I'm about to tell you something that I bet you never would have guessed....food is my life. I'm sure you're totally blown away by that statement...I mean, who would have guessed? Me into food? Never! My food obsession began at an early age, but my obsession has never just been eating, it's also been about the quality of food. I can remember being a little girl and my Mom taking my sister and I to visit the dairy farm where we got our milk, or should I say, where our milk and cream was delivered from, in glass bottles, on our porch, around 5:30AM every other morning (it was like Christmas every single time!). I've also mentioned before how my family used to own a health food store, and, of course, you all know by now about my Grandfather's incredible garden as well as our own garden here in Brooklyn (#weirdnewyorkerswhoactuallygarden). From a young age, I have always cared about the quality of foods I eat and purchase, as well as where they're from. I'm not alone in these feelings, either. FreshDirect, a local New York grocery delivery company, travels far and wide to find the freshest of foods and then delivers them directly to your door. They recently went on a sourcing trip to Maine to visit a few of their vendors (one for lobster, one for tomatoes) and, of course, when they invited me to come along on #FDLobsterVacay, I couldn't say yes fast enough (Ummm hello! Maine and lobster and food ARE life!). Knowing where the food you buy comes from is one thing, but actually seeing where it comes from, seeing the people who make it all happen, seeing the dedication, the drive, the passion, it's a pretty awe-inspiring experience. I left the trip feeling grateful that I got to be a part of such an awesome, fun adventure, but also with a better understanding of what it really takes to get food from source to plate. Now, when I go to buy a piece of food, I don't just check the price tag or see how it looks. I think about the well-trained people behind it, the people who have jobs because of it, the nurturing that went into, the time that went into it, the carefully planned process that went into it, all to ensure that the end result is of the highest quality. It's truly remarkable!
For those of you who aren't snappers (aka following me on Snapchat @runwaychef), you can watch this quick video for some more behind-the-scenes footage from our trip. Then, keep scrolling to see all the photos and read more details about everything that we did.
After an early flight, our first stop was in Portland at the Standard Baking Co. to pick up breakfast treats and coffee for the drive to Ogunquit. Everything looked and smelled incredible, but, being in Maine, I couldn't resist getting the blueberry scone. It was, as they say up north, wicked good, which is evidenced by the fact that I ate it too quickly to even grab a picture!
Once in Ogunquit, we headed out on the seas for a little lobstering. Our tour guide was one knowledgable lady when it came to all things lobster. I learned so many interesting facts (like how to tell the difference between a male and female lobster) but unfortunately my sea legs aren't the strongest so I spent much of the boat ride trying to retain my dizziness (don't let the picture below fool you...I was struggling) instead of retaining lobster facts.
My new friend, and by friend I mean my dinner!
Hauling in the lobster traps
A sea urchin, surprisingly not as prickly to hold as it appears it would be
A female lobster and her eggs
For lunch, we stopped at Stones Throw. We ordered the Chedda-Chips and the Herby-Chips to start (both of which were delicious), as well as steamers and mussels. Of course no lobster trip would be complete without lots of lobster rolls!
However, I couldn't resist this lobster flatbread. It definitely didn't disappoint! Grab a glass of the sangria while you're at it for the perfect pairing.
After lunch, we headed out to the Maine Coast Company, an international seafood distributor specializing in Maine lobsters.
For those of you who follow me on Snapchat (or watched the video up above), you probably saw the crates upon crates upon crates of lobster. Those crates can hold up 150,000 pounds of lobster! If you're thinking that that is a lot of delicious lobster rolls, than you're thinking what I'm thinking!
The lobsters get packed up in boxes that look similar to a wine box (with compartments for each lobster). Once they're packaged, the lobsters are then shipped off to destinations all over the country and the world (China is a big buyer of Maine lobsters...who knew?!).
From the sea we headed to the farm to pick up some fresh produce for dinner. A quick stop at our B&B to freshen up, and, in my case, snap this serene view from my bedroom.
The 'Maine' event at our lobster bake dinner, straight from Maine Coast Company...talk about fresh!
Time to dig in!
Such an unbelievably fresh and tasty feast with so many fun new foodie friends!
Couldn't resist another snap of this gorgeous view before venturing into the heart of Maine for day two of #FDLobsterVacay
After driving about 2 hours, we arrived in Madison at Backyard Farms, where they grow thousands upon thousands of tomatoes.
What a cool spot! Quality and a genuine passion for tomatoes is truly at the heart of everything they do, from the planting (they have personal gardeners who are each responsible for their own 10 rows) to the growing (they use an integrated pest management system to organically promote healthy plants) to the picking to the packing to the way they care for their employees to their involvement in the community to their sustainability practices. Do yourself a favor and check our their site and then go buy yourself some Backyard Farms tomatoes.
All good things must come to an end, yes, even lobster vacays. But if you have to end things, you might as well end them at a brewery. I mean, where else can you drink away your sorrows that you will no longer be eating lobster every day (or the fact that your flight home gets cancelled)?! So after the tomato farm, we made our way back to Portland to check out Allagash Brewery.
We drank, we toured, we drank, we learned...and then we maybe drank a little bit more! When in Rome, er when at a brewery...
Allagash has such an amazing culture and atmosphere with so many smart and friendly people working to bring the tasty brews to fruition. It was great getting to go behind the scenes and learn so much about how they operate.
FYI, this Coolship Cerise brew was kind of everything. I mean, do you see that color?? And the tart cherry flavor (they use 100 pounds of cherries per oak barrel) was beyond delish! Also, how can you go wrong with a brew that literally has the word ‘cool’ in it?! (You can read all about the coolship brewing process on their site.)
Parting is such sweet sorrow. Ok well, we did have cancelled flights that led us to a 5 hour bus ride home (that's another story for another day), so maybe, in this case, we will say parting is bittersweet...
Thanks for the phenomenal experience and marvelous lobster vacay, FreshDirect!