Breakfast is the key to surviving winter in Maine. After all, why force yourself from a cocoon of warmth in the a.m. if a sad bowl of mush and a cup of mud is all that awaits?
Thankfully 2014 was the year the morning meal in Greater Portland received a gourmet kick in the PJs. The hits (from buttery biscuit sandwiches, to muffins full of surprises) egged us on, up and out of bed. New bakers on the block like Briana Holt and Lucy Dutch are perking up the blurry-eyed scene.
Here is a list of epic eyeopeners of 2014.
1. BISCUITS: If 2013 was the year of the donut, 2014 saw the birth of the biscuit. To wit: the cranberry pistachio scones from Biscuits and Company in Biddeford, made from scratch by a former baker at Scratch had us at “hey now!” Served with a smear of creamy flavored spreads from Casco Bay Butter and local preserves from Above the Dam Jam, this is breakfast bliss.
2 . MUFFIN MAINIA: Birdhouse muffin, how we love thee. Shall we count the ways? You are hearty, protein-packed, and insanely inventive. Healthy? Who gives a carb. You are a textured corn muffin, with a sausage-studded interior and hard-boiled egg center. In short, you are everything we have always searched for, but until Tandem Coffee Roasters opened a bakery last summer, could never find. Hat tip to Briana Holt — that gal can bake.
3. COFFEE: Breakfast would not be complete without our favorite food group. Happily, 2014 was the year coffee lovers in Maine had mucho caffeine-delivery systems to choose from. Our new favorite roaster Maine Coast Roast, looking to open a cafe in Biddeford in early 2015, emerged as a winner. Wicked Joe’s and Bard established a state-of-the art facility in Topsham. While Tandem entered Congress Street, a few blocks away Speckled Ax continues to reinvent java by aging beans in beer barrels and keeping Portland’s creative class fueled with latte love.
4. CAFES: Coffee By Design went big this year. Diamond Street got shinier when the Portland roaster opened a stunning cafe and moved its roasting operations to a new site in East Bayside. Yes, this is the place to sip and be seen, try out a new brewing style (trifecta anyone?) or blend your own to go. And 44 North on Deer Isle announced it will start the summer of 2015 off with a Stonington cafe. Road trip!
5. Sandwich Redux. Ten Ten Pies in Portland, Little Bigs in SoPo, and the resuscitated Maine Pie Line served a raft of buttery, eggy, cheese-filled pies for a one and run. But it was Dutch’s in Portland, which opened in November, that made our hair bend. The new team led by baking sorceress Lucy Dutch is taking this meal — salmon bagels, avocado and egg whites on tasty biscuits — to new heights. Set the alarm for this Preble Street newcomer.
What was your favorite breakfast bite in 2014? Are you done with donuts?