Why it took us (or at least me) almost four years of frequent visits to Maine’s midcoast region to realize that one of its most valuable assets is its cuisine, is a mystery I might not ever solve. The wooded and craggy coastlines and quintessential small towns had already established the area as one of Mere and my favorites in Maine, but almost as if we needed a few years of culinary training wheels in the restaurants of Portland, we just recently began to expand our food-based adventures into this region. To this end, our recent trip to Long Grain in Camden proved to be as fantastic as that very first time you kick the training wheels to the curb and bomb the hill in your neighborhood with sheer exhilaration and delight.
Without the recent feature in the November/December Maine magazine, and judging by its unassuming exterior, it could easily have been a number of trips more to Camden before Mere and I even took note of Long Grain. Thankfully, that didn’t turn out to be the case, and we were able to spend a Saturday lunch devouring some of the best Asian cuisine I have ever had the opportunity to try. Starting with an order of the Spring Rolls, Meredith and I knew that our meal would be something special – the ingredients were so fresh and delicious that we were legitimately battling over the last one on the plate. For our entrees, Meredith ordered the Ginger Chicken and I selected the Chicken Pad Kee Mao, with the plan that we would share our meals in order to sample a little more of the menu. Our plan almost fell through though, as we both enjoyed our lunches so much, that sharing became a quick afterthought. I won’t pretend to understand the complexities of the dishes we ordered, but one part of our meal has stuck with me for a couple of weeks now – the unbelievable selection of wild mushrooms. From the Maine magazine article, I remembered the mention of Long Grain’s use of “several adept local foragers”, but it wasn’t until tasting these dishes that I realized the perfect truth behind this statement. The mushrooms from our meal redefined the manner in which I view the tasty funghi, and I have spent the past few weeks scouring cookbooks for recipes that concentrate on them. I can’t for the life of me find a single complaint with our meal from Long Grain, and although the list of restaurants we’d like to try in the midcoast region is substantial, it will be hard for me to ever walk past the front door of this establishment without making a quick detour.