Monday July 6, 2009
The pace of life is slow...even at the lobster races
Years ago, while in college, I was a waiter down in southern Maine (what downeasters call "Northern Massachusetts"). When business was slow, the cook would fish out some lobsters and race them on the kitchen floor.
It was much more of an organized affair in Bar Harbor on July 4th with the annual Lobster Race to benefit the local YMCA. The Bass Cottage Inn sponsored a lobster, as we do every year. This year we did not win. But the race caught the attention of the New York Times who covered it in Sunday's paper.
Check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/us/05lobster.html?_r=1&ref=us
We hope you had a great July 4th and that your cookout was not rained out. The weather here in Bar Harbor was very nice and it seems that summer has finally arrived. Hope to see you in Ba Ha Ba soon.
Wednesday July 1, 2009
An Authentic American July 4th
Coming up this weekend are Bar Harbor's annual Independence Day festivities. For visitors from big-town America this is a real treat: an authentic small town American holiday. Here's what's on tap...and a special treat for guests at The Bass Cottage Inn.
* Bar Harbor Town Independence Day Parade - bands, floats, and more. Just steps from the Inn.
* Lobster Races - after the parade, at the ball field. Benefits the YMCA..Come cheer on our entry "Frank Zappa" (ask Chef Chris about the name...)
* Seafood Festival - lobster rolls, local mussels, corn and more.
* Bar Harbor Town Band on the Village Green - free concert at 7:30 before the fireworks
* Independence Day Fireworks Display - a spectacular show starting around 9:15pm the waterfront. Fireworks explode over Frenchman Bay. Best viewed from Agamont Park, directly behind The Bass Cottage Inn.
* For Bass Cottage Inn guests only....post-fireworks Champagne and Strawberry Shortcake Dessert, putting the cap on a perfect summer day.
Sunday June 28, 2009
Musings from the Front Desk
FOG, MICROCLIMATES AND MOOD
Like for much of the Eastern Seaboard, Mother Nature is testing us with most un-summerlike weather lately. It's not been a washout. Guests have managed to enjoy hikes and whale-watching. But the weather has also been a god-send for the local stawberries, peas and visiting photographers.
The fog settled into Frenchman Bay last evening just off Bar Harbor. However, in the center of Mount Desert Island it was sunny and 10 degrees warmer. Go figure. Still, the moody fog created a surreal atmosphere for Teri and I as we walked from the Inn along the Shore Path for a fabulous dinner out at local favorite Havana Restaurant.
NEW RESTAURANTS IN BAR HARBOR THIS SEASON
Speaking of dining out, there are a few new restaurant offerings that have joined Bar Harbor's other fine eateries this seaon. First, for those seeking a light supper or a delicious lunch, you'll find the Sidestreet Cafe. Launched just last week by Jena Dwyer (formerly of Havana) and her team it's located on Rodick Street near Miguel's. Secondly, Mache Bistro has changed hands. Kyle Yarborough has returned to MDI and has upped the ante at this Cottage St. small restaurant. Haven't eaten there yet, but we'll report back. Other new additions to the downtown Bar Harbor business scene this season include the Fair Trade Winds store at the corner of Main Street and Firefly Lane and the Finback Alehouse on Cottage Street not far from The Bass Cottage Inn.
BITS 'N' PIECES
* What's up with the week after July 4th? We're almost fully booked for July and August but the week after July 4th has lots of openings. Hmmm...can't figure it. Give us a call and you might get a good deal!
* Why do they put real estate agent photos on listings? Do I really need to see who is going to make 6% when I buy a house?
* Speaking of pitchmen...I wish they'd stop putting CEOs in TV ads. Do I really need some 60 year old guy in an expensive suit or flying a helicopter to tell me that their 3G network is cool or that their stock trades are cheaper? Clearly the ad agencies are sucking up to the guy who writes the checks.
* Kudos to the Obama Adminstration and House Democrats this week for actually doing something about pollution and climate change. Now it's up to the Senate. I've already written our Maine senators. Write yours to demand they have the courage to stand up to heavy industry. We all gotta breathe!
There...now I feel better!
Tuesday June 23, 2009
Music At The Inn: What we're listening to this week
Music is an essential part of the atmosphere at The Bass Cottage Inn. It soothes guests just waking up to their breakfast. It help set an anticipatory, welcoming tone for guests just arriving. And, it helps create a social mood during Evening Wine Hour.
While we may like to listen to the hard stuff in the car, the Bass Cottage Playlist strikes a more mellow, cooler mood. Here's what we're listing to at the Inn this week:
* The Segovia Anthology - the perfect soundtrack to breakfast. It comes on 9 CDs!
* Susan Werner "Classics" - pop song classics featuring her beautiful voice and a classical ensemble from the Boston Symphony Orchestra
* Gary Burton/Pat Metheny/Steve Swallow/ Antonio Sanchez "Quartet Live"
* Enrico Pieranunzi "Fellini Jazz" - Fellini film compositions from the incomparable Nino Rota get the piano jazz treatment.
* "Acoustic Brasil" - a very nice Putumayo Records compilation of sambas and more.
* Michael Hedges "Aerial Boundaries" - New Age solo guitar from the talented and now deceased guitarist.
* Pat Metheny Trio - "Day Trip" and "Tokyo Day Trip Live" - with Antonio Sanchez on drums and Christian McBride on stand up bass
* Jim Hall "Concierto" - featuring one of the great jazz guitar treatments of 'Rodrigo' as part of the suite "Concierto de Aranjuez'
* Gypsy Jazz - an iTunes Essentials collection of old time swing with folks like Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grapelli, David Grisman and more.
Wednesday June 17, 2009
A new member of The Bass Cottage Inn team
We'd like to introduce you to Jeannie Movius who has joined the team this season as Front Desk Manager. Jeannie helps check guests in, getting them comfortable and oriented to begin their holiday. She also can help with restaurant arrangements and activity planning. When the innkeepers aren't here, she is our go-to person.
Jeannie is a native of Mount Desert Island and knows the island very well. Born on the quiet side, she moved away, raised a family and then returned to her roots here in Downeast Maine. Besides her calm, soothing demeanor her other qualifications include social work and working with veterans.
Jeannie also loves animals. She has rescued some dogs and cares for a horse and chickens in the morning before coming to work. Perhaps we can convince her to bring some eggs to work soon?
Friday June 5, 2009
Welcome to this year's student workers
Each year our team is joined by international university students. It's been fun for Teri, I and the rest of the staff to make new friends from other countries and to share what's REAL about America with them. Small town life in the US is so much more than Hollywood, New York, cowboys and hip hop.
We've had students from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania in past seasons. We still stay in touch via email and Facebook to keep up with their lives. This year, we're joined by some great students from Turkey.
Sevda, Mehmet and Ozlem (left to right in the photo) are from Mersin, Turkey on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. They are all studying tourism and hotel management (how great for us!), as tourism is exploding in Turkey. They are practicing their English and learning more about American culture. Chris, our chef, cooked lobster for them to try for the first time (I don't think they liked it too much). They have prepared some Turkish dishes for us to try.
Sevda, Mehmet and Ozlem will be doing a great job taking care of guests this season at The Bass Cottage Inn. We're glad they're here!
Saturday May 30, 2009
June in bloom - Lupines in Acadia
"Hand over all the lupines you've got!"
That was the nonsensical line from a Monty Python skit we listened to many, many years ago on a late night at college. What's a "lupine"?
When we moved to Acadia we found out! Each June, fields and hillsides erupt with a plethora of purple and blue. It's beautiful...and reason enough to plan a quick trip to Bar Harbor and The Bass Cottage Inn. They are so noteworthy I decided to do some digging, as it were, into lupines. And, did you know...
- First of all, the correct spelling is 'lupin'. We misspell it so frequently in North America by adding the 'e' that's its commonly accepted.
- The species we see here is not native to Maine, but is native to the Rocky Mountains. How did they get here? Birds ate the seeds and, er, deposited them out east.
- Years ago, because they were not a native species, the Park Service set about removing them from Acadia National Park. Tourists objected so much that the Park Service relented and we can continue to enjoy them every June.
So, come to Maine for the lobster but - in June - stay for the lupins.
Monday May 25, 2009
The Man Behind Your Great Bass Cottage Inn Breakfast
One of the great things about staying at The Bass Cottage Inn is the marvelous three-course breakfast that greets you each morning. We'd like to introduce you to Chris Pollard, our Chef and Assistant Innkeeper. Chris is a veteran of the B&B biz and has been with us here at The Bass Cottage Inn since 2004.
Chris is a talented baker and collaborates with Jeff and Teri on seasonal menu development. A noted clean freak, he keeps the kitchen spotless and orderly as he turns out beautiful plates, one after the other. His good humor keeps the crew (and innkeepers) well-balanced as we look after our guests.
But, he's a bit quirky. A noted Frank Zappa fan, he often plays "The Muffin Man" in the kitchen as he preps for the next day. In fact, he named our annual lobster race entrant "Frank Zappa"...and the little critter won its divisional race. Took a hot tub after that, though.
Chris is also a Bar Harbor native and has helped guests with his knowledge of Acadia hiking. Each year he takes our international student workers under his wing as well so that they can get the most out of their time on Mount Desert Island, USA.
Chef Chris is a true asset to The Bass Cottage Inn and is integral in making your stay an enjoyable holiday.
Tuesday May 19, 2009
Downeast Food & Tastebud Tourism
When I travel I not only see the sights - I want to taste the local delicacies to truly understand the flavor of my destination. Beyond Bass Cottage Inn breakfasts (justifiably famous, I might add), there are some things you must try and places you must eat during your trip to Bar Harbor. No sushi shacks (see photo) but many fine options. Here they are (in no particular order):
1. Lobster at Thurston's Lobster Pound - Imagine the quintessential setting for downeast Lobster feasting...pick your fresh lobster and enjoy it cooked to perfection. Not fancy, just great!
2. Fresh local halibut - early in the season, if it's on the menu try it!
3. Havana Restaurant - A Latin restaurant in Maine? Mojitos? Surely I jest! No joke...perhaps the best restaurant in Bar Harbor it takes the freshest local ingredients and serves up Latin-inspired cuisine that can't be beat.
4. The Burning Tree Restaurant - in the nearby village of Otter Creek. They open when their gardens start yielding fresh vegetables and herbs. A large, creative menu that focuses on local seafood and vegetables (no red meat).
5. XYZ - real provincial Mexican cuisine and fabulous authentic margaritas in Southwest Harbor (Manset). The Seven Chili Chili appetizer will set you right. You won't find a burrito on the menu.
6. Donuts from The Colonel Restaurant, Northeast Harbor. Even though you'll have a great breakfast at The Bass Cottage Inn, you should still treat yourself to a selection from their bakery counter. The building was destroyed by fire in 2008 but they are rebuliding.
7. Lobster roll lunch at The Docksider, Northeast Harbor. Lightly dressed lobster meat, fries, cole slaw and a cold beer. Nuff said.
8. Rosalie's Pizza in Bar Harbor - serves great pizza with outstanding crust. We locals watch eagerly for their season opening and for good reason.
9. Little Notch Bakery - visit the bakery in Souttwest Harbor and take home one of their delciously weighty wild blueberry pies In fact, when Maine blueberries are in season you should enjoy them as much as you can. Puts those huge cultivated 'cannonballs' to shame!
10. Microbrews - Bar Harbor Brewing Company and Atlantic Brewing (in Town Hill) brew some tasty ales for your enjoyment. Including some with ginger and blueberry.
11. Lobster Stew with a view. The Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park is a splendid place for lunch after your morning hike. The stew is rich, creamy and delicious. The setting is divine.
Saturday May 16, 2009
Romantic and touching moments in Innkeeping
I've been meaning to write this blog for a while since, over the past 6 years, we have been surprised and touched by some of the guest experiences we've shared. Of course, there have been crazy experiences as well, but that's a topic for a future blog with a big glass of wine....
Today a lovely couple got engaged right after breakfast and we were there to offer our congratulations. "Will" was nervous about getting everything just right...and he did. She said 'yes'. In our first year we had "Jay" who seemed excessively worried about a FedEx delivery. He inquired about its status at least 7 times. When it arrived I gave it to him and he showed me why he was so nervous -- it contained the engagement ring which was not ready before they left New Jersey. The whole staff waited to see if she said 'yes'...and she did. Big smile when she came downstairs. They have been back since and we heard this winter that a new baby arrived.
A few years ago a nice couple from Maryland around our age enjoyed a 4 day visit. It seems that in all the years of raising a family they had not been away together in over 20 years...until their stay at The Bass Cottage Inn.
Once, a honeymoon couple went to check out and say goodbye. Their time had been so special that the husband was weepy!!
We've been honored to help welcome and soothe folks who have come to celebrate honeymoons, anniversaries, loss of a loved one and just time together away from the kids. It's what makes this job so special. Someday I'll include some 'stranger than truth" stories from innkeeping....or better still, come stay with us and we'll share a few!