06 May 2012


Yesterday, we had an early dinner in Maine. It was the first time I ever set foot in Maine, and I was glad to be there. The town of Kittery is just across a river from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where we also spent some time soaking up the ambiance.

In Portsmouth, I thought about the late Bill from NH, who was a faithful commenter on this blog for a few years. Bill lived in Portsmouth. A few years ago, he came to visit us in Saint-Aignan. He had spent a few days in Saint-Aignan years ago, and he wanted to see the place again, and to meet us, including Callie. Bill passed away last year after moving back to California. I was glad to see Portsmouth for the first time but wished I could have done so when Bill lived there.

Lunch in Maine for lobster, mussels, clams, and calamari

In Kittery, we had that early dinner at Warren's Lobster House, right on the river the separates New Hampshire from Maine. I enjoyed an order of fried local clams as my appetizer, and then I chose what was listed on the menu as "Claws and Chowder" — three lobster claws served with a bib, a nutcracker, a little bowl of melted butter, and a lot of napkins — as my main course.

Another kind of lobster house

I managed to crack the lobster claws open and pull out the sweet meat to dip in in the butter before inserting it into my gratified mouth. I accomplished it awkwardly but without dripping lobster juice or melted butter onto my shirt, even though the bib quickly fell to floor and I didn't bother to pick it up with my buttery fingers.

A lobster house on Bearskin Neck

Walt had fried calamari as his first course, and my old friend Bob F., with whom we are staying outside Boston and who also leaves comments here once in a while, ordered a big bowl of steamed mussels, which he shared with us. Then Walt had a classic lobster roll — a soft bun overflowing with lobster meat — and Bob had fish (haddock) and chips. We washed it all down with a bottle of Chardonnay wine from Stone Creek Cellars (Beringer), a fairly crisp California white.

The entrance to the harbor at Rockport, Mass.

Before lunch, we took a walk around Rockport, Massachusetts, a village that is, well, a rocky port with a picturesque harbor. We had an early lunch of Caesar salads in a little grill before walking out to the end of Bearskin Neck to take some photos and enjoy a breath of salty sea air. The grill didn't serve wine, but the lemonade was good. I asked for bread — they don't seem to serve it much — and out came some big soft rolls with a little tub of cinnamon butter. I liked the bread but without the butter.

The windows have screens on them here to keep insects out.

In Portsmouth we stopped in a micro-brewery pub and had a pint. Mine was stout, Walt's was lager, and Bob's was pale ale. The manager of the pub looked at Walt, who was wearing a NY Yankees cap, and told him he was brave to display such a symbol so near Boston. It turned out the manager was also from New York originally. He proceed to "comp" our beers, which means he made them complimentary — we didn't have to pay. Amazing.

Three half-pints, please.

The people in the restaurants are all smiles and good-naturedness. Of course many of the people in the same roles in Saint-Aignan are like that too. But there's something inherently easier when everybody is speaking your native language, even if it is with a sharp Yankee accent.

Today we're off to Albany. New York will be our fourth U.S. state in two days. You could only accomplish that, in a cake walk, in New England, where the states are small even if the cars, shopping centers, and even the "small" towns all seem to be huge.


  1. 'But there's something inherently easier when everybody is speaking your native language'.

    Somewhat of an understatement?

  2. Glad you enjoyed your brief visit to Maine, where I live. And thanks for the kind words for Bill, who was a long-time friend of mine.

  3. I've always just been a reader, but had to comment and thank you for bringing the sun to Maine - we've had one lousy week of rain and cold weather. Enjoy your stay in the States.

  4. Have read your blog since having a delightful weeks stay in St Aignan 2 years ago. I was thrilled tonight when I read that you have been eating lobster in Maine . My best friend now lives in Maine (near Kittery).I loved seeing the photos. I have enjoyed lots of holidays in that area. Beautiful.
    Dani from Australia.

  5. LOVE IT! My heart belongs in New England and France, so you've made me smile broadly all throughout reading this post today. My mom is right here next to me (she reads your blog when she can), and she's a big fan of fried clams, and my grandmother was a huge lobster fan... we're having fun! We discovered that Rockport was a dry town, much to my husband's dismay, but what a beauty of a coastal town!

    Enjoy!! (And be careful with that Yankee's cap *R*R*).


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  7. Loving following along with you this trip! We once had lobster rolls in Portsmouth- loved the town so much.
    Glad you're getting to see the rocky coast of Maine!

    Hello Jacquie and Dani;-)

  8. Rockport brings back fond memories for me of a trip I took to New England some time ago. Lobster rolls, clams and that fresh salt air are some of my recollections.

    It is always nice to meet kind soles who "comp" beer or other niceties!

    That part of the New England coast really reminded me of the Oregon Coast (although more inhabited and more commercial). Beautiful scenery and very hospital people.

    Mary in Oregon

  9. I've always felt lobster was too much work for too little reward.

  10. Starman, you always crack me up (no pun intended).

  11. It seems that François Hollande is going to be the next president of France, maybe as early as this Friday.
    Good for him!

    Most people in the States have no understanding of the difference between socialism and communism. They should remove their [far right] goggles, maybe they'd see more clearly!

  12. That's my kind of vacation! Glad it's going well.

  13. We're on the same continent -- YAY! We're on opposite sides of the same continent -- BOO! However, if you keep writing about seafood, we may soon be on the same side of the same continent! Enjoy! Hi to Bob!

  14. The third photo looks like an oil painting. And a good one at that!

  15. Bonsoir Cousin

    Eh oui -Good Luck Mr President- I loved his speech in Tulle and I am waiting for another "Capitalist Pravda" article by the Economist

  16. Oh, Ken and Walt, Bill would have loved escorting you two around Portsmouth! After he retired, he worked part-time for several years at Federal Cigar, just steps from the brewery you visited. It warms my heart to know that you've been to the town he loved so dearly. Perhaps, from on high (?), he spotted you in his old hangouts.
    I read both your blogs religiously now, and I enjoy them immensely. Hope your trip continues to be a wonderful one!
    Mary (Bill's wife)

  17. The "smiles and good-naturedness" are what we loved the most about our visits to the US. That and the fantastic scenery and the breakfasts !!

  18. Out in Albany you are now safe to wear that Yankees cap! I'm glad that you enjoyed your stay -- and the food -- here in New England. I inherited the love of lobster from our grandmother (see Seine Judeet's comment), but I'm vegetarian now and lobster is the only meat I miss. Can't wait to read about the rest of your trip.


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