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It was a cold but beautiful weekend to be in one of the most beautiful places in New England, the Portland, Maine area. We’ve made several trips to Maine in the past and always look for reasons to visit. . . we even have a trip to Camden booked for April. I am counting the days until it’s warmer!

A few past Maine blog posts:

Freeport and Camden Maine

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

Our friends recently moved to Maine, which gives us an important reason to visit. After our second annual Halfway to Dot Day 5k race (which was absolutely bloody freezing) we hit the road, stopping for lunch in Portsmouth and then heading on to beautiful Cape Elizabeth.

My first order of business was a New England-y photo shoot for Nautical Gin, a brand I have been working with this year. Our friends brought us to Kettle Cove, which was a stunning location and a place I would love to visit again when it is warmer than 10 degrees.

Kettle Cove Maine

After some snacks and relaxing, we headed to downtown Portland for drinks at the Top of the East in the Westin Portland Harborview.

Eastland Portland Maine The views and Christmas decorations were gorgeous, and the cocktails delicious. It was definitely the perfect place to kick off our night out in Portland.

Eastland 15th floor Portland

After our round of drinks, we headed to the main event, dinner at Sur Lie, where we had one of the best meals we’ve enjoyed in a long time and ordered half of the menu.

Cocktails Sur Lie Portland

First, more cocktails: Forest Moon of Endor {Four Roses bourbon, Applejack, Kina, pecan orgeat, lime, sassafras bitters}

This definitely had a nice, warming autumnal feel and taste; it was reminiscent of apple pie but not too sweet.

Fried Milk Braised Cauliflower

{Fried Milk Braised Cauliflower, honey soy glaze} – Sweet, with little kicks of spice, earthy, delicious, the way cauliflower should be

Smith's Log Smokehouse Sausage

{Smith’s Log Smokehouse Sausage, orange peel & honey pork sausage, house pickles, roasted garlic} I had heard great things about Smith’s meats, and they were confirmed when I had this sausage. Melty roasted garlic and paper thin slices of bread paired deliciously with it. ,

chicken croquettes

{Chicken Croquettes}

I was a huge fan of these when I was a kid, and this more gourmet version was even better.

 

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Pink bubbles go with everything. I am loving Franciacorta lately and Italian bubbly in general. This was the perfect choice for pairing with so many different dishes and for celebrating new beginnings.

the best scallops ever

{Seared Scallops, white sweet potato puree, pickled red onion, pineapple mojo, lime}

We agreed that these were some of the most perfect scallops we have ever had.

 

Captains' Cut Cod*

{Captains’ Cut Cod*, butternut squash purée, pecan, apple, maple syrup}

I normally wouldn’t think of cod and autumn flavors like these going together, but this dish was amazing. The fish was cooked to perfection, and everything just worked so beautifully.  This dish made me want to experiment with fish more at home.

 

 Panko Crusted Pork Cutlet*

{Panko Crusted Pork Cutlet*, L.P. Bisson & Sons pork loin, chicken gravy, Whatley Farm organic duck egg, house pickles}

We couldn’t decide between the two pork dishes so we ordered both. Again, cooked to perfection, and the meat was paired with seasonal, creative flavors.

 L.P. Bissons Smoked Pork Chop

{L.P. Bissons Smoked Pork Chop, carrot-cream cheese puree, walnut, torpedo onions, fennel, brown butter}

The contrast of flavors between the rich pork and carrot-cream cheese and the crunchy, tangy onions made this one of my favorite dishes of the night.

  apple cider donut {House Apple Cider Donut, apple cider donut, pecan maple syrup, pumpkin gelato}

Chocolate Pot de Creme

{Chocolate Pot de Creme, espresso gelato, orange laced madeleines}

Heavenly desserts could not be passed up, and we couldn’t get over how delicious both of these were. Every bite of this meal was so well-planned and thought out. The perfect ending to the night was a visit from the chef to see how things were. Between the service, the wine pairings, the ingredients, and the cozy, simple decor, Sur Lie quietly and understatedly outdid itself.

NespressoSunday brought a nice lie-in, Nespresso (which I hadn’t had in awhile. . . oh how I love it!), and a walk around Portland Head Light, which was decorated for Christmas and looking like a picture perfect New England scene. I love Maine.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light

 Portland Head Light  

Before we reluctantly made our way back to Boston, we stopped for brunch at The Porthole, a hidden-away diner-type restaurant and bar that we try to visit every time we are in Portland. Their brunch is great, and in warmer months, the patio is the place to be for live music and local Portland beer.

I had to go for the Lobster Bennie when in Maine!

lobster benedict

the porthole portland maine

It was an excellent weekend, and while we were sad to see our friends move away, they couldn’t have picked a better place for us to visit! I look forward to discovering more of Portland and the surrounding areas in the future, especially when the weather is better!

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Tags: blogging, brunch, cocktails, dinner, Food, Maine, ME, New England, Portland, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, wine

My love affair with Vermentino continues, thanks to recent Sardinian wine events. A while back, there was a day on a boat with Santa Maria La Palma tasting some absolutely beautiful Sardinian wines. A few weeks later, I had the pleasure of a delicious wine lunch with Vigne Surrau at Select Oyster Bar, cementing my desire to wander around Sardinia on our trip to Italy this coming summer. We have a wedding in Tuscany in July and are hoping to tack on another destination. We’ve both done Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, and the beautiful Le Marche and Abruzzo regions (BEST wine tasting day ever), so Sardinia is looking like a real possibility.

Okay, enough of our travels for now.

Back to the wine. . . Vigne Surrau wine lunch Warm and charming hosts from Vigne Surrau welcomed us into a cozy space in the back of Select Oyster Bar, wine and information awaiting our arrival. Learning about where wine is grown is always fascinating to me, especially when it is on an island like Sardinia, and all of the conditions of the island affect the grapes. Surrau’s vineyards are in Gallura in the northern part of Sardinia, and they are directly affected by the Mistral wind and the granite earth and clay where they grow. Their website says “Nature imitates art and man pick it”, a concept I found so beautiful as the wines truly were works of art created by nature.

Sardinia is home to incredible Vermentino, and that’s what we started our lunch with.

BRANU Vermentino di Gallura D.O.C.G.2015

Lemony and with a great, food-friendly acidity and freshness, this wine’s stainless steel fermentation means that the flavors are not influenced by oak or anything else. This wine was like sunshine and a day at the beach, but has enough body to be a winter white, we all agreed.

SCIALA Vermentino di Gallura D.O.C.G. 2015

This wine is a blend of the best Vermentino and aged on its lees, making it feel like a more substantial wine. Less lemon and more pineapple/mango/minerals than the BRANU.

Sardinian wine

 

 

select oyster bar

While we learned about Vigne Surrau, we also indulged in perfect pairings of the seafood that Select Oyster Bar is known for. Heavenly salmon crudo and Vermentino are quite possibly the perfect pairing. This menu was clearly planned keeping both the food and wine in mind.

salmon crudo

 Vermentino

As we moved onto our second course and the red wine, I deviated from the seafood menu because there was AVOCADO TOAST. I’m sorry, but I just can’t say no to that. Last sips of Vermentino cut through the creamy fattiness of the avocado and brightened it up in the best way, while my first sips of Cannonau added a bit of spice to the pairing.

avocado toast

As I mentioned in my last post on Sardinian wines, Cannonau makes for a beautiful, light red that can be enjoyed year-round. We compared the SINCARU and the Riserva, two different vintages, and noted similarities and differences. As simplistic as it sounds, both were just so delicious. The Riserva is aged in Slovenian oak which gives it a fuller body and richer texture, and I also noticed a slight hint of saline or minerals on this wine. Truth be told, the 2014 was my favorite of the two because of the spicy notes. . . I could see it being perfect for a casual pizza night in front of the fire.

SINCARU Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. 2014
SINCARU RESERVE Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. Riserva 2013

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vigne surrauFor the final course and wine, I went back to seafood, a steaming bowl of clams with chorizo, I think the key component of pairing with the wine.

BARRIU I.G.T. Isola dei Nuraghi 2013

This blend of Cannonau, Syrah, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon was big and bold, notes of baking spices and pepper along with stewed fruit. It was so cozy, and while you might not think a red would go with clams, the flavors in the broth along with the salinity of the clams really worked with the wine’s beautiful characteristics.

sauteed clams  

This wine lunch was a delicious and educational way to spend an afternoon. Thank you to Vigne Surrau for hosting me!

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Tags: Boston, events, Sardinia, sardinian wine, seafood, wine, wine and food pairing, wine blog, wine events, wine tasting

My “A Day in Dorchester” post is long overdue for an update! Years have passed, and we’ve moved to a new neighborhood, not to mention, Dorchester has grown as a dining and drinking destination in major ways over the past years. It’s at the point where we don’t leave Dorchester all that often as we have everything we need right here!

Lately, we have been going on a Friday night date that starts with a pint of Guinness at the delightfully Irish old school Eire Pub. Last week, we followed that with dinner at the newly opened Landmark Public House across the street.

Landmark Public House took over the space occupied by Gerard’s, a local favorite and a great spot for breakfast.

Landmark Public House

One of the first things we noticed inside were all of the odes to the neighborhood and to Boston on the walls and menu. Dorchester has such a neighborhood feel, especially in areas like Adams Village, and I am so glad they honored that when creating this space. It was filled with families, dates, people out after work. In uncertain times in the world, I am grateful for this little place we call home.

 

Landmark Public House

{Photo via Landmark Public House}

Landmark Public House

While we waited for our table, I ordered a delicious Gerard’s Old Fashioned, and we took in the cozy space and cheerful vibe of the restaurant. We quickly decided it would be a place we would want to spend more time, especially this winter when getting out will save our sanity.

Gerard's Old Fashioned

Not long after we ordered drinks, we were taken to our table by one of the very friendly staff members.

Landmark Public House

We had a hard time deciding on what to order as we were interested in just about everything, but once our decisions were made and shared with our lovely server, we were brought homemade chips and onion dip to snack on while we waited.

They certainly know the way to my heart! I am not one to go for a bread basket, but put chips and dip and a cocktail in front of me, and I don’t even need dinner. The pairing of the snack and Old Fashioned was like the perfect little cocktail party.

 homemade chips and dip

Because I am *trying* to be good (and because in the weeks after the Chicago Marathon I ate junk and drank way too much beer) I started with the Kale Salad with  roasted beets, quinoa, goat cheese, and citrus vinaigrette. Sometimes I find raw kale really tough, but the citrus dressing definitely softened it in this salad and added tons of flavor. It was a hefty portion, and with the goat cheese and quinoa could have been a meal in itself for me.

kale quinoa salad

And since I am not quite that healthy, I had to go for the Short Rib Grilled Cheese, the perfect fall or winter comfort food, and a sandwich I have been dreaming about since. Tender short rib and buttery sourdough. . . and pickles and fries. . . it really doesn’t get much better. I will dream about this sandwich on long runs going forward.

short rib grilled cheese   

We felt so comfy and relaxed that we lingered over another cocktail before heading home again. I am so excited to have yet another great Dorchester restaurant and that it seems to be very crowded from the get-go. Landmark Public House, welcome to the neighborhood!

 

 

For additional posts on Dorchester spots:

Dorchester Brewing Co. – A new favorite

Lower Mills Tavern

Boston Harbor Distillery

Chill on Park

Cafe Polonia

Lower Mills and Ashmont

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