Category Archives: Good Eater Seal of Approval

Oh, Frosty’s!

On Tuesday, I went to Gardiner to deliver flyers for Railroad Square Cinema—I do this every 6 weeks or so—and when I drove into town, I saw something that made my heart beat fast. Very fast. On the corner, in bold red, stood a sign for Frosty’s Donuts.

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Frosty’s Donuts, which sells the freshest, most delectable, most melt-in-your-mouth honey-dipped donuts in the area, maybe even in Maine, started as a small shop in Brunswick in the 1960s. The hours were, ahem, flexible, and for those who didn’t live in Brunswick, getting a donut from Frosty’s was pretty darned hard.

June and Bob Frost had run the shop in Brunswick for decades, but when June died in 2011, Frosty’s was sold to Nels Omdal and Shelby St. Andre. John Frost, June and Bob’s son, taught Omdal and St. Andre the fine art of making donuts, and Frosty’s, which had been closed, reopened on February 11, 2012.  But for Clif and me, the problem of accessibility remained the same—the hours were from 4:00 to 1:00, and we are rarely, if ever, in Brunswick before 1:00.

I felt certain I was doomed to a life without Frosty’s donuts, and becasue I am crazy about donuts, even desperate for donuts, as I once wrote, this was not a happy thought. But then something verging on the miraculous happened. Omdal and St. Andre decided to expand their Frosty’s empire to Gardiner, which is much closer to us than Brunswick is. Maybe, I thought, just maybe I’ll be able to get to the Gardiner Frosty’s before it closes for the day.

Therefore, I didn’t fool around when I saw the cheery sign on the sidewalk. I parked, grabbed some Railroad Square flyers, and went straight to Frosty’s, which was not only open but still had a good selection of donuts. Clutching those flyers, I stood in a happy daze, surveying the donut case. Initially, I had planned to buy two donuts, one each for Clif and me. But somehow, that seemed confining. Two out of all those wonderful flavors?

All right, then. Four. I would buy four donuts, each of them different so that we could have a little sampler. But what about that honey-dipped twist?

“Oh, add one of those, too,” I told the woman behind the counter.

“Well,” she said with a smile. “If you’re going to buy five, you might as well make it six. You’ll save money.”

How could I resist? Two of the things I love best—donuts and saving money. “Throw in a chocolate glazed,” I said.

Now, you don’t have to be a math genius to figure out how many donuts apiece that makes for two people. And if you think that any of those donuts made it until the next day, then you would be wrong.

“Clif,” I said later that night. “We have to plan a donut strategy. I go to Gardiner every six weeks. That Frosty’s is open until 5 p.m., and I’ve been given permission to leave Railroad Square flyers there.”

“We’ll eat whatever you bring home,” Clif said philosophically.

I certainly knew that. “But how many should I buy? One twist to be shared by the two of us?” The twists are big, and both Clif and I have a special weakness for them.

Clif shrugged. “It’s not like you’re going every week.”

“A twist each?”

Clif just grinned. “That lemon-filled donut was pretty darned good, too.”

So was the raspberry-filled donut, the chocolate coconut, and the chocolate glazed. They were all tender, flavorful, and moist, without a hit of the awful dryness you find in donuts from another shop that will remain nameless.

Stay tuned. I’ll report back on Frosty’s donuts in six weeks.

Delectable Donuts
Delectable Donuts

 

 

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A Fun Fundraiser with Sweet Tooth Fudge

Oh, fudge!
Oh, fudge!

Yesterday afternoon, 84 boxes of fudge were delivered to the little house in the big woods. Fortunately, most of that fudge is going to other people and will not be staying here long. Karen and Jeff Toothaker, of Winthrop’s very own Sweet Tooth Fudge, had volunteered to make fudge for a fundraiser for the town library—we will soon be building an expansion—and I volunteered to coordinate this fundraiser. Hence the 84 boxes of fudge delivered to our home.

To say that I have “a sweet tooth” is an understatement. I have never met a dessert that is too sweet for me, and my favorite foods include chocolate, donuts, pies, and, as it happens, fudge. In truth, I am a sucker for fudge, and Sweet Tooth Fudge—smooth and oh-so creamy—is among the best I have ever eaten. (Top honors must go to my mother’s fudge, of course.)

Is Sweet Tooth Fudge the best in central Maine? I certainly think it is. I haven’t tasted any fudge that is better, and most of what I have eaten isn’t even half as good. Sweet Tooth Fudge definitely gets the Good Eater seal of approval.

And what a sweet fundraiser this was! The Toothakers are wonderful to work with, and the fudge practically sells itself. Clif brought a sign-up sheet to work, and Kelly, one of his co-workers, asked who was making the fudge. When Clif told Kelly it was Sweet Tooth Fudge, she immediately signed up to buy 2 boxes.

Because this was a fundraiser for the library, Karen came up with clever literary names to describe the fudge. I especially liked Come Spring by Ben Ames Williams, “inspired by our driveway in spring! A layer of vanilla fudge spread with Jif peanut butter topped with puddles of chocolate fudge.” And I also really liked Talking Walls: Discover Your World by Margy Burns Knight: “Chocolate was first discovered in the tropical rainforest of the Americas. It is now enjoyed everywhere. You choose—pure chocolate or chocolate walnut.”

When Jeff dropped off the fudge, we chatted a little about the fudge-making business. Jeff estimated that he and Karen spend 1,000 hours a year on fudge—14 weekends in which they sell the fudge, and 3 evenings before each weekend to make the fudge. A lot of work, but fun work, Jeff said.

I also had the opportunity to visit Karen and Jeff’s fudge-making facility at their home. One whole room is devoted solely to fudge making, and with its shelves and double sink, the room is neat, orderly, and spic and span. January, February, and March are Sweet Tooth’s slow times, but during busy months when they have lots of fudge on hand, Karen told me I could come to their house to buy fudge directly from them. As I have a brother who is very keen on chocolate fudge and have other family members and friends who like fudge, I expect I will be buying fudge from the Toothakers on a semi-regular basis.

Naturally, I might slide in a box for myself as well. After all, the fudge keeps for 3 weeks, and I can have a thin slice every day for dessert. This will allow me to stay within the parameters of my perpetual diet and yet finish the fudge before it becomes hard and dry. Of course, Clif would help me, too, so there is little chance that a half-pound of fudge would languish in the cupboard.

Anyway, many, many thanks to Jeff and Karen Toothaker for doing this fundraiser for the library. One sweet step at a time, we are getting closer to our goal of raising money for the expansion.

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My 56th Birthday in Pictures (With a Few Words, Too)

Yesterday was my 56th birthday, and it was filled with all things good. First, I met my Franco friends Joan Vermette and Susan Poulin for lunch at the terrific restaurant Petite Jacqueline in Portland. (A very appropriate place for Franco-Americans to meet.) Franco-Americans are a chatty bunch, and Joan, Susan, and I talked well past the closing time. Yikes! I felt a little foolish when I realized the restaurant had closed, and we were still there talking, but the tolerant staff remained pleasant.

After lunch, it was off to SoPo to join Clif and Liam at Shannon and Mike’s home. After cake and presents, we went for a walk on the beach at Pine Point in Scarborough. It was dusk, and the sky and the ocean were silver gray. The dogs frolicked, and I found a piece of sea glass to add to my collection. While there were people on the beach, it was far from crowded. As I mentioned to Shannon, given it’s not too cold, off season is my favorite time to walk on the beach. Lucky Mike and Shannon to live so close to the ocean.

After the walk, it was back to Shannon and Mike’s home for a dinner of appetizers—chicken wings, chocolate hazelnut spread on bread, cheese straws, brie, and crackers.

What a great way to celebrate the start of my 56th year. If only Dee could have joined us…

My birthday in pictures:

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Photo taken by Joan Vermette
Photo taken by Joan Vermette
Pain Perdu (French toast by another name and utterly delicious)
Pain Perdu (French toast by another name and utterly delicious)
At the beach
At the beach

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Kate’s Birthday: Lunch at Hot Suppa in Portland, Maine

We happy three!
We happy three!

Yesterday, I drove to Portland to meet my friend Kate and my daughter Shannon for one of our thrice annual outings to celebrate our birthdays. Although none of us can remember exactly how long we’ve been doing this—3 years? 4 years? Longer?—we’ve been doing it long enough so that we’ve established a routine. As we are all frugal souls, we don’t like to pay parking garage fees, and we have become expert at finding street parking. (If we eat on upper Congress Street, my favorite spot is on State Street, next to the big churches, where there are often empty spaces.) The birthday girl chooses the lunch spot, and afterwards, we go to Whole Foods, where the parking is free, and we can each get a cup of gelato for $2.50.

This time, Kate, the birthday girl, chose Hot Suppa for her birthday lunch. Shannon has been there several times and recommended it. She did not steer us wrong. Hot Suppa, with its brick walls and colorful artwork for sale, is small but cozy and not terribly loud. The perfect place for 3 women who want to celebrate a birthday. The food is hearty and good. As it turned out, we all ordered the same thing, roasted veggies with pesto on a roll served with a side of hand-cut French fries. Oh my, those fries were tasty—perfectly cooked and very hot. The sandwich, with its medley of  vegetables, was also tasty. The portions were enormous, and Shannon and I could have easily split a meal. Last but not least, the service was snappy and efficient.

Oh, those fries!
Oh, those fries!

Although getting together is the main point of these gatherings, we also like to exchange gifts. Shannon gave Kate a blue necklace, which she is wearing in the photo of the three of us. Shannon also gave Kate a scarf. Often, for birthday presents, I give cards made with photos I have taken of flowers, my obsession. I figure that even if I forget which photos I have given to various people from year to year and there are some repeats, it doesn’t really matter. The cards are ephemeral and are made to be given away. However, this year I decided to go literary, and I gave Kate 2 books by the Maine writer Monica WoodErnie’s Ark and When We Were the Kennedys, both of which are set in Maine. Monica Wood is a real Maine treasure, as I like to say. Not only is Monica a very fine writer, but she also tells a darned good story, whether in fiction, as with Ernie’s Ark, or in nonfiction, as in When We Were the Kennedys. 

Somehow, on these gatherings, the weather is always fine, which makes driving to Portland a pleasure. Over lunch and gelato, we talk about books and movies and family and work. How we’ve all come to look forward to our birthday gatherings. These small celebrations add pizzazz and spice to already good lives.

 

 

Lunch at Kennebec Pizza Company

Yesterday, I went to Hallowell—surely the only town in central Maine that can lay any claim to being quaint—to meet my friend Sybil for lunch.

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The forsythias were in full bloom, a glorious burst of yellow.

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We ate at a tiny pizza shop called Kennebec Pizza Company, which is on the main street.

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Sybil has been to Kennebec Pizza before, and she raved about the bacon pizza. As luck would have it, bacon pizza was available by the slice. “It’s my favorite, too,” said the young man who was making pizza. “So I always have it ready.” Sybil couldn’t resist this pizza and ordered a slice. I did the same.

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Let’s just say I was happy that I followed Sybil in her choice of pizza. The bacon, cut very fine, added a salty—but not too salty—smoked taste to this pizza with its crisp crust. I whipped through one piece, and I had to use extreme self-control not to get another one.  (Susan Poulin, if you are reading this, you might want to make plans to stop at Kennebec Pizza the next time you are in central Maine. I know how much you love bacon.) The slices sell for $2 each, and if this isn’t the best lunch deal in the area, then it must come close.

Sybil and I talked about the usual things we love—movies, books, writing, our families. After we had eaten, we went for a walk by the Kennebec River, where we watched a pair of ducks—mallards, I think—-swim in the still, dark blue water. They were searching for their own lunch. I hope it was as good as ours.

 

 

 

 

Frosty’s Donuts in SoPo

img_3385On Saturday, my husband, Clif, and I—along with our dog, Liam—drove to South Portland to visit our daughter Shannon, her husband, Mike, and their dog, Holly. Before I go any further, let me make it perfectly clear that visiting with Shannon, Mike, and Holly is reason enough to go to South Portland, or SoPo, as it’s called. However, not long ago, a Frosty’s Donuts came to SoPo, not far from where Shannon and Mike live, and let’s just say that Frosty’s makes the trip even sweeter.

I have been a donut hound for many, many years. Oh, how I love donuts. But good, fresh donuts are not that easy to find, and, no, neither Dunkin Donuts nor Tim Horton’s has fresh donuts. (Once upon a time, Dunkin Donuts had fresh donuts, and each store employed bakers. But those days, alas, are long gone.)

However, Frosty’s, located in Brunswick, Freeport, and South Portland, make their donuts daily, and they are fresh, fresh, fresh. Melt-in-your-mouth fresh. So fresh that two of their raised glazed donuts—my favorite—can go down quick and smooth and leave you wanting a third. Because Frosty’s sells out of donuts so quickly, we are rarely in Brunswick or South Portland when they are open. Therefore, sometime last week, I casually wrote in an email to Shannon: “How about picking up some donuts from Frosty’s when we come down?” And Shannon, being a very nice daughter, agreed to do so.

The day was beautiful, and the trip flew by as donuts, donuts, donuts called to me. We always go to SoPo the back way, through Monmouth, Sabattus, Lisbon, Durham, and Freeport. The road twisted and turned, and lawns and fields were a bright, spring green. With daffodils and forsythia in bloom, Portland was a blaze of yellow, and finally we made it to Shannon and Mike’s home, where a box of Frosty’s donuts was waiting for us.

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“Do you want some iced tea?” Shannon asked. “I just brewed it.”

Perfect.

Then we settled in her dining room for donuts and iced tea. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Frosty’s donut—probably 5 years—but they are just as good as I remembered. There are new owners since I last went to Frosty’s, but they sure have mastered the art of making donuts, which is not that easy. Clif and I have made donuts at home, and we have had very mixed results, with more than our share of “lead sinkas,” as we Mainers put it.

“Well,” I said to Clif on our way home. “Frosty donuts need to be a SoPo tradition. We’ll pay our fair share, of course.”

“Of course,” Clif agreed.

And as we usually only go to SoPo once a month or so, the donuts won’t be too much of an indulgence. Besides, there are so many wonderful parks and walks in the area that we can head out with the dogs as soon as we are finished and walk off those donuts.

A finest kind of day.

 

Celebrating Shannon’s Birthday at Petite Jacqueline

img_3334Yesterday I headed to the big city, to Portland, the Babylon of Maine, to celebrate my daughter Shannon’s birthday. As is our tradition, our friend Kate Johnson joined us for lunch. We all look forward to these thrice-yearly gatherings, where the birthday girl gets to select the restaurant. This year, Shannon chose Petite Jacqueline, a restaurant I had never been to, and it had such good food at such reasonable prices that I am tempted to choose it when we celebrate my birthday in September.

With its yellow walls and banquette seating, Petite Jacqueline really does have some of the feel of a French bistro. (There are tables and chairs as well.) On its website, Petite Jacqueline bills itself as serving comfort food—and this is certainly the case—Hamburgers are on the menu as well as mouth-watering, hand-cut fries. The food is neither fussy nor pretentious, but at the same time, there is a certain elegance to it. This combination of simple but good paired with elegance gives the restaurant a comfortable feel. There is nothing stuffy about Petite Jacqueline, and for a relatively small restaurant, there is a surprising amount of elbow-room, always a plus for me as I hate being crowded.

The birthday girl
The birthday girl

A friendly but intense server told us about the specials, one of which was English pea soup. Being Franco-American, I am very familiar with pea soup, but I had never heard of English pea soup, and it seemed a little odd for a French-style bistro to be serving English pea soup. On the other hand, maybe it was done in the spirit of multiculturalism, which I am always in favor of.

“What is the difference between French pea soup and English pea soup?” I asked the server.

“I don’t know,” he admitted.

So I decided to order the soup, and as soon as the server brought it to me, I could immediately see the difference. This English pea soup was bright green and puréed. French pea soup, at least the one I am used to, is made with dried split peas and ham or salt pork. It is yellow and thick with texture, almost like a porridge, and the ham gives it a smoky taste. This green pea soup, on the other hand, had a fresh—one might even call it green—taste with an onion undertone. I ate every bit of it and could have eaten more.

English pea soup
English pea soup

Shannon ordered the hamburger, which came with those delectable fries, and Kate got the sandwich au fromage, which featured brie and apricot preserves and came with a side salad. Both said their meals were delicious.

Along with buying the birthday girl lunch, we like to give presents, and Kate brought Shannon The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. (If you are unfamiliar with this terrific blog, then don’t hesitate to check it out.) Shannon has been wanting the cookbook for sometime, but Kate, who lives out of state, did not know this. Perhaps, I joked, Kate received psychic emanations from Shannon: “I want the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.”

Whatever the case, Shannon was very pleased with the book, and we were all very pleased with our meals at Petite Jacqueline.

Kate’s birthday is next, and I can’t wait to see which restaurant she will choose.

Wherever we go, we always bring our good appetites and our bonhomie.

The gang of three, with Kate being a little squeezed out
The gang of three, with Kate being a little squeezed out