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Beer Advocate Review
Most of my travels bring me to destinations where I know there will be great beer. I plan that so it's expected, but when you happen upon such a place where you didn't expect to find one...now that's a real pleasure.
The Badger Cafe and Pub is one of those places. Set in agricultural Union, Maine, which is attractively hilly with several lakes but not on most travelers' itinerary. If you're anywhere along the Maine central coast (which IS a vacation destination) you should really make a small side trip here. It's 20-25 minutes from Camden, Rockport, and Rockland, which you can get a glimpse of, along with the ocean and islands, from some of Unions hills. Not much further from Damariscotta, Belfast, or Augusta, on the oldest common in Maine, the Union Common. With less than a dozen buildings on the common, this is the only restaurant.
The Badger Wins!
(Image courtesy of Village Soup)
At the Common Ground Fair, sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, our own chef Michael and Kerry Altiero of Cafe Miranda in Rockland threw it down during the 1st annual cookoff. The chefs were given a secret ingredient - dabs. Dabs is a flounder-like fish caught in the waters off Port Clyde. The seafood was generously provided by Port Clyde Fresh Catch. Each chef was given $25 and 20 minutes to shop the Farmers Market at the fair then one hour to work their magic on a unique dish.
Michael's winning dish was pan seared dabs with creole seasoning, local chorizo, local white wine and a fresh veggie saute. Please visit Village Soup dot com for a full story and lots of great pics. Go Chef Michael!
The Badger makes the Boston Herald
The Badger Cafe was visited by a writer for the Boston Herald in August. Read on for the original posting. You never know who's prowling about the rural reaches of Maine...
By Mat Schaffer
Wednesday, September 9, 2009 -
On Badger Trail
The Patriots kick off the 2009 season Monday night. If you need a new addition to your tailgate repertoire, try the Badger beer dip from the Badger Cafe, a cozy pub on the leafy town common of tiny Union, Maine. It’s a true hidden gem.
The Badger sells an impressive array of beers usually found only in big-city watering holes, including Maine-brewed Bar Harbor Real Ale, the American classic Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA of Delaware and hard-to-find Old World specialties such as Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier, a gorgeous golden brew with delicately smoked malts from the famous Bavarian beer capital of Bamberg.
The farming community of Union may be 200 or so miles from Fenway or Gillette, but it’s hard-core Boston sports territory: during a recent visit to the Badger, guests were screaming obscenities at Alex Rodriguez during a Sox-Yankees battle on the tube. It felt just like home.
BADGER BEER DIP
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 roasted red pepper, diced (raw pepper works, too) 1 1/2 T. horseradish 1 1/2 c. chopped arugula (or spinach) 1/4 c. butter
2 T. flour
6 oz. lager beer
1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. cream cheese (softened)
2 1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c. swiss cheese, shredded 1 1/2 t. smoked sweet paprika
Saute scallions, red pepper, horseradish and arugula in butter over medium-low heat until greens are wilted. Stir in flour and saute another two minutes. Turn heat to medium, add beer, simmer 2 minutes and add cream. Slowly stir in cream cheese a little at a time until it’s all added. Then stir in cheddar, Swiss and paprika. Simmer on low until the dip is one consistency. Serve warm with crostini, crackers, toast or chips. Experiment with different beers and cheeses to make the dip your own. Makes about 4 cups of dip, serving 6 to 8.
Judges and sponsor of the 1st Annual Badger Cup Competition: back row, left to right, Kerry Altiero, Christy and Michael Greer, Brad Hunter; front row, left to right, Sarah Greer, Peg Laurita, Kathleen Fleury, Cathy Morrill, Caitlin Hunter.Photo by John Jensen
Aug. 2009: The Badger sponsored the first annual Maine Wild Blueberry Wine Competition last week. Several Maine wineries entered wines, competing for the Badger Cup and bragging rights for the Best Wild Maine Blueberry Wine. A distinguished panel of wine-loving judges gathered at the closed-door event to decide which wine deserved this honor. To start the competition off with a bang, chef Michael Greer served Thai spring rolls with a chili-blueberry dipping sauce and fiery sweet blueberry chili chicken wings.
From nine wines that were entered, the judges were charged in a blind tasting with choosing the one that best exemplifies wild Maine blueberries and the unique terroir of Maine. The judges were: Kerry Altiero, chef and owner of Café Miranda in Rockland; Kathleen Fleury, food editor for Down East Magazine; Cathy Morrill, owner of State of Maine Cheese; Caitlin and Brad Hunter, owners of Appleton Creamery; Sarah Greer, local food entrepreneur; and Peg Laurita of Wicked Wines.
Bartlett Winery of Gouldsboro's Blueberry Oak Dry wine was chosen by the judges as a standout from the rest and was awarded the first-ever Badger Cup. The finely crafted wine impressed the judges upon first sip with its berry flavors and stunning smooth finish.
"This is no 'pie in a glass' wine," says Bartlett's, which describes its Blueberry Oak Dry wine as "tangy wild Maine blueberries barrel-aged to perfection in a combination of oaks. Great oak and fruit balance make this a wonderful dry ruby-red food wine."
The judges also lauded Bartlett's Blueberry Semi-dry for its delightful blueberry flavor, and Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery's Blueberry Smash, a port with robust flavors of blueberries, blackberries, and licorice.
The Maine Wild Blueberry Wine Champion, Bartlett Maine Estate Winery's Blueberry Oak Dry will be available by the glass at the Badger Café and Pub. The Badger Cup and the winning wine will also be on display at the Blueberry Acres Pavilion during Union Fair, August 23 to 29, and on display with the Wild Blueberry Council of North America at the Eastern States Exposition, the "Big E," September 18 to October 4 in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
Bartlett Maine Estate Winery is just off Route 1, 23 miles east of Ellsworth, in Gouldsboro. Kathe and Bob Bartlett opened their winery in 1983.
Special props to The Free Press of Rockland for the great coverage and to John Jensen of the Free Press for the image above.