I always feel like summer goes by so quickly here in Boston. It takes forever for the weather to get warm, and when it's finally warm, it's a mad dash to take advantage, as much as possible, of the beautiful weather.June was a blur to me. After intensely plowing through my 31 posts in 31 days in May, I took a break the first half of the month before heading off to the Canadian Rockies for a week with Bryan's family (Highly recommended. I think still it's one of my favorite places on earth). In July, the weather finally became truly warm. Just two weeks ago, we found ourselves surprisingly free one weekend. Sort of at the last minute, we decided to spend a weekend in Portland, Maine, one of the few nearby cities that we'd never visited (and everyone kept telling us we had to go if we loved food, craft beer, and the ocean.)After finding some last minute hotel rooms in Portland with Bryan's numerous hotel points, we tentatively made plans to drive there Friday night. As soon as I finished volunteering at the Boston Rescue Mission Friday evening, we left Boston at 9PM sharp and arrived in Portland right around 10:30PM.Yep, when you leave that late, there's no traffic!
We had less than 48 hours in Portland. We knew we had to make the most of our time there.
Our first stop after arriving in Portland at 10:30PM was, not surprisingly, food. I had not eaten dinner yet and was famished. We ended up visiting Pai Men Miyaki, a trendy, casual Japanese-fusion restaurant that seemed very Momofuku-esque, complete with pork belly buns, ramen, sushi, gyoza, and various salads.
I love small plates and snacks, and this menu had so many small bites (buns! gyoza! unusual salads!) that I was tempted to order everything. Unfortunately, Bryan wasn't hungry, which meant I was eating alone. It's hard to try many different small dishes when you're the only one eating.
So instead I ordered what they call the staff favorite, Tokyo Abura, a soup-less ramen dish that consisted of chili oil, spicy garlic paste, Miyake Farm egg yolk, charred cabbage and carrots, ginger, menma, wakame, scallions, and nori. The texture of the noodles was great and overall the dish was very satisfying and delicious. Bryan, who loves noodles and wasn't even hungry, ended up eating quite a bit of mine even though he wasn't planning on eating.
Bryan also enjoyed trying some excellent local beer on draft, a delicious Allagash Tripel.
The next morning, we headed out to Portland Head Light at Cape Elizabeth, which is about 6 miles away from downtown Portland. It's quaint, picturesque, and a lovely way to spend a morning.
The weather was beautiful, and I was perfectly content just exploring the rocky coast and taking in the breathtaking scenery.
There are a few historic buildings (and forts!) nearby that you can visit too, which is pretty fun.
For lunch, we headed to Eventide Oyster Company.
I immediately fell in love with this place when I walked in. The atmosphere, the food, the menu, everything. It's no wonder the lines are so long. We showed up at around 1:30PM and still had to wait around 45 minutes before getting a seat. (!)
I'll do a complete write up for this restaurant in a future post. For now, I'll share with you a photo of their unusual lobster "roll", which is really more like a lobster bun.
After walking around downtown Portland for a bit, we drove over to Allagash Brewing Company for one of their free tours.
The tours book out fast, so definitely reserve a spot online before showing up. By the time we actually showed up for our tour, all of the tours for the day had been "sold out." You can still taste the same beers in their tasting room / shop, but the pours are tiny compared to the pours you get on the tour!
The tour takes about an hour and is really fun. Our tour guide was animated, really funny, and very knowledgeable. On weekends the factory isn't actually running, so unfortunately we couldn't see the production in action. However, because things weren't running, we were able to get much closer to a lot of the machinery compared to if we had come on a weekday.
It was fun to learn about their process as well as some of the cool experimental things they are doing, such as these fun barrel aged (very limited edition) beers.
The tour ends with a tasting of four beers. That day we tried the White (their flagship), the Saison, the Dubbel, and the Confluence. The pours were so generous that I ended up asking him to just pour me a small amount at the end. I can't drink four beers in one sitting!
After dinner we visited the one place that had been highly recommended to me by multiple people.
"Best sushi in New England" one friend said.
"You have to try Miyaki Sushi" another acquaintance told me. "It's an amazing deal, with a crazy omakase that only costs $65."
I'll also write up a separate post where I share with you the details of that omakase. Here's a teaser photo to show you just one of many, many courses in our omakase. (we were so stuffed)!
The following day, we drove 20 minutes to Freeport, a neighboring town that houses the huge L.L. Bean store as well as many outlet shops. It was a fun (and productive!) morning where I was able to pick up end-of-season flip flops, T-shirts, and even a travel handbag.
For lunch, we headed back to Portland to try another famous institution, Duck Fat, which is known for its fries cooked in duck fat as well as its poutine (with a duck egg!). Duck Fat is conveniently located on the same street as Eventide Oyster Co., so if the line at one place is too long, you could always try the other one. They are among the most famous and popular restaurants in Portland.
We grabbed some berry pie (made with local Maine blueberries!) from one of Portland's most well loved bakeries, Two Fat Cats.
In the afternoon, we walked along the Eastern Promenade, a lovely paved trails that runs along the ocean on the eastern side of the city. You can bike, run, rollerblade, or walk along this trail while enjoying relaxing ocean views.
All in all, we had a great time in Portland. It's a perfect destination for a short one or two day trip. Because it's so close to Boston, it's pretty easy to make a day trip out of it. The food is fabulous, and I still can't stop thinking about Eventide Oyster Company, which was our favorite restaurant of the trip.
We feel like there's still so much more to explore. We didn't have a chance to visit any of the numerous islands right off the coast of Portland, nor did we come even close to trying all of the local beers. I'm sure there are still many restaurants to explore, as well as other off-the-beaten-path places I don't even know yet.
Only four more weeks left before Labor Day! It's time to get cranking to squeeze the most out of what's left of summer!
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