We go from Bleak to Bleak..in this installment of the blog! How does time get away from us like that!  It is November and I just captured the first snowflake on camera.

first snowflakes

It’s windy, cold and cloudy very similar to when I wrote the last post!  But don’t despair, at least in this season we can reap the benefits of our fall harvest.  And it just what we are going to do! Make your reservation now!  We have lodging available too!  Oh. and be sure to read the poster, we are featuring our own (River Driver’s) pork!


farm to table

Bleak Winter, Warm Food at the River Driver’s

It’s a bit bleak outside. It looks nothing like spring nor does it feel that way either. I am still wearing wool.  All the same, we muster on in the kitchen.  Here are a few sights from behind the scenes in the River Driver’s kitchen.  We hope they cheer you in to spring even if you are still watching snow fall or wallowing in the mud.  Our kitchen is our happy place which bodes well for our fare, and in turn our diners who get to savor these happy dishes!

Ingredients in the River Driver's Kitchen

The RD Kitchen

Colorful Plates at the River Driver's

Beautiful Salads at the River Driver's

Tasty Desserts at the River Driver's

We’ve put together a little notebook of happenings this week.  Come see the holiday transformation at the River Driver’s and enjoy something scrumptious to eat!

river drivers collage

We think we’re pretty lucky here most days.  We get the view and the FOOD!


Even better is the view and Wednesday night Pasta Night!  Really, authentic, homemade Italian dishes, amazing setting and did I mention homemade, authentic Italian food?  I took a littte trip down to the kitchen last night and thought I’d provide a little behind the scene look at Pasta Night.


On the menu: Homemade Gnocchi in a spinach pesto sauces with Shitake Mushrooms, Zuppa Toscana and Linguinin Bolognese.

homemade gnocci in the making

For this event, I took one for the team and sampled our new Kitchen Manager’s Gnocchi dish.

pesto gnocci dish

Yeah, I know it is a tough job but someone has to do it.  We are featuring Italian dishes every Wednesday night.  it is the perfect time of year to sit by the fire, sip a glass of really good something and savor the deliciousness of Italy.  Be sure to get our specials every week wither by joining our mailing list or following us on Facebook!

river drivers restaurant night scene by the fireplace

I love that saying “just desserts”. Of course, I like it spelled desserts instead of the original, correct spelling deserts.  Interestingly enough, this saying does mean to get what is deserved good or bad, but the original meaning of the word desert, pronounced the same as the arid region, has seemed to fall out of fashion in English.  Most people think of “just desserts” when employing the phrase to indicate a comeuppance for bad behavior.  But I digress, I digress from the more important connotation of the phrase…getting DESSERT.

strawberry cheesecake

Coconut Lemon Square with homemade lemon curd…yes it is amazing!

I am a bonafide sweet tooth. There are just a handful of desserts I will pass up…most notably meringues, parfaits and poached fruit.  This week I had a chance to visit with a few of the River Driver’s desserts.  These can change seasonally except for our signature Peanut Butter Ooey Gooey Cake  but all the same I thought I would share with you the most delicious rendez-vous to be had in Millinocket and the North Maine Woods!

mocha frosted chocolate cupcakes

Mocha Frosted Chocolate cupcakes with Frangelico cream filling…yes they are worth every calorie!

I also have to mention that not only can you get your “just desserts” at the River Driver you can have them accompanied by espresso, cappuccino or cafe au lait.  We brew amazing Carrabassett Coffee as well should the espresso bar not float your boat.

strawberry cheesecake

Strawberry Cheesecake…no words needed.

The desserts at the River Driver’s are, simply, amazing.  You’ll always find something new and different, and you’ll always find variety for every sweet tooth…parfaits included.  Stay tuned for another dessert edition when our baker conjures up her next creations!

mt. katahdin

New England’s anniversary is coming right up!  We have designed a great day filled with FREE events for all ages!  Aside from all the special events on Thursday 16th we are catering a River Style BBQ! Join us from 6pm-8pm with Katahdin in the background for the following menu!

Dinners are served with choice of two side dishes

Main Dishes

Adobo Marinated Flank Steak $10

Cuban Style Citrus & Herb Chicken $10


River Drivers’ Pork & Beans

Tangy Garden Slaw

Roasted Red Pepper & Smokey Bacon Potato Salad

Corn Bread

Dessert Choice

Giant Rice Crispy Treats $1

Ooey Gooey “Our Specialty” $2

river drivers buffetIt is raining here today and a little chilly.  Muck boots are a must and maybe even a little wool for warmth.  Alas, we are on the cusp of summer, BBQs, bare feet, and bathing suits are fuzzy in the distance but closer none the less.. At the River Driver’s we welcomed Persophene a bit early this April with a fabulous wine dinner featuring some truly divine Fess Parker wines…~sigh, so good.

Two favorites for this taster were the Big Easy and Frontier Red, both Fess Parker Californian wines.

the big easy wine

If you get the chance to give these a swirl or swig…by all means take it!  Not only were the wines memorable but the dessert was, not only delicious, but beautifully presented in a cheery, spring fashion.

river drivers buffet

Hope to see you one of our next events where we get to enjoy the patio and toast the Moutain!

Come Fly with Us Wine Dinner
Friday April 27th–Make it a get away for just $99.00 pp (includes one night of lodging and wine dinner)

It’s April, and frankly…a beautiful spring here in the Maine Woods.   We felt so inspired by the this incredible weather we planned a wine dinner in which, yes, we hope to start our wine story on the patio!  The theme for our first 2012 wine dinner is Come Fly with Us.  We’ve planned a departure out of Maine which features a sample of fresh Maine seafood, and a wine with interesting ties to the state.  Once we leave Maine, we are headed for an exquisite, delicious connection in California, and because the wine is so delicious here…well, we stay for an additional layover to enjoy another glass!  Luckily, we have plenty of time to make our flight to Italy, and here, we savor Limoncello cupcakes and a celebratory glass of champagne. Book your ticket today!  207.723.5438


Our Menu for the Wine Dinner: Reservations 207.723.5438

Depart from Maine

Fresh and Smoked Maine Seafood

Smoked shrimp, mussels and salmon, fresh Oysters on the half shell & warm salmon cakes accompanied by selection of aioli and sweet garnish

(white and red wine)

California & Layover

Spring Artichoke three ways

Fresh Artichoke and Baby Spinach, Roasted Artichoke and Asparagus Salad, Pecorino Stuffed Artichoke

Creole Surf and Cajun Turf

Jumbo Creole Shrimp on rice with

Cajun Rubbed Skirt Steak

(red wine)

Depart for Italy 

Limoncello Cupcake


Reservations 207.723.5438

I want to talk about lemons.  Inspired by a friend’s recent blog post,  Kitchen Chronicle, I felt the time had come to honor the citrus in my life.  I sense the distance in them. They have traveled far and without them where would I be?  A splash of lemon in most anything can brighten, zip, or energize a dish from fine to fabulous.  Even water can benefit from a little lemon…Now there maybe those out there who are repulsed by the notion of lemon in anything…this blog is not for you.  We lemon lovers, well, we live on the edge, perhaps a tart edge, but hey, lemons can make all the difference on a cloudy, blustery, damp March day in northern Maine.


Spring comes late to the North Country.  As I write this we still have ice on the lake, ice you can walk on, ice that is at least still 8-10 inches thick.  The yard is muddied, strewn with patches of deep snow.  The snow is crusty and rotten; everything is brown with dirt.  Times are desperate.  Here is where we haul out the big guns and blast our way towards the fresh, light, zippy taste of summer, with of course, lemons leading the way.

fresh squeezed lemons

My dear friend Andrea blogger of Kitchen Chronicle passed this recipe along in her blog a few weeks ago and I knew immediately that is was the antidote to my moody, muddy, March.  I made it right away, in my version of the recipe I sprinkle dried lavender leaves on top. You can find the recipe for the Lemon Polenta Cake on her site. http://kitchenchronicle.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/lemon-polenta-cake-or-early-spring-cabin-fever/  Go ahead and move to spring, it is time…the lemons will help.

lemon lavender cake

We know this is a tough time of year…cabin fever, mud, slush all seem to bar the way on our slog towards the warmth and light of summer.  But slog away we must, at least outside, but not in our kitchens.   The River Driver’s is most excited to finally haul out the spring recipes for our Easter Brunch Buffet.  Come join us for all the fresh tastes our kitchen has to offer,  hold the lemons, have the lemons…we aim to please.

Easter Brunch Buffet, April 24th, reservations required, seating 10am-2pm.  Find the menu on our Special Events tab in the header.

steaming milkThere is an adventure brewing in my kitchen, a culinary Everest, the K2 of cuisine and like any good adventurer, I have packed, prepared and pondered the implications of my endeavor.  This is not for the faint of heart, and as I wield my whisk, assemble my pots, and assess my ingredients, I am reminded of Shackelton’s call to the Endurance Expedition.


Am I going to lose a limb? Probably not.  Will there be blood, sweat, tears?  Um, maybe some tears and um, maybe a little sweat.  Will there be triumph, success and honor?  You bet!  My adventure will certainly push the bounds of comfort, civility and strength.  Modern conveniences will be left behind and I will test myself with the simple tools of cooking: flame, pot, and the sensitive tip of my pinky finger.  I will scald milk, cool milk, and add active, live cultures.  I will sterilize jars, incubate and in the end, if I am lucky I will have my very own homemade yogurt.

maine organic milk

Working with milk is always a challenge…for me at least.  Things like custard, flan, cheese, these things are mysterious.  They usually involve a lot of stirring, cooling, and the ,oh so scary potential for, boil over or scorch!   Scald, curdle, these terms require some thought and attention.   Nuance is the key to the dairy world.  We wait for bubbles, and foam.  We watch and stir and stir and stir some more.  We adjust heat up and down.  We think about proteins, sugars and fats.  We marvel at the process as a liquid forms a solid.  We contemplate physics and maybe even the laws of thermodynamics.  We become part of something bigger than ourselves.  In the end,  we are the proud parent of delectable dairy delights, all the stirring, waiting and attention pays off in to creamy, smooth, often sweet heaven.

organic milkShackelton understood this concept, this concept of stirring and waiting, watching and hoping.  He understood risk, the possible loss, the potential for failure and age old adage by the skin of one’s teeth.  Like Shackelton, I too, risk, wait, stir, hope and rely on my wits. Sometimes it is all honor and recognition, sometimes it is not.  Sometimes I just escape the recipe by the skin of my teeth.  My yogurt in its first incantation,…not so good.  Had this been the Endurance we would not have returned.  My second attempt…perfection.  Will I go there again, to that scalding, stirring, waiting world of dairy, yes.  Whisk in hand I will take on cheese, and custard.  I will not cower in the face of casein and like any true adventurer muster forward with culinary will.

At the River Driver’s we take our food adventures seriously.  We are resourceful, creative and do what we can with what we’ve got.  We do not believe adventure means hardship, hardtack and hazard.  You can adventure during the day and adventurously dine at night with us, the River Driver’s Restaurant.

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