In Rockland, Maine were we had a room booked at the Berry Manor, which it turns out, will soon be featured in a Food Network Throwdown.
Famous for its homemade pies and the “pie ladies” we figured we were in for a treat and were not disappointed. The Berry Manor was large and charming, with just enough of that “bed and breakfast” appeal. Pies were available to eat at all hours of the day, in fact there were pies, ice cream and other pie toppings on hand at all times and they were deelicious!
Rockland is a small, walkable quiet town. There was plenty to see and eat
in our two days there and I'd go back anytime to explore more. We had one rainy cold Maine day that gave us a chance to visit the Farnsworth Museum. It's mainly themed towards Maine artists and art about Maine and New England but their collection is extensive and there were some awesome quilts, ship models and folk art exhibits.
Our big Splurge in Rockland was dinner at Primo. We were just planning to go for $1 oysters at the bar but our host at the Berry Manor was nice enough to get us a reservation. Even though it was a little bit of an unexpected hike from the Inn and a little more upscale than I was expecting (I don't think anyone expected us to walk there) it was well worth it! It's one of those seasonal restaurants that uses local produce and meats, a really great treat to go to outside of NY. We tried a few small dishes and asked if the chef would make us a vegetarian entree of her choosing (the chef is Melissa Kelly) and the dish was incredible, a mix of fresh veggies and spices.
Next, as we made our way south to Portland we stopped at the resort town of Boothbay Harbor.? It was a little more touristy then charming but there is a nice bridge across a small inlet with views of the boats and shops.?We stopped for a bit to indulge in a New England tradition –
candlepin bowling! It was pretty fun, something that apparently is only available in the northeast and Canada (myself being a southerner I was a whole new thing for me).
Then we also went to another Flay throwdown establishment, the Lobster Dock. Apparently Flay went head to head with their famous crab cakes.?The owner liked Flay's recipe (the main difference being the addition of a fried artichoke heart) so much he put it on the menu full time!?So being the spectacle/food hounds we are we tried not only the lobster roll (we were on a 1 lobster roll a day schedule for a bit) we also had to try the crab cakes.?The crab were delicious but they were eclipsed by the lobster roll!?Truly the best one we've ever eaten.
Next we were on our way to Portland.?Portland's a really charming town and super easy to get around in.?Everything is basically in a big circle.?We started by checking out the B&B we were staying at, The West End Inn at which we had the safari room (rowr!) It was the perfect inn for a night or two in Portland.?You could walk pretty much everywhere, and it
was close to the water.
There are lots of really good restaurants in Portland, in fact it has the highest number of restaurants per capita then any North American city. ?br/>One of the best though has to be Fore Street.?They are an all-organic place near the water.?The menu is created each afternoon before they open based on what sort of local ingredients were available over the last few days.?We had some delicious wild Maine mushrooms and some excellent sauted squash.?The kitchen is open and in the middle of the restaurant which added a nice homeyness.
Another thing we noticed about the city was this it seemed to have a strong DIY element. There was a local craft fair going on that we went to with some really creative stuff for sale. We stopped by the booth from Ferdinand to check out their squirrely wares. Most of the rest of our time was spent walking around and taking in the small nooks of the city. Another thing that stands out in Portland is the availability of so many New England microbreweries. We had a few pints of pumpkin ale to herald in fall. ?br/>
We were sort of sad to have to leave and miss Gorgasaurus! (for tickets see Sid Baxter, no number)