Our Two Year Anniversary

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.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed “Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road,” as well as the taco-centric blog “Eat More Tacos,” and the junk food-centric “Spork & Barrel.” His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, “‘Wich, Please,” was named “Hottest Restaurant in Maine” for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

26 Comments

  1. congratulations on your growth and success!!

    I’d love to see a post of what “a dinner in at home with the family” looks like, and what’s the spitfier’s favorite meal? (unless that’s too personal and you don’t want everyone’s pic on the interwebs of course.)

    We get to hear you through the voice of your writings but we don’t get to see you guys much!

    cheers!

    : )

    View Comment
    1. We do tend to lay low, don’t we? Violet has just gotten started on solid food, so it’s mostly rice cereal and mashed up bananas, for now. We let her gnaw on a piece of mango a couple of days ago, and I thought the top of her head was going to pop off.

      View Comment
  2. Congratulations! I read every day! Maybe a weekend trip to my neck of the woods–Bangor–considered a food wasteland by some but you have to try…

    The Fiddlehead
    4 Points BBQ in Winterport
    Friar’s Bakehouse
    Bahaar Pakastani Restaurant
    Montes (Quick! They are closing end of August)
    Street Bistro Food Truck

    and help change people’s minds!

    Come up for the Folk Festival on the Waterfront and introduce your fans to Bangor!

    Kate–who is from away but glad she is here now…..

    View Comment
  3. Hi from Australia. Congratulations on your anniversary! I know you, and we your fans, will be celebrating your anniversaries for years to come. I am hoping to return to the motherland in the next year or so and you two are my inspiration to throw my swag down in Maine.

    View Comment
    1. Thanks Patrick…we are actually working on a piece for a print magazine with a focus on holiday small plates…so we’ll have lots of ideas, for sure. 🙂

      View Comment
  4. Congratulations, and welcome to Rockland! My wife and I also recently moved to Rockland “from away” (though truth be told I was born and raised in the County). Besides wanting to escape the rat race, what prompted us to choose Rockland specifically is that it doesn’t shut down in winter like a lot of other tourist based coastal towns…its got a real community feel to it. Plus it doesn’t hurt that we are that much closer to Primo! I have to say, we are certainly blessed here on the MidCoast when it comes to food, and I look forward to your future culinary adventures in the area. It’s because of you that JJ’s Snack Shack and it’s tater tot poutine has instantly risen to #1 on my to do list!

    I’m sure we’ll cross paths at some point…it would be great to compare notes. We and our other “from away” friends are often seen eating at restaurants up and down the coast, where we inevitably start lamenting about our day jobs and start discussing ways to make a career out of food blogging like the “from away” guy!

    Congrats again and keep up the good work!

    View Comment
    1. Rockland has certainly seen its share of changes since my family first moved here in the early 1980’s (“Camden by the sea, Rockland by the smell.”) We feel really fortunate to be a part of a small town that boasts such an incredible dining scene. I feel like we’re really here during a “sweet spot,” where in another few years the area will no longer be affordable, and will be overrun with pottery and Zumba! studios. Now is the time to be here, for sure.

      View Comment
  5. Congratulations, those are some pretty awesome accomplishments in just two years. I hope to be there some day too! I have truly enjoyed reading your posts and making a few of your dishes that I haven’t bought Chinese takeout since! Wishing you continued success!

    View Comment
  6. congratulations! I have been a reader for I think most of those 2 years – I well remember a post where you were making use of what you referred to as ‘cheap and readily available lobster’ which broke my midwestern heart! I adore your blog, and am thinking about making Portland a vacation destination for us next year. I have had so few opportunities to try really great food.! you guys are so lucky to live in such an incredible food mecca.

    View Comment
    1. You’d lose your marbles if you saw what was happening right now with lobster prices. At two bucks or so a pound, they’re cheaper than hamburger. 🙂

      View Comment
  7. I love the site, but I have found myself a little less in love lately. You do realize that changing the format from primarily Portland restaurant to a primarily cooking at home and eating out in Rockland could have an impact on traffic right?

    View Comment
    1. Hi Chris! Thanks very much for the feedback. We’re not making a conscious decision to change formats, and will still be providing plenty of coverage of Portland’s dynamic restaurant scene. Our six-month-old has driven us to cook more at home, but our goal is to eventually include nearly as much coverage of Portland as we had before, while stretching our legs to include other parts of the state, as well. Take a look at our Restaurant Index…we’ve been incorporating coverage of restaurants in other areas for a long time now. Will this mean losing readers who want strictly Portland-focused content? Maybe. Will it attract new readers who couldn’t care less about Portland? Perhaps. We’ll just have to see how it pans out.

      View Comment

Leave a Reply