Foodie Adventures in the Loire Valley, France

It’s Market Day on our Foodie Adventure… 
Always one of our favorite days!

There are numerous markets through out the Loire Valley, but the scenic village of Amboise is our personal favorite.  The market is located in the park, along the Loire river and close proximity to the Chateau and beautiful shops in the village.

Amboise, Loire Valley, France

 Early morning our first stop is the Seafood Vendors!  It’s always fun to see the days assortment and a good idea to make your selections early for the best selection.  Last week we were lucky to find a delicious variety of oysters and crab that the foodie travelers learned how to steam, clean and pick for dinner that evening.

Seafood Market Loire Valley


Next stop Cheese -glorious Cheese!  I can’t think of many things I love more than French Cheese.

Cheese Monger


There are so many choices the best option is to try one or two each day to discover your personal favorites.  Valençay cheese is recognizable by it’s truncated pyramid shape, Crottin de Chevignol is shaped like a small cylinder, Selles-sur-Cher has a rind of natural mould covered with powdered and salted charcoal and Chavignol is hard black and knobby on the surface.



When Michael discovers the most delicious pears or the variety of berries available are irresistible, our nightly menus vary a little to reflect the seasons.   The dessert tartlet he had envisioned in apricots may soon become a tart topped with fresh cherries.  In a chef’s mind that’s the thrill of visiting a thriving market and letting your creativity come thru.  Our foodie travelers visit the market and dream of the evening’s creations from the Chef’s perspective.

People Watching


I’ll be honest, as Michael is soaking in all that is fresh and local in the food category I’m enjoying the people watching.  Young families and grandmothers are catching up with neighbors, exchanging news and I’m imagining gossip too.  I love to see the food they are buying to prepare for dinner, critique all of their market baskets and observe the fashion change from season to season, year to year.

A glimpse inside  life, in small village in France always makes me smile.

Shopping At the Market


And if there’s time maybe a little personal shopping too.  For Michael, he loves the vendor who sells the Limoges china, the slightly imperfect pieces are a great deal and it’s not as painful if they break in the luggage on the flight home :)  For me I can always be tempted by something that screams French fashion.  

If you’re curious about a Foodie Adventure, our full itinerary and availability calendar thru 2015 for the Loire Valley in France, Tuscany, Italy and Catalonia/Barcelona, Spain is available on our website:

Let’s Cook and Play together!

Hartstone Inn “Very Merry” Christmas Package

ExperienceChristmas-tree the magic of Christmas in Camden with our “Very Merry” Christmas Getaway Package.  The Inn is beautifully decorated and full of holiday cheer!  Package includes two nights lodging, sumptuous breakfasts each morning and a five-course gourmet Christmas Eve or Christmas day dinner for two.  Also with this package, receive two complimentary cocktails of your choice to be enjoyed by the fire and a homemade Christmas cookie turn down service one evening.  Enjoy the cookies yourself or leave them out for Santa!

Price: $100 in addition to room charge (double occupancy). Click here to check room availability.

It is not too early to make your holiday plans.  Believe it or not, Christmas is only eight weeks away!

Wine Pairing Explained

A friend sent this to us today…I thought everyone would enjoy it.


Chef Michael’s Spice Sampler

The Hartstone Inn kitchen was busy today filling spice tins in preparation of holiday orders.  For years, guests here at the Inn have asked Chef Michael about his various spice mixes and dry rubs.  This caused him to decide to put together his very own spice sampler!

Each tin contains 15 individual spices and salts, all either his own blends or his favorite seasonings.  They include everything from Fennel Spice Mix and Apple Pie Spice to Maine Sea Salt and Annatto. 

Sound like a needed addition to your kitchen or maybe the perfect gift for the foodie in your life?  You can find them along with Chef Michael’s Specialty Salt Sampler in the online gift section of our website

Hartstone Inn Spice KitHartsotne Inn Spice Kit

Hartstone Inn Spice Kit

“Crazy for Crêpes” Cooking Class November 23rd & 24th

Our first Hartstone Inn cooking class of the season is just one month away!!  Have you reserved your space in class?berry crepe

Crazy for Crêpes
Offered on Saturday, November 23rd & again on Sunday, November 24th, from 1-3pm

Join Chef Michael as he goes crazy with crêpe recipes, both sweet and savory. After learning how to make basic crêpe batter, Michael will teach you his technique for creating the perfect crêpe at home. The crêpes will then be turned into fabulous dishes like Wild Mushroom Crêpe with Roasted Duckling and Smoked Salmon Butterflies. Chef Michael will share some ideas with you for a crêpe dinner party and then proceed into dessert crêpes: Fresh Berry Crêpes, Banana Foster Crêpes and Chocolate Ganache Filled Crêpes.

Classes are informative, entertaining, and of course, filled with delicious food.  Our Cooking Class Packages start at $357 and include two nights lodging, breakfast each morning, our five course dinner for two and enrollment for one in the cooking class.  Additional enrollment into the cooking class is $45 per person.  View our entire cooking class schedule here.

“Toboggan Building 101″ Getaway Package

Toboggan Building PackageA new package for winter – “Toboggan Building 101″!  Our two night getaway package includes a fun filled weekend of toboggan building (Saturday & Sunday),  just in time for a winter of sledding.  You’ll receive two days of instruction in basic techniques of bending, sanding, finishing and fastening your very own toboggan.  Mark your calendar to bring your handcrafted toboggan back to the Inn the first weekend of February and who knows… you may become the National Toboggan Champion!  Dinner for two is also included, featuring the Chef’s spectacular five-course tasting menu and of course, a sumptuous breakfast each morning.

Available: Saturday – Sundays, November 2-3, December 7-8, January 4-5, (2014)
Price: Traditional Room – $745, Suite – $845


Chef Michael’s Fall Apple-Maple Dressing

This is a good basic recipe for fruit-based dressings.  You may experiment with your own choice of fruits, but this combination of real Maine maple syrup and apples is perfect for fall salads and as a marinade.  This dressing will keep for several weeks under refrigeration.



Apple-Maple Salad Dressing
Michael Salmon, Hartstone Inn, Camden

½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup chopped vidalia onion
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1½ Tablespoons real Maine maple syrup
2 small Cortland apples, cored and coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients listed above and mix in a blender until smooth.

Makes about 1½ cups.

Thanksgiving Dinner Getaway Package

ThanksgivingLeave the cooking to us and spend your Thanksgiving holiday at the Hartstone Inn!  Our Thanksgiving Dinner Package includes two nights lodging, sumptuous breakfasts each morning and a five-course gourmet Thanksgiving dinner for two. Upon arrival, find champagne and homemade chocolates in your room.  Price is $90 in addition to room charge (double occupancy).  Click here to check room availability.

Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013 (seatings at 2:00 pm & 5:30 pm)

  • Maine Crab and Butternut Squash Cake with a Vermouth Beurre Blanc
  • Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Pecans and Dried Cranberries
  • Sweet Potato, Rutabaga and Green Apple Soup with a Maple Cream
  • Rosemary-Roasted Turkey with an Apple-Sausage Stuffing and Scallion-Smashed Potatoes
  • Pumpkin Soufflé with a Spiced Crème Anglaise

As always, we are happy to accommodate dietary restrictions or food allergies.

Chef Michael’s Baked Brie with Hazelnuts and Frangelico

 This dish is a delicious and perfect with a loaf of fresh baked french bread!

Baked Brie with Hazelnuts and FrangelicoBaked Brie
by Chef Michael Salmon

1 medium wheel brie cheese (500 gm)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cumin spice mix (recipe below)
1/2 cup Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, whole
1 loaf French bread

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the brie in an oven proof baking dish.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, cumin spice mix and Frangelico. Melt over medium heat and pour over the brie. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and cover. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
  4. Serve immediately with sliced French bread.

Cumin Spice MixCumin Spice Mix

1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons whole cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons whole anise seeds

Mix the sugar and spices together.

Wonderful Wizard of Oz Exhibit Opening at the Farnsworth Museum


Farnsworth WiIzard of Oz“On Saturday, October 14, 2013, the Farnsworth Art Museum, in downtown Rockland, Maine, will open an exhibition entitled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, drawn from the largest collection of Oz material in the world. The exhibition will run through Spring 2014 in the museum’s Crosman Gallery.

Lyman Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, quickly became one of the country’s best-selling children’s books. It was eventually translated into several foreign languages and gained worldwide popularity. Its greatest success, however, was the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, in which she made the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow a national hit. In 2014, on the 75th anniversary of the film, Warner Brothers will rerelease The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. To celebrate the anniversary, the Farnsworth will present an exhibition that will help bring to life one of America’s most beloved movies and all its characters. The show will include one of Dorothy’s dresses, the only surviving complete munchkin costume, examples of the many illustrated versions of Baum’s books, movie posters, and a remarkable array of Oz memorabilia, all from the Willard Carroll and Tom Wilhite Collection.

The Farnsworth Art Museum celebrates Maine’s ongoing role in American art. It offers a nationally recognized collection of works from many of America’s greatest artists, with 20,000 square feet of gallery space and over 13,000 works in the collection. The Farnsworth has one of the largest public collections of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson, while its Wyeth Center features works of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. The National Register-listed Farnsworth Homestead, the Olson House, a National Historic Landmark, and Julia’s Gallery for Young Artists complete the museum complex. Please visit for more information on current exhibitions, programs and events.”

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