Thursday, December 5, 2013

Primo- A Maine Tasting Venture Inspired By One Lady's Grandpa

Up to $500 for a flight from NYC to Portland, Maine? My spontaneous nature took a bite out of my wallet, but I would not let it swallow. Nope, Kelly, you are making your way, not paving it in gold. My next (and cheapest) option was a Greyhound bus ticket and 10 hours one-way on the road to say good-bye to the house I grew up in (parents are looking to move to Cali) and visit my Dad (Mum is already in Cali) who is about to turn 60, but who is still mistaken for my boyfriend out in public (embarrasing, yes, but I am couning on those good genes for my aging purposes.
Dad Khey

Then it hit me, if I'm going to be in Maine, I just HAVE TO go to Primo! But how will I get a reservation on such short notice
Lucky for me- they reserve seating upstairs for the spontaneous type, I was in!
"Anything you want, order it, my treat." I told my Dad.
It was a mere 45 minute wait from the time we put our names on paper. In the mean time we could "grab a drink and go visit the gardens," said the host. I could hardly contain myself at this point and was so excited that I opted to wait to order drinks until dinner for the simple fact that I did not trust myself with a camera in one hand and a glass of vino in the other (I still wear one of those plastic lobster bibs when I crack lobster tails....true story).
Melissa Kelly is the 2013 recipient for the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast. She grew up in Long Island, NY; I grew up in Maine. Who would have known our paths would cross that Labor day weekend? I- the NYU trained Dietitian, Melissa- the Award Winning Chef, both with a mission to help people eat real food-you know, the fresh, no added junk kind; food from the GARDEN, the SEA, the TREES....NOT from the lab.
My luck kept on going that weekend because Melissa was in the kitchen keeping her hands busy, but stopped for a minute for a picture and a smile. Not only talented, but a poised and kind person who wants to cook you dinner, and grow your dinner as well.
Mel and kel
The menu is massive, and the specials make it the Yellow Brick Road of dishes, but its not like one of those restaurants where you feel menu pressure because you second guess yourself if what you ordered is REALLY what you wanted, because you know you really wanted the salmon, but was trying to go out on a limb and stray away from your favorite fish....
No, its not like that here. Whatever you order, you will be pleased.
So here is what me and my Dad ordered.
Started with Warm Fried Sausage Stuffed Olives= Love stuffed into Love and then dipped into some hot Love
Charcuterie- Country Pate, Fennel Coppa, Head Cheese and Cotechino with pickles, Radish, Crostini and House Mustard.
I know what you are thinking, "crostini is on every menu, I can just go buy some in a box and WAH LAH!" But this is different. Its a perfect balance between crunch and savory moistness. I wondered if maybe they had just one person making these thin slices of heaven. You know, Crostini Chef; it seemed fitting.
Dad got the Pizza, he always gets the pizza, unless there is a Reuben on the menu.
Josh's Pizza- House-made sausage, onions and mushrooms. I kept picking the sausage off the top (so there you have it. I am not a vegetarian although many people think all Dietitians are, like its part of our training, nope, not the case).
I went with seafood (Hello, I was in MAINE) and ordered the Sauteed Branzino Fillet with Crab and Shrimp Risotto, Smoked Tomatoes, Scallion and Wilted Spinach.
It was as though the Sea met Cloud 9 and they had a child. Thats the only way I can describe it.
For dessert- just a simple Primo Garden Tisane- fresh herbs hand picked from the garden and seeped in a French Press.

Smelling flowers
Take Time to Smell The Flowers

I got wine, Dad got Ginger beer. I am a lover of the fruit of the vine, so much though that one day I would like to be a Sommelier and to work on a vineyard- do the dirty work you know- but for this restaurant, it was about the food, the atmosphere, the terroir of what was placed on the plate.

Stroll the Gardens before you Eat

It reminds me of the house I grew up in. Rustic-Maine-Cape

I'de like to thank you for reading my first Restaurant Post. This one is special. For one, its the premier; it goes back to my roots-Vacationland, where I actually lived year round- Maine. It highlights a Chef whos dedication, talent and hard work are put towards helping people's health and appreciation of real food, and finally, it will be like no other post...
I will focus on Cafes- the coffee, the tea, the baked goods, and, last but certainly not least, the wine.
The Toast. The Terroir.
The End.

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