In an unassuming town, down an unassuming street, inside an unassuming farmhouse, you'll find a wood-burning oven out of which comes some of the tastiest breads and pizzas that I've ever had in the U.S.
Tinder Hearth is located in Brooksville, Maine. People from out of state are learning about their European-style breads, pizzas, and pastries, and subsequently flocking in to have a bite.
At five o'clock we piled into the car, three generations of women and my husband, and drove farther down the coast, making a few hairpin turns, until our GPS told us we had arrived at a quaint, white farm house with a modest sign and waving flag that read, "Open".
We had called in our pizza order that morning, as soon as they opened. You see, in order to actually be guaranteed a pizza, you need to place your order as early as possible, choose a time for it to be ready, and then wait patiently at home until the clock strikes PIZZA!
The atmosphere is like that of a fairy tale story book. There is a cook manning the hot wood-fired oven, bakers kneading bread, spreading cheese, all the while dancing across a floor dusted with flour. Near the door, a tray of pastries rest in the evening sun, begging to be taken home (we snagged one of each), and bread neatly wrapped in paper bags with the names of people who called ahead to reserve a loaf (my husband found his right away).
Being the gorgeous Maine summer eve that it was, we quickly found a table, center stage, grabbed some plates, forks, and glasses for water (you can BYOB which we didn't know. Next time).
A pizza with red sauce, arugula, and local, organic summer sausage was uncovered under the first lid.
The second had an olive oil base with artichokes, basil, and cherry tomatoes.
After we'd all scrambled for our slices, we sat back, admired the view, and nibbled away with smiles on our faces, pausing only to say, "Did you try that yet?" and, "Isn't this delicious?"
Slice after slice left the boxes until we started discussing when we'd return.
Helen and I decided to take a walk around the property, peeking at the other tables and their food treasures.
When we returned to our table, it seemed to be decided that we couldn't possibly leave without having a sampling of dessert. Helen ran in and ordered two ice cream sandwiches and emerged victorious.
Stuffed between two homemade (of course) crispy, chocolate chip cookies, was a heap of divine vanilla ice cream.
It was the perfect sweet ending to such a perfect evening.
We slowly made our way out of the backyard, back through the bustling kitchen, and onto the car-lined street.
I can't believe it took us this long to try Tinder Hearth. It's going on my list as a new regular and with that and my bag of pastries, I followed the yellow line home, grinning the entire way.