Thousands of Down East readers took our annual poll to tell us what they love most in Maine — from landmarks to lobster shacks to libraries. Then we chimed in with a few picks of our own. So how’d your favorites do?
By Kathleen Fleury • Will Grunewald • Brian Kevin • Joe Ricchio • Sarah Stebbins • Virginia M. Wright
“My interest is propagating and collecting weird things,” says Carol Yee, proprietor of Carol’s Collectibles. “The weirder the better.” Don’t worry, she isn’t running The Little Shop of Horrors. Yee offers hard-to-find varieties of familiar plants, such as Allegheny spurge, a pachysandra with purple and white-marbled leaves; Panda Face, an Asian wild ginger with black-and-white flowers; and Humpback Whale, a blue-green hosta that forms a mound up to 8 feet wide. Her greatest passion is uncommon rhododendrons with brilliant flowers (and cool names) like Cherry Cheesecake, Rangoon, and Miyama Gold Prinz. I love the greenhouse, where dwell Yee’s “pets” — her personal collection of exotic orchids. —V.M.W.
When I first spotted The Ghost of Paul Revere’s 2012 EP North in our review bin years ago, my knee-jerk reaction was, “Great, more Portland kids with waxed mustaches and banjos yelling ‘Hey! Ho!’” But this judgment was hasty. The all-strings three-piece turns out tunes that are hooky, foot-stompy, and, yeah, a tad sentimental, but light on the pop-y wordless yawping that characterizes rustic-rock acts like Mumford and Sons (and leaves me cold). And they’re winning over audiences. In the last year, The Ghost of Paul Revere dropped a well-received third album, debuted at big-name festivals like San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and played on late night’s Conan. This year, they’re barnstorming: the troupe lands back in Maine this month after a 20-state tour launched in April.
The Maine art world lost a giant last year when painter, illustrator, and sculptor Dahlov Ipcar passed away at 99. Her phantasmal animals, rendered with and within elaborate geometrical patterns, are familiar to anyone who’s read her classic children’s books. But Dahlov Ipcar: Blue Moons & Menageries, at Bates College, feels fresh as can be, filled with pieces sourced from private collections and never before exhibited. That’s saying something when you’re talking about an artist who’s shown widely ever since her breakout Museum of Modern Art exhibition 79 years ago. Don’t miss this unique retrospective of a Maine master.
I get asked a lot, “What’s your favorite place to eat right now?” It’s not always easy to answer, but since Chaval opened last summer, it is. Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez’s West End brasserie tops my list because it has something for everybody without feeling spread too thin. Tapas and cured meats (like the irresistibly luscious Iberico de Bellota ham) make fun and light bar snacks. In the dining room, it’s all about plates that are informal and comforting and perfectly executed: steak frites, sautéed chorizo with wild mushrooms, coq au vin served family-style. The Sunday brunch is excellent, in part because Lopez is a baked-goods prodigy. To top it all off, there’s a knockout burger, which you can find me eating a few nights a week while avoiding the crowds downtown.
We last praised Tall Trees Snack Shop in 2015, calling out the yummy, rustic baked goods that treat mavens Marcy Taubes and Sarah Trainer sold at their pop-up stand. Tall Trees still pops (catch the this summer at Oyster River Winegrowers' fun, semi-monthly pizza nights in Warren), and Taubes maintains the @talltresssnackshop Instagram feed, where it turns out that ogling the midcoast farmer's homespun kitchen creations is as satisfying as eating them. Farm-fresh salads and pastas, bubbly-crust pizzas, so many luscious tarts and desserts — Taubes frosts cakes and laces pies like Van Gogh at the canvas, and she's a great photographer to boot. Her Insta feed makes me say "whoa" out loud at least twice a week and eat way more pie than I probably would otherwise.