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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at MaineToday.com and a music writer for MaineToday.com and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at Mainetoday.com. You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the WCHS TV show “207” to talk about...music of course.

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Posted: October 9, 2017

Smiling Hill Farm serves a basic lunch in a beautiful locale

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
Photos by Aimsel Ponti

Photos by Aimsel Ponti

You can do yoga with goats. You can cross-country ski. You can buy milk in glass bottles along with yogurt and cheeses made right at the farm. You can get more than 40 flavors of handmade ice cream. But did you also know that you can get lunch at Smiling Hill Farm?

I, for one, didn’t realize this until recently when I started working in South Portland, not far from the border with Westbrook, where the farm is located. I thought I’d be limited to mall-area options for lunch, until I found out that from a coworker that Smiling Hill’s dairy store serves the midday meal.

Since then, I’ve paid two visits, and I’ll cut right to the chase, neither meal was life-changing. But I’m still going to send you there because sometimes good enough is just that: good enough. The menu is fairly simple, sandwiches like a BLT ($5.25), tuna melt ($6.75), PB&J ($3.50) and other standard-issue varieties. This place is not trying to reinvent the wheel, although some of the wheels of cheese I saw in the dairy cases looked amazing.

In November, the dairy store will up its game by adding soups and chop suey to the menu, and I’ll likely venture back there to try them both. In the meantime, I do have some thoughts to share about the chicken salad sandwich I had on my first visit and the chicken quesadilla I had on my second one.

Chicken salad sandwich at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook.

Chicken salad sandwich at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook.

I had ventured to Smiling Hill Farm on an unseasonable September day and wanted to sit outside, but to quote Cole Porter, it was too darn hot, even in the shade. So, I sat inside in the entirely pleasant sunroom area of the building and watched a couple of young kids enjoying ice cream while I devoured my chicken salad sandwich.

It was fine. It wasn’t epic. It seemed fresh enough, and it was plenty big (which didn’t stop me from eating the entire thing). I think I’ve become, quite accidentally, something of a chicken salad snob in that I like the chunks of chicken to be bigger and I appreciate things like Granny Smith apple slices and maybe even a little cheese. The Smiling Hill Farm chicken salad was more traditional, but it hit the spot just the same. Paired with chips (I’m only human) and a Diet Coke, this sandwich did its job.

About three weeks later, on a more seasonal day, I went back. Although I arrived at about 11:15 a.m., I passed someone walking out with an enormous ice cream cone and was immediately jealous. By choice, I broke up with sugar four years ago, but the entire concept of ice cream for lunch is one that I fully approve of and endorse. In fact, I saw about a half dozen other ice cream-for-lunchers while I was there and wanted badly to join their ranks, especially after gazing at the glorious cases and seeing flavors like M&M and Reese’s Pieces that spoke right to me.

Chicken quesadilla at Smiling Hill Farm

Chicken quesadilla at Smiling Hill Farm

Getting a grip on myself, I did a 180-degree turn and looked at the lunch menu behind me. I went with the chicken quesadilla ($6.50). I got it to go, but upon walking outside, I spontaneously decided to plunk down on a bench to photograph it and ended up eating it right there. I had been sitting for not more than 20 seconds when a black cat with white paws got all up in my business. I am not a cat person. I’m also allergic to them. I relayed this information to the collarless cat, who probably lived there on the farm, but it didn’t seem to care.

The cat unofficially named Tom Petty with sourcream on his nose outside at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook.

The cat unofficially named Tom Petty with sourcream on his nose outside at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook.

Since it would not back down, calling to mind a certain Tom Petty song, I decided right then and there to name it after the recently deceased musician, and the cat and I became friends despite my issues. We both liked the quesadilla. When I was about done, I put the little side container of sour cream on the ground so Tom could have easy access. It got all over his nose. We shared a moment. Tom’s all right.

As for the quesadilla, not unlike the chicken salad sandwich, it was good but not epic. But I’m thankful that Smiling Hill Farm offers lunch, not to mention an array of cheeses, its signature glass-bottled milk, eggs and other dairy products along with assorted gifts and such.

I know I’ll be back there when the snow flies to finally try the cross-country ski trails. I know, at some point, I must try a goat yoga class. And I also know that I’ll always keep an eye out for my friend Tom Petty.

Smiling Hill Farm Dairy & Market

WHERE: 781 County Road, Westbrook, 775-4818. smilinghillfarm.com
HOURS: Lunch served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., ice cream available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
WAIT: About five minutes
PARKING: Plenty on site
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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