summer

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One of the great benefits of a summer vacation is to combine a culinary experience with a ‘primo’ summer spot. I have been longing to take the perfect road trip and find the James Beard award winning chef, Melissa Kelly in Rockland, Maine. Down the road from Bowdoin College and past numerous outdoor shops selling colorful canoes, one comes upon Primo Restaurant perched above Rockland’s harbor nestled in acres of organic vegetable bliss.

Melissa Kelly

And of course, there you will find Melissa Kelly, a native of Long Island, NY and the wunderkind that dreamt all this up.  Retreating to Maine from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Inn in the Hudson Valley, NY (where she earned her first James Beard Award in 1999), Kelly opened Primo in 2000, on a 4.5 acre farm. And there she defies the short growing season with a truly farm to table restaurant. In fact, we have to give her credit that she was doing the farm to table thing before it was called that or became the standard tag for a country restaurant.

I ate the most delicious salad, perfectly fresh swordfish and a berry-licious dessert. My companions devoured lobsters. After the meal we were allowed back in the kitchen and were given a tour by Chef herself. How impressive. I didn’t realize that not only does she raise her own chickens, but slaughters them too. There are few chefs that know how to slaughter a chicken! Melissa also made us tour her basement…actually it’s her modern day prosciutto curing cellar!  The hams hung side by side. Premiums bits with lesser cuts. Nothing, of course, is wasted.

I think a novel could be written about Melissa. The purity of her spirit, the level of innovation and the pure deliciousness of her food, makes her a heroine for me. It’s worth a trip. So make your vacation mantra: “Rockland Maine next year!”

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It’s the start of summer, I’m driving and normally fly right by those tempting roadside stands. But this one time I succumbed and pulled over for a soft serve ice cream cone at the Gooseboro Stand on Rte 202 in Connecticut. I had noticed that the building was retro-1960s…I had no idea that the portion sizes would be retro too!

I stood on line and the teenager serving at the counter yelled out ‘chocolate sundae!’ I expected to see a mammoth affair with scoops of ice cream smothered in chocolate sauce and mountains of whipped cream on top. Surprise! It was a modest cup with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, a bit of chocolate sauce and dab of whipped cream and a cherry.

I was shocked. In today’s super-sized world, this looked oddly appealing and just right. I thought, no one is going to get obese eating one of these…even every day. The price was right too…$1.99! Can’t we just go back to 1961? It wasn’t that life was easier then but the portions were just so much more sensible and affordable.

Can the obesity solution be that simple?

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