When you think of Maine foods what comes to mind? Maine Lobster, of course! But Maine is also renowned for Maine blueberries, apples, oysters, potatoes, cheese, and more! Come aboard the historic schooner J.&E. Riggin for a delightful Maine food tour while you glide through the waters of Penobscot Bay and revel in the pristine beauty of Maine’s rugged coastline.
Culinary Tour on the Schooner J. & E. Riggin
I was full of anticipation and super excited to board the schooner J. & E. Riggin on a gorgeous summer evening in August for a three-night Maine Windjammer culinary-focused sail on Penobscot Bay. On this special “Cooking with the Annies Cruise” guests on the majestic Riggin were fortunate to reap the rewards of two talented chefs “cooking the books” (their cookbooks, that is.)
“I first met Annie Copps when she was the food editor for Yankee Magazine. She came on board during a romantic, misty night in August for a dinner of turkey confit, housemade spaetzle, and I can’t remember what else. We instantly hit it off. Our love of food, local, New England, Maine, and writing just sealed the deal.” Annie Mahle
About the Historic Schooner J. & E. Riggin
Annie Mahle is the chef and co-owner with husband, Captain Jon Finger, of the schooner J. & E. Riggin. After being rebuilt and re-rigged as a passenger vessel, the couple bought the Riggin in 1977. Since then, they raised their two daughters on board and operate specialty sailing tours in Penobscot Bay. Built in 1927 as an oyster dredger, the Riggin was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991.
Boarding the J. & E. Riggin
The gangplank buzzed with activity as guests and crew hauled bags and supplies on board. Following introductions and Captain Jon’s welcome talk, we were on our own for dinner in Rockland. Afterward, we returned to the schooner to get acclimated to living and sleeping on board while the boat is anchored in the harbor.
The Wood Stove
Chef Annie rises at 4:30 a.m. every morning to stoke last night’s coals and builds the fire in the circa 1900s wood-burning stove that boils water for coffee and bakes the daily bread and baked goodies that accompany each meal. I remain incredulous at the culinary magic she conjures from this burnished beauty.
Each morning, guests awaken to a scrumptious breakfast spread served on deck — the better to breathe the salty sea air and take in the magnificent views. Clear skies and a bountiful buffet of buttermilk pancakes, Chocolate Espresso syrup to drizzle them with, fresh strawberries, oranges and peaches, and freshly baked Chocolate Banana Streusel Muffins.
Future posts will recount the lobster boil on the beach and other memorable experiences onboard the Riggin but, for now, I wanted to share the Blueberry Boy Bait recipe from Annie Copps’s “The Little Local Maine Cookbook”.
With three meals a day served, no one was going hungry. I especially appreciated the abundant, beautifully presented locally-grown fruit which allowed me to eat a light breakfast. However, the fresh baked goods were hard to resist!
Besides lobster, Maine’s other best-known food is blueberries. Wild Maine blueberries are smaller, sweeter versions of blueberries commonly found in grocery stores and they are in season in August. I saw several roadside stands selling blueberries on my drive to Rockland. Blueberry season in Maine lasts only a few short weeks and we were lucky to hit it. On Day 2, the blueberry lemon streusel coffee cake, baked from a recipe in Annie Copps’s “The Little Local Maine Cookbook”, was irresistible.
On one day we gathered on deck for an interesting talk on Maine foodways with both chefs and, on another, a knife skills demonstration by Annie Copps. Circle back in a week or so for more details and mouthwatering photos from this incredible Maine food tour.
Fall Tours on the J. & E. Riggin
I knew nothing about sailing and enjoyed trying my hand at six common sailing knots and helping the crew furl the sails, lower the jib, and raise the anchor. If you love being on the water, love food, love to cook, love to travel, this is the culinary getaway you’ve been looking for.
Upcoming Fall tours:
September 2-7: Maine Knitting Cruises with Margaret Radcliffe
September 9-14: Wooden Boat Sail In
September 16-19: Sawmill Creek Fiber Events Knitting Cruise
September 20-23: Maine Lighthouses & Lobsters
September 25-28: Main Slow Sewing & Quilting Cruise with Rhea Butler
September 30-October 3: Fall Color Getaway
And that’s all for 2019!
Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see.
(Lyrics to “Sailing”, song by Christopher Cross, 1980)