Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve dinner went off without a hitch. Dinner consisted of 10 courses from an amuse of baked brie to homemade chocolates at the end of the evening. Everyone was in good spirits, as you can imagine with that much Champagne, and the plates came back to the kitchen very clean.

At the stroke of midnight we gathered out in front of the Inn as the church bells chimed in the new year. Mary Jo “cut” the top of a Champagne bottle off with my largest kitchen cleaver and we had a New Year’s toast. Following is the menu from the evening. I hope your evening was as memorable as ours. Happy, Happy New Year!!!!

New Years Eve 2007-2008 – Dinner Menu
Amuse – Baked Brie with Frangelico and Hazelnuts

Whole Grain Oak Leaf with a Foie Gras Mousse and Mushroom Duxelle

Maine Lobster Custard with an Arugula Pesto

House Smoked Salmon and Caviar Parfait with Smoked Sturgeon

Australian Lamb Chop with a Grilled Caponata

Crab Bisque with Prosciutto Crisped Monkfish

Blood Orange Sorbet with Champagne

Seared Veal Medallions with a Morel Cream

Eggnog “Baked Alaska”

Hartstone Chocolates

Then and Now – French Thyme Suite

Mary Jo came up with a great idea for the blog. “Let’s show before (before we owned the Inn) and after (after renovation) pictures for the guest and common rooms at both Inns so guests can see the progress we have made.” Great idea, I thought..so here is the first “Then and Now”. We purchased the Hideaway Inn (formerly known as the Nathaniel Hosmer Inn) in March 2007. The French Thyme Suite is on the first floor of the Inn and has private entrances from the front and rear gardens.

Mary Jo's Orchid Corner – Phalaenopsis

Camden, Maine may seem like a funny place to find tropical orchids, but Mary Jo has a rather large collection that she displays throughout the Hartstone Inn and the Hideaway Inn.

Phalaenopsis (phals), Paphiopedilum (paphs) and Oncidiums (onc) are varieties that Mary Jo finds most easy to grow in the home. These hybrids are usually considered “beginner orchids,” largely because they will re-bloom under the conditions that most windowsill growers can offer. They require less light, about the same as for African violets, and will adapt to the humidity levels that are present in most homes.

Mary Jo will be the first to tell you that if you want to cultivate orchids, you need to be willing to experiment and to be prepared to lose some. You should have a place in mind where you intend to place your orchids because some varieties like to sit near a sunny window while others prefer indirect light. Mary Jo says the best advice for someone who wants to start growing orchids is to really look at your environment and see what conditions you will be able to offer. What kind of humidity does your home have? How much light exists in your rooms?

She loves that you can buy affordable orchids. She recommends picking one up at Home Depot or your local grocery store for as little as twenty dollars. If you kill it, it will have already lasted two to three months, which is much longer than cut flowers do. As your interests grow and you want to acquire more specialized orchids, Mary Jo highly recommends buying from these three fabulous growers: Carmelaorchids.net, Kalapanatropicals.com and Carterandholmes.com.

A great resource for Orchid information is the “American Orchid Society (AOS)”and their website is: orchidweb.org.

For further information on Phalaenopsis (aka: Moth Orchids), click on the following link to see a PDF file known as a culture sheet. This page will supply you with all of the basic requirements for growing the most common household orchid, the Phalaenopsis: http://www.orchidweb.org/aos/orchids/documents/culturephals.pdf