Archive for June, 2012

book boards

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Boards are usually covered with dust jackets. Dust Jackets that can become fetishized by both the people who design the books, and the people who buy them. But under the jackets can be the most delicious boards that make me want to touch them. Below are a couple of examples…

86 middle street

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Our friends Arlin, Andrew and Michael from next door at Hugo’s have taken over the former home of Rabelais to create a fantastic raw bar in Portland: Eventide. We were honored to be invited to the friends and family night this past Monday. We couldn’t be happier to know that our old digs will host thousands of happy diners eating millions of Maine oysters starting this week. Please stop in and say hi to our friends, wish them good luck and have some oysters…!

friday afternoon

Friday, June 22nd, 2012


A pretty nice place to spend a hot Friday afternoon.  We’ll be open tomorrow, but beware La Kermesse.

solstice dinner

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

late dinner

Monday, June 18th, 2012

cooking later


These long days of June always sneak up on me.  We’ve been eating later and later as the days stretch out and we try and take advantage of every minute of daylight. In the dead of Winter we would get home long after the sun had set. Eat dinner in the complete night. And while that was many months ago, the idea of it lingers in my head. It is just two days to the Solstice, the beginning of Summer, the longest day of the year. I want to soak in as much light as possible to store it under my skin for those months to come. Those months we won’t speak of just now.

I look at the clock when we are putting dinner on the table and it is 8:30, 9:00, sometimes if I get really ambitious it’s even 10:00.  I just had to make a tart of Chard and Cheese last week and only realized this was necessary at about 7:00, because there was so much light still in the sky.  I had thought it must be about 5:00.  It was a delicious simple tart from Nigel Slater’s Tender Vol. One, that went together quickly, but the tart shell had to chill in the fridge (so it wouldn’t shrink too much upon baking) for about a half an hour.  One thing led to another and we sat down to eat at about 10:00.  Don didn’t complain, luckily the tart was worth the wait, and we did snack on some cheese to tide us over.

The light of the long days plays tricks on my mind. I’ve got plenty of time to sow another row of beets before it’s time to make dinner. I like moving with the seasons this way. We eat by the calendar, why shouldn’t meal times be equally sensitive? Why not spend more time breathing in the fresh air, watching the bees do their thing, chasing after the groundhog (!)?  Dinner will happen when the time is right. Let all those time tables go, eat when it seems right, eat what tastes good, when it’s time to eat it. We will be celebrating the Solstice with some good friends, good food and a bonfire. Take this moment to slow down and soak the season in, it’s worth it.



backyard hens

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Rhode Island Reds

It has been very interesting to notice how hens are spreading through our countryside.  When we first got birds, back in 2008, only our neighbors across the street had them.  The other neighbors looked at us as some sort of throw backs.  But now when we drive down the road from home to work we see many many houses with hens scratching around the yard.  Everyday it feels like someone else has birds.  Is it because of the economy? Is it due to the rise in knowledge of what industrial food means in terms of quality of life, both for us and the chickens? I am a firm convert.  In fact eggs anywhere else just don’t taste as good.  I am an egg snob.  Happy to see others jumping on the bandwagon.



June 1st, 2012

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012


Rabelais News   ~   June 1st, 2012

Chalk wall

Copper fish pot
Jonesing for some Rabelais talk? We have had a blog for years, but honestly we were desultory bloggers.  We spent more time talking with folks in the store than writing.  Now that we spend more time by ourselves, we still have plenty to say, so it goes on the blog. You can find our musings at Rumblings.  We’re going to be re-designing the blog in the near future, so let us know what you think of it now. We’d love some feedback.

“You’ll never get a good party going without giving things a bit of a push. It boils down to the same formula most times: good setting; good food, good drink and plenty of goodwill, as is right at this time of year. “

Michael Smith
It’s warm. It’s a relief.  It has been a bit rainy, but then that’s Spring in Maine. At least this is seasonally appropriate warmth.  The Winter passed pretty uneventfully in terms of cold, the grey gloom can be oppressive nonetheless. When it finally warms up consistently all I want to do is get outdoors.  So what happens when the temperature rises?

Well, green things get planted in the ground.  Our peas are about a foot tall, the taters are a good four inches up, and the first crops of carrots and beets have emerged.  The tomatoes were planted last night. We’ve already had a salad or two of greens and our volunteer cilantro is quite out of control this year. A bed full of greens was planted last weekend, as well as one of shell beans, and a teepee full of pole beans. In the fragrant department we have planted all sorts of smelly stuff: Mignonette; Sweet Peas; Lemon Gem Marigolds; Alyssum and, coming this weekend, the Roses!  We like to spend a lot of time outdoors on our patio during the Spring/Summer/Fall seasons so it’s nice to have a green space to surround us.

The other thing that happens when it gets warm is that we eat outdoors as often as possible. The grills get a good work out, as does the picnic table.  We had folks out last weekend and the menu included stinging nettle pancakes, local asparagus (not ours yet), artichoke gratin, and grilled calamari.  A slightly eclectic menu, I’ll give you that, but tasty nonetheless.  The grilled calamari is one of my new favorite ways to cook those creatures. I do love me some fried calamari with tartar sauce, but honestly hate cooking with all that oil.  What do you do with the oil when you’re done cooking?  Cooking the wee beasties outdoors, lightning fast on the grill is a very close second for me.  And way cleaner.
RC Fish squidI found this recipe in The River Cottage Fish Book, another in the brilliant series from the British author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. We’ve been  importing the book from the U.K. for a few years, but now the title is available from an American publisher, Ten Speed Press (who published The RC Meat and The RC Cookbook), and we’ve got a pile of them here on one of the metal tables.River Cottage Fish  Also newly in stock is the new Mugaritz book from Spanish chef Andoni Luis Aduriz.  Published by Phaidon, who brought us The Silver Spoon and a number of Ferran Adria cookbooks, this is a lovely tome full of truly inspirational, and aspirational, food. Andoni is a bright innovative chef, part of the breed of Modern Spanish chefs who push the boundaries of the kitchen, and the plate. The restaurant’s website is phenomenal, we so need to go back to Spain… Also in stock is Sandor Ellix Katz’s new The Art of Fermentation, which expands greatly from his classic Wild Fermentation, for all you fermenting types. This weekend is unfortunately forecast for a ton of rain, so there won’t be much outdoor cooking going on at our place.  But if you get the bug for a new cookbook, come visit Biddeford.  We’re here Saturday from 11:00 to 5:00. We’ve got loads of inspiration for both the cooks and the gardeners.

A brief clarification of our hours.  The doors are officially open on Saturday, and then by appointment for the rest of the week.  That means if you really need to get a look at the new Mugaritz book and can only get down on Tuesday, give us a call.  If we are here, you can come on down. Chances are pretty good that we can make arrangements for a visit.  We are still carrying the best and the brightest modern in-print cookbooks from past and present.


fine books on food, drink, farming & gardening


2 Main Street  #18-214  Biddeford  Maine  04005  207 774 1044

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dough nut day, 1836

Friday, June 1st, 2012


National Doughnut Day was created by Congress after successful lobbying on the part of Adolph Levitt, Chairman of the Doughnut Corporation of America. But doughnuts have been with us a long while. Here’s a recipe from  Mary Randolph’s Virginia Housewife (an 1836 printing). It’s an important book, the first regional American cookbook, and to some, the “most influential American cookbook” [Karen Hess]. Mary Randolph did include recipes from beyond Virginia and the South, like this one, for Dough Nuts, or Yankee Cakes.