A new year, and a new phase beginning for us. It's official: we have sold our Beech Hill home, a home we have lived in for 27 years, longer than anywhere else in our lives. We are happy, sad, happy. Happy to be moving to a place on Corson Road we have held close to our hearts for over 40 years, sad to be leaving a home that has really been a home for many years. We first bought part of this property in 1980 and with a few acquisitions over the years we created 35 acres of hay fields, some of it from woods. It was hard work clearing the land but gave us a great sense of accomplishment. We built a new home on this property in 1992. We bought the Corson Road farm in 2001 and it provides us with a glimpse into the natural world literally in our backyard, and we are happy to be viewing our new environment with ever changing distant mountain views. From the new vantage point, we can watch the weather approaching the State of Maine before it reaches us and we have an aerial view of soaring birds in addition to watching the coming and going of the local deer and turkey population. We are happy to be consolidating our operations to one farm but will always cherish the years we lived on Beech Hill Road.
At 122 Corson, our winter schedule begins this coming Saturday with the first of the theme nights. Each month through the winter, we will be hosting two theme nights a month to help alleviate the winter blues. This coming Saturday, the 12th, we have a menu to brighten the spirits; we've called it "Winter Survival". January's cold won't dampen our spirits. We actually love the winter months as they give us time to relax, feel re-energized with the crisp, fresh air, and enjoy the warmth of a cozy fire. Mary and our Border Collie, Nell, have been taking advantage of the fresh snowfalls with cross-country skiing through the woods on a daily basis. The snow tracks of deer, squirrels, mice, and rabbits keep Nell keenly interested especially when she finds the winter homes of a few. Occasionally in fresh snow you can find "wing prints". With an abundance of owls in the area this winter it is plain to see when they make a strike in the snow.
Saturday is supposed to be January cold. So if you are free join us for dinner at 122 Corson. We can promise a warm atmosphere, a delicious meal, and a relaxing evening.
We wish you a happy and healthy new year!
The calendar doesn't say it is winter, but it certainly looks and feels like it. Bob has been working in the woods cutting next year's firewood and Mary has been starting her winter art projects. All the animals seem to be quite happy with the weather. The sheep have been growing nice wool coats for just this occasion and the goats have a beautiful and colorful covering of hair. Even the chickens seem quite pleased with the shorter days. The bird feeder is up and filled and the chickadees, blue jays and, yes, the squirrels are enjoying the buffet. And at night the deer are eating the tips of the hardwoods that Bob has cut. And whether we know it or not, all is right with the world.
In our opinion, this is one of the best times of year to enjoy a meal at 122 Corson. On a clear night you can see the lights in Franklin County twinkling and heat from our wood stove warms us to the core.
We have openings every Saturday evening through December 29th. In addition to our Saturday meals, we will be open on Monday evening, December 31st, for a New Year's Eve celebration. We call this a Farmers New Year's Eve since we will be in bed by 10:30 p.m.!
Come and join us if you can for a relaxing evening during December. Best wishes for the holidays and we hope 2019 is a healthy and happy year for you.
Bob and Mary
P.S.: And if you are stumped for a Christmas gift we do offer gift certificates in any denomination.
Winter wants to come early this year. As we write this, we have 6" of fresh snow since after midnight. Although we have been preparing for snow, it always seems to come as a surprise. We weren't anticipating quite so much, but it's early in the season and the snow may come and go several times before winter settles in for the duration. We would rather have clear weather for driving for Thanksgiving Day and we may yet, we'll see! The point of this letter is to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Day. We will be hosting fine dining at 122 Corson through November and December and we recommend that you check the 'Upcoming Menus' for dates and choices. With Chef Eddie's Italian heritage, the cuisine will feature Italian menus through the end of the year. Italian cuisine is our favorite and Eddie has the knowledge and family history to make it authentic.
We will be hosting a dinner celebration on New Year's Eve and we recommend that you book early for a table. Chef Eddie is preparing a special menu for a special night.
The sunsets at 122 Corson have been breathtaking as we leave the summer months and move into the cooler nights and mornings of fall. The sunset last Saturday night seemed to go on and on. Many diners left their tables and went outside to photograph the view. Nature’s natural show lasted through dinner and the first part of dessert. What a way to dine!!
We do our best to accommodate all reservations. Typically the end of September and October are busy at 122 Corson, with our guests wanting to see the last of the sunset evenings and an opportunity to view the fall foliage. We currently have openings each Saturday through November 4th. If you would like to join us, call us at (207) 587-2019, reply to this email, or go on-line and make reservations from the website.
Yesterday was one of those perfect fall days from a cold start with clear skies and crisp air to the long shadows of the afternoon with perfect light. It was onion harvesting day for us and what a bounty! We have the onions and winter squash spread out in the greenhouse hardening off for winter storage. Eddie will be utilizing some of both in this coming Saturday’s menu.
We hope you’ll join us for a memorable meal as we catch the last of the sunsets.
Mary and Bob
As we witness the last vestiges of summer, we are reminded of the many wonderful experiences we have enjoyed through conversations with new and repeat diners who have become friends. What constantly amazes us is the people we meet at the restaurant who have such fascinating lives and share with us their friendship and more.
Two weeks ago we met a couple, one of whom is a retired executive chef from Boston. We fell into conversation and before long the four of us were friends. As an unexpected surprise and pleasure, our new friends shared a picnic lunch made especially for us! As you can imagine, the food was fabulous and both the friendship and picnic are listed as a special memory of the summer of 2018.
I think we can all agree it has been a hot summer and as a result it has been too hot for our greenhouses to germinate salad greens. Our young friends, Finegan Ferreboeuf and Jason Gold who own Steelbow Farm in Norridgewock, have pulled up the slack for us by providing us the salad greens that we consider superior. Steelbow Farm’s exceptional products can be found at the Skowhegan Farmers Market and the Belgrade Farmers Market. These two do everything right and a walk around their farm is a testament to their knowledge and expertise.
Here’s one for the record, Finegan and Jason gave us two artichoke plants in late spring which they had painstakingly started through a series of warm germinating, cold shocking, and rewarming. The plant needs to think it has been through a cold dormant stage without being frozen. Well, we harvested an artichoke last week! Never thought we would be growing such a plant in our Maine climate, but it can be done if you know what you’re doing. Steelbow has also introduced us to mild peppers and baby eggplant grilled on the BBQ and drizzled with good olive oil. Another great taste of summer!
As we move into the harvest month, we are offering a cooking class this coming Sunday, September 2nd, to be co-hosted by Maryann Reynolds and Mary. Maryann conducted a very successful class a month ago and we asked her back to co-create the ‘Fruits of Fall’ cooking class. There is still room to join this class which will feature a 3 course meal: a unique late summer salad; a delicious take on Ratatouille with our home grown lamb; and a dessert inspired by the fruits off the farm. The class is $60 p.p. from 2 to 5 p.m. ending with a shared meal and complimentary wine. The classes are fun and we hope you’ll join us.
This week’s meal at 122 Corson is FRIDAY not Saturday since many folks will be packing up over the weekend and leaving vacationland. We’ll miss you! We will be open until the end of October for weekly meals and twice monthly during the later months. Soak up these lazy hazy days of summer while we still have it.
Mary & Bob
P.S. The Sand Hill Cranes just flew into our field. It looks like mother, father, and two juveniles. The joys of living in Maine…
122 Corson Rd. Mercer, Maine | 207.587.2019
2018 is the year of the dog in the Chinese zodiac. While we don’t follow the Chinese calendar, every year we declare it a year of something. The criteria are simple: it is whatever strikes us on the farm as being particularly abundant, beautiful, or noteworthy. This year we have decided that it is the year of the swallow. In our 4 decades in Mercer we have never seen so many barn swallows and tree swallows on our farm. Yesterday we counted over 50 around our Beech Hill home alone! While we can’t account for this population boom, we do love to see the swallows’ graceful flight and how they skim over the top of our pond catching insects, and yes, getting a drink.
We seldom talk about the wonderful wines that are available to us here in Maine. We are fortunate to have a number of distributors in the State who offer over 10,000 different wines. Last week one of our distributors provided a tasting of some spectacular Sonoma County wines from the Duckhorn portfolio. Part of the joy of owning a restaurant is enjoying fine wines and offering them to our customers at a reasonable price. This year it seems like Rose’ wines are in the news everywhere. Rose’ is often considered a French wine from Provence, but in fact Rose’ is made in many countries. Rose’ wines are made from a variety of grapes and the color comes from brief contact with the grape skins. Typically, Rose’ wines are light and fruity and are refreshing. It makes a perfect choice for a warm summer evening. The next time you are at 122 Corson, ask for a free tasting of our French Rose’.
While we are full for August 11th and have limited availability on August 18th, we do have tables available for this Saturday evening, the 4th and also August 25th. We hope you will be able to join us in the last few weeks of summer.
Mary and Bob
Those muggy, humid days of mid-summer are upon us bringing moist air that the winter squash, corn and tomatoes thrive upon. Summer squash and zucchini are picked daily and if missed, they turn into baseball bats within 24 hrs. The winter wheat is ripening into a beautiful gold and contrasts brilliantly against the late planted lush green oats. The oats will be turned under for a green mulch and the wheat will be harvested for our year’s supply of wheat berries. The decision is still out on what to plant this fall for an over-wintering crop. We’ll keep you posted, but winter rye is a favorite.
We’ve been experiencing brilliant sunsets at 122 Corson over the past few weeks as the twilights last long and create amazing mountain silhouettes against the red/gold skies. The conversion of the barn to house is showing progress and after 8 months of scaffolding the cedar shingling is just days from completion. We’re looking forward to consolidating to live at this one location and hoping there is a buyer who would like to join our neighborhood!
The weeds also favor the damp, hot weather and shortly we’ll venture out to pull a few. This is the time of plenty and our chef, Ed Lamarre is turning the garden bounty into delicious menus. We have tables available this coming weekend, July 28th which also happens to be my baby sister’s 60th birthday. Happy Birthday Carmel! So wish we could be in Western Australia to share the celebration but that mighty ocean gets in the way.
If you are wishing to create a summer memory, come out and join us. Also, if you want to experience one of our cooking classes, we have one spot open for this coming Sunday’s class, ‘High English Tea’; learn the special art of creating those light biscuits you admire in bakeries under the guidance of Mary Ann Reynolds. You’ll find the menus and class info on the website at www.122corson.net. Happy summer days!
Mary and Bob
122 Corson Rd. Mercer, Maine | 207-587-2019 | 122corson.com
As many of you know I was born and grew up in Eastport. The 4th of July, or Independence Day, has special meaning for that town and this year marks a major milestone in history of the State of Maine. Many of you may know that Eastport was captured by the British in July 11th 1814 as part of the actions of the war of 1812. Some 800 British soldiers were left in Eastport and fortifications were built around town including Fort Sullivan (some evidence still exists of the fort and the powder house). What is less well known is that one of the ships that sailed into Passamaquoddy Bay was the HMS Terror. The Terror took part in the battle at Fort McHenry in Maryland in September which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “Star Spangled Banner”. You might recall that Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time, but Massachusetts was reluctant to come to the assistance of the “Mainers”. The occupation of Eastport ended on June 30th of 1818. The lack of support from Massachusetts was largely the impetus of Maine becoming a State in 1820. One enduring piece of evidence of the British occupation was the elms lining Washington Street. I clearly remember these elms which formed a canopy over the street before they succumbed to Dutch Elm disease in the mid-1960’s. At 150 years old these trees were enormous with bases 36” 48” in diameter. The Independence Day celebration in Eastport has always been robust and patriotic for as long as I can remember. It is well worth a trip to down east to celebrate out nation’s independence.
If you’re not going to Eastport this 4th, you might want to consider a meal at 122 Corson. The tropical weather will have subsided and the weatherman has predicted some cooler and clearer weather. We have had some spectacular sunsets these past few Saturday’s and might expect another one this week. The menu includes a crusted Ahi tuna appetizer, fresh salad greens, a choice of N.Y. sirloin beef roast or local haddock with lobster sauce, and of course, dessert will be a fresh strawberry-rhubarb tart. We hope to see you Saturday or some Saturday in the near future. We hope you celebrate your independence today; we will for sure.
-- Bob Burr
122 CORSON...AN ON FARM DINING EXPERIENCE
After a successful sourdough bread baking cooking class last Sunday, we’re all fired up and re-enthused about baking with our home-grown wheat. The flavor is unsurpassed when the berries are milled minutes before dough preparation. Our fall-planted heritage wheat is growing extremely well and it looks like we will have a good harvest in August to refill our larder for the winter. Last week we planted a cover crop of oats over a seeding of pasture grasses. That crop benefited from the recent rain and has now germinated. Fingers crossed that the turkeys don’t find it before it gets well established. More about our cooking class here
New additions to Blue Ribbon Farm are two retired goats from the Jean and Peter Koons’ farm, Kennebec Cheesery. We wanted a natural way to control the growth on our stone walls and the best way we knew was to welcome goats to the farm. This is a first for us; we’ve been sheep people for over 40 years, but these 2 old girls are making goat believers of us. They are sweet natured, know the ropes of being led in and out of the barn, and are eating machines. Calamity and Anzac are now part of our eclectic family.
The lambs are growing like weeds, so cute, fat and wooly and don’t they love to play. It’s good the males aren’t so cute when it’s time for market because it would be very difficult to send them to the butcher. The pastures are holding up to the grazing needs and the mothers are keeping their weight on and producing plenty of milk. The sheep and goats are barn partners with pens adjacent but grazing separately. Everyone is happy!
If you have company or just wish to have an evening to relax and enjoy a rural farm view, we have tables available for all upcoming Saturday nights at 122 Corson. Give us a call at (207)587-2019 or make reservations online at 122corson.com where you can see the entire menu. Come and see where much of your meal is grown and be pampered by our professional staff. We’d enjoy sharing an evening with you!
Mary and Bob
122 CORSON RD. MERCER, MAINE | 207.587.2019
An early walk between farms...
had the sounds of spring filling the air. The warbler, perhaps a black throated green warbler, that I consider my bird, was fluting to its mate oblivious to competing songs. An unfamiliar sound stopped my stride as I scanned the surrounds at eye level. Listening and watching for a minute or two and realizing the sound was coming from above, looking up, there were the fresh, new unfurled leaves of a quaking aspen shaking to a breeze and shimmering in the first light. Six months of snow make the senses of sound, smell and vision renew to the sound, smell and vision of spring.
We are well into spring now and all the deciduous trees have leafed out including the lazy ash (last to leaf and first to drop!) and the lawns have been mowed twice. Every spring we say it’s our favorite season but we say that with autumn too. What an inspiring State in which to live! It is also a State where one has to get a lot done in a short window; one season preparing for the next.
Over at the 122 Corson Road farm...
the heritage winter wheat over-wintered well and it looks like we’ll have a really good crop of wheat for harvest this summer. We use our wheat for breads and crackers at the restaurant. Sourdough breads are a favorite and in response to many who wish to learn the secrets of successful bread baking, we have invited Dusty (Harold) Dowse to teach a class on sourdough fermentations on June 10th (Sunday) at 2 p.m., ($80). Dusty is a retired science professor from the University of Maine, Orono, whose life passion has been baking fermented grains in brick ovens. He is one of the foundation organizers in the now famous Skowhegan Kneading Conference. On June 10th, we will have a class limited to 8 and have the undivided time and expertise of Dusty’s knowledge on the science behind the process and a hands-on afternoon of baking. At the end of the class we will celebrate together with a shared light meal and a beverage. To register for this class, click here or call the restaurant at (207) 587-2019 and leave a message.
The restaurant is also in full swing on Saturday nights. You are welcome to enjoy watching the lambs before dinner, as their games are a constant source of entertainment. There are tables open for this coming weekend, June 2nd and Eddie has an amazing menu featured: Maine Cod Fish Cakes; Spinach & Beet Salad; Beef Wellington or Maine Baked Scallops; and Chocolate Lava Cake.
Reservations can be made on-line at 122corson.com or call (207) 587-2019.
We look forward to sharing our Saturday night with you and catching up on what’s happening in your life.
Mary & Bob
122 CORSON RD. MERCER, MAINE | 201.587.2019 | 122CORSON.COM
Bob & Mary
We have been farming since 1976 and growing our own food has been the focus of all our farming ventures. We have seen many evolutions since the early years, from raising a nationally recognized flock of sheep, running a small dairy, growing vegetables in high-tunnel greenhouses, expanding the vegetable production to several acres, building a commercial fresh pasta business to our present day venture at 122 Corson. The constant within the evolution is growing and producing what we eat.