Portland, Maine was definitely not putting her best foot forward. The Norwegian Jewel had pulled into port in an icy, driving rain and things were not improving at all. Skies were dark gray and the rain was not letting up, literally throwing cold water on our hopes of a lovely day for our culinary walking tour. With visions of whoopie pies and artisanal cheeses dancing in our heads, we put on our coats, pulled up our hoods and prepared to brave the elements.
Here’s a video I found that will give you a good introduction to our day.
Heading into the shop, we gathered together with our fellow foodies and our friendly and knowledgeable guide for the afternoon and got our name tags so we were all official – and so they could make sure nobody was left behind, snogging down chocolates or cheese. Like that would ever happen.
There was a huge selection of wine in the little shop, but she showed us some really interesting local wines made from apples, raspberries and even the regional blueberries as well as some mead made from honey. Then we went next door to a little shop called Vervacious where there was a little more room for sampling.
We each took a little sip of the offered honey mead and excitedly began the taste testing that would last for the next couple of hours.
Sampling honey mead.
Tom and I were not big fans of the mead but we were huge fans of the other items we sampled at Vervacious. In fact, they had what could very well be our mantra printed on their chalkboard.
Heidi, one of the founders of Vervacious, spent some time telling us about the origin of the shop. She and her husband sold their home and sailed around the world, eating and sampling luscious items all the way. Somewhere along the way, they came up with the idea of selling wonderful, travel-inspired fancy food items. Their culinary condiments would brighten up any meal and are available online as well as in gourmet food stores.
First, we tried some freshly cut, local apples with some sort of tangy spice shaken on them – delicious and tart!
And the food tasting begins.
Then it was time for some drizzles – one with a coffee flavor and one chocolate. Not being a fan of coffee and a huge fan of chocolate, I was in love with this chocolate drizzle. Fresh pineapple and our choice of drizzles.
We were given a little time to shop at every location and we might possibly have come back to the ship with a wide variety of food. Oh, you know we did.
So many choices, so little room in our suitcase!
After everyone had tasted and shopped to their heart’s content, we headed up the street to the Stonewall Kitchen store, where I could have cheerfully settled in for the day.
Not only do they have wonderful food items, they also have all kinds of kitchen gadgets, gifts and seasonal items. Hundreds of things!
A shopper's delight!
But first things, first – we were here to sample! Our guide whipped out some freshly baked scones and instructed us to put the blueberry preserves on top. And eat. We hastened to obey. They were delicious and not only did we get to sample them, they had sampling stations set up all throughout the store. Seriously. Could have stayed all afternoon.
Scones! And blueberry preserves!
Lots of sampling choices!
They have an online catalog, several stores and many of their products are also sold in kitchen supply stores – you can do a search on their website to find the closest location. Which you will want to do immediately because yum. After we had eaten our fill of every single, solitary sample in the store because it’s all for you, dear readers we headed to our next culinary experience.
Cheese was high on our list of expectations for this tour and they did not disappoint. Our next stop was K. Horton Specialty Foods. With over 200 international cheeses and a large selection of local, artisan cheeses, we were in cheese heaven.
Kris Horton talked to us a bit about her love of cheese and support for local cheese producers, then magically produced some quite, quite delicious cheese. Seriously. Delicious.
There’s only one thing that could rival the fabulousness that is cheese. I think you know where I am going with this.
My kind of sign.
Dean’s Sweets is a tiny little shop, filled with the rich smell of chocolate and the delicious, interesting fillings that Dean uses in his fillings. When we walked in, Dean was in the back making truffles, individually. By hand.
This is not your average candy making factory.
These are not just any old truffles – with rich dark chocolate and fascinating flavors like cayenne and ginger, they are truly unique. And delicious. Let’s not forget delicious.
Unfortunately, that entire tray was not for me. If only.
We still had a chocolate taste in our mouth as we left Dean’s, but this did not prevent us from being excited about heading to Two Fat Cats Bakery. Their web page seems to be down, but the link will take you to their Facebook site.
I assume they are fat because of the excellence of the bakery items.
Another tiny, little store filled with fabulous smells, this bakery was packed with wonderful, homemade items.
Freshly baked pies, anyone?
But we were here for one particular specialty. One particular Maine specialty.
Sort of like a cake but cut in half and stuffed with whipped cream, these were completely fabulous in every way.
Choice of flavors.
Whoopie for whoopie pies!
You might think this would be enough sampling for anyone but have you met me?
On to the Harbor Fish Market! Located on the Portland Waterfront for over 30 years and run by the Alfiero family for that entire time, this is the best place to buy fresh seafood in Portland.
Filled with the clean, salty smell of fresh fish, this was the perfect place to sample some smoked trout.
Smoky and wonderful!
Even being the dedicated foodies that we are, we were just about ready to have a seat and a cold drink, so it was perfect that the tour was ending at the Shipyard Brewing Company.
We were treated to a tour, a video about this history of Shipyard Brewing and then we adjourned to the sampling area to try some of the brews made here in this local microbrewery. Lucky for yours truly who is not a fan of brews, they also make such lovely drinks as ginger beer, which I imbibed freely.
Luckily, the cold rain had stopped so we strolled leisurely back to the cruise ship, allowing all our many delicious samples to settle and digest and enjoying Portland’s waterfront.
Time to strip off our Portland rain drenched clothes and take a relaxing doze.
It would soon be dinner time.
Full disclosure: Our tour was sponsored by Maine Foodie Tours, but, as always, I will share my honest opinion about any travel experiences I have.