Sunday, May 02, 2010

Maine Line: Breakfast and Lunch

While Dave and I share many things in common, we also have some significant differences. I'm a planner. Dave is not. I like to know where I'm going to sleep and where (and what) I'm going to eat. Dave, as you can imagine, isn't so concerned. So once in awhile I try to take a deep breath and, as difficult as it is, "go with the flow."

The Farmers' Table on Commercial.

Which worked out one morning as we wandered around the Old Port district looking for breakfast. Not only are there plenty of places to have coffee and pastries, but there are several cafés serving breakfast in the vicinity. Perusing some menus hung in windows, there were some promising candidates, but when we got to The Farmer's Table we knew we'd struck paydirt.

Sweet potato and corned beef hash.

Not only did the offerings look tempting, but it faced out over the bay and had two decks in full sunlight which, on a 60-degree, relatively windless morning made it darn near perfect. And the menu suggested a leaning toward local products made in-house, always a plus. Though there weren't many greens available, it was April in Maine, after all, there was a great selection of house-cured and braised meats and some lovely baby arugula for my garden benedict.

Lunch that day was also a surprise, since Dave and I were wandering through the Munjoy Hill neighborhood just up the hill from the Old Port, looking for some of his old haunts. Full of Victorians in various states of repair (in some cases falling on the "dis-" side of the line), it reminded me of our own Northwest Portland about twenty or so years ago, only with the very old, sprawling Eastern Cemetery on one side with graves dating from the early 1800s.

As we were coming down the hill, Dave remarked that he hadn't seen any Italian sandwich joints. Which is when I pointed to the shop we were walking by and said, "Like this one?"

Amato's Original Italian Sandwich.

Now, you have to understand that Italian sandwiches have been a thing Dave has talked about since our dating days, a simple sandwich that he had growing up comprised of sliced meats, like salami, peppers, olives and oil-and-vinegar dressing on a hot dog bun. I thought it was like a sub, but he insisted there were definite, though inexplicable to me, differences between them.

 So we marched into Amato's and up to the counter where two friendly gentlemen were happy to take our order. What we got, and subsequently took back to our hotel room, were hefty white bread buns drizzled with vinaigrette and stacked with provolone, ham, onion, pickle, tomato, green pepper and olive.

Now, I'm not saying that it was a gourmet feast but, darn it, I finally got a taste of what I'd been hearing about all these years, a decent reward after a vigorous day reviewing history, both public and personal.

Details: The Farmer's Table, 205 Commercial St., Portland, ME. Phone 207-347-7479. Amato's, 71 India St., Portland, ME. Phone 207-773-1682.

Check out the other installments in the series: The (Other) Portland, Dinner and a Show, Loosening Up, Puttering Around the Old Port, Shackin' It and Fore Star.


Connie B said...

SO jealous that you get to have Italians from Amatos. It's been years since I had one! Love how Munjoy Hill has come up in the world since I used to hang out near there in the 70's and 80's. Hope you're not going to miss having breakfast at Becky's on the waterfront.

Kathleen Bauer said...

It was fun for us, too, and led to many reminiscences from Dave of Italians past. Love how food can bring back memories!

Bill Lascher said...

Saw this post after the other post I commented on. Glad you made it to Munjoy Hill and saw Eastern Cemetery (As I mentioned in the other comment, on the Congress Street side you'll spy evidence of its pre-19th century provenance).

Also you made my mouth water with the mention of Amato's. I used to live a couple blocks from there and it was a frequent lunchtime stop (though a deli up on the top of Munjoy Hill had even better italians).

Kathleen Bauer said...

Thanks Bill. As mentioned, Amato's was the one we were so conveniently passing by, so it was the one we stopped at. Maybe next trip we can do a survey of Italian sandwiches!