Flavors of Freeport is an annual event held in February in Freeport Maine that highlights the amazing food and drink options available in the area. While the major cornerstones of the event are an Ice Bar at the Hilton Garden Inn with a dance party on Friday night followed by the Chef’s Signature Series on Saturday evening, we decided it would be fun to head up during the day on Saturday to try some of the smaller tastings offered at many of the local shops.
Hands-On Chocolate Factory Tour
Wilbur’s Chocolate of Maine, 174 Lower Main Street | Cost is $4.50 per person
We started off by stopping into Wilbur’s Chocolate of Maine to check out their shop and take their hands-on factory tour to learn about Wilbur’s history, chocolate making, and enjoy some chocolate samples. I had never been into the store before, and it was amazing to see how large their chocolate selection was. They were gearing up for Easter while we were there so there were lots of selections of Easter Bunnies. We learned that Wilbur’s is one of the few places left that still make solid, non-hollow bunnies. The store also has a nice selection of products for sale from local Maine vendors.
The tour itself was short but fun. It’s a small factory, or at least the part of it that we saw on the tour. Amanda, our tour guide, was wonderful and enthusiastic. She happily shared her knowledge of Wilbur’s history and chocolate making process. We got to see an assembly line and even had a chance to be hands on as we all bagged our own chocolate covered Oreos which were our parting gift. They were generous with the samples throughout the tour and we got to try:
- chocolate covered blueberries
- unfinished and finished chocolate covered cranberries
- dark chocolate nibs
- chocolate covered oreos
It was a fantastic value at $4.50 / person, plus we got to wear hair nets which was a bonus.
Purchased – Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels and Needhams.
Create Your Own Donuts
Frosty’s Donuts, 45 Main Street | Cost is $2.50 per Donut
From Wilbur’s, we headed to Frosty’s Donuts to make our own donut creation. As we were pretty well full on chocolates from our first stop, we figured it was best to share at this one. You can only eat so much sugar. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the donut selection was pretty well decimated with only a few options left. We selected a vanilla cake like donut with a couple of frosting toppings, some sprinkles, and Reese’s pieces. We each decorated our half and then enjoyed the donut along with some much-needed water. All those sweets make you thirsty.
L.L.Bean Home Store, 12 Nathan Nye St | Free
From Frosty’s we headed to the L.L. Bean Home Store. They had a couple of tastings advertised including sampling goods from Stonewall Kitchen, and some peanut mixes from Feridies. Feridies is the company that makes the LL Bean mixes. We did try a few of the peanut selections, but the stonewall samples had run out of crackers so we passed on that one. The home store was beautiful so we took a little time to window shop as well. Definitely have my eye on a few things for another day.
Olive Oil Expert Talk and Tasting
FIORE Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars, 58 Main Street #11 | Free
Next up was a stop into Fiore to learn about olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The store clerk was extremely knowledgeable and shared the background on their products, and explained how things worked in the store. Basically, you can taste any of their olive oil or vinegar selections. They also had olives available for sampling on the day we were there. I don’t really like vinegar but did enjoy sampling some of their flavored olive oils. My husband really enjoyed this stop and tried a little of everything. If you’re interested in purchasing one of their products, you have three sizes of bottles to choose from and they fill the bottle for you once you make your selection, so you’re always sure you’re getting the one you tasted.
Purchased: Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
Farm to Flask Spirit Tasting
Maine Craft Distilling, The Mallet House at 7 Mill St. | Free
Next we ducked into the tasting room of Maine Craft Distilling. They make nine spirits all with locally sourced ingredients. We sampled a few of their beverages. The Blueshine Blueberry Moonshine had quite a kick. While it was certainly fun to sample their spirits, the design of the tasting room was also fantastic and had great atmosphere. The bartender told us that the owner has a background in carpentry and that he did a lot of the work. It was beautiful. I also really loved the graphics on their bottles.
Stonewall Kitchen Recipe Tasting
Casco Bay Kitchen & Cutlery, 5 Depot Street | Free
Fortunately, since the LL Bean Home Store had run out of Stonewall Kitchen tasting supplies, we had a second chance. The Casco Bay Kitchen & Cutlery store was also offering samples of creations made with Stonewall Kitchen recipes and ingredients including Fig Walnut Blue Cheese Mini Cups, and Cranberry Orange Bread. We tasted a few samples, and walked around their shop which had a really great selection of kitchen supplies and gadgets. They also have an entire wall of knives and seemed to be the go-to-experts in this area.
Bow Street Market, 79 Bow Street | Free
When we left Casco Bay Kitchen, it was a little bit of a walk to Bow Street Market for their wine tasting. We cut in front of the Hilton Garden Inn on our way there so we saw some of the setup going on for the ice bar and evening events. We had a few minutes before then tasting when we arrived at Bow Street Market so we checked out the store. It reminded me of a hybrid between a Whole Foods with lots of local, organic selections, and a Hannaford with basic grocery store supplies.
They had an extensive beer and wine selection and were offering samples of their natural, organic wines including:
- Azimut Blanc **This was my favorite.**
- Chemins de Bassac ISA White
- Estezargues Les Grand Vignes
- Chemins de Bassac ISA Red
- Azimut Red
It was a great store, and we even headed back after our day in Freeport was done to pick up groceries for dinner. They had an amazing meat selection from Pineland farms.
Purchased: Sausages – Venison, Blueberry, and Sweet.
Coastal Main Popcorn Company, 114 Main St | Free
We happened to be walking by the Coastal Maine Popcorn Company shop on our way back from Bow Street Market and decided to add it to our list of stops for the day. They have three locations including Boothbay Harbor and Portland. They have quite the selection of flavored popcorn and offer samples. We tried a few including the Chocolate Caramel and Sea Salt, Rosemary , Sea Salt Parmesan Garlic, and White Cheddar. It was not surprising that I went for the sweet and my husband tried the savory.
Purchased: White Cheddar Popcorn
Artisan Bread Tastings
When Pigs Fly Bread, 21 Main St. | Price: Free
Our last food stop was at When Pig’s Fly where they had a large spread of products out for tasting. I especially enjoyed the lemon blueberry pound cake. They have an amazing selection of breads and it was hard to choose just one.
Purchased: Honey Oat Bread **Made awesome French Toast on Sunday**
Craft Beer Tasting
Maine Beer Company, 525 US-1, Freeport | $10.00
While not officially on the list of activities, we ended our tour through the Flavors of Freeport with a stop at the Maine Beer Company. We ordered one of their samplers. Each 5 oz beer is $2.50. It’s a popular place and was packed when we stopped in.
Random note… When researching their website, I accidentally hit NO to their minimum drinking age question (even though I am well over 21) and was redirected to Funtown/Splashtown.
This was a really enjoyable day working our way through the food and drink offerings of Freeport. While we were there during the Flavors of Freeport event which was February 19-21, 2016, most of the stops that we made, other than a few, have regular tastings available. I’ve been to Freeport many time for the outlet shopping. Who doesn’t like to go to LL Bean? But, I really enjoyed the change of pace and doing this food focused approach to Freeport. I highly recommend a trip to Freeport to sample their food and drink options.
I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2016. I will be posting new content every day except Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Life in Maine, and each post will in some way relate to Maine. There are over 1500 other bloggers participating in the challenge. Click HERE to learn more.