Pies on Parade: Historic Rockland, Maine

Rising early on Saturday, January 21, I headed out the door and was on my way to historic Rockland, Maine, to join in the 8th Annual Pies on Parade celebration. The event is held the weekend before what is widely known as National Pie Day each year. The festivities begin on Saturday and include wine […]

By Lori Pedrick

Feb 10 2012

Pies on Parade

Pies on Parade in Rockland, Maine

Photo Credit : Lori Pedrick
Rising early on Saturday, January 21, I headed out the door and was on my way to historic Rockland, Maine, to join in the 8th Annual Pies on Parade celebration. The event is held the weekend before what is widely known as National Pie Day each year. The festivities begin on Saturday and include wine and pie pairings, pie tastings, and museum tours. On Sunday, the Historic Inns of Rockland and other participating restaurants and local businesses, open their doors from 1-5 for samplings of sweet and savory pies. Why? To support a local cause. More than 50 varieties of pie are generously donated by these establishments and all ticket sale proceeds go to the Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO) Food Pantry and Fuel Assistance Program – a delicious and worthy cause, indeed.
2012 Pies on Parade Poster
I arrived at noon and checked-in to the Old Granite Inn where I was met by owners Edwin and Joan Hantz, my gracious hosts. They showed me to my room. I quickly unpacked, freshened up, got my bearings, and headed out to begin my fun-filled stay at this quiet and cozy harbor side town. My first stop was at the Owls Head Transportation Museum where I viewed their outstanding collection of automobiles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. On display were a number of vintage and antique carriages, aircraft, bicycles, motorcycles, and automobiles. I couldn’t help but wish my husband and father were there too, as I know they would have loved not only the sampling of delicious pies stationed throughout the museum, but the experience of seeing and learning the history behind these remarkable machines.
Old Granite Inn
Joan and Edwin Hantz bought the Old Granite Inn in 2006 and made it their home. The Inn is furnished artfully with and eclectic mix of genuine antiques and modern pieces. No doubt Joan’s graphic arts background is the source for such tasteful esthetics. Ed is a writer by trade and does much of the cooking for their patrons.
Vintage and antique planes and cars on display at Owls Head Transporation Museum
Next, I took a stroll through downtown Rockland and made my way to the Farnsworth Museum to see the highly praised Wyeth exhibit. It was fascinating to learn more about Andrew Wyeth and view his great works up close – a real highlight of my visit. After some more strolling, a little shopping, and a couple hours passed, I was treated to a delicious meal at Rustica Cucina Italiana, my last stop of the day. With a full belly, I made my way back to the Old Granite Inn for a relaxing night’s sleep.
Main Street is charming and accessible on foot from all the Historic Inns of Rockland and hosts several gems not to be missed such as the Farnsworth Museum, quaint shops and even an idyllic cinema.
At Rustica Cucina Italiana, I dined on a delicious New York strip steak with blue cheese, carmelized onion butter, swiss chard and mashed potatoes.
Archipalego (pronounced ar’kipel a o) meaning a large group or chain of islands is a retail store in the heart of town operated by the Island Institute featuring art, crafts, jewelry, home goods, books and more from Maine’s islands and remote coastal communities. They feature over 150 artists from 20 different island which includes the coast of Maine
The Lighthouse Museum in downtown Rockland houses the largest collection of lighthouse artifacts in the country.
Character and charm sprinkled throughout the town celebrates this iconic setting.
The next morning, I awoke to the smell of fresh blueberry pancakes, quiche Lorraine and warm ginger scones with cranberry chutney. Breakfast at an inn is always a treat, especially when you get to enjoy a homemade meal in a shared setting with several other guests who are all there for the same reason – to support the town of Rockland. Some of the folks I met had traveled up from Rhode Island, and from the Cape. All offered a few words of wisdom: “Go light on breakfast. The day is young and there’s a lot of pie ahead of you.” With a few hours to kill before the tour began, I headed back to Owls Head lighthouse in hopes of taking some nice photos as it overlooks Penobscot Bay and is very picturesque in the morning light. It was a bright, crisp morning and I was happy to be out of the office and exploring an area I knew so little about but was growing to like more and more. You see, this was my second visit to this tight-knit community. My first trip was in winter of 2009 while on assignment for Yankee magazine for the article entitled “Inn Good Company”, published in the January/February 2010 issue. The purpose of my visit then was to work with our photographers and photograph the innkeepers and their breakfasts. On that trip, I spent the night at the Limerock Inn, hosted by innkeepers Frank Isganitis and PJ Walter, who encouraged me to come back for Pies on Parade. So glad I did.
Owls Head Lighthouse in Owls Head State Park overlook Pennobscot Bay.
At noon I was to meet my tour guide, Marti Mayne of Maynely Marketing, at the Limerock Inn. Joining her was her daughter Calli, who at the young age of 12 has become something of a pie connoisseur herself, having attended this event over the past few years. Forks in hand, we were ready to go.
Marty Mayne and daughter Calli, my pastry partners.
Frank Isganitis and PJ Walter and their Key Limerock Pie and Raspberry Tartlets. Several of the Innkeepers baked off an astonishing 20+ pies and 300 tartlets.
All Aboard Trolley provides transportation between pie stops but we elected to set out on foot. Marti, a veteran of the event, laid out all the rules: “We need to be quick. In and out so we can make good time and get to all the venues to taste the offerings of every establishment. And don’t take more than one bite unless you absolutely love it. You’ll fill up quick for sure and won’t make it to the end of the tour.” I tried to heed her advice as best I could but fill up I did, and happily.
Berry Manor Inn is home to the original “Pie Moms” made famous by throw downs with Bobby Flay and appearances on World’s Dirtiest Jobs with Mike Rowe, had several delicious savory pies but the highlight for me was the traditional blueberry pie offering. The crust was flakey, light and fresh. Owners Cheryl, above and Mike offer tours of the 113 year old historic Inn during Pies on Parade as well.
The Project Puffin Visitors Center offered up their own twist with an adorable puffin éclair entitled Cream Puffin Pies.
Miranda Cafe, owned by chef Kerry Altiero, claims to own the oldest operating wood fired brick oven in Maine. It happened that his deconstructed Reuben pizza pie was one of my favorites of the day featuring nearby Morse’s Kraut.
Ellen, Ken and their son Noah own and operate Captain Lindsey’s House. I was drawn to the eclectic and unique decor. They had several varieties and styles of pie including a delicious sweet potato pie and lamb Pasties.
It was no surprise to me just how tasty these pies were. After all, it didn’t take long to notice how dedicated and thoughtful this community was; how supportive they are of one another; how much pride they take in their past, present and future. I left Rockland Sunday night with real admiration for this community. This is a passionate group of people. I left there wanting to be part of it all. It was such a fun weekend with a group of unique, driven, and committed folks who believe in a cause and think nothing of putting themselves out there to rally together and make things happen. They bring true meaning to the notion of cooking with love and it was evident. It wasn’t just the pies that were on parade this weekend, it was all the love that went into making each and every morsel and that came through loud and clear. It was a delicious and thoughtful way to spend a weekend away. I’m already booking my next visit and will be certain not to miss the next Pies on Parade to be held on January 27, 2013.
Left: There were even healthy options that were just as good as the full fat like this Lavender Honey pie samples from Rheal Day Spa. Right: Fiore offers custom oils and vinegars from the likes of Italy and made an open face sweet onion galette that was another favorite for me.
Left: This pecan pie from Sweets & Meats was probably the best I’ve tasted. The use of honey as the sweetener cut the typical–ly sugar overload I find most pecan pies have. Right: The shepards pie at The Waterworks Pub had unique blend of spices that added depth to what can often be an otherwise peasant dish.
Left: This dense fudge pie from Bricks Pizza with peanutty crust was unreal. Right: Deconstructed chicken tamale with red mole from Park Street Grille.
Specially designed forks with the Pies on Parade logo were made last year in an effort to be more eco-friendly. At the end of the tour, you return your fork at the last venue so they can be recycled and used next year..