The region of New England, in the northeasternmost part of the USA, comprises six states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. I recently had the opportunity to sample the best of two of them – Maine and Massachusetts – and the culinary adventure I experienced left my taste buds wanting more. I know that the words “USA” and “foodie heaven” aren’t automatically associated, but my perceptions have been changed by this amazing area of the USA which offers fresh, diverse and unique culinary delights.
My journey started in Boston, home of the Boston Tea Party and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, once an expressway and now an amazing open green space with artworks, a carousel, fountains and beautiful landscaped gardens. Across from the Greenway is the Boston Public Market, which is open seven days a week. There is an amazing selection of artisanal products specialising in the farm to table concept. Gourmet baked goods, Appleton Farms cheeses, Boston Honey Company products and many more speciality foods tempt your taste buds and encourage you to buy local.
Next I headed to Action Kitchen, which gives you the chance to get “hands-on” and prepare a culinary feast with the guidance of a world-class chef. I really enjoyed it and we created so many amazing local fresh dishes including a fresh salad made with fiddlehead ferns harvested as a vegetable; Lobster Mornay; Baked Chicken, and to finish, Boston Cream Cakes. Creating a dish from start to finish and then sitting down as a group to enjoy our meal over a glass of wine was a real highlight of the amazing food Boston has to offer.
A visit to Boston also isn’t complete until you’ve ventured out to Cape Ann, an hour’s drive to the northeast. Cape Ann is home to artists and fishermen, which means amazing seafood including the famous lobster. You can also go whale-watching. Of course I had to take part in a Cape Ann foodie tour with our guide Cindy to sample the local food. We sampled local fish and chips, cannoli and home-made chocolates, to name just a few.
I then travelled to Portland, Maine for three nights – an easy two-and-a-half-hour ride north from Boston by Amtrak. And while in Portland I went another hour north again to the town of Damariscotta to shuck oysters. Journeying through Massachusetts and Maine, you see how geography lends itself to incredible culinary bounty and creativity. Both are packed with food tours, lobster-catching expeditions, brewery tastings and some of the highest numbers of restaurants per capita in the USA. On your table, tiny pink shrimp, haddock, cod, and the oh-so-famous lobsters pulled from the Atlantic intermingle with locally-grown produce, dairy and meats.
You can’t visit Portland and not go on the Maine Brew Bus. Maine has more than 70 craft breweries to choose from and if you don’t like beer there’s also distilled spirits, wine, cider and mead. The Maine Brew Bus company has many tour options that include a delicious lunch so you can take your pick of the breweries or wineries you want to visit.
Another Portland recommendation is Forktown Food Tours. This was one of my favourite experiences and our guide was amazing. We walked the cobblestoned streets of Portland to find amazing stores tucked away selling artisan cheeses from local farms, fresh scones with beautiful blueberry jams at Stonewall Kitchen, fresh Maine lobster (of course), Mac ‘n Cheese, and lots of condiments and spices. Portland is a fantastic walking city and the perfect foodie place.
And there’s much more. For coffee lovers from New Zealand there are some great places to try such as Bard Coffee, Coffee By Design or Speckled Ax. And make sure you leave time for a visit to Freeport, only 30 minutes away. Freeport is the location of the original flagship store of the world-famous outdoor retailer, L.L Bean, and a sprawling shopping destination with so many outlet stores to choose from you are sure to bag yourself a bargain.
I’ve talked a lot about New England as a foodie heaven but as you will have gathered it is also full of natural beauty, from beautiful beaches to national parks to coastal walking trails and many other amazing places to discover. Its perfect blend of culinary experiences from land and sea guarantees tempting dishes wherever you roam. All year round, New England has something for everyone.
What amazing food have you tried on your travels? Let us know below in the comments.