I already put up a post on my visit to J’s Oyster Bar, but that was just the beginning when it came to my seafood-themed vacation in Maine. And since I had my new camera with me, I took a lot of pictures. 200+ to be exact. So I thought I’d shared a few of the highlights of my trip.
It all began with that big bowl of delicious steamers when I arrived at my brother’s house to start my vacation. For those of you that might be wondering, steamers are clams in New England speak. Give them a good soak or rinse, put them in a big pot with an inch or two of boiling water, cover, and steam until all of the shells open, and serve with melted butter and some of the broth on the side. It’s as simple as that.
After wondering around Portland all day on Monday, my brother and I went out to dinner at The Grill Room. It’s a great little spot on Exchange Street in the Old Port that specializes in wood-fired grilling. If you’re lucky, and don’t mind dining side by side, you can sit at a small bar overlooking the open kitchen and take in all of the action while enjoying your meal.
I don’t have any photos of the meal to share, but here’s a quick rundown. We started with two well-executed appetizers of pan-seared oysters and crispy sweetbreads, which both paired well with an Oregon Riesling from the by the glass wine list. For the main course, my brother had a grilled tuna special served with shrimp. I went with the grilled swordfish over a lobster and sweet pea risotto. The wood-fired grill added a great layer of flavor to the fish. The risotto was a nice touch with a few good chunks of lobster meat, but slightly dry for my liking. All in all though, it was a great meal and I was glad to finally get a chance to check out the Portland dining scene.
As I made my way to my parent’s house the next day, I stopped at Belanger’s Drive-In for lunch. I needed a clam basket. Belanger’s is located in Fairfield, and it’s been around forever. In recent years, as more and more chains and big box stores have moved into the surrounding community, Fairfield has seen plenty of businesses shutter. But there are a few mainstays that have stuck around, and, thankfully, Belanger’s is one of them. I mean, look at that fried clam basket – it’s huge!
Now onto the lobster feast! On Wednesday afternoon we cooked up a bunch of soft-shell lobsters (1 1/4 pounders) and some corn from a local farm. The lobsters were $4.50 a pound! Seriously. $4.50, a pound! Can you say sweet deal?
Nothing better than Maine lobsters and fresh corn at the peak of summer. A couple of tips: eat outdoors, have plenty of napkins on hand, and a keep a big trashcan nearby.
And of course you need something to drink with your lobster. I went with the aptly named Vacationland summer seasonal from one of my favorite Maine breweries, Gritty McDuff’s.
After a few days at my parent’s house, we all headed north to our cabin on Lake Moxie, which is not very far from the Kennebec River Gorge and the lovely little town of The Forks, population 30. No joke. On Friday afternoon, a few of us went on a hike up Bald Mountain, seen below. The Appalachian Trail runs along the southern-most point of the lake and up over the mountain. It’s a great little hike, not too strenuous, and offers some great panoramic views from the top. And when you’re done, you get to say that you’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail.
After all that hiking, we needed to eat something. Luckily, we had a bunch of leftover lobster meat that we used to make lobster rolls for dinner. There are three very important things to remember when constructing a true Maine lobster roll. 1) Use lots of meat. 2) Go light on the dressing, just a little bit of mayo. 3) Use a traditional hot dog bun, pan toasted in butter. That’s it. Delicious.
We were out on the lake the next day and saw this bald eagle. It was flying between perches in two different trees and we were able to watch it for about 20 minutes. It was a great opportunity to use my 200mm lens and practice shooting something in motion. It was challenging and the zoom wasn’t quite powerful enough to get very close in, but I did manage to get a few photos that turned out well, including this one. The eagle is slightly out of focus, but not bad for a novice.
That’s it. It was a great vacation. Plenty of great food and lots of time spent with my family.
I’ve got some more pictures from the lobster cookout that I’m planning to turn into a post soon, so stay tuned.