This summer we spent several days in Portland, Maine to indulge in some of the beautifully fresh fish, lobster* and other delicacies that this region of the Northeastern United States has to offer. Now first of all, let me start by saying that if you haven’t been to New England, you really need to visit. From the bustling nightlife of Boston (or Bawstan as the locals would say), to the rolling hills and snowy mountains of Vermont (if you’re visiting in the winter obvs), all the way up to the gorgeous coast of Maine, this region won’t disappoint even the pickiest of travelers.
We decided to go on the Maine Foodie Tour based on all the brilliant reviews we had read online, and the fact that we were guaranteed to try lobster mac and cheese. Also it was a great way to see a lot of Portland in a short time and as we had a baby with us the late night brewery outings weren’t high on the agenda.
We kicked off the three hour walking tour at Vervacious, a shop dedicated to selling incredible salts, spices and balsamic vinaigrettes from all over the world. The story behind the owners of the shop is that the couple gave up their corporate jobs, bought a boat and travelled around the world with it. When they came back to Maine they wanted to share all the amazing spices and flavors they had experience abroad, and this is how Vervacious came to be.
We had the lobster mac and cheese at the very first stop, and tested five different flavoured salts to add to the insanely creamy dish. The combination of pasta, cheese and lobster was like porn in my mouth. We also tried a number of incredible balsamic vinaigrettes, including a chocolate vinaigrette and a really nutty espresso balsamic.
One of Portland’s claim to fames is the Needham chocolate, which is a traditional fudge like sweet with one added bonus: mashed potatoes. The spuds help give the sweets an extra creamy texture, and to be honest if we hadn’t been told there were mashed potatoes in it we wouldn’t have known. We tried our first Needham ever at Dean’s Sweets.
Next stop on our tour was to the Portland Public Market House which has become an incubator of sorts for small restaurants, giving young people and those without tons of cash the chance to run a business in one of the stalls in the two story building. First stop was Karmasouptra, which I’m sure you can guess is a food stand dedicated to all things soup.
From tomato and grilled cheese soup (incredible guys!) to the classic New England favorite clam chowder, you can taste as many soups as you want while on the tour. Once you’ve decided on your favorite you choose a bowl and then enjoy the creamy richness of whatever you chose (I was boring and went with the chowder) while sitting with the rest of the group. We also had blueberry sticky rice for dessert, based on the classic Thai dessert sticky mango rice and since the soup wasn’t so pretty I’m posting a pic of the dessert instead 😂
Fourth and fifth stops – Award winning blueberry jam and shepherds pie spring rolls
Our second to last stop took us to Stonewall Kitchen, a store known for its award winning blueberry jam. Seriously guys, the jam has won like four foodie oscars. To be super honest I didn’t love the jam, but I’m much more of a savory gal in general. The other people on our tour loved the jam though, and we brought a jar home for my parents who also sang high praises for the jam.
The last stop on our tour took us to an English pub (can’t seem to get away from those no matter where I go), where we tried blueberry ale (goddayummmm it’s good), and shepherds pie spring rolls (ok, but as my British fiancée said, perhaps a bit overkill). Either way I always enjoy a good roll (spring roll ;)) and loved the concept. We ended the tour by staying in the pub because what more appropriate way is there to show you’ve really enjoyed your tour than to keep drinking at the last place they took you to?
Thank you for an absolutely awesome day of food adventures @Maine Foodie Tours!
*Fact: Did you know that until the 1880s, lobster was so abundant in New England that it was the main source of protein served to prisoners? After many years, the prisoners rebelled (and lobster started to become a popular food among the elite), and the incarceration centers had to start serving the inmates something other than lobster. And now? We pay a grand price for the sweet and light saltwater delicacy!