Portland: A Foodie’s Delight

Before I delve into a food frenzy recap of Part III. of my Summer 2010 New England Road Trip, I must confess a few things…

One is that, my palate will never be too sophisticated for Oreos.  Especially when a craving hits me and they just so happen to be on sale (and it’s fate).  Two, is that I may have just eaten a couple of said cookie for breakfast.  Oop’s.  Also, sometimes I enjoy eating honey teddy grams, accompanied by a little cup of milk.  I promise I don’t spend all my time eating cookies.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

Part III:  Portland, Maine











This is the view from the back porch of Jay’s dad’s house, in Freeport, and the Casco Castle, across the street from the front of their house.  I was a little obsessed with both views.  The tower stands as the only remnant of what used to be a beautiful hotel – it burned in a fire in 1914.  I just love the fact that it looks so medieval, like it was built in the 1200s and looks like something you’d see in the UK.



















This is Grace.  Is it a church or a restaurant?  From the outside, in it’s location downtown, in Portland, it appears to be a church and at one time it certainly was.  It was built in 1856 or 1857 and used to serve as a Methodist church.  The architecture is of Gothic revival and the church was renovated just a few years ago and turned into a restaurant.  It is one of the most unique dining experiences I’ve ever had.  When you walk in, you almost feel as if everything should be hushed and eating and drinking (especially alcohol) feel slightly inappropriate and taboo.  The kitchen is where the pulpit once was and it’s an open one, so the artful acts conducted can be seen by the diners.  While the menu is innovative and sophisticated – I ordered a cocoa rubbed salmon with cucumber and rye and wheatberries with a quail egg – (a first for me, but this tender little mauve colored delicacy tasted fishy and mushy), the food was sort of a letdown.  I actually wasn’t crazy about my dish and my company also found their food to be tasty but inferior to the atmosphere and not mountable to the prices.

I must say the clever cocktail menu, with drink names such as “Holier than Thou, “Original Sin,” and “Ave Maria” were deserving of praise.  I ordered some sort of a gin, cucumber and basil concoction and enjoyed feeling sort of heathenistic while I sipped on it in such a gorgeously controversial, possibly sacrilegious environment.  I definitely recommend visiting Grace because the experience alone is worth it, and maybe we just committed some ordering blunders and need to give it another try.  However, I think it’s more of a cocktail and appetizer destination before visiting one of Portland’s other finer restaurants (and there are endless ones to choose from).  Bon Appetit Magazine donned Portland as “America’s Foodiest Small Town,” in 2009 and that is a title not to be reckoned with, for the city’s epicurean endeavors are ones to be proud of and to be partaken in.



















If you’re interested in treating yourself to quite arguably one of the best whoopie pies in New England, you need to make a trip to Two Fat Cats Bakery.  Not overly sweet or fancy, melt-in-your-mouth, light and fluffy, with the perfect icing to cakey cookie ratio, these whoopie pies represent everything a whoopie pie should be.  Their bubbling, rustic looking fruit pies resting on racks and shelves for a proud display are equally tempting.










While Two Fat Cats may be the ultimate sweets destination in Portland, especially if it’s cupcakes or whoopie pies you’re after, but the Standard Baking Company is without a doubt, an essential spot for bread.  Their croissants and this blueberry oat scone (that I just had to sample, after reading this article by Molly Wizenberg), don’t disappoint and they have other sweet staples, (biscotti, cookies, financiers, etc.).  However, I don’t feel they contest with the incredible english muffins or various other artisan boules and batards.  The fact that the owners and employees are so humble and passionate about the work they do, only adds to the charm of this place.  One of the employees and I shared a great conversation and compared the bakeries we work in (neither of them have websites and do little advertising and focus primarily on bread baking).  Contrary to other bakeries baking through the night, Standard bakes their breads all throughout the day, to better lure in patrons with the smell of fresh bread wafting from the ovens.

A panini and duck fat fries from the greatest lunch spot in Portland, Duckfat.  We actually went there on a more recent trip to Portland, this past fall.  This particular panini was duck confit with sweet chili sauce and kimchi and even though Jay loved it, I wasn’t too fond of it.  His ham & swiss was great though and the fries alone are well worth a visit.  We ate them with truffle ketchup, garlic aioli and duckfat gravy – and all were delicious dipping accompaniments.  Duckfat is an intimate but casual spot and has specials and beignets that I’d love to try next time.


After lunch at Duckfat, we headed right over to Miucci Grocery, nearby and picked up some wine and pasta for dinner that night.  If we hadn’t just stuffed our bellies over at Duckfat, we wouldn’t have been able to resist the freshly made, gigantic square pizza slices in the back of this classic, old Italian market.


*Coming Soon:  Bar Harbor*


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