Archive for December, 2010

First Review of Gorgeous Gelato

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Appetite Portland has published a review of Gorgeous Gelato.

My advice? Get thee to the newly opened Gorgeous Gelato (434 Fore Street) and celebrate this balmy bliss with a creamy cold mound of sheer joy. I stopped in yesterday and tasted my way through half a dozen flavors (the proprietor will happily hand you mini spoonfuls to try) and each one was better than the next.

Review of The Salt Exchange

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Portland Magazine has published a review of The Salt Exchange.

The small-plate (3 to 5 make a complete dinner) menu choices are sensational, imaginative, and affordably priced. The Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine ($17) has real wow factor, served with cherries, pistachios, and savory black pepper confections–truly a memorable experience. Ditto for the skillfully crafted pork terrine ($5) served with whole-grain mustard and shaved beef tongue ($9) highlighted with a soy-caramel-ginger vinaigrette.

Back and Forward

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Edible Obsessions published her 2010 round-up and wish list (as well as a Christmas turducken post)

My own food wishes for 2011? Well, I hope the Missus gets her never ending wish for a less expensive and fulfilling Middle Eastern place(how about Emilitsa-lite?) and I would, in our great expansion of Asian places around town would love to be able to chow down at a Malaysian restaurant, even if it’s a chain. And tonight, in a perfect way to end the year, we’re revisiting the one local restaurant that completely left us speechless, Bresca.

and Portland Magazine has published a 2011 calendar of food events happening throughout the state.

Under Construction: Petite Jacqueline

Friday, December 31st, 2010

According to the liquor license application submitted by the Corry’s and their business partner Elizabeth Koenigsberg, the name of the French bistro the trio are opening in Longfellow Square will be Petite Jacqueline. You can see draft lunch and dinner menus for Petite Jacqueline on pages 31-35 pf the City Council agenda for January 3, 2011.

Baxter Brewing

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

According to the What Ales You column in today’s Press Herald, Baxter Brewing expects to starts shipping beer by the end of this month.

The Stowaway IPA is a great example of a West Coast IPA. It has an aggressive hoppy aroma at the start and a strong flavor, but you still can taste the malt in the background. The Stowaway, at 6.9 percent alcohol, is a beer you would want to take some time with.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The Virginia-based franchise Five Guys Burgers and Fries is planning on opening a location in Portland. According to an article in the Portland Daily Sun, the burger shop will be located at 425 Fore Street.

Legendary franchise “Five Guys Burgers And Fries” is planning to open its first Maine location at 425 Fore St., site of the former “Moon” nightclub, and is getting a social media reaction similar to when Trader Joe’s announced the opening of a Marginal Way location.

“It’s kind of the Trader Joe’s of burgers,” said one fan.

For more information on the food at Five Guys, read the review published by The Blueberry Files on her recent visit to a Five Guys in Maryland.

2010 Year in Review

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

A lot happened the past year in our little culinary paradise: restaurants opened and closed, major trends and minor ones emerged and lots of wonderful food was crafted and gratefully consumed. I’ve scanned through the news and events for the past year and here’s my summary of the 2010 Portland Year in Food:

  • Trader Joe’s –Easily the biggest food story of the year was the opening of Trader Joe’s. Each step in the process was widely covered in print and online: the late 2009 leaks from Trader Joe’s store clerks in Massachusetts, steps in the FTC approved sale of the old Wild Oats property, breathless articles in the week leading up to opening day and  coverage of the Grand Opening itself. Once the market opened there were reviews of their beer and wine selection, reports on the lack of gate access to the Bayside trail, commentary on crazy appeal of the place, the gridlock in the parking lot, and so on. In late December, the West End News even published a commentary on the commentary.
  • Cupcakemania – cupcakes have turned into a full blown product segment in 2010 with at least 4 bakeries (Tulips, Cha Cha, Cakeface, Buttercup) devoted to the little snacks and many others producing them on the side. There’s even a Portland blog who’s sole focus is to seek out the best cupcake in Portland and three other bloggers banded together to review 12 cupcakes from 7 different bakeries. Even Google’s new Book Ngram Viewer seems to concur that cupcakes are hot.
  • Longfellow Square – there’s been a lot of change in the area in and around Longfellow Square: Pai Men Miyake, Boda, Yordprom Coffee all opened in or near the square. Local Sprouts opened in the renovated Portland Hall. King of the Roll underwent a facelift during the summer and in November Hot Suppa started dinner service. An Asian fusion restaurant named Gogi is under construction where Barava used to be and the Corry’s are starting up a casual dining restaurant in what had been Evangeline. A little further down Congress Street Quimby Colony set up shop in the old Roma Cafe. The former restaurant has been the location for a number of food events including the Rabelais cookie swap with Joanne Chang from Flour. There are still a few vacant store fronts in Longfellow Square available for anyone who wants to join in on the fun. Perhaps in 2011 a cupcakery could fill the spot left vacant by Tropa Wine Co.
  • Pizza, Pizza Pizza – the city saw an uptick in the number of pizzerias in 2010. Pat’s Pizza returned to Portland, Siano’s opened a third location, Pie in the Sky opened at the Public Market House and Otto’s expanded their original location and went on to open a much larger pizzeria at the foot of Munjoy Hill. Maple’s even got in on the act by opening Pizza Magnolia in South Portland.
  • Korean Anyone? – Korean cuisine emerged from the long shadow of Portland’s Thai and Sushi restaurants. Happy Teriyaki transformed into Korea House to become Portland’s first restaurant to focus exclusively on Korean Cuisine, and both Soju and Little Seoul opened their doors. For a time, until the close of Soju, Portlanders hungry for Korean had 3 venues to choose from.
  • Moving Chiang Mai and Katahdin moved from their longtime homes. Local Sprouts graduated from the basement of the Public Market House to the steel clad building at 645 Congress Street and Spartan Grill moved next door to the Public Market House through a buyout of Zarra’s Monumental Coffee. Lastly, Rosemont Market expanded operations with a move across Brighton Ave.
  • Farming – a mild Winter and unseasonably warm Spring lead to what one farmer referred to as the “best growing year I have had for 30 years“. There were additional vendors at the Farmers Markets, an effort to start a 3rd market day on Monday, Cultivating Community started a set of neighborhood farmers markets, the Winter Market found a new home and is returning for a second season, there was an heirloom tomato CSA during the Summer, and a rare apple CSA this Fall.
  • Ice Cream – MDI Ice Cream and Catbird Creamery joined longtime Old Port favorite Beal’s this Summer, Spartan Grill owner Mike Roylos opened Harbor Scoop Shop at the corner of Cumberland and Washington, Bonobo re-opened their ice cream window, Maple’s opened a gelato scoop shop in South Portland, and in December Gorgeous Gelato opened on Fore Street in the Old Port.
  • Make mine a double – the trend of restaurateurs owning more than one restaurant continued in 2010. Jay Villani who owns Local 188 opened Sonny’s, the owners of Green Elephant converted Bangkok Thai into Boda, Michael Boland and Deirdre Swords who own Havana in Bar Harbor opened Havana South on Wharf Street, Big Sky opened Pie in the Sky Pizzeria, Bar Lola bought Hilltop Coffee Shop, Masa Miyake opened Pai Men Miyake, and several of the restaurants under construction will continue the trend. This isn’t a recent phenomena. Back in the 1980’s Steve and Rose Harris bought Ruski’s and opened Rosie’s. In the 1990’s Dana Street owned Street & Co. and co-founded Fore Street; he also went on to open a pizzeria on Forest Ave and a casual seafood restaurant called Scales in the Public Market.

Calendar of Notable Events

  • JanuaryDual Site Dinner Theater took place at Whitney Art Works, both Nosh and Sonny’s (see photos of the opening from PortlandTown) opened their doors.
  • February– Boda opened and Katahdin moved to Forest Avenue.
  • March– the 2nd Annual Maine Restaurant Week took place, Skinny Cart BBQ begin service on Washington Ave, Yordprom Coffee opened in the West End, and Otto gave birth to Enzo.
  • April– Kamasoutra opened on the second floor of the Public Market House, Cranberry Island Kitchen moved into Portland, and Pat’s Pizza opened on Market Street.
  • May– Soju replaced Thai Chef Buffet, Siano’s opened their third pizzeria, South Portland landmark Red’s Dairy Freeze was severely damaged by a fire, and later in the month Cape Elizabeth landmark The Cookie Jar reopened after being knocked out of commission by a storm in 2006.
  • June– Local Sprouts, Bayside Bowl and  Havana South all opened.  New York chefs Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo were in town for a book signing, Joe Appel started writing a weekly wine column for the Portland Press Herald.
  • July– Venue Music Bar and Whaddapita both opened on Forest Ave.
  • September– Pai Men Miyake and  Little Seoul opened for business, Norm Jabar shut down the East End Grill and the North Star Music Cafe closed.
  • October– the 3rd Annual Harvest on the Harbor and the 4th Annual 20 Mile Meal took place, Trader Joe’s and Figa opened, and Happy Teriyaki became Korea House.
  • November– Soju closed, District opened on Danforth Street, Rosemont Market on Brighton moved across the street, Evangeline closed, and wine expert Bob Kacher was in town for a dinner at Havana South.
  • December– Otto East and Gorgeous Gelato opened followed the next day by 15 Exchange, Mousse Cafe closed, and wine guru Terry Thiese and his wife, chef Odessa Piper, were in town for a book signing and wine dinner at Bar Lola.

The 25 Most Popular Restaurants of 2010

Every month I publish a list of the 10 restaurants looked up most often on Portland Food Map. Here’s the top 25 list for 2010.

  1. Bresca
  2. Bar Lola
  3. Boda
  4. Five Fifty-Five
  5. Nosh
  6. The Salt Exchange
  7. Otto’s
  8. Sonny’s
  9. Caiola’s
  10. Local 188
  11. Walter’s
  12. Katahdin
  13. Evangeline
  14. Paciarino
  15. Grace
  16. Blue Spoon
  17. Emilitsa
  18. Po’Boy’s & Pickles
  19. Miyake
  20. Back Bay Grill
  21. Hot Suppa!
  22. Havana South
  23. Pai Men Miyake
  24. Fore Street
  25. Vignola

Passings

  • Bob Smith died unexpectedly in December at the age of 49. Bob was a chef, a cheesemaker and a friend to many people throughout the Portland food community.
  • Jack Rosen passed away at the age of 76. He worked the counter at Full Belly Deli which was started in 1987 by his son David.
  • The co-founder and longtime owner of the Sportsmen’s Grill, John Severino died at the age of 80 in late September. The Sportsmen’s Grill operated on Congress Street near the intersection of Saint John from 1952 until 1999 when it was damaged by a fire.
  • Eric Hartglass, Mister Bagel himself, passed away at the age of 64. He started the Mister Bagel chain on Forest Ave in 1977.
  • Amedeo Reali died at the age of 83 after a lifetime working at and running the family restaurant. His father, Vincenzo Reali,  opened The Village Cafe in 1936. Amedeo Reali oversaw the expansion of the 20 seat cafe into a restaurant that could serve 500. The Village Cafe closed in 2007.

Online Winter Market in Cape & South Portland

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Today’s Press Herald reports on a Winter market being organized by a group of farms in Cape Elizabeth called Cape SoPo Winter Share.

The new venture isn’t run like traditional community-supported agriculture, in which customers buy shares of a farm’s crop in advance. Instead, customers shop online without any long-term commitment for the season. They can place orders for any two-week cycle, choosing the types and quantities of items they want.

You can sign-up for their email distribution list online and also find them on Facebook.

This Week’s Events: Wine Wise & New Year’s Eve

Monday, December 27th, 2010

WednesdayWine Wise will be teaching a class on sparkling wines at The Wine Bar on Wharf Street.

Friday — there will be a wine and cheese tasting at the Public Market House.

Saturday — there are a lot of options for your New Year’s Eve celebration: Bar Lola, BiBo’s, Bresca, Bull Feeney’s, Cinque Terre, David’s, DiMillo’s, El Rayo, Events on Broadway, Five Fifty-Five, Figa, Fore Street, Frog & Turtle, Grace, Havana South, Local 188, Old Port Sea Grill, Paciarino, Ribollita, Sonny’s, Sea Glass Restaurant, Season’s Grille, The Farmer’s Table, The Grill Room, The Salt Exchange, Vignola, Walter’s and Zackery’s.

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.

Dinner Review of Hot Suppa!

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Hot Suppa! received 3½ stars from the Taste & Tell review in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

With a penchant for satisfying Cajun soul food and some dishes that surprise with complex flavors, Hot Suppa! makes very good inexpensive dinners.

Phoenix Food 2010

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

This week’s Portland Phoenix includes restaurant critic Brian Duff’s take on the 2010 food trends,

Portland’s year in food in 2010 was marked by new ventures on the part of established players on the food scene. It’s a tried and true recession-era strategy for those with the resources: you reinvest when rents are down, vacancies are high, and contractors are desperate for remodeling work. Right now credit is cheap, but only for those with some collateral. So it’s the perfect time for the big players to double down.

and Deirdre Fulton’s year in review article commented on the Trader Joe’s, food bloggers, food carts and new restaurants.

Two Guys and a Fire

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Two Guys and a Fire, a mobile pizzeria that you can hire for special events at your place, has been added to the PFM directory. The business is run by Robin Ferrigno and Stefano Faleri.

Under Construction: River House and El Rayo Cantina

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Mainebiz has published a report on a pair of new restaurants that the owners and managers of El Rayo have in the works.

The owners of El Rayo Taqueria are expanding in two directions. Tod Dana and Alex Fisher are opening a cantina in the building next door to their popular Mexican restaurant on York Street. And in the other direction, a few blocks west, they are working on a new restaurant at 231 York St. called River House.

Port Clyde Maine Shrimp CSF

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Port Clyde Fresh Catch is offering a Maine Shrimp CSF, $117 for 9 weekly deliveries starting January 8. Rabelais at 86 Middle Street will be the pick-up point for the CSF.

CSF stands for Community Supported Fishery, it’s the seafood analog to the CSA programs run by farmers or CSK programs that are run by restaurants like Local Sprouts.

Chef Bob Smith, 49

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Members of the Portland and broader Maine food communities are mourning the loss of Bob Smith. The Locavore column in today’s Portland Daily Sun is a remembrance of Bob.

Generous, vivacious, energetic, hilarious; those words come quickly when people speak of Bob Smith.

“I see him in his white t-shirt with a flannel shirt over it, jeans and a pair of clogs, moving a million miles an hour. His goatee, perfectly parted hair and those signature eyebrows. Nobody had more passion for life than Bob had,” said Marc Doiron who worked with him at the Commissary, the lunch and dinner eatery at the Portland Public Market.

A Passages article on Bob appeared in today’s Press Herald,

“He was brilliant, funny, and had a huge heart,” Wright said. “Bob’s motto was, ‘Food is love,’ and there was more than enough of it wherever he was.”

Steven Gerlach, his friend for the past 31 years, remembered Mr. Smith on Monday as a “beautiful and joyous man” who had a deep appreciation for “beauty in the world.”

and the Maine Cheese Guild also posted a small notice about Bob this weekend,

This is a shock – a loss of one of our own…Terribly sad – such a sweet guy and wonderful cheesemaker.