Posted By Kevin Freeman on May 4, 2013
We had the good fortune of being invited to bring our chocolates to a rum tasting! Last night we joined a happy crowd at the Museums of Old York for authentic cooking, spirits and chocolate.
The rum tasting was held in an old tavern which had been moved many years ago from Wells, Maine. It is now located on the premises with The Virginia Weare Parsons Education Center at the Museums of Old York. The tavern was built by Captain Samuel Jefferds and today is called Jefferd’s Tavern
There were four rums served. Screech from Newfoundland, Pyrat from the Caribbean, and Pusser’s from the Virgin Islands. The rum that caught our attention was Sea Hagg from Hampton, NH. The distiller, Ron Vars, who attended the event with his partner Heather Hughes, was happy to share many of the secrets involved in creating artisan spirits! The rum was very flavorful, proud and lacked no legs. The tannins rose to the spirit and left no sulfides lingering. We especially recommend this rum.
Throughout the evening evening guests were serenaded by Steve Carrigan and Mike Blair of Great Bay Sailor who perform shanties and maritime music. The singers traveled from room to room serenading guests with songs of heartache and occasionally good fortune. Enjoying the heart felt verses and luxurious harmonies, guests tasted and enjoyed the many rums, punch, grog, grilled chicken, vegetables and of course chocolate.
Sandra created a selection of chocolates to compliment the rum offerings. Among them was a fresh lemon lime truffle enrobed in 70% cacao and topped with crystallized ginger. Quite popular was our chili powder and cayenne tasters. Cherry and almond tasters, blueberry tasters and cinnamon, ginger and clove tasters were also in the selection. The most complimented confection was our Maine sea salt tasters. They were all made with milk, 54% and 70% Belgian chocolate.
The fireplace in Jefferds Tavern gives us an indication of what it was like before the conveniences we now cannot live without. It is hard to imagine not being able to walk into our modern kitchens and begin cooking. Yet this kitchen is evidence, that at one time, the fire had to be prepared for cooking. The enormity of firewood used is bewildering. In a book on Tatnic Hill, I recently read by Joseph Hardy, we are told families would burn up to 30 cords a year.
In an historical setting like Jefferds Tavern it is difficult not to imagine what York must have been like 100 or even 200 years ago. The rough beams, colored with time into a rich golden brown tell a story all their own. As the rum and chocolate mingle, sweetening the senses, there is a calm satisfaction among the robust crowd.
Navy Grog, Pirate’s Bumbo, and Martha Washington’s Rum Punch were in much demand throughout the night. It was impossible to pick a favorite among the old recipes. The Navy Grog was a watered down rum with a splash of beer. It was the brainchild of a captain who saw the sailors a bit to wobbly with their regular half pint a day rations. Mind you, the sailors would save their rations and only indulge when there was plenty for a roaring good time!