Senator Tom Saviello, promising a free lunch, got me up to Farmington last week to see the new Front Street Mercantile store he recently opened with long-time antique dealer Christine Giesser.

The store features an amazing array of things, from the elegant glass wear of Francis Hook to beautiful clothes of The Tadpole’s Trunk. But my eye was drawn to the old things, in perfect condition, from tools used in the mid-1800s by a master carpenter to a late-1700s desk to the stunning Mic Mac black snowshoes — and, oh boy, I loved those old books.

I did note that the “penny candy” is now 15 cents! The old paddle, with the saying, “Up the creek? Bring this” seemed like something Tom could have used in the last legislative session.

Front Street Mercantile is open “by chance” and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Nina Gianquinto owns the nice old building (I loved the tin ceilings), and has provided an array of food products there for 21 years at her store, Upfront and Pleasant Gourmet.

While I was visiting with Nina and checking out the fresh bread and cheese, a steady stream of people were coming in for coffee. She gets “incredible arugula and spinach from Flying Pond Farm in Vienna,” and has a real commitment to Maine produce.

Next door to Nina’s I found Julia Staples in her Chickadee’s Nest, featuring herbal and natural products for the last 16 years. Julia was outside the store working on a beautiful flower garden. Inside, a sign explained why: “Gardening. Cheaper than therapy — and you get tomatoes.”

My “free lunch,” paid for by Tom, came from a new restaurant in a beautiful old brick building across the street, Stone Hearth Cafe. Earlier, I’d stopped by the book store, Devaney Doak and Garrett, to autograph their supply of my books, “A Life Lived Outdoors,” and the young clerk there raved about the cafe’s ciabatta sandwiches. So I ordered one.

The Front Street Panini on Ciabatta Roll included roast chicken, sliced ham, bacon, dill pickles and Swiss cheese with gorgonzola mayo. Just might have been the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. The cafe features a wood-fired oven inside, and another outside on a deck that will draw us back sometime this summer for lunch.

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