Tourist on Maine: Day 4

Coffee cup in front of my Hasselblad camera at Tandem Coffee in Portland, Maine.

Today was Portland day! We headed out early for the long drive from Bangor with a two-pronged morning mission: Montreal-style bagels from Forage and a coffee crawl involving some of Robert’s favorite roasters in Portland.

Front door of Forage Market.

Let’s start with them bagels. These were cooked in a wood-fired oven as befits the Montreal-style process, and while they vary a bit from the NY-style I grew up with in the Tristate Area, they were no less delicious. That characteristic crisp, chewy skin was still there, yielding to a tangy sourdough interior that had fermented two days prior to baking. One sesame and one sea salt, each with butter, and I was in my happy place. I haven’t eaten bagels this delicious in a couple years. Seriously.

Then it was on to coffee, and we had to start with Tandem Coffee Roasters. Did they bit a little style from Richmond’s own Lamplighter with that bike theme and converted service station cafe? Who knows, but their coffee was delicious, and the pistachio cake I shared with Robert was incredible. It tasted like a lemon poundcake with pistachio meal, and crushed pistachios, lemon juice, and sugar syrup on top. That pic at the top of the post was my cappuccino. Next up was Speckled Ax who—completely new to me—wood-roasts their coffee. This cappuccino was even better than Tandem’s and I bought a bag of some fruit-dried Ethiopian to take back to Richmond.

Side note: yes, two cappuccinos in a row, no sweetener added. I normally prefer espresso or pour-over, but in Portland as in Richmond, the shops are still using disposable only cups and no dine-in. I feel like paper cups mess with the flavor of espresso, so that’s out. And none of the shops we hit in Portland were doing pour-over because of the time involved.

Portland Head Lighthouse

We interrupted our coffee crawl for a surprise stop at Portland Head High and Fort Williams Park on Casco Bay. If my film turns out okay, the shots I got at this park will be some of my favorites, I think. For now, check out this vertical pano of the lighthouse, and the registry plaque.

Plaque indicating the lighthouse is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

Our final coffee stop was Bard Coffee in the Old Port neighborhood, and boy was that great. One more cappuccino, and also a nitro cold brew. The cap was certainly tasty but the nitro was some of the best I’ve ever had. All the rough edges were rounded off and while most nitros have that “virgin Guinness” taste of toast and chocolate, this stuff was still fruity and crisp.

Taxidermy moose with locked antlers in the L.L. Bean campus - they were found dead in the woods with horns locked

With so much caffeine in our systems, we headed out of Portland to Freeport for a visit to the massive L.L. Bean campus in Freeport. They had pretty much everything you could imagine, including a pair of stuffed moose that had been found dead in the woods with locked antlers. Macabre! After a little light shopping (and not buying) we drove a short hop to Maine Beer Company for some truly delicious beer and pizza. Our final beer stop was Side by Each Brewing Co. in Auburn on the way back. This brewery takes care of their people and makes delicious beer, so it was a fitting final brewery on my trip.

The vacation part of my trips is pretty much over now since Robert has to teach starting at 8:00 tomorrow. I’ll be sneaking in a work day where everybody thinks I’m off so I can get stuff done without distraction. Then around 4 PM I’ll head back down south to Richmond. Not sure whether I’ll publish a final post tomorrow, but I can tell you it’s been a helluva time up here in Maine, and I hope to return before too long.