back from Portland Maine!

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wanderingjew
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2004/12/05 16:17:33 (permalink)

back from Portland Maine!

Just got back from Portland Maine. My shopping spree at LL Bean didn't turn out as well as I expected. I was hoping to find some good deals on sweaters, however I can get just as good of a deal here at the local Macy's. I did get a really cool down vest jacket.

Anyway, I'm hear to talk about the food. I arrived at the Maine Diner yesterday around 9:30am. I had the eggs with red flannel hash, homefries, a blueberry muffin and baked beans. The baked beans were good, "molassesy" and had pieces of bacon in it. the blueberry muffin was good, however the star attraction was the red flannel hash. It was greasless and had chunks of corned beef and potato, the antithesis of what you'd find in a can. As I headed up to Portland I stopped at a couple of coffee houses to try their "Joe". Portland Roasters' house coffee in the old port was nothing special, and Coffee by Design voted best coffee in Portland was just a little better. I had the Kenya Blend. After walking from the Old Port up to the LL Bean outlet store on Congress Street and the Public Library and back to the Old Port, I stopped at my favorite chowder house- Gilbert's. The Clam Cakes were delicious and crispy and go really good with tartar sauce. The super seafood chowder was chock full of scallops, clams, shrimp and is that lobster I tasted? The only down side is that the chowder could have been a little hotter, but truth of the matter is, I didn't care. I then drove up to LL Bean in Freeport which I guess was the "Maine" purpose of my trip. When I returned to Portland that evening, I head up to the Portland Public market, which is actually only a few years old and is based on Seattle's Pike Place Market in design and format. One of the vendors there is Scales Fish Market. I believe the owner used to own Street and Company, a seafood restaurant in the old market. I got two 1.4 lb lobsters for $6.50 each. and for an extra $2.00 each, they cook it up and serve it to you. The stall has a couple of tables and counter seating. The lobsters were delicious, but it appeared that they had less meat than usual (or it could have been my imagination) Two lobsters, coleslaw, role and a 16 oz alligash wheat beer ran me $31.00 with tax and tip. Afterwards I walked to the Old Port and had a brown ale at Gritty's. Portland' premier brew pub.

This morning I went to the Friendship Cafe and got their bowl of Porridge. The Porridge came with brown, sugar, milk, and raisins on the side. The porridge consists of wheat, oats, barley, rye and corn, a healthful combination of grains. I also got an order of the Corned Beef Hash which was good, greasless, however a mere second place to the hash at the Maine Diner. Although I hadn't planned to order any, I was surprised to see that baked beans were no longer on the menu. I asked the waitress why, and she told me that they ended up throwing it out more often than not, which I thought was a shame, since Baked Beans for breakfast is what Maine is all about. She did say that they make it occasionally and put it on the Specials board.
Upon leaving Portland, I stopped at the Portland Head light before driving to Newburyport Mass. I strolled the quaint downtown area finding it hard to believe I was only 35 miles from downtown Boston. I stopped at the Gallery and Grille for lunch and had the Cape Cod Cakes, Baked Beans and Brown Bread. This came with ColeSlaw and a hot cherry pepper. All were good, actually the Cod Cakes was one big Fish Cake and came with homemade tartar, however the star attraction for lunch was the curried shrimp bisque I got as an appetizer. A great weekend/good shopping and fantastic food in Northern New England.
#1

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    Sundancer7
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/05 16:24:00 (permalink)
    Wanderingjew: Nice write up. I felt as if I were there with you. I have been to the public market and the Maine Diner. The Sunday after 9/11.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #2
    fcbaldwin
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/05 18:40:32 (permalink)


    WJ: Thanks for your great report of a great trip. I never knew that Baked Beans for Breakfast was the deal, but sounds mighty good to me. That item at the end of your write-up, the curried shrimp bisque, mmmmmm.... I'm trying to visualize and taste it...

    Frank
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    CheeseWit
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/05 20:01:08 (permalink)
    Dale,
    Good report! I enjoy Maine everytime I travel there.
    #4
    wanderingjew
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 10:54:14 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by fcbaldwin



    WJ: Thanks for your great report of a great trip. I never knew that Baked Beans for Breakfast was the deal, but sounds mighty good to me. That item at the end of your write-up, the curried shrimp bisque, mmmmmm.... I'm trying to visualize and taste it...

    Frank


    Frank,

    The B & M baked beans plant is in downtown Portland. That is the style of baked beans you'll find in New England, with Molasses not the tomatoey heinz baked beans stuff. I came across a web site which indicated that the typical Maine Breakfast consists of a bowl of oatmeal (or porridge) a mug of beans and a side of corned beef hash.
    #5
    mayor al
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 19:47:36 (permalink)
    One thing we love to do while visiting Portland is take the day-trip on the inter-island ferry/mailboat. About 5 hours of beautiful crusing between a bunch of the little islands in the bay delivering people, mail, and other stuff at each stop. Our last trip was a little over $10 per person, and worth a bunch more than that in the photos, conversation and sightseeing we were able to enjoy.
    I endorse your recommendation of the Maine Diner, The Lobster pie is my favorite choice there.
    Did you do any additional stops between Newburyport and Boston. As an alumnus of Salem State and a 5 year resident of the Cape Ann territory (40 years or so ago) I am always interested in the discoveries folks make in that area.

    I have to add a side note...but since it happened in Portland It won't take us far astray. We had been on the road for 3 weeks when we arrived in Portland on a summer excursion a few years back (98). The car was really crowded with "stuff" we bought at yard sales, flea markets and of course LL Bean. Jan came out of a flea market with a shiny/heavy 5 gallon Milk Can asking me to help make room in the overcrowded car for it. Well try as we could it just wouldn't work, but before she could take it back (saddened for sure) I asked her if she wanted to UPS it home. What a great idea !!! She decided we could use some of our new clothing on the trip and ship some of our Laundry home (to SoCal) stuffed into the Milk Can. SO We did. 3 more weeks on the road and we got home to find that our house-sitter had opened the can and done the laundry, It was folded and stacked on top of the closed can waiting for us ! Whenever we talk about our Portland adventure The Milk Can topic arises and we chuckle for a while !!
    #6
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 20:51:57 (permalink)
    I'll tell you Oh Mighty Wanderer, I envy you your trip. It sounds like a lot of fun and a lot of terrific eating. Boy, do I wish I could get away for even a couple of days like that.

    By the way, the reason you weren't able to get good deals at LL Bean might have something to do with the fact that I did most of my Christmas shopping there by mail this season. Sorry, I already bought everything.
    #7
    chezkatie
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 21:00:24 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    I'll tell you Oh Mighty Wanderer, I envy you your trip. It sounds like a lot of fun and a lot of terrific eating. Boy, do I wish I could get away for even a couple of days like that.

    By the way, the reason you weren't able to get good deals at LL Bean might have something to do with the fact that I did most of my Christmas shopping there by mail this season. Sorry, I already bought everything.


    I love it...............Under our Christmas tree will be many many LL Bean gifts. LL Bean has a wonderful return policy. If you feel that an item that you purchased was not as good as you expected or did not wear as well as you thought it should, you can return it and get a full refund. Once, we were on some tour in that area and the guide told us that so many people returned really nice boots and shoes that they had worn (and LL Bean shipped to local dump) that many people went "shopping" at the local dump for "new boots" and shoes. As a result, LL Bean destroys the boot and shoes that are returned. I do not know how true this is but it makes for a great story.
    #8
    Donna Douglass
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 21:19:51 (permalink)
    Wonderful story of your travels in Maine. We've been there only once but it was one of our very favorite trips of many we've taken over the years. Would love to go back and eat our way up the coast, but guess those days are behind us now.

    Thanks for the good descriptions.....we can enjoy vicariously.

    Donna
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    stanpnepa
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 22:16:22 (permalink)
    We were at LL Bean last summer. My wife (who orders from the catalog at least twice a year) was disappointed. No real bargains. Though she did get a kick out of exchanging a mail-ordered item in person. The "bargain" store across the street didn't have much either...unless you are looking for a "ZQ" monogrammed shirt at 50% off!

    We went in the evening (they never close) after dinner at Haraseeket Lunch and Lobster, where we tried our first lobster roll. They held their own---until the next day when we fell in love with The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport (so much so we ordered another one the next day too)! Didn't make it to the Maine Diner, but that sounds like another excuse for a trip to what IMHO may very well be my favorite region of America---and not just for the food!
    #10
    Spudnut
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 22:29:54 (permalink)
    Thanks, WJ. I make it to Kennebunkport for a short weekend on occasion to see a friend (maybe every three or four years), and never make it to Portland beyond the excursion to/from the airport -- and the Seadogs. I've been delighted with a couple of places in Kennebunkport (including Mabel's), but have figured it was worth spending time in Portland for culinary reasons.
    #11
    chezkatie
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 22:31:29 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by stanpnepa

    We were at LL Bean last summer. My wife (who orders from the catalog at least twice a year) was disappointed. No real bargains. Though she did get a kick out of exchanging a mail-ordered item in person. The "bargain" store across the street didn't have much either...unless you are looking for a "ZQ" monogrammed shirt at 50% off!

    We went in the evening (they never close) after dinner at Haraseeket Lunch and Lobster, where we tried our first lobster roll. They held their own---until the next day when we fell in love with The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport (so much so we ordered another one the next day too)! Didn't make it to the Maine Diner, but that sounds like another excuse for a trip to what IMHO may very well be my favorite region of America---and not just for the food!


    At the Haraseeket. we had the very best blueberry pie that we have ever eaten. As I understand it, the homemade pies were made by a local woman and brought in and they were fabulous. IMHO, you ate the best lobster roll in the world when you had one at the Clam Shack. Whenever we have gone to that area on vacation, we have driven over there every single noon for lobster rolls and one order of their fried clams which we share as an appetizer............that is truly great eating.
    #12
    Grampy
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/06 22:57:05 (permalink)
    I hear that the only cellphone use in all of Maine is by that big boot outside L.L.Bean. Can this be confirmed? Is it a giant antenna? Has anyone tasted the boot? Could it be mashed potatoes in the guise of a boot?

    dahn-DAHN-Dahn-dahn-Dah!

    From afar......way afar......Grampy (aka: keep-your-monster-of-the-id-in-check-Morbius)
    #13
    mr chips
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/07 02:51:54 (permalink)
    Envy you your trip. I'm glad you ate well.
    #14
    tiki
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/07 07:32:58 (permalink)
    just sitting here on a very chilly morning waiting for the temperature in this room to come up and wishing i had a bowl of that "Porridge"!!!!!and one of those sweaters!!
    #15
    dctourist
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/07 10:08:29 (permalink)
    It's true, cellphone reception is pretty lame in a lot of Maine, but it's getting better all the time, even Down East.

    Hey, speaking of B&M - anyone else like their canned brown bread? Now that's some New England nostalgia - we always used to spread it with cream cheese... I have tried to reproduce it - it's rather fussy, involves boiling/baking the stuff in cans - and it doesn't come anywhere close.
    #16
    emsmom
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/07 10:24:21 (permalink)
    My daughter spent a week in the Portland area 3 years ago and she says it is one of the most beautiful places she has ever visited. My mouse pad is a picture of the lighthouse. She brought back some of the best blueberry syrup I have ever tasted. I've never been to Maine, but it is on my list of must do's . She enjoyed the lobster, lobster rolls, crab cakes, but the one thing she missed is our Southern sweet tea.
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    Rex Allen
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/07 12:39:24 (permalink)
    You lucky person. Living on the left coast, I have only been to Maine once. It was not to eat. But your trip was great. Thank you for sharing.
    Rex in E,Cold, Wet, San Diego.
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    lleechef
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/07 13:36:07 (permalink)
    WJ, now you're making me homesick! I've made the trek from Boston to LLBean in Freeport many many times and have eaten at all the places you visited......and then some! (I still wear a pair of boots I bought on my first trip to LLBean in 1987!) And yes, beans for breakfast are awesome. We used to sail our boat down to Scituate, spend the night in the harbor and walk to town to get fish cakes and beans for breakfast.

    Next time you're headed back from Newburyport, take Route 1A south and check out the Black Cow Tap & Grill in Hamilton. It's a quaint place to have a beer (25 on tap), sit by the fireplace and watch the snow come down.
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    DaveM
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/07 14:09:48 (permalink)
    WanderingJew,
    I must have been reading your mind when Heather and I arrived in Kennebunkport. We arrived Sat. night, but decided to go to the Maine Diner on Sunday at around 2pm. (still a 20 to 25 minute wait).
    Had the "AAA" 3 eggs, sausage, homefries, the corned beef hash, and of course, a side of baked beans and bluberry pancakes for the table.
    You could not have described the baked beans any better.
    After Santa Claus arrived by lobster boat in Kennebunkport at 2PM on Sunday, business and the crowds died down quickly (also the weather got nastier), but everyone commented on how crowded Saturday was.
    I am surprised that you had dissatisfaction with the coffee in that area of Portland, the Old Port is loaded with coffee places, and they all survive, including Starbucks.
    On a sadder note, Tyson Foods announced the closing of the Jordan's Meats plant in Portland, and 270 Mainers will lose their jobs. While B&M Baked beans and Brown Bread remain a locally produced product, Tyson has announced that the Jordan's Hot Dogs name will be retained, but cease to be produced locally. Another local brand bites the dust.
    Scuttlebut has it that the plant location will fetch a pretty penny in a real estate development deal.
    #20
    BBQ Barney
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    RE: back from Portland Maine! 2004/12/08 20:55:50 (permalink)
    wj--thanks for this and the related rantings!!! I look to learn from Roadfood.com, and you almost always help. Next June when I return to the Maine diner I'll have corned beef hash instead of my usual chicken pot pie. In Portland, I'll sit down to eat in the public market rather than just passing through and shopping for Maine products. I'll still spend too much at LLbean, but will head down the hill to Harraseeket Lunch for lobster roll and whoopie pie. Thanks for the reminder of one of my favorite places to visit.
    #21
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