Andrew and I have been to Bar Harbor, Maine together every year since we started dating. We missed out last year because we had taken all our time off from work for our honeymoon. This summer we returned, so happy to be back! We love to spend time in Acadia National Park, and this year was no exception. The photo above is from a particularly beautiful spot we found on Beech Mountain, overlooking Echo Lake. You can see Andrew and Finn enjoying a rest mid-hike.
Of course, what would Maine be without lobsters? We ate them as many times as we could, plus we had our friends at Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound pack some up to take home to Ohio. Andrew enjoys his lobster most with a Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale (above), made by the Atlantic Brewing Company right in Bar Harbor. We’ve visited the brewery a few times, and it’s a fun place to spend an hour or two. You can take a tour, taste their beers, visit the store, and grab some nibbles at Mainely Meat Barbeque, an outdoor restaurant on the premises.
Don’t worry, I do have a recipe for you! Andrew and I adore steamers and mussels, and our favorite way to cook them is to steam them in water that’s been seasoned, then dip them in butter. Feel free to vary the amount of shellfish you cook and to add or subtract your favorite mollusks.
Steamers & Mussels
4 lb. steamer clams (cherrystones, though more expensive, will also work)
2 lb. mussels
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stick salted butter, melted
To clean clams: Rinse sand and grit off shells, lightly scrub with a brush
To clean mussels: Rinse sand and grit off shells, remove beard (the scraggly hair-like stuff that hold the mussel on a rock) with your hands
Place clams and mussels together in a steamer basket. Pour about 4″ water into a large pot. Add garlic cloves, sea salt, and a splash from your wine glass to the water. Feel free to improvise with additional herbs and spices, but I’m a purist, especially when it comes to clams.
Place the steamer basket into the pot and put a top on to contain the steam. Steam the mussels and clams just until their shells open. This will not take long, maybe 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – if you overcook them, they will get soft and fall apart (if they are very fresh) or become tough and rubbery (if they are a little older). Neither option is good, trust me!
Serve your shellfish however you choose – since we were camping, the steamer basket in a nest of newspaper worked very well. Give each person their own cup/bowl of butter for dipping. In my family, each person also receives a cup of the broth used to steam the seafood. The method is: remove the mussel or clam from its shell, dip in the broth to rinse, dip in the butter to coat, and EAT!