Roadtrip: Portland, Maine

I know Portland must be a fantastic town because the weather was terrible, very English-seaside actually, and I still loved it. I’ve been wanting to go back to Maine ever since a vacation to Acadia National Forest several years ago, which consisted of days filled with fresh, pine-scented air, bike rides, blueberries, lobster, and boat rides. If any of these things sound like your idea of heaven, you should really get yourself to Maine.

Luckily a pair of my friends were getting married in Portland so I had an excuse to visit the state again. If you’re going to Portland here are a few things you might not want to miss.

Street and Co. where the rest of the table ordered fantastic-tasting lobster and they were still impressed by the swordfish I went for (which was, yes, stunning tasting, and didn’t require breaking anything open to eat some food. But I also got to taste plenty of their lobster).

 

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For breakfast, we tried Hot Suppa and you should definitely try it too. I think all I have to say here is that if you want them to, they will put bacon directly in your fresh waffle, and then serve the whole thing with Maine maple syrup.

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Duckfat. If the name alone doesn’t convince you, maybe this isn’t your kind of place. But if you know that cooking things in duck fat makes them all delicious, they are definitely doing that here. I just stopped in for a snack, so all I had was a small cone of fries and some truffled ketchup, but wow, I want to go back.

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While you’re in the area you have to check out Rabelais Books. It is my idea of a dream store. They had just about my whole cookbook collection there plus hundreds of other cookbooks, books about food, and food journals. They even carry Fire & Knives! Also, they are very nice, and let me talk their ear off about food books. I wanted to quit my job and just volunteer there.

Alas, instead I hopped in the car and had one last lobster roll before driving back to NYC. The folks at Rabelais (and the internet) had recommended the Lobster Shack at Two Lights. They probably have one of the best settings for a lobster shack anywhere around. On a nice day you can sit outside and really soak in the sea air and the sounds of fog horns. Sadly it was cold and drizzly the day we were there, but it was still worth the drive. We focused more on the rolls themselves. The lobster was very fresh and I loved my clam chowder too. I have to say though that the rolls were on the small side, and risked being overwhelmed by the huge dollop of mayonnaise on top (unless you have the foresight not to smear it all over your crustacean). If I was going to have just one lobster roll in Maine, I’d go back to Red’s Eats further up the coast, but if you’re in Portland, Two Lights is a great choice.

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On a non-food note, if you collect music, vinyl especially, there are lots of great shopping opportunities here. If I had to pick two, I’d send you to Enterprise and Bull Moose. There’s also a great community of artists and crafters in town, so save some room in your suitcase for the trip back. I hope it isn’t too long before I’m back in Maine again.

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