For much of my life, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect retail chocolate chip cookie. I seek one that best emulates a home-baked cookie. One that’s crunchy-chewy, made with real butter and brown sugar and good chocolate; nuts are good, but not a requirement. I prefer cookies that deliver three or four li’l bites, about a three-inch diameter rather than the humungo ones (which despite self-promises to only eat a portion, I never do), and I like them priced for mere mortals; spending $2 for one cookie seems sinful.
So here on my current favorites in Maine. If you have suggestions, let me know, and I’ll sample while in the area.
TOP CHOICE: Old World Gourmet, Route 1, Freeport (at the Big Indian). Oh man, these are perfect. Not too large, not too small, often warm out of the oven, and always full of flavor and dotted with plentiful chips. These are the classics by which I now judge every other cookie. Last year, Old World Gourmet closed for the winter. I’m praying it doesn’t do so again. I’ve been known to go well out of my way to score one of these beauties, and I’ve run into others who do the same.
CLOSE SECOND: Two Cats Bakery, India St., Portland. Until I tasted Old World’s, these were my fave. Again, dense with chips, right sized, good texture (although I prefer a softer center, but probably not possible given the lower profile) and full of flavor. It stands up well to dunking.
Rooster Brother, Rte. 1, Ellsworth: Downstairs in this kitchenware emporium is a small deli and a coffee station with cookies. I’ve yet to drive by without stopping in for one. These loose a few points for size and price (which, often go together) as well as for being a bit too nutty (and sometimes a bit on the dry side). But then, like I said, I always get one.
Orange Cat, Rte 27, Kingfield: These are almost chocolate chip cakes, rather than cookies, they’re huge (again, price correlation) with more of a cake-like texture. Chips are abundant, but tiny. But yeah, they’re quite yummy, especially when still warm so the chips are gooey.
D’Ellies, Sugarloaf and Boothbay Harbor: I used to love these cookies, but lately I’ve been finding them a bit on the dry side, sometimes to the point of almost seeming stale. Other knock-down points are size and price, too big and too expensive (and yes, again, I realize those go together). Still, after a few hours on the slopes, I find D’Ellies is like a magnet, I just can’t stop myself from going in and purchasing a cookie.
Spear’s Farm Stand, Rte. 1, Waldoboro: These softies make up for the lack of crunch, the absence of nuts, and a bit too much sugar with abundant chunks of chocolate and a perfect size.