Exploring a destination through its culinary specialties (or to put it more simply: eating) is one of my favorite aspects of travel. Before I go on a trip I like to put together a sort of mini restaurant guide for myself, based on research and tips from friends, and update it with notes about vibe and how well I liked each place so I can make recommendations for others after a visit.
Thanks to friends who have a home in the area, we head to southern Maine at least twice a year and the Salt Water Farm Cafe and Market in Rockport is one of the top spots on my list of restaurants to visit while we're there. It's located in the town's historic Union Hall, overlooking Penobscot Bay, and is part restaurant and part shop. In the shop area, you'll find a well-curated selection of locally-made goods ranging from cooking staples like oils, salted fish, and canned foods, plus great gifts like cozy wool blankets and pretty ceramics. The restaurant, headed by chef Sam Richman, focuses on local fare and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I particularly love coming here for Sunday brunch, when dishes like duck egg & leek toast, Jonah crab claws and french toast with Maine maple syrup are served.
On my list of things to do is to sign up with Salt Water Farm's cooking school, run by the farm's founder and ICE-grad Annemarie Ahearn. Held in an antique post and beam barn in the foothills of Camden Hills, the school is equipped with indoor and outdoor kitchens with accoutrements like a hearth for spit roasting, lobster burners and a smoker for meat and fish. Classes range from a few hours on subjects like braising on the bone and cooking in wood burning ovens to three-day-long workshops covering cooking, gardening and knife skills, in which students learn to create a multi-course, locally sourced meal. Best of all, all classes end with a feast around the farm's communal table.
Here are some more yummy food shots from the Salt Water Farm site: