Archive for September, 2011

New England Distilling Co.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Mainebiz has published a profile of Ned Wight and his new company New England Distilling.

Ned Wight comes from a long line of distillers. His forebears made whiskey for about 100 years in Maryland until the 1950s, when the Wight family distillery was finally sold. Now, more than half a century later, he’s returning to the family trade and opening a small craft distillery in Portland, hoping to profit from a reawakened thirst for artisanal spirits, or what is sometimes referred to as boutique booze.

Brunch Review of District

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Eat Here. Go There. has published a review of the brunch at District.

If you are looking for a solid brunch at great prices get in to District as soon as you can, before everyone in town finds out how good it is. I speculate that by this time next year we won’t be getting seated right away at 11 a.m. on a Saturday.

Apples, Restaurant Wine and a Vegan Marathoner

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

The Food & Wine section in today’s Press Herald includes several articles about the Fall apple season: a report on the 2011 harvest, a list of apple events across the state, a guide to finding 40+ different varieties, and an article about John Bunker and his quest for rare Maine apples,

For years, John Bunker has been traveling around Maine on “fruit explorations,” hunting down old trees in out-of-the-way orchards and abandoned farms that may have been bearing fruit for 100 years or more. He lectures around the state, always encouraging his audiences to bring in apples they’ve found in their old orchards so he can try to identify them and solve the mystery of where they originated.

Those lucky enough to have secured a share in Bunker’s rare apple CSA this year will be picking up 7 different apple varieties today: Charette, Garden Royal, Milton, September Ruby, St. Lawrence, Wealthy and Whitney Crab.

Also in today’s Food & Wine section is an article about wine service and wine lists at Portland restaurants,

Today, I’ll use reader comments in order to explore some challenges to the health of our little wine culture here in southern Maine.

My hope is that you’ll come away from the following remarks feeling that you’re not alone, and that your own curiosity and investment in wine will be most highly rewarded if you actively push your friends, restaurant servers and retailers to treat wine less as a passively traded commodity and more as a pathway to rich experience.

and an interview with a vegan who is running in the Maine Marathon.

Because she follows a vegan diet and is training to run the Oct. 2 Maine Marathon, Angela May Bell of Portland occasionally gets questions from concerned friends who worry she’s not getting enough protein. It turns out her whole foods, plant-based diet gives her plenty of protein, but comes up a bit short on the extra carbs long-distance runners need.

Photos: Taco Escobarr, Bam Bam, Plush

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Portland Daily Photo has posted some photos of the recently launched Taco Escobarr and Bam Bam Bakery, as well as Plush which is still under construction.

September Bollard: Review of Gingko Blue and Upgraded Italian Sandwiches

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

This month’s edition of The Bollard includes a review of Gingko Blue,

It seems like Gingko Blue is trying to be two things at once: an ultra lounge for trendy twentysomethings and a jazz club for older professionals. The short-seated, high-backed chairs in the lounge, the wavy ceiling sculpture and the metallic gingko tree make the interior look like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Miami Vice. I found the experience of drinking there rather vapid; more style than substance. If you miss Una, the upscale ultra lounge that formerly operated a block down the street, then Gingko Blue is the bar for you.

and advice on how to upgrade the traditional Maine Italian sandwich with bread from Standard, cold cuts from Micucci, veggies from the Farmers Market and pickles from Medeo in Westbrook.

While there’s nothing wrong with the ingredients of Italians from sandwich shops like Amato’s, Di Pietro’s and Anania’s — the junky-goodness being part of the appeal — there’s no reason for the home caterer or lunch prepper not to take it up a notch. This involves some culling ingredients from a variety of local purveyors.

Breakfast on the Go: Standard Baking, Fit to Eat, Coffee Shops, Holy Donut, Punky’s, Mr. Bagel, Eating at Home

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

For the September edition of our collaborative O-Rama food writing project the group was challenged to write about breakfast on the go. Now we’re not talking about your Sunday morning leisurely brunch but that hard pressed, running late, on your way to work breakfast solution. As you’ll read below they’re a variety of thoughts on the best way to address the early morning need for calories and caffeine. Personally, my go-to spot for weekday breakfast is Bard Coffee. For more than a year my standing order was for a breve cappuccino and a chocolate croissant but I’ve recently switched to a cup of the House Blend and a Holy Donut.

Appetite PortlandStandard Baking Co.

The item varies. It depends on the precise hour. Some things are best (or only available) at a certain tick of the morning clock. But the place is always the same. When someone says “breakfast on the go” in Portland – I can only picture myself strolling out of one glass door – fresh pastry in hand. It’s not original, but it is classic: Standard Baking Co..… read the full article

Chubby WerewolfFit to Eat

With a five dollar price tag, this is not the cheapest breakfast sandwich in town. But it is easily one of the best values. The English Muffin is homemade, and close to twice the size of your average “fast food” english muffin. Inside, you’ll find a scrambled egg, perfectly seasoned and topped with two—sometimes three—slices of thick, salty bacon. I’m not sure where Mike Mastronardi (owner and the guy behind the counter during most of my visits) sources his bacon from, but I can tell you that it is vastly superior to what you’ll find on the breakfast sandwiches at most other establishments. At first glance, the cheese appears to be missing, but trust me when I tell you that it is there, delicately folded in with the egg. read the full article

Edible ObsessionsThe Holy Donut

So, put the yogurt back in the fridge. Save yourself the time that you would have spent toasting a bagel and get in your car and drive down to 47 Middle Street ( from 7:30-10am, Weekdays only, kids) for a half dozen or so before you head into work or class. Just be smart and don’t tell your friends or co-workers that you have them because they’ll plot against you and try to steal your precious… err, I mean breakfast. If you do make the mistake and actually share with other people and find yourself out before you were ready to be, you can hunt down more donuts at nine different locations in and around Portland–from Bard to Lois’ Natural Marketplace. read the full article

Flavor and Zest – Coffee Shops

Ah, breakfast; the most important meal of the day. Or, when I’m in a rush, the most important beverage. While I do try to get some sustenance in the morning, the most crucial aspect of this morning routine is the cup/bowl of coffee. Yes, I am a caffeine fiend. Caffiend? read the full article

From AwayPunky’s

This isn’t the kind of breakfast that you have on the day you’re going to paint an award-winning watercolor of the cribstone bridge at Bailey Island. You’re not going to eat this bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich and suddenly be inspired to write a single stanza of an Italian sonnet. This sandwich is much more well suited for a day of hanging drywall, or spent dangling under a highway overpass, removing lead paint with a needlegun. Failing that, you could try being really, really hungover. No matter what, though, you will be impressed by the restorative, curing powers of the breakfast sandwiches at Punky’s, one of my favorite places to have a quick breakfast on the go in Portland. read the full article

The Blueberry FilesMister Bagel

There’s a lot of talk about bagels in Portland. Alls I know is I like the ones that come out of Mr. Bagel: chewy, salty, and very dense without being too bready. For an on the go breakfast, this is a good stop, but I don’t recommend eating a bagel while driving to work- it makes a royal mess! read the full article

Vrai-lean-uh – Eating at Home

So this month’s O-Rama assignment of breakfast on the go is hard for me. Not just because I work from home, but because I am secretly one of those people who thinks breakfast is an important meal that should not be scarfed on public transportation.* I don’t want to make it sound like I am condoning eating breakfast on the go. If you can swing it, just try sitting down and having breakfast at your table for a week. Just to see! It’s really nice! It puts you in a good frame of mind for the day!read the full article

Urban Chickens 2011

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Today’s Portland Daily Sun reports on a proposed modification to the city ordinance on keeping chickens that would reduce the setback and property line buffer requirements.

Marshall said the initial ordinance that passed in 2009 was amended to include more restrictive setbacks. But now that the program has proven to be noncontroversial, he said it was time to revisit those regulations.

“From what I have been able to find, there have not been many issues” involving chickens, he said yesterday in a phone interview. “I feel as though it’s appropriate now to move forward and allow people who live in more densely-populated areas” to have chickens.

Taqueria Comparison: El Rayo, Taco Trio, Taco Escobarr

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

The Golden Dish has published a comparative review of El Rayo, Taco Trio and Taco Escobarr.

We now have three serious taquerias to ponder: El Rayo, Taco Trio, and the newly opened Taco Escobarr. I can sum up the bunch as predictable, authentic, and inventive in that order. Here’s the taco low down.

Review of Tu Casa

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Maine magazine has posted a review of Tu Casa.

The “Mountaineer’s Plate,” consisting of a grilled rib eye, fried egg, avocado, beans, rice, and a fried plantain, is quite possibly one of the most satisfying meals I have ever encountered in the city. Though the rib eye is always cooked well done, it is intensely flavorful and salty, and when combined with the sweet plantain, creamy avocado, and over-hard egg, it makes for a perfect bite of food.

This Week’s Events: Jewish Food Festival, Slow Food $5 Challenge, Zwanze, Harvest Dinner, Trail to Ale

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Wednesday — both Old Port Wine Merchants and RSVP are holding wine tastings, and the Monument Square Farmers Market is taking place.

Thursday — Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland is hosting a Jewish Food Festival and Cook-Off, the Great Lost Bear is featuring beer from Cottrell Brewing at this week’s brewery showcase, and the South Portland Farmers Market is taking place in the afternoon.

FridayWest End Deli is holding a beer tasting.

SaturdaySlow Food is hosting a $5 Challenge, participants will all contribute $5, go on a shopping trip lead by chef Jonah Fertig from Local Sprouts and collaborate on cooking a meal together at the Quimby Colony kitchen. Novare Res will be tapping a keg of Cantillon Zwanze, one of only 21 kegs of this beer available worldwide. There will be a wine tasting at LeRoux Kitchen, and the Deering Oaks Farmers Market is taking place.

Sunday — Cinque Terre is holding the 7th Annual Harvest Dinner at their farm in Greene, Maine. The 12th Annual Trail to Ale is taking place and Wine Wise is hosting a wine tasting aboard the Casablanca.

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.

Crepe Factory Food Cart

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Crepe Factory has been added to the PFM directory. Crepe Factory originated in Old Orchard Beach and plans on spending the remainder of the 2011 food cart season  in Portland. This morning they were located out in Front of DiMillo’s on Commercial Street.

Bam Bam Grand

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

The Spiced Plate has posted a report and tasting notes from Saturday’s grand opening of the Bam Bam Bakery, a gluten-free bakery on Commercial Street.

Andrew and I split a chocolate chip cookie while thinking about what we were going to fill a pastry box with.  Let’s start with the most decadent: Caramel Delight Bars.  These blissfully large bars have a  chocolate shortbread base doused in caramel, topped with a generous combination of nuts, dried cherries and Maine sea salt.  Sea salt and caramel are so lovely together as a contrast of flavors, and the texture on this bar makes every bite one to savor and linger over.  It completely blew any pastry I’ve had in my gluten-eating days out of the water.

The Man Who Couldn’t Eat

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

James Beard award-winning author, Jon Reiner, was interviewed on WCSH yesterday. Reiner is the author of The Man Who Couldn’t Eat.

Reiner will be at Rabelais today at 1 pm for a book signing.

Bam Bam Bakery Now Open

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

People with Celiac Disease or gluten allergies have reason to cheer today. Bam Bam Bakery, a gluten-free bakery, opened for business today on Commercial Street. They’ll be holding a Grand Opening on Saturday, noon to 5 pm.

First Review of Taco Escobarr

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

PJB Photographic has published a review of Taco Escobarr.

The “puffy” option was my favorite. Unexpected, decadent yet manageable, the puffy, deep-fried taco shell was mouth-watering (currently writing this at 11:45 pm and having to resist driving back into town for another round) and amazing. I took mine with braised pork, and the default toppings of tomato, lettuce, and cilantro.

Food Trucks on the Agenda

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Food Trucks were on the agenda at yesterday’s meeting of the Creative Portland Corporation and made it on to the front page of today’s Press Herald.

The organization’s directors unanimously endorsed food trucks at their monthly meeting, and will propose an ordinance to the City Council’s Health and Recreation Committee later this year. If the committee endorses the ordinance, it will go to the City Council.

“It seems odd that we would make rules that limit people’s choices,” said Andy Graham, president of Creative Portland. “We just need to come up with policy suggestions that balance everyone’s interests.”

I was at the meeting, as were Andre Polhill and Helen Andreoli who are interested in starting a “food truck in the city with barbecue and Southern comfort food”.

Review of Pho Hanoi

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

The Portland Phoenix has published a review of Pho Hanoi in South Portland.

And you better get prepared — your pho comes quickly. This soup, served in a huge bowl, is just as familiar as the décor, and as phoes go it’s a good one. The beef broth has a good depth and richness, without any heaviness or too much salt. A squeeze of lime accentuates the bright notes of ginger and scallion. From there you can work the sauces as you wish. The classic bright red Vietnamese hot sauce is all pepper-heat, and gives the broth a thin, sharp flavor. A darker red sauce gives the same heat, but with a sweeter, thicker base of tomato. The hoisin adds both sweetness and rich umami. We ordered our pho with thin slices of tender brisket. Each bowl is full of incredibly tender rice noodles, which soaks up the broth and catches up the sauces.

Bar Review of Petite Jacqueline

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

The Portland Bar Guide has published a review of Petite Jacqueline.

Their cocktails take their cues from standard French fare, and feature ingredients such as cognac, champagne toppers and Grand Marnier. Wanting to feel a little “Moulin Rouge” I ordered the French Kiss (Absinthe, Bourbon, Lillet and 7-Up, $7) because I felt there was no way to be disappointed in a drink that was made with both bourbon and absinthe. To the glee of my tastebuds, I was not disappointed in the slightest. If those liquors sound a little gruff, you may want to try out the French Connection Cosmo (Cognac, Grand Marnier and Cranberry Juice ($11) or the Belgian Orange Blossom (Vodka, Grapefruit Juice, Bitters, Almond Syrup and Seltzer, $7).

The Host Position

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Portland Daily Sun columnist Natalie Ladd wrote today about the important role the host plays at a restaurant.

To the unindoctrinated, it’s hard to explain why the host position is so difficult to execute and so vitally important to the operational flow of a busy restaurant. There’s the reservation book or list that’s been building, with the names and times often incorrect due to hasty human error that can set off a domino effect of disaster.

Photos from The Holy Donut

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Here are a couple photos from today’s opening of The Holy Donut. By the time I left they had 7 different varieties for sale. Both the Maple Walnut and the Bacon Cheddar were excellent.