Inspired by this article in the latest issue of Bon Appétit, Michael and I had our own little picnic dinner by the sea last night at Fisherman’s Point. We prepared one of the recipes from the article - a quinoa salad with peaches & pickled onion – packed some cheese, crackers, and a bottle of wine, grabbed our favorite blanket and walked down to the shore.
It was the perfect evening – other couples were there with similar picnic ideas, enjoying the light, (almost chilly) salty ocean breeze. Michael and I watched the boats returning to their moorings in Simonton Cove, and lost track of time daydreaming about owning our own boat and possible adventures exploring the various islands of Casco Bay.
We visit Fisherman’s Point often throughout the year, but in our four years of living within a five minute walk of this picturesque park in South Portland, we’ve somehow never thought to, or made time to picnic there. After last night’s lovely experience, we’ll surely make time to do it again in the coming weeks.
Consider my arm twisted, but Meredith and I have spent the past couple of months compiling a list of some of our favorite lobster rolls in Maine. The task involved a number of miles in the car, a new found love for New England hotdog buns, a gracious amount of butter and mayo, and of course, plenty of pounds of that tasty red meat, but these are a few of our very favorites for the next time you’re in Vacationland.
The brown butter vinaigrette and steamed-bun style roll make this lobster roll the most unique on our list. It also happened to be my favorite tasting roll, as the vinaigrette was a perfectly subtle sweet and buttery marinade for the meat, while the roll seemed to soak up the flavor and melt in your mouth. Followed with an Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale, this is a hard roll to beat.
Eventide Oyster Company
86 Middle Street, Portland – 207.774.8538
Clients of Meredith’s recommended we drive out to Round Pond and get a lobster roll at Muscongus Bay, and we were so thankful to receive such a wonderful tip. I’m not sure which we enjoyed more – the bakery fresh roll itself, the lobster meat (we detected just a hint of what we thought was dill that made it both unique and different), or the experience of eating on the deck overlooking the charming Round Pond Harbor. The entire experience easily made this one Meredith’s favorite on our list.
Muscongus Bay Lobster Company
28 Town Landing Road, Round Pond – 207.529.2251
The perfect picnic roll, Bite Into Maine’s menu is little more than this one item, but man do they do it well. We opted for the traditional Maine style roll, with just the right amount of mayo and chives, and then enjoyed it and a side of the blueberry corn salad from a blanket overlooking Casco Bay at Fort Williams Park with Orvis.
Bite Into Maine
Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth – 207.420.0294
The Lobster Shack will always hold a special place in our hearts. We had our first Maine lobster rolls there the day after we moved to Cape Elizabeth from North Carolina, and we return often, both for the scenery and the delicious lobster rolls – we’re suckers for the dollop of mayo on top and the crinkle cut fries.
The Lobster Shack at Two Lights
225 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth – 207.799.1677
Over the years, countless people have insisted we try the lobster roll at The Clam Shack in Kennebunk, but after their win at this year’s Lobster Roll Rumble, we finally made trying it a priority. The only round bun lobster roll we’ve ever had, the Clam Shack roll is an example of how simple can be perfect – just a well-balanced mix of lobster meat, butter, and bun.
The Clam Shack
2 Western Avenue, Kennebunk – 207.967.2560
One thing about traveling around to try different lobster rolls that really stuck out to me, was just how beautiful the backdrops of some of these locations can be. Five Islands has to be near the top of the “perfectly picturesque” lobster roll list, from the dock overlooking the moorings between the five islands for which the area is named. It’s hard to dislike lobster in a location like that.
Five Islands Lobster Company
1447 5 Islands Road, Georgetown – 207.371.2990
Easily the most famous on our list, be prepared to wait in line if you’re wanting to eat one of the lobster rolls from Red’s. A toasted New England-style bun and a generous helping of fresh lobster meat are just about all that make up this Maine classic, but as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The Red’s lobster roll doesn’t need any fixing.
41 Water Street, Wiscasset – 207.882.6128
When planning our time with my sister & her family while they were up in Maine on vacation last week, we knew that a meal at Gather was an absolute must! The restaurant in nearby Yarmouth, that we raved about after our first visit for brunch in April, is not only delicious and beautiful, but also very laid-back and family-friendly. There’s even a small children’s area in the back with toys and books – making it the perfect place to take a one year-old whose parents appreciate good food. Even when we were seated, the attention of our nephew, Pax, was occupied by his view of the chefs working in the open kitchen on the old stage in the center of the restaurant.
As for the adults, we all raved about our meals! Between the six of us, we enjoyed the asparagus risotto with sliced radishes & beet chips, the house ground, grass fed burger, the local pork chop atop polenta & braised greens, and the crispy salmon served with rice and an English pea puree. Unfortunately we were all a bit too full to take advantage of desserts like the brown butter gelato with walnut brittle, but we were able to cap off an already amazing evening with a walk on Sandy Point Beach on Cousins Island. When we met up with my sister for a hike the next day, she & Philip were still talking about the previous night’s dinner – confirmation that the meal at Gather was certainly a highlight of their trip to Maine.
Contact Information - Family Dinner at Gather
Yarmouth, Maine 04096
It’s insane to think that just over five years ago, Meredith and I graduated from school and started out, with our co-pilot Orvis, on this New England adventure to Maine. Since then, it’s been a total blur of weekend trips, rocky coastlines, delicious meals, beautiful summers, and snowy winters. We’ve been fortunate to set up shop in a perfect little neighborhood, outside of an amazing town, and seemingly almost everyday, we find the opportunity for new experiences or newly-aging traditions (like our yearly celebratory lobster roll on the day we arrived in Maine). We’re so lucky that we’ve found a home online to share these adventures with our friends, family, and readers, and look forward to sharing our next five years of adventure, wherever the road may take us.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one thousand times… brunch is by far my favorite meal of any day. Heavy, filling, and unabashedly obvious in its ability to set any day straight (especially when accompanied by a good cup of coffee). Living in a town like Portland, there’s no shortage of places to grab a mid-morning bite, but that’s probably what surprised me most when Meredith suggested that we try the brunch at Pai Men Miyake one morning a few weeks back.
Don’t get me wrong, Meredith and I are huge fans of Pai Men – its lunch is hands-down one of the tastiest deals in town and its beer list and cocktail menu are very far from wanting – it had just never occurred to me that their hardly-advertised brunch could live up to the lofty bar set by their other specialties.
Brunch at Pai Men Miyake is far from your typical pancake and egg pick me up. They have them, just with enough Miyake flair to make you forget that you’re sticking with an old-fashioned staple. The Okono Miyake – Japanese egg pancakes with Miyake farm pork, cabbage, scallions, ginger, fried egg, and topped with kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce – was deliciously flavorful. Every bite was a savory surprise, playing tricks on my traditional pancake-trained mind. Meredith loved her fried rice with bok choy, chinese chives, ginger, and a Miyake farm poached egg, and after we added a cup of always-amazing Tandem coffee, brunch at Miyake had easily been cemented in our minds as a new Portland brunch must.
Contact Information - Brunch at Pai Men Miyake
Portland, Maine 04101
In the past couple of weeks, Meredith and I have been undertaking the extremely enjoyable challenge of trying as many of Portland’s food trucks as possible. While we missed a few (that we’ll be sure to add as time goes on), the ones we visited spelled out a bright future for the Portland food truck scene. The general gist from all of them was that a tasty breakfast, lunch, late night, or dessert doesn’t necessarily need to come from a brick and mortar establishment – if you concentrate on doing a few things very well, your next great Portland meal might come from the curb.
It was also awesome to see other local food service businesses getting behind Portland’s mobile eateries. Tandem Coffee and Bunker Brewing have opened their parking lot to Small Axe for breakfast (making that amazing cup of coffee all that much more delicious), and Rising Tide brewery is doing a weekly Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon food truck rotation that adds a filling pairing to their tasty selection of brews.
Bite Into Maine
Parked at Fort Williams, just over the hill from the Portland Head Light, Bite Into Maine serves up one of the best lobster rolls in the area. I realize that this is no small statement, as seemingly every restaurant and roadside stop between Kittery and Lubec claims to have “Maine’s Best Lobster Roll”, but it’ll take only a few bites of this amazing roll to know that it’s the real deal. On our trip, Meredith and I grabbed a couple of lobster rolls, and a side of the must-try corn, cucumber, and blueberry salad, and settled on our blanket with Orvis for a gorgeous picnic overlooking Casco Bay, followed by a stroll along the cliff walk – the makings of a the perfect summer afternoon in Maine.
Small Axe Truck
We were particularly excited to hear about the highly-anticipated opening of the Small Axe Truck, and since they spent their first morning parked outside of Tandem Coffee Roasters, we worked breakfast and coffee into our Saturday morning farmer’s market routine. Meredith ordered the seasonal vegetable and goat ricotta bowl, and I opted for the sausage and green chili gravy bowl. We both enjoyed our breakfasts so much, that when we heard that the Small Axe Truck would be taking their show to Rising Tide’s Saturday food truck lunch later that same day, we went back home, grabbed our friends Cory and Robyn, and made the return trip for some afternoon beers, the cheeseburger-stuffed handpies, and a few pork sandwiches.
Meredith and I grabbed lunch from Mainely Burgers outside of City Hall (also where Small Axe will be taking up a more permanent spot), and were absolutely blown away by the handcut fries and The Mainah burger – a delightful burger with applewood smoked bacon, green apples, cheddar, and maple mayo (seriously, try one). After we were finished with lunch and the crowd had died down, owners Ben Berman and Jack Barber took a few minutes to introduce themselves. During our conversation about lunch in Portland, their approach to cooking a great meal from a mobile kitchen, and the number of trucks popping up around town. One thing that was said has really stuck with me: the two opened Mainely Burgers with the goal that a person could visit Portland and have lunch with them, then dinner at a place like Fore Street, and leave town completely blown away by the food scene. When the duo opens their new truck, Mainely Treats next week, you can bet that we’ll be waiting in line.
We found El Corazon last week parked at the intersection of India and Commercial, right across from Benkay. A delicious carne asada burrito, a couple of tacos, and two refreshing pineapple ginger agua frescas later, and we were stuffed and smiling in the shade of a stoop across the street, watching the constant stream of patrons lining up at the truck.
After our lunch from El Corazon, Meredith saw on facebook that Love Cupcakes‘s Falmouth trailer would be open that afternoon, so we promptly headed up 295 for a little lunchtime dessert (we’re fans of dessert after all three meals… and sometimes in between). Although not technically their Portland truck, the cupcakes served up from this picturesque stand, parked beneath an apple tree beside Foreside Antiques on Route 1 was easily Meredith’s favorite truck to shoot. The chocolate-iced, vanilla cupcakes were obviously a required staple, but the lime and coconut-iced, chocolate cupcake stole the show and make me want to return in the near future for their next special.
Sometimes a spontaneous date night can be just the thing to make your week right. They don’t always need a ton of planning and can just be low-key and casual, but there’s something about spending an evening out of the house that helps to put even the hardest of days in the rearview mirror.
A couple of weeks ago, Meredith and I were meeting our friends Brook and Daniel for happy hour at Zapoteca, and before we knew it, the evening had become a date night away from the couch, with drinks, pizza, and even a beach walk with Orvis.
Happy hour at Zapoteca, with habanero watermelon margaritas and appetizers, was a tasty, fantastic deal, and afterwards we were no longer in the mood to cook dinner, so Otto Pizza was a natural choice. When we finally made it back home, we belayed Orvis’s guilting stare with a walk to Fisherman’s Point at Willard Beach. As the sun set over the beach, I couldn’t help but smile at the happiness our evening had afforded us.
We were driving around Portland’s Longfellow Square the other day when we spotted the new umbrellas outside one of our favorite restaurants in town, Petite Jacqueline, and it made us so excited for the many al fresco meals we hope to enjoy there this summer. Soon after I stopped daydreaming about all of the cheese and rosé I plan on consuming at Petite, I received these scans from a forgotten roll of film I’d shot back in February. A trio of tasty cheeses, a seasonal salad, and an order of Michael’s favorite, the beef bourguignon – I’m sure you’ll find a similar spread on our table this summer!
Contact Information - Daydreaming about: Petite Jacqueline
Portland, Maine 04101
Taking a cooking class or attending one of the feasts at Salt Water Farm in Lincolnville was high on my list of things for Michael and I to do last summer, but unfortunately life got in the way and we just couldn’t make it work. Over the winter I was delighted to hear that owner, Annemarie Ahearn, was opening up a cafe and market in nearby Rockport. Finding a chance to take one of the farm’s classes during a busy wedding season might not be doable, but who doesn’t have time for lunch (or brunch, or dinner, or drinks!) with a view of Penobscot Bay?
When planning my day around the wedding I was shooting in Camden over the weekend, I made sure that I’d have plenty of time to stop in for a leisurely lunch at the newly opened cafe & market at Union Hall before I needed to make my way over to Camden. The bright, open space inside the restored 19th century Union Hall building is the perfect home for the local-inspired restaurant that believes in preparing “simple, nourishing food using ingredients that honor their time and place.”
After browsing the selection of the goods in the market, picking up a lovely table linen, and the latest issue of Kinfolk, I placed my lunch order: a Spanish Tortilla with Maine Grown Potatoes and Chorizo, accompanied by the Salt Water Farm salad. (It should be noted that I would have happily ordered literally anything on the lunch menu – it all sounded, smelled, and looked fantastic, which is why I plan to return with Michael as soon we have the chance!) My meal was delicious, of course, but the experience of enjoying a meal at the new Salt Water Cafe & Market goes well beyond the food. Eating in such a delightfully open space adorned by fresh flowers, with a view of both the kitchen and the water is an experience that shouldn’t be missed, and plenty of reason for many, many return trips.
Contact Information - Salt Water Farm Cafe & Market
Rockport, Maine 04856
At last month’s Hush Hush #4, our friend Anestes couldn’t stop raving about the soft opening he’d just come from for a new sandwich place on Dana Street, and since he knows a thing or two about Portland’s food scene, it wasn’t long before a whole contingent of us were prepping to make a late night run to the Blue Rooster Food Company.
With a menu pleasantly stuffed with the likes of tater tots, housemade potato chips, ricotta and chile brussels sprouts (quite possibly the best in town), savory sandwiches, and a variety of delicious hotdogs (we’d recommend the Colombian and Junkyard), it’s almost impossible to find something that won’t blow you away for lunch, dinner, or late night. I could rave about each bite we’ve enjoyed here, but I’d be far from the first person to do so, and even further from the last.
We’ve spoken to co-owner Damian Sansonetti on each of our trips to the Blue Rooster, and love the level of excitement and high-brow culinary talent that he brings to the coolest of casual walk-in eateries. The Blue Rooster fills the perfect need in Portland when you don’t want to sit down for long but still want to be wowed with every bite. If you work in the Old Port and don’t make the Blue Rooster a priority for your next lunch day, you’re missing out.
Contact Information - Blue Rooster Food Company
Portland, Maine 04101