A Menu Of The State’s Best Airport Food, Tangiest Barbecue, Snappiest Pickles, Even Top Tofu!
Slice of Cake
Bar of Chocolate Café
38 Wharf Street, Portland, 207-773-6667.
There’s nothing like a cozy piece of chocolate cake to sweeten an afternoon. For a leisurely respite from the bustle of Portland, settle into Bar of Chocolate Café, a dark, brick-walled comfy café nestled on Wharf Street. Pick up a paper, order a coffee, and don’t pass on dessert. Well known for an extremely decadent chocolate torte, the café also makes a popular chocolate cake with sea salt caramel frosting. It’s near perfection — not too sweet, not too dense, just moist enough, and all topped off by a touch of creamy saltiness that keeps you craving more. The cake offers an excellent ratio of cake to frosting in each bite, an often elusive balance. A wine bar as well, Bar of Chocolate Café is the city’s go-to for absinthe. Combine that with the chocolate cake, and you’ve got yourself an intoxicating combination!
75 Airport Road, Augusta. 207-621-8575.
The Augusta State Airport might be a tiny fraction of the size of Atlanta’s massive hub, but we’re willing to bet that the food at Sweet Chilli Thai restaurant in Augusta beats anything on the menus at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. Located adjacent to the lobby of the Augusta airport, this small restaurant serves up fresh Thai concoctions that top any in the area. The large menu has the standard fare — noodles and curries, fried rice and stir fries — but also offers haddock in several preparations. Plus, a bonus for families: What kid doesn’t like to watch planes take off? It’s dinner and entertainment all at once in an uniquely unexpected location.
437 Route 1, Freeport. 207-865-4828. www.mainedistilleries.com
Maine has a burgeoning spirits industry, with talented craftsmen making everything from brandy and gin to whiskey and vodka. One of the major players on the scene is Maine Distilleries. Most famous for its Cold River Classic Vodka made from Maine potatoes, the company recently released Cold River Blueberry Vodka. The flavored spirit, the first of its kind from the company, is made using Wyman’s wild Maine blueberries, very little sugar, and potato vodka. Though the taste is subtly fruity, the bold bouquet smells like a pint of fresh berries. It’s truly a refreshing and uplifting spirit, perfect for a Maine summer cocktail.
Spring Creek Bar-B-Q
26 Greenville Road, Monson, 207-997-7025.
The fact that this mom-and-pop joint is located about 150 miles from Portland hasn’t hurt its reputation for having the best barbeque in the state. Chef and food superstar Anthony Bourdain visited it last year on his show No Reservations — a testament to the truly delicious meats coming out of the smoker down the road from the small restaurant on the road to Moosehead. Tender, juicy ribs, salt-pork flavored baked beans, coleslaw, Texas toast . . . you’ll find all the classic barbeque fare and accoutrements served here along with a large dose of Maine woods frontier friendliness.
Farmers’ Gate Market
170 Leeds Junction Road, Wales, 207-933-3300 www.farmersgatemarket.com
This sausage is the real deal, developed in Italy at Spannocchia, a Maine-based foundation supporting conservation, research, and education through its 1,100-acre organic agricultural estate in central Tuscany. When foundation executive director Erin Cinelli and husband Ben Slayton moved back to Maine to start their own farm, they brought this recipe with them. Made from pork from their own farm and five other pasture-based farms in the area, the sausage contains a magic ratio of meat, salt, pepper, fresh chopped garlic, and fennel seed. It’s savory and flavorful and, most important, incredibly fresh tasting. The sausage goes for $8.49 per pound, but it is well worth it — whether grilled whole for a sausage sandwich or cooked loose in pasta or soup.
Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli
3856 Washington Road, North Waldoboro, 207-832-5569, www.morsessauerkraut.com
Vlasic doesn’t hold a candle to the pickles coming out of Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli, a deli, market, and restaurant on Route 220 between Waldoboro and Washington. Sold in food markets and delis across the state and New England, the pickles come in three varieties: sour mustard, garlic sour, and half sour. Morse’s uses very small, very fresh cucumbers and a refrigerated technique rather than a canning process. The sour mustard variety is reportedly unique to Maine. (Apparently the recipe closely resembles Marjorie Standish’s in Cooking Down East.) All the varieties are extremely popular: Morse’s makes one hundred tons of pickles each year! Biting into one of these crisp, cold, pleasantly pungent pickles sends a pucker through your face — we guarantee that these pickles will stand up to the best New York deli ones you’ve ever had.
40 Washington Street, Camden. 207-763-2707. www.heiwatofu.com
A family affair, Heiwa Tofu started as a small, local operation in the fall of 2008 and quickly expanded to bring homemade tofu to eager herbivores across the state. Made from MOFGA certified organic soybeans grown near Skowhegan, the tofu is like no other, says Ellen Leidenthal, the buyer at the Good Tern Natural Foods in Rockland. “We have a really big vegetarian/vegan constituency. So tofu is a really big deal,” explains Leidenthal. “There is really nothing like it. You know how tofu has a nervous texture, how it’s jiggly? [Heiwa] loses the jiggle. It tastes very fresh, not beany, and it crisps really well. We sell 150 pounds a week, and we run out sometimes.” So if you’ve been afraid to try tofu, pick up a tub of this variety, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You can pick up the tofu in many health food stores, co-ops, and markets across the state, stop by the factory in Camden (beneath the farmer’s market in the Knox Mill) or contact Heiwa directly.
Gay Island Oysters
P.O. Box 140, Cushing, 207-691-4506. www.gayislandoysters.com
Now, we love Pemaquids as much as the next oyster lover, but forced to pick just one type to reign supreme, the smaller, silkier oysters from Gay Island take our prize. Harvested off the namesake island in the mouth of the Meduncook River, these oysters are cultivated on the surface of the water in mesh bags. They are briny yet sweet, and their smaller size makes them a good candidate for newcomers to the raw table. The oysters can be found in some of Maine’s top restaurants, including Primo in Rockland, and Billy’s Tavern in Topsham. And after a decade of harvesting, the owners, mother and son team Barrett and Tara Lynde, have also started to ship directly to consumers.
Ice Cream Outing
526 Main Street, Damariscotta, 207-563-5307.
Going out for ice cream pretty much defines a warm, Maine summer night. And there isn’t a better place for an old-fashioned social than this eighty-seven-year-old establishment in Damariscotta. Stocked with more than forty-five varieties of hard serve, including the most popular blueberry, ginger, black raspberry, and cherry berry flavors, this family-friendly ice-cream stand situated on more than fifty acres of farmland is a picturesque summer destination. All the ice cream is made on site — about five hundred to six hundred gallons a day in peak season. Plus Round Top offers more than thirty flavors of soft serve and a handful of gelatos in the summer, all of which can be mixed in or topped with candies, fruit, sauces, and more. The permutations are endless! The ice cream is also served at other stands and restaurants from Brunswick to Belfast.
Clams Six Ways
From raw to fried, here are the six most delicious ways to eat clams in Maine.
Raw: Old Port Sea Grill — This is all-around the best raw bar in the state. Conveniently located on Commercial Street, it’s just a stone’s throw from the piers where the seafood comes off the boats. The raw littlenecks on the menu are a nice, smooth alternative to plumper, meatier oysters. 93 Commercial Street, Portland, 207-879-6100. www.theoldportseagrill.com
Chowder: Gilbert’s Chowder House — There’s a reason this chowder has won so many awards: It’s really, really good. And, like all of the restaurant’s chowders, it’s made with bacon. Enough said. 92 Commercial Street, Portland, 207-871-5636, and 61 Tandberg Trail, Windham, 207-893-0700. www.gilbertschowderhouse.com
Cakes: Becky’s Diner — We’re not talking high-brow food here, folks. The clam cakes served at this iconic diner are of the Harmon’s variety; as in the frozen patties made in Kennebunkport since 1978. At Becky’s they are deep-fried and served with a side of potato. It’s a comfort meal for sure. 390 Commercial Street, Portland, 207-773-7070. www.beckysdiner.com
Linguini with White Clam Sauce: Azure Café — This pasta dish is packed with chopped clams, herbs, and butter. Warning: It’s addictive, and hard to order anything else at subsequent visits. 123 Main Street, Freeport. 207-865-1237. www.azurecafe.com
Fried: Bob’s Clam Hut — Classic preparation from a classic clam shack. It doesn’t get much better than these bites of fried yumminess. 315 Route 1, Kittery, 207-439-4233. www.bobsclamhut.com
Tacos: Shepherd’s Pie — A little less traditional but no less tasty, the three corn tacos on this plate are stuffed with fried clams, cabbage, avocado crème fraiche, and salsa verde. 18 Central Street, Rockport. 207-236-8500.
Time for Tea
Check out these spots that serve tea with style.
Harraseeket Inn, 162 Main Street, Freeport, 207-865-9377. www.harraseeketinn.com
Jacqueline’s Tea Room, 201 Main Street, Freeport, 207-865-2123. www.jacquelinestearoom.com
Jordan Pond House, Park Look Road, Seal Harbor, 207-276-3610. www.thejordanpondhouse.com
Clipper Merchant Tea House, 58 Main Street, Limerick, 207-793-3500. www.clippermerchant.com
Homegrown Herb & Tea, 195 Congress Street, Portland, 888-845-8747. www.homegrownherbandtea.com
Dobrá Tea, 151 Middle Street, Portland, 207-210-6566. www.dobrateame.com