Discovering the food scene in Portland, Maine & a quick stop in New Hampshire
Why Portland, Maine?
I’ve been willing to visit Maine to explore the seacoast and try some New England cuisine for a while. So when my husband needed to draft a CFA mock exam, we jumped to the occasion to visit Portland since the University of Maine was offering such exam for free. So around this time, a year ago, we decided to embark on this road trip! Not knowing much about Portland, I was a bit worried to wait for him for more than 7 hours alone, in this smallish city, as I might not have much to do. All I knew about Maine was that they had great lobster rolls.
As Jeremy went for his exam, I stayed in the city and wander around. It didn’t take me too long to like the city and the New England vibe. Portland will seduce you with its old architectural buildings made with red brick, cobblestones streets and sea breeze. After a stroll around the beach, I headed back to the city and visited a few art galleries and shopped at some thrift stores. Portland has everything you love from a small city and the all the food and artsy scene of a big city. The only downside was the foggy, rainy and chilly weather; it didn’t make the tour as enjoyable as I wished it would be.
During our last day, we decided to explore a little the surroundings and went to the landmark of the city, the Lighthouse, Portland Head Light in the Fort Williams Park. Unfortunately, the fog did not allow us to see much. The shores cutting sharply to the cliffs and the rocky sea looked very dramatic with the dense fog.
The food & beer scene
Due to my professed love for lobster rolls, I was on a mission to eat as many lobster rolls as I could during our 3-day trip. There is something about the combination of the sugary bread that goes perfectly with the lobster. The dish is so simple yet so delicious.
To top the immense variety of lobster rolls, Maine is the home of great craft beers. Indeed, you can enjoy and visit more than 50 breweries throughout the state. This was a jackpot for me, Lobster roll + Craft beer = Happy belly!
Joke aside, to my big surprise, the food and beer scene is delicious and vibrant. The lobster rolls are amazing and each restaurant added its own personal touch. Most of the places use local ingredients as you can taste the freshness out of every bite. The beer is rich and full of flavour.
These culinary discoveries will make the visit to the city worth the road trip.
Where to eat & drink:
Eventide Oyster Co. I will highly recommend it to everyone. The seafood selection lives to the expectation of a port city. Plus the lobster rolls are in a Chinese bun and the sauce comes with a twist, mayo, and brown butter vinaigrette or hollandaise.
Bayside American Cafe. Lobster benedicts eggs anyone?
Portland lobster company. Classic lobster roll
Liquid Riot Bottling Company. A brewery, distillery and resto bar will give you plenty of choices to your palate.
Sebago breweries. have several locations throughout the state. Let their IPA delight you.
Maine Beer Company. Every beer has its personal story written on the bottle. They are part of the 1% for the Planet Program which I think is pretty cool! This brewery is not technically in Portland but it's only a few miles away and is worth the detour.
Maine Spirits. Their motto “A FARM to FLASK Distillery” will impress you with their products. Maine being the largest producer of blueberry in the U.S., we tasted and loved the BLUESHINE, a blueberry moonshine. The shine goes perfectly with cocktails as we discovered it back home.
Things I regret: Not doing the Casco Bay tour and visiting more lighthouses. The weather conditions were not optimal during our visit.
Beautiful discoveries in New Hampshire
On our way back, we decided to spend the night in New Hampshire to make the drive more enjoyable. Sadly, New Hampshire looked very shaken by the economic crisis, lots of trailer parks and closed stores.
We rented a cabin through Airbnb, which I must admit was a bit creepy as it was on the mountainside/ backyard of a house. It looked like the perfect setting for the next horror movie. After enjoying a night in The Cabin in the Woods, we hit the road and drove through The White National Forest. The road is beautiful as it zigzags through the Appalaches.
The panorama was astonishing. Cutting through the mountains, you will drive by lakes, rivers, dense forest, picnic area, to name a few. Along the way, we stopped several times at observation points, hiking to explore the area. Note that the National Park offers different activities such as skiing, hiking, camping throughout the seasons.
This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.