Tag Archives: portland

Hugo’s: Portland, ME (AKA Birthday Dinner Take 2)

13 Nov

I was very fortunate to be able to spend my actual birthday weekend in Maine.  We were there to find a wedding venue (more on that at this blog) but we managed to squeeze in some really great meals.  On my actual birthday, we went to Hugo’s, one of the restaurants that put Portland, Maine on the map of foodie towns. Hugo’s is actually owned by the same people as Eventide, where we went the day before, and set the stage quite well for this meal (and happens to be right next door).

This restaurant is decorated very simply but elegantly, without being too fancy. 

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I especially enjoyed the single stem rose on the table with the pinch bowl for salt.

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We started with some signature cocktails, which were insanely good.  Mike got the PDT’s, which was a Bacon Bourbon Old Fashioned with bacon infused bourbon, maple, orange, and Fee Bros. old fashioned bitters. I got the Marmalade Sour which was with tequila, burnt orange, and lime.  Original and delicious.

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They placed these homemade biscuits with garlic and potato flour on the table and they just smelled great. It was served with hand churned butter and everything had perfect texture. 

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A delish bite.

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We went with the tasting menu and sprung for the wine pairings.

Our first course was pickle herring with mustard seed and potato crisp paired with a Spanish sparkling wine. I thought it was very fresh and not the mustard seeds were not overpowering (I’m not a mustard person and find that it distracts me from flavors usually).

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And the wine was perfect with it.

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Course two was fluke mousse medallions with cauliflower purée and quinoa arugula broth. This tasted very “green” and was served cold. It wasn’t so much mousse as it was pâté.  I really loved it, but Mike wasn’t a huge fan.  

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Course 3 was a lobster beet salad with orange purée, baby kale, and pecorino. The dish was light and flavorful. The acid of the vinaigrette cut the greenness of the beets and the wine went exceptionally well. There was a bit of a lemon candy flavor that complimented everything very well.

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Course 4 was grilled yellow fin tuna from Massachusetts.  It was delicious tuna tartar with maitkai mushroom purée, hajji, and chili oil… As the server went to put this down in front of me, he immediately noticed the chili oil in mine and took it back to the kitchen.  It was very quickly replaced. This dish was pretty damn awesome.  The waitress told us that she was actually a bit excited that the kitchen screwed mine up so she could try it.  And the wine pairing? Perfection. 

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Our last savory course was a duo of chicken. The red wine that was paired with this was absolutely awesome.  We found that the souvied dark meat was much better than the breast. The sauce reminded us of kasha and was very nice with it.

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For dessert, we were served a moscato which was an absolutely great glass of wine.

Out came a lime sorbet with watermelon gele, mint melon balls, and prosciutto.  It was a very good palette cleanser and everything went incredibly well together.

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By this time, we had been drinking enough that I forgot to take a picture of the corn gelato with tomato sweet jam basil and popcorn. We think… the notes got blurry here as well.

This was served with DuPont cider.  The best way I could think to describe it was that it tasted like hay… in a REALLY good way. The sweet corn gelato was absolutely awesome. I also really liked the corn cake and tomato but Mike thought it tasted like home made corn pops (he didn’t mention whether this was a good thing or a bad thing).  When I got a little bite of everything together it was absolute bliss.  I actually wrote down that it was one of my favorite bites… ever.   

We then had some little treats, but we were just too stuffed (okay… and drunk) to write it down or remember what it was. Whoops. Note how blurry the picture is as well.  Whoops x2.

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I absolutely LOVED our meal at Hugo’s. I was incredibly impressed and felt this could rival many meals we have had in the past in NYC.  It also made us realize that we enjoyed this meal (especially some of the innovative touches) even more than Jean George’s. I highly, highly recommend a visit if you’re in Portland, Maine.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

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Eventide in Portland, Maine

8 Nov

Right before embarking on our whirlwind tour of venues in Maine, we spent a night in Portland, Maine with a new friend, the photographer and husband of the editor for Eater Maine (whose last name happens to be the same as mine, though surprisingly, no relation). 

He recommended we visit a favorite of Eater Maine, Eventide Oyster Co.  Eventide  is the sister restaurant of Maine staple, Hugo’s (where we ate for my birthday the day after, more on that later!)

They specialize in, you guessed it, oysters.

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They have many varieties and part of the bar itself is made up of the oysters on ice, with a shucker going to town behind the bar.

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They also have a great selection of local brews, and we were finally able to try Oxbow.  This quickly became one of our favorite beers and we drank a lot of it on this road trip!

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We went with half a dozen Winter Points and half a dozen Basket Island oysters (both local to Maine).  These were fantastic, though I really loved the Winter Points.

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We then tried the Eventide Lobster Roll and the Fried Oyster Bun.

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They were served in more of a steamed bun (like a Chinese pork bun consistency) and everything was flavored so insanely well.  This was not your classic lobster roll, but it was nice to have a new spin on an old classic.  Mike and I weren’t very hungry, so we split both of them, but boy oh boy did I regret not having my own.  They were so damn good.  

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And even the bathrooms stayed on theme.

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I was really impressed by Eventide.  They are doing new things with good food and everyone there is excited to be doing what they are doing.  The vibe is great and the food far surpasses expectations.  I can’t wait to go back.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

Maine Cubed: Portland- Duckfat

17 Jul

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and so it was that we found ourselves back in Portland for lunch on our voyage back to the airport. We were racing to an appointment to do a tasting and tour at Allagash Brewery but decided we had just enough time to squeeze in a stop at Duckfat, a sandwich shop (specializing in fries and panini) that had been recommended to me by a few different people.

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The restaurant is small with a number of high top tables and bars around the kitchen to sit.

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It has a quirky personality with tiny pictures in the window that looks into the kitchen.

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And notice the magnetic poetry on the wall in the background of the below picture.

We ordered the fries with the truffle ketchup and boy oh boy were these good.  Perfectly crisp (thanks to the duck fat, I’m sure) and why I haven’t run into about a million versions of truffle ketchup to date, I do not know… but it was delightful.

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We kept an eye on time and quickly realized it was not on our side, so the waitress packed up our sandwiches to go.  We wound up gobbling them down in the car.

Mike got the pork belly with carrot, radish, pickled onion, cilantro & thai chili mayo. I took a mayo-less nibble and it was quite nice.

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I got the duck confit with caramelized miso mayo, bok choy & sweet onion. This was sensational. The duck was so tender and seasoned just right, and that caramelized miso mayo and onion added a perfect compliment of sweetness.

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Overall, I really enjoyed Duckfat. It’s unlike any sandwich shop I’ve ever been to and we really enjoyed it. I just recommend leaving yourself more than a few minutes to eat there!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

I was sad to leave Maine (as I always am) but I’m excited to say that we’ll probably be going back next month to explore wedding venues!

Maine Cubed: Portland- Petite Jacqueline, Beal’s Ice Cream, and Shipyard Brewery

26 Jun

Mike and I embarked on a long weekend to Maine just this past weekend. It wound up being the most perfect trip, made even more perfect by the fact that we got engaged!  I am on my way to being Mrs. Nom Nom.

This is now the third trip I have blogged about on NYCNomNom, including Mike and my first trip together 2 years ago, and my family trip that took place 2 years ago but just made it to the blog recently.

I found an amazing JetBlue deal of $75 off our tickets (thanks to a post from DealsWeLike), which brought our round-trip tickets to less than $70 each. SCORE! It meant planning an extra trip in a time of year FILLED with trips (I just got back from LA, we will be going to Ithaca next week for a cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, and then we’re embarking on a huge trip for 2 weeks to Italy, Switzerland, and France next month). We flew into Portland, where we spent a day, before going to Midcoast Maine and then spent 2 days in the Boothbay Harbor area.

One thing I love about Portland, Maine is that you can land and be in town in less than 30 minutes. So even though we landed at 6:45, we had time to check-in, walk around town, and spend a half hour during free Fridays at the Portland Museum of Art, before our 8:30 reservation at  Petite Jacqueline.  I had read about Petite Jacqueline because it was a semifinalist for the James Beard award in 2012 for Best New Restaurant.

Inside it is a cute bistro style restaurant and there is some outdoor seating in a patio.

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They also have a bar.

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And a direct view into the kitchen.

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We started with oysters.  These were good, but I wouldn’t say they were outstanding.

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But then we had the foie gras. This had candied hazelnuts and a chestnut puree.  HELLO!  It was probably the best foie I’ve had. Perfectly seared, fatty but without being greasy, and all the right flavors to go along with it.

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Mike chose to go with the daily special (it was Friday): Choucroute Garnie.  This was a french sauerkraut with a pork sausage and a crispy porky potatoey thing (perhaps a croquette?) Whatever it was, it was all very good.  It came with mustard in many ways, but even I, a mustard hater, enjoyed the dish very much.

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I got the Boeuf Bourguignon (which will always remind me of Julia Child). I’m a big fan of any slow cooked pot roast style meat, so this was right up my alley. The meat was cooked perfectly, the sauce was great, and the potatoes tasted so damn potatoey that I squealed.

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Overall, I understand why this restaurant got a James Beard nod.  Their food is very French without being the slightest bit pretentious. We really enjoyed our meal here.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

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It was a tough call to not have dessert at Petite Jacqueline, but we knew this was our only night in Portland, so we made a beeline back to our favorite ice cream parlor: Beals. We literally made it just as they were locking the door. Phew!

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They have a large selection of flavors.

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Mike went with Rum Raisin and Moose Trail.

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I chose Moose Trail and something with chocolate covered pretzels and caramel.

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We enjoyed it as much as the first time!

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The next day we walked around Portland and then went to Shipyard Brewery for their video tour and tasting.  They only do full brewery tours on Tuesdays, but every other day they have a video tour where they tell you about the history of the brewery as well as their part in bottling and distributing of many other local brews.  They have all the beers they have manufactured on a wall beside the viewing room.  The video was interesting and short (which was good, we’ve done a lot of brewery tours and they start to feel very similar after a while). The best part of this tour was the tasting. We got to taste about 10 beers and had our choice of a few to taste, so Mike and I would choose different ones and try each others. We probably sampled about 15 brews by the end.  And let me tell you, they make some GOOD BEER. But we fell in love with the Applehead Ale, which tasted like apple pie. Trust me on this one. I just hope they start distributing it down here in NYC!

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Gosh I love Portland.

Maine Take 2: River House in Portsmouth, NH

18 Jun

One nice thing about road tripping to Maine from the TriState area is you drive right through Portsmouth, NH. Portsmouth is a beautiful town where you could probably spend a full vacation if you want to. In my family, however, it has always been a stop along the way.  We would get out of the car after about 5 hours driving up from Jersey, and as kids we went to the Children’s Museum to play before having lunch in town.

Now, as an adult, we skip right to the lunch and spend some time walking around the town. There are a number of restaurants lined up along the water, and this time we decided to try River House.  It has beautiful views and it’s great to be able to sit outside.

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And dream about the houses across the water.

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And watch the boats and the bridge. It’s really quite lovely.

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Their menu is extensive and varied.

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We started with the warm lobster artichoke dip. Lobster and artichokes are 2 of my favorite food, so I was thrilled.

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And I loved that it came with big ol’ chunks of lobster in it.

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We also tried something on a skewer.  I wish I remembered what this was… but 2 years later, it has evaporated (and we already know about the fate of the notebook I bought).

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One person in our party got The Cowboy Burger, which was dusted with Cowboy Ranch seasoning, chargrilled, topped with spicy Pepper Jack cheese on a toasted Brioche roll, finished with crisp onion straws, and a side of their house made Chipotle ketchup. He really enjoyed this burger.

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We also got a swiss burger with sweet potato fries.

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And my sister and I split The Tall Ships Plate, which was a 6 inch sweet Maine lobster roll on a grilled brioche bun with a cup of chowder and some sweet potato fries.

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The lobster roll was made the way I like it… on a roll with plenty of butter, one leaf of lettuce, and big chunks of lobster that weren’t drowning in mayo.  It was very good, but I can’t say it was the best I’ve had.

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The chowder was hearty and flavorful, but so creamy that I think we only had a few bites each.

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This is a good restaurant to satisfy a lot of different palates (they even have a gluten free menu now!) with gorgeous views and very good food. We really enjoyed ourselves here, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with the beautiful weather and views.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Maine Take 2: DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant- Portland

15 Jun

In Portland, restaurant options are growing leaps and bounds every day (I hear it’s grown a lot in just the 2 years since I’ve been… looking forward to finding out TONIGHT!)

But one restaurant has been there as long as I can remember (Wow! 1954 according to their website): DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant.

Yes.. floating. (But only floating since 1982… Happy 30th Anniversary of floatation!)

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I’m pretty sure I have never been in this restaurant, but it looks exactly as you would think you would remember it. Somewhere between a cruise ship and lake cabin.  And we were the youngest people in the restaurant by at least 20 years.

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The menu is large, with a focus on seafood (as it should be).

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We started with an appetizer of angel hair spaghetti with scallops, shrimp, and artichokes.  This dish really just focused on the ingredients, but the ingredients were very good, so we enjoyed it.  

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We also had some burgers and a pizza.

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Both of which were fair.  Nothing special, but not too bad either.

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I also picked up this handy dandy little notebook that came with a pen. I wrote down all my notes about everywhere we dined throughout the trip, and decided to keep it with me to continue taking notes for the blog. There are always delays between dining and writing, and with my swiss cheese memory, I thought the notebook would help.  And then… in typical Sara form… I forgot where I put the notebook when I came back. Go me.

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DiMillo’s is a classic place. I wouldn’t say run there, but it’s a fine choice for a unique experience of dining, literally, on the water. You may want to wait a few years though, until your hair turns grey, so you can feel like you fit in a little better. And if you’re in Portland, I’d say hit up one of the restaurants we went to on our earlier trip like J’s Oyster or Fore Street.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Maine Take 2: The Quarter Deck, Bar Harbor, ME

15 Jun

Somehow, in just 4 days on our August 2010 trip to Maine, we managed to stop in Portsmouth, NH, spend time in Blue Hill, explore a bit of Portland, and make our way up to Bar Harbor.  I was ambitious back then (ok… I’m still ambitious… with just four days this time around we’re flying into Portland and spending 1 night there, 1 night in Camden, then 2 nights in Boothbay Harbor. Who says vacation requires being sedentary?)

On our trip up to Bar Harbor, we stopped at a classic restaurant right on the harbor, Quarterdeck. Fine dining is not exactly the mantra of Bar Harbor, and the Quarterdeck doesn’t make any promises of being fancy.

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But it sure has some absolutely gorgeous views.

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Right there in the center is my favorite ship, the Margaret Todd, a 4 masted red sailboat that I’ve been on twice and loved every moment.

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Some menu perusal…

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We started with some cocktails, mostly of the blueberry variety.

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All were quite good!

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And one of our favorite Maine breweries: Allagash.

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We started off with the calamari, which were nice and crispy but not overly interesting.

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We also split some crab cakes, which were decent but nothing to write home about.

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I got some coconut shrimp, which I was a big fan of.  Flavorful, succulent shrimp with a crispy coconut shell.  

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We got some burgers, which were… fair.

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And a very fresh salad.

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Is the Quarterdeck a phenomenal restaurant… well no.  But the views are exceptional, the service friendly, the food good enough.

It’s a really great place to grab a drink and watch the world pass by.

Total Noms: 6.5 out of 10

Top 10 Noms of 2010

31 Dec

I had a blast doing the Top 10 Noms of 2009 last year and referenced it many times throughout this past year.  2010 was a fantastic year in so many ways.  I mean come on… I was on TV for my baking!  I feel very accomplished after this year, in part due to how much I have grown this blog.  I also lost a lot of weight without sacrificing my love for food thanks to Weight Watchers.  Granted, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit these last few months, but hopefully the new year will bring me luck in jumping back on.  It is a pleasure to have this little outlet outside of my “real job” to contribute to.  So without further ado, here are the top 10 Noms of 2010:

10. The Popover Cafe is a surprise to the top 10.  My sister had been raving about it, and I recently found out it’s a favorite of my cousin’s, but how good could a little cafe be?  Turns out… great.  It was just excellent comfort food with damn good popovers.  And I LOVE popovers.  Head to the Upper West Side for this gem of a brunch place.

9. When Mike’s family took us to La Masseria in Times Square after a Broadway show, we weren’t expecting much.  We live in the neighborhood and egotistically assumed that if we hadn’t heard rave reviews, it couldn’t be a TOP NOM.  Boy were we wrong!  The food was simply excellent.  Elegantly plated, fresh ingredients, and excellent preparation.  A contender to my usual Theater District Italian favorite, Becco.

8. We had the pleasure of dining at Ilili during Restaurant Week (it’s 2nd post in the Restaurant Week Wrap Up).  While most restaurants participate in Restaurant Week in a half-assed way, Ilili did an amazing job of letting us sample most of the menu and we found some INCREDIBLE dishes.  I have been back a few times since and can’t wait to go back again.

7. Lori and I took ourselves to Ma Peche for our birthdays.  You all know how much I LOVE David Chang, but I had heard mixed reviews about his newest establishment in midtown. The whole meal was really different and delicious, but this gets a top nom for those incredible crunchy noodles that I still dream about every day.

6. Ippudo is probably the restaurant I tell the most people about.  The ramen is just so spectacular that I can’t get enough of it.  I’m not a huge broth person, but I even slurp up every last drop of broth after eating the delicious noodles at Ippudo.  It’s SOOO good.  This place may have single-handedly ruined my diet… well… except for the Maine vacation(s).

5. The #5 spot goes to the full adventure of Nomming through Maine (Portland Day 1, Portland Day 2,Acadia/Bar Harbor Part 1, Acadia/Bar Harbor Part 2, The Coach Stop Inn B&B, Moody’s Diner & Young’s Lobster Pound, and Midcoat Maine).  The top Noms on this vacation were definitely the lobster at Beal’s Lobster Pier, our delicious meal at Primo in Rockland, and especially our FANTASTIC meal at Fore Street in Portland.  If you were wondering why Portland was named “America’s Foodiest Small Town” by Bon App in 2009, go to Fore Street.

4. I’m thrilled that Lincoln Ristorante got enough buzz that I decided to take a chance and schedule a reservation for 2 weeks after it opened for Mike’s birthday.  The food is sensational, but the ambience just sets it far above and beyond most places.  It’s a very special place, and if you want a special meal, go to Lincoln immediately.  And get the gnocchi side.

3. Another Nom that happened at the end of 2009 but didn’t make it onto the blog until 2010 was Bottega in Napa Valley. It did make it onto last year’s top 10, but it’s worth repeating.  Mike and I have the propensity to be celebrity chef sluts, but boy were we glad that we were when we opted for Michael Chiarello’s hot spot.  From first bite to last, this place was one of my all-time favorites.  It’s a meal I will always remember.

2. My birthday dinner at Le Bernardin was one of the best meals I have ever had.  Every detail was attended to and the service was impeccable.  The food was sensational with wine pairings that put this place off the charts.  I was so impressed with all the depth of flavors in these dishes.  Another very special place that really makes you feel like your are fortunate to dine there.

1. My love for David Chang was furthered by our opportunity to finally dine at Momofuku Ko.  To dine at Ko, you need to catch one of the handful of reservations that come up online about a week in advance.  It’s not an easy task (though much easier now than it used to be) and I was even more thrilled to learn that they were now accommodating allergies, so I wouldn’t be wasting my time and (large amount of) money by not being able to eat most of the food.  This restaurant is why chef tasting menus exist.  We had no idea what was coming next, but we got to watch it all unfold in front of us at the little intimate restaurant where the chefs prepare everything within 5 feet of your seat. If you have the opportunity to go, don’t miss it.

Honorable Mentions go to:

  • Uncle Jack’s on Valentine’s Day for having dependably great steak
  • Zuni Cafe for inspiring us to make the famous chicken at home on many occasions.  (This special chicken will actually be served tomorrow at the annual Chrismukah Family Celebration.)
  • LA Times Food Festival for allowing us the opportunity to finally try The Nom Nom Truck
  • Nanoosh for having one of my new favorite lunches, their Garden Salad, which keeps me coming back
  • 5 Napkin Burger for having burger eggs benedict for brunch
  • Father’s Office which is Mike’s choice for “Best Burger of 2010” (I’d have to agree with him)

What a year it has been!  Happy New Years Nomming everyone and here is to more wonderful Noms in 2011!

Nomming Thru Maine: The Stops Along the Way (Moody’s Diner and Young’s Lobster Pound)

19 Jul

We made two stops on our Maine Roadtrip that don’t exactly fit into any of the town posts.  They are the stops in the middle that make driving OH SO worth it!

A “must stop” is Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro on Rt. 1 (you have to take the coastal route from Portland to Acadia, but it’s good enough to add a bit of travel time).  Moody’s Diner began in 1927 when they built a few cabins to offer cheap lodging and soon expanded to a cute little diner.  That cute little diner still looks like it belongs in 1927 but with some modern touches. 

My dad has talked about Moody’s cinnamon buns for as long as I can remember and it was a routine stop for him when he was going to college in Maine.  They are usually sold out by late morning in high season, so I had never experienced these wonders.  This time, however, we were there during the very first weekend of the “season” (before it gets busy), and we managed to secure one right around lunch time.  It was DAMN good, but it had the unfortunate experience of having to be compared to the cinnamon bun from Five Fifty Five from just a few days before.  It wasn’t quite as delicious, but it was still quite delicious.

Mike went for the turkey club.  He voted it an exceptionally good turkey club.

I went with the old fashioned Yankee Pot Roast.  I was quite concerned about this choice because good pot roast can be great but there ain’t nothing worse than bad pot roast.  This… this was FAN.FREAKING.TASTIC pot roast.  It looked so humble… but it was just so good.

Overall, Moody’s diner does home cooked comfort food right.  They don’t get too artsy with their food styling nor do they make anything trendy.  They just make great diner food.  Really great diner food.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

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Another stop on the stop was Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast (we hit this heading back south from Acadia when we were heading to Camden).  My family stumbled on Young’s years ago and I couldn’t wait to go back.  It’s a very authentic lobster pound that pulls their stash in right from the water.

(Side Note: Belfast as a town wasn’t exactly a shopping destination last time I was there, so I was excited to see that it has become a total artist destination.) 

They have their lobster in big tanks and sell a 1 & 1/4 pound lobster plus steamers and potato chips for less than $20.  Awesome.

They supply a good deal of lobster beyond just their restaurant… so they have a lot of tanks.

Mike saw Moxie in the fridge and decided to try it.  Unfortunately, neither of us knew it tasted like root beer… and neither of us like root beer.  Oh well! Now we know.  (As I’m writing this with Mike sitting next to me he saw the picture and reiterated, “Moxie is disgusting”)

It took far too much time to get our food… though any time I wait for fresh cooked lobsters and steamers while waiting on a beautiful doc is too long!

Again, I think it’s pretty hard to screw up steamed lobster, but the steamers at Young’s just set this one apart.  The lobster couldn’t be fresher, of course, and then you have the scenery…

Overall, Young’s is just too good to drive right past (even though it’s easy to miss the sign to show you where to turn).  A must stop.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Nomming thru Maine: Portland Day 2

9 Jul

Our day 2 in Portland was planned to be our foodie day.  We booked at 2 restaurants that were well acclaimed across the food world.  Our first stop was for lunch at Five Fifty Five.

They obviously know their audience…


The first thing on the menu that struck my eye was their cinnamon bun.  I think there are few things so indulgent as a stick, cinnamony, fluffy cinnamon bun.  And since my Weight Watchers points were out the window… this was just perfect.

And it was SO. GOOD.

They also served delicious table breads that I believe were current biscuits and little muffins.  They were served with homemade butter. Nom Nom Nom.

Mike ordered the pork sandwich.  This was good but nothing to write home about.

My truffle eggs with a chive popover, however, were out of this world.  I never knew eggs could taste that good.  Usually truffle is just a mild essence, that is sometimes too earthy for even my tastes.  This one, however, was absolutely delightful.

And I do love me some steaming popovers!

I was pretty impressed with this place overall, though I’m not sure if it was a MUST STOP since Mike’s meal was just so-so.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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We had a bit of time to kill between lunch and dinner, so we booked ourselves a craft beer tour through the city courtesy of Maine Foodie Tours.  We started our tour at the Gritty McDuff’s Brewery.

They quickly took us behind the scenes to learn how beer is made.  I found the whole thing pretty awesome (though not quite as awesome as our tour of Mondavi where we learned SO much about how wine is made). It all starts with grain, and the toasting length determines the color and flavor (and the additives, like hops, really determine the flavor profile further).

We got to peer into the giant steel brewing vat to see what beer looks like during fermentation (maybe?)

Our next stop was at Sebago’s beer bar where we got to sample any 4 beers off the menu.  They had a nice display of grains toasted to different colors.

And I enjoyed my camera settings on this one.

Our final stop along the way was at a beer garden called Novare Res.  

The inside was quite cool and there were picnic tables for socializing outside.

They had quite the extensive draught list. I really liked how they put a flavor profile summary next to each one.

We got to sample two beers there.  One was Allagash White, which was good but one we’ve had in multiple places.  The second one was new and it blew my mind.  Marshall Wharf Deep Purple was described as “lager beer with peated malts. ‘smoke on the water.’” It tasted so smoky… almost like bacon… but in a VERY, VERY good way.

The beer tour was excellent and a lot of fun.  It really opened our eyes to how great craft beer is in Maine… we used this knowledge throughout the trip!

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Our last foodie destination scheduled for Portland was the one I was looking forward to the most.  Fore Street was the #1 restaurant that came up whenever I searched for or asked about where to eat in Portland, ME.  

Their kitchen area and ovens are pretty much in the middle of the space and fully exposed (which I love).  

They are big on the farm to table idea and their menu changes to reflect what is freshest at the time.

We were told that the wood oven roasted mussels were heavenly.  They certainly were!  The shells were so brittle that they just cracked away and they were easily the second best mussels I have ever had (after our epic mussel feast at Landmarc in NYC). 

The roast cauliflower was perfect cooked as a side.

Mike chose the two cuts of Maine Island Lamb (smoked shoulder and turnspit roasted leg) with roasted yukon potatoes.  Mmmm Mmmm this was GREAT!

I chose the pork chop with spice cherry and rhubarb sauce and pickled rhubarb.  I seriously nearly licked this plate clean.

We were epically stuffed, but not too stuffed for dessert!  I believe Mike went with the chocolate peanut butter torte.

And I chose the chocolate cake.  I couldn’t believe how good it was.

The best dessert I have ever had that I just couldn’t finish no matter how hard I tried!

I was actually so stuffed from this meal that I was nearly sick. My body just wasn’t used to eating like that after these last few weeks of dieting and 15 pounds less to stuff the food into!

The meal was sensational, however.

Total Nom points: 8.5 out of 10