When I think of the best times I have had taking photographs, wandering around Portland’s West End on a sort of scavenger hunt for images for Maine Magazine comes to mind. I don’t know if the people I met know how much I appreciated their time and their enthusiasm and passion for the food they create, so I would especially like to thank Marika Kuzma and Leslie Oster at Aurora Provisions and Abby Harmon, Lisa Vaccaro and Zara Edwards at Caiola’s.
If you are planning on visiting Portland, try to get up early…really early (just once). This is what I did to maximize the amount of daylight I had to work with, and it was a great time of day to see all of the historic Victorian homes. If you happen to be staying in this area, the West End Deli is a little neighborhood spot (133 Spring St.) that stays open late and offers sandwiches (try the P.M.T. – prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato) and a good coffee and wine selection.
When you’re hungry, there are plenty of options in Portland. Here are just a few.
Bonobo Pizza at 46 Pine St has incredible pizza, like “goat” (pictured below, it includes dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, spinach, rosemary, goat cheese, parmesan and roasted garlic butter).
At 58 Pine St., Caiola’s food nearly brought a tear to my eye (true), with all of its colors and textures. I was told that the antipasto plate takes on many forms. The plate is essentially a blank canvas on which the chefs can arrange the vegetables, cured meats and olives however they are artistically inclined to.
Aurora Provisions is right next to Caiola’s, at 64 Pine St. Happiness would be living right in between the two. Aurora Provision’s emphasis is on fresh and local ingredients and as members of SlowFood USA, they support sustainable agriculture. Owner Marika Kuzma and General Manager Leslie Oster are also an incredible amount of fun to photograph in the kitchen!
Aurora’s famous fresh mozzarella (pictured below) is a refreshing twist on my favorite type of sandwich…with tomato and cucumber on rosemary focaccia with basil mayo. In addition to fresh sandwiches and soups, they also have a dessert selection that makes it nearly impossible to pick just one. Try the caramel apple biscotti, pictured below.