Archive for March, 2010

Under Construction: Figa

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Today’s Portland Daily Sun has a report on what’s delaying the launch of chef Lee Farrington’s new restaurant Figa.

At issue is this: although Farrington owns her space at 249 Congress, her water is piped through an adjacent building owned by Alice Dunn. For the previous owner of 249 Congress, a hair salon, Dunn installed a “sub-meter” in the basement that kept track of how much water the salon consumed…Dunn says she’s unwilling to allow Farrington access to water line because she’s worried that higher water usage from the restaurant could create water-pressure issues for her other tenants, who share the water line.

Bella Cheesecakes

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

There’s a profile of Bella Cheese Cakes in the Food & Dining section in of today’s Press Herald. Bella’s cheesecakes can be found in Portland at Simply Scandinavian Foods and the Good Eats Boutique and he’ll be debuting a new flavor next weekend at the Chocolate Lover’s Fling.

But other cheesecakes in his repertoire go beyond the standard flavors. Dominicus has a talent for taking the original idea of a food or favorite drink and transforming it into a cheesecake.

If you harbor fond memories of eating a cold orange creamsicle on a hot summer day, Dominicus has an orange creamsicle cheesecake with vanilla wafer crust and whipped cream topping that will whisk you back to your childhood.

NYT: Backyard Farms in Central Maine

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

The New York Times has published an article about Backyard Farms, a Maine-based hydroponic tomato farm in Madison that operates a 42-acre greenhouse.

When it was built three years ago, the company’s first 24-acre greenhouse in Madison was already the largest building in Maine. This second connected greenhouse, completed last year, brought the total area under glass to some 42 acres, or roughly the size of 32 football fields. Even in the depths of winter, a million tomatoes ripen indoors to harvest each week, snipped from their vines by workers in T-shirts and shorts.

Heiwa Tofu Interview

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Cornucopasetic has published an interview with Jeff Wolovitz, founder of Heiwa Tofu, a Maine brand that is sold in several Portland area stores and restaurants.

Where do you get your soy beans? Are these the same beans that Lalibela Farm is using to make their tempeh?
Bob Reisner in Skowhegan. I’d like to diversify. I’ve talked to Henry Perkins about growing this coming year. Also, Donnie Webb in Pittson. Donnie cleaned Bob’s beans for me this year and would like to try growing soybeans for me. They are all great folks…I use a lot. At least 20,000 pounds this year. That takes roughly ten to twenty acres of land and will make 35,000 pounds of tofu!

Profile of Bogusha and Her Deli

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Today’s Portland Daily Sun includes a profile of Bogusha Pawlazyk and her Polish deli on Stevens Ave.

This past week Bogusha Pawlazyk and Andrzej Rzycki  of Bogusha’s Polish Restaurant and Deli on Stevens Avenue have been busy with preparations for the inevitable torrent of customers in search of culinary holiday authenticity. There are pastries from the European Bakery in Worcester: makowiec (poppy seed cake), orzechowiec (walnut cake), cream cakes, and various cheese cakes. Of course there is Easter babka, which celebrates the return of eggs to the diet after the Lenten restrictions in a sweet cake made with more than a dozen eggs yolks.

Thai-o-rama: Pom’s Thai Taste

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

For the fourth round of the Thai-o-rama (Round 1, Round 2, Round 3) collaborative food writing project, the group tackled Pom’s Thai Taste. There are three locations (2 in SoPo and 1 in the city), but we decided to focus our attention on the one on Congress Street.

Appetite Portland decided to forgo her usual Pom’s order of five flavor noodle soup with crispy duck (“not the best soup in the world, but it’s dependable, hearty, filling and affordable”) to branch out into new horizons on the menu. She writes that the Steamed Butterflies dumplings were a “sticky and overly sweet mess”. However, the Pad Thai was “quite tasty” once lime “begged” from the waitress balanced out the sweetness. Read the Full Review

Edible Obsessions points out that the “Thailand meets Ikea” interior design for the dining room “is bright and cheery without the feeling of being campy or gaudy,” and that “the food also falls into the line of pretty simple and straightforward.” It sounds like the Krah-Tong Thong appetizer, Pad Khee-Mao and desserts were the high point of her meal with the bland Pad Thai being the most notable exception. Read the Full Review

Portland Eats rates Pom’s as “good, solid, Thai food” but that the menu of 694 items (he counted) is too long and that “as good as the food at Pom’s is, it would be even better if the menu was more focused, truly highlighting a small handful of specialties.”. Read the Full Review

Portland Food Heads tried the Paad-Khee-Mao “I’ve always loved drunken noodles, and these were very good; in fact, one of the better plates I’ve ever had.” However on a return trip for some take-out was disappointed by a plate of Crab Pad Thai. Read the Full Review

The Blueberry Files handed this review over to a guest post by her roommate. They both “appreciated the complete lack of kitsch” in the restaurant decor, which enabled them to “focus entirely on the food. Which was, on balance, pretty good.” They enjoyed the $1 sushi but the meal went off course with the “odd consistency” of the non-traditional Crispy Pad Thai. Their Fried coconut ice cream “was a great way to end the evening”.Read the Full Review

Where is Jenner’s Mind rates Pom’s as “some of the best thai food in portland”. The dumplings were “bland” but the Crispy Duck got rave reviews (“i’m drooling just writing about it”). Read the Full Review

My take on Pom’s is that it offers a solid choice for Thai in the city. Like Edible Obsessions and Portland Food Heads, I don’t think Pad Thai isn’t their strong suit. It’s clear from this set of reviews (and the ones linked below) that there’s plenty on the menu to enjoy but that the service still has some room to grow. From the comments of The Blueberry Files and Edible Obsessions as well as my own experience, skipping dessert would be a mistake.

For more on Pom’s Thai Taste also check out these earlier reviews by:

This Week’s Events

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Monday Bar Lola, BiBo’s Madd Apple Cafe and Cinque Terre are all holding wine dinners tonight and Ri-Ra is hosting a wine event featuring “25 different wineries, taste over 100 different wines” to benefit the Cancer Community Center; Stephen Lanzalotta is teaching a Piatto per Tutti cooking class.

Tuesday — Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh is opening their “unique and explanatory” Seder dinner to the public as part of the National Jewish Outreach Program.

Wednesday — a “bourbon guru” will be at The Salt Exchange for a Jim Beam tasting.

Friday — the West End Deli is holding a wine tasting, also First Friday Art Walk is taking place and the restaurants will be busy so make your reservations soon.

Saturday — the indoor Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place, Leroux Kitchen is holding a wine tasting.

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.

Maine Maple Sunday Today

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Maple syrup producers across the state will be open today for Maine Maple Sunday. Visit the Get Real Get Maine site to find a participating sugarhouse near you.

Review of Novare Res

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Green Man Review has published a review of Novare Res.

Great bars, like barbells, work when patrons put as much into them as they expect to get out. Over time, places that spoon feed themes and gimmicks to entertain their customers grow stale. Façades crack and age, and regulars grow dissatisfied with the passive entertainment they’ve contributed nothing too.

In Portland, Maine, a hero now challenges this unsustainable pattern. They don’t serve much food — some soups and a selection of meat and cheese plates. They don’t serve martinis or cosmos, but they do have a couple of whiskeys. Their focus is good beer and they stick to it myopically.

Magazine Eats

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Check out this month’s edition of Portland magazine for a profile of Yordprom Coffee, the new coffee shop that recently opened on Congress Street in the West End. Yordprom serves Doi Chaang, an organic fair trade coffee from Thailand.

Also, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Maine magazine for some tips on where to eat (and shop and be entertained) in South Portland.

Neither article is online but both magazines are now out on newsstands.

Bail Bondsmen Restaurant Scam

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

MPBN issued a report yesterday on a scam that’s targeting Maine restaurants.

The scammers claim to be bail bondsmen seeking bail for employees that have been arrested. A big red flag: Maine doesn’t have bail bondsmen.

Review of Boda

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Portland Eats has published a “first bites” review of Boda.

According to its website, the restaurant features “street vendor specialties” and “home-style” cooking.  It also emphasizes that Boda features “authentic” Thai food as opposed to the “Americanized” Thai food at most other area restaurants.  Having never been to Thailand, I cannot vouch for the food’s authenticity.  What I can say is, based on my first visit, the food is different and mostly all delicious.

Toast Review of Arabica

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Down East has published a mini-review of the fine toast on tap at Arabica.

There are few pleasures in this world greater than a good slice of toast. And we’re ready to claim that Arabica Coffee…has the best in the state. The homemade bread is baked by South Portland’s own Doug’s House of Toast bakery. From plain white to cinnamon-raisin swirl to cheddar cheese and chive, this toast is no ordinary slab of bread. It’s thick, and lightly toasted, and, well, just plain perfect.

Rosemont Wine Sale and Tasting Friday

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Rosemont Market on Munjoy Hill is running a “buy any six bottles and take 15% off the price” wine sale all day today, and this afternoon they’re having a wine tasting at the store with the folks from SoPo Wines. Included in the tasting is Oyster River Villager from Warren, Maine which Rosemont describes it as “Wild but exceptionally well made white from Germanic varietals”.

Under Construction: GF, Public Market, Siano’s, etc

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Here’s a collection of recent Under Construction updates:

  • Andrew Pettingill is back working on his project from last year to start-up a gluten-free specialty store/cafe.
  • The Portland Farmer’s Market is mulling “some changes at the Deering Oaks market to accommodate the addition of new vendors in an effort to expand the Portland Farmers’ Market in the future.” They are asking for public comment on a proposal that would shift some parking across the street.
  • Siano’s is planning on opening their new pizzeria on Fore Street on April 1. They’ve posted some photos of the construction at the new site online.
  • Construction is underway at the site of the former Roma restaurant in the West End. There’s no word yet on what business will be moving into the building.
  • According to this week’s edition of The Forecaster, the Kosher Meals on Wheels program is expanding its service area (Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, Portland) to include Falmouth.