Last weekend was The Pilot’s birthday and to be a nice wifey, I decided to take him out of town for the weekend. My boss found an awesome deal on Travelzoo–two nights at the Inn at Brunswick Station for $199, which also included a $75 food credit at their “tavern.” Brunswick is about 30 minutes outside of Portland, which is an awesome city. Hartford could learn some things.
We started with a stop at Duck Fat which was amazing. I had a tuna panini which had pickled beets, provolone, and herbs. The Pilot went for a pork belly panini with pickled rutabaga and we split their poutine. Now I love ordinary poutin — a French Canadian treat of fries with gravy and cheese curds. These were phenomenal because the fries are fried in duck fat and the gravy is, you guessed it, duck gravy. Holy crap.
After a stroll through Portland, we decided to head to the Allagash Brewing Company outside of the city. It took lots of turnarounds to get there since it’s in and industrial park area, but we finally found it. Their bathrooms were awesome. The sink was made of old wood planks and they had a TV showing old beer commercials from Guinness and the like. I could have sat on that toilet for hours. After waiting an hour for the next tour, we spent 40 minutes sampling their kickass beer (Allagash White has been a favorite since my best friend introduced it to me years ago). I still love their white, but the Tripel and Curieux were pretty awesome too. There was another, but I didn’t like it so I also haven’t bothered remembering what it is. We took a short tour through their brewing company, which was mildly interesting. They explained the beer brewing process, but since I was in on some beer brewing adventures in the past, it wasn’t anything new. I did love the fact that several parents brought their kids along. It shows life doesn’t have to stop when you pop out progeny.
The hotel was nice–fairly standard and very new without feeling plastic. It also had the world’s slowest elevator. I thought my office’s lift won that honor, but no, a snail would make it to the third floor before the elevator did. Good for exercise. We also ran into the Trinity College hockey team as they were playing Bowdoin. A little taste of Hartford.
Since it was snowy and icy, we decided to use our food voucher in the hotel’s tavern. The food was surprisingly good–I had scallops and The Pilot had some pig product. Both came with this awesome carrot and parsnip hash that I know the Anti-Couric would appreciate. Then we headed to Byrne’s Irish Pub which was a short walk away. It was also new which is sort of uncool, and very towny, which is awesome. What made it even more awesome was the music they had — a guy with a guitar, banjo, and some other stringed instrument I’ve never seen before. He covered recent stuff like Mumford and Sons and some other crap, but he also played some good Irish drinking songs like Whiskey in the Jar. Sadly, I was the only one banging on the table, but others were singing along at least.
Saturday was windy as all get out, but we headed down to Land’s End and Pott’s Point to see the shore. It was gorgeous, but as always, the wind whips up something fierce on the shore, so I was almost blown to sea. We went in search of something called The Giant Steps on our map, but we were deceived. Instead of big steps to climb, it was really The Giant’s Steps — big rocks that look kind of like steps going down to the sea. It was still cool, but not what we were expecting. After a stop for a tasty shrimp sandwich at Cook’s, we headed back to Portland.
In Portland, we decided to check out the Cryptozoology Museum, which was a hoot. It was two big rooms filled, well, with crap. Plastic figurines, taped up computer print outs, hand written torn up “labels” and the like. There was a hysterical recreated life-size Big Foot, a bunch of Nessie tourist crap, and pictures of anacondas, komodo dragons and news articles about a captured Big Foot. My favorite was a typed letter from 1989 from James Stewart (who I love), regarding the attempt to smuggle a Yeti hand out of Tibet. It was rather dismissive. Apparently, he couldn’t say much except that their luggage was searched and when they got it back, the hand was gone. The curator of the museum is Loren Coleman who I asked about the Glawackus. He wasn’t familiar with it and dismissed it as lumberjack lore, which was disappointing.* The Pilot asked about the Montauk Monster. Unbeknownst to us, Coleman is the one who coined the term! I didn’t really believe him, but Wikipedia says it’s true. Coleman said that it was really a raccoon in stage 2 decomposition. So much for Plum Island mutations. The rest of the museum was filled with props like the Fiju Mermaid and Cryptozoology “art” that people have given Coleman over the years. Like I said, it was a hoot.
From there we headed to the adorable cobblestone streets where shops of all kinds abound — coffee shops, specialty food stores, fancy pet shops, a sex shop owned and run by women (hence classy, not skanky), tourist shops, and more. There were plenty of people milling about the way they should in a city. We headed to Fore Street Restaurant for dinner on the recommendation of a couple of friends. The place is incredibly popular. They fill their place 2/3 with reservations and those of us non-planners line up at 5 p.m. to see what’s leftover. The line was incredibly long, but we were able to get in for 5:30, despite a British couple cutting us all. The restaurant was very cool with all the prep done out in the open in the middle of the place. The place looks like a converted mill or warehouse with exposed brick and beams, and the food was fantastic. We had an octopus appetizer and I went for rabbit while The Pilot went for a fish dish. We split a kale side dish since the main dishes didn’t come with much. It was pricey, but since it was his birthday, totally worth it. Rather than eat dessert there, we went to Gelato Fiasco and played some board games before heading back to Brunswick.
Sunday brought breakfast at Jen’s Place which was shabby in atmosphere, but good on food. Then we headed to the monstrosity that is the L.L. Bean outlet before I begged a stop in Kittery. Shopping trips are no fun to write about, so I won’t bore you with that. Just know that Portland is a great city, Brunswick is a cute town and you should go to both.
*Editorial note: Anyone who dismisses the Glawackus is not to be trusted.