September 16, 2014
Eating in Maine by Malcolm and Jillian Bedell
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons
I love Maine! We spent nearly a month there a few years ago, and I left a little part of my heart there. From the scenery to the food to the people, I loved it all and couldn't wait to get my hands on this book!! Part cookbook and part restaurant reviews and travelogue, this book is filled with great recipes, gorgeous full-color photos, restaurant reviews and lots of little tidbits of information.
I figured if I was going to fully review this cookbook, I HAD to make a lobster dish. Maine is known for it's lobster, and it has a good showing in this book. When I read the recipe for Lobster with Sweet Corn Linguine, I knew I had to make it. I have never cooked or taken apart a lobster before, so that was a little intimidating. That along with the concern that my youngest (okay, actually my oldest as well!) might freak if they saw the lobster alive first, I cheated a little and let them cook it for me at the store. However, now that I've successfully taken one apart, I feel confident that I could do it from scratch next time. This is a wonderful recipe!! My husband and daughters weren't too sure about it, but were willing to try it. I have two that don't like lobster (I know, I don't understand it, either!), but other than that it was a big hit. The flavor was wonderful, like summer on your plate. The crispy corn was such a nice, contrasting texture to the lobster and noodles (I used fettuccine instead of linguine), and of course, butter and lobster are just made for each other!! Other than the cost, I highly recommend this dish. Actually, that is part of what lowered my rating for this book. If you live in Maine and can get lobster for a great price, this is a great cookbook. If you live elsewhere, some of these dishes just aren't doable for people that aren't rich. For instance, there is a recipe for Lobster Macaroni and Cheese that sounds absolutely heavenly, but it calls for 16 oz of lobster meat--approximately FIVE 1 1/4 lb lobsters! Lobster around here has been running $16.99/lb. Even at the sale price of $13.99/lb that I paid, you'd be paying nearly $90 JUST for the lobster meat for this dish!! It sounds amazing, but unless I get to move to Maine, I'll not get to taste it!
There are other great recipes in this book that I can't wait to try. Other than Baci, an amazing hazelnut/dark chocolate candy from Italy, Ferrero Roche candies top my list. Nutella is high on my list as well. Well, if you love these flavors, you're in luck. There is a recipe for Ferrero Roche Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream!! Oh, my! I nearly went into a diabetic coma just reading the recipe--and I'm not diabetic! These are definitely on my "to make" list!! I can't wait to try the Tomato Pie, Brown Butter and Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies (yes, that says BACON!), and Spinach and Gruyere Strata. If I can get my hands on some haddock--not a fish I usually find around here--I dearly want to make the Haddock Chowder as well.
One other thing that dropped my rating a bit is that this book is supposed to be about all of Maine, but of the restaurant reviews, the majority are in and around Portland. There are reviews for twenty-five restaurants in Portland. Brunswick has the next highest amount with four, and there are a few with two, but most only have one restaurant reviewed. Bangor's one and only review was for a truck-stop, of all things, and August which is the CAPITOL of Maine, isn't even mentioned! I fell in love with Rockland, Maine while we were there and was tickled that Rockland was included until I found that the two restaurants reviewed from Rockland was a hot dog place and a sushi bar. I had the most amazing seafood chowder EVER at the Rockland Cafe, and was told later that for the area, that was THE place to go for seafood chowder. How disappointing that instead sushi and HOT DOGS were highlighted. If you ever get to Rockland, Maine, go to the Rockland Cafe and order their seafood chowder. Lobster, scallops, clams, haddock, shrimp, etc were heaped up out of the broth, even, and the flavor was amazing!! My husband had the haddock and loved it as well. Take my advice, skip the hot dogs and get some real Maine seafood there!
There are stories and tidbits scattered throughout written by the authors. This is simply a personal preference, but while I find Malcolm to usually be interesting and funny, Jillian more often than not comes over as pretentious and/or simply trying to hard to impress the reader with her writing. I found myself simply skipping portions that she wrote.
If you love Maine, or are perhaps planning a trip there, I highly recommend this book. Just be aware that depending on where you're going, you may not find much to help you on your trip.
I received a copy of this book from Tilbury House Publishers for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.