For Smokey McKeen, the newly appointed Oyster Czar for this year’s Pemaquid Oyster Festival, drowning an oyster in cocktail sauce before eating it is akin to deep-frying filet mignon and then dipping it in ranch dressing — it’s just wrong. Among his first proclamations as czar, McKeen has banished cocktail sauce from the festival, set from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, at Schooner Landing Restaurant & Marina on Main Street in Damariscotta. While the spicy red sauce won’t be around, there will be an array of exotic alternatives, created by regional chefs, to accompany the many oysters you’ll be consuming during the day’s festivities. Some of these include a lime-sake sauce from Swan’s Way Caterers; sea bean slaw from Primo’s; cider mignonette from Francine Bistro; pico de gallo from Amalfi on the Water; lemon-leek mignonette from Newcastle Publick House; jalapeno relish from the Anchor Inn-Damariscotta River Grill; prosecco-preserved lemon mignonette from Atlantica; and lemon-fennel salsa from the Bradley Inn. McKeen’s reign as czar will certainly be a delicious one. For more, call 380-9912.

Take a peek into some of the Bangor area’s most well-designed, state-of-the-art kitchens next weekend, with the Eastern Maine Medical Center Auxiliary’s Fourth annual Kitchen Tour, set from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4. Six kitchens in Bangor, Hampden, Glenburn and Winterport will be open to the public, each designed in a very different style and featuring samples of Maine-made products. Tickets to the event are $25, and are available at the EMMC Gift Shop, Winterport Winery, Patrick’s Hallmark-on Broadway, Westgate Pharmacy, Airline Pharmacy and Rebecca’s. For more, call 945-5380.

A sad note for those who enjoy both great writing and our beloved Maine crustacean: the novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace died on Sept. 12 at the age of 46. In addition to his dense, brilliant books like “Infinite Jest,” Wallace wrote numerous essays about a wide array of topics — including the 2003 Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, to which he was dispatched by Gourmet Magazine. The essay, titled “Consider the Lobster,” is available online at, or in his 2005 collection of essays of the same name. In precise, biting, hilarious form, Wallace details the economic, cultural and ethical aspects of the Maine lobster industry and the annual festival that it sponsors. While it is, in essence, a meditation on what really constitutes animal cruelty, it’s more importantly one of the best examples of food writing you’ll ever read. Wallace was a superb author and journalist, and his clear, acerbic voice will be missed.

Tidbits is hungry for news about local food products and events. Send your Tidbits by mail to: Bangor Daily News, attn: Tidbits, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329; by fax to 941-9476; or by e-mail to

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.