If there’s one thing gourmands love more than food, it’s other food-driven personalities. And when two of your best friends are equally (if not more) adventurous when it comes to menus, vacations are just that much more fun.
High spirits, empty stomachs, smartphone GPS systems and cameras were all we needed for our afternoon-into-evening food crawl in Portland, Maine. We’d all received enthusiastic recommendations from various friends and Internet followers, with some must-stops on our own lists. Somehow, we timed it all perfectly.
First stop: J’s Oyster Bar for two dozen on the half-shell and some local beers:
Although we could have downed another few dozen, we moved on to stop #2: Duckfat.
The willpower we exhibited to stick to one large order of fries = superhuman. But we did, and it was perfect, with plain aioli, smoked tomato aioli and Duckfat’s rocking truffle ketchup for our dipping sauces.
On to the next: Fore Street. Our plans had changed a bit; I’d made reservations for Monday evening, but shifted our Portland travel to Saturday due to impending rain and a short window of beach time. Therefore, we found ourselves in line at 4:22 p.m. to put our names on a walk-in list at 5 p.m. We were the third table seated. Boom.
And when you see what we ordered, you’ll understand why we resisted the charcuterie, panini and beignets at Duckfat…
This end of the meal exchange summed up our experience:
Ben: “Leeanne, did you cancel our Monday reservation yet?”
Me: “Yes, when we sat down.”
Ben: *big sigh* *hangs his head in disappointment* “Damn it!”
After dinner, a mile or so walk took us to Pai men Miyake, where Rob somehow fit in a bowl of spicy ramen. Tipsily, he described it as “the elixir of life” – and polished off the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.
Still full, I settled on a mouth-puckering yuzu lemonade with bits of shiso leaf, which would have been ideal for a hot afternoon.
Anchoring our crawl was the last stop, Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream, with some of the most inventive flavors I’ve ever seen on the East Coast. I imagine it’s Portland’s answer to the wildly creative Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco.
I ended up with Atlantic Brewing Company stout ice cream with pieces of fudge. It was delicious, but didn’t pack nearly the flavor punch of Rob’s Banana Blackstrap Molasses or Ben’s perfect salted caramel. With more time, I might have tasted the mango jicama habanero sorbet or the Gorgonzola dolce with berry compote.
Sated and happy, we headed back to the car, where the first raindrops started to fall just as we entered the parking garage. Portland, we shall return, and for a longer stay next time.