Freeport, South Freeport, + Brunswick
48 HOURS-October 2012
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Sophie Nelson, Heidi Kirn, + Jack Leonardi
Sophie Nelson, Associate Editor
3:00 p.m. @ Wolfe's Neck Farm + Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park
The highway is wet. Drops of rain spot the windshield. Fog makes a blue-green fuzz of the trees lining I-295. In downtown Freeport, I make my way through the crowds on Main Street before turning on Bow Street toward the state park. Eventually, the rain stops and the fields and forests begin to steam in the August heat. I cross the one-way bridge to the farm and come upon a pasture of grazing sheep and campers in tie-dyed shirts running to greet their parents. At the 233-acre state park, I wander down a path that hugs the shoreline, admiring the murky horizon line and the barely visible islands.
4:30 p.m. @ Applewood Inn
The cozy inn is tucked just around the corner from the Main Street outlets. In the kitchen, a note from owners Jay and Jennifer Yilmaz and a key await me. My room is lovely, with vaulted ceilings, a great big tub, and a king-sized bed topped with a beautiful silk spread. I feel as though I'm staying at a friend's place—well, a friend who is very nicely situated and unusually attentive to details. In other words, I feel spoiled, happy, and at home.
5:00 p.m. @ Downtown Brunswick My friend Michelle and I hit the streets on this second Friday of the month—Brunswick's designated "art walk" date. We admire the well-made clothes and funky shoes and jewelry at Wyler's before dropping into the neighboring shop, Local, where fresh produce, wildflowers, and wines abound. Another nearby shop, Nest, is filled with home goods, ranging from sweet-smelling candles to lamps and bed frames. We drop in on the great Gulf of Maine Books and proceed to the Book Barn, a shop bursting with books, records, and quirky antiques. I've been meaning to get to Spindleworks for a while, and I'm so happy to meet Liz McGhee, the manager of the nonprofit art center for adults with disabilities, and tour the space. An exhibition—(tiny)—is running through the end of the month, and Michelle and I adore many of the miniature works on display. Finally, we wander around the cavernous Fort Andross Mill Complex, home to numerous artist studios and businesses.
6:30 p.m. @ Tao Restaurant
I send my fellow 48ers a picture of our Tao cocktails, and Jack responds with a witty "Getting your fruits and vegetables out of the way, I see." It's true that our drinks—the Maine Mojito and Pimm's Cup—are chock full of fresh ingredients.
7:15 p.m. @ Clementine Restaurant Michelle and my other Brunswick-based friends are reason enough for me to visit frequently, but standbys such as Scarlet Begonias, El Camino, and Lemongrass make my visits all the more yummy. Tonight, Michelle and I decide to try something new. We smile wide upon entering Clementine. The restaurant is intimate and elegant without being stuffy. Our first bites of lobster tortellini render us temporarily speechless, and the dinner carries on in seafood splendor with crab cakes and perfectly cooked scallops.
9:00 p.m. @ Eveningstar Cinema Running reel-to-reel film and making fresh popcorn with real butter, this place is a venerable holdout in the digital age. The cinema shows one great movie at a time; on this night we go to Rome with Woody Allen.
11:00 p.m. @ Joshua's Restaurant and Tavern
We consider dropping by Joshua's—or Shua's, as it's locally known—but aren't quite in the mood for this rowdy and wondrous establishment. Instead, we visit with Michelle's dog Frankie before saying goodnight.
8:00 a.m. @ Applewood Inn
After a solid night of sleep on a cloud-like bed, I wake up to the smell of cooking bacon. Downstairs, I find the inn's owner, Jay Yilmaz, his son Aidan, and his father, Mr. Yilmaz, in the kitchen. I sit down at the Maine-made cherry harvest table, order "the best omelet this side of Boston" (and let me tell you, Mr. Yilmaz makes a damn good omelet), and start chatting with Charles and Mary, two Applewood guests from New Orleans. More guests and family join us at the table and we talk about Maine—Charles and Mary are on their way north—and in-laws. I don't want to leave, but when I do my new friends wish me well.
9:30 a.m. @ Waterfront Flea Market I'm back at the Fort Andross Mill Complex to peruse the famous Waterfront Flea Market. The drafty, dusty space is home to knickknacks of all kinds. I have found many diamonds in this rough before (and on this particular occasion I leave with a painting for $15), but for me flea markets are more about people than things: at some point every item meant something to someone. Jed Harrington's well-curated booth has always been my favorite. He regales me with stories of India, and we talk of astrological signs.
10:15 a.m. @ Wild Oats Bakery and Cafe I enjoy a cup of coffee in the outdoor seating area and listen in on the conversation my neighbors are having about the Founding Fathers.
11:00 a.m. @ Downtown Freeport There are lots of big-name outlets in Freeport, but the town is also home to dozens of Maine-based retail outposts and one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants: L.L.Bean has been around since 1912; Derosier's since 1904; Sherman's Books and Stationery since 1886 (not in Freeport, but you get the idea); and Jameson Tavern since 1779. I get my glitter on at Abacus; R.D. Allen Freeport Jewelers, featuring brilliant Maine tourmaline; and then next door at Brown Goldsmiths, where my colleague Maureen and her husband Nik made their wedding bands together. Then I get my guilt on at Wicked Whoopies (red velvet is my favorite). Dansko adoration beckons me into J.L. Coombs, and across the street at Mexicali Blues I find a beautiful teal and white tapestry I plan to use as a bed skirt.
1:00 p.m. @ Azure Cafe Max and I sit on the outside patio under the shade of an umbrella, enjoying our slight but relaxing remove from the shopper-filled streets. Earlier this morning, Jay recommended the calamari. It's as good as he said it would be.
3:00 p.m. @ Harraseeket Harbor Max and I had planned on taking part in Atlantic Seal Cruises' "Seal and Osprey Watch" at 6 p.m., but the cruise was canceled to accommodate a special charter. We decide to take that trip another time and, instead, take the Lilly B. to Bustins Island for the afternoon.
3:30 p.m. @ Bustins Island At the top of the Bustins Island pier, we turn left and head down the path that loops around the island. Unlike downtown Freeport, money is no good on Bustins Island—there isn't a single shop. After completing the scenic circle, with a detour to watch daredevils jump off Steamer Dock, we rest on the pier and enjoy an afternoon snack of chocolates purchased at Lindt Chocolate in Freeport.
6:15 p.m. @ Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern + Gritty McDuff's We're hungry and thirsty, so we drop into Linda Bean's, take a seat beside a friendly couple at the beautifully curved bar, and order buttery Maine Lobster Cuddlers and glasses of crisp Allagash White. We chat and watch some Olympic soccer before making our way to Gritty's for a pint of one of Max's favorite Maine brews, Black Fly Stout.
7:30 p.m. @ Conundrum Wine Bistro The front door of Conundrum is a porthole between rural roadside Maine and chill and chic eatery. We perch on a wicker love seat beneath twinkle lights and enjoy delicious pizza and a salad. I plan to return soon and sample the wine list.
8:00 a.m. @ Downtown Freeport + Broadway Delicatessen I take off on a scenic jog from the Applewood Inn, but tire before I've seen enough, so after cleaning up at the inn and saying my farewells, I take the scenic Pleasant Hill Road route to Brunswick for breakfast. The Broadway Delicatessen is timeless—like a big egg breakfast with coffee and two creams. On some Sunday to come, I'll have to make the most of Brunswick's classic features and take the Amtrak Downeaster to Brunswick and back again, or maybe take the Maine Eastern Railroad north to Rockport. I'm also interested in experiencing the area's many yoga studios—Hart Yoga, Jai Yoga, and Freeport Yoga, among others.
10:30 a.m. @ Morning Glory Natural Foods I must collect provisions for my parents' impending visit. Cabbage is on the shopping list, and I find Whatley Farm's spiral variety for sale. How lucky I am to eat food grown by my friend Ben.
11:15 a.m. @ Rapid River Co. + Royal River Natural Foods + Mainely Custard My colleagues Heidi and Jack and I had planned to meet up at a South Freeport favorite—Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company—but the rain spoils our plans. Heading south, I find a beautiful cotton shirt at Rapid River Co. before heading to Royal River Natural Foods. The rumors are true: their selection of produce, local organic meats, and gluten-free goods is outstanding. Before calling it a 48 Hours, I make a neck-wrenching turn into the gravel parking lot of Mainely Custard. My friend Leanne told me it was a must, and she was right. Yum and done.
Jack Leonardi, Art Collector Maine
5:45 p.m @ The Inn at Brunswick Station I arrive at the Inn at Brunswick Station with my wife Lynda and daughter Abbey. Sarah greets us at the front desk and introduces us to fellow staffer Chris and front desk manager Carolyn. A few minutes later, the inn's director of sales, Brandon, introduces himself and gives us an overview of the inn, which opened in June 2011. Our suite is spacious and handsome and will be perfect for the three of us.
6:15 p.m. @ Pedro O'Hara's
The place is packed with families and locals. We let Devon, the bartender, decide what we will drink—he brings over a margarita for Lynda and a Gritty's Vacationland Summer Ale for me. Abbey sticks with a soft drink. It's still happy hour so Lynda's eight-ounce margarita is just $1.99. There are nine different margaritas on the cocktail menu. We talk a bit with our servers Melissa and Haley and quickly realize that we actually know Haley—she's a former soccer teammate of our daughter Aley. They review the menu with us, which includes a mix of Mexican and Irish staples. Judging from the plates delivered to tables nearby, it appears that the Mexican and Irish offerings are being enjoyed in about equal proportion. With dinner only about an hour away, we're happy to snack on homemade chips and salsa.
7:15 p.m. @ Downtown Brunswick Leaving Pedros O'Hara's, we spot a small gathering of people taking in a street performance by a local band, the Sea Slugs. Regulars on the wedding and party scene in southern Maine for 20 years, the Slugs' music provides a pleasant backdrop to this perfect summer evening.
7:30 p.m. @ The Tavern at Brunswick Station Right on time for our reservation, we are greeted and seated by Lisa Emery. The tavern is busy and our server Krista quickly attends to us. We order up a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer chardonnay and Abbey goes for an herbal tea (it seems that she might be coming down with the flu). After looking over the menu and listening to the evening's specials, Abbey opts for a bowl of minestrone and an order of the tavern's famous crab cakes. Lynda chooses one of the specials, scallop and lobster risotto, and I keep it simple with the steak (filet!) and frites, accompanied by a side of fantastic house-made slaw.
9:30 p.m. @ Byrnes' Irish Pub
We wander into the nearby pub for a drink. The bartender Darren brings us a couple of pints and gives us the rundown on the pub, which opened on St. Patrick's Day 2010—shocker! It feels very much like a friendly neighborhood bar, and tonight Jud Caswell is providing the music. As luck would have it, Darren introduces us to Steve Peterson, the executive director of the Maine State Music Theatre. Steve insists that we see 42nd Street on Saturday and makes a quick call and secures three "house seats" for tomorrow's show. We chat with Steve for quite a while before heading back to the inn for the night.
9:00 a.m. @ Frosty's Donuts We are a little late in getting to Frosty's, but the shop is bustling and everyone looks happy. The donuts are big, fresh, and delicious. I go for the raised glazed and Lynda gets a jelly-filled. Abbey's eating regiment does not include donuts, but Lynda and I convince her to try both. Her smile tells us what a lot of area people know: Frosty's donuts are damn good.
10:05 a.m. @ Bayview Gallery
The gallery has a well-deserved reputation for representing fine impressionist and realist artists. The current show includes two of my favorite artists: Paul Stone and Barbara Applegate. I can't take my eyes off of Stone's Quartet Series: Inversion and gallery sales agent, Cally Green, tells me I'm not alone on that one.
11:00 a.m. @ Jill McGowan I was told by my colleague Sophie that I had to take Lynda to Jill McGowan. Sophie knows Lynda and has a sense of her style, and of course she was absolutely right. The beautifully tailored and sophisticated "great white shirts" look like they were made specifically for Lynda. She hems and haws over which style to buy and ultimately settles on the Alexis.
11:45 a.m. @ Thos. Moser Going into the showroon, which is celebrating its fortieth anniversary, is the ultimate "twofer"—you get to take in all the great Moser furniture as well as the wonderful art and sculpture on display throughout the space. Sales associate Meg Hurdman points out several interesting pieces of furniture, including an incredibly stylish and comfortable chaise. Paintings by Jill Hoy, Robin Reynolds, and Michele Dangelo are colorful and contemporary (right up my alley), and the unique wood sculpture by Bridget Spaeth creates great wall texture.
12:30 p.m. @ When Pigs Fly Breads Standard procedure for any visit to Freeport is a stop at the bakery's company store. The tasting table provides ample opportunity to sample the breads before buying. We try the Savory Cranberry Bread and the Lemon Blueberry Bread Pudding Cake before buying a loaf of seeded whole grain and a bag of Salted Caramel Triple Chocolate Chip cookies.
1:30 p.m. @ Fat Boy Drive-In It's "headlights on for service" at this 1950s-style drive-in. The parking lot is full and I run inside to grab a menu. The prices are insanely affordable and we order a "Whoperburger," a fresh haddock sandwich, and the house special, a Canadian bacon BLT. It takes some time to get the food, but it's delicious and just what you would expect. We text several people we know from the parking lot telling them they have to check it out. As we head out we notice the sign that reads "27th Annual Sock Hop, Tonight!"
3:00 p.m. @ Bowdoin College Museum of Art The current exhibition, Hello Nature, includes more than a hundred works by William Wegman, each inspired by the state of Maine. Each of Wegman's disciplines is on display, including photographs of his well-known Weimaraners.
4:30 p.m. @ The Inn at Brunswick Station After a quick shower and change, we're off to an early dinner.
5:45 p.m. @ Henry and Marty There's not an empty seat to be found, and it seems like everyone in the house is going to 42nd Street. The place has a cool vibe, and our waiter, DJ, is a pro. We order the wonderfully fresh summer rolls as an appetizer. For my entrée, I go for the Heart Healthy Fish and Chips—baked local cod served with potato salad (although I substitute jasmine rice). Lynda picks something from the Petite Summer Entreés section, the oven-roasted chicken with a Caribbean crust, avocado, and kale. For Abbey, it's the pear salad with Gorgonzola and roasted pecans. It all arrives quickly and each dish is perfect. We'll make it to the show without a problem.
7:15 p.m. @ Maine State Music Theatre We walk in and quickly spot Steve Peterson, who directs us to the will-call window where we pick up our tickets. Steve admits he saw us at Henry and Marty, but didn't stop to say hello because he needed to get to the theatre and into his suit. We'll let it go! The show is absolutely flawless—truly world-class. It's fast-moving with great music and dancing, and we feel like we have smiled for two hours straight. Maine State Music Theatre is still unknown to far too many, but I'm glad we are no longer among them.
10:00 p.m. @ Byrnes' Irish Pub Amazingly, by the time we get over to the pub, virtually the entire cast and crew from the show are there. It's Steve Peterson's fiftieth birthday and what happens over the next two hours is priceless. One cast member after another grabs the stage and puts on a show. This is not your average open-mic night—we find ourselves repeatedly saying, "Who wants to follow that performance?" But time after time, the performers outdo one another, which results in a night that could not have been planned and would be impossible to replicate. While we are taking it all in, former local news anchor Tory Ryden and her husband, Portland attorney Pat Scully, provide great conversation.
8:00 a.m. @ Run along the Androscoggin River We figure the best way to clear our heads and souls from the night before is a nice run along the Androscoggin River. It's an overcast morning with a light mist, and perfectly refreshing.
10:00 a.m. @ Coffee By Design A couple of black French roast coffees for Lynda and me and a soy milk cappuccino with sugar-free caramel for Abbey. We sip and people watch for a bit.
10:30 a.m. @ Mexicali Blues Abbey is looking for a hoop for her new nose piercing and finds exactly what she's looking for. We spend another 45 minutes wandering through the store, which is its own field trip of sorts. The original plan included lunch at Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster with my colleagues Sophie and Heidi, but with the rain came Plan B. We head home a bit tired but full of stories and recommendations to share.
Heidi Kirn, Art Director, Maine Home+Design
I'm heading north on I-295 solo, hoping to get a head start on the evening so that I can make a few stops before checking into the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport.
4:00 p.m. @ Chilton Furniture
I saw their booth at the Maine
Home+Design Show and have been looking forward to seeing their showroom ever since. The building is huge and packed with wooden furniture. I am especially drawn to the clean lines of the solid cherry Shaker dining table—one of their signature pieces.
4:15 p.m. @ Cuddledown Instinctively, you just want to touch everything in the store because it looks so soft. Cuddledown is large and packed with clothing, comforters, slippers, and pillows. Vintage-looking wastepaper baskets by Visionary Vessels of Maine catch my eye.
4:30 p.m. @ Harraseeket Inn
My husband Neil and the kids meet me at the Harraseeket Inn, which is everything you want a classic Maine inn to be. It has just the right amount of elegance, history, and relaxed comfort, plus modern conveniences like Wi-Fi and flat-screen televisions. The wood fire in the lobby is burning and smells amazing. Glen, the resident manager, greets me and tells me not to miss the Sunday brunch. He has me convinced as soon as he mentions steamed lobster. We walk by the Broad Arrow Tavern and peek inside. The atmosphere is relaxed and we make a note that it would be great to come back. After we settle into our room, the kids waste no time getting into the heated indoor pool. From where Neil and I sit by the pool, there is a great view of the outdoor dining patio.
6:30 p.m. @ Harraseeket Inn Glen mentions that there is a Saturday farmers' market in Brunswick and that we would see many local vegetables from the market on our dinner plates. I love seeing the list of farms included on the menu. I also love that the meals are labeled gluten free and low glycemic. The inn's dining room has choices for everyone. Neil orders homemade gnocchi with a lobster (a whole lobster, in fact). I have pan–roasted Atlantic cod loin served with Maine tomato and local spinach gratin. The food is extraordinary and worth a trip to the inn even if you're not staying.
8:15 p.m. @ Downtown Freeport We decide to spend some time walking around in the soft summer rain. The fire pit outside the inn is roaring, and the tavern is hopping as we walk by. I love that the inn is so close to all of Freeport's shops. Mangy Moose is filled with all things Maine—including cardboard or real moose antlers! There are also vintage items for sale alongside books by Maine authors, maple syrup, fake mustaches, and jewelry. Sherman's Books and Stationery is next door, and my son, Charlie, manages to pick out the most annoying toy in the store.
9:30 p.m. @ Azure Cafe We decide to splurge. With a nut allergy and gluten allergy in tow, we are not an easy family to find dessert for. The hostess is gracious and checks with the kitchen before we are seated. An amazingly rich and dense flourless chocolate cake and a delicate, locally made strawberry sorbetto are on the menu. We are all happy.
10:30 p.m. @ Harraseeket Inn Exhausted, we are so pleased to end the night in such a comfortable room. The bed has been turned down and the pullout couch is made up. A beautiful handmade Wilbur's chocolate starfish is on the pillow. The fireplace is ready with wood and matches. Every detail is attended to.
8:30 a.m. @ Harraseeket Inn
I enjoy a vegetable frittata. Charlie is psyched because blueberry pancakes are on the menu, and my daughter Lily loves her muffin.
10:00 a.m. @ Crystal Spring Farmers' Market This rural farm is located in a gorgeous setting. Live bluegrass music puts a smile on my face while we walk around visiting the various vendors. Wildflours Gluten-Free Bakery is our first stop. Gluten-free goodies are flying off the shelf, but I manage to purchase a blueberry and pumpkin muffin. We stop and chat with Nancy from Phoenix Farm in Monmouth, and take home some homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam. Lauren and Shawn Pignatello are at the Swallowtail Farm booth, where we buy the most amazing blueberry Greek yogurt.
11:00 a.m. @ Wild Oats Bakery and Cafe We need a jolt of coffee and a quick snack, and my cold, creamy carrot-dill soup is delicious.
11:30 a.m. @ MK Studio
While Neil and the kids rest up at the cafe, I make a quick trip to a nearby salon for a much needed manicure. A little pampering is always a good idea.
12:45 p.m. @ Androscoggin Swinging Bridge On a whim we decide to stop and walk across the old bridge over the Androscoggin River that was originally built in 1892 for workers walking from the Topsham Heights neighborhood to Cabot Mill in Brunswick.
1:00 p.m. @ Bradbury Mountain State Park The kids are so excited to find that there is a playground here. We decide to head up the Summit Trail, which is perfect for kids because the trail is steep but quite short. We listen to the sounds of a woodpecker on our way up and note that there are mountain biking trails through the woods. Maybe in a few years...
2:30 p.m. @ Buck's Naked BBQ We are tired and hungry, and we couldn't have picked a better place to have lunch. The menu is kid friendly, and there's even a play area for them to enjoy. They have a gluten-friendly menu as well. We order some wings and a giant rack of ribs to share. The waitress explains all the sauces on the table—and believe me, there are a lot.
4:00 p.m. @ Island Treasure Toys + L.L.Bean The toy store is bustling on this Saturday afternoon, and we join the fun. Lily finds a bright pink Koosh ball bracelet. We meet the owner Jim Demetropoulos, and he tells us his wife, Anita, is at their other location in Yarmouth. Next we head to the L.L.Bean outlet where we find great lunch boxes for $9.99.
5:30 p.m. @ Harraseeket Inn
Pool time! No rest for this family!
8:00 p.m. @ Frontier Frontier is located in a renovated mill with wide views of the river. High ceilings, interesting artwork, great food, and a cool vibe make this restaurant a must visit. Our waitress, Julie, is wonderfully patient and answers all of our questions about the menu. Julie brings a beer sampler for Neil, and he chooses to have a glass of Space Cowboy from local Oxbow Brewing Company.
9:30 p.m. @ Gelato Fiasco We stop in this beloved gelato shop for one last treat, and it's sensational.
9:55 p.m. @ The Bowling Bowl
"I know you are closing but we wanted to peek in," I say to the owner, Matt. He jumps up and offers to take us on a tour! He shows the kids how the machines work and explains that they are all the original machines from the 1950s. Only a few candle-pin bowling alleys are still left in Maine, and they don't make the equipment anymore. Another couple comes in and he encourages us all to bowl. This place is classic, and so much fun.
9:30 a.m. @ Provisions Wine and Cheese We were supposed to take a kayaking class with the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, but it is pouring. Next time. Instead, we head to Provisions for breakfast. Owners Margot Curtis and Charlie Kinsman are in the house. I ask Margot about the special—the "donkey omelet"—and she tells me a great story about local farmers who bought donkeys to protect their chickens from predators. They get their eggs from this very farm. They also serve Frosty's donuts and their own blend of coffee. This is definitely a place where locals go. Tom Ring, sitting next to us, tells us about his company Atlantic Seal Cruises. It's too rainy to go out today, so he is enjoying some coffee in the cozy store.
11:00 a.m. @ Freeport Town Pier I love the town pier and make a note to come back to Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company sometime soon—this is the perfect spot to have a lobster roll.
12:00 p.m. @ Downtown Freeport We've heard a lot of great things about Harraseeket's brunch and stop by to check it out. The dining room is packed! I've been meaning to get to Sea Bags for a while now, so we venture back into the enclave of shops. I love their bold totes made with recycled sails. A rainy Sunday seems like as good a time as any to get some rain jackets, so we drop into L.L.Bean one more time. Charlie leaves with a yellow jacket and Lily picks out a magenta one. Just like that, we wrap up our wet and wonderful 48 Hours adventure.