By Warren Woodberry Jr.
Foodies from near and far came to feast in Portland, Maine recently for the 8th Annual ‘Harvest on the Harbor’ to sample delightful dishes like BBQ pulled pork, and locally brewed whisky.
‘Harvest on the Harbor’ in October delivered an exceptional experience that celebrated Maine’s talented chefs and myriad of delectable dining establishments, while showcasing authentic and gourmet products from local farmers, fishermen, and food artisans, along with wine, beer and spirit makers. At the Convention + Visitors Bureau’s toast to Maine’s culinary arts, it featured delectably delicious culinary creations from Maine’s top chefs and producers took pride in presenting products that are locally grown and responsibly harvested.
Each year this event aims to make Maine a popular culinary destination, and this year it did drawing people from as far as San Francisco, South Carolina and even Europe. Harvest on the Harbor has grown to be one of the top seafood and wine festivals in North America and has drawn over 4,000 food and wine enthusiasts representing a brand-loyal consumer base.
Maine has long been renowned for its succulent lobster and impeccably fresh seafood, but add a twist and a little spice here and there and you have something totally different from what your taste buds are used to. With more than 250 restaurants in the Greater Portland area, and Maine home to more than 20 different breweries producing more than 100 beers, ales, and lagers a variety of cuisines and beverages were offered by superb chefs. Harvest was a one-stop shop representing the best of Maine.
This year’s Harvest was extended to 5 days at a few additional venues. Most events cost about $50 to get in with some as high as $150. Special VIP packages are just under $500.
Harvest benefited Good Shepherd Food Bank in its mission to eliminate hunger in Maine by sourcing and distributing nutritious food to people in need, building strong community partnerships, and mobilizing the public in the fight to end hunger.
The highlight event of the Harvest was ‘The Stage Dinner’ in which food-savvy travelers experienced an unforgettable evening on the stage at Merrill Auditorium alongside the world-renowned Kotzschmar Organ as leading chefs revealed their creative approach to their renowned cuisine. This exclusive dining experience, offered a locally sourced six course meal prepared by amazingly talented chefs, expertly paired with wines. Sommelier Erica Archer from Wine Wise Events shared her vast knowledge of some of the world’s most distinguished wines as diners’ palates rejoiced with the complementing pairings.
‘Taste of the 8 regions of Maine’ took foodies and their senses on a culinary journey while meandering through the historic 58 Fore The Portland Company at either of two identical sessions of the Maine Marketplace. This year’s Marketplace was bigger and better than before – moving to the east side of the complex where expansive rooms and ample space accommodated all eight regions of Maine. This epic food & beverage experience was a treat to the eyes and taste buds alike. Diners explored delectable eats unique to each of the eight regions of Maine, met ambassadors and learned the unique history and stories embedded within each part of the state.
The ‘Rock ‘N Roast’ kept summer going around a fire for a pig roast as chefs showed off their mastery of the open fire cuisine! Tasters washed roasts down with beverages of their choice with samples from a large assortment of beer, cider and spirits. With an expansive amount of finger lickin’ BBQ and alternative green options prepared by Portland’s finest, and the best brews, ciders and wines around, ‘Rock ‘N Roast’ made for a smokin’ hot afternoon. Chef dishes had the honor of being judged by Chefs Shannon Bard and Elliott Farmer, both of Food Network’s ‘Cutthroat Kitchen’.The ‘Beer and Whiskey Crawl’ allowed attendees to indulge in Portland’s local craft brews and whiskey with a group of enthusiasts and fun seekers. Rising Tide Brewing Company and Maine Craft Distilling offered guests an interactive, sampling and microbrew experience that left everyone in good spirits. There was a tour that introduced the brewing process, followed by flights and farm to flask cocktails.
If you’re a food lover, you’d want to make it to next year’s ‘Harvest on the Harbor’. Don’t worry If you do and happen to feel guilty, with the sudden urge to burn calories, when you can walk off the pounds by the hitting area trails, shopping, sightseeing tours, and historic museums and homes.
While visiting Portland, attendees were encouraged to take a stroll on cobblestone streets as the fresh salt air blows in from the rocky coastline of neighboring Casco Bay. Locals are quick to share their knowledge of the area, recommend places for sightseeing – and most of all places to eat!
‘Harvest on the Harbor’ is funded through local, regional, and national sponsorships. For more information on next year’s plans visit www.harvestontheharbor.com.
Missed Harvest on the Harbor? Sample Still the Distinctive Tastes of New England
Seafood is synonymous with New England, but if you’ve had your full on contemporary dishes, then spice things up some South of the Border flavor at Zapoteca Restaurant.
This stylish, contemporary Mexican eatery/lounge stocks a wide selection of tequila, mescal & wine are to delight those looking for something off the traditional trail.
Chef Shannon Bard is dedicated to offering authentic, seasonally influenced Mexican dishes with bold, modern flair. Zapoteca’s menu has a strong Oaxacan influence and is comprised of unique, wood fired dishes with bold, authentic flavors that one is likely to find anywhere else in New England.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Shannon and her family would sit together and enjoy large meals prepared by her grandmother who owned a Mexican restaurant. Shannon would join her grandmother in the kitchen and spend hours making vibrantly flavored meals prepared from scratch.
Meanwhile, her father and grandfather, both small farmers, imparted lessons on seasonal produce and the hard work and dedication farmers put into each and every crop.
These early influences, inspired Shannon to create the dishes she serves today such as Ceviche De Langosta, steamed Maine lobster with grapefruit, lime, sweet red onion, mango & guava or Ancho Filet con Champiñones, a beef filet with aromatic mushrooms, ancho chipotle sauce & queso blanco with sautéed squash & rustic garlic chipotle mashed potatoes paired with wine from Malbec, Argentina.
Ready to visit – and eat?
Address: 505 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101| Phone: 207-772-8242 | www.zapotecarestaurant.com
Holiday Inn By The Bay Portland
Want to be close to it all in Portland? Then consider staying at the Holiday Inn By The Bay Portland when visiting.
This modern hotel is just a 3-minute walk from the 536 Congress & Front of Art School bus stop, a 4-minute walk from the Portland Museum of Art and 5 miles from the Allagash Brewing Company.
The Inn’s upscale rooms come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with cable channels, and work desks and chairs so you don;t have to miss a beat when away from the office. Rooms also include tea and coffeemakers and many of them overlook Casco Bay! Upgraded rooms add separate living rooms with sofas and tables for a more homey environment.
The hotel also features an upscale restaurant that specializes in – what else – seafood, as well as a bar and lounge. Other amenities include an exercise room, a sauna and indoor pool, plus a business center. It’s an ideal for housing business conferences and the wait staff is quite accommodating. There is also a free shuttle to area transportation hubs.
Address: 88 Spring St, Portland, ME 04101 | Phone: 207-775-2311