Maine Products, Companies, and Things I Love

My Favorite Things of 2022

November 30, 2022

Anyone else shocked that another year is about to come to a close? Let’s face it, if you haven’t at least started doing some holiday shopping, you’re probably a little bit behind at this point. With that being said, it seems like a perfect time to determine what my favorite things of 2022 were. I mean, I won’t lie, I ate some pretty incredible things this year, but here are the things that stand out most. As usual, get prepared to drool!

12 Days of Chocolate: Dean’s Sweets

If you’ve been reading my posts over the years, you can probably guess my favorite chocolatiers in the area. Look, I love chocolate, I really do, but the best chocolate to ever pass my lips is Dean’s Sweets.

From the peppermint park to the chocolate subscription boxes (yes, I subscribed for a good six months to these at one point and was literally drowning in the most delicious decadent chocolate, and it was SO worth it), everything they make is just incredible. So you know when I got a chance to try some of the new flavors in their 12 Days of Chocolate, I jumped at the opportunity.

Check out some of the tasty new flavors available: Maine Sea Salt, English Breakfast Crisp, Rainbow Confetti, and Graham Cracker Crunch (there’s 12 new flavors total, so you know that there’s plenty of amazing flavors to try!). The 12 Days of Chocolate come in a box with 5 squares of chocolate in one flavor for $9.50 per box.

I’m personally loving the Maine Chocolate Sea Salt, which is a rich dark chocolate with little bits of sea salt in it for the perfect bite, every time. I also really enjoyed the Graham Cracker which is a milk chocolate with bits of graham cracker in it…you pretty much have everything you need except a marshmallow for a s’more!

And if you want to give one of their other classic holiday favorites a try, they have a holiday tree, gift crates, award-winning sea salt caramel and hot fudge sauces that will take your next ice cream scoop to the next level, plus some seriously out of this world peppermint bark that I always make sure to have around the house during the holiday season. You simply can’t go wrong, no matter what you choose!

Sur Lie Chef’s Tasting Menu

Oh my word, I have been recommending the Chef’s Tasting Menu to pretty much everyone I meet since I had the opportunity to try it earlier this year. Hell, I wrote a post about it as well.

So, why am I so hyped up about it? For one thing, it’s a great value. The amount of food you get is honestly staggering, and you will not leave hungry, I promise you that. Some chef’s tasting menus or prix fixe menus leave a lot to be desired, but this is not one of them.

In fact, with the holidays fast approaching, this would make an incredible gift to give to your favorite foodie in your life. It’s truly a gastronomical experience that you won’t soon forget.

Quail Eggs at Boda

Yes, I really had never had the quail eggs at Boda until this year. I realize that these may be one of the most well-known things you can order in Portland. I’ve been fully aware of them, and I used to live down the street from Boda for some time.

It was also the place of choice when they used to offer their late night menu after a long night of drinking, but somehow, the quail eggs were something I never ordered. Until now.

I’ve rectified this terrible slight by ordering them twice in one week. I now know that this umami dish really is one of the best in Portland, and it’s definitely one I’ll be enjoying again and again in the years to come. If you somehow haven’t had them yet, you should probably get on that, because you don’t know what you’re missing.

Shaved Ice at Zephyr

I love shaved ice. It’s sweet and always hits the spot. I’ve especially always loved the shaved ice you can find at Mitsuwa, with evaporated milk and piled high with tasty sweets.

But something clicked for me when I went to Hawaii earlier this year in January. Somehow, once I got back, it pretty much became a must to get my hands on some shaved ice here in Maine. Yes, in the middle of winter. So, another thing I’m super late to the game on, is Zephyr.

They originally started out as a food cart, but as is typical of me and my inability to find the food trucks I want to try, I either never caught them or they would sell out when I did make the effort. However, they did open a brick and mortar location not too far from Little Tap House, so back in February this year, I finally tried Zephyr for myself.

My fiancé and I got shaved ice and we were fortunate enough to also catch Two Texans as it was a weekend morning, so we got breakfast tacos to go with our shaved ice. SO GOOD. Then, a few weeks later, I made it my mission to get my hands on a pint of peanut butter ice cream, which was also ridiculously good. I may have to go on another expedition soon for the eggnog ice cream but I digress. The point here is that you can find some amazing shaved ice right in Portland, and I can’t wait to go back for more, no matter what the season.

Lobster Roll flight at Bite Into Maine, Allagash location

You may love Bite Into Maine, but did you know that if you want their lobster roll flight, you can only find it at their Allagash location? I learned this for myself over the summer. I realized this was where people had been taking their incredibly popular videos of drizzling butter on top of their rolls.

Not gonna lie, the lobster roll flight is kind of perfect, because you can try a little bit of each one you want and you still get all the lobster that you’d normally get. Plus, it’s absolutely adorable. If you have tourists in town, it’s a must.

Dumpling flight at Dok Mali

The dumpling flight at Dok Mali is very new, but it’s easily one of the most popular things in the food scene right now for Portland. I mean, I can’t think of anywhere else offering a dumpling flight, which makes it incredibly innovative and different. It’s also one of the most Instagrammable things I’ve seen in a while, and hey, it definitely doesn’t hurt that the dumplings were super tasty as well.

Next time I go, I’m definitely trying the lobster rangoons, because the only thing better than a crab rangoon is a lobster rangoon.

Fried chicken pop up at Gai On Fried

Located inside Ruby Thailand restaurant in South Portland for Sunday brunch, Gai On Fried is a pop up NOT to be missed. I mean, the fried chicken is crispy, flavorful, and beyond delicious. Not to mention, the portions are huge, there’s bubble tea, and even brunch cocktails.

Oh, and did the fact that there’s a hot and spicy fried chicken ramen come across your radar? I’ve only been once so far, but I’m going back and I want to try the whole menu. During this visit, A and I tried the OG home fried chicken, with a teriyaki mayo dipping sauce.

We got the combo with wings, drumsticks, and bites, which was the perfect amount of food for two people to share. We also got some pork dumplings which were crispy and so flavorful. The only thing I wish I’d had was the Thai Ice Cream, but it just gives me an excuse to come back and order more.

Twin Swirls Ice Cream

When an ice cream shop opens up not even a mile from where you work, you make the most of it. Yeah, it was in October, but with the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve been having, it was the perfect after work treat a few weeks back.

I’ve only been once but I got a mint chocolate chip malted shake. Yes, there are malted shakes here (I’m old school and love malted shakes, #sorrynotsorry) and you can have a shake made with any of the hard ice creams available.

I love how close this is to where I work, considering it’s a bit of a dead zone for anything beyond gas stations, Rosemont Market (my favorite occasional week time treat), or the Knotted Apron for a delicious meal. I also heard while I was there that they will soon offer homemade waffle cones.

So yes, even though you may have to eat your ice cream with gloves on by the time this post comes out, you owe it to yourself to support a new small local business and treat your sweet tooth at the same time!

Espresso Martini at Rwanda Bean at Thompson’s Point

It’s kind of a you have to know thing, but you can order an espresso martini at the Rwanda Bean at Thompson’s Point. Granted, you may not think I’m much of an espresso person (I’m not, and I don’t drink coffee or much caffeine), but even I can appreciate a good espresso martini on occasion. This is simple but it’s got everything you need, with plenty of espresso and a little sweetness to offset it.

If you’re lucky enough to order one, you’ll quickly realize this might be one of the best espresso martinis in town and it’s an excellent cocktail to order before a concert at Thompson’s Point on a balmy summer day.

Brunch and Mimosa Flight at Nom Cafe

You had to know that I’d love anywhere offering a mimosa flight, right? Nom Cafe brings one of the most interesting brunches to Portland and with it a mimosa flight. It’s got some classic brunch offerings but also some others, like Eggs Panagura, with poached eggs, sheep feta, and paprika infused oil and dill.

The mimosa flight is extremely generous and features four different mimosas to try in bright and vibrant colors. I had mine before going wedding dress shopping and it made for quite the time. I definitely need to go back soon!

Lobster Gnocchi at Petite Jacqueline during Portland Wine Week

You know a meal was good if you’re still thinking about it months after the fact. That’s where I’m at with the lobster gnocchi I had at Petite Jacqueline during Portland Wine Week this year in June. The gnocchi was like little pillows melting in my mouth with butter, lobster, and garlic.

It wasn’t too heavy and of course, it paired absolutely impeccably with the white wine that came with it. Might I add that it was only supposed to be served for dinner. I was unaware of this, so the chef generously agreed to prepare it for myself and my lunch companion so we could enjoy it then.

Pure perfection. And if they serve it for Portland Wine Week 2023, you’d better believe I’ll be there to enjoy it for dinner.

The Gorham Taste Walk

Okay, so the Gorham Taste Walk is an event, but it’s completely centered around food. For that reason, you can easily understand my love for it. Basically, it’s an event in Gorham that features almost all of the restaurants, cafes, and any places that you think you’d find during an event called a Taste Walk.

I accidentally discovered the Taste Walk looking at the window of another place. But man am I glad I found it! The ticket cost $10 and then it was all about visiting the participating restaurants.

You get about a bite’s worth (or you’re supposed to). But honestly, by the time we were done a few hours later, I felt like I had the equivalent of a whole meal. Did I mention it was delicious?

Worth every cent, and all proceeds went to help kids attend camp, so it was a win win. You can bet that I’ll be attending again next year!

Sullivan House Bakery

One of the great discoveries from the aforementioned Taste Walk was finding the amazing Sullivan House Bakery. Like, the breakfast sandwiches are all I could ever want and so much more. The cinnamon rolls are gigantic and quite literally might be the size of your head.

Don’t forget about the from scratch bread, especially when it’s warm and fresh out of the oven. Honestly, there’s not much I love more than finding a new bakery.

I was extremely excited to make this new discovery and share it with the world. Go check out Sullivan House if you haven’t had it on your radar!

Wessie’s Den

Regular readers will know that I live in Westbrook. That means in addition to keeping up with the best things in Portland (I try, anyway), I also spend a lot of time in the Brook. Heck, I’m also on the Discover Downtown Westbrook board, so my love for downtown is real and true.

Anyway, my point is, one new place that opened in Westbrook this year (in February) is Wessie’s Den. Now, if you haven’t been, shame on you, because Wessie’s is just plain cool.

You want to know why? A big part of this is because it’s Westbrook’s only arcade bar. But it also has a banging menu (though they are looking for more kitchen staff, so hit them up if you’re looking for a gig). There’s also a great selection for local craft beer, and it’s just an awesome vibe.

Whether you’re going to play arcade games (spoiler alert: there’s a ton of pinball options, which is my favorite), or you just want to enjoy a cold beer or two, Wessie’s is the place to be.

Paper City Barbecue

The other amazing thing that Westbrook got this year was a new barbecue restaurant. You know it’s amazing because it’s owned by the same people that own Legend’s Rest.

Which, hello, is the best sports bar I’ve ever been to, and probably will ever go to. Granted, I will admit I’ve only been to Paper City during their soft opening, but oh man, was it DOPE.

From the brisket nachos to the platters of meat that they brought to us and some damn good banana pudding, every bite was marvelous. I also heard that there is going to be a whiskey club (rather than a mug club for beer). So for all you whiskey lovers, Paper City Barbecue is definitely the place for you.

As for me? After the holiday season, I’ll definitely be settling in for some good old fashioned meat sweats. You’ll need someone to roll me out the door after.

Breakfast Pizza at Anania’s Variety

I don’t really know what the deal is, but I swear that breakfast pizza is not a thing where I’m from. If you’re not aware, I’m not a true Mainer, and I’m originally from the Midwest, like suburban Chicago.

Breakfast pizza is kind of the best thing ever in my opinion. And there seems to be a lot of breakfast pizzas out there, which is even more amazing. But one place that has some great breakfast pizza is Anania’s.

I accidentally discovered this a few months back when my fiancé and I were looking for a brunch place. Everything was packed, and so we ended up looking for a quick breakfast spot instead. Everything else I’d ever tried at Anania’s was great.

I figured (correctly) that the breakfast pizza would fit the bill. It did and then some.

You can easily split a small between two people. It only costs about $8.99, and if you need more, splurge on the large one-topping breakfast pizza for $15.99. All in all, everything in the breakfast pizza department, and in general at Anania’s is a steal. That’s why it’s well worth the deliciousness.

Fried Ravioli from Momma Baldaci’s

Continuing on this Midwestern thread, one of the best things you can get in the Midwest is fried ravioli. And until recently, it wasn’t something I thought you could get in Maine.

Turns out, Momma Baldaci’s (as in the food truck) has them on occasion, and oh my. Let me tell you, it’s crispy on the outside and then ooey gooey cheese on the inside, exactly as it should be. It comes with a marinara sauce and an alfredo sauce to dip these little beauties in.

Which, hey, you can choose to share, or you can have them all to yourself. It’s your call.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite things of 2022 were! Happy holidays and happy new year!