Friday, September 25, 2015

Portland, Maine

As we officially say goodbye to summer, we decided to go on a day trip to Portland, Maine.  We started the summer season with a weekend stay here and it's fitting to spend the last day of summer back again.  Portland has been my favorite city in New England.  In fact, I love this small city because it perfectly fits my criteria for a good destination – great specialty shops, numerous quality dining options, vibrant city vibe, and a picturesque ambiance.  Portland is a great combination of old and new. The beautiful brick walks and cobblestones at the Old Port District always fascinate me. Browsing at the specialty shops always makes me feel that I’m in a museum shop because of all the curated assortments that I can find.

Portland is truly an artsy town and one of the great culinary destinations in America.  As I always say, when in Portland there’s always an interesting find. In case you ever find yourself in this fun city (and make sure you do), hopefully our most interesting Portland finds help you enjoy your trip even more:

Stella Cove | Portland | Chichi Mary Kids Boutique
Mary at the Old Port Marina of Portland, Maine with a very suitable dress -- her Flower Girl Dress by Stella Cove.  Shoes by Oca Loca from Spain.

This is an ice cream shop where you can find really unique ice cream flavors.  As I was preparing this blog post, I learned that this shop was named as one of the best ice cream spots in the US by Food and Wine Magazine.  I hadn't known about this before.  My family was just walking along Exchange Street when I got curious to go inside the shop because of all the interesting flavors written on the board displayed outside the shop. Some of their unique flavors are rootbeer, boiled coffee, bay of figs, blueberry basil, and many others. Their bestselling is the Maine Sea Salt Caramel, which is usually sold out. My favorite?  I love their Maine Sweet Cream, which is basically just milk & cream. It’s so simple and yet so good. It totally reminds me of my favorite milk ice cream in Tokyo.

My daughter, husband and I all enjoyed our ice cream.  Interestingly, the counter tabletop inside the store is heated.  My husband quipped that it's probably so people can warm up while at the same time enjoy their ice cream -- what perfect way to eat ice cream during the winter!  :)

Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary

Ice Cream Flavors | Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream | Portland
List of ice cream flavors displayed outside the shop.
Right next to the Mount Desert Island Ice Cream Shop at Exchange Street is the Coastal Maine Popcorn Co. shop where you can find a wide variety of popcorn flavors.  Whether you’re looking for sweet or savory popcorn, this is the place where you should go.  It’s a perfect popcorn place for us because I love the savory types and I enjoyed their buffalo wing & salted vinegar popcorn flavors while my husband and daughter loved the chocolate caramel and cotton candy flavors.

Coastal Maine Popcorn Co. | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary

Popcorn Displays | Coastal Maine Popcorn Co | Chichi Mary Blog
Bulk displays of popcorn in different flavors at the Coastal Maine Popcorn Co.  You can view all of these from the window, which totally attracts almost anyone passing by Exchange Street.  Better yet, they generously sample all of their popcorn flavors, so you can better decide what tickles your fancy.

Holy Donut has been included by Fodor’sTravel on the list of top 10 doughnut shops in the US.  The difference?  The donut is made from Maine mashed potatoes, making the donut very dense and filling.  And if you’re trying to go to this place, you should definitely come in as early as you can because in the afternoon, the donuts are already sold out. The first day we came here, the store was already closed very early in the afternoon, with that dreaded "Sold Out" sign hanging by their door. Thankfully, we were on a multi-day trip so we were able to come back the next day much earlier. Everyone was happy  :)  Our personal favorites are the maple flavor and dark chocolate with sea salt.

Holy Donut | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog

We’re a big fan of poutine.  But if we can’t make it to Montreal, this is a great place to have a great plate of poutine or Belgian fries made with Maine potatoes.  The fries are cooked in duck fat (of course) and it’s admittedly very sinful.  But treating yourself once in a while is not bad ;)  We love their fries, milkshakes and house made sodas, as well.  

Duckfat | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog

Poutine | Duckfat | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog
My girl in her silly mood! :)

It might be touristy for some but we love going to this floating restaurant, DiMillos, for the traditional clam bake or steamed lobsters. Their seafood pasta is very good too.  From ambiance to food, you can never go wrong with this place. The upper deck of the ship is also a great party venue. The last time we were here, Boston Red Sox was having a party upstairs.

Di Millos | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog

Di Millos Ship | Floating Restuarant | Portland | Chichi Mary Blog
The view of DiMillos from the port.  Mary enjoyed playing inside the ship!  This time, Mary is wearing her Juliet Sash Dress by Imoga

Maine Lobsters | Portland | Chichi Mary Blog
When in Maine, do not miss to eat lobsters ;)

This is our most favorite restaurant so far in Portland.  This is not the place for your traditional New England seafood.  The restaurant has a fresh take on seafood dishes.  Even our little girl had so much fun eating her own meal here.  From wide selections of oysters to their fried peppers, their food was so mouth-wateringly good that we’re still salivating whenever we think about this restaurant.

My favorite is the Tuna Crudo, and I loved it so much that I didn't hesitate ordering a second round. The Butter Brown Lobster Roll is so decadent that as soon as you have a single bite, you'll immediately taste the burst of flavors. The queue is quite long and the restaurant doesn’t accept a reservation for a party less than 6, so it’s better to come here early if you’re a small group and if you're planning to eat your lunch/dinner on time.  The good thing is they have fast service even with a full house.

Outside of Eventide | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog
Waiting in style ;)  Dress by Imoga and shoes by Oca-Loca (her favorite leather sandals this Spring/Summer 15).

Eventide | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog

Food at Eventide | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog
Different variety of oysters with sides of scallops, fried green peppers, buttermilk fried chicken bun and potato chips.

Brown Butter Lobster Bun | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog
My mouth watering brown lobster roll!  This is actually served warm, instead of  cold like a typical lobster roll.

Tuna Crudo | Eventide | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog
Bigeye Tuna Crudo -- ginger, scallion, tare, and radish

Funny enough, the reason why I discovered this Italian Store was because there was a long line for Duckfat.  To entertain ourselves while waiting, I decided to browse inside this grocery store, which was just across the street.  To my surprise and delight, this has turned out to be one of my favorite grocery stores to date. Because I love cooking Italian food, this the only place I've seen where I can find my favorite grocery items that I can only usually buy in Europe. Some of these are the squid ink spaghetti noodles, Portuguese sardines, truffles in can in different variety (truffles with tomato or pesto, truffles with mushrooms), even all natural crostinis and other Italian crackers, and artisan gelato.  This grocery store gives a certain level of happiness and the best thing is I didn't feel that the merchandise was overly priced.

Lastly but definitely not the least, the sweet surprise in this grocery store is that they have a bakery that also sells pizza at the back corner of the store.  Their Sicilian slab pizza is one of the best we've had in the US.  It’s so good that it's almost at par with the best pizza we've had in Italy (in Florence, to be specific).  The bread is crusty and very tasty.  Usually, I don’t eat the upper crust of a pizza but with this kind of pizza, you will leave nothing on your plate.

Micucci Grocery | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog
Micucci's facade is very unassuming, and doesn't provide much hint of the heavenly delights waiting inside.

Sicilian Slab Pizza | Micucci | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary Blog
Sicilian Slab Pizza 
Grocery Items | Micucci Grocery | Portland Maine | Chichi Mary
My stash of Italian grocery items.  I giggle at myself at the concept of hoarding, but Portland is still almost two hours from where we live.  When we're there, we definitely take advantage.  My husband finished off his dark-chocolate covered cherry within the first day of coming back.

There’s still a lot to discover in this small but beautiful city.  Portland never fails to surprise me!  Whether I’m shopping or binging out on food, it is truly a city full of interesting finds!


1 comment:

  1. This is an outstanding venue, with great and thoughtful staff, and a fantastic chef. The location is well situated. We has been delighted to host our annual event at this location for the past few years, and the venue NYC has been perfect for our group of roughly 300.