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One of my goals this summer was to really embrace New England during its best season, and while the Solstice hasn’t even arrived yet, I am loving that we have done just that. We’ve already spent a beautiful weekend in Newport and had another weekend in Mystic, along with a Sunday wander to New Bedford.

This past weekend, we made the most of our trip to Maine to check out Nova Star. My original plan was to leave Portland to get home early to work, but it was so warm and sunny that we stayed out to play a little more.

We started the day with beautiful views from the ship and then went on to breakfast in the sun at The Porthole, which served us up some hearty fare to wake our foggy brains from a fun night before.

Portland, Maine

I was still hungry after breakfast, and I really wanted to try Eventide Oyster, so we made a quick stop there for briny Maine bivalves before we left Portland for Kennebunkport.

Eventide Oyster

I could have stayed at Eventide and eaten oysters all day. They were cold, cleanly shucked, and the perfect size.

oysters at Eventide

Next up, we found ourselves at the beautiful Colony Hotel for a walk on the grounds and across the street to the beach.

Colony Hotel, Kennebunkport

I could easily see us spending a leisurely summer day by the pool at the Colony Hotel, overlooking the ocean and waiting on the sunset. What a special space this is!

Colony Hotel Kennebunkport

Hunger struck again, and we went to downtown Kennebunkport to David’s KPT for lobster rolls. They serve their lobster roll with drawn butter AND mayo so we didn’t have to choose. I switched it up, dipping the lobster in butter at times and in the mayo at others. Pure heaven.

lobster roll, David's KPTThe rest of the afternoon was spent driving slowly down the coast, taking in the coastal farmland of Massachusetts and enjoying the sunshine and perfect blue skies.


As the day headed toward sunset, we picked up a bottle of bubbles from Mumm Napa and went to Crane Beach, a favorite Massachusetts spot, for splashing in the very cold waves and watching as the sun dipped down below the trees. Crane BeachCrane Beach Crane Beach sunset

It was a pretty spectacular way to end the day of coastal New England sightseeing. There are so many cute towns and beautiful beaches along the way, I don’t think I could ever tire of spending a day like this.

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Tags: Crane Beach, Kennebunkport. travel. New England, Maine, Massachusetts, Portland

Today Nova Star Cruises kicks of its second season sailing between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This weekend we had the opportunity to tour the ship and to spend the night on board in Portland, which was really cool.

Nova Star Cruises

Nova Star is enormous! It’s a 528 foot ship with 162 passenger cabins, two hoistable vehicle decks, a casino, a spa, three restaurants, four bars, and an area especially for kids. And there’s so much more! Our tour took us all around the ship, including up to the bridge where the ship is piloted. Even though it was a foggy gray night, it was really cool to be up in the bridge looking out over the sea.

Nova Star Cruises

photo 4 (10)

dining on Nova Star Cruises    Nova Star Cruises

The ship’s many features include a buffet restaurant, fine dining restaurant, pub, and a shop that sells gift items, duty free items, and local offerings such as Nova Scotia wine. Nova Scotia is a rapidly growing wine region that has its own Tidal Bay wine, which reflects the coastal terroir.

Nova Scotia wine

Nova Star Cruises

While it is traveling between ports, the ship also features all sorts of entertainment, from ice cream socials, to wine and beer tastings, chef events, bingo, live music, art lessons and more, depending on the schedule.

We spent the night in one of the exterior cabins, so we had a nice big window overlooking the Portland Harbor. Cabins are all equipped with private bathrooms with showers, and everything was absolutely spotless. The beds were super comfortable too! I had a great night’s sleep in the cabin, and we woke up to a beautiful morning.

Nova Star Cruises cabin


Nova Star Cruises

Nova Star connects two beautiful coastal locations, both with exquisite natural beauty, excellent food, and maritime culture. Getting to Nova Scotia from New England has never been more fun. We’re hoping to plan a trip to Halifax sometime this summer, using Nova Star to kick off our vacation from the second we drive aboard. For more information on the ship, things to do on board, and Nova Scotia as a destination, please visit novastarcruises.com


*I am doing some work for Nova Star Cruises. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: boats, cruises, Maine, Nova Scotia, Portland, Travel, travel blog

If you were reading this blog a little over a year ago, you may remember that I traveled to Portland, Maine to be a judge in the Hood New England Dairy Cook-Off. It was exciting to be a judge in a cooking competition, and delicious to taste local food made by New England chefs, not to mention a lot of fun to spend the day and night in Portland. On a random, personal note, the trip happened two days after I quit my job, and I had pneumonia, but somehow I made it!


Hood New England Dairy Cook Off

This year, I will be in California during the cook-off, which is November 6, but the awesome people at Hood are allowing me to give away a pair of tickets to the event (travel and accommodations not included). If you are going to be in Portland, ME or need a reason to be, just leave a comment below letting me know your favorite dairy product (if you eat dairy) and how you like to eat it. I’ll choose a winner this weekend so that person can get started planning!


More information about the Hood New England Dairy Cook-Off

Annual Hood® New England Dairy Cook-Off®

Celebrity Chef Tom Pizzica Among 2011 Judges

LYNNFIELD, MA (October 17, 2011) – HP Hood today announced the 30
semifinalists who will compete for the $10,000 grand prize in the 3rd Annual Hood®
New England Dairy Cook-Off® presented by Hood Sour Cream. Judges for the 2011
event include Tom Pizzica, star of Food Network’s “Outrageous Food” and finalist
on “The Next Food Network Star.” Pizzica will join a panel of four other food experts
to judge the final round of the competition.

The Hood New England Dairy Cook-Off gives amateur cooks from across New
England the chance to compete in a head-to-head cook-off at the Ocean Gateway
Terminal in Portland, Maine, on November 6th, 2011. All recipes are original and
include at least one Hood dairy product in the following five categories: breakfast/
brunch; soups/chowders; appetizers/side dishes; lunch/dinner (entrée); and

The additional final round judges include Patti Woods, an award-winning journalist
and food blogger; J. Desmond Keefe III CEC, CCE, Culinary Instructor, Southern New
Hampshire University; Peggy Poole, Vice President of Quality Systems & Regulatory
Affairs, HP Hood; and Amy Traverso, Senior Lifestyle Editor from Yankee Magazine.

Judges will select the winning dish based on taste appeal, presentation/appearance,
and creativity/originality.

Veronica Callaghan, Glastonbury – Banana-Chai French Toast with Creamy Maple-
Walnut Syrup(Breakfast/Brunch)
Erika Fuery, Colchester – Roasted Butternut Squash and Salami Soup(Soups/
Lisa Keys, Middlebury – Pan Roasted Tomato Pie with Garlic Cream
Drizzle(Appetizers/Side Dishes)
Alli Masse, East Windsor – In Da “Hood” Chicken and Cheese Casserole(Lunch/
Marie Connor, Mystic – Mystic Magic Chocolate Tart(Dessert)

Lisa Caruso, South Portland – Noggy Berry-Buckle(Breakfast/Brunch)

Mary Lou Dahle, Durham – Creamy Fresh Tomato-Arugula Soup with Cheese and
Basil Crostini(Soups/Chowders)
Mary K. Blenk, Cumberland – Pan-Roasted Bacon Salmon Cakes with Creamy
Velvet Cheese Sauce(Appetizers/Side Dishes)
Jessie Grearson, Falmouth – Tandoori Express Chicken Naanwiches with Sour
Cream Raita and Buttermilk Mango Lassi(Lunch/Dinner)
Kimberly Parsons, Hampden – Rhubarb Spiced Baby Cakes(Dessert)

Elinor Ives, Fiskdale – Edgartown Crab Hash Benedicts with Lemon Dill
Paulette Di Angi, Osterville – Madagascar Corn Soup with Cilantro-Chili Oil and
Polenta Flatbread(Soups/Chowders)
Sophia Pattas, Northborough – New England Style Clam Chowder Rangoons with
Creamy Chowder Dipping Sauce(Appetizers/Side Dishes)
Maureen Donovan, Lynn – Seafood Pasta(Lunch/Dinner)
Scott Cohen, Charlestown – Cognac Cocoa Custard(Dessert)

Holly Campbell, New Boston – Fruity Brickle Breakfast Biscuit Blintzes(Breakfast/
Julie Sgroi, Exeter – Caribbean Chicken Chowder(Soups/Chowders)
Kevin Towle, Gonic – Mini Feta Basil Cheesecake with Sun Dried
Tomatoes(Appetizers/Side Dishes)
Joan Churchill, Exeter – Pan Roasted Pears and Pork with Leek Coulis in a Cream-
Pear Reduction with an Herb-Crusted Pear and Pork Dice(Lunch/Dinner)
Denise LaRoche, Hudson – Caramelized Raspberry White Chocolate Bread

Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco, North Kingston – Oatmeal Shortcakes with Fresh
Cranberry-Blueberry Sauce and Cinnamon Maple Cream(Breakfast/Brunch)
Corinne Dillingham, Westerly – Decadent Seafood & Corn Soup(Soups/Chowders)
Dan Rinaldi, Cranston – Surf and Turf Sliders with Maine Lobster
Sauce(Appetizers/Side Dishes)
Zan Nordlund, Cranston – Tempura Waffles(Lunch/Dinner)
Patricia Dilorio, Cranston – Maple Mini Rice Pies(Dessert)

Joanna Scott, Milton – Taste of Fall Savory Crepes(Breakfast/Brunch)
Ellen Stark, Williston – YaYa’s Spring Time Soup(Soups/Chowders)
Thomas Young, Swanton – “Eggplantainini Sensation” – Heaven for the
Vegetarian(Appetizers/Side Dishes)

Carolyn Wheel, Fairfax – Poached Scallops in Saffron Cream Sauce(Lunch/Dinner)
Beth Gary, Milton – Velvet “Noodles” in Lemon Cream(Dessert)

“Hood is committed to providing home and professional cooks with the very
best dairy ingredients for all of their recipes,” said Chris Ross, Vice President of
Marketing, HP Hood. “In the three years we’ve held the Hood New England Dairy
Cook-Off, we’ve been impressed by the creativity of our entrants, their passion for
cooking and their loyalty to Hood products. We look forward to another exciting

Each of the 30 semifinalists selected to attend the Cook-Off will receive a prize of
$100. One winner from each category will advance to the finals for the $10,000
grand prize. Finalists who do not win the grand prize will each receive $500.

For more information on the Hood New England Dairy Cook-Off, please log onto
HoodCookOff.com. For more information on Hood, please visit Hood.com or become
a fan of Hood at Facebook.com/HoodCookOff.

About Hood

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