My mom is a foodie. Truly. And so one year for her birthday I bought her two passes to Maine Foodie Tours. We took the tour on a midweek morning a few summers ago. The day we were going on the tour it poured, wrath of god rain. But for some reason wires got crossed and the very nice lady who runs the tours called my house in Pennsylvania and not the house in Maine to offer to re-schedule the tour, so we bundled up (it was cold too) and headed into Portland. On the tour you make at least six stops to sample some of the delicious treats Portland has to offer. It was still raining when the tour was supposed to start but was beginning to stop so even though our tour guide offered to take us a different day we decided to carry on. It was great. Everyone else wimped out so it was just my mom and I on the tour (and my two year old). Highlights of the tour were stopping for Whoopie Pies at Two Fat Cats Bakery, local cheeses at K. Horton, granola from Big Sky and chocolate at Deen's Sweets. It's not that I didn't like the other spots I just LOVED these stops. I never had a Whoopie Pie before. Now, it's a stop every time I'm in Portland and all winter I dream about my first one of the summer. As we were walking to Deen's Sweets we passed Rabelais, an entire bookstore dedicated to cookbooks. WOW! Did I mention that we happened to take the tour on the day when Portland's farmers market was in full swing in at Pioneer Square. Portland's midweek farmers market is full of fruit, veggies, meats and beautiful plants. There's always something to take home. The Old Port Culinary Tour took about two hours to complete and we loved every minute of our tour. If you love food, you'll love this tour. I am going to book another one of their tours for next summer.
This is a picture from the end of the tour, yes, my kid is sitting on the bar at Gritty McDuff's and no, I didn't let her have any. The good stuff is for Mommy and Mimi.
The Foodie Tour isn't the only part of Portland that makes it Foodie paradise. J's Oyster Bar is another favorite of ours. The place looks like a dive on the outside but they make incredible Lobster Bisque. My mother loves their Mussels and I love their Seafood Casserole. Last time it came to the table with a nice juicy lobster claw hanging out of the side. If you want to eat there I suggest getting there early, especially if you want an outside table, because there are only about six. What else ,you say, well, still in Old Port is one of my families favorite Japanese Restaurants, Fuji. Love the Miso soup, love the sushi, love the tempura. Lunch is reasonably priced and we have always been able to get a seat even when the cruise ship mobs have descended. I could go on, and I will, about Duckfat. What else can you say? Fries made with duck fat. Homemade milkshakes, paninis and soups. I almost forgot about another favorite, Flatbread Pizza. Organic ingredients with an open kitchen, showcasing the pizza ovens. I eat here all the time. Last time I ordered a salad with lunch and they served it with goat cheese, which was delicious. I asked about it and they buy it from a local producer, who I now get it from. Same with their sausage. I buy from their supplier at the farmers market on Wednesday or Saturday. Another wonderful option in Old Port. I almost forgot to add my my other favorite, a place in Cape Elizabeth, Terra Cotta Pasta. They have fresh pasta, sauces and all sorts of other Italian goodies. The prices are great, the people are friendly and they sell frozen Sfogliatelle which I can bake at home all winter.
Not in Portland but worth a mention because we basically just drove over from New Hampshire to get there is When Pigs Fly bakery. Bread. Carbs glorious carbs. They have a couple of locations, one in Kittery, York and Freeport. They might have more, those are the ones I have visited personally. Their bread is everything bread should be, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Last trip I brought home Oatmeal Honey and Caramel Pecan Cluster. Need I say more?
I know you're probably thinking that I haven't covered enough to really qualify Portland as foodie heaven. But there are too many quality places to cover. And most places in Portland are keenly aware of local farmers, local goods and quality. There are gourmet options, but I have a two year old and nights out are few and far between, maybe next summer I'll get to Fore. There are a ton of restaurants in Portland. Rumor says that there are more per resident than San Francisco. I have no idea if that's true but I know that I have not sampled them all but am willing to try.