28 February 2012

Food, fabrics and yarn in Portland, Maine

On February 25-26, DH and I blew into Portland, Maine, to visit friends. It was wicked windy, as we say here in New England, so when I say "blew into," I mean it literally, as our trusty Honda was buffeted by arctic clipper winds all the way.

While Portland is justly celebrated for its lively waterfront - still a working port - a bit of online research led us to the road (somewhat) less traveled, edgy Congress Street.  In my "A to Z" report of our trip, I'll start with Z - Z Fabrics, at 316A Congress St.  However, if you visit after March 1, please note that the store is moving to 477 Congress St., having outgrown its current sliver of retail space. A nice, edited selection of fabrics, and I found just the right backing fabric for a quilt top.

Z Fabrics store, original space.
Next on our tour of Congress St. came the Angela Adams home furnishings store. Ms. Adams is a Maine native and has done her home state proud.

Angela Adams store.

Back into the cold outdoors but not for long, as we entered the cozy, wool-lined KnitWit shop at 247A Congress St.  A busy, lively place despite the shopper-discouraging blustery cold. Of course, there's no better place in winter than a friendly yarn shop.

KnitWit yarn shop. I bought yarn to make a hat to match my teal jacket.

Foodie images - including Katie Made Bakery, and mead tasting.

From fiber to food and drink - we left Congress St. and walked two blocks to the Maine Mead Works brewery (meadery?) for a mead tasting. No appointment, just show up. We tasted nine flavors of mead, which is wine fermented from honey, and liked the Blueberry and Dry Hopped best. Evidently 30% of Maine's bees now work for Maine Mead Works. Who knew?

We fueled up at lunchtime at Katie Made Bakery, a corner storefront at 147 Cumberland Ave., and each slurped a delicious cream of broccoli soup, before sharing a roast beef and caramelized onion sandwich. The cupcakes looked delicious; maybe next time.

Grace restaurant, a former church.

After taking in a Degas show at the Portland museum, we all enjoyed dinner at Grace restaurant. In a very imaginative example of adaptive reuse, the sanctuary of a deconsecrated church has become an eating place with just the right balance of fun and formality.  We enjoyed an excellent meal, comparable to anything in Manhattan, and at one-third the ticket price.

Japanese saying - we eat first with our eyes.
 I especially have to rave about one dessert - a peanut butter roulade with candied celery (lower right in the image above.) Remember eating peanut butter on celery sticks as a child (or an adult, for that matter)? Well, this version has gone to France and received Cordon Bleu certification. Sponge cake hugs a peanut butter filling;  neither cake nor filling are too sweet, and the candied celery provides a crisp herbal note that's just right.  A delicious way to cap our trip to Portland.

Images of Portland.