Sunday May 2, 2010
"Java Jive" - that great old song by The Inkspots - often helps set the mood during breakfast at The Bass Cottage Inn. And, why not? Coffee is an extremely important part of the morning ritual. I don't know about you, but we can't function until we get a cup of rich, dark morning joe.
Believing in the important of excellent coffee, Teri and I sampled a number of New England 'micro-roasts' during 2003 as we were refurbishing and restoring The Bass Cottage Inn. There are a number of fine purveyors of locally roasted (but not grown!) coffee in these parts. We chose to work with Carrabasett Coffee Company of Kingfield, Maine.
Carrabassett Coffee is a small-batch specialty roaster – wholesale, mail order and retail. They roast only the highest grade beans and offer what they feel are the finest “single source” coffees available. Tom and his crew at Carrabassett also provide us with great customer service -- tuning up the coffee machine each spring before the season and rushing us fresh coffee when - ahem - someone forgets to tell the innkeeper we're almost out.
Feedback about our coffee here at the inn has been very positive. Over the past year or so, we've worked with Carrabassett to tweak the blends we use. Now we're pleased to offer Bass Cottage Inn House Blend to our guests starting this year. Our House Blend is a special robust dark roast in the West Coast style. It's dark, smoky and alluring.
And, starting this year, you can buy a pack or two for yourselves before you check out. So maybe on some winter weekend you can relive breakfast at The Bass Cottage Inn.
Of course, our decaf is tasty as well. We offer Carrabassett's Sumatra Decaf - rich and satisfying and especially good to have when you come back to the Inn after dinner.
See you at breakfast....let's share cup of coffee together this season.
Monday April 26, 2010
Bass Cottage Inn recognized by Yankee Magazine "Editor's Choice"
The Bass Cottage Inn was just named Editor's Choice / Best of New England in Yankee Magazine's May/June New England travel issue. We are pleased to be the ONLY Bar Harbor lodging establishment selected, and, one of only two selected from Mount Desert Island as a whole.
Quoting Yankee Magazine:
"Editors' Choice – Yankee Magazine (2010)
Jeff and Teri Anderholm turned an in-town 1885 white elephant into an elegant, contemporary retreat, while preserving architectural treasures, including magnificent woodwork and stained-glass windows. Rates: from $185, including full breakfast."
Sunday April 25, 2010
The Seven Year Itch
This has nothing to do with the famous Marilyn Monroe movie, nor our marriage (25+ years plus now). With Teri returned from corporate life to inn-keeping full-time the 'seven year itch' refers to the redecorating itch. Back in 2003 we bought, restored and completely redecorated The Bass Cottage Inn imbuing the inn with a sophisticated, soft style the guests have found really comfortable.
So, we're done, right? Uh....no. As a guy I'd be content to leave the furniture exactly where it is for, oh say, fifty years. But Teri is 'polishing the diamond' this,, our seventh season - the biggest decor overhaul since our first year.
So, while we live up here near lighthouse scenes as you see at left, we aren't seeing much of Acadia ourselves these next few weeks before opening day (May 14). Your intrepid innkeepers are busy patching paint, moving furniture, deploying new linens and bedspreads and hanging new art.
Ibuprofen, hot soaks and hearty dinners like Mussel and Smoked Ham Gratin with a watercress salad and French Chablis are seeing us through!
Every guest room has gotten attention. All now have flat panel TVs. Many have new bed coverings or new chairs. Teri has reevaluated the art work, adding new pieces and shifting some around to keep things fresh. I must admit - as much as I love our guest rooms before I love them even more now.
Tomorrow the plumbers come to turn on the water, heat and gas service. Chef Chris will reassemble his kitchen so all is gleaming and in order. Soon the inn will be filled with the scent of his homemade granola. Each guest room will be meticulously cleaned and outfitted. The herb beds will be planted, flower beds cleaned up, the grass mowed, the sign hung and everything will be shipshape for opening weekend just under 3 weeks away.
Maybe we'll have time to watch "The Seven Year Itch".....
Sunday April 18, 2010
Bits and bites...
One of the off-season things I have to shrug off each spring is PROCRASTINATION. It's easy to procrastinate during the sleepy off season when the Inn is closed and not much is really happening. One of the first things I learned as an innkeeper is to hop on something that needs doing immediately. Once November comes along, I revert to my standard operating procedure. Teri wanted to talk about my procrastination, but I said I would do it later...
Far from procrastinating, Teri's been busy organizing her culinary library. We have a huge closet devoted to cookbooks collected from literally all over the world. During the process, we each discussed which cookbooks we really liked, really found useful. That lead to an 'individual top 5 list discussion' over roast chicken and Provencal rose tonight.
So, here are our individual TOP FIVE COOKBOOK lists (subject to change as soon as this blog is done...):
1. The New James Beard (James Beard) - a classic that was published when nouvelle cooking was just taking off in America. Stands the test of time.
2. La Varenne Practique (Anne Willan) - the essential culinary reference for French cookery (apologies to Julia).
3. Dishing Up Maine (Brooke Donjny) - classic recipes that capture authentic Down East flavors. Lobster. clams or corn anyone?
4. Sunday Suppers at Lucques (Suzanne Goin) - with a focus - as we focus - on fresh, local ingredients; chef Goin owns Lucques restaurant in Los Angeles and is a veteran of the kitchen at Chez Panisse
5. Mastering Simplicity (Christian Delouvrier) - combination cookbook and memoir from the former chef at New York's Lespinasse.
1. Bistro Cooking At Home (Gordon Hamersley) - classic bistro recipes from Hamersley's Bistro in Boston. Gordon has ties to downeast Maine.
2. Fifty Chowders (Jasper White) - a classic Boston chef offers great chowder recipes including Scallop and Leek Chowder, farmhouse corn chowders and Portuguese-style with sausage and tomatoes.
3. Real Cooking (Nigel Slater) - legendary London food writer offers everyday recipes that reflect English traditions energized with flavors of the former Empire. Handful of this, knob of that....
4. Thrill of The Grill (Chris Schlesinger) - from Cambridge MA's East Coast Grill, new wave" of grill cookery pits smoky tang against searingly hot seasonings. Great for big flavors on a hot day.
5. the Internet (Al Gore) - www.epicurious.com and www.foodnetwork.com are invaluable online resources that answer the daily question "What should we have for dinner today?"
Other current and past inspirations:
- The Joy of Cooking - we all start here...
- The Silver Spoon Cookbook - Italy's "Joy of Cooking"
- Everyday Harumi - Japanese home-cooking from Japan's Martha Stewart
- Jasper White's Cooking from New England
- River Cafe Cookbooks - from famed London nuovo Italian mecca on the Thames
- any Julia Child, Alice Waters, Madeline Kamman or Nancy Silverton cookbook
Of course, we have always treasured our copy of "Manifold Destiny", a book of recipes for cooking on your car engine. But we're not driving a much as we used to so it's just not practical.
Buckle up and bon appetit!
Friday April 9, 2010
Innkeepers' Ramble: Next Stop Wonderland
With the spectacular Spring weather we've been having and with a few weeks to go before opening day at The Bass Cottage Inn, Teri and I are setting out to enjoy areas of Mount Desert Island and downeast Maine before we get too busy. Last weekend's ramble was to the Wonderland Trail in Acadia along the Seawall shore near Bass Harbor.
Following an abandoned road you walk out to the coastline through pine woods with vernal pools scattered about.. It's not a tough hike; the trail has both level and hilly sections. Toward the end, the trail leaves the woods and opens onto the shoreline at the tip of the Wonderland Peninsula. There's a westward facing beach looking out toward Ship's Harbor with Swan Island in the distance. You can also get a great view of Great Cranberry Island across the sparkling and clear water.
Pine trees and pink granite blocks line the coastline - perfect for kicking back in the warm Spring sun and pleasantly wasting some time. Which we did...
Teri was enjoying the first week of her FINAL retirement from corporate life in Boston. She will be on deck at The Bass Cottage Inn every day from now on. Riley the Airedale enjoyed poking his nose into tidal pools but was confounded by the water that was too salty to drink.
When the weather gets THIS nice THIS early innkeepers get a little antsy about getting ready to open for the season. Still plenty of time to patch, paint and polish...and to savor our little slice of heaven here in Bar Harbor and Acadia.
Tuesday March 30, 2010
There's been plenty of activity around Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island the last week or two. You'll see trucks and trailers loaded up with lobster traps heading for the harbor. Some of the lobster fleet anchored at the dock (in the off season it's still cheap to get a slip). There are also floating docks in the harbors stacked up with new or mended wire lobster traps ready to go.
In Maine, lobsters can only be legally caught in lobster traps, also called pots. Inshore lobstermen have a limit of 800 pots per license, and regularly pull between 200-400 pots per day. Lobster caught in this region must be fished for only between sunrise and sunset, although this regulation is rarely enforced in the hour before dawn. If you're up early during your visit to The Bass Cottage Inn take a stroll along the nearby Shore Path and watch the lobster boats plow out to pull traps at full-throttle. No need to hem and haw, wastin' time!
While you can certainly buy lobsters year-round (and you should!), the local lobstermen pull their traps in late October/early November so that the often savage Atlantic weather does not destroy their equipment. Plus, it's often nasty to be out on the water in winter.
Lobster prices often peak just around this time of year. The lobstermen haven't pulled traps for months and inventory is down. Plus, the Easter holidays see a big demand in Maine lobster from European markets.
Fortunately, when The Bass Cottage Inn opens in May the price per pound has already headed down. Over the past few years we've seen retail lobster prices in the $5.00/pound range. Even with restaurant mark-ups you can't pass up eating lobster several times during your visit to Bar Harbor. We even make a beautiful Lobster Quiche at The Bass Cottage Inn. So set sail for Downeast Maine and plan on a few 'sea bugs'!!
Wednesday March 24, 2010
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows...
And, with apologies to Bob Dylan, the wind was blowing warm air up from the south this past weekend as Teri, Riley the Airedale and I spent a few hours around Little Long Pond. Despite a few fits and starts, Spring is wedging its foot in the door a little early here on Mount Desert Island.
As you can see in the photo, the ice is gone, all the snow has melted and even the last vestiges on the mountains are almost vanished. Our opening day at The Bass Cottage Inn (May 14th) will be here before you know it. So, while we start painting and other annual pre-opening projects you should check our website to pick your days in pristine Acadia.
Speaking of the weather, as innkeepers we are often asked questions like "what's the weather going to be while I'm there?" or "when is peak foliage?". Well, this is New England and folks often say "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes!" (that's the Yankee equivalent of a knee-slapper).
But here is some helpful info on normal temperatures and rainfall for Bar Harbor during our season (May 14 - Oct 31).
(ACADIA NATIONAL PARK Weather station, 4.15 miles from Bar Harbor)
Month May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Max °F 65.0 74.2 79.8 78.2 69.2 57.9
Mean °F 53.7 62.8 68.5 67.3 58.7 48.2
Min °F 42.3 51.3 57.1 56.3 48.1 38.4
(ACADIA NATIONAL PARK Weather station, 4.15 miles from Bar Harbor)
Month May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Inch 4.53 4.10 3.38 2.93 4.42 4.86
Of course, we've seen 90F and higher on a few days but normally it's very pleasant weather - perfect for hiking, kayaking and especially sleeping.
My southern relatives often call us in the winter to take personal credit for the warm weather they're having. But, we bask in the beautiful balmy weather we have in Maine for six months of the year...just the time folks in the hot cities or down south need to get away and get refreshed at The Bass Cottage Inn.
Wednesday March 17, 2010
Field Trip to Texas
Here's joke we heard at the PAII conference (national innkeepers gathering) in Austin last week:
"The government is doing a safety study on full size 4x4 pickups. They installed a black box to determine what happened right before a crash. In 49 of the 50 states, the driver's last words were "Oh, sh**t!!!"
In Texas, the driver's last words were "Hold my beer...watch this!!!"
Teri and I had a GREAT time in Austin and San Antonio. It was a business trip, after all, and we got a ton of information at the conference to keep our inn-keeping approach fresh and our web-marketing cutting edge. But, hey -- it was Texas, so we had a good time as well.
In Austin we stumbled on a day-long musical benefit show at the Continental Club. Rockabilly, tejano, country, acid rock and burlesque dancers. (Hey - it was Texas). The big surprise was an appearance by Jimmie Vaughn for a 6 song set.
Teri also tried some cowboy boots on for the first time...and hasn't taken them off since. EEE-HAAH.
The hospitality and food in Austin are abundant and flavorful. Lots of tex-mex and BBQ, naturally. But if you go check out a stellar restaurant called Wink...as good as any fine cuisine as you'll find in Boston. We stayed at one of Austin's top rated B&Bs Kimber Modern. Very cutting edge and stylish with great bathrooms.
After the PAII conference we drove down the road to San Antonio to check out the Alamo (shown above), the Riverwalk and more great restaurants. If you go, try Mi Tierra in the public market for a great Mexican style breakfast. We stayed at La Contessa on the Riverwalk. Very comfortable, festive and a great location.
Each off season we hit the road a couple of times to see what other top hotels and inns are doing. If something impresses us, we adapt it for The Bass Cottage Inn. Now, we just have to think up another reason quickly to return to Texas - a big state with a big personality.
Monday March 1, 2010
Twenty-five and going strong
It's been a while since I've blogged to you all. Sorry about that. I had a creative block, I guess, but bouncing along the Mount Desert Island roads and their frost heaves have jolted me back to the blogosphere.
Have been getting lots of reservation calls and online bookings over the past few weeks so it's clear that everyone's starting to think about summer. And why not? It's been a crummy winter for many of us (weather-wise). We did get away to the warmth of the Virgin Islands for a while but came back to the snow, ice and slush of a Maine winter. And that's nothing compared with our friends in the Middle Atlantic states and the snow they've been getting. So, everyone: Think warm thoughts and remember what it's like in Acadia when the lupines are in bloom and the sun it dancing on the Atlantic.
Speaking of the Atlantic, it was putting on quite a show this past weekend along the Maine coast, with giant storm waves breaking over seawalls sending seaweed, rocks, fish and shells everywhere. We were in Kennebunk to quietly celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary at an inn I actually used to manage back in the 1970s. ("Manage" was a euphemism for 'do all the work and not get paid much'.)
The treasure trove of shells and sea critters along the beach was heaven-sent for Teri, who has been a beachcomber since she was 6 year old. We spent hours on the beach collecting interesting shells, stones and even starfish (see left). Teri believes that you can get great decorating cues from the colors in nature. In fact, this influenced her decorating approach for The Bass Cottage Inn 7 years ago. But, I think she was more driven by childhood memories of shell hunting with her grandmother in Florida 'back in the day'.
Even after 25 years of marriage and lots of professional success, she can still seem like a cute little girl to me!! It puts some warmth back into winter....
Soon we'll be off to Austin, Texas and the Professional Association of Innkeeper's International (PAII) conference. We go to the PAII conference every 2-3 years to keep our inn-keeping approach fresh. Plus, the allure of BBQ and music in Austin ain't bad either. We'll share what we learned in this blog when we return. Adios!
Monday January 25, 2010
Appreciation and Reflection
I was driving back from a getaway weekend in Portland and I started thinking.... Many folks don't think they could handle the Maine winter. We love it. It's a time to embrace the slowing-down of life and to savor time to think about things. Winter is a time for us to regroup and reflect. We're so busy and occupied running the inn during the season we welcome the opportunity to better appreciate life's little pleasures here on Mount Desert Island. Here's a few things I appreciate just about now:
* Four wheel drive ... gotta have it if you want to get out and about ("oot and aboot" for our Canadian friends)
* Locally-harvested Maine diver scallops ... sweet and fat and pan-seared. Yum!
* Catching 'A Prairie Home Companion' on public radio...because you have nothing else to do.
* Online reservations that magically appear in our email
* A great historical espionage novel and a glass of Cabernet
* A great pair of sturdy warm boots...with ice creepers for good footing
* Gulf of Maine shrimp...caught in Frenchman Bay, sold by the side of the road, and on top of my risotto
* Listening to some classic Richard & Linda Thompson albums as the dusk gathers
* The overall response by the USA to the crisis in Haiti...from individual donations to the honorable service of our military - this is who were are
* Realizing that pitchers and catchers report to spring training in about 3 weeks!
Stay warm my friends!