Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Brew Maine: In’finiti Fermentation and Distillation

Like many states, Maine is enjoying a surge in the popularity of specialty beer and microbreweries – and I would certainly argue that Maine has been a leader in this movement.  I highly recommend that you follow @beerbabe if you’re interested in Maine beer in particular, but also microbrews in general.  If you’re into a bit of health and fitness in addition to a good brew review, check out www.lovesweatbeers.com, a blog written by my good friend, Tiffany.

This post on In’finiti Fermentation & Distillation, located on Commercial Street in the Old Port, is long long long overdue.  My apologies.  If you follow me regularly, you know we’ve (my husband and I) been in the process of moving, getting settled, and adjusting to career advancement / more demanding travel schedules, and while that has all been exciting and we’re very thankful for the opportunities we’ve been given – it also takes a lot of time!

We visited In’finiti during our trip home to Maine over the Thanksgiving holiday last year.  My best friend, E, joined Nick and me for the fun.  The In’finiti restaurant space is large, and split level – we were seated in the upper area, overlooking the bar below.  It would be hard for a space like this one not to be beautiful – with its rustic, dark wood and striking views of fermentation and distillation equipment.  The vibrant metallics contrast nicely with the ironwork and other rustic elements, creating an atmosphere of both relaxation and excitement.

Gleaming equipment... it really is pretty!

Gleaming equipment… it really is pretty!

Bar area (please excuse the poor quality phone photos)

Bar area (please excuse the poor quality phone photos)

I can imagine that during a summer day, the outdoor seating would offer a pretty spectacular view as well!

We tried several beers each before settling on final choices – and enjoyed them all.

Cheers!

Cheers!

For a meal, I ordered the lobster mac n’ cheese.  It was very good (although honestly, if you can screw up mac n’ cheese, you probably shouldn’t be running a restaurant – worse, if you could mess it up with the addition of succulent Maine lobster).  I’m happy to report that I enjoyed every bite!

Both Nick and E affirmed my observations on the atmosphere, beverages, and food.  Overall, In’finiti was a great experience for us.  It’s the sort of place where you can easily kick back with friends, or enjoy a casual date… and its location is ideal for dinner before a night on Fore Street.

Cheers!

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Maine Potters Market: A Gem in the Old Port

In recent decades, Portland, Maine – and the Old Port in particular – has elevated its profile as a location for fine dining, fine shopping, and fine arts.  Maine has always been a welcoming place for artist – the wild, natural beauty of the state lends itself to artistic inspiration – and the individualistic attitude of Maine’s people creates an atmosphere of acceptance of the eccentricities of others (not that I’m suggesting that artists are an eccentric bunch…).  Not only is the Old Port an ideal location to maximize sales during the busy tourist season, but also, as the city’s reputation for promoting the arts has grown, it’s become a location with great local resources for many types of artists.

Entrance to Maine Potters Market, staffed by David Orser

Entrance to Maine Potters Market, staffed by David Orser

Maine Potters Market, which first opened in the Old Port in 1979, was an important part of Portland’s artistic evolution.  Today, the Maine Potters Market offers a special experience for a ceramic arts’ enthusiast.  I had been in a time or two before this visit, but without a full understanding of the way the store operates.  Now, knowing more, my appreciation has grown.  Maine Potters Market operates as a cooperative of ceramic artists (potters), each with their own unique style, which in turn ensures they have something for everyone.  As a non-profit cooperative, they have pooled their resources into this Old Port location, where each day of the week, one of the potters is running the store.  This allows the opportunity for a customer to learn from and meet the people whose work they are purchasing.  When I ventured in a little over a week ago, David Orser was running the shop.  David and his wife, Laurel McDuffie, market their pottery under the name Cedar Mountain Potters.

Barbara Walch's work - my personal favorite!

Barbara Walch’s work – my personal favorite!

The inception of this group occurred during the winter of 1977, when a group of potters envisioned a cooperative marketplace to sell their wares.  In the spring of 1978, they first opened in Boothbay Harbor, where their modest success led them to open their year-round Old Port location in 1979.  Although their location has moved and things have changed over time, the core of the Maine Potters Market has remained the same – their store is home to plentiful and varied pottery, and most days, you will still find a potter working in the store.

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Today, they have 15 artists and have just begun a search to add a new member.  Their space is bright and airy, with nothing to distract from the pottery itself.  At the back of the store, they do sell a number of books, aprons, and other goodies.  I could go on at length about the styles of the potters, my personal preferences, and the friendly, welcoming feel of the space – but frankly, I recommend you just go visit them yourself!  I am sure you’ll find something to love.

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Portland On Ice!

Portland On Ice, a winter festival celebrating the city’s arts’ scene, kicked off yesterday evening, January 25, 2013, and runs through Saturday, February 2nd.

You gotta love this charming city!

You gotta love this charming city!

This event is a celebration of Portland’s diverse music scene, world renowned museums and galleries, and destination shopping (which we know is fantastic!).  The Portland Harbor Hotel featured an Ice Bar to get things started, and the week continues with a series of live music events.  As someone who loves live music, I can only lament that I can’t be there to participate in the festivities!

Today, The Asylum is hosting a free event called Strike A Chord from 12pm – 6pm, which features interactive music exhibits from local studios, labels, musicians, photographers, and more.  It also includes an instrument petting zoo and an open mic session at 3pm.

All week long, various locations in Portland will host bands and other attractions.  Below are just a few from each day – for a complete listing, check out the event page here.

Saturday, January 26th:

Front of Ri Ra in the Old Port

Front of Ri Ra in the Old Port

Sunday, January 27th:

  • Dobra Tea: 3-2-1 Poetry Slam
  • Merrill Auditorium: Happy Birthday Mozart
  • Andy’s Old Port Pub: Peter Gavett

Monday, January 28th:

Tuesday, January 29th:

  • Andy’s Old Port Pub: Dave Magario
  • Big Easy: Mama’s Boomshack

Wednesday, January 30th:

  • Big Easy: Rap Night
  • Blue: Tim Adam’s Bodhran Spectacular
  • Ri Ra: Jeff Cusack

Thursday, January 31st:

  • Ri Ra: Kilcollins Band
  • Andy’s Old Port Pub: Isaiah Bennett
  • Gingko Blue: OCTANE

Friday, February 1st:

Saturday, February 2nd:

  • One Longfellow Square: The THE BAND Band Tribute to Bob Dylan
  • Blue: Jesse Lupica Quartet
  • Civic Center: Portland Pirates vs. Albany
Front of One Longfellow Square in Portland, Maine

Front of One Longfellow Square in Portland, Maine

I hope you get out there and enjoy this great event – there are certainly plenty of opportunities!


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What do you love about Maine?

One week from today, I will be back in Maine, and I can’t wait.  Each time I go home, I experience the most incredible sense of well-being.  I don’t know how else to describe it – it’s as if the place itself reminds me of who I truly am.

I’ve already put together an ‘itinerary’ of sorts (sorry Mom, Dad, Nick, K, and Eddie – who will all be ‘privileged’ with the opportunity to participate in this madness) of places I want to go to and document for future blog posts.  I hope that excites you as much as it excites me!

With that in mind, I wanted to ask you – what do you love about Maine?  Is there something specific you’d like me to write about, and if so, what is it?  Maybe I can research it during this trip – or at least prepare to do so during future visits.

A few of the things I love about Maine are:

  • the people (their ingenuity, commitment to community, work ethic, and so much more)
  • the coast (who doesn’t?)
  • the mountains (for their recreational activities – hiking, skiing, snowboarding, etc.)
  • the seasons
  • the way Portland is becoming increasingly recognized as a ‘foodie’ city

skiers

There are two very distinct moments in my life (so far) when I’ve realized what a special place Maine is. Even years later, the clarity of these memories is very strong. The first occurred when I was about 15, driving our 4-wheeler home from a day of working and riding horses at Vienna Farm.  I was near our neighborhood, and drove up a hill overlooking a meadow.  When I came to the top and saw the way the sun filtered in through the trees, I was immediately struck by the simple beauty of it. I remember thinking that I’d never really seen Maine as ‘beautiful’ before – it was just where I lived, not necessarily special – it was the first time I could understand why Mom and Dad chose to live here and not leave. Now, as an adult, I’m sure there were other, more practical reasons as well, but as a fanciful fifteen-year-old, the beauty was what mattered to me.

My second ‘enlightening,’ you might say, came during a summer home from college as I was strolling through the Old Port. For the first time, I saw the Old Port through the eyes of a visitor – perhaps a prospective student – and the immense appeal of the place hit me at once.  I’d just taken it for granted – the charming cobblestone streets and brick buildings – the oceanfront – the great shopping – the excellent bar hopping.  And I could suddenly see why someone, anyone, would want to live here, whether they’d grown up here or not.

Old Port

Thanks for joining me in my trip down memory lane, and I do hope you’ll share a memory of your own with me, or a reason you’ve come to love the great state of Maine.  As I asked above, what do you love about Maine?

6 days to go…


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Merry Madness!

With a name like that, who could resist?

There are so many interesting, holiday-related activities in Maine this week and next – so brace yourself to see posts on several of them!  Today is a quick post about Merry Madness.  I’ve never participated in this ‘insanity,’ but I wish I could.  Merry Madness is a shop-til-you-drop event and a great opportunity to check out some of the fantastic stores I mentioned yesterday.

The event is this Thursday, December 13, 2012, and kicks off at the Portland Regency Hotel, located at 20 Milk Street.  From 5pm – 6pm at the Regency, enjoy free hors d’oeuvers, raffles, and music, before venturing out to shop.  You can also purchase souvenir 2012 Merry Madness wine glasses & mugs.  Stores participating in the Merry Madness event will remain open until 10pm.

The Regency is offering a special package to stay the night in their boutique hotel following the event.  The Merry Madness Package includes Deluxe Accommodations for two, two “Merry Madness” keepsake wine glasses, a bottle of sparkling wine (per room), and includes access to Portland’s Downtown District Event on Dec.13th from 5-6pm.  Rates from $129.00.

portland-regency

I can personally attest to how phenomenal the Regency is – my husband and I had our wedding reception there and spent the night in the Honeymoon Suite.  From the planning to the night itself, everything was executed smoothly, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere of history and luxury was superb.

This is the 10th Anniversary of the Merry Madness event, which effectively promotes local Portland shops, restaurants, and hotels during the holiday shopping season.  Please visit the event website for a full list of sponsors and participating stores (also listed below).  Merry Shopping!

Participating Stores:

Adorn Salon 1 Union St
Alex and Ani 215 Commercial St
Arcana 81 Market St
Asia West 219 Commercial St
Cabot Farmers’ Annex 163 Commercial St
Carla’s 414 Fore St
Casablanca Comics 151 Middle St
Coast City Comics 634 Congress St
Company C 123 Commercial St
Constellation Gallery 511 Congress St
Cool As A Moose 388 Fore St
Country Noel 57 Exchange St
CS Boutique 424 Fore St
D. Cole Jewelers 10 Exchange St
Daydream Bodyworks 164 Middle St
Designs by CC 7 Pleasant St
Dobra Tea 151 Middle St
East End Cupcake 426 Fore St
Edgecomb Potters 49 Exchange St
Fetch 195 Commercial St
Fit to Eat 164 Middle St
Fore River Gallery 87 Market St
Freak Street Imports 10 Exchange St
Harbor View Gifts 4 Moulton Street
justkim 615A Congress St
K. Colette 100 Commercial St
LeRoux Kitchen 161 Commercial St
Liberty Graphics 44 Main St
Life is Good 428 Fore St
Lisa Marie’s Made in Maine 35 Exchange St
Longfellow Books One Monument Way
Lovell Designs 26 Exchange St
Lovely Things 332 Fore St
Maine Potters Market 376 Fore St
Mainely Frames 541 Congress St
Maxwell’s Pottery 384 Fore St
Mensroom 8 City Center
Mexicali Blues 9 and 10 Moulton St
Motifs 221 Commercial St
Mount Desert Island Ice Cream 51 Exchange St
Nomads 100 Commercial St
Nomia 24 Exchange St #215
Old Port Candy Co. 422 Fore St
Old Port Card Works 3 Moulton St
Old Port Wine Merchant 223 Commercial St
Ollo Hair Salon 41 Wharf St
Pandamonium 2 Exchange St
Pinecone + Chickadee 6 Free St
Port Boutique 2 Wharf St
Porte 4 366 Fore St
Portland Rock Lobster 8 Exchange St
Portland Trading Co 157 Middle St
Portmanteau 3 Wharf St
Salt Cellar 172 Middle St
Se Vende Imports 4 Exchange St
Second Time Around 28 Exchange St
Shine Salon & Barber 9 Union St
Siempre Mas 377 Fore St
Simply Home Studio 75 Market St
Somethings Fishy 32 Exchange St
Stonewall Kitchen 182 Middle St
Swiss Time 86 Exchange St
Tavecchia 52 Exchange St
Ten Thousand Villages 33 Exchange St
The Alpaca Shed 23 Temple St
The Black Dog 215 Commercial St
The Blazin’ Ace 432 Fore St
The Leather Exchange 38 Exchange St
The Mind Gift Shop 399 Fore St
The Paper Patch 17 Exchange St
Treehouse Toys Ltd. 47 Exchange St
Twist 425 Fore St
Vervacious 227 Commercial St
Videoport 151 Middle St
Waterlily 26 Milk St
White Cap Grille 164 Middle


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Christmas Shopping in the Old Port

Shopping in the Old Port is a pleasure at any time of year, but the holiday spirit adds a sense of excitement and anticipation to the atmosphere.  As the time until Christmas morning grows shorter, I wanted to quickly highlight a few of my favorite Old Port stores and recommend that you stop in – you might find the perfect gift for someone on your list!

My puppy, Lexi (pictured below – isn’t she cute?), will surely be getting a gift from Fetch – located at 195 Commercial Street, this pet store is right on the waterfront.  Since opening in 2000, their mission is to improve the quality of life of animals and their people with healthy natural diets (and other edibles), a great selection of gear, a depth of knowledge, and a spirit of good fun.  Based on my shopping experiences there, I certainly feel they’re delivering on their mission!  They have a great set up for browsing and an excellent selection of food, gear, and pet accessories.  Check out their website and stop in – their hours are Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm and Sunday 10am – 5pm.

Lexi

Portland offers a number of quality jewelry stores, but I have to highlight D. Cole Jewelers, located on Exchange Street in the Old Port.  I’ve known the owners, Dean and Denise Cole, for most of my life, and I have incredible respect for them and their family.  My brother and I are close in age to their son and daughter, Ryan and Emily, who also work in the store now, and we used to carpool to school together.  Dean and Denise were fun and easy to talk to – no small feat when dealing with teenagers – and their entire family reflects the best of Maine: generosity, kindness, and a willingness to lend a hand whenever it’s needed.  For purposes of this post, I can tell you this jewelry store is well worth the visit for its quality – their designs are beautiful and unique – and they also provide excellent customer service.  My husband worked with Ryan to design my engagement ring (check out their bridal gallery), knowing how much it would matter to me that it came from their store.  Please stop by and experience what a special place this is – their hours are Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm and Sundays noon – 5pm (on Friday nights, they stay open until 8pm).  You can reach them via phone at 207-772-5119.

It’s no secret that I love to cook, so naturally, I love LeRoux Kitchen, located in the Old Port on Commercial Street, with additional locations in Portsmouth, NH and on Martha’s Vineyard.  This is an exceptional store for the home cook – whether you’re a beginner or a culinary whiz.  My mom and I go in every time I’m home.  They have everything from unique kitchen gadgets, to bakeware, to beverage and glassware, to cast iron pots and pans (my personal area of interest at the moment), and much, much more.  LeRoux is also offering a gift registry service now.  Call them at 207-553-7665 or stop in, Monday – Saturday, 9am – 8pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm.

LeRoux Portland

There are many wonderful stores in the Old Port, each with their own unique style, and offering a variety of merchandise from clothing to children’s toys to antiques.  Visit this great part of Maine in person to experience it for yourself – I know you will love it!  Here are a few more stores, with website links, to wet your whistle:

Bliss Boutiques

Cool As A Moose

Helene M

Old Port Card Works

Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine

For a more complete listing of local stores, click here and spent some time on the ‘Portland Maine’ website.  Good luck with your shopping this holiday season, and be sure to indulge in a little hot chocolate from Maine Bean Cafe!