Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nine Hours in Portland, Maine

In addition to being best friends since the dawn of time, my friend Jenelle's husband, Brendan, and my husband, Anthony, also happen to share the same birth month which makes it extremely convenient when planning group birthday adventures :) We've taken them to some fun places (like Atlantic City) in the past, but this year we wanted to do something a little different since we'd be in Kennebunkport, Maine for the New Years holiday. 

Cue Portland, Maine. If you've never been to Portland, I highly recommend making a trip. My family has taking vacations to Maine for over 15 years, and Portland's 'Old Port' is always a highlight of our trips. The cobblestone streets are lined with cool old 19th century buildings, and its waterfront is speckled with fishing piers. In addition to being beautiful to look at, Portland is home of some amazing shopping and restaurant destinations. 

So, Jenelle and I planned for a car to pick the four of us up in Kennebunkport and take us to Portland for the day.

First stop: The Thirsty Pig

A self-proclaimed hot dog joint and barbecue restaurant, Thirsty Pig's menu touts incredibly unique hot dog and sausage combinations which can be perfectly paired with a selection from their wide-variety of local brews.

It was a perfect place to both fill up and warm up (Portland was about 15 degrees the day of our visit) before we headed to our brewery tour.

I chose my own toppings for my hot dog: Cheddar, carmalized onions, mayoinnaise and sriracha... Sounds strange but it was seriously insane! So insane I ordered a second of the exact same thing (shhhhh!)

After finishing what seemed like a thousand hot dogs and beers, we started - what we thought would be - a direct trek to the brewery for our 1pm tour.

But, low and behold, we got distracted by this.

I'm sorry, Maine potato donuts you say? We're stopping.

We entered Holy Donut to find this heavenly wall of donuts...

Here, take a closer look...

After staring at the wall for about twenty minutes, we settled on espresso and this dark chocolate potato donut with cinnamon sugar...

And this maple-glazed potato donut...

I now understand why they're called holy donuts. Totally worth the stop and the loss of time.

Now, finally, onto the brewery.

The boys l-o-v-e beer, so what better stop on their birthday celebration world tour then a brewery?

Maine-based Shipyard Brewing Company has a brewery in Portland which offers daily video tours and tastings every day. You've probably seen their beer in your local liquor store, especially their seasonal brews like Pumpkinhead, Gingerbreadhead, and Applehead which have become rather popular in recent years...

We entered the Shipyard Hall of Fame to start our tasting adventure...

After sipping 9-10 delicious beers - the traditional Shipyard Export and the Pumpkinhead were the winners in my book - and checking out the beer assembly line, we were ready to move on to our next adventure.

Since we had some time to kill before our 'surprise' dinner reservation, the four of us headed to the waterfront to grab a drink. We were immediately drawn to In'finiti Fermentation and Distillation, also known as Liquid Riot Bottling Company.

This restaurant, brewery and distillery not only had awesome drinks to offer, its view wasn't too shabby either.

Anthony sipped on some beer...

While I got a little aggressive and tried the distillery flight (yum!)

Before we new it, the clock had struck 5:45, and it was time to head to the 'Maine' event (pun intended), our dinner reservation at Grace Restaurant.

Both of the boys are quite the history buffs - especially Brendan- so this restaurant was the perfect end to a perfect day. The restaurant was a church in its former life, built between 1856 and 1857. Its on the National Register of Historic Places, and "is one of the few surviving examples of early Gothic Revival style in Portland." The transformation of the church into a restaurant is truly amazing. Barely anything has been changed, and the kitchen is our in the open where the church organ used to be.

I would've loved to take more photos, but it didn't seem appropriate (hah), so these are the only ones I was able to sneak.

The food was equally as amazing as the venue. I ordered the pan-roasted monkfish and it did not disappoint.

So, if you live in the New York / New England area and you're looking for a a little vacation not too far from home (Portland is about a five hour drive from New York City), I highly recommend you take a trip to the Old Port. With all of its the shopping, restaurants and history (and breweries!), there are enough activities to fill an entire weekend!

Until next time!

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