Eventide: Where magic happens
Picture this: A cold, snowy winter day in Boothbay Harbor – the majority of shops and restaurants are closed, and tourists and even locals are few and far between.
Winter in the harbor can be a trying time.
Now picture the beautifully colorful lit up windows at Eventide Specialties. It begins to look a little like Christmas, even long after the holidays. The welcoming sights of those lights and the glow coming from within the shop make it look almost as inviting as it really is.
Almost as inviting, because when you walk through the door, you’re sure to experience a sudden lift in spirits and anticipation of what’s in store. It’s as bright and colorful inside as it is outside. And it’s full of pleasant surprises.
Kim Martin and Denise Demeter, who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, started Eventide Specialties, selling extra virgin olive oil, in 2012. Since then, they have added specialties from all over the world, and expanded and renovated the space that now includes a large wine room featuring wines unavailable elsewhere in the area.
Martin’s mother Donna, or Mim, can usually be found in the kitchen helping her daughter. Mim was a big influence in Martin’s love of good food.
“We have a large extended family, and everybody cooked,” Martin said. Mim is Lebanese, so Martin has a strong background in Lebanese cooking.
Martin and Demeter moved to East Boothbay 20 years ago. The Martin family home in Cleveland was on Lake Erie. When Kim was 3, she was making drawings of water and rocks. “I said to Mom, ‘This is where I’m going to live,’ and she said, ‘Honey – that’s Lake Erie. That’s your back yard.’”
“I said, ‘No, this is different water.’ I even knew what it would feel like, smell like and taste like.”
Martin was 19 the first time she came to Boothbay Harbor. “I was home. I always knew that some day I’d live here.”
Other than working with her mother and family doing some catering back in Cleveland, Martin had no formal culinary training when Eventide was born. She was an accountant and has a background in chemistry, which she said is helpful in the kitchen, particularly when it comes to baking.
Eventide began in the middle section of the three rooms it now occupies, with just the extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegars, from a company in California, Veronica Foods, which specializes in exceptionally good extra virgin olive oil, Delizia.
“Their extra virgin olive oil is the most pristine, and fresh, from small estates around the world,” Martin said. “We get the oils at different times, when they’re freshly pressed.”
The sparking, pristine stainless steel fustis that hold the oils in were made in Italy, and the oil is distributed into bottles, adorned with Eventide’s logo, designed by Demeter. Besides the olive oils and balsamic vinegars, Eventide has a dizzying selection of baked goods and specialty foods and gift items from around the world.
When the kitchen, with its big ovens, was added five years ago, the owners looked for a baker, but didn’t get any takers willing to work year-round. So like the Little Red Hen, Martin started baking the bread, all by herself. Luckily for us, she doesn’t eat it all by herself.
Martin bakes bread and pastries every morning. If you walk in while she’s baking, you may hear her talking and singing – to whatever she’s baking. “She talks to the cookies when she opens the oven door,” Mim said. “She talks to everything.”
Next came the cheeses. Martin and Demeter took a master’s class in cheeses in New York City. The shop now carries around 150 different ones from all over the world.
Last, but far from least, there’s the wine room, added three years ago. Like most everything in the shop, Martin strives to offer only wines no one else in town carries.“I don’t want to take someone else’s livelihood, and I strive to do things that others don’t do.”
Eventide is now offering its version of a salad bar, too. Martin didn’t want to compete with other salad bars in the area, so hers is called a “dressing bar.” Customers can choose from a long list of fresh ingredients, and mix their choice of oil and balsamic. There are over 5,000 combinations.
The salad comes with a fresh-baked crusty roll, a piece of fruit and some chocolate.
On Wednesdays, Martin makes pita bread, roasts chicken and makes egg salad for sandwiches.
Eventide offers diverse cooking classes, too, once a week. They’re a hit. “People want to do something, and they get their hands dirty, and eat pretty well,” Martin said. “We have a lot of fun.”
Everything is made in house at Eventide. “The cookies aren’t necessarily the most gorgeous all the time, but they’re homemade, and we try to use all of our own ingredients. We want to have good food, using the best ingredients, all the time.”
Aside from the food, there are unusual, food-related gifts scattered throughout the store. Party favors for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, etc. are custom-made to people’s specifications.
If you don’t go to Eventide for olive oil, balsamic vinegar, the extensive selection of breads and rolls, cheese, wine, a salad, the daily soup or sandwich, the quiche, the Kimzone (pizza dough stuffed with different combinations, topped with cheese, and baked) cookies and bars, fudge, or any of the other mouth-watering specialties, do yourself a favor and pick up a cinnamon puff, or six. You won’t regret it.
As for the name, Martin explained, “Eventide happens twice a day – when day becomes night, and when night becomes day. At twilight and dawn is when the magic happens. Eventide is where the magic happens.”
It’s also where oil and water mix. “People say they don’t mix, but when you walk in our front door you see the fustis full of oil, and then you look out the windows, and you see the water in the harbor.”
Mim loves being there. “I’ve retired three or four times, and I keep coming back to work. The people who come in are wonderful, and it’s a whole different lifestyle in here.”
On Feb. 24, the place was buzzing. “We wanted to be open in January, and this is our home,” Martin said. “We’re not doing this just for the summer traffic. That’s a boost, but we want to be here for everybody.
“We want to educate people. We want people to know that with good ingredients, that don’t cost an arm and a leg, it can change the way that you eat, and enjoy it.”
Eventide is closed Sundays and Monday from the beginning of January to April. Otherwise, it’s open seven days a week. The shop is at 5 Boothbay House Hill. Call 207-350-4244 or check Eventide’s Facebook page for daily specials.