Best of Maine Food

Choomi Desert Island Coconut Cookies

Say it out loud: Choomi. Chew me. You’ll need no further prodding. Toasty on the outside, soft on the inside, the Choomi is coconutty, buttery, and not too sweet. The cake is the fluke creation of Peter Zinn, who scrapped the breakfast menu at his Louisiana-themed restaurant, Po’ Boys & Pickles in Portland, and suddenly found himself with several pounds of shredded coconut. The cookies proved so popular that he tweaked the formula for retail sale and achieved the impossible: a packaged macaroon as toothsome as freshly baked.

Crab Roll
King Eider’s Pub

No offense to Maine’s signature sandwich, but sometimes we crave the meat of lobster’s humble cousin. Sweet and flaky Jonah crab — the kind you most often find in a bun around here — is nearly as different in taste and texture from Maryland’s famous blue crab as from lobster. The delicate meat demands a light touch and gets it at King Eider’s. Held together with a smidgen of mayo and seasoned with fresh dill, chives, and a hint of pepper, the generous serving of crabmeat fairly overflows its toasted and buttered hot dog roll. It is simplicity perfected. 2 Elm St., Damariscotta. 207-563-6008.

Local Food Ethos

Vinland takes local food way seriously. The mission statement for Maine’s only 100 percent local (except the wine) restaurant reads like a manifesto. Fortunately, there is principle number 4: “Food should delight.” Vinland’s food does. Shunning olive oil, lemons, sugar, and other cooking staples, chef David Levi serves an inventive, surprisingly diverse menu featuring dishes like capocollo with apple pear compote and purple potato macchiato and monkfish with shiitakes, spinach, dulse emulsion, sunflower poached fingerlings. Even the cocktails are concocted with locally crafted spirits and ingredients such as white pine syrup and real gunpowder. 593 Congress St., Portland. 207-653-8617.

Fried Food deal
Bay Haven Lobster Pound

Fisherman’s platters are judged by two criteria: batter density and sheer quantity. Bay Haven’s batter is light and not so greasy that you can’t tell clams from scallops. The plates, meanwhile, are heaping monstrosities, so piled with haddock, scallops, clams, and shrimp that it’s hard to keep morsels from tumbling to the table like Jenga pieces when you go for your first bite. Come hungry. $25.99. 101 Maple St., Cornish. 207-625-7303.

Designated Driver
Maine Brew Bus

Christened in 2012, the original, bright- green Maine Brew Bus runs on diesel. A new, second bus runs on unleaded. The passengers run on hops and malted grain. Maine’s sudsiest educational tour expanded this year, offering more than a dozen tour routes all week long, hitting some 20 different taprooms between York and Brunswick. Ticket prices ($45–$75) include samples, beer-geek docents, and even onboard lunchboxes filled with snacks. Your sixth-grade field trips were never this fun. Portland. 207-200-9111.

Iced Coffee

East Bayside’s Tandem has perfected summertime caffeine delivery with its malt iced coffee. It starts with coffee beans roasted on-site, cold-brewed into a potent concentrate. Then owners and former home-brewers Will and Kathleen Pratt blend in the same dark, nectarous malts that give porter and stout beers their smoky sweetness. Add milk, and the concoction delivers a luscious, lightly malted kick. Grab one from two different locations after Tandem opens its highly anticipated West End bakery this summer. 122 Anderson St., Portland. 207-899-0235.

Special Occasion Butter
Casco Bay Butter

Movie night is full of tough decisions: Comedy or drama? Sea salt or honey? Wait, you’ve been putting regular butter on popcorn? Up your spread game with the rich, seasonal flavors churned out by Alicia Menard and Jennell Carter of Casco Bay Butter. This is having-guests-over butter, with a high butterfat content and perfect-for-pairing varieties like truffle and lemon chive. Launched with a KitchenAid mixer two summers back, Casco Bay is now sold in some 50 stores and farmers markets, including NYC’s gourmand-beloved Zabar’s. 207-712-9148.

Ways to Eat a Potato
Whole Potato Cafe & Commons

A menu built around the trademark tuber of Aroostook County showcases the versatility of the humble spud and the abundance of local meat and produce available in the County. Try the Gregg, a sweet-and-savory platter of roasted organic potatoes tossed with brussels sprouts, figs, caramelized onions, and soy bacon. Not just a tater temple, the Whole Potato hosts everything from canning clinics to art shows to hootenanny-style open mics. 428 Main St., Presque Isle. 207-554-4258.