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New England Road Trip - Be Our Guide?

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We're from Oregon, and making our first tour of New England (part of a Peace Corps reunion group). We've been looking over the board for suggestions and it seems much of the information on places we are going is somewhat dated. We don't know if we should trust posts going back two or three years -- we know how things change quickly out here.

What can you teach us about eating local in the small towns? I am a food writer (cookbooks) interested in local products. Portland, Oregon, where we live, is very focused on shopping locally. The occasional upscale is fine but we really like the idea of everything from those funky diners (we don't have out here to finding the best Vermont cheeses. We are, alas, a bit selective on wine and probably won't go with the berry things we see made in NE wineries -- so are there good wine shops on our route where we can pick up California, Oregon, Washington and/or European wines? If you love wine, tell us where to meet you for a glass -- I've already found Meritage wine bar in Portland, where we are staying one night.

We will be spending several days in Boston (I'll ask there separately) then head up the coast of Maine to Portland, and then around Bar Harbor or Winter Harbor. (Note: One big drawback is a shellfish allergy here.) Any recent food finds -- that bread at the Farmer's Market, cafe that changed hands, old favorite?

Or for the towns on the Skowhegan, Bethel and Franconia/St. Johnsbury route the next day?

Then through Montpelier, Woodstock to visit friends, Rutland, Bennington, Lenox?

Hartford, the Connecticut coast, Narragansett?

Cape Cod and Provincetown?

Finally Providence, maybe (is that worth a night?).

We've never been to your home and we are very excited about seeing as much as possible, and eating well. Any suggestions on the best towns to sleep on that route also welcome - one needs a good breakfast place to walk to. We are not young, we are not interested in spending $200+ a night for the grand lodges when we will be in and out, but we are adventurous.

Your thoughts are very much appreciated; while visiting we promise to be good guests, share our best Oregon and Washington wine tips, and cheer for the Sox!

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  1. A huge query!
    I can steer you to the Plymouth Cheese Factory, Plymouth Vermont, almost next to Woodstock. Even better is the Crowley cheese factory on Healdville road in Mount Holly. Check the hours for the factory. The store on rte 103 has the cheese but is not as interesting as the factory.
    Shellfish allergy and Narragansett is a tragic combination.
    Providence is worth a night - plenty of fervent, recent posts.
    What I do if an interesting post about an out of the way spot seems old is google the place to try to learn if it is still there.
    I think New Haven style pizza is worth a journey - There are places along the coast east of New Haven almost as good as without the lines. One is Grand Apizza in Clinton. Stonington is a great little place to stay and walk around in but I do not know if the right breakfast is to be had there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: atheorist

      In Cape Cod, if you are meat eaters, there's no place better than Brazilian Grill in Hyannis. Was there last week on vacation and wonderful as usual - they do rodijuos - brazilian barbecue - which if you're not familiar with, and are big eaters like we are, is quite a treat. Something for everyone.

      In Connecticut, New Haven pizza is a must - try the Spot - right next door to Pepe's - same owners, but lesser known and the pies are better. If you're willing to travel half an hour north, visit Carole Peck's Good News Cafe in Woodbury (stop by my house and say hello now) - she's rated as one of the best chefs in the country. www.good-news-cafe.com. Have a wonderful trip!

    2. Some wonderful farmers' markets in Bennington County, heading north towards Rutland are the Manchester Farmers market, Thursdays from 3-6pm www.manchestermarket.org and the Dorset Farmers' Market, Sundays from 10am-2pm. www.dorsetfarmersmarket.com

      In Rutland, there's one on Saturday mornings, 9am - 2pm downtown in the Walmart parking lot. And in Londonderry, there's one on Saturday mornings, 9am - 1pm. Those are the big ones in the Bennington/Rutland area.

      For more, see this state's listing at http://www.vermontagriculture.com/far....

      1. You might explore the Dept of Agriculture websites for each state. There are some locally grown meats. I remember a news story about a farm near Portsmouth NH that is set up to allow people to slaughter the animal they have just purchased. Sorry, can't remember details but certain ethnic/religious groups have strict rules about when and how an animal is slaughtered. Small scale agriculture is encouraged in NH. Buffalo, deer, etc are raised here. You'll find goat cheese here but VT is the winner for cheese.
        We went to a wonderful farmers market in Brunswick ME last summer. The bread and pastries were wonderful. If strawberries are in season, buy fresh biscuits for strawberry shortcake. We also bought some mushrooms. One place had great herb plants esp some unusual varieties. A couple of people were selling prepared ethnic foods. You might try the locally made ice cream. Concord NH has several places but it's an hour south of Franconia.
        In Boston, make sure to take Michelle Topor's culinary tour of Boston's North End. The pushcart vendors are in Haymarket Sq on Fridays and Saturdays. (Adjacent to Quincy Market and then a short walk to the North End)
        The Cellar Door Winery in Lincolnville ME (just north of Camden on your way to Bar Harbor) makes wine with grapes they grow. We enjoy their wines but we're not connoiseurs. They also grow their own grapes at Flagg Hill Winery in Lee NH (not far from Portsmouth NH on your way to Maine) and they also make their own vodka - General John Stark Vodka from grain and apples (it is not apple flavored but I detect a subtle apple fragrance) Find out how a family keeps their former dairy farm productive when dairying is no longer financially viable.
        Stop for lunch at Just Barb's in Stockton on Rt 1 (before you get to Ellsworth on your way to Bar Harbor). Sorry you can't enjoy a lobster roll but make sure you have a piece of pie. This is a locals' spot.
        Check out King Arthur Flour in VT for unusual baking ingredients and specialty flours. Polly's Pancake Parlor near Franconia is an institution.
        Providence is an expensive place to sleep. You might visit Federal Hill, their Italian section. Possibly you would be interested in the culinary museum at Johnson & Wales. You will need a student guide. Mostly a collection of old stoves with interesting stories but there are also some unusual things like busts carved from beef tallow. It's cheaper to stay in Seekonk or Warwick.
        When are you visiting? A small nature museum near Mystic CT holds a wild mushroom festival around the 3rd weekend in Sept.
        Sounds like a great trip. Hope you do a trip report.

        1. One idea may be the CT wine trail-- grapes, not berries! This takes you through many lovely and rustic areas of CT, charming farms and beautiful farmland. The eastern trail also follows much of the CT coast, which is lovely. Their website provides links to maps, accomodations, etc..

          http://www.ctwine.com/index.html

          1. i am a native oregonian living in providence- so welcome! i miss portland very very much.

            i think that providence is worth a night. in terms of wine- the providence oyster bar (don't worry, plenty of non-shellfish options!) is fantastic. it carries sokol blosser pinot gris which i find to be delicious, and any sokol blosser is hard to find. la laiterie (http://lalaiterie.farmsteadinc.com) would also be a fantastic option- fresh local cheeses and seasonally influenced foods. it doesn't seem that they have oregon wines on their menu- but it is the type of place where you could probably strike up a conversation with the owner and convince him to offer some of the northwests best!

            if you are here for breakfast, go to nick's on broadway or julians for the best brunch around- nick's especially has a "funky diner" feel.

            i hope you make it to providence- and enjoy the rest of your trip!

            p.s. are your cookbooks oregon related? i would love to check them out...

            1 Reply
            1. re: tomatosoup

              Have lived along the Main coast for 20 yrs. In Portland(the real one), try Susan's(Suzie's?) Fish'nChips on North Forrest Ave. off I295. In Rockland, for breakfast or lunch, The Rockland Cafe; dinner Conte's is a trip, Italian seafood and funky atmosphere, split an entre and still have trouble finishing it, also excellent are Miranda's and Amalfi's. Ditto on Just Barb's. In East Orland , Duffy's(like Barb's) in East Orland and stop by WERU radio station(really!). Ellsworth has better dining than Bar Harbor for a more reasonable price, I feel. Bar Harbor is a tourist trap but beautiful(I work as a sea kayak guide there.). Back to Ellsworth, Cleonice is great for lunch or dinner (tapas bar), ditto for Riverside Cafe (great breakfast's too) Jordan's Snack Bar is not to be missed. Just north of Ellsworth the most scenic "Lobster Pound" I know is Reversing Falls Lobster Pound in Hancock(nonshellfish available) and a little further north Bartlett's Estate Winery is well worth the effort. Oh, Yes Helen's for pie and Finelli's for really great award winning pizza.
              In Bah Habah (yuck), locals go to The Thirsty Whale(best food value in town), and DeMurro's Poor Boy. The best, I feel, is the Burning Tree, on Rt 3, heading toward Otter Creek. On the quite side of the island, in Southwest Harbor, The Cozy Cove is where the locals go for break. and lunch. and Beal's Lobster Pound is a trip.
              In Skowhegan, try the Riverside(?) overlooking(overhanging) the Kennebec River; dramatic.
              I'm sure I've left stuff out if you want more, give me your email and I can give more.
              Oh yes, Five Islands Lobster Pound, south of Bath and Wasse's hot dogs in Rockland and Belfast(worth a stop). Go to hollyeats.com and check out the New England site.

              Wicked gud eaten Cappy,
              Mark