Archive for August, 2010

Thai-o-rama: Vientiane

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

For the 10th round of this comprehensive survey/review of Thai restaurants in Portland we visited Vientiane on Noyes Street. It’s a combination market and restaurant. There a few tables but is probably better known as a spot to get takeout.

Appetite Portlandread the full review

The food certainly doesn’t come close to Boda’s or even Pom’s. But, compared to the other neighborhood Thai restaurants, Adam and I both feel it fares quite well. Rather strongly, even.

The curry was quite nice and the atmosphere — authentic and weird — can’t be beat.

Edible Obsessionsread the full review

Later on that evening we talked about our dishes and I came to a conclusion: Perhaps, over the past six years of trying other places in town, it wasn’t really Vientiane that had changed but us. The meal was still enjoyable, just not the best we’ve had. Our tastes and preferences now lie elsewhere in the Thai spectrum offered in and around Portland. Like any relationship that fades away because people change I have this to say to Vientiane, “I’m sorry, it’s not you–it’s me.”

The Blueberry Filesread the full review

So I’m excited to eat at and review Vientiane, because I know their Pad Thai is the best I’ve ever had. That’s right, the best I’ve ever had. So if you’ve had their Pad Thai and are immediately thinking a me a philistine, that’s fine. At least you know where my tastes lie. This Pad Thai is my personal measure for all other Pad Thais.

Where is Jenner’s Mindread the full review

after a summer break from thai food and blogging, vientiane was a great welcome back. while they offer the average thai fare, vientiane does a good job at it. its very convenient and we will definitely be going back for thai take-out.

Food in Portland published the one prior review of Vientiane about a decade ago and gave them 3½ stars, “My freshly made spring rolls were large, tasty and lovely to look at. The vegetables (mostly cucumber, carrot and sprouts) and the mint were very fresh and the rice wrapping itself was soft and easy to bite into. They came with a sweet Thai sauce with bits of peanut and pepper flakes.”

There are just 3 Thai restaurants left for us to visit: Chiang MaiSengchai Thai, Siam Orchid. Where we should go next?

Chewing Gum, Maine Food History and Academic Success

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

An article in Tuesday’s edition of the Portland Daily Sun writes about the history of chewing gum in Maine and research that shows chewing gum boosts academic performance by 3%.

Eventually demand grew beyond what the Bangor kitchen could produce so Curtis and family set up a facility in Portland. The business continued to grow, eventually employing 200 people who produced 1800 boxes of gum a day. the three-story factory was located on Fore Street in the building now occupied by Hub Furniture. By the late 1870s, Curtis had earned enough from the masticating masses that he was able to build a home in Deering Center that was the largest and most expensive home at the time.

Eric J. ‘Rick’ Hartglass, 64

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

The founder of Mister Bagel, Eric J. Hartglass, has passed away.

Rick started Mister Bagel in 1977 on Forest Avenue; this location was the first and original bagel shop in the state of Maine. Today there are 12 successful franchises that he was very proud of.

For additional information read the Passages profile that appeared in the Wednesday Press Herald.

Mr. Hartglass learned how to make bagels from the renowned Ess-a-Bagel, Inc. in New York, his birthplace. He took what he learned back to the bakery in Maine, attracting people from throughout the area with his bagels.

This Week’s Events

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Wednesday Wine Wise is teaching a class at The Wine Bar and the Grace wine club will be meeting to discuss/taste Summer wines.

Thursday — Cultivating Community is hosting one of their biweekly Twilight Dinners at their farm in Cape Elizabeth, and a wine tasting is scheduled to take place at Downeast Beverage.

Friday — there will be a wine tasting at the West End Deli, and the First Friday Art Walk is taking place. Restaurants will be busy so make your reservations early.

Saturday — there will be a wine tasting at the LeRoux Kitchen.

Farmer’s Markets — the traditional series of Farmer’s Markets are taking place Monday (Monument Square), Wednesday (Monument Square) and Saturday (Deering Oaks Park). Cultivating Community is running their new series of markets Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at various locations around the city.

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.

Review of Soju

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Soju received 2½ stars from the Taste & Tell column in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.

Yaki udon ($8.50) held big, fat, square rice noodles — again not a favorite, but well-liked by my dinner companion. The mild sauce and scallions, zucchini, carrots, onions and mushrooms mixed with cubes of tofu that had a crisp, thin fried coating kept the dish interesting.

Review of DiMillo’s

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

From Away has published a review of DiMillo’s.

It’s the sort of place where you share molten chocolate cake. It’s the sort of place you bring your grandma for her 90th birthday and delight in watching her wear a bib adorned with anthropomorphic shellfish. It’s the sort of place where your waitress forgets to fire your order but you forgive her and she comps you a glass of Chardonnay while career waiters in their black vests swan around mocking her failures. It’s crenolins and mary janes and falling asleep in the back of the station wagon while your parents smoke and argue, The Moody Blues on the radio. DiMillo’s is nostalgia for the future.

Review of Hot Suppa

Friday, August 27th, 2010

From Away has published a review of Hot Suppa.

Open for breakfast and lunch, but not actually “Suppa,” a fact that my 11-year-old nephew finds hilarious and fascinating, you may hit a bit of a wait on the weekends. The tables turn quickly, though, and seeing the smiling, satisfied faces on their way out inspire you to wait just a little longer. Hot Suppa has emerged, in our brief time in Portland, as our favorite place to bring out-of-town guests for a cozy, bleary-eyed breakfast.

Portlandtaps.com Interview

Friday, August 27th, 2010

The Live Work Portland site has posted a video interview with two of the Portlandtaps.com founders, Cory Cronk and Caleb O’Connell.

Review of Mike’s

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Mike’s, the new sandwich shop on Congress Street, has received 4 stars from the Eat & Run review in today’s Press Herald.

Opened this month, Mike’s is a small restaurant. The front room houses a few stools, where you can eat looking at Congress Street out the front window, beverage coolers and the kitchen. The back room has tables for seating. There are band posters and other art work celebrating rock ‘n’ roll decorating the restaurant’s two rooms.

Student Survival Guide

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

This week’s Phoneix includes their annual Student Survival Guide. The guide is packed with eating advice for the college set such as 5 Bars to Drink at When You’re Nearly Broke and 4 Places to Go for Food at 3 am.

Outdoor Eats at The Porthole and Silly’s

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

An article in Wednesday’s Portland Daily Sun writes about outdoor eating in Portland with special attention paid to The Porthole and Silly’s. For a complete (I think) list of outdoor eating spots in Portland see this list on PFM.

An endless summer doesn’t appeal to everyone, and even I look forward to pulling out my oversized sweaters, roasting freshly carved pumpkin seeds with different spices, and hitting the Cumberland County Fair to ogle the pies and bovines. It’s the change of seasons that makes each individual one so tasty; but for now, as Springsteen says, I’m going to keep “drinkin’ warm beer in the soft summer rain” as long as Mother Nature will allow.

Immigrant Kitchens: Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Immigrant Kitchens met up with Suu Lee Martin, originally from Ho Chi Minh City, to learn how to make Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls (intro, photos, recipe).

When you get Vietnamese spring roll lessons from Suu Le Martin, you learn they’re basically ground pork, really thin rice noodles, carrot, salt, sugar, pepper, onion, and egg, wrapped up in special paper and deep fried. But by the time you’re chomping into the crispy, hot, handheld treat, you understand she also did something else: she took sheer human love, wrapped it in courage and glued it all together with a scramble of prayers.

Review of Caiola’s

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Edible Obsessions has published a review of Caiola’s.

I am going to start simply by laying out the fact that I am undeniably and absolutely in love with Caiola’s. I am biased from the second my hands hit the keyboard and I am more than ok with that. Truth be told, in spite of what my friend Kate says, they serve up the best brunch in town (or within at least a 50-mile radius) and we haven’t gone to another spot since they started serving it over two years ago.

Figa Water Line

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

According to the restaurant’s Facebook wall, a date has finally been set (september 13-15) for installing the new water line at Figa. Access to a water supply has been the essential missing ingredient holding up the opening of the restaurant.

The Locavorian Lunch Tray

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

The Natural Foodie column in today’s Press Herald is on the strides made by school systems in bringing locally grown food and freshly prepared food to the student lunch trays.

One of the most visible changes in Portland this year is the addition of fruit and vegetable buffets at all nine elementary schools.

Less visible is the drive to make more dishes in-house and rely less on processed food.

“We’ve made pretty big strides in bringing scratch-made food back to Portland schools,” Adams said. “We still serve chicken nuggets once a month, but now we do breaded drumsticks made in-house and baked red potatoes instead of tater tots.”