Last year for Richie’s birthday we did a whole New England trip. A few of our friends and a rented car started out in Bristol, Rhode Island having a glass of wine, some good Rhode Island calamari and steamed littlenecks at my buddy Seany’s restaurant . Then we headed to providence to check into a great hotel room and go have amazing Italian food in Federal Hill that’s a story all in its own. We then went to a providence water fire which was amazing Italian opera so loud and gondolas going by you thought you were in italy.. then to a fun bar to hear good music. The next day we picked up our friend Elissa aka (tiny) and headed to the cape to go to Provincetown to spend a few days good friend ,drinks,beach and fun all for our boy Richie aka (lolly) .. this year we have done close to the same thing we have come back to Bristol stayed for a few days. We ate at my buddy johnny place The Boathouse and went out to see old friends .The next day my sister was kinds enough to get us another great hotel room where we where with good friends and a night of great food ,bar hopping and fun for lollys birthday. Now since we have done it 2 years in a row we have started a tradition that I think will carry on for years lollys birthdays New england style …
This week on my two days off I went to Biddeford pool. A quite little town in Maine to hang out with some friends. It was amazing and stunning. I stayed in a gorgeous house on the bay and directly across the street was the ocean. When it was low tide we walked miles out on the sand and even walked to a haunted island. I paddle-boarded for the first time and luckily I did not break a hip haha.There is nothing like slowing the pace of life down and just taking it all in and being grateful of what this life is all about and that is family, friends and the beauty this world has to offer. And of course food. The first night we got there we had a feast. Two chefs in the house is a great thing, we started with some succulent tamales, steamed little necks with chorizo, oysters rock feller, raw oysters with maine peach mignonette, fretted shaved fennel salad, fresh garden ripe tomato salad and then went on to swordfish steaks, grilled rib eyes and skirt steaks. We finished with a bonfire and watched a meteor shower all with my great friends and my dog Maximus laying by my side. When I went to bed there was a beautiful ocean breeze and that smell of salty air. When we woke up we paddle-boarded again and then took naps, played in the water and then right back to dinner. We had so many beautiful things from the garden, fresh tomatoes and eggplants so we decided to grill a bunch of pizzas and made eggplant parmesan, which is one of my favorites. We had clam pizzas and arugula prosciutto with the most beautiful flowers sitting on the table also from the garden. The point of this story is that everyone needs to take some time when you can, even just a day, to be thankful for what we have been blessed with. Friends, family and don’t forget the food that is what brings us all together. I hope everyone has had an amazing summer..
All of my love for the ocean and seafood started with one man, my Dad. When I was a kid, every Sunday morning we were either fishing, clamming or crabbing. My dad loved to be outdoors and also go hunting. Especially for pheasant. Which, after they were cooked and on the dinner table, my mom used to lie to me when I was a kid and say they were chicken cutlets. As I grew older I should have know that all the birds he caught that were in the yard in the morning, somehow disappeared by dinner time . My dad spent a lot of time on boats shark fishing, which I was too little to do – bummer. We would always have fresh delicious mako shark and stripers for dinner all the time. Stripers were my favorite to catch. We would always go very early Sunday mornings and stay until the tide rolled in then he would throw me on his shoulders and carry me in because I was scared that a shark or crab would get me. What a little chicken I was! Well I guess I still am, after all Jaws is my favorite movie. When he would catch sharks he would always give me the teeth. I just recently found an old sharks tooth from way back in the day. I was lucky enough to have two parents that both loved food and loved to cook I guess that’s where my love and passion began at such an early age..
Since I was on food network star there has been a lot of opportunities to judge food contests. my first contest was at the Rockland ,Me lobster festival – which was pretty exciting. I love eating lobster and this day I got to eat in many different ways. So here is what I got to taste Yorkshire lobster pudding, lobster lasagna, lobster hash, spring wrap with lobster and fresh veggies to name a few. While they were all amazing my favorite and the winner was lobster hash. the hash I think the flavors were well-balanced the lobster was cooked perfect and the recipe of the hash was so versatile that there could be other recipes built off that one hash so congrats to the winner job well done.. I was honored that they came to ask me to judge the food and I as I know all to well only one person can win – haha. My next cooking competition will be in Providence, Ri in october I will keep you all posted ..
Thursday night I did a five course dinner with a wine pairing . I decided to get all my products from local farms and cheese makers so here we go .. First course farm raised trout tartare with house made dill potato chips. second course shaved raw summer salad with Parmigiano Reggiano and champagne vin..Third course ox tail and lobster ragu over grilled halumi cheese all I can say is wow haha I actually woke up had that idea and it came out amazing. Fourth course was porchetta over parsnip purée and fifth course open face maine blueberry canoli..what a delicious dinner super fun and a nice change from doing lobster haha…
Traveling yesterday through ny with a suitcase was a very long dy but well worth it. This weekend I am going to my cousin’s wedding in ny but in the meantime I’m hanging out with ny sisters in Connecticut . Laying in the pool grilling some good food and I’m not cooking haha nice to take a little break. tomorrow we will thane the Bridgeport ferry to long island to enjoy a beautiful day wedding. Sunday back to Connecticut to lay in the pool and grill some more.Monday back to Jfk to the little 9 seat plane to Rockland ,ME.then can to work at the pearl until sept 3 back to ny to start writing a book and keep pushing until there is a great new england show hosted by yours truly ..have a great weekend everyone soon.
Monday’s are my day off from the restaurant this summer in Maine and I try to do something fun or special while Im here since the summer is almost over and I’ll be heading back to New York. Yesterday I went with Lolly to the Owl’s Head Lighthouse. Owl’s head is about 15 minutes away from where I am in Rockland. The drive was beautiful, and we couldnt have asked for better weather. After parking the truck you have to take a short walk along the rocky coast to get to the lighthouse. The coast is covered with pine trees (or as Lolly calls them, “Christmas Trees”), and maple trees and all sorts of folliage. We saw a few seals swimming in the water below. We climbed the stairs of the big beautiful old lighthouse that was built in 1852. It was so amazing to think this lighthouse has been a navigational aid to ships at sea for over 150 years! We learned that they emit a specific horn sound so that sailors know it is a land based structure and that they are cylindrical because they were formerly run on kerosene. There are only a couple lighthouses that are still run by a person inside. The majority are now equipped with detectors, such as solar and humidity, and automatically turn on when needed.
One of the great things about New England, and being in Maine for the summer, is all of the local farm fresh deliciousness I’m able to buy. Today I took a trip with Lolly to Beth’s Farm Market. Beth’s Web site says it best;
“Grown from a humble roadside stand more than twenty years ago, Beth’s Farm Market has become one of the finest farm markets in Maine, providing quality produce picked fresh daily. From tomatoes and a range of greens, to strawberries, Maine blueberries, and apples in season, we’re sure to have what you’re looking for in fresh, quality produce.”
There is nothing better than biting into a fresh fruit or vegetable that has just been picked. Lolly agreed that he could taste the difference between a supermarket tomato and a delicious farm fresh one.
Some fans have been writing to me and wondering why I love New England so much. I was born in Derby, CT. Derby is just like any other small New England town, and a great place to grow up. When I was younger I didn’t really appreciate it as much. I began to realize how much I loved New England when I left for a while, and moved back to New England (this time Rhode Island) to attend Johnson and Whales culinary school and I stumbled on this little town called Bristol, RI . Bristol stole my heart. I felt at home there like I had never before. Something about the smell of the ocean, the people were warm, friendly and hardworking and they all loved where they lived and took pride in all the local food. Not just seafood, they have amazing farms, produce, cheese-makers, bakers etc. Before my Dad passed away he said “Michele, never leave this place.” I asked him “why dad” and he said, “I have never heard you so happy, as you are when you’re in Bristol.” He was right. I moved around for a bit and really wanted to take my career to the next level in the food world and make it on the food network. I moved to Brooklyn, which I love, so I can be where the action is. Six years later I have accomplished some great things and this is only the beginning. I have been all over New England and I always feel at home and that I am where I belong. New England has so many things to offer. There is so much history, and of course some of the best food I have ever had. It’s like wherever you go you are going to find incredible beauty and amazing food and stories. I hope all of you keep following me on my journey to bring New England, and the joy it brings me, to all of you.
The other night, my fish monger Jaime came by my restaurant after dinner and asked me to go squidding with him. I was totally exhausted but he said we have to go now because it’s high tide, and the best time to see them and catch them is at night. So I agree we go to Rockland harbor with a fishing pole,a bucket and a flashlight. WOW! Schools of squid are everywhere! Kinda looked like I was in a movie of aliens haha. If you shine the light from the flashlight on the top of the water they come to it, then you drop your lure in the water and move it a little and they grab it . Its awesome! Right now its their mating season so they are looking for love haha. Guess what? After they attach, when you pull them out of the ocean they spit water out and change colors! I saw brown, white, blue and red squid it was so much fun! After, we take them home and of course stuff them and grill them. Yum! But you’re going to have to wait for those recipes to come in my book, coming soon! Have a great day all!