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 Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010

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Ralph Melton

Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Sun, 07/18/10 10:52 PM (permalink)
This is how our summer is going: on Tuesday, June 29, we returned home from our Kentucky trip. On Saturday, July 3, we left again for a week-long road trip to New England.

Our first stop was Clem's Cafe in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, for some of the better barbecue around these parts. This was the first time I had been to their new location, and my assumptions had changed a bit as well. On my last trip, I had assumed that they smoked their barbecue; since then, I've realized that there are a lot of folks in western Pennsylvania for whom "barbecue" means high-heat grilling over a wood fire. Was Clem's really smoking, or were they grilling instead?

Now that I knew enough to ask the question, the answer was obvious: they're cooking over a large grill, with flames leaping up past the grill at times.

Inside, the restaurant smells like barbecue. My memory of the previous location was that it did not have any particular smell, so this was a pleasant improvement.

I asked the young woman behind the counter what the sausage was like, and got an uninformative answer, so I decided to try it. Answer: it was sweet Italian sausage, which didn't quite match Clem's barbecue sauce.
Lori's pulled pork sandwich was a much better match for the dark, rich sauce.

We noticed Cheerwine in the drinks case, so gave that a try. It reminded me of the fruity flavors of Dr Pepper.


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    Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Sun, 07/18/10 11:07 PM (permalink)
    I love flames!

    That IS a dark looking sauce...

    Did you sit at a picnic table outside?
    My kind of place!


      • Total Posts: 161
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      • Location: Florence, SC
      Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Mon, 07/19/10 12:01 AM (permalink)
      That sausage might not match the sauce, but it still looks good to me. I haven't had one in a while.

        • Total Posts: 3778
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        • Location: Columbia, SC
        Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Mon, 07/19/10 10:51 AM (permalink)
        I have many many reasons to prefer the mustardy sauce from around here, but that's another one--those heavy, dark sauces can really drown a piece of meat.  Looks like they have a nice setup though!  Great pics Ralph!

          Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Mon, 07/19/10 10:59 AM (permalink)
          I don't say this about many bbq places in Pennsylvania, but I am a fan of Clem's.  The new building is nice, but the previous one had some serious rustic charm.  BTW, that is code for it looked like it could have fallen down at any minute.
            Ralph Melton

            Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Mon, 07/19/10 3:55 PM (permalink)
            ellen4641, they did have picnic tables in back, but we ate indoors.

            buffetbuster, my own memory of the previous location was that it looked down-at-heel from the outside, but the inside was bland and modern, with the same wood paneling that the new building has. But I may be misremembering; I only visited there once or twice.
              Ralph Melton

              Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Mon, 07/19/10 5:30 PM (permalink)
              I'd planned to dine on Old Forge pizza, but I misinterpreted the GPS and took a wrong turn onto a toll road, with the next chance to turn around twenty miles away. So we went on to our next stop: Charlie's Pool Room in Alpha, NJ. 

              Most of my expectations of Charlie's Pool Room came from this Roadfood thread. I was particularly excited about the prospect of talking with Joe and John, because some of my favorite Roadfood experiences have been ones where I've been able to talk with the proprietors.

              We had a little trouble finding the place at first; it looks like just a house. There are no conspicuous signs.

              As we approached, Joe Fencz came out and greeted me. I explained that I'd read about Charlie's on Roadfood, and he spoke at length about the Holly Moore, buffetbuster, and the other Roadfooders who had come by. The conversation was a bit odd, and in order to describe it, I'm going to have to digress to describe what it was not.

              What it was not: Some of the Roadfood restaurants we've visited have seemed too conscious of their reputation. (Loveless Cafe comes to mind as an example of this.) By analogy, imagine a nice, kind girl who gets elected homecoming queen, and afterward, is still nice, but with everything she says, it's clear that she's oh-so-conscious that she is Homecoming Queen, with the capital letters intact. It's not vanity exactly, and though it's not quite a desirable trait, it's easily forgivable in a nice girl.

              The conversation with Joe Fencz was not like that. But the conversation was dominated by talking about their Internet reputation. (One particular quote: "we would have closed five years ago if it weren't for the internet.") So to return to the homecoming queen analogy, imagine that the homecoming queen is not at all oh-so-conscious in that way, but that the conversation is still dominated by her being elected queen. If you find that as difficult to imagine as I do, then that may convey how difficult I found it to understand and characterize the conversation with Joe. Lest there be any misunderstanding, I did enjoy the conversation, and Charlie's Pool Room did live up to my expectations as a place to talk with the proprietors.

              The restaurant itself is an unusual place. There's a single table with five chairs for diners. The pool table that once was the namesake profit center for the pool room now holds neat stacks of religious tracts. Hand-lettered signs decorate every vertical surface with a mixture of testimonials for Christ and testimonials for hot dogs. I didn't get as many good pictures as I'd hoped, but this picture gives a sense of the place. (You can click on the picture and choose 'All Sizes' to see a larger version, and doing so on this picture may let you read more of the signs.)

              I am no hot dog connoisseur; I found the two mealies I ordered savory and lip-tingling, but not rapturous. Lori ordered two dogs with onions and Grandma Fencz's secret tomato and onion sauce; that combination made it easier to appreciate the smoky, full-flavored taste of the dog itself. The dogs were surprisingly filling; I thought that two dogs would leave me enough appetite to eat something else, but I was full afterward.

              Two more pictures of the front door:

              Up next: ice cream at Scotty's American Grill at Eddie's Drive-in.


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                Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Tue, 07/20/10 1:34 AM (permalink)
                Ralph is posting the reports, I'll chime in from time to time.

                Charlie's Pool Room was a neat experience. I especially liked the handmade "Hot Dog King" posters...though I really can't imagine eating that many hot dogs in one sitting! Joe and John were very sweet, and I enjoyed visiting with them (it actually felt like a visit, even though we'd only just met!).

                Ralph fails to mention a key feature of Charlie's Pool Room -- it has a Ms. Pac Man machine! Relive the 80's while having a good hot dog! :-)

                On Clem's, I have to agree with buffetbuster...the new building doesn't have the charm of the old one. It also feels a lot sturdier! :-)  The food is as good as ever, though.


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                  Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Tue, 07/20/10 8:07 AM (permalink)
                  So what you're saying is that Charlie's Pool Room doesn't know it's pretty?
                    Buffalo Tarheel

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                    • Location: Royalton, NY
                    Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Tue, 07/20/10 11:04 AM (permalink)
                    Nice report so far and an interesting discussion on Charlie's.  It still sounds like a great place to visit.
                      Ralph Melton

                      Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Wed, 07/21/10 5:15 PM (permalink)

                      The sauce at Charlie's Pool Room was a bit spicy for Lori, so she insisted that we seek out ice cream. Urbanspoon told us of a place called Purple Cow Creamery near downtown Easton, near the Crayola Factory. Unfortunately, it had just closed as we arrived. It looked like a lovely place; perhaps we'll try again sometime.

                      The Crayola Museum was long closed, but we took some pictures anyway:

                      We asked pedestrians on the street where we might go for ice cream, and they suggested the drive-in across the river. Armed with those directions, we managed to locate Scotty's American Grill at Eddie's Drive-in. I believe that the subtext of the name "Scotty's American Grill at Eddie's Drive-in" is "Have you seen the cost of neon these days? Eddie doesn't own the place any more, but the sign is not going to change before Scotty is sure that his new restaurant is working out."

                      Lori ordered a cookie sundae:

                      I noticed an Italian hot dog on their menu, and considered ordering that. But the girl at the counter said that the hot dog contained potato chips, which sounded fairly nontraditional. So I ordered a cone of black raspberry ice cream. Signs said that it was Turkey Hill ice cream, so I don't think this was a unique ice cream opportunity. But the picture came out pretty well:

                      After receiving our ice cream, we ended up talking with Scotty himself. We enjoyed chatting with him; he was clearly proud of his operation and hopeful that it would flourish. He gave us a good recommendation for a motel down the road. He clarified that the Italian hot dog had fried potato slices instead of potato chips, and he said it had won local awards as a traditional Italian hot dog. Given that, I wished I had tried it - but after the mealies and the ice cream, I didn't have enough appetite to give it a try.

                      I don't feel that I can judge Scotty's as Roadfood-worthy based on a sample of Turkey Hill ice cream, but I liked the place and I liked Scotty. I'd encourage locals to check it out and judge whether it's as good as I think it might be.

                      Up next: The Original Pancake House.

                        Ralph Melton

                        Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Wed, 07/21/10 5:21 PM (permalink)

                        So what you're saying is that Charlie's Pool Room doesn't know it's pretty?

                        That phrasing doesn't quite seem to fit for me, but I'm not sure in what way it's amiss. Maybe instead it's that CPR knows that it's pretty but is still humble - but I'm not sure that's quite right.

                        Buffalo Tarheel, I would certainly say that Charlie's Pool Room is worth visiting. I'm certainly glad to have visited there.
                          Ralph Melton

                          Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Fri, 07/23/10 12:37 AM (permalink)
                          July 4 began with Lori going to Mass. The Mass Times iPhone app made it much easier to locate a convenient church. We ended up at Our Lady of Lourdes in Whitehouse Station, NJ. While she went to mass, I took a walk around through the riding-mower neighborhood. This sort of neighborhood is basically human-maintained deer habitat, but I still thought it was nifty to find a well-preserved deer track:

                          I took this picture to demonstrate what I mean by "riding-mower neighborhood", and then realized that the house was associated with a Christmas tree farm behind it. It doesn't really change my characterization of the neighborhood to say that it contained a Christmas tree farm.

                          Lori strongly prefers to eat breakfast food for her first meal. But I didn't see a Roadfood-listed breakfast place convenient to our route. So instead, we went to Original Pancake House, because Michael Stern had once mentioned it as his favorite chain restaurant, and I had not been to one.

                          I ordered the Dutch baby pancake, because I've only had them rarely. I might have enjoyed it more if I weren't expecting it to taste like a pancake; compared to a pancake, it had a very eggy taste, and it had the high-gluten skin of popovers or puff pastry. The fruit that filled it was excellent.

                          Lori had the Independence Day special: pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. Her pancakes were light and fluffy, and her fruit was very good.

                          I was impressed with what the Original Pancake House had for kids visiting:

                          I have since learned that there are Original Pancake House restaurants in the Pittsburgh area. We'll consider checking them out.

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                            Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Sat, 07/24/10 8:00 PM (permalink)
                            Ralph, the Dutch baby has been our go-to weekend breakfast for a while and it's the thing we pull out when we want to impress company.  You're right in that it doesn't taste like pancakes--it's basically three eggs with 1/2 cup flour mixed into them and then 1/2 cup milk, and cooked in a whole lot of butter.  It's one of those things that you have to serve *immediately* or it starts to collapse on itself, so I've never ordered one at an OPH for that reason.  I absolutely love them when they come right out of the oven, but then I like the eggy taste.

                              • Total Posts: 99
                              • Joined: 9/26/2009
                              • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
                              Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Sun, 07/25/10 12:37 PM (permalink)
                              Mmmm -- I had so many good pancakes on that trip. The ones pictured above were some of them. 

                              Then again, for breakfast today I had leftovers of the bread pudding I made last night. I used the recipe we got at the New Orleans School of Cooking, which we attended during our trip to NOLA for the Roadfood Festival. It makes a good breakfast as well as dessert!

                              I purchased two cookbooks on this trip (I think -- it was at least two). I love trying to recreate some of what we enjoy on the road in our kitchen! 

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                                Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Sun, 07/25/10 1:16 PM (permalink)
                                Great report and pictures.  Your meals look oustanding!
                                  Ralph Melton

                                  Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Sun, 07/25/10 2:46 PM (permalink)
                                  We drove from New Jersey through New York and Connecticut to Massachusetts. We managed to dodge New York City this time, unlike the last time we went to Massachusetts. Yay us.

                                  We had a very nice visit with our friends Jude and Jennifer and their three-year-old daughter, whom I will refer to as Punk in emulation of Jude's online habit. We had brought birthday presents of butterfly wings, a tutu, and a tiara, which were received with great enthusiasm.

                                  But we did not foresee that this gift would have some horrible consequences. As Punk was running down the hallway in her wings, the wire loop that formed the border of one wing caught against the protruding handle of a cabinet in the hallway.
                                  The result was like a cartoon: her body swung upward until it was level in the air, and then cruel gravity interceded and slammed her to the ground. Alarums and consternation ensued, followed by an attempt to persuade her not to run while wearing the wings. "No! I have to run with the wings!"
                                  And then a few minutes later, the wings caught the cabinet handle again. She was going a bit more slowly this time, so it wasn't quite as bad. At this point, she was persuaded to the merits of a rule that when running with the wings, she had to take a route that did not lead near that cabinet.

                                  Jude and Jen chose Osaka, a Japanese restaurant in Northhampton, for dinner. I had the Ishi Yaki Chicken, for which they bring a stone grill to the table and let you cook the thinly sliced chicken yourself. The flavor was basically just grilled chicken, but I'm glad that I ordered it; the fire and the cooking was fascinating to all of us, and absorbing Punk's attention probably made the meal much more pleasant.

                                  Lori ordered the avocado chicken, "Grilled chicken rolled around avocado with Chef's special sauce." It looked good and tasted good, but it was very hard to eat; the avocado was much softer than the grilled chicken, so cutting or biting into the chicken caused the avocado to squirt out like toothpaste from a tube that's been stomped on.

                                  Afterwards, we went across the street to the flagship store for Herrell's Ice Cream. Herrell's was the second chain founded by Steve Herrelll, inventor of the smoosh-in concept for ice cream. The ice cream is rich, creamy and delicious.

                                  Herrell's store window. The sign reads: "Please do not feed the bears. They are on a strict diet... ice cream only!"

                                  I ordered a cone of girlsenberry (a mix of grape, blueberry, and raspberry). It had great texture and a wonderful berry flavor: 

                                  Lori ordered vanilla ice cream with peanut butter swirl, hot fudge, and peanut butter cups smooshed in. She said that the Reese's Cups were unnesscessary with the rich peanut butter swirls in the ice cream and the deep, dark chocolate fudge. She loved Herrell's. 

                                  Punk enjoyed her ice cream so thoroughly that she ended up with chocolate stains on the backs of her knees.

                                  Herrell's had some great looking pies and cakes, too. But I would probably get ice cream twenty times or more before I sampled the pie.

                                  We dropped Jen and Punk off at their home, and then went with Jude to watch fireworks on the UMass campus. Good fireworks, and lots of good conversation.

                                  We accepted Jude's kind offer of their guestroom and slept very well.
                                    Ralph Melton

                                    Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Tue, 07/27/10 1:26 AM (permalink)

                                    We bought a maple soda, some maple cream candies, and a cider donut. The maple soda was a fascinating flavor. My usual experience of maple syrup is that the flavor is about eight parts sweet to one part maple. (Yes, I should experiment with darker maple syrups). By contrast, this was about three parts maple to one part sweet. Very strongly maple, not very sweet. I liked it a lot.

                                    The maple cream cookies were about two parts sweet to one part maple, which is still far more maple flavor than my usual maple syrup experience.

                                    The cider donut was to me just a donut. I didn't taste much cider in it.

                                      Ralph Melton

                                      Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Thu, 07/29/10 1:42 AM (permalink)
                                      We made it to Dot's in Wilmington, VT. Wilmington is a cute little town, and Dot's is on the main street, next to a variety of Cute Little Shops™. Dot's clientele seemed to be a mixture of antique-shoppers and motorcycle riders.

                                      Our first view of Dot's:

                                      The pretty stream that flows next to Dot's:

                                      I had their chili, because it won awards at the Vermont State Fair. It was good chili, spicy and hearty and full-flavored, but I regretted ordering it, because it didn't seem to suit the location and the day.

                                      Lori had the berry-berry pancakes, served with local maple syrup. From the outside, they didn't look very berry-ful...

                                      but inside, they were packed with berries. Lori enjoyed them a lot.

                                      For dessert, a piece of chocolate cake. I'm not a big fan of chocolate cake, so I can't tell the difference between a good chocolate cake and a very good chocolate cake. It was dense and moist; I'd call it good but not extraordinary.

                                      An interior shot of Dot's:

                                      Afterwards, we yielded to the siren call of the Cute Little Shops. We actually found a t-shirt and a glass plate that I found worth buying, as well as things for Lori to ooh and aah over.
                                      This bear/pig was in front of a shop that we did not actually enter, but it was still eyecatching enough to warrant a photo:

                                      Up next: Simon Pearce

                                        mr chips

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                                        • Location: portland, OR
                                        Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Thu, 07/29/10 8:57 AM (permalink)
                                        Great report and I have enjoyed reading it. I love the original Pancake house(the original is here in Portland, Oregon) and there is also one in nearby Salem. Waiting eagerly for more.
                                          Ralph Melton

                                          Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Thu, 07/29/10 6:59 PM (permalink)
                                          I took only one picture from the backroads drive from Wilmington to Quechee, and part of me regrets that I didn't take more. We didn't see stunning scenes that demanded I pull the car over, and in many cases I wouldn't have been able to stop for a picture anyway. But even if we didn't see vistas that scored a 9 or a 10 that demanded to be photographed, we saw a whole lot of almost-photo-worthy 7s and 8s of tree-lined roads, verdant hillsides, and quaint little towns, each with their small white wooden church. The cumulative effect of seeing all that beauty over the course of hours was quietly splendid in a way that I don't know how to convey with a few pictures, even if I had taken them.

                                          After a few GPS challenges, we finally made it to Simon Pearce in Quechee, Vermont. Simon Pearce is a glass factory, but they also have a very nice restaurant on the premises. It was an enormously scenic dining experience, because the building is on the side of the river that powers the glassworks. This picture is not as good as I would like because I was taking it through the screen, but I'm including it so that I can say "this was the view from our table".

                                          I took this picture a bit later from a nearby balcony which was not screened in:

                                          During our meal, we saw kids jumping off the rocks into the water, and saw a few bold kids swinging out hand-over-hand on the underside of the bridge to drop from the bridge into the water below. We felt a worry on their behalf that they did not seem to feel themselves.

                                          The first thing we were served was excellent bread. The Ballymaloe bread was simply a good, hearty brown bread, but the little cheddar scones were fabulously light and tender.

                                          We both ordered a cup of the cheddar soup. The soup was splendid with a very rich broad flavor that played across my whole mouth. We bought the Simon Pearce cookbook on the basis of the cheddar soup and the cheese scones.

                                          We then shared the strawberry, brie, and spinach salad. I felt that the best part of this was the strawberries and the candied walnuts. The brie had some ripe, earthy flavors that I wasn't expecting from my supermarket-brie experience; they were probably intended by the creator, but I felt the flavors were a bit too brash to meld well with the strawberries and walnuts.

                                          We shopped a bit in the glass shop, but the prices were too much for me to feel cheerful about.

                                          From there, we drove to Dorset. We stopped at a farm stand/grocery store because I had fantasies of snacking on locally grown fruits, but nothing seemed to be in season yet. I bought a bottle of Fentiman's Dandelion and Burdock Soda, because I'd never had any such thing before. I don't have good ways to describe the flavor. I felt it had a big round flavor that reminded me of a bubble-gum-flavored soda - but Lori didn't agree with that description at all. I could taste the ginger and anise, though I found those flavors just details. I did like the flavor; I would certainly get it again if I saw it for sale, but I probably wouldn't get a six-pack, even for a party.

                                          Up next: Dorset Inn


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                                            Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Fri, 07/30/10 2:15 AM (permalink)
                                            For those of you who don't know, I am a schoolteacher (3rd grade). It took a lot of restraint not to stand up where we were and bellow to the boys "you stop that right now -- you're going to break your necks!"  

                                            They actually were scaring me a little. They also were having a fantastic time of it!

                                            The soda tasted fairly herbal to me. 

                                            Lastly, Vermont was really beautiful!  We will be back!

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                                              Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Fri, 07/30/10 12:04 PM (permalink)
                                              I love this report. It's amazing how those pancakes, so skinny-looking from one angle, seemed to pack a thick layer of berries after all. That bread looks really good, and I'm intrigued by Maple Soda.

                                              Vermont is indeed a beautiful state. I was there for my first time a couple of weeks ago, and it took my breath away, for precisely the reasons you mention.
                                                Ralph Melton

                                                Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Thu, 08/5/10 2:00 PM (permalink)
                                                Heading from Quechee to Dorset required a bit of backtracking, but we were driving through lovely Vermont countryside, so we didn't mind.

                                                As we were driving through Rutland, Vermont, this store caught Lori's eye. We didn't quite stomp on the brakes, shift into reverse on a busy road, and back up to the store; we merely pulled in at the next parking lot, turned around, and hastened back with all due speed.

                                                I believe that this is the yarn-store equivalent of a chicken statue in front of a restaurant:

                                                The yarn store had signs in the windows saying "Knit Locally", and a section of advertised-to-be-local yarns. So I ended up asking the proprietor about the virtues of local yarns, with an eye to whether local yarns were distinctive in Roadfoody ways. 
                                                Was there a distinct character of local yarn? Well, not really, except that they all took their wool to one spinner, and maybe that imparted some general characteristics, but she couldn't really identify anything local. 
                                                Were there yarns that could only be obtained locally? Yes, there were, but they were all heavy, coarse yarns that weren't very nice to the hand.
                                                So I am not really convinced by this "Knit Locally" proposition the way I am about local food.

                                                  Ralph Melton

                                                  Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Thu, 08/5/10 2:01 PM (permalink)
                                                  In Dorset, we ate dinner at the Dorset Inn, which was probably the single nicest meal we ate on our trip.

                                                  The Dorset Inn has been in continuous operation since 1796, which is much more impressive than the 1976 my fingers keep typing. A stately white building with white columns, it is nestled among other picturesque white buildings on the village green. Lori was entranced by the white and green town square - she said it looked like a painting from a classic book.

                                                  For an appetizer, we had the Vermont Ploughman: "Smoked Vermont pheasant & apple paté, Cabot clothbound cheddar, Vermont sausage & Rupert Rising bread". It was quite good; I particularly liked the smooth savoriness of the pate on the crisp tart apples.

                                                  My entree was the Mother's Chicken, and it was amazing.
                                                  The chicken was outstandingly rich and flavorful, with a mouthwatering crisp skin.
                                                  The corn tasted extremely fresh and bright, with just a touch of butter to underline the splendid fresh-corn flavor.
                                                  I remember that the broccoli was outstanding - I no longer remember what made it so good, but I remember telling Lori "You must try this broccoli!" (Lori is less of a broccoli fan, and though she agreed it was good, she didn't rave about it the way I did.)

                                                  Lori got the turkey croquettes, which were tender and moist and very very flavorful. The seasonings were perfect. One of the chefs chatted with us for a moment and explained that it was hard to serve roast turkey in a restaurant, because you couldn't easily serve a big bird fresh from the oven to order - but turkey croquettes made it possible to serve turkey whenever it was ordered. Lori says the corn and peas on the side tasted like they'd been harvested that morning. Everything on both plates was mouthwateringly perfect.

                                                  At one point in our planning, we had thought to spend the night at the Dorset Inn, but we had decided not to in hopes that getting a few more hours of driving in would let us see more of Maine the next day. However, as we were eating, travel fatigue set in, and we were entranced by the decor... so when Lori suggested that she ask about a room for the night, I agreed. She came back with the news that she'd been offered a rate for bed and breakfast that was far cheaper than the "Mid-Week Gourmet Getaway" that we had been considering in our early planning. Bonus!

                                                  For dessert, I got the patriot pie: blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries in a graham cracker crust. This was splendid: not only were the berries gloriously full-flavored, but I found myself noticing how good the graham cracker crust was, which is rare for me with a crumb crust. And then I noticed that the texture of the strawberries hit a very special point that requires a lengthy explanation: 
                                                  I am familiar with two common textures for cooked strawberries. One common texture is that the strawberries are firm, such that when you try to cut them with a fork, doing so squishes other berries and fillings nearby. The other common texture is that the strawberries are cooked to the point of being squishy already, on their way toward being strawberry jam. The strawberries in this pie hit a rare middle ground: my fork glided through the strawberry with light pressure, but the strawberry half that was left retained its shape.

                                                  Lori got the maple creme brulee. It had a lovely maple flavor. Lori describes it as "sensuously creamy". Ralph feels that he got the better of the two desserts, Lori feels that she got the better dessert, and all is right with the world.

                                                  We weren't driving any farther, so to accompany our desserts, we shared a glass of Eden Ice Cider. Ice cider is like ice wine; the apple pulp is frozen and the ice removed to concentrate the pulp before fermentation. This was amazingly good, much more apple-y than a good apple. After one sip, I said to Lori, "these Vermonters have been holding out on the rest of us." After a second sip: "to be fair, I must acknowledge that if I had this stuff, I'd be very tempted to drink it all before letting it leave the state."
                                                  A running subplot of the rest of our trip became seeking out more to bring home. Since I'm posting so slowly, I'll summarize that plot: after failing to find it at four or five liquor stores, we finally managed to find it at a specialty liquor store in Salem, where we bought all three bottles they had in stock.

                                                  We were delighted with our dinner at the Dorset Inn and recommend it highly.

                                                  Next: Breakfast at the Dorset Inn


                                                    Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Thu, 08/5/10 2:11 PM (permalink)
                                                    What a splendid meal the two of you had at Dorset Inn!  The dessert especially sound like it was worth the visit.  Did you get to see any of the mascots(dogs)? 
                                                      Ralph Melton

                                                      Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Thu, 08/5/10 7:58 PM (permalink)
                                                      It was indeed splendid. The dessert certainly was utterly worth the visit, but if the dessert sounds more worthwhile than the entrees, then I'm not praising the entrees enough, because they were absolutely superb as well.

                                                      We didn't see any of the dogs mentioned in the Roadfood review. There has been a change of ownership in the last few years, so I assume the dogs left along with Sissy Hicks.

                                                        • Total Posts: 64
                                                        • Joined: 7/9/2009
                                                        • Location: Western, NY
                                                        Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Fri, 08/6/10 8:13 PM (permalink)
                                                        What a delightful trip report! I can see why you really perked up at the Dorset. Rarely do I 'see' how good the food is in pictures, but it looks like they really go all out to serve a masterpiece meal. Your descriptions of it had my mouth watering...
                                                          Ralph Melton

                                                          Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Sun, 08/8/10 12:49 AM (permalink)
                                                          Spending the night at the Dorset Inn wasn't quite what we expected. The room wasn't what I would have expected from a country inn; it was decorated in an Art Deco-ish style, with a vibrant pattern of black-and-white diamonds on the furniture. But it was very comfortable.
                                                          And it had free WiFi, which pleased me excessively. One of my regular rants is that cheap motels are likely to have free WiFi, but nice elegant hotels are likely to charge $15 a night for an internet connection, and to make it gratuitously hard to use more than one device with the network. I know that it's not economically rational of me, but I would gladly pay a $20 greater room rate for a motel with free wireless instead of a cheaper room rate with $15/night wireless. My theory is that pricey hotels are mostly aiming at business travelers who pass the internet charges onto their employers without a second thought; that would explain why the Dorset Inn is an exception, because it's aiming at romantic-getaway couples instead of business travelers. (The same applies to the mini-bar. The room at the Dorset Inn didn't have a mini-bar, but it did have a few free bottles of water.)
                                                          Unfortunately, even getting this pleasant treatment from the Dorset Inn set me off ranting about this, while Lori patiently nodded along with a rant she'd heard many times before. But at least I was ranting about how much more pleasant this was than normal hotels.

                                                          Further evidence that the Dorset Inn was our sort of hotel: breakfast was still available a few hours after many hotels have swept away the breakfast crumbs. Breakfast was served in the lovely Garden Room:

                                                          We started breakfast with local apple cider. It was rich, sweet, and sumptuous.

                                                          I ordered the Potato-Bacon Pancake, expecting something hearty and savory. It was all that, but somehow I had missed the fact that it was topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. This was a delight, with crisp tender potatoes, intense shreds of bacon, and the whole thing caressed and highlighted by sumptuous egg and hollandaise. This was the dish that clinched our decision to buy the Dorset Inn cookbook. The bacon was well-hidden in this picture, but there was plenty of it in the pancake.

                                                          Lori ordered the Blueberry Pancakes with warm maple syrup. These were seriously good pancakes, and the maple syrup was among the best I can remember - but I still think I got the better of the two breakfasts. (I should also mention that the fruit served with both breakfasts was excellent, lively and fresh.)


                                                            Re:Ralph and Lori go to New England, July 2010 Sun, 08/8/10 8:57 AM (permalink)
                                                            Ralph and Lori - been enjoying your great foodie photos, and now am craving that Potato-bacon pancake - what a great idea.  You've put out a few new things to try - I'm really interested in the apple ice wine, will have to look for that next time we head north. Glad you are enjoying your trip to our beautiful area of the world - there's nothing like New England in the summer and fall.
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