Monday, June 11, 2012

Maine Vacation Through Food

For our 1 year wedding anniversary, my husband and I spent a week in Maine. While the state has maintained it's natural beauty and has the nicest, most down to earth residents, what we both took away from our week long trip was the food. Whenever anyone asks how our trip to Maine was, I respond with, "Absolutely delicious!" Here is a recap of how we ate our way through the great state of Maine.

We started our trip with a drive from a wedding in Hartford, CT, where we entered Maine by ways of I-95. First stop, Exit 1: Kittery, ME. Our plan was to do some shopping at the outlet mall and just find something quick to eat. My husband ended up talking with a local who suggested Bob's Clam Hut. This local restaurant was actually featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Unfortunately for my husband and I, we didn't realize that they were known for their fried clams (yes, in hindsight we should have figured based on the name of the place). We both were so excited to try a lobster roll that we oversaw the clams. Looking back, this was not the best lobster roll and if we go back we will be trying something fried. 

Lobster roll and yummy fries from Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, ME
Next stop, Kennebunkport, ME, which is the home to the Bush family's vacation compound (because it's WAY more than a house). We arrived before dinner time and asked the innkeeper at the bed & breakfast we were staying at (the Maine Stay Inn, which was fabulous!) where we should go for dinner, preferably where the locals like to eat. She recommended Arundel Wharf Restaurant, which was just up the street from where we were staying and also along the water.  Here I ordered a cup of New England clam chowder, which was quite tasty, and then ordered the steamed mussels (in wine, shallots, garlic and herbs) as my main dish. The mussels were the freshest I had ever had, and the sauce was quite delicious. My husband ordered the lobster pasta, which he really enjoyed. Highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in Kennebunkport.

Lobster pasta from Arundel Wharf Restaurant in Kennebunkport, ME

Mussels from Arundel Wharf Restaurant in Kennebunkport, ME
The next day it was raining so we decided to take this time to drive 45 minutes to Portland, ME. I was really excited for this stop as I had seen on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives about this place called the Porthole Restaurant, where the lobster was caught and then dropped right off at the pier next to the restaurant, so that it was the freshest lobster you can get in Maine. Without even looking for it, we found the restaurant and of course had to have their lobster rolls. We weren't disappointed! It really was the freshest lobster roll we had. And they added some of their own sauce, which made it taste much different than the lobster roll we had the day before at Bob's. If you are in Portland, this is a must-eat dive restaurant. 
Lobster roll from the Porthole Restaurant in Portland, ME
After checking out a local lighthouse (or as they call it in Maine, "head light"), we headed back to Kennebunkport to enjoy our anniversary dinner at the White Barn Inn, which is a AAA 5 Diamond, Forbes 5 Star fine dining restaurant. The menu changes weekly, and I can't remember what we both ordered for our starter courses. However, I will forever remember what I ordered for my main course, as it was the VERY best thing I have ever ate in my life: Steamed Maine Lobster nestled on a bed of homemade fettuccine with carrot, ginger, snow peas and Cognac coral butter sauce. My mouth is salivating just thinking of this meal! The lobster was absolutely to die for, and then adding the homemade pasta just made it perfection! I believe this is a staple on their menu so if you go you MUST order this dish. You will thank you later. 

Lobster dish from the White Barn Inn
Our next stop on the trip was to Camden, ME. However, the highlight of this part of the road trip was stopping at Red's Eats in Wiscasset, ME. I had seen this tiny little shack of a restaurant on various Food Network shows, as well as heard about it from anyone and everyone who has ever been to Maine. Red's was voted the #1 lobster roll in Maine by the people of Maine, and trust me, they delivered! Each lobster roll consists of at least 1lb. of Maine lobster, and is then served with your choice of their homemade mayo or butter sauce on the side (which it didn't need it at all). In fact, this was the only place we went to where lobster was served with butter, which I found interesting. I grabbed a table after we ordered, and when my husband went to grab our food, the owner, Debbie, turned to the cook and said, "I need more lobster on this one!" Seriously, it was a crazy amount of food and I really didn't want the meal to come to an end. Along with the lobster roll (which I ordered), we got a size of fried zucchini with a side of their homemade ranch sauce, and my husband ordered the crab cakes. I will go back to Maine just to go back and eat here!
Our spread from Red's Eats - lobster roll, crab cakes, fried zucchini
Me enjoying the best lobster roll in Maine. You can see how much lobster they pile on.
We arrived a few hours later at our next destination, Camden, ME. However, because we were so stuffed from Red's, we didn't even eat dinner during our one night stay in this sleepy town. Next stop, Bar Harbor, ME and Acadia National Park. We arrived before we were able to check into our B&B, so with the advice of the innkeeper (this was our favorite B&B - we liked that they gave us choices for breakfast each morning, too), we headed over to Acadia National Park's only restaurant, The Jordan Pond House. Before we ate lunch, we ended up taking a 3+ miles hike around Jordan Pond, which wasn't planned (I was wearing boat shoes). Because we worked up such an appetite, I completely forgot to snap a photo of my lunch, which was a cup of their New England Clam Chowder and two of their famous popovers. The best way to describe a popover is a giant, hollow muffin shaped baked pastry, which sort of tasted like a pancake. It is served with butter or jam (we preferred it with jam). They were definitely unique and quite tasty. 

The Jordan Pond House
Popovers from The Jordan Pond House
By the time dinner came around, we both weren't terribly hungry. We asked our innkeeper for a place where we could have a light dinner and she suggested Side Street Cafe. She said that it's where the locals like to eat, and we even had live music from a local musician. We didn't order anything crazy - my husband had baby shrimp Asian style in stir fry, and  keeping to my seafood only rule for lunch and dinner, I ordered the crab cake sandwich (no photo for this one), which was pretty good. The next day we set out for a four hour boat ride to go whale watching. We knew we wanted to eat at Poor Boy's Gourmet Restaurant that night, which has a reputation for large portion sizes, so we just ate breakfast at our B&B and then grabbed a snack on the boat. Poor Boy's didn't disappoint! We ordered mussels as an appetizer (which we definitely didn't need, but it was really good and fresh), and then I ordered crab stuffed shrimp. My husband ordered The Feast, which consisted of a cup of clam chowder, his choice of a full Maine lobster or snow crab claws (he went for the crab legs), a vegetable size, as well as a pasta side, and then a brownie dessert. I have no idea how he finished it all! We both really enjoyed all of the food at Poor Boy's, and we recommend to anyone going to Bar Harbor to dine here, but make sure you come hungry. 

Mussels appetizer at Poor Boy's
Crab stuffed shrimp at Poor Boy's
My husband with the main course of The Feast, snow crab claws
Our last day of stay in Bar Harbor was spent with a quick drive to Thunder Rock in Acadia, followed by some time walking through downtown, and of course eating. At the recommendation of a friend, we headed over to West Street Cafe for some lunch.  I ordered a lobster roll, as I knew this was my last chance to have one (my husband had fried clams), as well as a cup of clam chowder, which was really thick and yummy. The lobster roll was decent, but of course nothing compared to the lobster roll from Red's. Our server suggested the crab cakes, and it looked like the full lobster was also a crowd favorite. 
Lobster roll from West Street Cafe
I wasn't hungry by the time we went to dinner, which was disappointing because we went to the Italian restaurant, Guiness & Porellis, which my husband really enjoyed. He had the clam pasta and said it was absolutely delicious. Next time we are in Bar Harbor, I will have to be sure to stay hungry so we can go back to this restaurant. 

This concludes the tour of food as experienced from my recent trip to Maine. I will leave you with my list of random observations from the course of our trip about the state of Maine:

  • 90% of the population drives a Subaru
  • Most people do not neuter their male dogs
  • There are a crazy amount of snow birds who spend the winter down in Florida (which surprised me being that I am from So Fla and never met anyone from Maine)
  • Everyone enjoys the outdoors - even new parents would take their babies hiking
  • I-95 is known as the Maine Turnpike and had tolls every 30 minutes
  • As soon as you cross over the state line, you can see the state's beauty 
  • The weather is similar to Seattle, which I was told is why the state has so much greenery
  • Everyone gardens, period! I swear, every house in Maine had beautiful landscaping