5 Questions with Pamela Laskey of Maine Food Tours
We asked the owner of Maine Food Tours to tell us where to eat when we travel to Bar Harbor, Kennebunkport and Portland. See what she said.
Pamela Laskey owns Maine Foodie Tours, now in its fifth season in Maine. Her former career was in academic publishing and academia, she still enjoys teaching but in a more tasty and entertaining way. Her goal is to showcase Maine's talent and entrepreneurial spirit while providing a host of valuable tips for guests to enjoy their vacations in Maine. We sat down to ask her five questions and here is what happened...
1. What foods is Maine known for?
First and foremost, lobster! Maine's waters produce the best lobster in the world and our talented chefs love to showcase the sweet, buttery meat. Maine produces 99% of the country's wild blueberries (small, sweet, and packed with flavor) and is full of small-scale organic farms, producing beautiful fruits and vegetables.
2. Tell us about the different areas where you host food tours.
Portland is Maine's largest city and was voted "foodiest small town in America" by Bon Appetit magazine in 2009. It has as many restaurants per capita as San Francisco and is known for its small-town charm, with a big-city feel. This waterfront city is small and walkable, but packed with talented chefs producing great food and drink.
Kennebunkport is a small, waterfront village, quaint and stately, but becoming known for its nationally renowned chefs, gourmet catering companies, craft brewers and award winning food artisans.
Bar Harbor is in Down East Maine outside of Acadia National Park, in an area where sailors have long since made their living pulling fresh seafood from the water. Local purveyors make the most of fresh ingredients in this small but thriving food scene.
3. Mmmm....Maine seafood. What do we need to know?
Maine lobster is always the first seafood visitors think of, but Maine also produces many varieties of oysters, as well as mussels, and local fish like cod and haddock.
The once-humble lobster roll has gotten a gourmet makeover, at places like Eventide Oyster Co., a hip New England-style raw bar that serves fresh lobster meat with brown butter on steamed bun. A visit to Maine is not complete with out some steamed lobster, local oysters on the halfshell or beautifully prepared fish dish.
4. Which Maine chefs should we watch?
New Portland chefs Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez have been creating a stir with the great food they serve at the casual Blue Rooster Food Co. The Rooster serves creative comfort food like tater tot poutine, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and lobster bahn mis. Chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley have taken over Hugo's from their mentor and former chef/owner Rob Evans and have taken his avant-garde approach and run with it.
Chef Krista Kern Desjarlais closed up her popular fine dining restaurant Bresca in Portland to open up the Snack Shack on Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester (about an hour north of Portland). She puts a local spin on barbecue classics like hamburgers and sandwiches, while demonstrating her superb pastry skills with pies, tarts, and other sweet treats.
5. Are there any food events that we should plan our trip around?
Summer in Maine is one big food event! But the First Friday Art Walks in Portland are a great way to enjoy the city.
Businesses stay open late, local art and craft vendors set up tables on the street, and food trucks cluster outside vintage mecca Portland Flea-for-All.
The Saturday Portland Farmers' Market in Deering Oaks Park is a great way to see all the great local food Maine has to offer.
And of course, there's always a Maine Foodie Tour to show you all the culinary hot spots!