The previous week, I had driven to New Hampshire for a job interview. It all went well but Portland and all its charms still hold my heart. It was a beautiful drive with some interesting sites along the way. One such stop included the longest covered bridge in NH. At 449.5 feet long, it was built in 1866 and, back in the day, you had to walk your horses across or face a $2 fine (equivalent to $30 today. Go nerd out on this for awhile: http://www.davemanuel.com/inflation-calculator.php)
The day after I returned to my beloved city, I went apple picking for the aforementioned apple-centric class and then to Outliers for a drink and surprise snack. Apparently going with someone who knows EVERYONE in town will warrant random snacks. The small plate served was Brussels sprouts fried up in the most perfect way and placed upon some slightly spicy goodness. Don't look for it on the menu. VIPs only apparently! I tried an new beer as well which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was the Blueberry Berliner Weisse from White Birch Brewery from NH (go figure). It was 5.5%, brewed with blueberry puree and absolutely light and refreshing.
Another night in the very recent past, I found myself at Blue Spoon for the first time. I now find this ridiculous as this restaurant is intimate, smells heavenly and makes food that tastes like passion is the number one ingredient. My dining companion didn't laugh (too much) at my choice of drink: Bantam Wunderkind Cider and Urban Farm Fermentory Dry Cider mixed together. Not too sweet, not too dry. The small plates all looked great but given the choice, I will always choose Brussels sprouts, especially when served sliced up and sauteed with bacon and a creamy mustard sauce. I almost stole this dish and ran, just so I could have it all to myself. The farmers greens were also present, and a great counterpoint for the sprouts. The greens were simply prepared (sauteed kale and chard or something of the like) with pickled peppers and fresh ricotta. The colors alone were something to stare at. For entrees, we chose the grilled ribeye (served simply with husk cherries, fingerling potatoes, a goat cheese topping of sorts and tarragon) and risotto. My risotto dish was altered slightly to contain squash and mushrooms instead of smoked eggplant, plus the normal kale, duck prosciutto, marscapone and Parmesan cheese. Oh my word, this was in the top two risotto dishes I've ever encountered. Unfortunately, the first was in a restaurant outside of Montreal and, even though I can't remember a single ingredient it contained, I still dream about it from time to time. The meal filled us up so thoroughly that dessert wasn't even a thought, though I did momentarily waiver when I caught a glimpse of their chocolate mousse-esque number. That WILL be on my table the next time I visit.
One night this week found me up in Brunswick for a lecture. I love to nerd out to Gulf of Maine Research Institute lectures. This particular talk was in collaboration with Frontier Restaurant and had a couple of appetizer bites for sample based on the talk. One of the GMRI employees gave a great lecture on underutilized fish we could be catching and eating instead of over-fishing the most popular species. I wish I didn't find fish so damn cute but I did hear a very encouraging fact: 80% of the salmon sold in the United States comes from a Maine/Canadian company called True North Salmon Company. I do happen to enjoy salmon! One of the appetizers to sample was dogfish fried in rice flour, placed upon their "Louie"(...siana) sauce and topped with cilantro. I will eat most anything fried but this had an especially excellent flavor. I may have also accidentally stopped at Gelato Fiasco for a surprisingly gigantic small dish of chocolate caramel sea salt and their signature Resurgam gelatos.
Today was a rainy day full of babysitting, relaxing and animal fat. Pizza was had for lunch from Portland Pie. Their dining-in eating meals are much fresher and better tasting than delivery but it hit the spot either way. Somehow, the Holy Donut also made an appearance in our tummies with no complaints from the peanut gallery. I also got a Coffee By Design vanilla spice brew and doctored it up with milk and maple syrup. Oh fall, how I love you.