Archive for July, 2012

July 30, 2012

Great Maine Breakfast Reflects Logging Camp Past

Maine logging camp cooks

The standards for a great breakfast in Maine are high, hearkening back to the logging camps.

Lumbermen would refuse to work if they didn’t like the food.  The output of the cooks, whose reputations grew among workers in the Maine woods, was as much a factor as pay in selecting where to work.

Camp cook culinary renown grew with mastery of breads, pastries, pie, and, of course, baked beans – which hearken back even further to Maine’s Native Americans, the Wabanaki, who prepared them with maple syrup and bits of venison or other meat.

That tradition of a hearty breakfast is alive and well today for visitors to Acadia National Park at Jeannie’s at 15 Cottage Street in Bar Harbor, which serves The Great Maine Breakfast.

It’s hard to resist the namesake breakfast on your first visit.  The delicious homemade baked beans come with three eggs, grilled ham, home fries, toast, and a buttermilk pancake.

Great Maine Breakfast

Of course, if your preference goes more toward black beans, you might opt for the three-egg Spanish omelet with provolone cheese. Topped with a very fresh and spicy salsa, it’s also served with home fries and homemade toast.

Jeannie's spicy Spanish omelet

No Bar Harbor breakfast spot is popular – and, believe me, Jeannie’s is – if it doesn’t offer some version of eggs with lobster.  Jeannie’s lobster specialty is an omelet filled with that iconic crustacean and topped with a creamy Mornay cheese sauce.

If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t be disappointed.  You can choose from blueberry pancakes or French toast stuffed with cream cheese and jam.  Jeannie’s is also known for its strawberry rhubarb fruit spread, which is packaged with pancake mixes, as a great gift to take to those who had to stay home.

Vegans can relax with vegan oatmeal and walnut pancakes topped with a warm, savory homemade applesauce.  If you’re a vegetarian who loves tofu, as my daughter does, go for the scrambled eggs with spiced tofu, peppers, and onions.  It’s also topped with that deliciously fresh homemade salsa.

Jeannie's Cottage Street Bar Harbor

There’s nothing fancy about Jeannie’s, which doesn’t take reservations.  But friendly and fast service will get you out early, as well fueled as any Maine woodsman, to tackle your hiking trail or carriage road in Acadia National Park.

RELATED STORIES:

Best Bar Harbor Breakfasts: 2 Cats

Tips for Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Bar Harbor

Best Restaurants in Bar Harbor – From a New Yorker’s Point-of-View

Advertisements
July 21, 2012

Beyond Arrowheads and Animal Bones at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor

I’m a bona fide nerd and proud of it.  But, I realize that what appeals to me may not similarly captivate others, so, at least in my capacity as a blogger, I urge active use of the “Comment” function.  If something I found fascinating on Mount Desert Island was utterly boring to you, please let me – and our readers – know.  Comment.

With this strong sense of self-awareness, I visited the Abbe Museum in downtown Bar Harbor recently.  I know that high on everyone’s agenda for a visit to Acadia National Park are a trip to Cadillac Mountain, bike riding around Eagle Lake, tea at Jordan Pond House, and photographing the Bass Harbor Lighthouse.  But what are the alternatives on a rainy day in Bar Harbor?  Everyone wants to know.

It was chilly and drizzling rain, so we decided to visit The Abbe Museum.

Abbe Museum Downtown Bar Harbor

The museum actually has two sites – the original trailside museum at Sieur de Monts Spring and the newer home for the ever-expanding collection, which opened at 26 Mount Desert Street in downtown Bar Harbor in 2001.  The mission of both is to showcase the history and cultures of Maine’s native people, the Wabanaki, through changing exhibitions, special events, teacher workshops, and craft workshops for children and adults.

As we entered the renovated 1893 landmark, which has spacious, contemporary galleries, I was struck by a family with two young boys.  They had just finished an engaging conversation with the museum’s only docent and were enthusiastically referring to scavenger hunt master sheets as they pored over display cabinets of arrowheads, animal bones, and early tools.Mother and Son at Abbe Museum

As directed by the docent, I proceeded to a timeline, which was the entry point for the current major exhibition, Indians & Rusticators: Wabanakis and Summer Visitors on Mount Desert Island 1840s-1920s, which will end its run in December.  It immediately captured my imagination, because I live in Somesville, the first settlement on Mount Desert Island, founded in 1791.

There was an amazing handwritten piece by the great granddaughter of Daniel Somes about the family’s generosity in allowing the Indians to camp on the perimeters of “their” land at no cost; yet she herself yearned to be an Indian.

A basket from that period of the first settlers was the first among many.  The Abbe Museum has the largest and best documented collection of Maine Indian basketry.Basket exhibit Abbe Museum Bar Harbor

The exhibition’s timeline continued with the subsequent “discovery” of the island by artists starting with Thomas Cole and including Frederic Church and the other Hudson School painters.  The next period of Mount Desert history was the “development” of the island by rusticators, the wealthy who built massive cottages in Bar Harbor.

A while back I had learned that the first guide book to Mount Desert Island, which was very much a hiking guide, was written by a woman, Claire Barnes Martin, in 1877.  Since I’m an enthusiastic hiker, it was cool to see an original print of the book, along with a pair of women’s boots that would have been worn on these hikes.Lady's hiking boots Abbe Museum

Most fascinating was the demonstration of entrepreneurism of the Wabanakis throughout these periods.  The Indians came back to the island for the summer season and opened up “businesses” in Bar Harbor.  Here they offered summer rusticators fishing trips, paddling lessons, and activities for their children.  They even provided fortune telling.Abbe Museum Bar HarborAbbe Museum canoe

I left the museum wishing I had more time to spend there, but we had made plans for an early dinner at Thurston’s (one of my favorite restaurants on Mount Desert Island) in Bass Harbor with friends.

Later at Thurston’s, I recognized the father of the two little boys I had seen in the museum and I greeted him, “I saw you at the Abbe Museum today.  Your boys were really well behaved.”  “No,” he said.  “They are usually a lot more active.  But they just loved that scavenger hunt.”

So, don’t take it from me.  Those are two strong recommendations for the Abbe Museum as a great thing to do when it rains during a visit to Acadia National Park.

RELATED STORIES:

10 Things to Do with Your Kids on a Rainy Day in Acadia National Park

Tips for Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Bar Harbor

14 Ways to Save Money on a Family Trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park