Duck Fat, Portland, ME

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What to order at Duck Fat: Belgian-cut fries with aioli

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A Food Tour of Portland

First stop? Vervacious. This adorable shop was created by a couple who spent their work sabbaticals sailing the world. They ended up quitting their day jobs in order to start a travel inspired food business. Try the Espresso Balsamic Drizzle and Sahara Harissa Rub. Adding a bit of Spicy Chili Finishing Salt to freshly cut pineapple is mind-blowing.

We then wandered over to the Harbor Fish Market, which is a wholesale warehouse of fresh fish. I knew this place would be good the minute I saw two chefs walk into the slimy, gritty but definitely genuine fish market.

We tasted smoked mussels (check for them in the refrigerators on the right!) and learned about the laws regulating lobster trapping. Each fisherman must carry a metal measuring tool, which looks like a wrench. If a lobster’s claw is larger or smaller than the piece of metal, it must be thrown back into the water. The big lobsters are particularly important to keep in the water, as they are the ones that reproduce the most. Go figure.

Next up: Dean’s Sweets. Another husband and wife team, Dean’s Sweets offers unique truffle flavors such as Stout (which also happens to be vegan), Blueberry, and even Tequila Lime. Perhaps most creative is their version of the “Needham.” A “Needham” is a classic Maine treat composed of chocolate, mashed potato and coconut. Sound weird? Well, Dean’s Sweets takes it up a notch. Instead of using mashed potatoes, they use a potato derived ingredient: vodka.

To continue the sweets trend, we devoured blueberry ice cream samples at Captain Sam’s Ice Cream. The high butter fat count is what makes this ice cream so divine. I have eaten a lot of ice cream in my life and this surpassed most scoops. One word: wow.

Going full steam ahead with the new trend of blueberry, we stopped by Stonewall Kitchen. I’m familiar with Stonewall Kitchen’s products since it is a New England company, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a free sample of blueberry jam.

A fascinating place to visit is the Public Market House, and in particular, K. Horton Specialty Foods. The market is a co-op that gives chefs and entrepreneurs with little investment money a place to start their businesses. I enjoyed a sample of a freshly boiled bagel, as well as two delicious cheeses. One cheese, City of Ships, made from cows milk, has won many accolades.

And last, but definitely not least was beer tasting at Gritty McDuff’s. We had the pleasure of getting a behind-the-scenes look at this microbrewery, which brews beer only for the pub, not for wholesale. This was the perfect way to end our day of culinary, and caloric, wonders.

Camden, ME

Cappy’s Chowder House, Camden, ME

 Clam Chowder

Grilled Tuna

With jalapeno sauce and corn salsa, served with grilled summer squash

Judging from the decor of the place, I expected this to be sub-par, pub food. I judged incorrectly. This was surprisingly delicious, and considering that this cost around $15, it was a bargain compared to most places in town.

White Peach Sangria

My initial reaction: is this from the kids menu? The numerous decorations threw me off, but it tasted wonderfully. It was 90 degrees outside, and this was perfectly refreshing. I’m a sucker for anything served in Mason jars, which might have partially attributed to the satisfaction.

Accommodations in Camden, ME:  The Good House Bed & Breakfast 

Located just feet from downtown, I couldn’t have asked for more. The room was spacious, complete with a claw-foot tub in the bathroom. That was enough to win me over. Breakfast was fresh and substantial: blueberry pancakes, fruit salad, and for the boy, lots of bacon. The owner, upon hearing that we were going hiking, provided us with snacks for the trip. Hospitality at its greatest.