Food & Petrol lunges to Belgrade Lakes H.J Blakes for Goodness Sakes
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2018
Finally, success in getting my buttocks to HJB. I ran across these folks by chance scouting a wedding party site visit for Cafe Miranda’s catering operations. That particular event will be a story of failed brakes on our 3.5 ton flaming brick oven pushing our van directly at the guest table and tent with the lake just beyond…oh yes there is more but that is for another day…So back to HJB. Yes, i was in the Miata and as i pulled up to the intersection of Castle Island and West roads, off to my left i saw it. The Sign. Hot dogs. Lobster rolls. Burgers. Salads. Hand cut fries. My siren song played at volume 11. I had no, well little choice but to take a HDOC (Hot Dogs Of Character) break/research. I was not disappointed. Fast forward to the following year, early June. I made the trek from Rockland and lo and behold, CLOSED! A large hand lettered sign announced “Opening June 29th” Disappointed would hardly begin to describe. However salvation and salivation was mine as i found Lisa’s Legit Burritos in downtown Augusta, see that story here. Not so bad a day. Food & Petrol!
Okedoke, on a steamy July afternoon rode the ‘02 Ducati 900 SuperSport to HDOC bliss.
Of course as the petrol part of all this demands, i took the Looooong way. Stunning views on the Appleton Ridge road, Route 105 though Washington, a bit on Rt. 3 and some miscellaneous curvy back roads to get to HJB.
A Cute red and yellow shack/trailer with an outside self serve cooler for the beverages, spiffy condiment table under a pop up tent. Excellent! I went for a craft root beer and 2 dogs. The Hot Diggity Dog, a griddled dog, New england style roll, lovingly crisped, Battered Fried Jalapeno slices, grilled onions, siracha mayo. Obviously not for the traditionalists of the mustard and ketchup klan, but then, neither am I. Textually a thrill ride. Crispy fried bits, smooth sweet onions and the POP of the dog. Oh yeah! Dog 2 was the Lone Star. Fast Freddies Chili, raw onion, Cheddar, yellow mustard. As i have a doggie disposition and a particular fondness for Chilli dogs this was bliss. When i was a vegetarian back in the day, i made an exception for the chili dogs at the Coney Island Diner in Pottsville PA, oh, Yoccos in Allentown and, well you get it. Now a bit on dog construction. Usually it is dog in bun, stuff on top. Not at HJB, Holly, the H in HB and the cook/ proprietor has designed these dogs in the spirit of Escoffier ! Well thought, the customer experience in mind, SHE PUTS THE STUFF UNDER THE DOG! (send me your jokes and Under Dog puns) F ing Brilliant, GENIUS! No schmear of chili or siracha mayo on the face, in the mustache, on the shirt. How long did it take us to figure out to put wheels on suitcases and coolers? Right. We invented nuclear bombs but it took another 40 years to put wheels on our American Touristers. Evolution? Nevermind. Anyways, like i said, Holly, self taught, passionate, sassy, cooooool and a hell of a cook.
Of course i couldn’t stop there. Course 3: Haddock sandwich. Yeah, yawn, another haddock sandwich. Not. Holly had a place on North Haven for 7 summers where her regular gig on the Island is as a Special Ed teacher for decades. Surely a pass to heaven in the afterlife. So Holly had several food oriented businesses. H.J. Blakes was her restaurant . She had no fryer and needed a haddock sandwich. Problem solving and necessity being the mother of invention, she lightly cooks the haddock , sautees a melange of 3 peppers, onion (THE MIGHTY ONION, base of all great food, mostly) and some herbage, tossed with some sourdough bread crumbs and griddles it. Now you think “Harummph a bready haddock bull s*&T cake. Nope, this sandwich is meaty. Actually an improvement on the traditional fried item. No disintegrating delaminating breaded fish, this has a consistent meaty texture from first to last bite. Drug thru the garden (Lettuce & tomato) Dill mayo, cheese & pickle on a Grilled Kaiser Roll (in Maine?!). Almost, almost beats the dogs but we know who is writing this don’t we? Oh, and a side of excellent hand cut fries with white and malt vinegar available.
Now those that know me realize that at 5’ 11” and 160 lbs this is quite a load of food….. So far! This, as most of these F & P adventures are have little to do with hunger, this is what i call “Sport Eating” In your service, mostly.
Course 4: Lobster roll. Ok, yawning again eh? Don’t. I hear you whining, “Just the lobster in a toasted roll” Yeah, plain pasta with oil and salt is good too, but gimmie the Gravy (red sauce to non Goombahs). So Holly, being an Island resident MUST have a killer roll. Same toasted roll, claw & knuckle meat, cooked juuuuuust enough, Lemon dill mayo UNDER the lobster and a drizzle of clarified butter. Maybe the best i have had and pooey on you snobs.
Done you think? But wait, there’s more! Holly by this time was wondering where all this food was going to and either i had an invisible companion or who knows. Holly brought me a taste of her Veggie burger. These things usually, may i say suck? Not this one. This white bean based mix with spinach and veg, a bit of the breadcrumb, griddled, drug thru the garden, roasted sweet pepper mayo is killer. I had it sans bun as i was getting a bit of a full tank at this point. This Veg concoction is so fine that it could be an appetizer (with a schmear, a drizzle of BALSAMIC REDUCTION and those micro green thingies) in a hi zoot place. Delish. Also some of her fine slaw vinaigrette, not shy on the onions (extra stars for that) was a fine counterpoint.
BELCH, done. i had had it. I will go back and get a burger which Holly has custom ground at Emery’s Meat & Produce , ditto on her chilli meat, and the grilled cheese, cuz who knows what twist she will spin on that standard and eat pretty much everything else. Asian noodle salad and more.
For 4 seasons Holly has worked this craft in the Former Fast Fred’s Franks at the same location and looks to be in it for the long haul, at least i hope she is as these are dogs and food worth driving for.
Full disclosure, i pay for these soirees, no “Ah, i am a food blogger, can i get free stuff” BS. Though toward the end she did give me some cookies for the ride.
Shout out to her excellent staff: Tamika, Barbara & Marchella. Thank you!
A bit more on Holly Blake. Her family has been in the food and associated business for a while. Her Dad, R.H. Blake had Bob’s Diner in Rockland & Thomaston, a General store, R.H. Blakes in Bowdoinham Maine and a few other ventures. It is in her blood, heart and hands.
2002 Ducati 900 Supersport. 80 Horsepower air cooled L twin with as all Ducs, desmodromic valves. Note pink bird on the fairing. By the Pink, ye shall know me.
Ciao baby, this was fun, Chef Kerry, burp.