Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Portland Food Culture

That's Portland Maine, not Oregon, making a surprise appearance in the New York Times Dining section (Slide Show here).
In the last decade, Portland has undergone a controlled fermentation for culinary ideas — combining young chefs in a hard climate with few rules, no European tradition to answer to, and relatively low economic pressure — and has become one of the best places to eat in the Northeast. The most interesting chefs here cook up and down the spectrum, from Erik Desjarlais’s classically pressed roast ducks at Evangeline, to the renegade baker Stephen Lanzalotta’s gorgeously caramelized sfogliatelle (sold out of the back of Micucci Grocery, an Italian-imports shop), to Mr. Potocki’s simple but brilliant chili-garlic cream cheese and handmade bagels.

Anna and I are big fans of Portland... in the early days of our relationship we met up several times for a weekend in Portland to help take the edge off of a long distance relationship... it's roughly half-way between Boston and her family house in Maine, has reasonably priced hotels, and is easily accessible by either train or bus from Boston. Not to mention that the downtown area is so concentrated that you don't even need a car once you get there... you can pretty much walk everywhere. Great for a weekend trip... and as the article mentions, the food is really quite good! There obviously aren't a ton of restaurants in place with only 65K people, but there is a fair number with some variety... and much better vegan/vegetarian options than you might expect.

Highly recommended for a weekend getaway.

photo by flickr user hint of plum used under a Creative Commons license