Linda

Tucked in the rural landscape of Waldoboro might not be where you would expect to find great German sausages and a huge variety of European cooking products. But look no farther than Morse’s Sauerkraut & Euro Deli. Customers are torn between eating first and then shopping, or shopping first and then eating.

Morse’s is not pretentious. You’ll drink out of wide-mouth Mason jars while listening to music from long ago. The small dining area has tall green booths that offer such privacy that you actually don’t see other diners. Sliding into the booth, I spotted six bottles of sauces — everything from curry ketchup to four kinds of mustards. This is a place to experiment. Trying those different sauces with my sausage was part of the fun (George and I agreed the horseradish mustard was our favorite). One change that new owners Cody LaMontagne and James Gammon made is bringing out tiny Mason jars with garlic sours and their mustard pickles.

One of us had to have the Reuben, and George quickly claimed that. I’d never heard of Bauernwurst sausage prior to visiting here, but found it to be my favorite on our first visit in 2013. So I chose the sausage sandwich with Bauernwurst for this lunch. It came on a Borealis roll (which really elevated the sandwich to perfection) topped with Haus Sauerkraut. It was soooo good and the perfect portion size. I continued to munch my way through the pickles, discovering that the perfect bite for me was both kinds simultaneously. Of course, I had to have a few bites of George’s outstanding Reuben, too.

Cody came over to chat with us, and it was clear she is very happy with her new endeavor, although she and her husband, James, are working very long hours. He is in charge of the wholesale business, while Cody manages the store and restaurant and does her share of the cooking there. James makes their famous sauerkraut, now finished off in wooden barrels. We were particularly happy to learn that she sources the cabbage for their sauerkraut locally from Beth’s Farmstand up the road in Union. She also gets her veggies for pickle-making there.

The store here is a foodie’s paradise. Products from all over Europe draw people in to create and taste flavors from their homeland or perhaps from memories of a trip they’ve taken. I personally find it hard to leave without a good stash of their incredible sauerkraut and some Bauernwurst. I love lunch out at Morse’s, but it doesn’t hurt to have a supply of sauerkraut at home until I can get there again!

George

In her book “Country Towns of Maine,” originally published in 1953 and republished in 1998, Donna Gold offers an interesting history of Waldoboro as a place where Germans were drawn by promises of a thriving city only to find “nothing but a wilderness.” They nearly starved to death, but eventually “succeeded in clearing lands and erecting mills.”

They all made their own sauerkraut, including Virgil Morse Sr., whose kraut was so tasty that the local general store started selling it in 1910. The business was in the Morse family until 1994 and then changed hands several times. I was especially gratified to find that Cody and James, who purchased Morse’s about a year ago, cherish and honor Morse’s history while adding their own creativity. Cody has totally transformed the menu, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it, because the favorites are still there. Amazingly, she’s even improved the Reuben, which I thought was perfect before she took over.

Our server, Jen, recognized us and was very welcoming. I overheard two ladies at a nearby table tell their server, “We discovered Morse’s last year and we come regularly now.” Yes, this place is worth the drive.

The chef brought out a small tasting of the day’s special, a cabbage and sausage stew that was tasty with the cabbage providing a nice crunch. But I had to have my all-time favorite here, the Reuben, which is large and messy. At one point Linda noted that I had some kraut dangling from my chin.

I really like the way Cody has reorganized the menu, adding a “build your own plate” section where you choose everything you want on your plate. And yes, there are plenty of choices for a vegetarian.

Visiting with Cody was a real treat. She told us a customer, Phil, actually comes in occasionally and likes to help cook, and he helped her make the day’s stew. When the area loses electricity, neighbors come in to use Morse’s generator to fire up their laptops and slow cookers. Yes, it’s that kind of friendly place. Thrown into the business with very little help from the previous owners, Cody says she and James, who live next door in the old Morse family home, are blessed by an amazing staff. “I just can’t say enough about them,” she told us.

They’ve added some great products to the store, where you might think you are shopping in Europe. The German beer selection impressed me. And oh, those sweets! But our next visit here will be for brunch, so I can try that Reuben omelet. Or maybe that Marzipan Stollen French toast. And oh, the red flannel hash is calling my name, too.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.

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