Bintliffs Portland Maine

I spent the better part of the holiday weekend shooting up the coast, but we did manage to squeeze in a few of our favorite weekend activities – drinks, brunch, and a trip to the farmer’s market. Wine Time at Blue Spoon might just be the best way to begin any weekend, in my opinion at least. On Saturday morning we finally got around to visiting Bintliff’s for brunch before a quick trip across the park to stock up on goodies from the farmer’s market. While I was shooting, Michael had a chance to join the Eat Streets film crew at Mainely Burgers on Sunday, and we both popped by the Bite Into Maine filming with a friend yesterday. We’re so excited to see two of our favorite food trucks getting the attention they most definitely deserve.

We have lots to look forward to this week – Portland Hunt & Alpine is opening their doors on Thursday (hopefully we’ll see you there!) and our family is coming out from Wyoming for a visit. September in Maine is our very favorite month, we just hope it doesn’t fly by too quickly.

Portland Maine Farmers Market

Blue Spoon Wine Time

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In lieu of our weekly round-up of travel & food-related links, we thought we’d share this fantastic video by my sister & brother-in-law. They traveled to Maine earlier this summer and put together a short film with some of the footage they shot that week. We love it. And we love them!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, friends!

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Little Bigs South Portland Maine

It seems like I’ve been waking up each morning for the past week trying to think of creative excuses to find myself in the area of Broadway and Main St. in South Portland, all for one reason – Little Bigs. It’s slightly outside of my normal route into Portland or to get onto I-95, but the delicious doughnuts and savory pies that they’re serving up are definitely worth the detour.

It’s pretty easy to see why doughnuts like the raised yeast raspberry Bismark with cream cheese or the traditional cake buttermilk glazed have my attention, but the gluten-free egg pies (like the bacon, onion, and cheddar, or the broccoli, tomato, and goat cheese) in pressed russet potato crusts have had Meredith pushing for return trips just as much as me.

So far, we haven’t stopped by for their lunchtime savory pies, but you can bet that it’ll only be a matter of time. If you find yourself starting out on an early road-trip South or just in the neighborhood for any reason, definitely drop in and try some of these ‘delicious hand foods to go’.

Little Bigs

Little Bigs South Portland

Contact Information - Little Bigs

340 Main Street
South Portland, Maine 04106
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Flowers in Vermont

Meredith and I often post about summer “blowing by” or life feeling too rushed and busy, so in an attempt to slow things down a bit, disconnect for just over a day, and take advantage of some of the precious remaining summer, we recently took a somewhat impromptu overnight trip to southern Vermont. The trip was just what we were looking for, and in under 30 hours, we had the chance to visit some picturesque New England towns, try some unbelievable meals, cheeses, and desserts, and relax by the pool on a Vermont hillside – not too shabby!

L.A. Burdick Chocolates

While technically not Vermont, the town of Walpole is a quaint hamlet just over the border in New Hampshire. Meredith and I made the slight detour to sample the chocolates and cuisine (pretty much in that order) of L.A. Burdick, which clients of Meredith’s had introduced her to in Cambridge. Lunch was delicious – paired with Vermont cheeses and beers – and with a cooler full of chocolates we happily headed on our way, but not before we spent a few minutes walking around the town square and popping into the Artisan Cooperative.

Grafton, VT and Grafton Village Cheese Company

While on the topics of New Enlgand quintessential townery and Vermont cheeses, our next stop was in Grafton, VT. At some point in the past couple of years, Meredith and I started religiously purchasing the 2-year aged Grafton Village Cheese cheddar for afternoon wine hours and our favorite pimiento cheese recipe, and in large part due to our affinity for this cheese, we added Grafton to our list of stops (even though the cheddar is now produced just outside of Brattleboro). The town itself seems to be a Rockwellian throwback to a different era – whitewashed colonial homes, shops, and galleries hidden beneath large shade trees, and a creek running through the center of town complete with covered bridge. It took just a few minutes to walk around the downtown area and play in the stream, but given the time, Grafton could be a serious weekend relaxation stop. We have it on good intel that Grafton at christmas is practically a cuteness overload. If you can’t make it down to Brattleboro, definitely stop into the Grafton Village Cheese shop as we did and try your hand at some of the different varieties of cheddar they offer. I’ll be surprised if you leave without making a purchase.

Windham Hill Inn

The Windham Hill Inn was an ideal destination to disconnect and relax. Set far enough off the beaten path that cell phones aren’t even really an option, we were able to completely unwind in the warm afternoon sun by the pool overlooking the rolling Vermont hills. There were tennis courts that we were just too short of time to take advantage of, but the well-maintained, fern-clad hiking trails were a major enjoyment and the perfect way to start our morning before we returned home.

SoLo Farm & Table

Always save the very best for last. Food is easily one of our favorite means of relaxation, so in typical Map & Menu fashion, one of the biggest reasons we chose to visit southern Vermont for our getaway was to try a dinner at SoLo Farm & Table in South Londonderry. The exquisite food from SoLo is far from a secret, but it’s enough off the beaten path that you’ll almost have to make it a destination dinner. That being said, you’ve got to believe me when I tell you that I would easily double the hour-long roundtrip we made from our inn to the restaurant to enoy another meal from SoLo. Every part of our meal, from the heirloom tomato salad, to the salmon, to the roasted suckling pig was fresh, locally sourced, creative, and perfectly prepared. Everything down to the drinks – Meredith’s cocktail and my Heady-Topper imperial IPA – was just right, and I have to say that they’re something pleasantly surprising about a white-tablecloth establishment that doesn’t shy away from serving a delicious canned beer. We strongly recommend making reservations (ours landed us an awesome table in the enclosed porch), and a little pro-tip would be to purchase a bag of the Tout de Sweets Black and Tan caramels that come with your check – they almost didn’t make it the entire way home!

Burdick Chocolates

Grafton Vermont

Grafton Village Cheese

Windham Hill West Townshend

Windham Hill Inn Room

SoLo Farm and Table South Londonderry

SoLo Farm and Table Vermont

SoLo Farm and Table

Salmon at SoLo Farm and Table

Hiking at Windham Hill Inn

Ferns in Vermont

Vermont

Windham Hill Inn Vermont

Windham Hill Inn Barn

Windham Hill Inn VT

Windham Hill Vermont

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Buvette NYC

I was more than just a little excited to read that David & Luise of Green Kitchen Stories visited three of our favorite NY restaurantsPeels, Buvette, and The Butcher’s Daughter – during a recent trip to the states.

How adorable are these guys? Our friends, Em & John, hosted an adventure dinner party for a group of their pals in North Carolina, and this week Emily shares her tips on doing so on her blog. What a fantastic idea!

It’s kind of embarrassing that we’ve never been to Popham Beach in the summer. This post on Designtripper has inspired me to make it happen – at least by the end of September!

We loved reading this guide to exploring midcoast Maine on Lady Gouda this week!

Spotted SF, a blog featuring snapshots of “favorite neighborhood spots around San Francisco & other travel gems, too” is a new favorite for sure!

Homesick for Provence, I checked out Peter Mayle’s Provence: A-Z from the library last Friday and finished it the next day. I highly recommend picking it up if you’re planning a trip to the area!

Happy weekend! We’ll be working a good bit this weekend, so please get out, have a little fun, and eat some delicious food for us!

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Popsicles

There are few things more refreshing than snacking on a popsicle on a hot summer’s day. During some of the hottest weeks this summer, Michael and I enjoyed quite a few popsicles together on our back patio. Some, like Gwyneth’s naturally sweetened berry & coconut popsicle were probably a little more healthy than others we made, but we found that when entertaining friends on a warm evening, nothing seems more festive or appropriate than serving what we’ll refer to as a “grown-up” popsicle.

Once we started experimenting with adding alcohol to popsicles, we had the idea to re-create one of our favorite drinks from our travels – the Fleur Dulce from the River House at Palmetto Bluff. Made of St. Germain, gin, and grapefruit, the Fleur Dulce has always been one of the more memorable cocktail creations from our travels and our love for it even inspired us to share an interview with its creator, Todd Phillips.

We of course are in no way creatively qualified to accurately recreate the Fleur Dulce, but covering all of the main ingredients (St. Germain, gin, and grapefruit), we were able to come up with a simple & delicious popsicle.

Fleur Dulce Popsicle

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup St. Germain
  • 1/4 cup gin (we used Hendrick’s)

Create a simple syrup with the water and sugar (boil together until the sugar dissolves) and let cool. Combine the grapefruit juice, St. Germain, gin, and simple syrup. Pour into the popsicle molds (we use these) and freeze overnight. Make sure you run some hot water over the molds to make removing them (in one piece!) a little bit easier.

The final step is simply to enjoy with friends or loved ones in the warm summer sun!

Saint Germain Popsicles

Saint Germain Grapefruit Popsicles

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Blue Rooster Brussels Sprouts

Meredith and I often get asked by visiting Map & Menu readers, family, and friends what to eat in Portland, so inspired by the recurring ’10 Plates’ feature in Food & Wine and a delightful dinner in Kittery with a fellow food-crazed friend, we found ourselves talking about a few of our favorite dishes from around town. Sort of an “if I could have a single item off of 10 different Portland menus, what would they be?” Not surprisingly, it was pretty difficult to limit ourselves to only ten of our top menu staples, but we were somewhat aided by the fact that a number of our favorite restaurants have ever-changing menus, and we wanted people to be able to order any of these items at any time while in Portland. So without further adieu, here are 10 of our favorite bites to eat in Portland:

Fore Street Mussels

Don’t get us wrong, just about everything we’ve ever tried at Fore Street has been perfect, but for the two of us, no meal there is complete without starting with the mussels. In typical Fore Street fashion, the dish is beautifully simple (essentially garlic, butter, and mussels), but give me a loaf of Standard Bakery’s bread, and I’ll return a completely clean dish – devoid of buttery broth and all.

Otto Pizza Masher

Mashed potato, bacon, and scallion on a pizza. There’s a reason this piece of heaven is one of the few standard slice offerings whenever you visit Otto. If you’ve never tried it and you manage to walk past Otto without grabbing a slice, I commend your will power.

Blue Spoon BLT

We needed a picture of this Blue Spoon lunch time favorite to round out the post, but knew that we wouldn’t have time for a lunch in town, so I did what any reasonable bacon lover would and ordered it for breakfast. Two thick slices of sourdough are home to a plentiful amount of applewood smoked bacon, tomato, lettuce, and rosemary mayo. Pair it with a Peeper and the whole grain mustard potato salad, and you’re in for a treat.

Eventide Brown Butter Lobster Roll

We just covered Eventide’s lobster roll on our Maine Lobster Roll roundup a couple of weeks ago, but once you take a bite of the warm, savory lobster meat, there will be little doubt as to why it’s deserving of the repeat mention.

Blue Rooster Fried Brussels Sprouts

Blue Rooster knows how to do it right. I’ve never heard Meredith get excited about hot dogs lunches, but when they’re dressed like the Colombiano and served with a side of the fantastic fried Brussels sprouts with sweet chili sauce, sesame, and queso fresco, who can blame her for her excitement?

Petite Jacqueline Cheese Plate

This one is a little more loosely defined than the rest, since it’s not a particular combination of cheeses that has repeatedly won us over, but rather the fact that every time we try a few cheeses off of Petite’s menu, we immediately make sure to write the name down for future reference.

Duckfat Fries with Thai Chili Mayo

If you’ve ever experienced the fries at Duckfat, you know why this item is on our menu; but it’s time to stop playing it safe with your truffle ketchup, and dip those bad boys in the thai chili mayo – you can thank me later.

Pai Men Miyake Pai Tan Ramen

To me, this is Portland comfort food at its finest. In a city where at least 3/4 of the year can be aptly described as “chilly to frigid,” a warm, flavorful bowl of Pai Men Miyake’s pai tan ramen can warm even the coldest of Southern transplants. Did I mention the pork belly part of this equation? Winning.

El Rayo Fish Taco

Some people prefer fried fish in their fish tacos, but once you’ve tried El Rayo’s version - grilled achiote seasoned fish fillet, sliced avocado, crunchy veggie slaw, and that house chipotle mayo – I think it would sway even the most loyal of fried fish followers.

Boda Beef Panaeng

It’s hard to describe just how spot-on this meal at Boda is. Right to a fault since being the first dish I ever ordered at Boda, I’ve never seen reason to try any other part of the menu. I’ll let the menu do the talking – “braised organic Wolfe’s Neck Farm beef in a flavorful panaeng curry (salty and sweet with aromas of Thai basil and lime leaves) with coconut cream, served with jasmine rice.” It doesn’t hurt that this is quite possibly the most delicious gluten-free meal I’ve ever had in my life.

Well, it’s impossible to say that this list covers all of Portland’s best dishes, but I think it’s a pretty fair sampling. We’d love to know, what dishes would you add to the list?

Fore Street Mussels

Otto Pizza Portland Maine

Blue Spoon BLT

Eventide Brown Butter Lobster Roll

Petite Jacqueline Cheese Plate

Duckfat Portland Maine

Pai Men Ramen

El Rayo Fish Taco

Boda

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Blue Spoon Brunch

As summer starts to reach its twilight, Meredith and I have begun to push to enjoy every free weekend moment possible. On Saturday morning, we switched things up a little bit and shared brunch at one of our favorite restaurants in town – Blue Spoon – before our Saturday morning farmer’s market tradition. Afterwards, we took advantage of the perfect weather with an Orvis-led Robinson Woods hike, work in the yard, and dinner outside. On Sunday morning, Meredith competed in the Tri for Preservation with our good friend, Betsy, while I cheered from the sideline with plenty of great company. For a celebratory lunch after, we finally had some time to catch up with our friends Courtney and Michael at Blue Rooster Food Co.

Sometimes it feels like if you blink, you’ll miss a wonderful weekend like this past one, but as my grandfather was always fond of saying, “all good things must come to an end”. If only it didn’t always hold up.

Michael at Blue Spoon

Popcorn Clouds

Paddleboarders at Crescent Beach

Betsy & Meredith

Tri for Preservation

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Sailing to Chebeague

Maybe it’s because I just returned home from a morning swim with a friend, but this post on The Fresh Exchange really resonated with me. I’m looking forward to heeding Megan’s advice and plan on taking full advantage of what is supposed to be a perfect summer weekend.

I’ve always wanted to visit Montauk, but until we’re able to plan a trip of our own, I’ll have to live vicariously through others – like Savvy Home.

We try (and love!) many recipes from A House in the Hills (like this delicious salad), but I’m particularly excited about giving this cauliflower crust pizza Sarah shared on the West Elm blog this week a try.

Is anyone attending the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle this September? If so, you might recognize one of the (handsome) speakers… :)

Happy Friday! Hopefully you all have something fun and/or relaxing planned for the next few days? We’re hoping to spend as much time as possible outside and look forward to catching up with a few friends along the way. 

 

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Isle of Springs

Last week, we spent an amazing day on one of the most delightful places we’ve visited in Maine – Isle of Springs. Over the past few years, Meredith has had multiple photo shoots on and around the island, but until our friends from North Carolina, John and Emily, invited us to their family home on the island, I’d never had the chance to see what all the fuss was about. Simply put, it was amazing.

The weather was gorgeous and the island was more Maine-ly picturesque than one could imagine. Our hosts were both welcoming & accommodating, taking us on a guided walk around the island and boat ride through Sheepscot Bay and into Boothbay Harbor, and spending the evening entertaining us with great stories and tasty food. By the time we pulled back into our driveway late that evening, we were completely spent from the day we’d left behind, and collapsed into bed, dreaming about future trips to the island.

A special thanks goes out to Emily, John, and the rest of the Ayer family for the unmatched memories.

Isle of Springs Sawyer Island

Michael D. Cain

Sawyer Island Maine

Midcoast Maine

Isle of Springs Ferns

Isle of Springs Woods

Isle of Springs Maine

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