A lot can sure change in two years. We first purchased the “From Away” domain name while still sitting in our house in Mexico, doors and windows all sealed against the elements, air conditioner running ragged, choking to keep up with the blistering sun, while we tried to figure out how to cook pizza dough in a Mexican oven whose only temperature controls were the numbers “1″ through “5.” We didn’t know, then, that our interest in cooking (and specifically, eating) would lead to this website. Diving headfirst into Portland’s wide and varied food scene made us carefully consider each mouthful, and taught us to try and think critically about why we love the foods that we love, and why exactly it is that sometimes, a cheeseburger that you eat in your car can be just as satisfying as a dish of poached lobster with corzetti pasta and white truffle oil.
Since that first post on July 10, 2010 our lives have been filled with more change. We have moved four times, twice within Portland, again to a 100-year-old farmhouse in Topsham, and finally resettling in Rockland, not five miles from where I went to high school (nearly twenty years ago), and ten miles from where I attended elementary school. The upside to this endless migration is that we have been able to cast a much wider net of coverage of food in Maine, turning From Away into a site not just about food in Portland, but eventually, about food across the state. In the middle of January, we also had our first daughter, Violet, who was born at Maine Medical Center in Portland. She’s the first member of our family not to be “From Away,” and she is turning into a real little spitfire. Her arrival means we’ve been doing more cooking at home, but I assure you, the trade is well worth it.
The site has seen a significant amount of change, as well, with continuing tweaks not just to the look and feel of the site, but to some of its features. In addition to our Restaurant Index and Recipe Index, we’ve beefed up the “Our Favorite Places in Portland” page with maps of our favorite spots, with details about each restaurant and links back to our original reviews of each place, in an effort to make the page more useful to readers. We’ve written more than 500 posts (at an average of about one post for every weekday), including reviews of nearly 150 restaurants in Maine, as well as more than 265 recipes covering a wide range of New England classics, as well as our favorite dishes From Away.
So far this year, we are averaging about 75,000 readers per month. Advertisers have taken notice, showing their support by sponsoring the site, gaining great exposure to a food-savvy audience and inching us closer to the day we can make From Away our full-time jobs. We’ve reached nearly 2,000 Twitter followers, and are friends with over 3,700 of you on Facebook. The influx of readers has brought other opportunities, as well, with regular contributions to Serious Eats, mentions in the Huffington Post, on Gourmet.com, and in Downeast Magazine, a day-long video shoot for the Maine Department of Tourism (more on that later), as well as offline print jobs in food photography and feature recipe development for Cigar Snob and Indulge magazines.
Most of all, though, we simply wouldn’t be updating this site each and every day if it weren’t for you, our readers. We’ve received thousands of comments, and every time we hear that someone has cooked something that we’ve made, or written to say that our opinions of restaurants usually match up with theirs, it makes us smile, start planning our next week’s worth of posts, and polish off that fourth fish sandwich. Without the kind of suggestions and notes we receive each day, writing for the Internet could sometimes feel a little lonely, a little insignificant, as though you’re shouting into the mouth of a giant hole. That’s never been the case with From Away, where we can always count on the feedback from our readers (both positive and negative) to keep us honest. Thank you so much for reading. We can’t wait to share what’s coming up in our third year.