Photo: What is it about the beach that brings out the kitsch in so many? There is something about the haphazard that makes beach decor fun and silly. I didn’t even notice all of this stuff on our little beach cottage until we were packing up to go. The entire house was full of little touches just like this: whimsical, classic, meant to make you smile as you looked around.
Last year, my friends convinced me to go to New Hampshire for a knitting retreat at a local inn. We stayed at the foot of Mt. Monadnock, which was quite the backdrop for cozy knitting. The best part about the stay was we had a real wood burning fireplace in our room. I spent the majority of my time there. The bad part about it…? Well, we were told that the food was so amazing, made especially good because we weren’t doing the cooking or the cleaning afterwards! My friend and I were… not terribly impressed with that part. So, this time last year, as we debriefed the experience, we thought about what we really wanted in a knitting weekend away. We landed on ocean instead of mountain, really good food (even if we have to cook it ourselves), and a fireplace for sure. So, we got to searching and found The Blue Pearl Cottage. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, full kitchen, ocean view. The fireplace wasn’t real wood, but we got over it. The view made it totally worth it.
I really love Maine. That’s probably not expected from a Black woman, but it’s true. It’s naturally beautiful, it has an interesting landscape, it has a lot of quirk to it and it has a lot of charm. There is something about Maine that makes it feel forbidding: perhaps it’s the rocky shoreline and forever-cold waters. Perhaps its the very clear knowledge of who is from town and who isn’t. A Mainer can spot an outsider from a million miles away. But, but, there is a friendliness if you know what you’re doing, if you know how to find it.
We spent our time on Friday knitting and laughing. We got up on Saturday and went beach combing on during low tide. I… brought the wrong shoes for that. Check out the monster clams, though!
Then we spent most of Saturday watching the March for Our Lives coverage (my Lord. I’m still so very moved). Then we got dressed and headed up to Portland (only about 30 minutes from our cottage) to visit two local yarn shops and get some eats.
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is visit small yarn shops. As loyal as I am to my local yarn shop, I really like to be a patron of the hobby and support the small stores that sustain the fiber arts community. We visited Port Fiber, which seemed like a lovely place for spinners, weavers and felters (though, I will say, they had this cashgora from Tajikistan that was to die for. Just fabulous.). Then we ventured further into the city and popped into KnitWit, which was more of the yarn store I’m used to. If you’re ever in Portland, please go in there and say hello. The ladies are just wonderful and they have a full compliment of another local Maine yarn, Quince & Co, which I would have purchased had I not spent all my money on the String Theory. 🙂
KnitWit is just a block or so away from Duckfat, a restaurant I’ve been wanting to visit for years. It’s a small place that doesn’t take reservations, and I was afraid we weren’t going to get in (I’ve tried twice before, but the wait has always been too long). I’d talking up my favorite sushi place on the whole east coast, Yosaku, and really wanted to go there. Buuuut, because we were so close, we decided to just see if we could get a table. When we were told it was only a 30 minute wait, we went next door to East Ender for a drink while we waited. If you’re ever in town, DO sit at the cute little bar and DO talk with the bartender. We may or may not have learned about some speakeasies in town.
So how was Duckfat?
It was absolutely, positively worth the wait. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. We sat at the bar, watched the folk work that kitchen, enjoyed awesome stout, and just ate and ate. Now listen, the restaurant is “known” for their fries fried in duckfat. It’s good (everything is good), but it wasn’t what I imagined it would be. I suggest skipping it and getting something else. You cannot made a bad choice. When you’re done, order the sea salted duck fat caramel milkshake. Yes, do it. I’ve never had anything so delicious in my entire life.
Then fun in Portland did end and we returned for another night and morning of knitting. My friend finished the body of a sweater and I got 2/3rds through my second sock! Yay! We packed up and left for home, but made one more spot in Kittery, Maine for ramen because, oh my God, ramen.
Hilariously, I didn’t actually get ramen. I got this gorgeous bowl of curry.
This is not an overstatement: you should visit Maine for no other reason than to have a bowl of soup at Anju Noodle Bar. Yes. You should. Visit Maine and do all the other fun things I mentioned above, and then make sure you have time to drive to Kittery (which is adorable. I wish I could have seen more of it) and go have a bowl at Anju. It’s small and fills up quickly, so get in early. Sit on one of the stools at the floor-to-ceiling window facing the street, and enjoy the best bowl of noodles you’ll ever eat. That. is. not. an. overstatement. Oh, and get a pork bun, too. Yes, you will be full. Yes, it’s worth it.
I’ve returned home probably 20 pounds heavier and I just don’t care. It was worth every single calorie. Most importantly, though, I’ve returned home feeling renewed and happy. It was just a weekend away, but sometimes that is all you need. Good food, a good friend, a pair of needles and squishy yarn… this is the recipe for joy in abundance.
Of course alll the work was waiting for me when I got back home. Not to mention high-energy kids. Oh, and the roof… and the boiler… and a new in-law related shitstorm…
But I have the energy for it. It’s all going to be handled. Thanks for the renewed vigor, Maine!
What are you in for this week, Dear Reader? I’m here for you. Let’s tackle it all together.
Until Wednesday, take care.