Booklist Reviews

When Christensen follows her new beau to New England to put down roots, she's leery of leaving her New York life behind. She'd been happy in the city, a food writer with lots of friends, a life she detailed in an earlier memoir. But once ensconced in his New Hampshire farmhouse, Christensen soon discovers the joys of rural living. She learns to forage mushrooms, tap maple trees, and longs to try the delicacy known as "moose muffle"—the snout and upper lip of Maine's signature beast. Along the way, she takes side trips into Maine history, including those of oysters and lobstering. The couple eventually buys a house in Portland, and Christensen gives us a tour of the region's restaurants and more interesting residents, including a founder of the back-to-the-land movement and various small-scale producers. Some of these sections are more interesting than others, and Christensen sometimes comes across as a reverse snob. Every good salad is "simple," every good meal "unpretentious," every good Mainer "authentic" or "down to earth." But readers partial to this kind of regional travelogue will find it a treat. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

An award-winning novelist's account of the unexpected fulfillment she found in New England, living, loving, cooking, and eating "at the end of the world." In this exuberant, unabashedly gourmand-esque follow-up to Blue Plate Special, Christensen celebrates the land, food, and people of Maine. The state became her home after she and her partner, Brendan, decided to leave a beloved New Hampshire farmhouse owned by the Fitzgerald family and buy a house of their own. They settled in the quietly cosmopolitan city of Portland, where they discovered restaurants that, in their excellence and diversity, rivaled those in larger cities like New York. As she got to know actual Mainers, Christensen also found herself appreciating their unpretentiousness and rugged individualism, and she admired their "quiet work ethic…that is somehow never puritanical or self-righteous, as well as the lack of judgment, the mind-your-own-business attitude, and the fierce pride of place." This was esp ecially true where food was concerned. Despite the state's short growing seasons and long winters, Mainers took pride in keeping their food—whether from the land or sea—local and in season. Christensen's interest in her new home and, in particular, its cooking traditions led her to explore Maine history and learn the personal stories of the chefs, fishermen, hunters, and farmers who wrested plenty from the rocky soil and fierce ocean. Her enthusiasm for her adopted home and its ethos of sustainability is as abundant as the lovingly crafted descriptions of stunning landscapes and mouthwatering meals—the recipes for which Christensen includes in the book—she and her partner prepared together in their kitchen. The heartbreak and personal drama that characterized Blue Plate Special is absent in this book. Christensen is eating well, in love, and radiating the "quiet internal daily joy of living in a culture based on authenticity and integrity." A warmly e n gaging culinary memoir. Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews

Maine and its culinary abundance are spotlighted in this memoir from PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novelist Christensen (The Astral). A former New Yorker, the author resettles in New England, splitting her time between Portland, ME, and a farmhouse in New Hampshire. Her new home features both regional and seasonal fare: blueberries, lobster, potatoes, moose, and more get their due. Christensen, her husband, and their dog share what seems an idyllic existence, but Maine has its difficulties, and a chapter on working at a soup kitchen is a particular highlight. The author describes her blind spots, which render her all the more human—she sometimes trumpets Maine by putting down New York City and sees no contradiction in extolling local eating while quaffing European wines instead of products from local breweries, distilleries, cideries, or wineries. Recipes punctuate the chapters effectively. VERDICT An engaging book that uses a love of food and place to frame Christensen's story of a significant move later in life. Highly recommended for fans of memoirs and of food writing.—Peter Hepburn, Coll. of the Canyons Lib., Santa Clarita, CA

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