Saturday, August 29, 2015

The new, but not so “humble” Union Street Bakery

Foodies that we are, with a particular attraction to baked goods, we noticed the appearance of a new establishment in town in the last few months.  It’s on Union Street, between Pleasant and Cumberland, in the stand-alone shop we frequently patronized when it was Tetreault’s Market.  We liked the fresh butcher aspect of that shop.

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Ever the realist, when we saw the place preparing for opening, the Diogenes in us said “here we go again; another starry-eyed dreamer who thinks they can make a living with a 6 foot case of muffins and a coffee pot.”  We figured they’d be lucky to make it to the end of the year.

But we began to notice a steady number of cars in front of the place when we drove by it, which we do frequently.  So a few days ago, after meeting a friend for donuts and coffee at Frostys, we decided to stop in and check the place out.

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We were quite surprised, to say the least, by what we found: much more than a bakery, with 4 busy people working, and a look and feel as if it had been there for years.  A whole fresh roasted turkey was on the work-table, ready to provide the real thing for sandwiches. We expressed surprise, and the lovely Sandy, who owns the place (shown above) asked if we had patronized the Humble Gourmet when it was in business more than 10 years ago.  We said we had, and she replied that she was the owner of that establishment, which among other things, had fabulous sandwiches and baked goods.  We remembered her immediately as well.

That shop was a few doors west of the Brunswick Diner on Pleasant Street, and was a catering business besides being a walk-in lunch and bakery.  We loved their scones and other baked goods; the former, in particular, were a completely different breed – more like what we think of as a coffee cake.  They were astonishing…so much so that we went in search of recipes for something similar, but never came up with one.

Sure enough, she’s making the same scones, and maybe the ooey-gooey cinnamon buns will reappear one day.  Well anyway, we told Sandy that she needed to change the sign out front to show  they do lunch instead of just bakery, because folks like us need to know that’s an option.  She agreed that would make sense, and the next time we went by, the sign had been amended.

We told Mrs. Side about our discovery, and the next day, she and her friend stopped in for lunch, and reported they had a stupendous sandwich, and as they are wont to do, superb baked items for dessert.

We decided we’d do a post on the place, and stopped by today on our way home from breakfast, only to find a ‘closed’ sign on the screen door, but with the outer door open.  So we grabbed our camera and headed in anyway.  There was Sandy, working on a catering item….lemon curd tarts with fresh blueberries.  Turns out their regular business hours are Monday thru Friday, closing at 3.  So the usual lights were not on inside, and the array of baked goods we had seen on Tuesday were absent, but we had a nice chat and took some photos.

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Based on what we know so far, and our strong memories of the excellence at the “Humble,” as we used to call it, we’re giving it Side’s enthusiastic recommendation, and suggest you give it a try.  Be sure to say you heard about them on The Other Side.  Like the prior shop, tables are limited, but they do have other seating typical of contemporary coffee shops.

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We expect to be noshing on a scone or two early this week, though with our luck, and this glowing review, they’ll probably be out when we get there!

Lucky for them, unlucky for us, we suppose.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

You can trust us with your health-care; we’re not like all the others…..

Welcome to the great local mystery that is our health care provider future:


We don’t know about you, but we’ve had a bad feeling about the future of Parkview Hospital (PAMC) for some time.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Side have been clients of a family practice on the Parkview campus for nearly twenty years, and this correspondent has had a specialist affiliated with the hospital that long as well.

Several years back, all of the above practitioners became employees of Parkview, which at the time, seemed like nothing more than a sign of the times.  From what we could tell, it was welcomed by the Doctors and their staffs, since if freed them from the burdens of managing a private practice, and all the paperwork associated with billing and the rest.  Their offices appeared to run more smoothly after the change in ‘business arrangements.’


When talk of a PAMC bankruptcy surfaced some months back, our vague ‘bad feeling’ escalated to something more visceral; a sense that the first of an indefinite number of dominos was about to fall.  We tried to stay our chipper selves, but it wasn’t working too well.  We’re at a point in our life where we like our health care situation to be as stable as possible, especially since we’ve become comfortable with our Doctors, and have confidence in them.


Then the bad feeling took on a more pronounced cast when the bankruptcy and proposed merger were actually announced.  We fixed our editorial ear to the ground, listening for more shoes dropping.

Sure enough, soon we had a letter telling us that our specialist, whom we had carefully trained over the years, would ‘no longer be available to us,’ whatever that was supposed to mean.

Mrs. Side, however, had occasion to visit her GP, and was told things would stay pretty much the same in their office, and the labs and such at Parkview would stay in place.  Since our GP was in the same office, we breathed a sigh of some relief.  We had heard the PAMC Emergency Room would shut down, but that didn’t cause us much concern; conversely, it sounded like the outpatient procedure facility, with which we are quite familiar, would continue to operate.

Now for more recent news and pronouncements from the newly merged operation.

First, we found this just last week (published on 20 August) here:

The hospital’s “pre-packaged” bankruptcy plan involves merging with nearby Mid Coast Hospital to form a new Mid Coast-Parkview Health System.

Since then, Mid Coast President and CEO Lois Skillings and Parkview President Randee Reynolds have made presentations to local town councils, community groups and chambers of commerce to explain their new “vision.”

The two hospital executives led a presentation and question-and-answer session Tuesday night for a crowd of about 40 at the Topsham Public Library.

Reynolds said the new Mid Coast-Parkview will streamline by moving all emergency and acute care to the Mid Coast campus, a process already underway, and turning Parkview into a walk-in clinic and primary-care center, with some oncology and lab units. (emphasis ours)

We should have known, we suppose, that as soon as the “vision” word came into play, we were in big trouble.


Sure enough, we were.  On 26 August, less than a week later, the Ostrich carried this report:


So the initial spin wasn’t even good for a week;  it had the shelf life of a baloney sandwich left out on the counter.


It appeared, judging from their ‘vision’ so far, that the newly formed entity is near-sighted.


We expect it won’t be long before they have us all cross-eyed.


Even if they’re not like all the others.  Because a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

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