Maine's Best Kept Secrets

Anyone who knows anything about Maine knows that it’s crawling with lobster. Even the McDonald’s sells lobster rolls. But I don’t go to Maine for its lobster, or for its famous craggy coast. Instead, every summer my husband, our three children, and I head inland, less than an hour’s drive northwest of Portland, to the southern part of the lakes and mountains region.

The area’s more than 50 lakes draw me in for the simple reason that there is nothing quite so wonderful as swimming in water that smells like every good thing that has ever happened to you and ever will. There are also pine forests, mountains, wildflowers, and a magical liquid light that makes you feel as if you were in a van Gogh dream. The region is distinctly untrendy-which means, just for starters, that you never have to dress up. With all this, the lobster is simply a bonus.

 

“…A few days later we came back to Center Lovell, this time to try our luck at Quisisana, a resort on Kezar Lake that occupies one of the loveliest sites in the universe-complete with stands of pine trees, a gorgeous sand-bottomed lake, mountains, and spectacular sunsets. But the resort has more than an incredible setting going for it. Quisisana-which is run mother-hen style by owner Jane Orans-is staffed by about 80 aspiring musicians and singers from leading conservatories, so the same freckled young woman who brings you your zucchini vichyssoise at dinner might well be singing arias from “The Marriage of Figaro” or belting out “Kansas City” afterward, as the sun sets over the lake.

 

Not to be outdone by the musical talent is the culinary talent in the kitchen, courtesy of chef Laurie Smith. She calls her food “classic cuisine with a fusion accent.” I call it delicious, particularly the first-course salmon mousse crepes; the grilled chicken breast Provencal with a tangy tomato, basil, and caper relish; and the pan-seared halibut with a passion fruit and soy glaze.

 

Quisisana operates sort of like a summer camp, with guests booked by the week. Orans, who bought the place in 1983, had no background in innkeeping or music, but was a nursery-school teacher. “I was taking care of four-year-olds,” she said. “Nothing can throw me.” She definitely knows how to keep her guests-young and old-happy.” (Bon Appetit)

Since April 26, 2013
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