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Cal-Mex Hits Maine

I’m always reminded that some of the best things are the most unexpected. Happy accidents, I think they're are called, and they seem to occur most just when you stop looking. I spent last week touring around the great state of Maine, visiting farmers and checking out local restaurants (did you miss me?) and in the process was reminded of the greatness of serendipity.

My week began with a two-day conference in Camden, Maine, celebrating the food of Maine. I imagine Maine is a lot like Northern California was, say, thirty years ago--tons of interesting people making tons of good food, desperately in need of some marketing that informs people that there's more to the state than lobster and blueberries. The conference opened with a grand tasting, with loads of restaurants turning out tastes of a signature dish. Good stuff, too—German-style rye breads, Maine cheeses, apple crostata. But it was the sweet corn and cheese enchiladas with roasted tomato sauce that really got my attention. They were dished up by two adorable twin sisters, Daphne Comaskey and Eloise Humphreys, who own an all-organic Mexican restaurant in Brunswick, Maine, called El Camino Cantina.  This was seriously good Cal-Maine Mexican, without any of the expected caveats: It wasn't just good for Maine, or for New England--just plain good. I was so thrilled by their offerings (and by the novelty of an all-organic Mexican restaurant in Coastal Maine, not exactly a place known for its ethnic food) that I had to find out more. To make a long story short, Eloise and Daphne got their restaurant start back here in San Francisco, as the original owners of Kate’s Kitchen in the Lower Haight (Kate’s Kitchen is named for Daphne’s daughter, Kate Rose). They sold it back in 1993, but were cheered to hear that it’s still a popular brunch destination, even after all of these years. I hope the people of Brunswick know how lucky they are to have lured the duo back East!