Mirth, Merriment and Maybe a Modicum of Mixology at Portland’s 12th Annual Merry Madness Celebration
Before urban sprawl and the advent of shopping malls and box stores, Portland was the Mecca of Holiday shopping in Southern Maine. Shoppers could stroll from store to store, enjoying holiday music and decorations while trying to explain to their children why there was a Santa Claus on every street corner. The whole family could complete their entire Christmas lists in one evening on Congress Street.
Although the Woolworth’s and Porteous Mitchell and Brauns no longer draw eager shoppers downtown, the tradition of family holiday shopping in Portland is alive and well on the Peninsula. To help kick off this festive time of year, the 12th annual Merry Madness Celebration is scheduled for Thursday, December 10th. Take a leisurely stroll through the Old Port enjoying the finest food and drink the city has to offer and find the perfect gift for that special someone in your life.
We suggest you stop by a few of our favorite local culinary merchants and consider the vast array of delectable products they offer for the food lovers on your list.
Vervacious — 227 Commercial Street
Get creative in the kitchen with gourmet ingredients from Vervacious. photo credit: Shanna Walker
Vervacious offers creative food ingredients for inspired dining. Check out their assortment of award-winning, made-in-Maine culinary condiments, including:
- Traditional and flavored balsamic
- Grilling and roasting rubs
- Finishing salts and blends, chilis, herbs and spices
And to take the chill out of these cool winter nights, try their delicious hot chocolates and cocoas with decadent flavors such as the Aztec Spiced Hot Pepper Cocoa or the Hot Chocolate Orange. We encourage you to swap out the H20 for heated milk. Yum.
Make a delicious spread with a blend of Sunset Acres Farm horseradish goat cheese, marscapone, and Maine Homestead wild blueberry jam for a tasty (local) snack. photo credit: Shanna Walker
The finest in award-winning Maine-made cheeses as well as imported cheeses from around the world. They also offer a complete selection of gourmet foods items, condiments, gifts baskets and locally made craft beers and ales.
Ask the staff for recommendations on combining cheeses and preserves to make more complex spreads. They will pack up for you in their baskets and deliver to your friends.
Treats to satisfy any sweet tooth, Dean’s offers extraordinarily delicious hand-dipped chocolates in a variety of intriguing and creative flavors, including brandied orange peel, mocha latte dipped in white chocolate, Maine potato chip in milk chocolate, and a personal favorite, Tennessee bacon in crunchy butter toffee, dipped in dark chocolate. All are beautifully wrapped for you. A signature Maine truffle,with a Dean’s Sweets spin, is the Needham, and a treat that Santa will appreciate as a substitute for cookies Christmas Eve.
Vena’s house-made infusion kits come in many tantalizing flavors, just add the recommended alcohol, let sit and voila! photo credit: Nicole Bailey
Vena’s elevates the art of mixology to new levels of creativity. They offer ingeniously crafted combinations of the highest quality ingredients to fashion a diverse assortment of palate pleasing cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails and sodas. These ingredients, many of them local, are available along with both modern and vintage mixology accoutrements for purchase so you can create your own lively libations at home. Bitters and shrubs from Own & Whale, or Coastal Root, Finest Kind Teas and even Vena’s own infusion kits make great adult stocking stuffers.
The city’s largest provider of all-natural salts, the Salt Cellar offers a wide variety of finishing salt, cookbooks, shakers and flavorful salt sets including the Southern Comfort Salt Set, The Some Like it Hot Salt Set as well as the Garden of Eden, the Movie Popcorn and the Mama Mia Salt Sets. The salt blocks are a flavorful addition to any kitchen and come in a variety of sizes.
Try something local, like the Pinot Noir or Blueberry wine from Rockland’s Breakwater Vineyards. photo credit: Shanna Walker
No holiday feast is complete unless accompanied by a fine wine. Whether you’re a true connoisseur or a novice oenophile, you’ll find the perfect wine for any taste from the collection of Argentinian, French, Italian, Spanish and domestic wines found at the Old Port Wine Merchants and Cigar Shoppe. Wine always makes a beautiful gift and why not add a medium or full-bodied cigar from their expansive humidor for the golfer in your life?
Stonewall Kitchen has been a household name in Maine for decades. Offering a spectacular selection of confections, specialty foods, table and kitchenware, totes, holiday ornaments, candles and holders, decorative accessories and jams and jellies. They make any culinary decisions easy with their wide array of samples so you can try before you buy.
These snacks are too tasty for trimming your tree! photo credit: Ted Axelrod
Featuring a sweet and savory panoply of delicious, eye-catching popcorn. Always searching for new and mouthwatering flavors, they offer such tasty treats as Orange Cranberry, Peppermint Bark, Chocolate Candy Cane and Caramel Apple Popcorn, to name just a few.
We hope to see you at the Merry Madness Celebration this Thursday, December 10th in Portland’s Old Port. We’ll leave you with a convenient parking guide, a handy map of the area and, of course, our best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!