48 HOURS-April 2012
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Susan Grisanti, Leanne Ouimet, Heidi Kirn + Sophie Nelson
Susan Grisanti, Editor-in-Chief Friday
I check in to the Danforth and take a quick tour of the nearly 200-year-old building, which has been lovingly restored and redecorated by owner Kim Swan and her hospitable staff.
5:30 p.m. @ Zapoteca
I meet my friend Zack at Zapoteca before we head over to Space Gallery for the Telling Room’s Slant Storytelling Series. We have a hankering for tequila and are greeted with a selection of more than 90 bottles. Zack orders the Blood Orange Margarita and I get my favorite: Gran Centenario Reposado tequila. Joe Ricchio and Joel Beauchamp join us. Sergio Ramos, managing partner at Zapoteca, brings us a taste of El Jimador Añejo tequila as a special treat. Although we have plans for dinner after Slant, we order queso fundido con champiñones to tide us over. On our way to Space, we peek through the windows of June Fitzpatrick Gallery, craning our necks to get a glance at the Avy Claire show as we rush by. We’re running late!
7:30 p.m. @ Space Gallery
We arrive to a packed house ready to hear six brave souls deliver 10-minute-long tales without notes. The last speaker tonight will be our own Joe Ricchio. During the intermission, we take in Space’s current exhibition, which includes works by artists Kimberly Convery, Cat Bates, and Will Sears.
9:30 p.m. @ Pai men Miyake
Since it’s Joe’s big night, we ask him to decide where we are going to eat. His choice: Pai men Miyake. We stuff ourselves with a fried breaded oxtail appetizer, steamed buns with braised pork belly, a selection of yakitori skewers, and ramen noodles. We share a bottle of luscious Hanahato Densho Gingo sake.
11:00 p.m. @ Flask Lounge
It’s getting late, but we decide to head over to Flask Lounge, where the night’s guest DJ, Jamie O’Sullivan, is being joined by the Psychologist, who’s providing video. But after filling our heads with stories and our bellies with noodles, we don’t last long at the party. Instead we head back to the Danforth’s billiard room.
I wake up to the smell of breakfast cooking, and although I lollygag in bed for a good long while, I eventually get up and start the day.
9:00 a.m. @ the Danforth
I enjoy a breakfast of yogurt, granola, and kiwi slices followed by French toast covered in fresh blackberries and strawberries with maple bacon.
10:00 a.m. @ Lila East End Yoga
Since the weather has turned to snow, I abandon my original plan to walk through the Western Cemetery, and the surrounding neighborhood full of grand homes, several of which are John Calvin Stevens designs. Instead, I decide to head to a yoga class.
11:00 a.m. @ Ember Grove
After class, I breeze through a few of the shops on Congress Street, including Ember Grove, a gallery of functional art ranging from owner Lisa Ferreira’s handcrafted paper lamps to locally made jewelry, all designed by Maine artists and craftspeople.
11:30 a.m. @ Aurora Provisions
On my way back, I dip into the West End institution for a tasty cup of coffee. I’m mesmerized by the abundant selection of beautiful foods and gifts.
11:45 a.m. @ OhNo Cafe
As I peruse the boundless beer selection, the guys behind the counter point out their new Spam breakfast sandwich, which they promise can heal a five-star hangover.
12:00 p.m. @ the Portland Winter Farmer’s Market
The Maine Irish Heritage Center is bustling with folks shopping for organically grown vegetables, meats, cheeses, and grains.
12:30 p.m. @ the Danforth
I jump in the shower, and get ready to meet my friend Krista for lunch at one of our favorite spots.
1:30 p.m. @ Schulte and Herr
Krista arrives, and we head over to Cumberland Avenue for scrumptious German food. While we enjoy potato pancakes with lox, split-pea soup, and sauerkraut, the chef/owner team of Steffi and Brian Davin tantalize us with their new dinner menu. We make a mental note to return soon.
2:30 p.m. @ A Fine Thing: Edward T. Pollack Fine Arts
I’m excited to introduce her to a magic place filled with rare books, fine prints, and drawings. But, when we arrive the door is locked. Despite pressing our faces to the glass, we do not charm them enough to let us in.
2:40 p.m. @ Sanctuary Tattoo and Art Gallery
Instead, we wander next door. Although Krista has been toying with the idea of having artist Wil Scherer update a tattoo he created years ago, we’re both too shy to talk to him on a busy Saturday.
3:30 p.m. @ Company C
Next stop: Commercial Street, where we fall in love with a pair of beautiful apple green leather club chairs at Company C.
3:30 p.m. @ Nicola’s Homes
I have remembered to bring along a gift certificate given to me by our staff two Christmases ago, and it begins to sink in that I am indeed taking time to enjoy Portland in a way that my hectic everyday pace doesn’t allow for. I decide on a dreamy linen robe—and feel gratitude for both the gift and the borrowed time. Unfortunately, we realize that we’ve missed our chance to visit Home Remedies before they close, so we set our sights on another favorite stretch of shopping on Pleasant Street.
4:00 p.m. @ Chelliswilson + Corey and Co.
We drop in to Chelliswilson, an art and clothing boutique, and we take in the extraordinary space and items painstakingly selected by owner Barbara Merritt before we head next door for a visit with another Barbara: Barbara Corey. We both leave with shopping bags full of unexpected items.
5:30 p.m. @ Novare Res Bier Cafe
Time to meet Joe for a beer. Krista decides on the Etienne Dupont cider, I have an Oxbow beer and Joe has the Trois Pistoles from Unibroue, a Canadian brewery. After a typically enjoyable experience, we head back to the Danforth. On the way, I pull in to Bonobo and grab three slices of wood-fired pizza to hold us over. The pizza will pair well with the wines that Joe has brought along.
8:30 p.m. @ Miyake
After parting ways with Joe, I ask Krista to choose one of the many great options in town for dinner, and she decides on Miyake. I am all too happy for a two-nights-in-a-row Miyake experience. Two seats at the sushi bar—facing Masa Miyake himself—are waiting for us. We decide to split the seven-course tasting menu and each order the saki and wine pairing. We then tack on several other items from the menu: the ceviche roll, spicy scallop roll, and gindara saikyo yaki—a delectable grilled fillet of black cod marinated in saikyo miso. It’s hard to find words to describe how decadently delicious the food and pairings are. We also enjoy a sweet conversation with Masa.
11:00 p.m. @ the Danforth
Although we started the evening with big plans that included some late-night music, we are more than sated by our extravagant two-plus-hour meal and decide to call it a night.
11:00 a.m. @ Caiola’s
After dashing through a quick (and very cold) walk around the Western Prom, I meet the ladies for brunch at Caiola’s. I order Cajun fish tacos with chipotle aioli, and black-bean salsa. The wonderfully warm atmosphere is the product of partners Lisa Vaccaro and chef Abby Harmon, their dedicated staff, and the regulars who loyally return again and again. We compare notes, talk about our experiences, and begin to put the story together. I look at each of their faces and listen to their stories throughout the meal. Once again I count my blessings. To live in a town where lovely meals and beautiful art are so abundantly created, and city streets are so close to natural beauty. And, most important, where I get to live and work among people like the three shining faces facing me over a meal we share together.
Leanne Ouimet, Director of Events + Sponsorships Friday
The Armory Lounge is calling my name as the clock hits five and the weekend officially begins. Emily, Sophie, Chelsea, and Heidi join me. Pairing crackers and cheese with an espresso martini gets my night off to a great start.
7:15 p.m. @ Shays Grill Pub
Since I’m flying solo for dinner at Shays Grill Pub tonight, I hope to catch a seat at the bar—but the place is packed. While I’m waiting, I see my friends Dani Fazio and Jen Joy waving to me. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see them! Shays offers daily specials, and tonight’s is three-dollar local drafts, so I order an Allagash White to sate my thirst. Later, the bartender, Jen Winslow, shows me how they make my favorite cocktail on their menu, the mojito. She uses hand-pressed mint leaves and raw sugar (not syrup) and muddles the ingredients with rum, a little lime juice, soda water, and a splash of Sprite, then serves it up in a mason jar.
9:00 p.m. @ Mayo Street Arts
I walk in and find quite a crowd anxiously waiting to hear the musical talents of my friend Max García Conover. I see Sophie and make my way over to her. Max’s songs make you want to close your eyes and picture the story he’s telling.
10:50 p.m. @ Gritty’s
My roommate Patty is a fixture at Maine’s original brewpub, and I know I’ll find her downstairs. I ask my friend Patrick to pour me his favorite brew on tap, and he hands me a Gritty McDuff’s Scottish Ale—the current seasonal ale. It’s the perfect drink to warm me up before I head back to the Pomegranate Inn for a restful night of sleep.
8:00 a.m. @ the Western Promenade
I want to get an early start to my day, so despite the cold and snow and the smell of maple syrup and bacon coming from the kitchen, I venture outside in my hoodie and sneakers to run along the Western Promenade. The streets and trails are covered with untouched snow. It’s eerily quiet but beautiful.
9:20 a.m. @ the Pomegranate Inn
From the outside, the inn fits right in on the West End, but the interior has a style all its own—a mix of Chinese, Victorian, and modern decor with paintings by local artists on the walls. It’s fun and inviting and just my style. The inn has seven rooms in the main house and a cozy carriage house with a private terrace in the side yard. I’m hungry after my run and eager to take a seat at the dining room table. What I’m served looks more like a work of art than breakfast. The cheese soufflé is moist and fluffy, and the fresh fruit and handmade fruit coulis are perfect toppings. I ask innkeeper Dana Moos how she learned to cook so well, and she says that she’s been cooking breakfast and brunch for more than 25 years. In fact, she just released a cookbook with recipes she’s compiled over the years, The Art of Breakfast.
11:10 a.m. @ Yes Books
I find a small stool in the bookstore and sit down to read the first few pages of Bleak House by Charles Dickens. The book is on my list of must-reads before I die, so I purchase it along with a few others. The owner handwrites my receipt and calculates the total by hand. Very old-school, and I love it.
12:00 p.m. @ Angela Adams + Ferdinand
At the bottom of Munjoy Hill on Congress Street is a great stretch of shops and restaurants. I stop by Angela Adams to see what this season’s tote bag looks like, and I’m told that the company is focusing more on rugs, home furnishings, and furniture. They do have a line of Sea Bags totes featuring the iconic Angela Adams design, though. I love to see two powerhouse Maine companies joining forces. Next is Ferdinand, where I find the comfiest vintage sweater for only $10 and a General Hospital puzzle featuring original cast member Gail Ramsey. As a huge soap-opera fan, I literally gasp when I see this puzzle sitting on the counter among an eclectic mix of vintage jewelry, diverse accessories, and letterpress greeting cards made on-site by owner Diane Toepfer.
12:45 p.m. @ Micucci Grocery Co.
It’s lunchtime, and I have to introduce my visiting friend Ruth to one of the single greatest meals Portland has to offer: Sicilian slabs from Micucci’s. When Ruth and I stop in, only six pieces remain, and if we had showed up only a few minutes later they would have been gone. I see my cousin Gib Galli, whose sister and brother-in-law own the store, and he invites us to enjoy our slices out back because there’s no other seating available.
1:30 p.m. @ Coffee By Design
The pizza puts us both into a mini food coma, so we walk up the street to local coffee roaster for two skinny caramel cream lattes to get energized for a busy afternoon.
2:25 p.m. @ Portland Museum of Art
While the Movies at the Museum afternoon showing of Le Havre drew us in, there are so many exhibitions and collections to see that we sneak out of the movie a little early to start exploring. After a quick snack at the new Museum Cafe by Aurora Provisions, we head upstairs. Two people who love being on the ocean, Ruth and I are both drawn to the museum’s Winslow Homer collection. We also visit the Tanja Alexia Hollander exhibition Are You Really My Friend? on the fourth floor.
4:30 p.m. @ Colucci’s Hilltop Market
We walk to the store I’ve been waiting to visit all day. The two guys behind the counter don’t know anything about the history of this Munjoy Hill fixture, but they know someone who does: Dick Colucci. We give Dick a call and he takes me through the Colucci’s story. He confirms what I already know: that my great-grandparents, Rose and Alphonse “Shorty” Mangino, started the store right after World War II. He also says the homemade sausage recipe they still use today hasn’t changed since my great-grandparents introduced it to the menu more than 60 years ago. It’s the place where my grandparents met and began their relationship, where my mom got her first job, and where my grandfather learned to cook. And it’s still here.
5:00 p.m. @ the Eastern Promenade
Darkness is falling, so Ruth and I leave Colucci’s and continue down Congress Street to the Eastern Promenade. People are sledding, walking their dogs, playing on the playground, and hanging out on East End Beach. The sun is just starting to set and the sky is a bluish pink.
8:20 p.m. @ Vignola
The restaurant is packed! Lee Skawinksi, the executive chef and co-owner, is all smiles when I introduce myself. Soon after I take my seat, our waitress brings us two champagne flutes of bubbly prosecco. She also brings us a cheese plate with the creamiest French Brillat-Savarin I have ever tasted, alongside walnuts and a fruit preserve. A charcuterie plate appears on our table full of house-cured beef, prosciutto, cornichons, spicy red peppers, grilled bread, and gorgonzola-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon—a favorite. We order the lattuga salad with honey, grilled-cheese panini, hand-cut rigatoni, and rosemary frittes with balsamic aioli. From beginning to end, this is an unforgettable Italian-style dining experience.
10:45 p.m. @ Bull Feeney’s
From the street, we can hear live music coming from the second floor and decide to stop in. Ruth and I settle into the great semi-private area at the end of the bar and commence people watching, beer drinking, and music listening. Out of the huge crowd in the center of the room comes my brother. Marc and I hug as if we haven’t seen each other in years, and then we entertain our friends with tales of our childhood and the shenanigans we put our parents (and each other) through.
9:00 a.m. @ Yordprom Coffee Co.
It’s a lazy morning at the Pomegranate Inn, and I’m savoring my last few moments in one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. Ruth has to get on the road and head back to her home in Massachusetts, so I check out as well and soon find myself at the West End coffee shop enjoying a hot cup of Kashmiri chai tea and the Sunday paper.
10:00 a.m. @ Nine Stones Spa
Vicki Gass Mercier: I owe you a million thanks for one of the best massages I have ever had. My body is tired and sore from all of my adventures yesterday, and the 60-minute Swedish massage is the ultimate remedy for my aching feet and sore shoulders. It’s been quite an adventure, and I look forward to meeting up with the team at Caiola’s.
Heidi Kirn, Art Director, Maine Home+Design Friday
I’m so excited that I’m filled with nervous energy! I don’t often get to drive right up to the entrance of the Portland Harbor Hotel and have a valet park my car. The check-in experience is extremely pleasant—everyone is friendly and the hotel lobby is hopping. I see people at Eve’s at the Garden enjoying happy hour by the fire. The decor is traditional and classy—all sailboats and dark wood. I take the elevator up to the fourth floor and find my room. Classical music is playing, and a bottle of red wine (how did they know?) waits on the bed along with a handwritten note. The living space is tastefully decorated, super-clean, and overlooks the garden. In the bathroom, I find a great big tub. Although I’m tempted to stay put, I drop off my bags and head outside.
5:30 p.m. @ Waterlily
On my way to the Armory Lounge, I stop when I notice a bright and colorful store that I’ve never been in before. Renee, the woman working there, informs me that many of the items in the store were made by local artists or sourced directly from artists abroad. I see some beautiful things and make a note to stop in again soon.
5:45 p.m. @ the Armory Lounge
The Armory is a cozy little place where you assume people meet to confess dark secrets. The Maine magazine and Maine Home+Design crew comes for “Martini Monday” once a month after we send everything to the printer.
7:00 p.m. @ Fore Street
I have never been to Fore Street, so it seems the obvious place to stop for another drink and an appetizer. Emily, our assistant publisher, joins me. It’s packed, but a group invites us to sit in a little couch area with them. I order a dangerously strong heirloom martini with a teeny tiny pickle in it. I ask the waitress to send along any appetizer that’s gluten free and she brings a platter of pate and meats with pickles and mustard.
9:00 p.m. @ the East Ender
I successfully make it up the steep stairs to the second floor (somehow) and climb onto a barstool. I order a bunless burger, which they offer to serve on a bed of greens with amazing salt-and-vinegar fries on the side. I’m thankful for the quiet noise and the food and the endless water glass that Sandy, the bartender, keeps filled. I chitchat with a couple from Damariscotta visiting for the night. They go through their favorite Portland restaurant list with me, since they love to stay overnight in the winter and try new restaurants.
11:00 p.m. @ Gritty’s
I text Leanne and find out that she’s at Gritty’s, so I decide to head in that direction. On the way, I notice a little hole-in-the-wall bar called Sangillo’s Tavern. Loud music is pouring from the place and I’m intrigued. I pop in and see a mix of older locals doing shots and a younger flannel-wearing set drinking PBR. There is even an old cigarette vending machine! Gritty’s is packed solid. I find Leanne at the downstairs bar and order a martini.
1:30 a.m. @ Portland Harbor
I am back at the hotel. Slippers are waiting for me at the foot of bed. The sheets are turned down, and there’s a lobster chocolate and a bottle of water on the nightstand. And I think, What the heck: Why not eat a lobster chocolate at 1:30 a.m.?
8:00 [email protected] Portland Harbor
I plan on getting up and going to the Body Architect for a kettlebells class at 9:15 a.m. However, it’s now clear that a demanding workout will not be possible this morning. I’ve heard great things, and I’ll have to go another time. Instead, I call room service and I order a restorative fruit salad, orange juice, and coffee from Eve’s at the Garden.
12:00 a.m. @ Bam Bam Bakery
I’m ready to hit the streets. At Bam Bam Bakery on Commercial Street, I find many gluten-free goodies: whoopie pies, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and even soups. I decide on a chocolate-chip cookie and I’m pretty shocked that it is only $1.24—most of the time, gluten-free stuff is five times more expensive. The cookie is amazingly good and has a perfect crunch.
12:45 p.m. @ Browne Trading Market
I stop in to check out the local fish before heading up Exchange Street.
1:00 p.m. @ Second Time Around, J.L. Coombs + Abacus
My first stop is Second Time Around, a great little consignment store that sells designer purses, vintage dresses, and boots. I also pop into J.L. Coombs to check out the Frye boot selection before swinging by Abacus to take a look at their wares—beautiful jewelry and artwork catch my eye.
2:15 p.m. @ Greenhut Galleries
I walk into the gallery on Middle Street to take in a Maine artists group show. I’m especially drawn to Mary Bourke’s work.
3:00 p.m. @ Flatbread
I have missed the lunch window and it is hard to find restaurants serving food between lunch and dinner. It turns out that Flatbread does. Enjoying fresh food from local farms while sitting at a couch with view of the harbor and ferry boats—what more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon? I order their gluten-free pizza and one of their lightly dressed house salads with seaweed on top. Everything is delicious.
4:30 p.m. @ the Public Market House
K. Horton Specialty Foods sells local veggies and assorted cheeses downstairs, but I head up to the second floor. I love the exposed brick walls, tin ceilings, and the spectacular view of Monument Square. It is the kind of place you could spend a rainy Saturday afternoon writing a novel. I grab a coffee at Market House Coffee (a Rock City Coffee Roasters variety from Rockland) and take a seat overlooking the square. I people-watch both inside the Public Market and out on the streets. I don’t eat soup on this trip, but take note that Kamasouptra always lets you know what’s gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan.
5:00 p.m. @ Material Objects + Find
I’m in the vicinity of two consignment stores that I must check out. Material Objects sells a mixture of vintage and used clothing. I find a $9 J.Crew jean skirt. The store Find sells some fun record albums, and I try on a pair of vintage boots.
5:30 p.m. @ Pinecone and Chickadee, Papier Gourmet + Maria Antonieta Couture
Pinecone and Chickadee is a funky place. Where else can you find a Schaefer Beer clock next to a vintage Mickey Mouse phone? The store carries handmade goods from indie designers, assorted housewares, stationery, and vintage finds. I love the look of this store. Papier Gourmet, also on Free Street, sells a beautiful array of fine stationery. Across the street, Maria Antonieta makes incredible handmade dresses, scarves, and jewelry.
5:45 p.m. @ Bliss
I’m late to meet my husband, Neil, but I just had to stop at my favorite store and see if they have anything new in stock.
6:30 p.m. @ Bar Lola
Our dinner reservation at Bresca is not until 8:30 p.m., so Neil and I decide to head up to Munjoy Hill for a glass of wine and a trio of artisan cheeses from Bar Lola. Tall windows line two walls and look out on the neighborhood streets. The menu is seasonal and offers small, medium, and large plates.
7:30 p.m. @ Figa
We see that the restaurant has cleared out a little since the last time we walked by, and we find space at the bar. I climb up onto the tall seat and tell Jessica Joseph, the awesome bartender, that we’re appetizer hopping, and she shows us that the menu has some “spoons”—or small plates. We order spicy tofu with orange soy glaze, kimchee and wild boar rendang with coconut, braised greens, and house chutney. The plates are the perfect size, and the food is so tasty.
8:30 p.m. @ Bresca
I know right away that we’re in for something special. The look of the place and the choice of music (ranging from the Grateful Dead to Sinatra) are as unexpected and perfect as the flavors in the food. I especially enjoyed dessert, warm chocolate soup poured over a dollop of creamy vanilla gelato and a dollop of pear sorbet.
11:00 p.m. @ Mama’s Crowbar
We head up the hill again, this time to Mama’s Crowbar. It’s a neighborhood bar with lots of character. Written on a plastic chair outside: CASH AND BEER ONLY.
12:30 a.m. @ Portland Harbor Hotel
Back to the hotel for more hotel slippers and goodnight lobster chocolates.
11:00 a.m. @ Caiola’s
Over an amazing brunch at Caiola’s, I share with the group that I’m going to need 48 hours to recover from 48 Hours. They agree.
Sophie Nelson, Associate Editor Friday
The evening begins, as it often does, at the Armory Lounge. The cocktails are delicious and dangerous, and knowing I have quite a night ahead of me, I stick with the ever-refreshing Allagash White.
7:00 p.m. @ Tu Casa Salvadoran Restaurant
Chelsea and I each order a Negra Modelo. We decide to share a trio of appetizers: a papusa rebulta, a papusa de queso y loroco, and a tamale de elote. The two papusas—hot, crisp corn pockets—are filled with slow-cooked meat and cheese and herbs that, along with the corn tamale, hot sauce, and pickled cabbage, absolutely hit the spot.
8:00 p.m. @ Mayo Street Arts
We arrive just in time to watch Sammie Francis and Max Taylor take the stage. Sammie sings a number of her own invariably beautiful songs that alternate between folksy and jazzy. My best friend and partner, Max García Conover, begins the release show with “Barn” off his new album Birches Lo. The room is packed and the vibe is warm. My childhood friend Kelsi slips into a seat beside me—she’s just made the trip up from Boston by train. I watch people nod and smile while listening to lyrics I’ve heard hundreds of times, and they become new to me again. Max is brimming with joy, singing his poems and playing the hell out of his guitar.
11:00 p.m. @ Casco Bay Lines
Kelsi and I leave Mayo Street Arts and head down to the ferry terminal. We’re staying on Peaks Island. We board the last ferry at 11:27 p.m. with a couple dozen or so people. It’s a fairly mild night, and Kelsi and I stand on the top deck looking out over the black water.
11:45 p.m. @ the Inn On Peaks Island
We walk off the boat and up the hill with the islanders, who holler their good-byes and veer one way or the other when the road forks. Kelsi and I are already home for the night—the Inn On Peaks Island is perched just yards from the ferry landing. We meet Amanda at the front desk, and she offers us a big smile and the key to the Cushing Island room. The room is quite large, and it features a living area (complete with fireplace), dining area, and big porch looking over the ferry landing and Casco Bay.
7:15 a.m. @ the Inn On Peaks Island
I wake up to the ferry horn. From the windows of my room, I see people and cars descending the hill. Some have pull carts they will use to shuttle the groceries and other items they’ll pick up in town. Kids are dressed in so many layers they look as if they’ll roll down the hill if they happen to trip.
8:20 a.m. @ Standard Baking Company
I’m on the water for the second time in less than 12 hours. It’s a foggy day, and the city looks like yellow fuzz from a distance. Standard Baking Company calls to us when we exit the terminal, so Kelsi and I stop in for some coffee and the smells of fresh-baked bread and pastries before heading down Commercial Street.
9:00 a.m. @ the Porthole Restaurant
At the Porthole Restaurant, an Old Port institution since 1921, we order the Harbour’s Edge Omelet—sautéed lobster, baby spinach, and chevre, topped with a fresh tomato and cilantro salsa and served with home fries.
11:00 a.m. @ LeRoux Kitchen, Se Vende Imports, Abacus + Zane
At LeRoux Kitchen, it’s possible to try dozens of flavors of olive oil on tap. I pick out a mushroom and sage variety to take home, but before making the purchase I head upstairs to ogle their collection of Le Creuset cookware. Then Max and our friend Dave meet Kelsi and me in the Old Port as we shop along Exchange Street. At Se Vende Imports, I try on a silver bracelet from Mexico. Abacus is filled with incredible jewelry—I especially love a delicate gold necklace with tear-shaped blue stones. At Zane, I find a soft beige scarf that I purchase and wear for the rest of the weekend.
12:30 p.m. @ Petite Jacqueline
L.L.Bean boots are a must on this wet day, so I swing by my apartment in the West End. I spy diners through the windows of the French bistro Petite Jacqueline, and decide it’s about time we experience their brunch. Max orders the bistro burger cooked to perfection and topped with caramelized onions, Gruyère, and aioli. The fries are small and crisp and as fun to eat as they are delicious. The special is my favorite—a salad of poached shrimp mixed in aioli and served on a croissant with a side of fresh greens. And, oh, the pastries. The pain au chocolat is the best I’ve had.
2:00 p.m. @ Allen and Walker Antiques
We swing into the antique shop around the corner, Allen and Walker Antiques. Near the entrance, I see a small landscape painting in a dilapidated frame. I notice tiny blue footprints in the snowy foreground, and a mere dash of yellow somehow portrays a chapel in the distance. I can’t stop thinking about it as I peruse the rest of the store. I ask the owner if he knows who painted it, but he doesn’t. I decide to take the mystery home with me.
3:15 p.m. @ Casco Bay Lines
Max and I are back on the deck of the ferry heading to Peaks, and Max has a cup of vending machine hot chocolate in hand.
3:35 p.m. @ the Gem Gallery
Before taking Brackett Street, one of the island’s central arteries, toward a grove of white birches and a skating pond, I check out the Gem Gallery, a darling co-op that showcases works by island artists and sells secondhand clothing.
4:20 p.m. @ Battery Steele
Eventually, trails through birches lead us to Battery Steele, a concrete military fortification from World War II. When Max successfully climbs up through bramble to the deck of the battery, I decide I have to join him. From our perch, we can see the open ocean, fields of bull rushes, and—at last!—the mythical pond. We traipse through the woods to the pond and then follow a road leading to the ocean. The sun sets while we walk along the southwestern edge of the island.
5:45 p.m. @ the Inn On Peaks Island
In the candlelight of the inn’s cozy dining room, we both have a beer and share a plate of calamari that is battered, fried, and tossed with peppers, lemon, and butter. The service at the inn is impeccable. Our bill is settled in time to catch the 6:15 p.m. ferry back to town.
8:30 p.m. @ Hugo’s
We pop our heads into Hugo’s to check on our reservation, and the manager, Arlin Smith, meets us at the door. Although I’ve heard many a person gush about the dining experience at this top-tier restaurant, nothing could have prepared me for the eight-course meal I enjoy this night. Each bite offers a different amalgamation of tastes, beginning with a gorgeous Winterport oyster in smoked coconut milk with diced apple tossed with basil oil and jalapeño.
11:15 p.m. @ Casco Bay Lines
Our heavenly dessert arrives with the bill, and we’re off in time for me to catch the ferry back to the island. I sit below deck with an assortment of people. There are quiet folks reading or writing and a liquored bunch joking and laughing. I’m taking it all in while I jot down notes. On my travels back and forth, I sense a real camaraderie among islanders that transcends all ages and occupations. People seem to resign themselves to the commute and take the time to connect, create, or catch up on their reading.
7:00 a.m. @ Peaks Cafe + Hannigan’s Island Market
I wake up, check out, and walk down to the Peaks Cafe, the only place open for breakfast in the off-season. Lisa, the owner, is very friendly. I ask her about her connection to the island and she tells me that she was a summer girl when she was growing up, but when she had kids of her own she decided to live on Peaks Island year-round. For breakfast she recommends a croissant shaped like a cinnamon bun, lined with spices, and covered in hot frosting. It’s delicious, but I’ve got brunch plans and limit myself to just a few bites. I do a little more exploring before the ferry arrives at 8:15 a.m. I walk north in the direction of Hannigan’s Island Market, which is full of all kinds of goodies, including T-shirts with their logo: IF WE DON’T HAVE IT, YOU DON’T NEED IT.
8:20 a.m. @ Arabica Coffee Company
Back in the Old Port, I pick up a newspaper and bring it with me to Arabica Coffee Company. I have a latte, sit in a patch of sunlight streaming through one of the many tall windows, and make my way through the Sunday paper.
9:40 a.m. @ Longfellow Books
Lucky me, Longfellow Books opens at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. I gravitate toward the fiction recommendations and spot Denis Johnson’s latest book, Train Dreams. I purchase the novella along with some postcards. I make my way down Congress Street toward the West End, excited to meet up with Susan, Leanne, and Heidi. I’ve been thinking about them all weekend, wondering what each was up to on their respective adventures.
The Portland in 48 Hours Team
11:00 a.m. @ Caiola’s
At the close of our adventure on Sunday morning, we gathered at the West End eatery to share our stories. While savoring one of the best brunches any of us has ever had (the table was in unanimous agreement on this), we concluded that it’s the people that make a place what it is. The people of Portland are creating exceptional art, building a food scene that rivals any, working on the ocean and in the office. They’re on the streets and on the ferry and at the coffee shop. We listen to each other and take note of other patrons greeting their neighbors with hugs and kisses. We wave to people we know, and count ourselves lucky to live where we live, to do the work we do, to feel supported and inspired by this little city.
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