a mixed platter of delights from the southern coast of maine


It begins when you’re little and you read a picture book about bears and blueberries. You have no idea where Maine is and have never seen real blueberry bushes in person, but this story of mothers and cubs stays with you always.

As you grow up, you develop an eternal craving for lobster and blueberry pie. You eventually hook up with L.L. Bean, fly through Bangor airport on the way to Europe, and after you get married you hear interesting stories about “Maine people” from your in-laws in New Hampshire.


After starting a book and food blog,  you notice there are lots of very cool author and artist types (in addition to Mr. McCloskey) associated with Maine: E.B. White, Barbara Cooney, Margaret Wise Brown, Gail Gibbons, Carrie Jones, Melissa Sweet, Cynthia Lord, Cathryn Falwell, Ashley Bryan, on and on.

Many friends who don’t actually live in Maine flock to the Southern Coast every summer and return refreshed and inspired with blueberry stains around their mouths and a decidedly dreamy look in their eyes.


So I asked myself — what is it about Maine that could spawn the likes of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as well as Stephen King? Why are there more poets per capita in Maine than any other state? Is the lobster that good?

Moreover, how did I manage to reach near fossilization 29 years of age🙂 without ever having set foot on Maine soil . . . or sand? And what’s this I keep hearing about Portland being a foodie paradise?

When your husband brings home 6 quarts of blueberries, you know it’s a sign.

You can see why I simply had to go.

Champion lobster roll from The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport

* * *


5 days
1 husband, lightly stirred
1 small bear, brushed
1 hungry writer, curious and excited
3 charming bed and breakfast inns
picturesque fishing villages
big rocks, vast ocean
lobster rolls
cool lighthouses
blueberry pie
whoopie pies
good friends
a good appetite

1. Go right after Labor Day, when most of the people “from away” are gone. Gently assume the role of wanderer, explorer, observer. Remain open and receptive.

2. Drive leisurely up the coast from Portsmouth, NH, to Casco Bay. Marvel at the gorgeous, gorgeous views of deep, calm water, imposing rock formations, and a straight line horizon that goes on forever. Breathe in the fresh salty air. Be humbled by the beauty and majesty of the sea.

3. Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!

4. Follow the knee-buckling, heart-clutching aroma of berry pies bubbling in the oven at Pie in the Sky Bakery in Cape Neddick. Watch the quiet man make more pies in this tiny bakery that smells so good you seriously consider making it your final resting place.



5. If you’re from Hawai’i, try to hide your disbelief that people could be so happy sunbathing or frolicking on hard packed grey sand. Discuss this curious phenomenon with a fellow B&B guest who frequents the Outer Banks.

6. Pose in front of the giant boot at L.L. Bean in Freeport. Snap a pic of the big bear and deer inside, but shudder at the racks of hunting rifles.

7. Sample jams, jellies and sauces at Stonewall Kitchen. Score a whoopie pie at Bread and Roses Bakery.


8. Gaze at President Bush’s compound at Walker’s Point. Sunlight playing on the water is too dazzling for words.

9. When it rains and rains and rains, visit a famous comic book artist and his famous author/poet wife at their beautiful seaside retreat at Kittery Point. Marvel at his ability to grill burgers and chicken between downpours. Drool politely before feasting on a delicious lunch flavored with stimulating conversation. Savor every bite of the famous author/poet’s homemade blueberry cake. Tell your enterprising bear that no, he cannot move in with them.

Me with Jeannine Atkins, Emily Laird, dog Henry, and Peter Laird.
Cornelius is still talking about Jeannine’s Blueberry Cake and being able to sit on one of her special chairs.
Peter is never without his pens. Cornelius was thrilled to pose with Peter’s favorite — of course it’s more than just a pen . . .

10. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride around the quaint streets of Kennebunkport, clip clop. Wince when you offer Doc a treat and huge equine lips engulf your hand. Share a piece of warm blueberry pie with blueberry ice cream at Federal Jack’s Tavern and an award-winning lobster roll at The Clam Shack. Love the lobster, but secretly wish the roll were the New England hot dog type.


11. Visit Longfellow house in Portland. Eat the best dinner of the entire trip at Fore Street. At bedtime, read more of Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. Think about how children’s books have transported you to so many imaginary places and inspired you to see more of the real world.

12. Maine is wild and rugged, a little quirky, serene, the last frontier. A comfortable small town community vibe with unique opportunities to commune with nature and cultivate creativity in any form. There’s a bit of Maine in everyone. You can be the keeper of the light.

More pics to go with this Recipe: (click on any image to see full-size carousel of all pics):

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Lobster Roll at Alisson’s, Kennebunkport

What’s that? You want to hear more about the FOOD? Okay, twist, twist my arm . . ..

Stay tuned for a few more posts featuring the B&Bs and the fabulous food in Portland:

Little Bear and his mother went home down one side of Blueberry Hill, eating blueberries all the way, and full of food stored up for next winter.

And Little Sal and her mother went down the other side of Blueberry Hill, picking berries all the way, and drove home with food to can for next winter — a whole pail of blueberries and three more besides.


Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

33 thoughts on “a mixed platter of delights from the southern coast of maine

    1. Lobsters and blueberries everywhere! Only got to taste two lobster rolls — though we passed several other good places selling them, it was usually not the right time for lunch. A good reason to go back to Maine sometime.🙂


    1. I’d read about Fore Street and was hoping it wasn’t all hype. Didn’t disappoint at all! Portland was very interesting — lucky you getting to visit frequently!


      1. Jama, I am on Maine this week, but we are much further up the coast! I would have loved to meet you! And everything you say is true. Maine is magical. I love your recipe🙂 and I think we will have to make a stop on our way back in Kennebunkport for one of those great looking lobster rolls! Thanks!


      2. Iza: Too bad we weren’t able to see each other. Did you have those mussels at Fore Street or in Kennebunkport? I hope you do stop there and try a lobster roll.🙂


  1. Gorgeous. And tantalizing — all those yummy treats! Thank you for the lovely escape, Jama — although it was a bit unfair not to provide your readers with some warm blueberry pie (a la mode, please) for the journey.


  2. How lovely that you were able to take in all that the Southern Coast of Maine has to offer, and to savor a delicious meal with our much-loved, mutual friends. I’ve never visited that part of the country, but oh, it sure is tempting!

    Gorgeous photographs, by the way. I love seeing everything through your eyes & camera lens. (Cornelius hitching a ride in Peter’s pocket & hijacking his favorite pen/tool–too cute!)


    1. I know you’d love it there, M! We saw only a very small sampling of the coast and were told we’d have to venture farther north to find “the real Maine.” Have heard good things about Eastport, Rockport, Bar Harbour, etc. Next time.

      J&P’s place is so beautiful. The views are amazing. Maybe they’d consider adopting us?😀


    1. I actually had one of those lunch boxes years and years ago. Didn’t use it all that much because I mostly bought school lunch. Maybe if my mom had packed pies I would have used it more🙂.


    1. I’d never heard of Plumbleberry Pie before — I think that’s what he was making when we were there. Hope we get to meet in person sometime. Cornelius loves beautiful women🙂.


  3. Yes, so much starts with Sal … I’ll have to reread that! It was great sharing into all your sights and smells and tastes … and we were so happy to have been part of your Maine experience. Hope to see you next summer!


  4. Thank you for sharing this, Jama! I was in Maine a few weeks ago too, and it’s just lovely. I spent most of the time up by Acadia National Park, but did pass along the Southern coast on my way there and back. I think the Marginal Way in Ogunquit might be one of the most miles of Earth I’ve ever seen. Looks like I missed the amazing bakery in Cape Neddick, but I did eat a LOT of blueberry ice cream! I’ll have to just go back for the pies, I guess…

    P.S. Did you manage to stop at Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells on your way along the coast? So amazing…


    1. No, I missed the doughnuts! There’s only so much you can eat in 5 days😀. Will have to make a note of that place.

      We didn’t get to do the Marginal Way; it was raining that morning when we tooled around Ogunquit. Yet another reason to go back. Have heard amazing things about Acadia National Park. I’m craving more blueberry ice cream now that you mentioned it . . .


  5. Glad you had a good trip! The lobster rolls are making my mouth water! I am in the middle of making applesauce and I thought I was going to be peeling apples for the rest of my born days. How nice to switch to blueberries for a minute!🙂


    1. I do love applesauce and most anything baked with apples, but I do not like peeling them. I’m sure you’ll be well rewarded for your efforts🙂.


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