Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Week on the Stephen Taber: Food , Wine and Racing: Day One

October 21, 1871 - Glenwood Landing, NY: "Launched-- the Schooner Stephen Taber was launched from the yard of Mr. Bedel.... She is a well built natty schooner--she bears a good name and no doubt will prove a profitable investment for all concerned"

January, 2012 - Glenwood (now Roslyn Harbor, NY): I'm a girl originally from Penobscot Bay, temporarily in Glenwood Landing.  The Stephen Taber is a boat built and launched from Glenwood Landing (just at the end of the street) now making her home along the coast of Penobscot Bay.  We both love food and wine, and we both had an incredible adventure for six days.  

A few years ago, I wrote a short story about a magic iBook that when you set the clock on the computer, it would transport you in time. This adventure really is a variation on that story, only, it really happened.  After a few e-mail exchanges with Jane, the NYC sommelier and captain's wife, then through the magic of a credit card, I booked passage on the Stephen Taber for the Maine Windjammer Association's Great Schooner Race in Penobscot Bay, Maine. 408 miles down east from Glenwood Landing, NY.

Sunday July 1:  After a Young's Lobster Pound send off in Belfast, I drove to Windjammer Warf in Rockland to join the crew and guests on the Taber.  My cabin was a small aft single, #8, just off the library.  We joined the Captain on deck, he went over the basics for the week "This is adventure travel"! (hey it was an adventure rolling out of my bunk in the morning)  We then moved on to a Fiore olive oil and vinegar tasting.

We spent the first night at dock, and woke to coffee and our first meal on board, breakfast which included fresh baked muffins prepared by Chef Anna Miller and her assistant Meghann. Coffee and muffins.  I was already in heaven and we hadn't even left the dock. (seriously, a breakfast of fresh fruit, blueberry pancakes and bacon was over the top, after the coffee and muffins, I was blissed out)

After some prep and final provisioning, we cast off from the dock. It was a quick sprint (even for a boat built to haul freight) past Vinalhaven when I took a look at the chart and realized that we were heading to the edge of Penobscot Bay, Isle au Haut.  Captain Barnes out ran some nasty weather, we stopped in the sunshine for Beef Bourguignon, a fresh green salad, bread and peanut butter squares. This is where I should tell you that al though the Taber is Adventure Travel, it is an epicurean adventure.

The Taber partners with high end local providers and presents its guests with Michelin standard fare.  All cooked on a wood stove in a galley on a boat built in 1871.

And so we sailed on to Isle au Haut.  The coast of Maine is beyond words.  We sailed close along the rocky coast, framed by pine trees beaten down by weather, surrounded by the cold Atlantic waters - it was July, but I still needed long sleeves.   It was only fitting that as we sailed past a large house flying the American flag, they saluted us by firing their cannon. we were in a world where people still used cannons!!!  There was no cell phone service, I was unplugged and FINALLY on vacation.

We anchored at Isle au Haut, there was plenty of wine being poured, and my pairing for dinner was a New Zealand  Marlborough Valley Arona Sauvignon Blanc`10.   Chef Anna presented us with a dinner of crusted halibut, broccoli with lemon olive oil and rice pilaf.  It paired really well with this light crisp wine.  I was happy.

Of course for dessert, Chef Anna had made a Boston Cream Pie, my favorite dessert. Even though the crew threw her overboard (a birthday tradition) Soaking wet and freezing, she was a pro and she still fed us.Over the course of the next five days, Anna Miller was my own personal hero.

Sunset, Day One:

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