Tag: portland

Are you as Cool as a Moose?

During my first few summers in Maine, I was in search of a simple piece of Maine apparel: a t-shirt or a sweatshirt that said “MAINE” in big letters on the front. My problem was solved when visiting the small store Cool as A Moose, known to some Mainers as CAAM. Here’s a trivia question for all you Mainers or want-to-be Mainers: which 4 towns in Maine (and there are only 4) have CAAM locations? Read to the bottom to find out!

Cool as A Moose locations are in towns that are quite touristy, yet have that unique, Maine charm. All of these places will definitely be featured in future posts. Their products are the all-in-one package for the Mainer or Maineiac: everything that you could possibly put the word “Maine” on. T-shirts, sweatshirts, lobster hats, water bottles, stickers, moose antlers; you name it, they have it. Although not as comprehensive, their online store has some of these products available to order. But like most places on this blog, you have to see it in person to believe it!

To learn more about Cool as A Moose, visit http://www.coolasamoose.com

One of the Cool as a Moose Locations.

One of the Cool as a Moose Locations in Maine.


Answer to the 4 locations of Cool as A Moose: Unscramble the following words:

prefero; patroldn; rab rahorb; bricksnuw

An Ode to Gelato Fiasco

I wanted to start this post with a piece of contemporary literature I wrote, written in a historical form.

Holy (sort of)* Sonnet 1: An Ode to Gelato Fiasco

By Benjy R.

In the heart of the Old Port it is located,

The red spoon stands tall.

For in this building Italy is created,

Its recipes never escaping the walls.

People flock from near and far,

To have a taste of this rich cream.

Mainers park their cars,

And purchase some frozen treats, excited they seem.

From cookies to chocolate and other toppings,

The gelato has been made fresh each day.

For some of the flavors may seem kind of shocking,

But the customers devour them, and go off on their merry way.

This Old Port haunt can be quite a fiasco.

Of course you can also eat al fresco.

*Although it (mostly) follows the rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet, it lacks iambic pentameter.

The Gelato Fiasco has long been one of my favorite places in Maine. But before we start, let’s get our gelato facts straight. According to Instant Portland’s article The Gelato Wars, “Gelato is not simply “Italian Ice Cream”. It is a frozen treat which shares common ingredients with ice cream, but which typically has a much lower percentage of butterfat and a higher percentage of sugar than American ice cream. It is denser, smoother, and often more flavorful than its more familiar counterpart.” Well said.

Gelato Fiasco (known to Mainers as simply Fiasco) has 2 locations: their flagship store on Maine Street (clever, right?) in Brunswick, and one on Fore Street in the Old Port. I have regrettably only been to the one in the Old Port, but I am planning to make a spiritual pilgrimage to this holy site. When entering the store, you are greeted by Maine goodness. Let me explain. Fiasco’s gelato is not “health food”. However, founders Josh and Bruno (known as Gelatieri) had a vision to bring Italy’s creation and combining it with fresh Maine ingredients. They explain: “We source 100% of our whole milk and cream from Maine dairy farms.” Of course, they use fresh Maine “wild blueberries from down the coast”. Now let’s look at one of my favorite flavors (out of over 1500 ever made) from this local haunt. Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp Gelato. Let’s break it down into its components: Milk from Maine dairy farms, homemade oat streusel (as usual, made fresh daily) and fresh blueberries from Down East. What more Maine goodness could you possibly want?

Gelato Fiasco’s Old Port location.

 

Fiasco’s staff are also very “nice” (and they’re working crazy store hours of 11am-11pm). In order to illustrate this, let’s look at example 2: The Waffle Cone. Now when people go to Gelato Fiasco, I highly recommend that they order their treat in a waffle cone; it’s totally worth the extra $1 or $2. I strolled into the store this past summer, and was disappointed to learn that no waffle cones were left. (You see, they make their waffle cones fresh in some complex piece of machinery, with waffle batter.) They said to come back in 20 minutes, and sure enough, the waffle cones were ready. I had already had my gelato, but I gladly accepted the waffle cone for consumption on its own. That’s how good they are.

Gelato Fiasco’s Waffle Cone.

As you have read in the “About” section of this blog, I live in New York. When I left Maine this past summer, I was worried that indulging in such a treat would be a challenge, and would leave me constantly craving Fiasco. Problem solved, thanks to Fiasco’s hand-packed pints sold in a grocery store near me. That’s right. Hand packed in Brunswick, Maine, and brought right to my kitchen. Since this life-changing discovery, I have been able to keep the Maine spirit alive by having Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp Gelato and Strawberry Balsamic Sorbetto (another one of my recommended flavors) in my home. Well done, Fiasco. (You can also order pints through their new delivery service, where dry ice is used to keep the gelato and sorbetto frozen.)

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Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp Gelato, pint-sized.

 

A few days ago, I sent a message to a few Mainer friends, saying that I acquired new gelato from the grocery store. One of them (who actually lives over an hour away from the nearest Fiasco) responded back saying, “I was just at Gelato Fiasco actually!!” And we conversed about their latest creations, which is basically what all of our conversations boil down to. See? Gelato Fiasco induces unity between Mainers and Non-Mainers.

You’re probably tired at the end of reading these 709 words that this post has turned out to be. You’ll hear more about Fiasco in future posts. But now I wanted to leave you with a quote by its founders Josh and Bruno.

“Food and service should not be a static experience. We explore tastes, people, and culture with a spirit of discovery and within the parameters of the pursuit of excellence.”

Well said, Fiasco. Well said.


To learn more about The Gelato Fiasco, visit their website at http://www.gelatofiasco.com, or watch this YouTube video below.

All photos in this post (as with most of them on this blog) are taken by me.

The Old Port: A Peek into Portland’s Past

I thought I would start this post with a brief lexicon for non-Mainers.

Portland – the largest city in Maine. An active shipping port for lobster, hence the name. (Oh, and did I mention that it’s on land?)

The Old Port – a district of Portland, Maine, known for its cobblestone streets, 19th century brick buildings and fishing piers. (Source: Wikipedia).

That’s all you need to know for now. So let’s dive into why this small area has become one of my favorite places in Maine.

I like lists. So I’m going to list the top 10 reasons why The Old Port is the best place to visit in Maine. (Reference to The Late Show with David Letterman.)

  1. You get to walk around feeling like you’re in the 1800s. How cool is that?
  2. Let’s go back for a second. You can walk. No need for Uber (although there is Uber in Portland), just your own two feet.
  3. You can take a ferry and explore islands such as Peaks Island and Great Diamond Island.
  4. There’s a crazy festival at the beginning of June where you can savor food, enjoy live music, and even ride a ferris wheel.
  5. There’s hibachi and sushi at Fuji Restaurant. And it’s pretty darn good.
  6. It’s the perfect stop on the way to Freeport, Brunswick, or Acadia. Or if you’re stopping on your journey south, you can have a bite to eat before heading towards Kennebunk and Kittery.
  7. There’s Cool As A Moose, one of 4 locations in Maine. What are the other 3, you may ask? Well, there’s Brunswick, Freeport, and Bar Harbor. (Good trivia question, by the way). I’ve had the privilege to visit 3 of them – Brunswick is still on my to do list. And of course, there’s a Life is Good shop as well, because who dares to despise a store with the main focus of happiness?
  8. There’s the Flatbread Company, which is known for their thinly-crusted goodness.
  9. It’s the home of the Portland Sea Dogs, at Hadlock Field. Enough said.
  10. There’s not one gelato place, but two. (Read more about the “Gelato Wars” here.) For the past couple years, Gelato Fiasco (my personal favorite – more on this to come in a future post) has risen to become a gelato superpower, extending their empire from their flagship store in Brunswick. There’s also Gorgeous Gelato, if you want to sample more than one serving of this Italian treat. (I once told a friend who was visiting Portland to head to Gelato Fiasco as a must-visit place. Sure enough, they stopped at Gorgeous Gelato and settled for their frozen delicacy. We spent the next few months recreating the “Gelato Wars,” basing our arguments on articles like the one above.)

 

The greatness that these 21.31 square miles of land has cannot be contained in a single blog post. So, there will definitely be more of the different attractions in this classic Maine city!

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Cool As A Moose in Portland.

Maine’s soup is souperb

In a meal one usually starts with the soup, so I decided to start this series of posts with the soup as well. Kamasouptra. In a quest to make Maine the “soup capital of the world”, this small business has developed quite the varied collection of steamy, hot soups. Their locations are spread out between the Maine Mall in South Portland, The Old Port, and the Freeport Public Market. I’ve had the good fortune to visit all three locations, and experience my personal favorite: the Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Soup. No, I didn’t make a typo; it’s actually called the soup soup, for who knows why. But the thing that stands out most to me about this soup establishment is the giant roll of whole wheat bread that comes with each cup of soup. It’s actually sometimes bigger than the cup!

So next time you’re in Portland or Freeport, give Kamasouptra a try in your quest of bowling for soup. I think it will come to you as a strike, and may be right up your alley!

(Yes, I know, too many soup puns.)

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