Launching the New Year in French style

Destination: 
Portland, ME and Portsmouth, NH
Best of Show: 
Coq au Vin at Cafe Mirabelle, Portsmouth

Cafe Mirabelle, PortsmouthOur first expedition of the year was a great success.  We had a nice drive and we dined at a restaurant with good food of the sort that inspires the dedicated foodie!

It was a typically cold New England January day but we were refreshed from the previous day's holiday rest and fully recuperated from the evening that had preceded it. My birthday was fast approaching, so I got to choose that Saturday's expedition: exploring the shops and eateries of Portland's Old Port District followed by a French dinner at Cafe Mirabelle in Portsmouth.

Portland's Old Port has a number of places of interest to foodies, from the big Shipyard Brewery to the excellent Italian groceries at Micucci Market to the big kitchen store on Front Street and all the little places in the grid of shops that slopes down to the waterfront. We had a great late lunch at Norm's East End Barbecue, where I could not resist the Pepperoncini Martini (a vodka Martini made like a dirty Martini with pepperoncini juice and garnished with a vinegary yellow pepperoncini) that was an inspired complement to the rich smokey brisket I was enjoying.

Best of Show, though, has to go to the Coq au Vin at Cafe Mirabelle. I had long planned to make this dish, but was concerned because I could not picture how it is supposed to look and taste when it is done. It was fabulous with a little carafe of Cotes du Rhone! Now I have no excuse - I must make it myself!