Weekend jaunt [New Gloucester, ME]

I “kidnapped” B and Spring Onion as I normally do when there isn’t a pandemic for their big holiday gift. I found a luxe tiny house in New Gloucester, which we’ve never visited. We can stay as isolated as we want to, or partake in outdoor winter activities (maybe not today…it’s still -2F). Even have a beer or 2 outside.

Friday
SO has a 4-day weekend so we took full advantage, leaving by 10 am and arriving in Portland at lunchtime. B chose Highroller Lobster and it wasn’t crowded at all at that early hour. He got the lobster roll with lime crema and SO went with corn dog. I chose badly with the “Lobby Pop,” (a skewered lobster tail basted in drawn butter). It was adequate but way overpriced at $16 - when it arrived, we both looked at it, feeling quite underwhelmed. I was not going to get lobster on this trip after reading the Globe’s expose on the lobstering industry - that’s karma for you. Friendly service.

SO and I spent a couple of hours at the Childrens Museum while B hung out at Bissell Brothers, “working” (jk, he really was). Then onto New Gloucester, ~40 minutes NW-ish. We headed to the New Gloucester Village Store to pick up a cheese pizza, a “forager” pizza (mushroom on a white base), and wine. The store is not well-stocked so I’m glad we weren’t depending on that for dinner supplies. I don’t know if that’s a pandemic effect or a wintertime thing. But it does carry staples, baked goods, ready made sandwiches and salads, frozen trays of food, like cottage pie. The pizza was excellent - the crust needed a touch of salt but it had a of soul. It actually tasted of really good bread. Toppings were awesome, too. Loaded with mushrooms and a hint of rosemary.

I’m going to report in installments, as I find that easier. Places on our possible to-do list include Nu Brewery, Oxbow Beer Garden (we’re not big fans of their beer but we’ve been to the lovely Newcastle location and found it enjoyable…the Oxford location sounds like a lot of fun with cross-country skiing trails and a beer hut in the woods), some easy nearby hiking trails (Big Falls and Intervale Preserves), Pineland Farms which has winter activities, including a sledding hill, in addition to a market shop.

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Pizza shot.

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Eagerly watching this space for any further reports.

P.S. Be careful outside in this crazy cold. Brrr!

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Living (reading?) vicariously!

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Saturday
We lolly-gagged (SO’s term) almost the whole morning due to the extreme cold, but it was fun being hunkered down. We finally made it out and found ourselves near Brunswick around lunchtime and chose Sea Dog Brewing in Topsham over Flight Deck (everyone was pizza’ed out) and SO really wanted a hot dog. We’ve been to other Sea Dogs - the food at this location was better than we remember. B had the huge haddock tacos (which he said were delicious) and I went with the “Windjammer Ale” mussels which came with nicely charred focaccia (I could’ve used another piece to continue sopping up the broth).

We stopped by Pineland Farms for s’mores supplies - interesting place. The complex was originally an institution for the mentally disabled in the early 1900’s through 1996. The large campus has that feel. Dinner was at home (a veggie pasta bake).

Today will be interesting - there is a winter storm watch in a sliver of Maine that just happens to include exactly where we are. We may have to cut short our trip and leave tonight ahead of the storm. In which case, we’ll try to pack in as many activities and eating experiences as we can today.

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It really is fun to vicariously enjoy this weekend away!!

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With plenty of locally owned options in the Brunswick area, why a chain restaurant? The farmers market is right across the street and that could’ve supplied you your lunch. Or the numerous restaurants on Maine st.

Digga, we are on a parallel track, celebrating our daughter’s 18th with a long weekend near Portland. We’re staying at Inn By the Sea on Cape Elizabeth, 18 minutes southeast of Portland via Route 77. The Inn was daughter’s choice, and she hit it out of the park. Lovely room with a balcony overlooking the ocean, two sided gas fireplace you can enjoy from inside or the deck - though we haven’t braved the deck due the cold except for brief forays to view sunrise and sunset.

Room service from Sea Glass restaurant makes social distancing easy. We had a wonderful breakfast yesterday, a proper bagel and Maine-smoked salmon with all the accoutrements, classic Eggs Benedict with perfectly poached eggs, and for our daughter a breakfast sandwich with egg, prosciutto and cheese, tarted up with a hint of hot sauce on a Portuguese “muffin” — really good.

Saturday night we made our first ever visit to Fore Street. We’d tried on past visits to Portland but this is the first time I was able to snag a rez. There’s complementary parking in the surface lot behind the restaurant, a nice touch for a busy part of Portland. The building is charming inside, brick and exposed beams, leaded glass windows, high ceilings and an open kitchen. There’s a bar to the left as you enter and dining room is up a couple of steps. The dining room itself had two levels, we were on the upper level at a 4-top against the windows, which afforded an unobstructed view of the kitchen and glassed-In pantry/garde manger. The lower level has booths that can seat 6.

We ordered while hungry. A generous bowl of the most plump, tender mussels I’ve ever eaten was recommended by a staff member at the Inn. I detected a hint of Pernod (classic) and there were ground almonds in addition to aromatics and bits of finely diced sausage. A miche and francese baked down stairs at Standard Bakery were perfect for dunking in the sauce. We also had a chilled seafood sampler, scallop ceviche, smoked mussels, and smoked salmon with crème fraiche. This went over really well despite the frigid temperature outside. Also an excellent beet salad.

For mains we shared an umami-laden mushroom tagliatelle, spit-roasted pork loin, and a saddle of rabbit wrapped around a boudin blanc and presented as a sort of sliced ballotin. All were excellent, but the rabbit stole the show. We shared an excellent dark chocolate torte with pistachio ice cream and a sticky toffee pudding before stumbling back to the Inn.

All the restaurant staff are vaccinated, and they check for proof of vaccination on check-in. All handled with aplomb and quite comforting, especially after our experience in Ohio over Christmas where we were harassed for wearing masks.

The service was excellent and they have a great team approach. The room, the menu that changes daily, and an engaging waiter (he strongly recommended the rabbit and toffee pudding) reminded me of Chez Panisse more than any other place I can think of on the east coast. If Fore Street was in the vanguard of the Portland foodie movement, it’s easy to see why. The only minor misstep was a long interval between the starters and mains.

Tonight we’re headed to their sister restaurant Scales. We are kind of rooting for a snow storm to extend our stay.

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Have wondered about that place. Thanks for the tip. Mostly though, happy birthday to your daughter and enjoy your special weekend!

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Thanks TT. We splurged on one of the “Beach Suites” and it is over-the-top. Nicer than our accommodations at White Barn Inn for my SOs birthday a couple of years ago, and half the cost. I think we’ll come back to check it out again in warmer weather.

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@Joseph81 I know you don’t know me, but I’m anti-chain in as many facets of my life as possible. Sometimes with a picky 7-year old, on the verge of hangry, you have to go with the flow. We do our best to satisfy all of our sensibilities. We considered Moderation Brewery but their menu is mostly snacks. And we arrived in Brunswick close to 2 pm, too late for the farmers market (and doubtful we would find something for Spring Onion to eat. Plus it was barely over 0F on Saturday. Not the most amenable for a picnic. Richard’s is German and very meat-heavy, Joshua’s didn’t appeal for some reason. Where else should we have considered?

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Yea, Moderation is snacks and outdoors in huts with heaters. No inside service. If pizza is out if the question than ZaoZe, Peppers, Cameron’s, Sweet Angel are a few lunch options. I believe Trinken brewing still has a food truck and their beer is far superior to Flight Deck and Sea Dog but that’s West Bath. You may have driven by it on your way to Sea Dog but 104 Public House in Topsham is another option.

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Probably should mention that we’ve had wonderful oysters at Scales in case you’re oyster fans. (Not sure, but I have a hunch that they may source from the folks at Island Creek?)

And if baked Alaska happens to be on the dessert menu as a special, I would recommend. We’ve enjoyed an amazing version there.

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Ohh, thanks for the tips. We are fans of both. Our favorite Baked Alaska in Boston is the mago version at Trade. All-time favorite was the key-lime Baked Alaska at the dearly-departed Pacific Time in Miami Beach.

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The baked Alaska at Oleana is amazing. I didn’t try it until we got take out from Oleana during the early stages of the pandemic. And it actually did well for take out; we only had to get it to Somerville. It was a bit sweet to my taste, but the overall dish was excellent.

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Is Pineland Farms the same place that sells packaged meatballs which you can get at Whole Foods?

Not sure but they did have a large refrigerated case full of meat products.

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Our golden rule of travel is that you can control many things except the weather. So you have to go with the flow. We erred on the side of caution and left early yesterday evening. And sadly, we had a lot of leftover pizza and pasta from the nights before so we decided to hike in the morning, came home to eat and have a few adult drinks by the fire pit. S’mores and campfire hot dog for SO. We enjoyed a few more hours of our tiny house and home in MA by 8:30 pm.

After early morning snow, it has now changed to freezing rain in New Gloucester. Of course, we wonder if we could have made it. :woman_shrugging:t2:

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