Reviews: Emilitsa, Woodford F&B, Hot Suppa

May 1st, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Emilitsa,

Emilitsa serves high-end renditions of Greek classics in a tiny, quiet space right in the heart of downtown Portland. Chef Niko Regas took command of the kitchen from his father, Demos Regas, in the past year and has proven through his cooking that the decision was a good one…The grilled fish is a great entrée choice, and the traditional Greek herb-rubbed lamb chops and their oniony, potato-parsnip mash accompaniment are not to be missed. Wines are all Greek and are generally good. Our pick is the light and floral Sigalas white, also available by the glass.

the Kennebec Journal has reviewed Hot Suppa,

The first time I tasted Hot Suppa!’s fried green tomatoes I fell in love. They are double battered before being fried, and the batter is well-seasoned. Once cooked, the crusty outside combines perfectly with the soft tangy tomato inside. Their addictive remoulade of mayonnaise, capers, cilantro and a dash of hot sauce (with some other spice I can’t quite figure out) has me craving these often.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Woodford F&B.

From the drink to the dessert, they produced a stellar spread. I felt the service was particularly good too. Our waiter alone was top notch, but the addition of host and hostess assisting at times provided a great team to take care of us. I would highly recommend Woodford F & B.

Sisters Deli opening on May 1

April 29th, 2016

sistersgourmetdeliSisters Gourmet Deli (website, facebook, instagram) has passed their final inspections and announced plans to open on May 1st.

New Juice Bars

April 28th, 2016

The Bangor Daily News has published a report on the growing number of juice bars serving the Portland market.

Smoothies and juice bars are to 2016 what espresso bars were to 2003. Not entirely new, but taking off and here to stay. While Greater Portland is a far cry from San Diego, where liquid kale in a cup is dispensed from every streetcorner, new concepts abound this spring. They promise health, vibrancy and vitality by the ounce.

Farm Truck Juice opened earlier this year, Fly Fox and Blake Orchard are under development, and a new firm called the Maine Juice Co recently leased production space in Biddeford.

Barr Hill Spirits Tasting

April 28th, 2016

The Blueberry Files has posted a report on the recent Portland Spirit Society Barr Hill spirits tasting.

We learned about the process of making the vodka and gin, both made from honey (which must be so expensive). The vodka is distilled until it has a neutral flavor, while the gin has some honey added back into it, giving it a lovely floral characteristic. The Tom Cat gin is “rested” gin that is aged in charred oak barrels, giving it a most delicious smoky sweetness. It’s one of my new favorite craft spirits. 

Interview with Beard Nominees

April 27th, 2016

The Press Herald has published interviews with Maine’s four 2016 James Beard award  nominees:  Mike Wiley, Andrew Taylor, Brian Hill and Rob Tod.

Maine will be well represented at the 2016 James Beard Awards ceremony Monday in Chicago, with three chefs and one craft brewer up for the coveted medals.

Under Construction: Tiqa Cafe

April 26th, 2016

The City Council approved a 5-year lease of the Deering Oaks Castle to Deen Haleem and Carol Mitchell, the owners of Tiqa restaurant. Their plan is to operate a year round  cafe called Tiqa Cafe serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. They hope to be open in time for the summer.

Tiqa has approval to make modification to the building to put in a small kitchen and also has been granted a beer and wine license for the establishment.

This Week’s Events: Okami Pop-up, Chopped Challenge, City of Gold, CBD Reopens, Allagash Izakaya, Farmers’ Markets, Ballet in the Brewhouse

April 25th, 2016

CityofGoldMonday — Central Provision’s Ian Driscoll is serving an Okami pop-up at Bao Bao tonight, Space Gallery is screening the movie City of Gold at 1pm at at 7:30pm, Coffee by Design is opening their newly renovated shop on Congress Street, and The Velveteen Habit is serving a dinner at the Beard House in NYC.

TuesdayPai Men is teaming up with Allagash that will pair 12 of their beers with an izakaya menu for the evening.

Wednesday — the first Monument Square Farmers’ Market of the season is taking place.

Thursday — Sea Glass is holding a Justin Vineyard wine dinner, and The Great Lost Bear is showcasing beer from Redhook Brewing.

Saturdayand the first Deering Oaks Farmers’ Market of the season is taking place.

Sunday — the 2016 Chopped Challenge is taking place as is the Ballet in the Brewhouse collaboration between Allagash and Portland Ballet, and the weekly Crofters & Artisan Market is taking place.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

 

Jack Van Paepeghem Earns Advanced Cicerone Certification

April 24th, 2016

Portland resident Jack Van Paepeghem is one of just six people in the world to have earned the Advanced Cicerone Certification. The day long exam for the advanced level includes six hours of written questions, four taste panels, and two oral exams.

“It is incredibly exciting to be named as one of the country’s very first Advanced Cicerones,” said Van Paepeghem. I am proud to represent not just Oxbow and The Maine Brew Bus, but Maine’s beer community as a whole.”

Reviews: Veranda Noodle House, Saltbox Cafe, Union, Crooners & Cocktails, Pizzaiolo, Lolita

April 24th, 2016

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Veranda Noodle House,

At their new restaurant on Commercial Street in Portland, Hai Pham and Sonka Nguyen offer more than a hundred dishes that represent the most popular appetizers and mains from their two original East Deering restaurants. Skip the Thai dishes, with the exception of the drunken noodles. Opt instead for something from the Vietnamese side of the menu: in particular, a bowl of the satisfying beef pho, or even better, one of the fantastic grilled meat vermicelli noodle buns. The soft shrimp spring rolls are also worth a try, and are a light, fresh choice for a day when you’re feeling peckish and the weather outside is warm.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Saltbox Cafe,

In short, Glatz’s crab-cake croissant was delicious, and it’s mostly thanks to a great combination of high-quality ingredients. The crab cake itself is homemade, and is full of flavor; probably because Glatz adds in spices and minced veggies with the crab meat instead of just bread-crumbs. The grilled croissant was crispy and flaky, yet warm and soft. The medium-done egg in the middle added some density to the sandwich. The melted Gruyere cheese added a level of complexity, one absent in breakfast sandwiches that just feature American cheese. And the shaved red onion paired well with the lemon ginger bearnaise it was smothered in. Overall, it was a satisfying sandwich, with levels of flavor and a uniquely Maine twist.

the Kennebec Journal has reviewed Union,

Along with thinly shaved fennel were feta cheese, smoked almonds and compressed honeydew melon. I had never tried compressed fruit, but I am a big fan of the concept now. It intensified the flavor of the melon and was exquisite. The peppery arugula, the salty feta and almonds and the light anise flavor of the fennel were all balanced with the sweetness of that melon.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Crooners and Cocktail,

Moving on to my sides, I went in for the mashed and found the soft, creamy potatoes to be delicious – not overly burdened by truffle cheddar, but simply and appropriately doused with it to transform what otherwise would have been a very basic preparation. The Brussels – same as in the eggs – were practically divine with their gravy of which I found the sweet onion played up the natural flavor of the green near-spheres while the bourbon added a bit of “how’s your father?” to the sassy side dish. A bite of my better half’s risotto revealed a masterful spring spread with awesome fresh basil and a blend of creamy greenery.

the Press Herald has reviewed Pizzaiolo,

Well with this cheese slice, the cheese and sauce perfectly meshed.

The mushroom and hamburger slice had large slabs of meat, cooked just right. I especially liked the Buffalo chicken slice, which had a lighter red sauce with a nice amount of heat to it.

and Drink Up and Get Happy has reviewed Lolita,

We loved our tapas so much that we decided to order up some more drinks and dive into the regular menu offerings for dinner. Absolutely a great decision. From a creamy citrus accented Burrata to a standout frisee salad everything was excellent. Put Lolita on your regular rotation. You will not be sorry.

Oxbow Cavern Release

April 22nd, 2016

cavernposterOxbow is releasing a new beer called Cavern this Sunday. Cavern is a mixed culture barrel-aged beer made with cara cara oranges.

They’ll be serving Browne Trading orange-cured arctic char on Union bagels at the release party.

Under Construction: Solo Italiano

April 22nd, 2016

Urban Eye has posted an update on Solo Italiano (website, facebook), the restaurant taking the place of Ebb & Flow on Commercial Street.

Solo Italiano, which translates to “only Italian,” will feature authentic Northern Italian cuisine, something this food city could use more of. An Italian native from Genoa, Paolo Laboa will shake things up in the kitchen.

F&W Cocktails: Andrew Volk

April 21st, 2016

fwcocktails

The 2016 Food & Wine cocktail book includes a set of 3 recipes (Norseman, In Cold Blood and Mexican Tricycle) from Hunt & Alpine c-owner/bartender Andrew Volk.

CN Traveler: Press Hotel

April 21st, 2016

A Condé Nast Traveler article about the Press Hotel highlights the role the Portland food scene has played in the development of the city.

On the coattails of a truly impressive food renaissance that began in 1996 with Sam Hayward’s Fore Street, gathered speed with Rob Evans’ 2000 reincarnation of Hugo’s, and got truly hot around 2012 with the debut of Eventide Oyster Co., Portland found itself—and then got found. By the time I visited in 2015 momentum was heavy, propelled by a slew of James Beard Award nominations including Best New Restaurant, for Central Provisions, just a few blocks from the Press; Best Chefs in the Northeast for Eventide owners Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley; and Rising Star Chef for Cara Stadler of Bao Bao Dumpling House. Next to Eventide, Wiley and Taylor had just opened Honey Paw, their brilliantly quirky take on noodle bars; and a block south Damian Sansonetti had begun his love song to Italian at Piccolo. And on and on. As food towns go, Portland had gone from simmer to full-on boil.

Rhubarb Wine

April 20th, 2016

The Press Herald reports that a company called Eighteen Twenty will begin selling a locally produced rhubarb wine later this year.

Pete Dubuc and Amanda O’Brien are out to change that. Co-founders of eighteen twenty, they’ve been experimenting with their unconventional product for a few years now, “bootleg style,” as Dubuc told me, but they’re planning to go live and legal later in 2016. As we eagerly await the first burst of rhubarb growth, one of spring’s first and most welcome signs that a bright, bounteous new food season is upon us, it’s a good time to look at how a wine from this plant comes to be.

Under Construction: Maker’s Mug Coffee

April 20th, 2016

makersmugcoffeeA new food cart called Maker’s Mug Coffee (website, instagram) is under construction. Owner Jacob Perry plans to launch in the next few weeks. He’s sourcing coffee from Crossroads Coffee, a small roaster in Gray, Maine run by his father-in-law. Perry has been building the cart at the Open Bench Project facility on Thompson’s Point.