Portland, Maine is a true find, especially for food lovers. Spirited, quietly hip, quirky, and decidedly independent, this community on Casco Bay is committed to delicious local food and independent businesses, and over three days earlier this spring, I managed to squeeze in lots of great eating at places recommended by friends: we enjoyed super-fresh, briny oysters at Eventide; the best bagels you’ll ever eat at Scratch Baking Co. in North Portland; handmade ramen at Pai Men Miyake; crusty pizza at the atmospheric Otto; and duck fat fries at Duck Fat. We also discovered some gems along the way, inventive food businesses that surely won’t stay hidden for long…
*photography by Thomas Winslow
The Holy Donut. Leigh Kellis brings a farm-to-table approach to donuts, of all things. The Holy Donut cranks out meltingly tender, intensely flavored Maine potato donuts in varieties such as an early spring citrus & mint-based mojito, tart pomegranate, and sweetly spicy sweet potato.
This hopping spot is a great place to grab a coffee and watch the long line of devoted locals catch up on a weekend morning. Take your warm donuts across the street to the beautiful urban park—calories don’t count when you’re walking, right?
Appleton Farms. Not actually in Portland, but in Ipswich,MA (on the way to Logan Airport back in Boston), I discovered this 18th century farm. Owned by the same family over its almost 200 year old history, when the last descendant died off, the property, with its meandering trails and verdant acres was deeded to The Trustees of Reservations.
The organization brought in expert dairy herdsman Scott Rowe, who has brought the dairy back into full swing with a robust and content herd of Jerseys; master cheesemaker Arlene Brokaw makes rich butter and cheeses, and the farm stand sells maple syrup, farmstead meats, and runs a CSA in season.
Salt & Sea. Justine Simon and her husband Marty Odlin moved back to his hometown of Portland and were distressed to discover low-quality, chemically treated fish in the grocery store, some of it shipped to this city by the sea from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Marty’s people are fishermen, so the couple partnered up with family boats to begin Salt & Sea, a community-supported fishing operation. Happy customers now receive a weekly delivery of the freshest fish and shellfish pulled from the Gulf of Maine and delivered within hours of swimming, along with weekly inspiration and recipes.
Flanagan’s Table. After stints in several illustrious NYC kitchens, Alex Wight got a hankering to bring her culinary sensibility north to her mother’s farm, the gloriously restored Flanagan’s Farm. Once a month, inside the architecturally stunning soaring barn, a long table is set for 40 guests and Alex invites a local Maine chef to collaborate on a sumptuous five course feast paired with wine and Maine beer.
You’ll make new friends inside the warm, candlelit space, and we guarantee you’ll be checking the calendar for your next destination dinner at the barn.
see more of Elizabeth’s work on Haymakers