A taste of Portland with Maine Foodie Tours

Portland Maine is a vibrant harbor town with a creative spirit and a gritty, working class past. Access to some of the freshest seafood on the East Coast( including Maine’s succulent lobster) and scores of small scale farms and artisan food producers has attracted a new wave of forward-thinking chefs eager to showcase some of Maine’s best culinary offerings. Recently named the “Foodiest small town in America” by none other than Bon Appetit magazine I knew I had to sample some of Portland’s goodies for myself but I was only stopping in the city for one day. Maine Foodie Tours to the rescue!

Maine Foodie Tours Portland www.casualtravelist.com

The tour began at Vervacious, a specialty foods shop offering up hand-blended spice mixes,salts and vinegars. We met our guide Chris, a former Culinary Institute of America administrator, and quickly got down to the tasty business of eating. First up was a decadent mac and cheese featuring Maine’s finest crustacean. No butter or cream, this lobster mac was made with Parmesan cheese water created by sous vide which resulted in a luscious sauce with much less guilt. The mac and cheese was a foil to sample some of their delicious finishing salts which ranged from spicy curry to savory cinnamon but the standout for me was their fiery sichuan salt. We then moved on to the sweeter side of thing sampling fruit drizzled with their award winning balsamic glazes(chocolate and espresso). The espresso balsamic was sweet and complex, I loved it so much I brought a bottle to take home.Maine Foodie Tours Portland www.casualtravelist.com lobster mac and cheese www.casualtravelist.com

The sunny weather made for a pleasant stroll through the Old Port section of the city and Chris regaled us with tales of the history of Portland. As nice as it was outside we had some tasting to do, and it wasn’t long before we came upon Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery. Known for their award winning Back River Gin, they also offer a vareity of liquors featuring classic Maine flavors like blueberry and cranberry. The showstopper here was their maple smash, a blend of maple syrup and brandy. It wasn’t too sweet but offered up a classic maple flavor with a smooth caramel finish.

Sweetgrass Gin, Maine Foodie Tours Portland www.casualtravelist.com Maine Foodie Tours Portland www.casualtravelist.com

Teetotalers, there’s something on this tour for you as well. A quick jaunt across the street lies Vena’s Fizz House, a craft soda bar. Owner Johanna Corman takes the high art of the cocktail and applies it to beverages everyone can enjoy. You’ll find classic flavor combos like cherry-lime and orange-cream but Johanna thinks outside the box too. My favorite libation here was the lumberjack, an intriguing drink made with pine syrup. Yep, pine syrup and it was quite refreshing.Vena's Fizz House Portlaand,ME www.casualtravelist.com

We made our way back toward the waterfront to a Portland institution, the Harbor Fish Market. Family owned and operated for over 40 years this is the local’s choice for Maine’s best seafood. Judging from the steady flow of customers (some of who appear to have stepped from the pages of a Herman Melville novel) and the line of boats at the back dock, this place is the real deal. Stepping inside you’ll find two huge lobster tanks, a variety of oysters and shellfish and a few friendly fishmongers ready to help you pick out the day’s best catch. They also sell some prepared seafood items like the locally smoked Maine shrimp and smoked mussels.The cold smoked seafood had a sweet smokey flavor and delicate texture that would be perfect for a cocktail party.

Harbor Fish Market, Maine Foodie Tours Portland www.casualtravelist.com Maine lobster www.casualtravelist.com

As we walked through the gleaming lobby of the Portland Harbor Hotel, we knew Chris had saved the best for last. Our final stop of the day was at Eve’s at the Garden where executive chef Timothy Labonte warmly greeted us and presented his take on Maine’s famous lobster roll. Succulent lobster with corn, pea shoots, pickled ginger and creme fraiche ended our day on a high note.Sipping our Chardonnay at Eve’s beautiful garden courtyard, it had been a very tasty afternoon indeed.

Eve's at the Garden, Portland ME www.casualtravelist.com

Hungry yet? Maine Foodie Tours offer several food tours throughout Portland as well as Kennebunkport and Bar Harbor,these tours are a great way to taste what Maine has to offer.

Website

www.mainefoodietours.com

Disclosure: I was generously offered a discount by Maine Foodie Tours however as always all opinions are my own.

107 Comments on “A taste of Portland with Maine Foodie Tours

    • It seriously was one of the best things I tasted in the entire state of Maine.

    • Food tours are a great way to get a taste of an area and Portland was one of my favorites!

    • It’s not too far from Boston and would make a great day or weekend trip.

    • Dave, the quality of the artisinal food scene all over Maine was really impressive.

    • Maine is very much a genuine slice of America with its own distinct way of doing things. Definitely worth a stop when you’re on this side of the pond.

    • Mike, I can’t help it! I now know why Maine’s nickname is “Vacationland”. I didn’t want to come back!

    • I loved Maine a lot more than I expected to, it’s just a very genuine place.

  1. Sounds awesome! We thought of doing that tour the last time I was in Portland but didn’t have time but maybe next year! We did a food tour in Rome earlier this summer and loved it and my daughter is quite a little foodie too. In the meantime we just chowed down at Duckfat and Vinland on our own.
    Tamara Gruber recently posted…Facing your Fears Through TravelMy Profile

    • I love that your daughter is a little foodie 🙂 I will definitely be heading to Duckfat next time I’m in Portland.

  2. Um yes, I’m hungry now! You enjoyed some amazing sounding foods. Great idea to do a food tour. You’re able to cover so much ground within a small amount of time. I love the big letters spelling out Maine on the brick wall in Vena’s Fizz House.
    Daidri | Thee Getaway Gal recently posted…Snapshot Saturday: PassionMy Profile

    • I’ve been on a few food tours and I absolutely love them. A great way to sample several eateries when you’re in town a short amount of time.

  3. Espresso and balsamic – I never would have thought of those flavors going together! I do love both of those things though so I would like to try it! Sounds like you had a great time!

    • Vervacious has online ordering so you definitely can try it for yourself!

    • I was really surprised about the quality artisinal products coming out of Maine, there is some really great stuff!

  4. I love food tours and would love to try this one out when we make it to the States!
    That lobster roll looks amazing! Crème fraîche, lobster, I’m already sold! Yum!

    • You can never go wrong with lobster but this took it to a completely different level.

  5. I love seafood! Do they have a season for lobster or can they catch them all year round? In Norway we only eat lobster in autumn and the best way to prepare them is fried.

    • Lobster is more summer and fall. The best place to get lobster is one of the many roadside seafood shacks serving lobster freshly caught that morning.

      • Lobster is a bit less expensive in Maine toward the end of summer, but it’s definitely available all year long so don’t worry about what time of the year you visit.

  6. Portland, Maine is on the very top of my list of US cities I want to visit. I am based in NY, and I really have no excuse not to take a road trip some day. The food looks so good.

    • It was spectacular. I should go back to Portland just to get another one.

  7. It all sounds sooooo yummy. I love Maine and they do have some amazingly fresh seafood. I normally spend a bit of time in and around Bar Harbor during the summer at my friend’s vacation home but I have never made it up to Portland. I’ll have to tell her we should try this food tour! Sounds like a great experience. Thanks for the post 🙂
    Kristen Sarra recently posted…NYCity Break: 7 Hours In Sausalito, CaliforniaMy Profile

  8. As both a teetotaler and a vegetarian, food is always such a challenge when I’m travelling, a guided tour seems like a great option to find the best local spots.

    • While Portland is known for its seafood, there were plenty of veggie options too. I thought Vena’s fizz shop was such a wonderful idea!

    • I don’t believe they do specifically but if you contact them beforehand they may be able to customize a tour.

  9. It’s been a long while since I was in Maine but your tour and the associated photos bring back a lot of memories. Great harborside seafood and lobster dinners with a glass of wine and side of history. I really enjoyed your post and the memories it brought back.
    Tim recently posted…Trekking and Eating in UbudMy Profile

    • I enjoyed my trip to Maine much more than I expected too. There is some great food up there!

  10. How lovely! This is something I would absolutely LOVE! I love a whole excursion dedicated to food. I would love to try that maple splash, sounds so delicious!

    • There are so many cute little towns throughout New England, definitely worth some time.

  11. OH MY GOSH do I love Lobster and I have to say not much of around here in Germany 🙂 What I would do for a Lobster roll – what a fun tour and I dont think there is anything better than eating your way through a town YUMMM !!!

    • Eating is definitely my favorite way to savor the local culture. While in Maine I ate lobster every day!

    • I highly recommend a food tour, especially if you only have a short amount of time in a city.

  12. First of all, I had no idea that there was a Portland in Maine so I learned that today from your blog! Secondly, that food looks absolutely delicious! I personally think I would love that mac and cheese with the different finishing salts and the drink with pine syrup. I’m big on trying new foods with strange or uncommon combinations like that so I’m sure I’d love it. There are some food tours down here in Miami where I live. I have been wanting to try one for a long time, but I keep putting it off. Your post has convinced me that I must stop doing that! I don’t know if the tour here will be as great as the one you did in Portland, but it’s certainly worth a try!

    • I bet there are some absolutely fabulous food tours in Miami! You’ll have to let me know about your experience.

    • There is no better way to celebrate than good wine and a fabulous meal.

  13. I would not have guessed Portland, Maine to be the “foodiest” town in America! It all looks and sounds so delicious though I can see why! I’d be hanging around that lobster market everyday if I lived in the area 🙂 Thanks for the tour!

    • It has the highest number of chef owned restaurants per capita and there is some serious food coming out of Maine. I was really surprised.

  14. I love food (and even more than that, I love food tours). I had never heard of Portland, Maine (and for that I am quite ashamed) but now I am adding it to my list of destinations that I must visit for the food!

    • The short distances between New England Towns make it great for a road trip

  15. I love Portland too – but I’m biased since I’m from there! I have a lot of memories of visiting Harbor Fish Market so I was happy to see that included in your list. I’m continually amazed at how many new awesome eateries there are every time I visit. ~ Mel at City Bitches Abroad

    • Thanks for stopping by Mel! I had a great time in Portland and the rest of Maine as well. Definitely some good eats up there!

  16. So I never knew much of anything about Portland until reading this, but WOW does it sound like my kind of place. I’m not big on seafood but the rest of it sounds divine! Chocolate and espresso balsamic glazes!?!? YUM
    Leah recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Coming HomeMy Profile

  17. I have always wanted to go on a foodie tour. I think it is such a fascinating idea to combine travel and food. After all, one of the best experiences while traveling is trying new and different cuisine from around the world. FYI! Lobster roll will love to try it.

    • I love food tours, especially when I’m in a place only a very short time.

    • Portland is a great town for eating, you’ll have a great time!

  18. Yeah, that sounds like lots of foods there. Are there any vegan option though? Its always hard to find something tasty to eat when you try to stay healthy..

    • While Portland is a seafood town its also very artsy and its not too hard to find Vegan options.

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