A tasty new adventure from a local business combines the experience of Maine flavors like Moxie and wild blueberries with the heritage of Maine towns, including Damariscotta.
Red Cloak Tours, of Damariscotta, recently began offering its Historic Tidbit Tasting Tour in Damariscotta, as well as in Bath and Hallowell.
The Damariscotta tour, from 2-5 p.m. each Wednesday, takes participants on a historical food voyage around the downtown area, with Jodie Bennett, Red Cloak’s tidbit tasting manager, describing the food and building history at each of the 10 stops.
The company’s outline of the experience advises participants to skip lunch, but after eating a decent portion at nearly every stop, I ended up skipping dinner as well.
The tour is mainly a lesson for those from away. This is why I benefited so much, having only moved to Damariscotta in April of this year. I checked five items off of my Maine bucket list during the tour.
Red Cloak will soon offer a “Maine must-haves” memento booklet to carry on the tour, which started July 10, to check off Maine-specific delicacies like drinking Moxie, eating a lobster roll, or enjoying a needhams candy.
The tour started at the Barn Door Baking Co. cafe, at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop, with avocado toast on Barn Door’s own freshly baked bread. The bookstore and cafe is on the ground floor of historic Lincoln Hall.
Bennett talked about the past uses of the building’s second floor for roller-skating, among other things.
The second stop was The Lobster Haul on Elm Street, where I checked lobster roll off in my mental memento booklet. My first bite was a purist bite, then I squeezed a lemon wedge over the remainder of the lobster roll slider. I have to say, I liked it with the lemon better.
Here, Bennett talked about the lobster and the process for measuring them. Lobsters in Maine must measure between 3 1/4 and 5 inches from eye socket to carapace, a measurement taken with a special tool, which Red Cloak Tours Director Sally Lobkowicz demonstrated at The Lobster Haul.
Next, the group walked to S. Fernald’s Country Store for a hefty wedge of one of its specialty sandwiches. Half the group sampled the ham-and-provolone Dragon Lady, while the other half was treated to the Smokey Joe, which features smoked turkey.
Fernald’s was also kind enough to offer a taste of Moxie from the classic glass bottle in tiny red Solo cups to all the Red Cloak visitors. The Moxie tasted like a less bitter Robitussin cough syrup, with hints of root beer. Not bad, I thought. I went for a second shot of this uniquely Maine drink.
Bennett described the unusual history of Moxie: how it was invented by Dr. Augustin Thompson, who was born in Union, in 1876, and how Thompson touted it as a cure for everything from paralysis to stupidity.
One of the last stops was Wicked Scoops for dessert, where each guest was treated to a kiddie-sized ice cream cone of their choice. I went for the strawberry cheesecake. Bennett said the shop uses Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream and many of Gifford’s flavors have a “Maine spin,” like Maine Lobster Tracks and Moose Tracks.
She also talked about the history of Maine wild blueberries and how they are different from the standard blueberry, which is usually larger and less sweet.
Red Cloak Tours started offering haunted history tours around Halloween 2007, when Lobkowicz donned a red cloak and began telling spooky stories about some of the buildings in Damariscotta, using her original research.
The tours gained in popularity and Lobkowicz eventually expanded them to Wiscasset, Camden, Boothbay Harbor, Hallowell, Rockland, and Bar Harbor.
Now, the company offers maritime history tours, lighthouse tours, and historic cemetery tours as well.
Those looking for a taste of everything Maine and a primer on Damariscotta and Maine history should be sure to make a reservation for Red Cloak’s Historic Tidbit Tasting Tours for $59.95 per person. For more information, call 380-3806 or go to redcloaktours.com.
(Correction: An earlier version of this review online and on page 7A of the Aug. 8 edition incorrectly reported that the Barn Door Baking Co. cafe served avocado toast on bread from Borealis Breads. Barn Door Baking Co. makes its bread in-house. The Lincoln County News regrets the error.)