After a week of what I think was the flu, I rallied myself to take the hubby, dingo and myself on a 24 hour get-away to our favorite spot in Maine – Inn by the Sea.
We love this spot about 15 minutes outside Old Port – Portland Maine (this was our third visit). We have a bit of a routine, leave the house around 11 and be in Old Port for lunch. We hit up another favorite Mash Tun for a quick lunch (cozy, quiet and right in Old Port). Great sandwiches and fries with a full list of craft brews (also has a full bar if you need it). No frills, just good food and booze. We have also dined/drank at Novare Res Bier Cafe in the past, but was too busy this round, but again visit them as they are great (warm, dark bar with a HUGE list of craft brews with all sorts of odd and interesting varieties – also has an outside patio in the summer).
We also stopped at our two favorite stores: Le Roux and Fish & Bone. Both of these spots are DINGO FRIENDLY so she can shop with us and take a walk around Old Port. If you are chef, foodies or just love kitchen stuff Le Roux will be a dream land (hold onto your wallets people). Fish and Bone also has a store in Boston on Newbury Street that Ginger and I would frequent when we were living in Beacon Hill. Ginger picked out a HUGE fox toy that is now her new baby and a stuffed lobster for her fur-friend Pippa.
See all the links below, be sure to hit up these spots. Also, I had to pop into Holy Donut and purchase a few sweet treats that I safely tucked away in my purse for the next morning (and/or maybe an afternoon snack). Coffee and donut with a sea view is the best!
We arrived at the Inn just in time for a sun-set walk on the beach and cocktail hour at the bar (again all dog friendly – beach only in the winter). The place is always immaculate and the view from the room is amazing. The suites are huge, two levels with a small juliet balcony facing the ocean. There are also kitchenettes and big bright bathrooms. Turn-down service (with treats for you and your furry friends). All the details are thought of, the staff is great and we always appreciate our stay. The fire pit was going and we had a nice quiet evening just hanging out at the Inn. We usually try to visit around Christmas since they do such a beautiful job decorating. Each time we visit we are amazed at the details from the little lobster door signs to the personlized notes and overall sense of feeling welcomed.
Check out some more photos on IG.
We’ve had some rough meals at Sea Glass so my only recommendation is to find food at other locations or get some take out delivered. Our meal with VERY expensive, underwhelming and service was very slow. We would still always go back to the Inn for all its other wonderful qualities but next time I am ordering take out and never leaving my perfect suite. It was a great 24 hour get away – we need to do more of this!
Instead of having another expensive and so-so meal at the Inn we went back into Old Port for brunch at East Ender. It’s right next to Duck Fat (another great place, but we’ve been there, they don’t take reservations and East Ender is WAY better). Can I just say the Eggs in Purgatory was beyond AMAZING. The fries with the hubby’s burger….pure crunchy yet soft bliss. I wish this place was closer because I would be here everyday for that egg dish. They take reservations, the decor is unique, the staff is on-pointe and the food is outstanding – any chance they want to open one on the North Shore of Boston? Please do yourself a favor and add East Ender to your food list in Portland. I am pretty sure I could eat every item on the menu…but those EGGS!
So after 24 hours of eating and drinking its time to get back to basics of real food that is tasty yet not loaded calories and crap.
So a friend of the Hubby’s is on a great new years resolution kick to get in more clean protein (mostly chicken breasts) and asks for some ideas to make this kinda blah food staple into something a little more yummy. Focused on clean eating and good stuff I told him to stay away from bottled marinades because most of them are full of sugar and other crap. Here are some ideas if you are trying to amp up flavor but not add calories, sugar or too much salt:
OHH – side note: I find that grilling is a prime way to cook most of the spiced/marinaded meats but otherwise a quick pan fry (with just a dash of your favorite healthy oil like coconut oil or olive oil…a little goes a long way don’t ruin all your hard work with too much oil) works well. Don’t over cook the meat you will lose all the flavors and make dry & tough.
Put all your meat into a plastic bag or large container to make sure it’s all sitting in the liquid. Be sure to leave for at least 60 minutes or even overnight in the fridge (be sure to flip your bags or do a stir every once and awhile). I do sometimes add some olive oil or coconut milk to the rubs/marinades if they are dry cuts of meat but not required. You can also put them in a small bowl together and then dust them over the meat if preferred before chilling and grilling.
Make sure to have on hand: refresh citrus (lime, lemon and oranges), fresh ginger – peel and grate (powdered ginger will do but the fresh stuff is so good), fresh herbs (if you can get them – but jarred or dry will work well).
For citrus you can also just slice up the fruit and put into the bags/bowls with the meat to get more intense flavor and remove before cooking. It also looks pretty as its marinating!
So go load up in the spice aisle and let’s see what’s grill’n
SPICE RUBS / MARINADES:
Lemon & Pepper: squeeze one lemon and some zest and lots of fresh cracked pepper (with a little bit of salt for good measure)
“Greek”: 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of each: oregano, thyme and garlic (optional – some basil…but not too much) – Salt & Pepper
Southwest: 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/2 of a lime – Salt & Pepper
Caribbean: 1 orange squeezed, a dash of curry power (DO NOT over do it), a dash of garlic, chili and cumin with 1 lime (some coconut milk goes great for this to marinade overnight) – Salt & Pepper
Asian: Low Sodium soy sauce, garlic and ginger – don’t over do the soy sauce, a little goes a long way and you want the spices to sign not the soy (a small dash of sesame oil or chili oil is also great with this)
Spicy: Tumeric, ginger and garlic (option to add some Cayenne). Salt & Pepper . This is lovely dusted on tofu and baked, then put over peanut sauce noodles, carrot ginger soup or a curry both.
“French” : 1/2 of a lemon, 1 tablespoon of rosemary, thyme and a few dashes of tarragon and garlic – Salt & Pepper
Stir Fry – perfect to meal prep and marinade over night for chicken (I prefer chicken thighs): 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 1 garlic clove micro-plained or very finely chopped, 1 inch of ginger micro-plained, a few dashes of fish sauce, 1/2 of a lime , 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. I pre-chop the chicken into bite sizes and then marinade. I also pre-cut my veggies and set aside in another bowl (usually snow peas, red bell peppers and 1/2 an onion) and then can whip everything together night of dinner with some frozen Trader Joes brown rice and TA-DA DINNER! Option to top with some sesame seeds and scallions.
“Indian”: 1/2 tablespoon of garam masala spice blend, a few dashes of tumeric, ginger and garlic (again, great dusted on tofu or bake or over chicken wings/thighs with a lovely herbed yogurt sauce on the side for dipping). This does well with some coconut milk to marinade overnight.
Also, as you amp up all this flavor be sure to use good quality salt & pepper. I highly recommend pink Himalayan salt (here it is with some fresh homegrown dried lavender that I made for a friend. I also did my own savory herby salt mix with dried thyme, sage, rosemary (2 kinds), tarragon and oregano that I seem to put on everything! I made these salt mixtures as gifts this year for the holidays – they were a big hit! Homemade gifts are the best! I put little baggies together with infused vodka and homemade vanilla extract.
Also taste your food as you are cooking and salt SLOWLY. You can always add more (it’s hard to take salt out). I tend to add towards the end of a dishes preparation so as not to overwhelm everything.
Tip – if you are using soy sauce in anything you DO NOT need salt (even the low sodium version has plenty).
So enjoy this post about Sea, Spices and Salt and go prep some good spicy meals to tide you over for winter.