On Wednesday, Clif and I went back to Cushnoc Brewing Co. for an early supper. For our anniversary, Shannon and Mike gave us a gift certificate to Cushnoc, and when it comes to having fun, Clif and I never shirk our duties. Our friend, Alice Bolstridge, met us, and before I post pictures of our meals, I am going to indulge in a bit of fancy.
As I wrote in a previous post, Augusta was established in 1629 by English settlers from the Plymouth colony. Cushnoc, a Native American word meaning “head of tide,” was Augusta’s original name. So far, so factual. Now comes the fancy. I am a fool for Shakespeare, and I started thinking about the dates—how his death in 1616 was just thirteen years before Augusta (or Cushnoc) was established. I began to wonder, had any of the English settlers heard of Shakespeare? Perhaps even gone to one of his plays? Or better still, did any of them ever meet the great man? If the settlers were Puritans—and most probably they were—then it’s highly unlikely they went to one of Shakespeare’s plays. Still, it’s fun to speculate.
Now back to pizza. When Clif and I go to Cushnoc, we want to sit by a window that overlooks the Kennebec, and for some reason, I really like the juxtaposition of the fire escape with the river.
As an appetizer, Cushnoc offers some fire-roasted sweet and spicy nuts, and we can’t resist them. I’ve decided I want to learn how to make my own so that I can give them as presents for holidays and other events.
And what goes along with spicy nuts? Why drinks, of course—a beer for Clif and a cocktail for me. Clif had a Belgian-style IPA, Eternal Golden Eagle. Quite a name! Clif thought it was good but tends to like the American-style IPAs better. I had a drink called a Belizean Sunset, a combination of vodka, orange juice, grenadine, and triple sec. My oh my, it was delicious, a creamsicle for adults.
Then came the pizzas. For Clif and me, the Sand Hill Classic, topped with Genoa salami, peperoncini, fresh basil, and red sauce. So good, so good. In fact, Cushnoc’s pizzas are the best I have ever had in Maine. Period. (Portland Pie Company is coming to Waterville, and it will be interesting to see how their pizzas compare with Cushnoc’s. All in the spirit of research, you understand.)
Alice was more adventurous and had the Mill Park Pie, topped with roasted butternut squash sauce, bacon, shaved Brussels sprouts, and balsamic drizzle. Unusual but very tasty. (Alice let us have some of hers.)
You might have noticed that the cooked pizzas are set on cans of tomatoes. A great idea. Just like buildings in a city, going up saves space down below, and at most pizza places, the table is too crowded with the pizza pans, the plates, the cutlery, and the drinks.
So there you have it. Another terrific meal in, of all places, Augusta, Maine. My only complaint with Cusnoc’s is the noise level when there are a lot of people, and on Wednesday, the place was pretty darned crowded. Unfortunately, our aging ears can no longer tolerate a lot of background noise. The restaurant is cavernous, and I don’t think there is anything that can be done about the noise.
But I do have a solution. In the future, we will go for an early lunch, before the place gets crowded. That way, we will be able to have really good pizza and still be able to hear what the other person is saying.