A culinary journey through the Pine Tree State
No matter what your age, interests or desires, it's certain you'll be charmed by a visit to Maine. Perhaps it will be the many attractions of the state's rocky Atlantic coast that entice you, whether sailing, whale-watching, beach walking or following the historic lighthouse route. Further inland you can see some of Maine's historic covered wooden bridges, while a drive through the country in the fall is the perfect time to see the splendor of the trees in their magnificent autumn colors. Spend the night in a historic New England bed and breakfast, or if you want a little faster pace, head to one of Maine's cities for great shopping and cultural attractions. Portland in particular has gained renown as a fine restaurant destination.
For centuries, the food of Maine has been based on the best that land and sea have to offer. Traditionally the products were prepared with Yankee straightforwardness, allowing the good, pure flavors of ingredients to stand out. And that remains true of Maine cuisine today, even as it wins acclaim for its sophistication and inventiveness.
Among the important commodities harvested from Maine's soil and off its shores are dozens of varieties of seafood, poultry, eggs, potatoes, beef and dairy products, blueberries, apples, and maple syrup. The state's delicious fresh products find their way into tasty home-cooked meals as well as onto menus in restaurants ranging from haute cuisine establishments to simple seafood shacks, where you can try an order of "steamers" - steamed clams. Further inland, stop and sample the product of one of Maine's numerous micro-breweries, many with their own restaurants or bars. Throughout the state you'll also find local cheeses, fresh from the farms on which they were made.
Wild blueberries thrive in Maine's cool climate and glacial soils. These small flavorful berries were known to the native North Americans before the Europeans came, and today their health benefits are becoming increasingly appreciated. No other fruit contains as many beneficial antioxidants, and recent studies have shown that wild blueberries have definite health benefits - including contributing to good vision! What's more, they're delicious and you'll find them showcased throughout Maine in breakfast jams, muffins and pancakes, lunchtime soups and salads, and evening meat and poultry dishes… and of course blueberry pie.
"Maine" and "lobster" are two words that seem to suggest each other. Lobster has always been a staple food of this region, and has been an important industry for generations. August is Maine Lobster Month and it is marked all over the state. The locals have learned to turn this crustacean into all sorts of delicious dishes: salads, soups, stews, maybe even with a Thai, Italian or Cajun spin, but many people think it is at its flavorful best when simply steamed and served with melted butter. If you're not from these parts, the locals will gladly demonstrate the art of cracking lobster. For a unique Maine experience, enjoy freshly-caught lobster cooked right on the beach, as part of a shore dinner.
Maine's largest agricultural crop, however, is firmly grounded in terra firma: potatoes. The state produces many varieties of round white, russet and red potatoes, millions of pounds of which are sold fresh or used for French fries, potato chips or seed potatoes each year.
Throughout the state you'll find all kinds of other wonderful summer produce at public markets, and when it comes to some products such as apples, you can opt to go pick your own. Maine's summer harvest is also celebrated at community fairs and festivals: there are events featuring blueberries, strawberries, clams, lobster… perfect opportunities to enjoy the best this state has to offer!
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