River Plouffe Vogel, Sports Editor
Portland is by far, the largest city in Maine. Some wouldn’t call it a city, but rather a big town. However, compared to its size, it has countless attractions. For one, it’s right on the coast and has almost 360 degrees of striking ocean views. It’s close to the mountains as well, being less than two hours from the White Mountains in NH, and from amazing skiing and snowboarding at Shawnee Peak or Sunday River. The heart of downtown has the hustle and bustle of a city, but drive twenty minutes in any direction and one finds themselves surrounded by beautiful farmland or forests. Perhaps only in Maine can one find such an Eden of city and country life, coming together to make this unique and wonderful combination.
In recent years Portland has also made a name for itself in the food and beer industry, although locals will say that it has always been a mecca of the freshest seafoods and locally sourced goods. It’s overwhelming trying to count all of the restaurants and bars located in such a small radius, and even more so when trying to decide where to go and what to eat. It seems like every week a Portland restaurant is winning an award, or a brewery is coming out with a new brew. In fact, Portland has been given the prestigious label of “Best craft beer city in the world” by Matador Network, an independent travel publisher with over 12 million subscribers. The Bangor Daily News recently published a piece about Matador’s review and quoted the Network saying,
“With a population of just under 204,000, Portland is Maine’s largest city. However the fact that it’s small shouldn’t mean anything. Not only is it considered to have the most restaurants, per capita, than any other U.S. city, but it’s jam-packed with craft brewery operations and bars that support them…This is a city that welcomes people branching off on their own. And if you can brew a good beer, pretty much every bar in town wants to support you.”
This speaks to the supportive culture that exists between Maine farmers, restaurants and breweries. Where competitors are actually working together; where the love and passion for Maine made and Maine grown goods outweighs dominating the market.
Luckily, for those who struggle to pick just one place, Portland has an answer for that as well.
Maine Foodie Tours offers culinary walking tours of Maine cities and towns such as Portland, Bar Harbor, Camden & Rockland and Kennebunkport. The tour includes an award winning, intimate, fun and interactive way to visit several of Portland’s prime locations, and learn the history of the city, all while walking through the old port and downtown. The Maine Foodie Tours have been praised by the likes of The New York Times. American Towns Media named Maine Foodie Tours one of the 10 Best Guided Tours in Maine. Not to mention a six years of excellence certificate from Tripadvisor.
The typical tour lasts around three hours, and visits at least five separate locations. Every location is filled with Maine made and locally sourced products, which is what makes these tours so spectacular and informative. Rarely can someone walk into a restaurant, cafe or dessert shop and buy the goods directly from the owner, who can explain exactly where they got all the different ingredients that go into their product.
One such example is Dean’s Sweats, located on 475 Fore St. Dean Bingham, the owner, is a local architect who designed the restaurant, Grace, out of a church. It’s one of the most breathtaking venues in the city and is often booked well in advance for weddings and special ceremonies. Bingham spends his time drawing up delicious treats these days, using ingredients such as locally sourced vodka from Maine potatoes, goat cheese from a farm in Brooksville Maine, and sea salt from as far as Machias. He even has a Moxie flavored candy that he admits isn’t his favorite but is always a hit with the diehard Moxie fans.
Ray Chung, from Menlo Park California, participated in a Foodie Tour on Presidents day.
“We love Maine. This is the third time we have come here. The tours great, the weather is great and the people are so nice,” Chung said. He added his son, Colby, has been to Portland before, in fact, “It’s been really great for him, he’s really fell in love with Maine.”
Colby is a high school senior and in his first trip to Maine visited Freeport, and the graceland for L.L. Bean fans, the L.L. Bean flagship store. If you ask Colby what he likes about the tour, he will tell you, “My favorite part of the tour was HiFi Donuts. They had a solid all around donut. It’s pretty dope!”