Portland, Maine - Part I: Booze, But No Moose To Go With It
We were still all groggy when we woke up in the morning, after a long drive and a late arrival from the DC area the night before, in Portland. Our spirits were not lifted as our outdated navigation system was leading us astray in pursuit of coffee and bagels at Scratch Baking Co., in South Portland.
As we finally descend on our destination, we spy a whimsical storybook store front in the middle of a modest residential neighborhood. There is a calm rhythm to it, as opposed to a touristy rush, as local patrons walk or bike to it and order their usual. Truly a gem.
It was closer to lunch time, so my guys ordered roast beef with basil mayo and dressed greens with balsamic vinaigrette on country white bread sandwich lunches. Jonathan had it with the roasted tomatoes, S, tomato-less. Jonathan and S sat to eat on the bench outside while I ran in.
I usually do not act like a discombobulated tourist, but that late morning, I was. It would have been embarrassing if not for the fact that I made a concerted effort, a pact of sort with myself, to not get embarrassed much. Just shrug it off.
|See. Bagels! :)|
Scratch Baking Co. is a pleasant space, on the smaller side, sectioned into different parts, the barista, sandwich counter and the cashier. There is also a self service bread section. There was a lot happening and in the midst of it all I was trying to internalize the slow motion, effortless movement of an array of locals coming in and out. I came in for a bagel and I walked out with only a cappuccino. Only after I saw the photos, I realized they were not out of bagels as I had thought, I just didn't see them in all my confusion. The storm that was all in my head was a stark contrast to Scratch Baking Co.'s peacefulness. My brain short-circuited as if I were a kid on overload in Disneyland.
The tall, naturally elegant lady from the neighborhood, laughed and said she wished she could record my stunted reaction when I didn't understand the cashier. The serene lady laughed at my blank, wide eyed stare as the cashier with a heavy New England accent asked me "single or double?", as in shots in my cappuccino. She had to repeat the question. I might be mistaken, but seems like Maine has the denser New England accent. I rarely encountered it, as many here are transplants, but what a glorious authentic way to begin our journey in Portland.
Speaking of cappuccinos, when in Maine order a double shot and your cap will be a perfect cup. My guys loved Scratch Baking Co. so much that a couple of days later, they wished to come back for their roast beef sandwiches. Unfortunately, we were short on time, as we were heading out of town.
As I planned our vacation to Maine, my agenda was to sight moose and North Atlantic puffins as if I was going on an expedition to somewhere remote like The North Pole or Alaska. In reality, as we were pulling away from Scratch Baking Co. by the water, Jonathan and S sighted booze not moose, a huge sign of Shipyard!
I had read about the breweries in Maine, but it didn't quite sink in until we arrived, how thriving and embedded the craft beer industry is in the fiber of commerce and tourism in Portland. Jonathan who rarely drinks alcohol was the beer tasting guinea pig. I took Jonathan's role as the designated chauffeur driver. S, being a month and change shy of 21, was Wizzy's babysitter and an observer, taking it all in. It was a musical chairs, reversal of roles, type of a day. Not that on any given day I gulp beer while on social media, but still that is a funny image.
|Photo taken by Jonathan Madnick|
S had never seen his dad alcohol induced 'happy' and we are talking merely tastings here. S was in complete wonderment watching Jonathan burst out laughing, at every word uttered by him, as he tried to illustrate Shipyard's tour and tastings. Jonathan, tipsy, was sheer entertainment. S and I both are usually the ones, who act silly, without alcohol being necessary to jumpstart our mayhem, so this was really eye opening for S to see a different side of his dad, letting go, slightly intoxicated or not.
As much as I profess my love for beer, after visiting Shipyard and being very impressed with Allagash's efforts in reducing its carbon footprint, I was done inhaling fermented ethers for the day. While S couldn't join the Shipyard tour, he could join Allagash's. Allagash uses 92% renewable wind energy, has a fantastic composting program and recycles the 57 ton grain used per week for cattle feed. They also collaborate with breweries across the nation in an effort to exchange empty beer kegs in order to cut back on environmental and monetary transportation costs. I was so happy S had a chance to listen to their eco-friendly practices, as he studies Environmental Science and Natural Resources Conservation in college.
A few "must" purchases later of Shipyard's seasonal summery melonhead, IPA, export, seadog apricot among others and Allagash's White and Black ale, we were ready for some food.
|Top: Eastern Promenade Park, A Boat Mooring Field. Bottom right: Eastern Promenade, Boat Launch. Bottom Left: Fort Allen Park, Sailboats through the fog|
|Fort Allen Park, Coast Line|
Under a thick dramatic foggy Portland skies, we picnicked with our Duckfat takeout at Fort Allen Park under the gazebo there. There is a wide stretch of grass where you can let your dogs off the leash to run around. A few spiral stone steps down towards the shoreline, you cross the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum's tracks, jogging and cycling trails and you are smack right by the water. The museum is dedicated to historic preservation of the tracks that used to connect freight and passengers in rural Maine areas.
|Eastern Promenade Park, A Boat Mooring Field|
|Eastern Promenade Park, Public Boat Launch|
|Allen Park, Railroad Museum train tracks|
Having coffee that late might have been an omen. The powers above knew we needed that extra boost of caffeine for what's to come. Wizard was panting and in pain. We didn't head back from the emergency veterinary clinic back to the hotel till 2am. The next day, will it be another groggy morning?!
Read about it in the 1st installment in the Maine Series:
Portland, Maine, Part II: They Holy Mother of Donuts and Chasing Lighthouse
Scratch Baking Co.
416 Preble St.
South Portland, Maine
Shipyard Brewing Co.
86 Newbury St.
Allagash Brewing Company
50 Industrial Way
43 Middle Street
Coffee by Design
620 Congress St.
The photos here are snapped on both the iPhone and Nikon. I am not happy with the second photo, but I included it to illustrate a point.:) When traveling I try to experience and flow, so often I won't photograph every single dish or sandwich we consume. The barrel photo was snapped by Jonathan on his iPhone on the Allagash tour. I find it truly stunning. That light streaming in from the back, it's not every day that you can snap a pic like that. I am happy that he did.