Ever wondered about the goodies inside the gift bags bestowed on celebrities at the Oscars? You can taste one made right in the quiet, far-flung town of Lubec.
Maine’s most easterly town, known for its candy-striped lighthouse at West Quoddy Head, once boasted 21 sardine canneries along its waterfront before the herring stocks’ collapse in the 1970s.
Nowadays, Lubec is on the map as a destination for finely crafted bonbons. The chocolatiers include Monica’s Chocolates, known for its special Peruvian cream filling, and Bayside Chocolates, which furnished its peppermint patties earlier this year for the Academy Awards.
Chocolate lovers also may venture another 45 miles and cross the U.S.-Canadian border to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, where they can sample truffles, double-dipped cherries and other confections at century-old Ganong Bros. and visit its Chocolate Museum.
Last year, Cheryl Till acquired the well-established Bayside Chocolates and kept the name the same. The former accounting specialist had enjoyed making chocolates as Christmas gifts for relatives and becoming a confectioner is fulfilling her dream.
“I’ve always wanted to have a business,” she said. “I thought it would be fun, and sometimes life gets too short, so I decided to take the plunge.”
She makes a variety of milk, dark and white couverture — covered — chocolates as well as homemade caramel, s’mores on a stick and more.
The peppermint patties are made with powdered sugar and pure canola and peppermint oils. Till’s 55 percent-cacao soy-free milk chocolate is thinned with organic cocoa butter. Each batch takes two to three hours to produce.
Every Wednesday, the Common Threads knitting club meets at Bayside Chocolates.
Parrafin wax is not used in any of the chocolates.
“We all love her peppermint patties for dessert,” club member Jane Cook said. “The dark chocolate and flavor of peppermint is a winning combo. They just melt in your mouth.”
Till has multiple sclerosis (MS) and as a result has some trouble walking. Someday, she would like to hire a helper, but puts in extra hours to get everything done.
A fan of Acadia National Park, Till became an Acadia National Park Centennial Partner and is giving 5 percent of her revenue this year in honor of the park’s 100th anniversary.
Till’s candies can be purchased at her shop, from her website and at retail stores including John Edwards Market in Ellsworth, Beech Hill Farm on Mount Desert Island and the Natural Living Center in Bangor.
The Chocolate trail
Bayside Chocolates, 43 Water St., Lubec. Open: Wednesday-Monday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 733-8880, www.baysidechocolate.com
Monica’s Chocolates, 100 County Road (Route 189), Lubec. Open: Daily, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (866) 952-4500, www.monicaschocolates.com.
Ganong Chocolatier, 73 Milltown Blvd. St., Stephen, NB. Open: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays. (506) 465-5611, www.ganong.com.
The Chocolate Museum, 73 Milltown Blvd., St. Stephen, NB. Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays. (506) 466-7848, www.ganong.com.