Well, we’ve left the great state of Maine and returned to our quaint little shoe box. Before reality really starts to sink in (work starts for one of us tomorrow), we thought we’d touch on a few more food highlights from the week.
We suppose it’s most traditional to save the best for last, but since we’re going chronologically here, we have to highlight the last meal we had before leaving Kennebunkport, which stands apart as the best meal we’ve ever had. Thanks to gracious wedding gifts from our parents, we were fortunate enough to dine at The White Barn Inn. We elected to go with the “Tasting Menu,” which included an eight course selection of succulent and immensely creative small plates.
The picture above shows what’s left of the “butter poached smoked lobster,” which easily won our choice as best lobster we’ve ever had. We fear that we lack the culinary vernacular to describe adequately what was going on in this small sampling of fresh Maine crustacean, but suffice it to say the depth and richness of smoky flavor and buttery tenderness set this lobster apart – WAY apart.
Served as the pre-dessert course was this beautiful plate of nine artisan cheeses, made from cow’s, sheep’s, and goat’s milk. We could have made a meal just off this cheese plate alone.
We could go on and on, but thought instead just to include the list of courses – the descriptions alone speak volumes:
- Smoked Salmon Tartare and Poached Salmon, Cucumber Salad and Creme Fraiche
- Braised Lamb Neck with Carrot Dijon Sauce
- Butter Poached Smoked Lobster
- Foie Gras Torchon with Balsamic Strawberry
- Parmesan “Bon Bon” with Prosciutto Foam
- Pineapple-Sage Sorbet
- Pan Roast Veal Filet on a Summer Vegetable Tart and Ratatouille Vinaigrette
- A Selection of New England and European Cheeses
- Blueberry Crumble Souffle, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Thanks Moms and Dads for the best meal of our lives!
Northward we head, now, with a brief stop in Freeport to do some Outlet shopping. We’ve already told you about The Clam Shack. If you’re ever in Freeport doing the Outlet run, be sure to stop by The Freeport Chowder House, which is located off a side street in front of L. L. Bean. Much like The Clam Shack, there is nothing pretentious here. You can get seafood rolls or chowder; we got lobster rolls and the clam chowder, and both were delicious – especially the chowder. There’s just one guy running the place, and he told us that he doesn’t eat lobster – go figure.
We spent the second half of the week in Camden, and just fell in love with this blue harbor girded by mountains. Our inn was located a mile from the harbor, shops, and restaurants, and this may be the only reason we didn’t gain over ten pounds by the end of the week. A pleasant stroll into this old harbor town yielded even more delicious food, especially if you ventured down the side streets.
At the end of what appears to be primarily a residential side street you’ll find Francine Bistro, recommended to us by Anne’s friend, Alissa. As soon as we walked in the fragrant aromas (mostly of skillet-warmed pine, which we’ll get to in a second) greeted us quite warmly and set the stage for yet another incredible meal.
Sadly, the dim lighting contributed to a picture which doesn’t do this dish justice. These were the “skillet roast rope grown mussels with pine, lime, sea salt, and black butter. ” Easily the best shellfish we’d ever eaten, the aromatic pine and rich black butter gave these mussels an addictive quality. There was literally a pine branch at the bottom of the skillet – such a brilliant use of aromatics. The leftover juice from the mussels, lime, and melted butter was just divine – we sopped up most of it with our crusty bread. (I even thought of picking up the bowl and drinking the juices – it was that good.)
The friendly antique-dealing couple sitting next to us were kind enough to lend us their candle in order to better light this photograph. This was our main course, an herb-roasted lobster with farro – such a beautiful presentation and just absolutely delicious, right down to the details of the balsamic glaze painted onto the plate.
For the best breakfast in Camden, we had only to walk out of our room and into the Whitehall Inn dining room. If you make a visit here for your morning energy boost, be sure to start with the fruit bowl. One of us isn’t the biggest fruit lover in the world, but there was not one bit of fruit left in this bowl (well, okay, maybe the melon). This fruit was incredibly fresh, so much so that you would swear they had even banana trees in the backyard.
The big winner at this breakfast table, though, was the blueberry pancakes. As if fresh wild Maine blueberries and Maine Maple Syrup is not already enough to make these suckers delicious, the chef cooks these using an interesting two-step method that makes for a funnel-cake-like crispiness on the outside of the pancakes. We loved them so much we got them twice, and raved about them so emphatically to the Inn owner that he actually gave us a copy of the recipe. Suffice it to say, we’ll be doing a test kitchen post very soon that involves this delicious breakfast treat, and we’ll be sure to share the step-by-step recipe.
Last but not least, our travels led us to the bigger harbor city of Portland. Before flying out the next morning, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a meal at one of the local secrets, Fore Street. We would not have ever found this had it not been for our waitress, Jennifer, back in Kennebunkport recommending it. In fact, everyone we talked to in the restaurant was from New England.
If you’re ever in Portland you MUST go here. In a large dining room with an active open kitchen and an entire wall of windows overlooking the harbor, we enjoyed our “last supper” of the honeymoon – and it did not disappoint.
As soon as you walk in, you smell the smoky hardwood burning in the wood oven, much like the aroma that meets you when you walk into Fogo de Chao. Hard working chefs are turning out an interesting menu full of wonderful choices, right down to the Hangar Steak, a cut of beef not well known below the Maison-Dixon line.
And the steak is delicious, by the way – perfectly cooked and seasoned just enough to bring out the natural richness of this butcher’s secret cut.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight something from the sea, and we just couldn’t turn down the mussels. And they did not let us down – meaty and tender, rich and succulent. Who knew we’d fall in love with mussels? Well, in Maine, you just can’t help it.
So do you want to go to Maine yet? We’d highly recommend it – if for nothing else, the food! If this were not a food blog we’d highlight all of the other wonderful qualities of this quaint and crisply beautiful section of our country’s coast, but you’ll just have to take our word for it. Or, just go. You’ll love it. We sure did.