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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: December 4, 2014

Eat, drink and be merry: 10 delicious events to flavor the holidays in Maine

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude (Press Herald file photo)

‘Tis the season, for tree-trimming, carol-singing, gift-wrapping, cookie-decorating and bar-hopping dressed as Santa, making elaborate gingerbread houses or slurping chocolate martinis from an ice luge. Making merry with food and drink gets everyone in the holiday spirit, especially if there are spirits of the liquid variety involved. Here is your guide to delicious holiday festivities in Portland and beyond.

Santas at Brian Boru for SantaCon (Press Herald file photo)

SantaCon 2014

Saturday, Dec. 6 | 4 p.m.-1 a.m. | Free to participate; pay-as-you-go at bars (and tip well) |
Starting location to be announced.
What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by dressing as one of the Clauses (Mr. or Mrs.), an elf, snowman or reindeer and bar hopping around Portland?! The first or second stop usually includes time to order food and the annual group photo takes place at the tree in Monument Square at 6:15 p.m.

Cozy Cottage Workshop

Saturday, Dec. 6 | 9:30 am, 11 am, 1 pm or 2:30 pm | $25 per house | Call 207-865-4071 to make reservations
Wilbur’s of Maine | 174 Lower Main St., Freeport
Gingerbread is one thing, but a chocolate cottage is, well, something else. At this event for all ages, you will assemble and decorate a holiday house. Use it as a centerpiece on your holiday table and you’ve got dessert covered.


Courtesy of The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor

The Dough Ball

Friday, Dec. 12 | 7 p.m. | $20 in advance/$30 at the door | Call 207-633-5159 for tickets
The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor | 86 Townsend Ave.
Don your tuxedo or your cleanest pair of jeans, grab some friends and stop in for a night of local food and drink, with dancing if you wish to music by Barney Balch and the Sheepscot Jazz. Bid on the silent auction items including original art, boat trips, and a Willy Wonka-like ice cream party, and be there when the judges announce the winners of this year’s gingerbread house competition.  Don’t be fooled by the term “gingerbread house,” in past years entries have included gingerbread snow globes, miniature log cabins, enormous confectionery sock monkeys, Victorian homes, the Tooth Fairy’s house, Noah’s Ark and a gingerbread styled Olympic ski-jump. Cash bar. All ticket proceeds benefit the Opera House.

Fire & Ice. Photo courtesy of Nonantum Resort

Fire & Ice. Photo courtesy of Nonantum Resort

Fire & Ice

Friday and Saturday, Dec. 12 and 13 | 5-10 p.m.| $25
Nonantum Resort, 95 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport
Ice, bonfires, cocktails, music. Need we say more? OK, here’s more: Live music, handcrafted ice bars, martinis, local flavor from the area’s finest restaurants and vendors, dancing under the stars and an unparalleled bonfire. Last year there was even a baked potato bar and plenty of sticks and marshmallows for s’mores makin’.

Annual Holiday Tea

Sunday, Dec. 14 | 3-5 p.m. | $25 adults/$7.50 children 14 and under, under 4 free |
Hosted by the Brick Store Museum, 117 Main St., Kennebunk
Take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle with a festive tea inside a historic Kennebunk home, the 1850 Dr. Edward Morton House. Learn about tea etiquette and customs, and the storied history of the residence, while you enjoy hot tea, sandwiches and treats by Kitchen Chicks Catering. Address and directions to the home will be sent after ticket purchase.

The above two events are part of Kennebunkport’s annual Christmas Prelude

Taste the Season

Saturday, Dec. 13 | 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. | VIP early admission at 11 am: $15. Regular admission beginning at 11:45 am: $10 |
Dunaway Center | 23 School St., Ogunquit
Taste a variety of foods (including chowder) from local dining establishments. Beer and wine tastings, too. Attendees are asked to bring a donation for the local food pantry or animal shelter. This event is part of Ogunquit’s annual Christmas by the Sea weekend.

Shutterstock photo

Shutterstock photo

Wine Walk in the Old Port: Sparkling Wines, a Holiday Primer

Saturday, Dec. 13 | 2:45 – 5 p.m. | $49 |
Starts at The North Point | 35 Silver St., Portland
Join Sommelier Erica Archer for a guided tasting and discussion with a line-up of sparkling wines. You’ll delve into each wine and style to see, smell, sip, and discuss regional influences on style, body, flavor, aroma, price, food pairing and more.

Press Herald file photo

Press Herald file photo

8th Annual Great Gingerbread Spectacular

Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 14 and 15 | 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Free, with donations accepted to help underwrite the fun
The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor | 86 Townsend Ave.
Tour the whimsical gingerbread exhibits, help yourself to free hot cocoa, visit the midcoast’s most extensive holiday bake sale presented by The Friends of the Opera House, and settle in to listen to music provided by local talents throughout the day.  The bragging rights associated with winning the coveted “Most Spectacular” or “Most Obsessive Compulsive” or “Most Hilarious” last throughout the holiday season. Don’t have time to create a gingerbread house of your own this season? Come and buy one at the Spectacular, or purchase one and have it donated to a needy local family.

Winter Solstice Cocktail-Fest

Tuesday, Dec. 16 | 5:30 – 9 p.m. | $35 | No reservations needed
Lolita | 90 Congress St., Portland
At Munjoy Hill’s hottest new restaurant, libation director Stella Hernandez and her crew are concocting beverages that will delight even jaded holiday revelers, while chef Guy Hernandez and his team are readying special snacks to accompany the evening’s elixirs. You’ll get to enjoy three demi-cocktails and three snacks.

Holiday Whisky Tasting

Friday, Dec. 19 | 6 – 9 p.m. | $30/members; $35/nonmenbers |
Parsons Education Center and Jefferds Tavern | 3 Lindsay Rd., York
Pay tribute to the Scotsmen who settled part of York by raising a glass at historic Jefferds Tavern. Whisky connoisseur Peter Blyberg will explain the differences between 4 varieties of single-malt Scotch, while chef and historical reenactor Bill Irish will be at the hearth preparing foods that go with the smoky and peaty flavors of the Scotch, while Derek Murphy plays Scottish and Irish fiddle tunes.

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