Over the holidays, Nick and I visited Portland, Maine for a couple days. Portland has lots of breweries and is very much a foodie town, so I knew it would be a place Nick would love. I planned the trip as a surprise Christmas present to him! I had plans of documenting the trip as well as I did when we went to New Orleans. It didn’t quite happen, but I did catch a few things!
Our trip didn’t start off too well. The day we were supposed to head up, a big snowstorm rolled in.
To me it wasn’t a ton of snow, but for my California boy, it was more snow than he’d ever seen. I figured Maine wouldn’t shut down due to a foot of snow (and I was right), so we braved the treacherous roads and went anyways.
I had originally planned to visit the Allagash brewery the first day, but because of the snow it didn’t quite pan out. Allagash is about 20 minutes from downtown and since the driving was a little scary, we thought it would be best to park at the hotel and just do stuff within walking distance. We stayed at the Hampton Inn Waterfront (chosen mostly because we have zillions of Hilton credit card points), and it ended up being the perfect location and was within walking distance of tons of stuff.
Once we checked in, our first stop was Duckfat. If you’ve read anything about Portland, you’ve probably heard of this place. They serve Belgian-style fries cooked in duck fat, big milkshakes and an array of fun paninis.
The fries did not disappoint. I love love love hand-cut fries and these had the perfect golden crispness. We ordered them with truffle ketchup (which was awesome) and Thai Chili Mayo (which, as a mayo-hater, I thought was just OK).
Since we were in Maine and all, we couldn’t pass up the Blueberry Buttermilk Milkshake. Nick and I “split” it, but I’m pretty sure I drank the whole thing.
I totally scoped out Portland on a few travel and food blogs before I planned the trip. I took some advice from We Are Not Martha and ordered the Meatball Panini. It wasn’t something I’d normally order, but I’m glad I listened! It was really delicious and Nick and I both liked it better than his Duck Confit Panini (which was good, but not as good as mine!).
Once we had completely stuffed ourselves, we went for a snowy walk and found a little Italian grocery store called Micucci. They had huge jars of every kind of olive you can think of and lots of great-smelling bread. I wanted to buy everything, but we made it out of there with just a bottle of wine and some amaretti cookies.
Next stop was Shipyard Brewery. One of my all time favorite beers is Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale, so I was excited about this one. The “tour” was really just a video (which was pretty much a giant advertisement), but we really enjoyed the post-“tour” tasting. We got to try all the beers they had on tap (at least a dozen), and since Nick is such a beer connoisseur and was chatting up the bartender, he even busted out a few bottles of their specialty beers for us to try. The Smashed Blueberry was my favorite!
We ended up raiding the gift shop and left with 4 bottles of specialty brews, a pint glass, a sweatshirt and this cool wooden tote box that holds four 6-packs. Merry Christmas to us!
On our way back to our hotel, we stopped in a little chocolate shop called Dean’s Sweets, tried some samples, and then bought a ridiculously overpriced box of 4 truffles. They were good… but… expensive. Winner of “weirdest flavor” goes to Wasabi Ginger Sake. I thought it was OK, but Nick just about choked on it. The Salted Caramel, however, was amazing.
I had read on Wicked Good Travel that there was a neat bookstore next to Dean’s Sweets called Rabelais, which sold books solely about food and drink. Sadly… or not so sadly, as it later turned out… the bookstore was gone and was replaced by an oyster bar. We were still stuffed from lunch, but rarely do we pass up good oysters, so we made a note to come back before dinner.
After relaxing and napping at the hotel for a bit (it had been a long day!), we headed back to Eventide Oyster Co. We ordered a couple fun cocktails and a dozen oysters. We tried 6 different types of oysters, all from Maine and New England.
Then things got crazy. While perusing the drink list, we had noticed “Oyster Shooters” on there. I am not one to take shots, but we both noted that we’d never had one before, and, what the heck, we were on vacation! Nick got a “Dirty” with olive brine and gin, and I got the “Spicy” with jalapeno and tequila (the only booze I can somewhat tolerate as a shot). The waitress suggested with take the shot and take the oyster as a chaser, so that’s what we did.
I still don’t like shots. Even when followed with an oyster.
Oh, well. At least I can say I’ve tried it now.
After our shooters, we headed less than a block away to Fore Street for dinner. My Dad had found this place… supposedly one of the best in New England. He sent us there as our Christmas gift, and we were not disappointed. The restaurant was lit mainly by candlelight, so I didn’t manage to get any photos. Which is sad, because everything was amazing. Fore Street has a new menu every night, based on what is local and fresh. We loved every single thing we got, which included their in-house baked bread, a wild mushroom salad, pork belly appetizer with a sweet mustard sauce and warm apple-cabbage slaw, Arctic char for nick and local flounder for me. We passed on dessert since we had been eating and drinking all day long, but they brought some complimentary truffles anyways, which were the perfect ending. We loved the meal, so thanks, Dad!
Finally it was time for bed.
The next day, we decided to head a little further north to Freeport, Maine, to do some shopping! We stopped by the L.L. Bean headquarters and then hit the outlets! But the best part of the day? One of the top 5 reasons to go to Maine? Lobster rolls!!
We found a little stand called Linda Bean’s Lobster, got our lobster rolls, and ate in the car. Definitely the most expensive, yet most delicious, take-out I’ve had in a while. The buns were perfectly toasted with just a smear of mayo and huge tender chunks of lobster claw meat. Served with slaw, bread & butter pickles, and salt & vinegar chips. The perfect ending a great trip!
We had such a great time in Portland! It was a successful Christmas gift! If I lived closer, I’d definitely be there all the time. What other great spots did I miss??