Portland, ME (or the city that I do love)
There have been mutterings from the few readers I still have that I haven’t updated in a while (oh dear, looks like they’re right!), so here goes–The Great Nova Scotia Road Trip, Part II.
Portland. Portland, Maine. Few people believe me when I say “who needs Portland, Oregon when there’s Portland, Maine?” but it’s true–I’ve fallen in love with a gray, rocky coasted, local foods filled, cheerful town in a state that’s waaay up there.
After rolling into town at meeting up with M., our super awesome couchsurfing host, we rolled downtown on bicycles, taking a few of the famous bike paths and watching the sun dip behind the harbor. Our first requirement was a delicious, cold beer and M.’s suggestion of Novare Res was fantastic and exactly what I wanted. The bar is hard to find–down an alley with a small sign hidden behind an oak, but it’s worth finding. Specializing in all Belgian beers, the list was several pages long and I recognized only a few of the brews on tap (something I dearly miss living in Roanoke). We all ordered a different beer and passed them back and forth, tasting and analyzing each, determining, of course, that they were all perfect. Another cool thing is that Novare Res had about 5 different gluten-free beers available. I didn’t know that many GF beers existed on the market!
After a drink, we hopped back on the bikes (avoiding the cobblestones, thankfully), and rode around to several restaurants before deciding on Local 188. Oh, Local 188, what is there not to say about you? The restaurant was mid-size, with tables and chairs and couches and nooks scattered throughout, giving it a nice, open feel. Very bohemian-esque decorated, low lighting, and a young, sexy-intellectual crowd. Now this is the part of the game where I lose some of you, but every animal product I ate was local and sustainably sourced, and, yes, this trip was very animal product oriented. Now, with that said, the food, my god, the food was incredible.
Although everything came out at the same time, I’m going to separate everything into courses. First course was a Scallop Ceviche with Mango Shaved Ice & Siracha-Truffle Oil Sauce. Best scallop of the trip, hands down. Silky with enough chew to it, the siracha truffle oil sauce made it shine with just enough heat and some earthiness.
Second course was a Blueberry Sage Polenta topped with goat cheese. The polenta was grilled, giving it a nice crunch on the outside, yet keeping it creamy-smooth on the inside. Blueberries & sage, of course, pair beautifully, and the local goat cheese was heavenly rich with the acidic bite I love so much about it.
Third was our favorite of the night: Garlic Chili Gnocchi with roasted beets & zucchini, topped with cheese curds. Orgasmic. Absolutely orgasmic. After we took the first bite together there was a collective silence at the table, a stillness, if you will. I have no words to describe how perfectly rich the gnocchi was, how caramelized the sear was on the outside, how I don’t like beets but those beets melted in my mouth and I could eat them everyday. The perfect dish.
Fifth was a disappointing, but still delicious course of roasted lobster with vanilla scented butter on a bed of black bean salsa. I’ve never had roasted lobster before, and I like it a lot–it has a nicer chew to it, but the vanilla was fairly absent to my palate. A good dish, but nothing like that gnocchi or the scallops.
Of course I had a beer with it: Andrew’s (Lincolnville, Maine) Summer Golden Ale.
Afterwards we wandered around, drank another beer or two at some Irish pub, and shot the shit about traveling, life, books, bikes, and everything else that’s good in the world. After a beer on M.’s porch we hit the sack.
The next morning, before we left town for the great north, we brunched at The Good Egg–the brunch alter ego of The Pepperclub. Mary of Mitten Machen reviewed Pepperclub a few months ago, and when I knew I’d be going through Portland, I knew I had to go. It just sounded too good to pass up.
Brunch was definitely uber satisfying–locally roasted coffee, tofu scramble, taters. The tofu scramble was different, and not my favorite (the nooch was tossed on top of silken tofu, so it was kind of bland), but overall, good food. G. & I also split a stack of Maine blueberry pancakes with local maple syrup. Nom.
Stomaches happily filled, we got in the car, and headed north for Canada!