Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Weekend in Eastport

I am on vacation all this week, so last weekend my husband and I decided to go down east to Eastport. My father, who passed away some years ago, grew up in Eastport, and we were interested to see where he might have lived. Eastport is a tiny town on Moose Island, population 1920. Eastport is the eastern most city in the United States, and the sun touches this coast in America first every morning. Although we didn't see much activity on the waterfront, supposedly it's still a busy little harbor for both local fishermen and international ships. To the north of Eastport is Deer Island, Canada, which is only a ferry ride away; and to the east is the island of Campobello, the location of the Roosevelt Cottage. This photograph of Eastport was taken by Jim Lowe, a local photographer.

Another of Eastport's claims to fame is the Old Sow, the Northern hemisphere's largest whirlpool and the third strongest in the world. The whirlpool is caused by the extreme tidal range where the tides goes in and out between Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy. The tides here exceed almost all those in the rest of the world and reach a peak of 28 feet. We were not fortunate enough to be in that area during a tidal change, so this photo of the whirlpool was also taken by Jim Lowe.

Eastport is also the home of Raye's Mustard Mill, the only authentic stone ground mustard mill in North America. The entire process, from the creation of the slurry right down to packing and labeling the jars is all done by hand. Mustard seed is ground in the mill using the original four quartz grindstones used over a century ago. Other mustards that say "stoneground" on the label may go through a single high speed technological grinding, but they're also cooked at some point in the process. The Raye family maintains a traditional cold grind process that not only preserves the best qualities of the mustard but also eliminates the need to refrigerate the mustard after the jar is opened.

The quartz stones don't actually touch one another during the grinding process, but are separated by a paper-thin space, thus preserving them. This is a photo of one of the stones in the yard. You can see how they're grooved on the one side. We did get a tour of the mill but were not allowed to take photos, so this photo is just the outside of the mill.

My husband and I love mustard, so of course we had to get a few jars to take home with us. I have a fantastic recipe for chicken dijonnaise that I'll try with Raye's Old World Gourmet mustard. For anyone who is local, they also market to Hannaford's.

148 Water Street, where my father may have lived as a boy. House for sale, water view, $39,000.

Eastport is located in Washington County, and along the highway we saw lots of wild Maine blueberry fields, which are an important part of the Maine economy. Maine blueberries are smaller than high bush varieties, so they work really well in recipes like muffins. I didn't realize that the leaves turn red like this in the fall.

We did get our fill of autumn color this weekend. I noticed yesterday on the way home from Portland that a lot of the leaves have fallen from the trees, so I think this weekend must have been the peak in Central Maine and down east. These pretty trees are right along the main street in my town.


Belvie said...

Nice photos! Thanks for sharing a little of your area of our beautiful country.

I visited Maine once in 1985. We drove up from Boston to Booth Bay Harbor. It was a wonderful experience for a gal who grew up in south Texas.

Stephanie D. said...

I'd never heard of that mustard before--might just have to order some!

Thanks for the photos of Eastport, too. How big is that whirlpool? There's nothing to indicate the size or from how far away the photo was taken.

Sue R said...

Hi Stephanie,

The mustard people have over 20 varieties of mustard, and they have jars of each kind at the mill that you could sample from with, what else, a pretzel. Some of them were really strange, like mustard and blueberries, but they sure were good!

Good question about the Old Sow whirlpool, and I wondered that myself. According to Wikipedia, it forms in an area with a diameter of approximately 250 feet and has been measured with a speed of 27.6 kilometers per hour. Apparently it doesn't constitute a navigation hazard for larger motorized vessels, but sailboats, rowboats and the like are warned to avoid those waters when the tide is running.

Barb D said...

Reading your blog this morning really makes me want to go there too! I've never been there even though I grew up in Maine - heck, there are lots of places in Maine that I've never been! Great pictures and descriptions!