Monday, May 19, 2014

Maine Monday: Outlets & Aperol Spritzes

Memorial Day weekend is rushing towards us, even though I don't think Mother Nature got the text message. There are still plenty of trees around town with leaves barely unfurled and the cool temps make it hard to believe summer is less than a month away. But this upcoming weekend is the unofficial start of tourist season here in Maine as visitors cross the Piscataqua River Bridge on the hunt for sandy beaches, lobster rolls, and outlet bargains.

When our liquor supply is running low we try to time a visit to Bow Street Market in Freeport with some reluctant little C&G clothes shopping. A swing through the Gap Outlet is pure torture for them, but the little C&Gs are easily bribed with a promise to visit Tuscan Bistro for delicious brick oven pizzas afterwards. I was talking with some parents on the baseball field (or was it the soccer pitch? I've lost track.) the other day who had never heard of Tuscan Bistro so I wanted to get the word out.

Rarely do shoppers venture up Rt. 1 past the oversized LLBean flagship store, but walk only two blocks north and you can be transported to a cozy Tuscan farmhouse. Tuscan Bistro serves Italian-inspired dishes using the freshest Maine ingredients, with a great selection of Italian wines and creative cocktails. Talented local interior designer Nicola Manganello is the genius behind the warm rustic atmosphere of the restaurant and it's just the place to relax with an Aperol Spritz or glass of rosé after a hard day of shopping (or an exhausting express race through Crewcuts).

We happened to be in Freeport at the end of a full afternoon of soccer games on Mother's Day, and the outdoor café tables were calling my name. The sun was still shining, the temperature was perfect, and the bartender knows how to make a perfectly refreshing Aperol Spritz (which tastes even better when you're sitting outside). Special kid-sized dishes are available and the children's menu comes with a pack of crayons and word games to keep them busy while you sit back with a cocktail or two.

One of our favorite ways to pass the time in Freeport, whether it's in between shopping runs or as you're sitting outside waiting for your food, is to play the license plate game. The boys keep track of how many states pass us by and you could sit for hours outside Tuscan Bistro racking up the plates. I think our current record is 34, and we award extra bonus points for Canadian provinces.

As school lets out and the tourists flood our state you could easily turn this into an Olympic sport to keep your kiddos entertained. So when it's time for a break from all the busy bargain shoppers, head a few blocks away from the crowds and relax in the cozy Italian bistro. Order up a glass of rosé or their house-made sangria and pretend you're thousands of miles away on vacation. Now if only there was a Prada outlet nearby . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment