Portland, Maine: not just for seafood
Exploring new cities is all about eating.
Last week I ate my way through Portland, Maine. Sam and I traveled to the coast for his sister's wedding. Prior to leaving, I shared a Google map with him. A few book stores made the map, but I was most interested in bakeries. When I travel, I seek bakeries where I can eat cupcakes, cookies, or some specialty items. You're probably surprised by the fact that I did't say seafood. I knew seafood would be involved and that I didn't need to plan for it.
When we arrived on Wednesday, we were existing on the fumes of the McDonald's breakfast food we ate at DIA. I was ready for dinner. After receiving a few recommendations from Sam's soon-to-be-brother-in-law, we decided on Fore Street. The moment we walked through the door we could smell the food and feel the warmth from the kitchen. An open kitchen format allows diners to watch chefs in their element. From my seat I could see whole chickens roasting and chefs finishing dishes. I opted for half a rotisserie chicken with sourdough bread fried in duck fat. The duck fat is what sold me. Unlike the falsely advertised whole suckling pig at the Stanley Hotel, I was presented with half a rotisserie chicken.
It wasn't just the hunger that made me think this was the best rotisserie chicken. The skin was crispy and seasoned well while the meat was juicy and easy to get off the bone. The sourdough bread was the perfect complimentary bread. I would welcome an entire basket of that bread.
There was one dairy-free dessert option: a sorbet flight. Despite eating half a chicken, I indulged in dessert.
The banana was my favorite, but I was pleasantly surprised by the pineapple mango. All of the flavors were smooth and made me contemplate purchasing an ice cream machine.
On our map of bakeries, the first food stop I added was The Holy Donut. I stumbled across this donut shop when searching for vegan bakeries in Portland. Unlike Denver or Boulder, there wasn't a single bakery that came up as solely vegan. I've grown so accustomed to dietary restriction accommodation that this surprised me. Donuts made with riced potatoes–not potato flour–intrigued me. We were in Portland from Wednesday through Sunday and The Holy Donut was the first stop on our list every morning.
The vegan cinnamon sugar was my first choice. Though there were only two options for vegans (cinnamon and triple berry) I was content. The donuts were fluffy, filling, and full of flavor. Unlike most donuts I've eaten, I didn't feel hungry an hour after. Sam tried several flavors, but was addicted to the bacon cheddar filled donut. We bought half a dozen to bring home and I'm surprised they made it all the way to Denver!
After swinging by the wedding venue and enjoying Allagash's Curieux–an ale aged in bourbon barrels for eight weeks–it was off to lunch. With a nail appointment approaching, we opted to dine at The Honey Paw. The Korean fried chicken sandwich and a side of assorted pickles hit the spot before we rushed off to have our nails done.
The restaurants in Portland continued to impress. Though the food at the wedding was absolutely phenomenal–I was addicted to chips that tasted like the ocean–Thursday night's rehearsal dinner at Scales was my favorite. Before ordering, I choose two or three dishes I'd enjoy. This way, if my first choice cannot be made dairy-free, I have backups. My first choice at Scales could be made without the dairy and I looked no further.
Seafood stew with a toasted piece of bread served in a cast iron skillet was placed in front of me.
I came close to licking the cast iron. The tomato base was creamy and full of seafood. I enjoyed picking out the mussels and drinking the soup from their shells.
When thinking of Portland, Maine prior to my trip, I didn't expect to be in a food coma for four days. Full of deliciousness, this was a much needed and enjoyed vacation.