It is almost September, isn’t it? That means Summer is winding down, the kids will all be back in school within a couple weeks, and Fall is just over the horizon. While I have come to accept that the change of seasons is inevitable, and even to appreciate it most of the time (I still am not a big fan of Winter), it is always a little sad to see one season end. But the end of Summer does bring one very good thing my way: the Maine State Chili Cook Off!
This is one of my favorite cook offs. Not only is it in the very pretty beach town of Wells, Maine, but we of the chili world make this a party weekend in Maine. Many of us stay at the same place, the Carriage House, which is about a five minute walk from the cook off site. I love that because I can sleep in a little bit more than usual, and let the BaldMan take the car over early to be there for the cooks’ set up. And I can follow later since the walk is easy. The cook off itself is lots of fun. The organizer, Eleanor from the Wells Chamber of Commerce, always does a great job. We got our traditional long-sleeved Maine State cook off t-shirts. These are really nice, soft shirts and I love them for relaxing around the house. This year they were pristine white, which made the logo really pop on the back. (That’s it in the top image.)
Friday night, we spent some time at the pool with the other cooks staying at the Carriage House, and then we went to one of our favorite restaurants there- Joshua’s. We’ve been going there on this trip for years. It was as good as always. They make a blueberry cosmopolitan that is one of those dangerous drinks- yummy, a bit sweet, easy to drink. You could easily drink a few too many of those! And the food is always delicious. The chef uses a lot of local vegetables from the town farm, and sources other ingredients locally if he can, but always with freshness and flavor the first priority. It’s not an inexpensive place, but once in a while, you have to treat yourself, right?
Saturday was the cook off. The weather was warm and sunny. It was pretty hot out on the asphalt for the cooks, but in the afternoon, the breeze shifted to come in across the water and that felt good. We are in the junior high school and it was warm in there all day. The occasional breeze that came in through the door was quite welcome! But the crowd was great, there were some nice craft vendors, and the chili was quite excellent. We had good winners all around.
Saturday evening is the best part of the weekend. Most of the cooks that compete come back to the Carriage House for a pot luck supper. Of course, there are always those who, for one reason or another, can’t stay, and we miss them when they can’t be there. As is usual with these things, there is way too much really good food. And some drink. Well, maybe more than “some”. 🙂 But it’s a wonderful evening with really great people and we all look forward to this cook off every summer.
Sunday morning. Ah, yes. The BaldMan got up before I did, as usual. I do not morning well. At all. I heard him get up, but I just rolled over and dozed off again. A bit later, he came back in and I was just rolling out of bed. He says: “We’re having a party out there.” Me? “That’s nice.” I mean, really. I just woke up. And he expects me to be social? Hahahahahaha! I made coffee, packed up as much of our stuff as I could, got dressed, and then I went out to where the folks that hadn’t gone home yet were sitting and talking. At least, by that time, I could speak somewhat civilly to those weirdos who seem to actually like morning!
We finished packing up the car and headed to Merriland Farm Cafe for breakfast. The owner of the Carriage House told us about it a few years ago. It’s lovely and had some different choices for breakfast. Then we hit the road for home, since we had some grocery shopping to do (since we do want to eat for the rest of the week) and we had to pick up the dog at the kennel. He was glad to see us, and I think he is glad to be home. After I got up, took him out to potty, fed he and the cats, and got my coffee, I found him curled up with my t-shirt on the sofa! And now, he is stretched out on the deck, enjoying the sun.
All told, it was another really great Maine State cook off, and I am already looking forward to next year!
A few pictures:
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