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Swine and Stein

October 22, 2013

Every October, in downtown Gardiner, Maine, the annual “Swine and Stein” is held. The Swine and Stein is a take on the traditional “Oktoberfest”, offering  an all-day street party on Water Street featuring Maine craft beer, Maine musicians, and a celebration of delicious Maine pork products. Needless to say, I look forward to attending every year. This year did not disappoint. Though this year I did not sample the beer (crazy, I know!), it just allowed more room in my stomach to try more of the food. There were several restaurants and vendors offering a wide selection of BBQ. My first stop was here, and you can see why…

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I opted for the spicy chili and corn bread. I did get to sample the baked beans, which had delicious pieces of kielbasa in it. While the chili was tasty, it did not have beans in it (I am from team chili with beans), and it was not quite as spicy as I had hoped. The corn bread was great and I wished I had been able to eat all of the beans my brother had gotten. Those were awesome. I hear the ribs were also great, though I did not try them, I saw them and they looked like something out of the Flinstones. They were enormous!

Next up, we decided to wander around and let the kids visit the pigs. Yes, pigs. There were also goats, so you weren’t constantly reminded that you were chowing down on the cute pink fatties.

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People were admiring my son’s Pumpkin hat. I can’t say I blame them, it was adorable.

Amongst the vendors at the Swine and Stein, was an amazing wood carver displaying some of his work. I was just dying over these bowls…

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It still amazes me that he makes such beautiful items with those tools! I couldn’t stay long though because he was doing demonstrations and I got a bunch of wood shavings in my eye. Ouch!!

There was also this polka-type band comprised of the most adorable little old men ever. They had so much spunk and their music was fun. The kids loved it and were dancing all around the stage. It was a nice addition to the atmosphere. Here’s a picture of the cute old men…

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Aren’t they adorable???

So after wandering around and taking time for the people with me to try all the beer, way at the end of the street, I found this:

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I mean…they had me at the sign. But I had no idea what was in store. Up until then, I had been undecided as to where I would sample more food from, because after my chili and corn bread, I caved and bought a coconut whoopie pie (Yum! Gonna have to make that!!), so I was starting to feel full and I knew I only had room for one more thing. Well was I in luck! I rounded the awesome “Pork” sign and saw that they were selling chili. My heart sank a little bit because I had already had chili and had been slightly disappointed by it. So I look at the guy and asked “is your chili actually spicy? I just had some ‘spicy’ chili down the street and well…you know…” He then offered to let me TRY his chili!! I was totally in. I took a bite and I think I may have traveled straight to heaven and back. My only response was “Yup”. So I bought a bowl of “Pork Tenderloin Chili over Cilantro Rice”. First of all, I have no photo documentation of this chili because it was so amazing that I forgot to take a picture of it during my rapturous experience. You’re going to have to go on my description alone (sorry!). This chili had beans, as well and chunks of perfectly tender pork in it, and the sauce was splendidly spicy. The rice was a perfect vehicle for soaking up any of that delicious sauce that got away while I was eating. The thing that really set this chili into the stratosphere was that they topped it with a grilled pork sausage. Oh my, why hadn’t I thought of this before??!! It was perfect. I begrudgingly gave a bite to each person with me, because they had to know how amazing this chili was. They each then went and got their own chili. We sat there outside the Water Street Cafe at a little bistro table and lamented over how fantastic that chili was. I knew right then and there that I needed to replicate that chili.

This year’s Swine and Stein was a great time. The kids had fun and so did the adults. The weather was perfect and the food was inspiring. I cannot wait to try and make that pork tenderloin chili. It just may become my new chili recipe. Thank you, Water Street Cafe for making such a deliciously inspiring dish. I will have to pop into their cafe and see what else they have going on in there. So stay tuned for my upcoming “Pork Tenderloin Chili” http://mysaltykitchen.com/recipe/pork-tenderloin-chili/. If it’s anything remotely as good as what I had that day, you won’t be disappointed. And I got to take home this cute glass. Cheers!

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