Monday, September 28, 2009

Vintage + Truffle Ketchup = So.ME

Tuesday 9.22.09

Happy 1st day of fall :)

Portland, ME may not be 1st on everyone’s list as a culinary destination, but with the suggestions made by friend and foodie extremist AH, we knew we were in for a treat… and it was more than we could’ve imagined.

1st stop: Duck fat. Now the name may throw you off, but I was intrigued. We decided to keep it a light lunch knowing what the future held for us, so together we split the Corned Beef Tongue Reuben. So juicy and so tender. Along side that, a large side of Belgian fries served in a paper cone. Sounds boring, but here’s the kicker… the fries were deep fried in duck fat… but it gets better… pair it along side the Thai Chili Mayo and Truffle infused Ketchup… If I could, I would inject this sauce intravenously. Delectable. To wash it all down, we threw back Maine’s very own Belgian style Allagash White. Clean and crisp, garnished with a side of lemon. To end this perfectly light and delicious meal, we tried the Spicy Chocolate Beignets. Really, it doesn’t get much better than that.

“true intoxication, creamy ambrosia, irresistible layers…”

Afterwards, we toured the Old Port and hit up all the boutiques that caught my eye. To my surprise I spotted 2nd Time Around, so of course I had to go in, and of course within one minute of being in the store, I spot something I think I need. Maybe 2 things… 1st was a vintage scarf that was a must have for my collection, such a great addition to make any outfit feel classic and effortless. The 2nd was a pair of earrings that looked eco-friendly, like they were widdled from scrap metal.

Finally we check into the Eastland Park Hotel, kick off our shoes, pure R&R. It wasn’t long before we were off to continue our “food hop”.

2nd stop: Street & Company. Hearing about the freshness of their oysters, we knew we had to explore. (Side note: wearing gray knee-high belted Dolce Vita boots on cobblestone road is not recommended. Who am I kidding? It is highly recommended). Upon entering it was still early in the evening, so we were excited to see that the bar had open availability. On the menu tonight, oysters from North Haven, Wawenauk, and Winterpoint; all local, nothin’ but Maine. Naturally we start with ½ dozen to see what agrees with our palette. Upon 1st taste, we knew the Wawenauk had won us over. With its mild salinity and clean finish, it clearly was the favorite among all the diners as well.

For a little more substance, we order a taste (just a couple bites to tease your taste buds) of House Cured Bacon with Caramelized Shallots, and an appetizer of Calamari with Spicy Peperonata. Mmm mmm good.

“local seafare, rustic atmosphere, less is more, taste is real. simple.”

Our 3rd and final stop: Fore Street Restaurant. Unknowingly to us, the sister restaurant of our previous destination. Again, fortune smiled upon us, and made two bar seats magically appear. I started with a classic, Campari & soda w/ and orange garnish. Definitely an acquired taste; a hit of bitterness but delicious and refreshing. Working our way up to the top of the Open Table list, finally, it's time. They lead us to a cozy candlelit table right by the window, overlooking the Hilton parking lot (true romance). To start and accompany the meal, we order a bottle of Riesling from Germany. It complimented the “must try” appetizer, Foie Gras with fresh fig compote. Melt in your mouth ridiculous. For an entrée, we chose seafood as our route, considering all the rich flavors we had been consuming throughout the day. I order the Halibut, while he orders the Flounder; upon tasting each other’s dish (due to entree envy), we thought it best to switch completely.

To wake us from this food coma, we each order a cappuccino; to accompany the caffeine, we order the assortment of hand-dipped chocolates. The selection included milk chocolate with almonds, dark chocolate with hazelnut, dark chocolate with ginger (according to him one of the best combinations with chocolate, ever... a bold statement), and last but not least, the extremely rich and buttery chocolate lemon verbena. It was a difficult task to consume, but we made it somehow.

“organically grown, local ingredients, simple preparation without the needless complexity…”

With absolutely no room for anything, even air… we stumble back to the hotel.

Wednesday 9.23.09

Its 9:30 and our alarms sound. We check out and head down to the hotel restaurant Café 157; with little enthusiasm due to the over consumption all day yesterday, we order. Ready or not, we were geared up for some authentic Maine blueberry pancakes. Unfortunately for us, the 1st bite led to complete and utter disappointment. Could they really have served us frozen blueberry pancakes? I think so.

Full and under whelmed, we were ready for our next adventure. We head back south, destination: Kennebunkport. With no desire whatsoever, just pure intrigue, we check out the Bush estate. A quick drive by and snap shot later, we are back in the hustle and bustle of Dock Square, KBP. To be more accurate, it was more like, slow and steady. Honestly, we may have been the youngest couple there.

Being in Maine, a lobster roll was definitely on my mind. Instead, we decide to sit on the patio of The Landing restaurant, share haddock chowder, whole fried clams, and wash it all down with, what else? Allagash White. Unfortunately, this left no room for my beloved crustacean.

So many charming and quaint little boutiques around every corner, I couldn’t resist. In Arbitrage consignment shop I trust. The first amazing find of the day: a vintage Cynthia Rowley cognac leather bag with multi-colored python and metal stud detail. Modern meets boho-chic.

On the top of my treasure hunt list: the perfect broche. (Side note: I have a vintage black leather clutch from the 30’s that I purchased at an antique show, after only a few nights out in Boston, the broche had lost its beautiful mother of pearl broche. I knew I couldn’t wear it again, until I found the right statement piece to properly replace it). There it was. I had finally found it. A beautiful mother of pearl in the shape of a mandolin guitar broche, hand crafted from Spain. It was love at first sight.

Finally, there is one final shop that is a “need to expose”. Warning: you may enter, and want to purchase 75% of the merchandise. Not kidding. Unfortunately the website only has 20% of their inventory, but at least you can get a glimpse of this hidden gem.

“one of a kind, extraordinary crafts”

Final thoughts: No matter where you are, there’s always that unique treasure waiting to be found, that no one else will have, and you can call it your own. That may just be one of the best feelings in the world. Also, when entering a new city, whether it’s 5 or 500 miles away, do your research. Ask a friend, ask a stranger. The world is full of hidden culinary treasures waiting to be found and consumed.