Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Evening in Portland

Last night my friend Christopher and I dined at The Grill Room in Portland. The restaurant is on the site where Natasha's used to be (on Exchange Street). It was his choice to go there & I knew it would be an evening of "stepping outside the box" for me.

I started my meal with Chicken-of-the-Woods Mushrooms (yes, these taste like chicken!) battered and served on top of a (slightly bland) Bleu Cheese Cream Sauce streaked with a yummy balsamic reduction. I am not a big proponent of streaking sauces on plates at all; my cooking is classic homespun. Nice dish, though!

After more wine, my selected entree was a Grilled Scallops pierced with a rosemary sprig served on Roasted Root Vegetables and a "Zippy Sauce." It was lovely and clean-tasting. More wine....

Christopher and I split a decadent piece of Earl Grey Flourless Chocolate Cake accompanied with a Raspberry Coulis on the side. Christopher is a Doctor in nearby Falmouth, Maine and he is experimenting with a Gluten Free lifestyle. I didn't pick up the Earl Grey (tea) flavor in the rich cake but it did not fail to please. Moscato and Framboise (two dessert wines) were sweet endings for this enchanting evening of conversation and dining. Stephanie, our waitress, was a beautiful young lady and excellent at serving us.

While I have happily positioned myself as a classic "home cook", it was nice to step outside my comfort zone (I often do) to compare and contrast.

Expecting lots of snow coming from the mid-West into Maine today, so time to put on the gloves and maintain the inn grounds and watch Mother Nature's latest offering of Winter. Best to all--and STAY WARM wherever you are!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Party Planning Tip #105--Know Thy Guests

Hi to everyone from chilly (but beautiful) Naples, Maine!

My New Year's Eve Party "Cooking Inn Style" show recently re-aired on LRTV (our local community station)& I wanted to share a tip on party planning. May seem simple but often times overlooked.

When we invite friends over for a casual party, no doubt we want food to be served. In your food planning (no matter how simple it is intended to be) always know the invited guests.

Does anyone have a food allergy (nuts, gluten, etc.)? Is one of your friends a vegetarian? Is everyone looking for more diet friendly food? How about your best friend who just loves your spinach dip? Well, make it for them!! You can always search online for new recipes to accommodate all---and maybe find some NEW favorites!

Design even the simplest menu with a personalized care that comes from the good friend/host/hostess you are! More tips to follow in the months ahead.

Best to all!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Keith A. Neubert
Naples, Maine

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dreams, Nightmares, and Learning

Greetings, Blog Readers!

Many of you know (or can sense) that owning an inn (or your own business, for that matter) is a dream come true for me and many.

For quite some time I have realized in my hospitality career that continuing to learn is not only exciting for me, but recognized by my inn guests. Learning about food is one area an innkeeper should always pursue.

While many shows on television ("Food Network"--"Travel Channel"--"Learning Channel") are wonderful and impressive, one show I have been viewing lately is on the BBC America Channel called "Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares." Yes, this is the seemingly harsh chef from the show "Hell's Kitchen" who gives an ample tongue lashing to aspiring competitors--many fold and run sobbing in the challenges. I would, too!!

In "Kitchen Nightmares," Chef Ramsey travels to restaurants, assessing their destructive business practices---food, service, and theme. Yes, Ramsey is blunt. Yes, he can be eye-opening to the unwise. Yes, it is challenging to break engrained negative patterns.

Inspiring as it is to see the changeovers from people who listen to Ramsey (who clearly is creative & keen), what is most notable is his focus on both the business and the guest. For anyone in the service business, please tune into this show!!!! You may laugh at how uninformed some people are. You may learn as the subjects of Ramsey's lessons may have. Feel the passion of a great chef who cares about the love of preparing and serving food to those who pay your bills! This show inspires me even more to honor my guests and back it up behind the scenes of running the inn.

Learning how to do things keeps us growing at any age!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Thursday, January 8, 2009

February Packages---Isn't it Romantic??!!

Hi, Blog Readers!

Posted some NEW PACKAGES for February at Inn at Long Lake. The inn is usually full on Valentine's Weekend and I am excited!

"HI" to blog readers Sue (from Billerica, Mass) and Marsha (from Eureka Springs). Always nice to hear from past guests! And, Sue--I hope you are still in touch with those fellow pizza eaters you met at the inn. You all had such a great energy together chatting! Great group of people.

We've had quite a bit of snow out here in Western Maine. Been working on it most of the days (trusting people will leave messages--they usually do). The life of an innkeeper this time of year is a mixture of getting ready for next year, managing the snow, serving the guests, and relaxing. I'm having an awesome time thumbing through the reading that was put aside during the Summer and Fall. THE RECIPES are so inspiring! I can hardly wait to try them.

Stay warm, Everyone!!

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Starting the Year Right--Happy 2009!!

Greetings from Western Maine!

Last night was New Year's Eve at the inn and what a great evening. The chilly weather outside, a toasty fire inside, a few sips of nice wine, and the right combination of people made for a low-key evening with lots of laughter.

LRTV ran my "Cooking Inn Style" New Year's Eve episode a few times in the last couple of days. The episode was filmed in 2005 (to be "young again" hehe) and featured simple appetizers for any party. The show is currently on hiatus but will reappear in Fall 2009 and directed by my dear friend, Fay Martin. Bill Felts, the former director, will assist in the behind the scenes production. I am so excited to be teaching again!

Two guests, Jenna and Josh, came down this morning for breakfast. Jenna extended her hand to me to reveal an absolutely beautiful engagement ring!! The proposal (and the ring) were both kept well-hidden by Josh. It warms my heart to see to lovely, nice people so in love. And how romantic of Josh to propose only seconds from the stroke of midnight!! CONGRATULATIONS to Josh and Jenna!

Coffee was paramount for the late breakfast eaters this morning. I was up early baking a Country Apple Streusel Coffee Cake with Butterscotch Schnapps Drizzle. Our featured entree for the morning was my Eggs Florentine (I use Baby Spinach) served on inn-baked Oatmeal-Molasses Toast. All enjoyed it.

Hope everyone's New Year is as good as Josh's, Jenna's, and this Innkeeper's! Make all your dreams come to fruition in 2009. "Either you can--or you can't; either way, you can be right!"
Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine