Archive for January, 2011

Whoopie Pies, the State Dessert (Updated)

Monday, January 31st, 2011

The Maine Committee on State and Local Government met this morning to consider HP 59, An Act To Designate the Whoopie Pie as the State Dessert. The bill defines a whoopie pie as “a baked good made of 2 chocolate cakes with a creamy frosting between them”.

MPBN aired a report on the Whoopie Pie initiative this evening,

And at least once a year, connoisseurs of the whoopie pie from all over the country travel to Davis’s Piscataquis County to attend the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover-Foxcroft. Davis says there nothing frivolous about the economic impact it has on the region.

As it turns out, demand for whoopie pies is up. “Whoopie pies have been on the rise for several years and no one can pinpoint exactly the reason,” said Amos Orcutt, of the Maine Whoopie Pie Association. Yes, there is such a thing.

MPBN also has posted a recording of the official Whoopie Pie song on their site.

The Portland Daily Sun published a whoopie pie article on Tuesday which delved into the competing claims between Maine and Pennsylvania,

“Clearly Maine has fired the first salvo in what future generations will refer to as the Whoopie Pie War of 2011. The question is, will we pie-lovin’
Pennsylvanians defend our whoopies,” said one commenter on a PennLive.com article about the Maine bill.

Tuesday’s Press Herald article on the whoopie pie legislation has more detail on the proposal to make blueberry pie the state dessert,

On Monday, at a hearing before the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee, Rep. Donald Pilon dismissed whoopies as “frosting delivery vehicles” and suggested that wild-blueberry pie deserves to be the state’s official dessert.

Down East magazine conducted an informal poll of their Facebook fans on the question of whoopie pies vs blueberry pie. Blueberry pie won out, 28 to 13.

This Week’s Events: Wine, Cheese, Winter Harvest Dinner, V-Day, WSET

Monday, January 31st, 2011

WednesdayBlack Tie is teaching a cooking class, both Grace Wine Revolution and Wine Wise are holding wine classes.

ThursdayThe Cheese Iron is teaching a class on Winter Cheeses.

Friday — there will be a wine tasting at the West End Deli. First Friday Art Walk is taking place, restaurants will be busy so reservations are recommended.

Saturday — the Winter Farmers Market is taking place at the Irish Community Center, LeRoux Kitchen is having a wine tasting and the Winter Cache Project is holding their Winter Harvest Dinner.

Valentine’s Day — February 14 is coming up fast. V-Day is is a very busy night for Portland restaurants.  If you’re planning on taking your significant other out for dinner on Valentine’s Day now is the time to call your favorite restaurant for reservations. Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday this year but many restaurants that would usually be closed that night are staying open and several have announced special prix fixe menus:

  • Bar Lola — 5-course, $45 per person.
  • Bresca — on February 12 Bresca is offering a 5-course dinner for $65 per person; on Valentine’s Day Bresca is serving a 3-course dessert menu for $18 per person and on February 16 Bresca is having a 5-course sparkling wine dinner for $65 per person.
  • East Ender — 4-course, $30 per person.
  • Five Fifty-Five — 4-course, $75 per person or a 3-course menu at the bar for $60 per person.

WSET — The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, will be offering their Intermediate Level 2 certificate class in Portland March 26-27. The class is being taught by instructors from Grape Experience. The program is aimed at anyone “who works in wine, wants a career in the wine industry or has a serious interest in the subject”. See the WSET website for a more detailed explanation of what the course covers.

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.

CNBC List of Top American Foodie Cities

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Cable network CNBC has published their list of America’s Top Foodie Cities and Portland slots in at #4. They based their assessment on the

ratio of local restaurants to chain restaurants, number of Whole Foods and cooking stores, number of wine shops, wine bars, craft breweries, and brew pubs; and the number of CSA (community supported agriculture) farms and local farmers markets.

Review of Katahdin

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Katahdin received 3½ stars from the Taste & Tell review in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.

After a year in a new location, Katahdin Wood Fire Grill and Bar in Portland continues to enjoy weekend crowds and faithful regulars who are enamored of bartender Winnie Moody’s generous martinis, the kitchen’s good food and a community that always has a place for a newcomer.

AP Winter Recommendations

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Appetite Portland has posted a list of hearty winter recommendations from Little Seoul, Kamasouptra, Bard, Havana South, Flatbread and The Front Room. Here’s a taste,

The Seafood Udon Soup at Little Seoul. Out-of-this-world kelp broth steams my pores as I plunge the depths of a great big bowl for hearty chucks of salmon, scallops, Maine shrimp, fresh veggies and thick, meaty noodles. This newish Korean restaurant is doing MANY things right (I’ll publish a full review soon), but this stellar Udon deserves a separate spotlight.

Review of Pamola Xtra Pale Ale

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Brews and Books has published a review of Pamola Xtra Pale Ale, a new beer from Maine’s newest brewery, Baxter Brewing in Lewiston.

If you’re looking for a hop bomb or a malty mouthful of a beer to impress your beer geek friends, Pamola ain’t it. Even in Maine’s landscape of mild English-influenced ales, it’s a notably subtle brew. Coming into the beer looking for big APA, you might very well be disappointed. If you’re looking for a fridge staple, however, or the fabled “gateway beer” to get non-drinkers in the craft beer camp, you’re in luck. The Pamola Xtra is crisp, light, dangerously quaffable, and tastes wicked good.

Closing of Terroni’s, Burger Chains in the Old Port

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Today’s Press Herald includes a pair of front page stories on “food-service transitions”. The first article is on the closing of Terroni’s Market on Park Ave—today is its last day. Terroni’s was opened by Florence Terroni in 1949.

And as regulars dropped in for lunch and said their goodbyes, it was an emotional time.

“Don’t get me crying again,” [44-year employee Sheila] Cunningham said while reminiscing about her years at Terroni’s.

The second article is on the increased interest of chain restaurants in Portland and the plans two burger chains that have plans to open in the Old Port.

“They are looking for niche markets that they wouldn’t have touched a few years ago, (when) they had bigger fish to fry,” said Dick Grotton, president and CEO of the Maine Restaurant Association.

This spring, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a nationwide chain based in Lorton, Va., will open in the Old Port, in a 2,900-square-foot space at 425 Fore St.

Another Virginia-based burger chain, Arlington’s Elevation Burger, plans to open three Maine locations, including one in the Portland area this year, said spokesman James Stewart.

Vrai-Lean-Uh & The Spiced Plate

Friday, January 28th, 2011

A pair of new entries have been added to Food Map blog list:

  • Vrai-lean-uh – a locally written cooking blog
  • The Spiced Plate – one woman’s “journey into a gluten-free, ayurvedic-based, vegetarian cooking and health experience.”

Review of Bayside Bowl

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

The Portland Phoenix has published a review of Bayside Bowl.

Where this plan founders is that bowling alleys rarely serve good food. That is why the pub at the Bayside Bowl is such an exciting development. It is the rare alley that takes its menu as seriously as it does lane wax. You know you are in a different sort of bowling alley dining room when you inquire about a mushroom and the chef swings by with a box of his favorites for show and tell. He gets them from Maine’s Tibbetts Mushroom Company, and the current crop features some great enokitake, among others.

2011 Phoenix Best of Portland Readership Poll

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

The Portland Phoenix has kicked-off their 2011 Best of Portland readership poll. The Phoenix has a a 2 step process:

  • Step 1, nominate candidates you think are an especially good fit in any or all of the categories
  • Step 2, based on the nominations, the Phoenix will publish a ballot next month summarizing the top nominees from each category for us to vote on.
  • The final results are usually published in April.

There are a plethora of food and drink categories (Bagels, Bars, Barbecue, Beer Selection, Brewpubs, Brunch, etc) there’s even one for food blogs. A list of the 2010 winners is available online as a reference.

Community Kitchens TV

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Yesterday’s Locavore column in the Portland Daily Sun was about the Community Kitchens local access cable TV show. Each episode the show visits and interviews cooks in their own kitchen. January’s episode of Community Kitchens was an interview with the creator’s of Otto Pizza. The article isn’t available online but you can watch full episodes of the show at the Community Television Network website.

PPH: Dueling Cocktails & Processed Food Protest

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a detailed look at the dueling cocktail events happening on February 28: The Signature Event and the 2nd Annual Bartender’s Bash,

The confusion even trickles down to the bartenders themselves. Both events have John Myers.

John Myers from Fish Bones American Grill in Lewiston will be at the Cold River Bartenders Bash.

Another John Myers, a popular bartender at the Grill Room who lost last year’s top prize by just a whisker, will be at the Signature Event. (Did he jump ship this year since he won’t be at the Bartenders Bash? Or did he stay loyal by sticking with the Maine Restaurant Week event? It’s like a Zen koan, isn’t it?)

and the story of one woman’s efforts to make consumers aware of partially-hydrogenated oils in packaged foods.

The story told how a woman was going to her local grocery store and turning around products that contained trans fat so the nutrition label, rather than the product logo, was showing. [Erin] Judge was struck by the simplicity of the action, and began doing it in Maine.

Reviews: Figa and District

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Portland Bar Guide has published a review of District,

If you are looking for a sophisticated place to take a date or meet up with business associates and friends with delicious hand-cured meat dishes and an abundant choice of beers, wines and drinks then make sure to add District to your favorite spots in Portland.

and Dine in Portland has published a review of Figa.

Overall, Figa Restaurant has a bright future. The staff appears to have been hand-picked, as are the ingredients, and the hard work of the chef (clearly visible in the open kitchen) will keep me coming back.

Oprah: Best Online Grocery Sites

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Oprah magazine included Browne Trading in their list of The Best Online Grocery Sites.

A longtime supplier of the country’s best seafood chefs, they also sell retail—though you can only get smoked fish and caviar online; for fresh fish, you have to call about the daily catch.

Reviews of Figa, Walter’s

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

John Golden has written a review of Figa for his new The Golden Dish on Downeast.com.

Figa is a good addition to Portland’s dining lineup.  We’ve got the trendy and the exalted in our midst—without  too much middle of the road for relief—but Figa fits somewhere in the middle of these extremes: well conceived fare without an ounce of culinary pretention but awfully fine regardless.

An earlier review of Walter’s went live earlier this month.