Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Solstice: a guide to summer fun without the sun

You’ve probably noticed this fantastic weather we’ve been having. If you couldn’t tell by the cold, drizzly grey outside, the summer solstice was this week. That’s right folks; summertime in Maine is finally here! And while nothing quite says beach weather like foggy misting and a high of fifty-seven degrees, something tells me Portlanders may be looking for some non-swimsuit activities this weekend, at least until Sunday.* Lucky for you, I exist and have taken the time to find cool summer kickoff activities that don’t require real summer weather. You’re welcome.
* I’m not counting Sunday as the weekend because I have to work, therefore no one else can have fun.
The 29th Annual Greek Festival—I’d forgotten all about this awesome Pleasant Street festival until I involuntarily listened to traditional Greek music all evening from my Spring Street apartment. This probably would’ve been a lot cooler had I actually been at the festival, rather than lying on my couch with a glass of chardonnay and a box of Raisinets trying to watch The Empire Strikes Back.*While I did not go, a good friend of mine did and she stopped by my place afterwards, positively glowing from her Lamb Souvlaki and rice pilaf. It really made me question the frozen pizza and bagged Caesar salad I’d opted for earlier in the evening. This festival resumes today at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Pleasant Street from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, and again at the same place and time tomorrow. It’s a great way to try some delicious food, listen to different music, and dance your heart out. There are tents so you won’t melt from the rain, but I suggest bringing an umbrella—and galoshes so you can splash around in the puddles while you get jiggy with it Greek style…
*Probably a lot of things are cooler than that, huh?
Allagash Victoria Ale Premiere—Beer lovers: tonight from 5 to 8 at the Victoria Mansion celebrate Allagash’s 2011 Victoria Ale. This event features live music from the Pete Kilpatrick Band, self-guided tours of the mansion, and some light dining fare provided by Blue Elephant Catering. Tickets are $25 at the door. This is a great opportunity for a group outing, or a date; it’s a pretty smooth move to take a girl (or guy) here on the first date. Elegant beer tasting and dining in a historic mansion on a “dark and stormy” night? You’ve got that in the bag. Plus, it’s really an interesting way to start your weekend.
Hands Across the Sand at The East End Beach—I know, I know. In the beginning of this post, I sarcastically made comments about the “excellent” beach weather this weekend was sure to have; however, this beach event is not really about getting your tan on and showing off your new bikini body. Hands Across the Sand is a movement that’s going on throughout the world. People will be taking hands on beaches across the globe at noon tomorrow to stand in solidarity against the threats of offshore drilling. If this sounds like your thing, grab your raincoat and head to the East End Beach tomorrow morning at 11:30. This event is about protecting our shores and supporting clean energy. Though it may not be the beach day you had in mind for your first weekend of summer, it might make you feel good to be a part of something this large. Check out the website for more information
Portland LobsterFest—Speaking of offshore drilling, Governor LePage* will be one of the judges at Saturday’s Great Maine Lobster Eating Contest, which is just part of the fun at the 2011 Portland LobsterFest. Starting at 11 am this Saturday, June 25, the third annual festival is sponsored by Fairpoint Communications and is presented by the Falmouth Rotary. The proceeds will benefit the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, so buy that $12.50 lobster dinner—it’s a pretty sweet price and it goes to the kids, darn it! After you’ve filled your belly with bottom feeders, check out the live music from The Stream Reggae, Typhoon Ferri, and the David Good Trio. If you later regain your appetite, there’s going to be a Gourmet Lobster Tasting Bar—we’re talking Lobster Pizza, Lobster Cakes, Lobster Bisque, Lobster Stew (do I sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump yet?) and other delectable Lobster treats. The festival also has a cash bar, and a mechanical bull. My advice: ride the bull before you hit the bar. No need to ruin your summer with a drunken mechanical bull injury.  While it may be rainy and not particularly warm tomorrow, lobster, music, beer, and mechanical bulls are sure to turn any frown upside down. Get into the summer spirit, even if the weather won’t. Have fun, be safe, and just hope that Gov. LePage doesn’t find any murals to remove in his short visit to Portland.*
*Only and last political barb of this post
*I lied—that was another political barb. Oops.
As previously mentioned, I will be working Sunday so I don’t want anyone else to have any fun. However, since I guess it will be nice out, maybe you can go to the beach or something. Or check out Reggae Sunday on Peaks Island. I don’t know. I don’t care. I hope you can’t find your bathing suit and have to swim in a t-shirt.
I am well aware that it is not a holiday weekend and that Monday, despite my own wishes, is indeed not normally part of the weekend. However, I do have this particular Monday off, so just go with it. Furthermore, it’s going to be nice out. Plus, it’s summer so all sorts of cool things are going on in Portland even when it’s not the weekend.
Pai Men Miyake—I have blogged about Masa Miyake’s noodle bar before, and that’s because it’s awesome. This particular mention has been added because my beloved Pai Men is finally getting their liquor license Monday, June 27. I am not the biggest hard liquor drinker, however, I do enjoy a cocktail now and again, and I know many Portlanders can get behind that. While I appreciate the interesting beers they carry and their wide array of sakes, I am looking forward to the possibility of a gin and tonic if the mood strikes. As of Monday, Pai Men will be serving some creative and fun summer cocktails. Try the Green Tea Gimlet with their amazing lobster ceviche. Even if you went to LobsterFest Saturday and think you don’t need to eat any more lobster for a good long while, try this ceviche! You won’t be disappointed. For those whiskey drinkers out there, you’ll be pleased to taste Pai Men’s take on the classic cocktail: come Monday, they’ll be introducing their Maine Blueberry Manhattan. Monday night you can find me at the bar, savoring my ceviche and sipping on the Gimlet. I hope to see you there.

So now that I’ve scheduled your entire weekend for you, take Monday night (after you go to Pai Men) to get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need it; summer is here (despite what looking out your window tells you), and there is bound to be all kinds of activities going on in Portland for the next few months. Until next time…

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