A few weeks ago, Ben & I spent a few days in Maine with his family. It was the simplest of trips, but I loved every minute of it. Today I am rounding up some of my favorite moments from our vacation, focusing mostly on food with a few other experiences sprinkled in. I’m purposely being agnostic so you can use these tips and enjoy wherever you are in the Pine Tree State.
Let me first say that Maine is absolutely huge, and there are countless different options of where to stay. I am beyond lucky to have future in-laws that have a cottage in-land on a lake. If I didn’t have a built-in place to stay, I would definitely rent a house or stay at a resort on the ocean. And next time, we are going to tack on a night in Portland either at the front or the backend of our trip. I would reference https://visitmaine.com/ for some additional tips to plan your vacation and where to stay. Here I am focusing on the food & drink that made our trip extra-special.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that lobster is at the top of the list. Immediately upon landing, we drove to the restaurant closest to the cottage for a lobster roll (and of course, a beer and French fries.) I love eating seafood when you know it’s freshly sourced and ‘lobstering’, aka specifically fishing for lobster, is incredibly popular in Maine. I did several Google searches and settled on that fact that Maine produces nearly 90% of the country’s lobster supply. According to VisitMaine and several other sites I visited, the key to this is the cold, clean waters which cultivate sweet, firm white meat. The lobsters need to be eaten within a few days of being caught, and need to cooked live.
I will admit I was a little shaky hearing the lobsters click in the backseat as we drove home from the market. And later as we clipped the bands off of their claws to place them in the boiling water. But that’s what it requires to serve up lobstah for dinner. Ben made them perfectly, I would recommend asking the market their recommended cook time based on the amount of pounds/crustaceans you purchase. You can also reference a Food Network recipe here. And be sure to serve it up alongside some melted butter! We served them whole and it definitely made for the most authentic experience. I think next time I might ask another family member a favor to get all of the lobster meat out for me. I was a bit woozy by the whole process haha.
2. Blueberry FillInTheBlank
Call me sheltered, but I don’t recall ever really seeing wild blueberries until we were out East. They are the absolute tiniest little berries and are available all throughout the state. We had a blueberry pie at the house which was the perfect dessert along with some vanilla ice cream. The one evening we ate dinner out together, we ordered blueberry cheesecake and it was as delicious as you would expect. The wild blueberries are a little tangier and sweeter than the ones you might otherwise find at the grocery store. I actually like them more than traditional ones.Next time I would want to buy a carton roadside and make some muffins.
I almost didn’t believe my in-laws when they said you could buy some things roadside, such as corn, flowers, eggs and blueberries. I loved this part about Maine so much! While driving to and from the cottage from Portland, there are tons of roadside stands. Generally they are left unattended and you can purchase the goods on the ‘honor system’, leaving cash for what you take. When we made the stop at the local stand that sells corn, the owners were actually there unloading it from the back of their truck and restocking the stand. I think she could sense my excitement and snapped a picture for us before we drove off. We made the corn that evening to go with the lobsters, and it was some of the best I’ve ever had. Who knows if it’s really the best I’ve ever had, I think I still had stars in my eyes knowing we had bought it right after it had been picked.
I don’t really have many specific recommendations, but Maine’s craft brewing scene is impressive! There are several bars that have a wall of different selections. We stopped for a beer and late lunch at Ebeneezer’s and I had an awesome beer lightly flavored with berries. All of the taps were made of custom glass that had been flown in from Oregon. I love hearing special little stories like that. And while we didn’t imbibe in much wine, there are plenty of wineries to add to the itinerary for our next visit.
5. Flowers, Cheese, Etc.
Another specialty you’ll find in Maine is an abundance of sunflowers. We pulled over at a little market to see the sunflowers (and also visit some goats!) but you’ll also find them for purchase along the road. And there are plenty of fields of sunflowers, I regret not being basic enough to ask Ben to pull over and snap a picture in an actual field, but most of the time when we were out and about it was rainy. Always something to prioritize for the next visit!
We went to an adorable shop one day, J. Decor in Bridgton. It’s actually a furniture store that sells gifts, wine, beer and specialty food. I had to hold myself back from purchasing another marble cheese platter, but we did buy a gift for Ben’s mom and some sharp cheddar cheese. The owners shared with us that they were imported from the second oldest creamery in the country, located in Vermont. Each block is hand-dipped twice in wax, the cheddar also comes in smoked, original or truffle. We will most certainly come back to the store and at the front-end of our trip next time to stock up on wine, cheese and an extra souvenir.
Last but not least, the most essential beverage to have stocked wherever you are staying is of course H2O. At the cottage the water is actually not drinkable, so we had bottled water stocked up and also water in jugs from a local spring. I had no idea what refilling the water from the spring meant when it was added to our list of errands. There is literally water trickling from a spout on the side of the road, and right there is where we filled up the jugs for the house. Apparently Nestlé or Poland Springs approached the owner of the spring to purchase it, but the sale didn’t go through. I’m glad, the water is fresh and it was humbling collecting it for the family.
That sums up some of top moments from our visit to Maine! Unfortunately it rained the vast majority of our trip, otherwise I would have more outdoor recommendations for you. The few moments the rain did subside long enough, we took the canoe out. One morning we were able to get just a couple of feet away from the loons swimming on the water. Should you find yourself in Maine with a questionable weather radar, may I suggest a 1,000 piece puzzle, book or card game? And probably some lobster and corn from a roadside stand, should you fancy that sort of thing.
Have you been to Maine and if so, what were your favorite things to do/eat? Comment or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.