First Bite & Graziano Exhibit

February 10th, 2016

Today’s Press Herald examined how people’s first date food choices sometimes signal the fate of a relationship,

Carolyn is the sort of person with several small mason jars of excellent and varied loose leaves in her cupboard at any time. She knows how to brew a cup. The prospect of a lifetime of meals and hot beverages with a man who would serve Lipton’s tea (and on a first date, yet, the time one is most striving to impress) – well, suffice it to say, there was no second date.

and an article on the Graziano restaurant exhibit and Roux & Cyr Gallery.

Over Thanksgiving, Graziano and Poland photographer Michael McAllister spent two days in a half-dozen Portland restaurants, taking photos in the kitchen and on the floor. They capped their research with a meal at the Grill Room. Using the photos as source material, Graziano made two dozen oil paintings from his experience. They hang this month at Roux & Cyr International Fine Art Gallery on Free Street in Portland. In March, the gallery will show McAllister’s photos.

Neighborhood Breweries & Maine Foodie Tours

February 9th, 2016

MaineBiz has published a feature on three brewers and the steps they take to be part of the communities and neighborhoods in which they’re located.

And while both men like the popular IPA ales, when they did taste-testings in their neighborhood, they discovered they were not popular. “So we listened to our customers,” Dingman adds. The brewery is making Double C.R.E.A.M., Old Smokey pale ale, plus a hoppy season ale and rye brown ale.

The plan is to get people in the door to both taste their beers and then buy and take them home in growlers. And the men welcome other breweries in the area.

“This street is vivacious,” says Dingman, referring to the three restaurants and other businesses on the block. “Hopefully we’ll get more brewers here. The more we build up the community, the better.”

MaineBiz has also published an interview with Pamela Laskey, owner of Maine Foodie Tours.

MB: What’s the reaction to the tour?
PL: When we take people into K. Horton Specialty Foods [Portland], we serve some of the American Cheese Society’s gold award-winning cheeses and people are shocked. I remember my very first customers were from Wisconsin. I took them to K. Horton, and Kris Horton blew them away. They were ordering wheels of cheese like there was no tomorrow. I did like impressing a family of cheddarheads. I tell people the cheese in Maine is like the wine in Napa. The best stuff never makes it out of the state.

Rhum Opening Report

February 9th, 2016

The Blueberry Files has published a report on the opening of Rhum.

It’s what Portland has been missing – a lounge full of escapism with an air of mystery. It’s the perfect place to sip on some rum until beach weather returns. 

Borealis Breads Closing in Portland

February 9th, 2016

The Press Herald reports that Borealis is closing their location on Ocean Street in Portland on Saturday.

Jim Amaral, the well-known Maine baker behind the bistro and the larger Borealis Breads bakeries in Wells and Waldoboro, said the building is owned by his brother, a Massachusetts real estate developer who has decided to sell the property. Amaral said he will focus on the wholesale side of Borealis, “which accounts for most of our business anyway and has been very, very busy the past couple of years.”

The space will be available for lease and Amaral “hopes another food business or restaurant will take over the space and perhaps add dinner service with beer and wine in the evening.”

This Week’s Events: Cru Night, Sherry Tasting, Bavarian Food, Share Our Strength, Whiskey Dinner

February 8th, 2016

Tuesday — Ri Ra is holding a Pappy Van Winkle Dinner.

Wednesday — MJ’s Wine Bar is participating in Cru Night serving 2011 Argiolas Turriga by the glass.

ThursdaySur Lie is continuing their Discovery Series in conjunction with the Maine chapter of American Sommelier with a night focused on Sherry, and Aurora Provisions is holding a beer and Bavarian food tasting event.

Friday — Chefs Chris Gould from Central Provisions, Sansonetti and Lopez from Piccolo, Wiley and Taylor from Hugo’s and Justin Walker from Earth are collaborating on a dinner in Kennebunkport to benefit Share Our Strength.

Saturday — the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place, Rosemont is holding their monthly Pizza Night, and there will be a wine tasting at LeRoux Kitchen.

Sunday — it’s Valentine’s Day.

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.

Rhum Opening Report

February 8th, 2016

Urban Eye has posted a report on Rhum.

There are pupu platters and fog cutters, scorpion bowls and miso soup, chopsticks and umbrella drinks. But similarities to all Asian-themed restaurants you know and love end at Rhum’s octopus door handles.

Reviews: Evo, Union, Lois’ Natural, Congress Squared

February 7th, 2016

The Bollard has reviewed Union,

The white bean soup ($10) was fine. Based on the menu’s description, I’d envisioned a hearty dish, but it was a thin purée, drizzled with black garlic oil and peppered with very hard, presumably pickled, lentils. The duck pâté ($14), topped with buttons of sticky marmalade and crisp frills of frisée, was a different story: opulent and rich. Two pieces of warm, ultra-crisp, deep-fried brioche compound the decadence.

the Portland Phoenix has reviewed Evo,

A softer flatbread accompanied the labneh, a simple yogurt cheese. It is smooth as can be, with an appealing brightness and tang. It was spotted with crunchy herbs and some sharp capers. Shakshuka, a hot dish made with crushed and stewed tomatoes and egg, is not exactly smooth. But it’s dippable in its cast iron bowl, and when the yolk from the egg runs into the herby tomato, things get plenty creamy. It manages to be rich but not heavy, with plenty of bite from garlic and some stewed jalapeno.

Peter Peter Portland Eater and The Golden Dish have reviewed Congress Squared,

Each dish—and there were many—were killer efforts that the kitchen team produced with suavity and assuredness.  The smoked duck breast, for example, over a cunningly devised puree of rosemary with dots of roasted grapes and garlic confit created an arsenal of flavor that put the whole chorus of fine cooking on a high note. The sweet-smoky duck breast soaking up the vivaciousness of the rosemary puree underneath was further complimented by the umami of  sweetly pungent pairing of grapes and garlic confit. [The Golden Dish]

and the Press Herald has reviewed Lois’ Natural.

But my tofu sandwich was so good – fresh and gently spicy – perhaps I’ll stick with it. A bargain at $6.90, it was generously stuffed with lettuce, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots and baked, peanut-butter-spiced tofu. It handily avoided the two cardinal sins of commercial sandwich production – the (French sourdough) bread did not get soggy, and the stuffing was not piled up in the center of the sandwich leaving the edges bare and bready.

Rhum Opens Today

February 6th, 2016

Rhum (website, facebook, instagram) held an friends and family preview last night and opens to the public today—the bar opens at 4pm and the kitchen at 5pm.

The tiki bar and restaurant is a partnership between Jason Loring, owner of Nosh and Slab; Mike Fraser, owner of Bramhall Pub; Nat Towl, builder and designer with the all star team of Frank Warren Anderson, Fred Eliot, Sam Babcock, and Rebecca Ambrosi.

The bar serves tiki-themed cocktails such as the King Kong Sledgehammer, Painkiller, Junglebird and mocktails. You can also get large format drinks (“Why settle for a flagon when you can have the whole cask?”) that serve up to 7 people.

Rhum features a raw bar serving Island Creek Oysters by the half dozen and seafood towers that include Peruvian scallops, Mexican shrimp, Maine mussels, king crab and lobster. There’s also a menu of small plate dishes. My favorite so far has been the Hiramasa Poke (photo) made with coconut vadouvan, pineapple and fried shallots. See below for the full list of options, and pictures of the food and space are available on Instagram.


Bard at the USBC Qualifying Competition

February 5th, 2016


Bard Coffee barista Maisie DeGoosh is in Kansas City this week competing in the USBC Qualifying Event.

DeGoosh had her time in front of the judges on Thursday and received an overall score of 243.5. She used a natural process Ethiopian coffee to prepare an espresso, a milk-based drink and a signature drink for the  judges.

At the end of today we’ll learn if Maisie is one of the 36 baristas (out of 100 competing) that will be going to the national competition taking Place in Atlanta in April.

Update: Maisie DeGoosh placed 9th overall in the Eastern conference Brewer’s Cup and so will be competing in the nationals in April.

Photo Credit: Sprudge Live

Brewery Snack Sales to be Allowed

February 5th, 2016

The Press Herald reports that the City has decided to allow snack sales at breweries and may create a separate $500 city license to for breweries, distilleries and wineries that operate in Portland.

City officials this week reversed a previous determination that breweries located in industrial zones could not sell prepackaged snacks in their tasting rooms.

The move will allow Allagash Brewing Co. to begin selling snacks from Portland Fruit and Nut Co., Coastal Maine Popcorn and Maine Vintage Kitchen as soon as next week. The request to sell snacks to beer tourists was made so the brewery can help temper the effects of alcohol on customers who might spend an afternoon visiting the half-dozen breweries on Industrial Way.

Under Construction: Bunker Brewing

February 4th, 2016

bunker_logoBunker Brewing (website, facebook, instagram, twitter) is moving from East Bayside to 17 Westfield Street in the Libbytown neighborhood. Bunker’s production volume has grown more than 5-fold since they first opened in 2011. The new 8,400 square foot space will provide plenty of space for their continued expansion and is a big step up from the 1,200 square foot space they now occupy on Anderson Street.

Portland Trails’ Fore River Parkway Trail passes nearby the Westfield Street building providing a pedestrian friendly connection with Thompson’s Point and Bissell Brothers new brewery. Co-owners Chresten Sorensen and Jay Villani ideally hope to open the new Bunker this July. They plan to hold on to the namesake Bunker location in East Bayside, specific plans for reuse of the building are still tbd.

NY Times: Cara Stadler

February 4th, 2016

Chef Cara Stadler was interviewed for a New York Times article on Chinese-American chefs.

“No one would give me even the lowest kitchen job in Beijing,” said Cara Stadler, 28, who grew up in Massachusetts and moved to China with substantial experience in the kitchens of the chefs Guy Savoy and Gordon Ramsay. Instead, she started the city’s first underground supper club. “Going to the markets every day forced me to really learn about Chinese produce,” she said.

Restaurant Design

February 3rd, 2016

An article in the Bangor Daily News explores the role design plays in the success of a restaurant,

In a booming dining city such as Portland, where new restaurants open monthly, restaurateurs need more than a hot chef to keep their rooms full. Intrigue created through lighting, tone, decor — all the elements of design create a subtle theater that seduces diners as they indulge and quaff.

“These days, if everyone is Instagramming their meals and the restaurant space, you know you’re doing something right,” Jim Brady, developer and co-owner of UNION at The Press Hotel, said.

Roustabout, Union, Evo, Grace are all cited in the article.

Peddleman’s at Union Bagel

February 3rd, 2016

peddlemans_coatPeddleman’s (facebook, instagram), a new falafel vendor, will be partnering with Union Bagel to sell “falafel sandwiches and mezze to-go” from the Cumberland Ave shop, evenings 5-9 pm. Peddleman’s owners Tara Rancourt and Scott William Ryan hope to launch sometime in March.

You can get a taste of Peddleman’s cooking at an upcoming pop-up they’re holding at Bao Bao on February 23rd. This is the first of an ongoing pop-up series that Bao Bao will be hosting throughout the year.

Don Lindgren: Anatomy of a Cookbook

February 3rd, 2016

Here’s a video recording of Rabelais Books owner Don Lindgren’s recent talk at Bowdoin College using examples from the Esta Kramer Collection of American Cookery to speak “about what the physical attributes of cookbooks can tell us about our social, cultural, and environmental past”