Maine Road Trip – the wrap-up

J's Oyster Bar, Portland, Maine

From Susan: It may surprise you to learn that Portland, Maine is a food fanatics paradise. From down and dirty seafood dives like J’s Oyster Bar – where we have been known to slurp down a few dozen of our favorite bivalves – to restaurants led by James Beard award-winning chefs – Rob Evans of Hugo’s and Sam Hayward of Fore Street – this small city boasts more than its fair share of excellent eateries. As an aside, Portland continues to make the James Beard list – this year, Hayward is nominated as Outstanding Chef and Fore Street as Outstanding Restaurant. Chef Krista Kern Desjarlais of Bresca is nominated for Best Chef, Northeast.

Chef / Owner David Iovino, Blue Spoon, Portland, Maine

BLT, Blue Spoon, Portland, Maine

In addition to the fantastic restaurants we visited for the Boho story, we enjoyed a terrific lunch at Blue Spoon. Saturday mid-day, Ted was on the verge of getting cranky when, thanks to a recommendation from a local merchant, we sought out this tiny storefront in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Munjoy Hill. Chef/owner David Iovino told us that he had been looking for a place in Montclair, NJ (our hometown) – when he couldn’t find one, he upped and moved to Maine, bought the building that houses the restaurant and now happily lives upstairs with a great view of Casco Bay. Ted’s mood improved vastly after wolfing a rustic BLT made with earthy local bread and thick bacon; I went lighter with a salad of greens, thinly sliced green apple, toasted nuts and goat cheese. Of course, like nearly all Portland restaurants, Blue Spoon offers a selection of local beers – Maine is also a beer lovers paradise!

Portland street scene

Local Tavern, Portland, Maine

Inside Two Fat Cats Bakery, Portland, Maine

Micucci Grocery, Portland, Maine

Duck Fat, Portland, Maine

We could have spent weeks eating our way through the city, but since we had to come back to earth in New Jersey, checked out a few places we’ll spend more time in next visit. Behind its deceptively simple storefront, Micucci Grocery Store is a winding, treasure-filled maze of Italian cheeses, specialty foods, groceries, baked goods and wine, with a tiny cafe in the back. We brought home homemade whoopie pies and cookies from Two Fat Cats Bakery, part of the same Portland food empire as Fore Street. And we looked longingly in the window at Duck Fat, remembering the astonishingly good French fries (yes, fried in duck fat) that we scarfed down in the car two summers ago after gorging on oysters at J’s!

No trip to Maine would be complete without a stop at the New Hampshire State Liquor Store to stock up on wine, and hooch – Mt. Gay rum and a couple varieties of gin, to be specific … summer is coming, after all. But the NHSLS does not sell beer, so thanks to a tip from our friend, Mainer Kevin Colby, we found our way to Gary’s Beverages, just a short drive off the highway in Portsmouth. Walk past the cigarette and beef jerky displays near the entrance and you will find yourself in a veritable kingdom of beer, including many hard-to-find labels – at seriously discounted prices. We think we’ve stocked in enough to last us for quite awhile!

Our souvenirs

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6 thoughts on “Maine Road Trip – the wrap-up

  1. I’m reserving space in your car next time you go! You can’t talk about all this mouth watering food without including me. Not to worry, I’ll leave the dogs home; they’d love to spend a weekend with Gracie and Ella!! Great reporting, great photos, great feel to be the vicarious onlooker.

  2. As Joan’s pilates instructor and friend, I may have to join her when she visits Maine. Great meals and then we’ll stretch!

    • Oh boy could I use a stretch – and some pilates core work – after this weekend’s feeding frenzy! We did walk a lot, however … and then there’s that healthy Maine air! :) Thanks for reading! Susan

  3. Hi guys,
    Glad you had such a great time here in Portland. Your pics look great.
    Next time your in town and want some oysters, look to Old Port Sea Grill instead of J’s because they serve actual Maine oysters – J’s buy Virginia oysters which have less flavor.

    I love Colleen and the crew at J’s, but years ago I had such terrible oysters there, I got so mad I opened my own oyster bar on my old lobsterboat, here on Casco Bay, and ran it for three summers. Best gig I ever had.

    Better yet, drop in on Harbor Fish Market and buy your own. Find a bit of waterfront to rinse them off, and settle down with a nice Sancerre. Call me if you need help opening ‘em.

    johnnyd

    • Hi Johnny – thanks for checking us out! Opening oysters is something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do – and just a couple of years ago (on Thanksgiving with my family in Maine) we got the hang of it (we’re pretty slow, though …) We spend the month of July on Southport and get ours directly from Glidden Point – they’re our absolute favorites! Susan

      • I didn’t realize Glidden was that close.
        I used to drive up to Mook Sea Farm on the other side of the river once a week to stock my boat. One week, they gave me these huge platters that had fallen off the platforms – probably 7 years old. Too big to eat raw so we put them on a portable grill, and they’d pop open in about 4 minutes, nicely poached in it’s own liquor, ready to eat

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