to the inn for dinner on a recent Friday night it wasn’t close to dusk yet, disregarding the logistics of dining by the sea at the tail end of summer.  If our fantasy was to dine by the sea on a perfect summer’s eve to gaze at the undulating sea, we miscalculated. Views of the ocean don’t exist at night.

Arriving earlier thnis summer

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I have new respect for Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster in South Freeport.  The change in heart is that  we enjoyed some terrific fried clams and a very good and well-priced ($15.95 including fries) lobster roll at our lunch over Labor Day.  I stopped going there for the usual meal of fried clams or steamed lobster because the clams just weren’t up to snuff.  This otherwise popular lobster pound served only strips rather than full belly whole clams.

The menu at the ordering window and on their online menu lists jumbo clam strips.  What are those exactly?  In the past, they’ve never offered whole clams in their fried clam offering.

Pretty working waterfront setting; the covered dining porch

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That it has remained the haven for the gold-bug class to the beat of inner city ennui, time will tell what  effect the Amazon purchase of Whole Foods  will have on us shoppers as it opts to change its whole paycheck image to a cut-rate store.  Will quality suffer?  And will we lose the cachet of shopping at Whole Foods where Vuitton bags on the arms of women shoppers are the norm in an otherwise diffident city?

The Portland Whole Foods Market

I visited the store on the day that the changeover occurred and was shocked to see a sign that read: “Air-chilled chickens, $1.79 per pound.”  Wow, this was big news in our community where farm chickens  run $5 to $6 per pound.  WF’s cut-rate bird is not a locally raised farm bird but respectfully natural with decent taste and texture.

As I toured the store that day and later in the week most products were priced without discount.  Take butter, both local and national brands. Kate’s is over $6 per pound at Whole Foods compared to around $4 at Hannaford (it’s since been raised to $5.25 there).

Notable price drops at WF

Hannaford, for example, was running a special on Casco Bay Butter at $3.99 per pound, compared to $7+ at Whole Foods.  I overheard the dairy guy at Hannaford say to a co-worker that they had to get rid of the CB Butter because the warehouse was overstocked. At the Forest Avenue store, it’s off the shelf.

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