Archive for December, 2011

Brunch Review of The Corner Room

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Eat Here. Go There. has published a review of brunch at The Corner Room.

If you are an adventurous eater, don’t forget to order the black pudding. While the Corner Room didn’t have an overwhelming ‘wow’ factor for brunch (I prefer their dinner much more), I really liked some of the items we had. The theme just seemed a little lost, if you have an Italian inspired restaurant one would think the brunch would be more Italian inspired… but I digress. While I will probably eat here in again in the future there are many other brunch spots I would rather try before coming here again.

Under Construction: Sabor Latino

Friday, December 16th, 2011

A new restaurant named Sabor Latino is under construction on Saint John Street. Sabor Latino will serve a menu of Mexican, Salvadorean, and Cuban food. They submitted a 7 page draft menu (see page 56) as part of their liquor license application.

Brunch Review of Sonny’s

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The Bollard has published a brunch review of Sonny’s.

All in all, Sonny’s served up an excellent brunch. We found the atmosphere more comfortable than its sibling restaurant’s — even when all the tables filled up, we could still carry on a conversation. Villani has put together some interesting flavors you won’t find on many, if any, other brunch menus in town. We may not become regulars here either, but for a change of pace Sonny’s is definitely worth a visit.

Review of Taco Escobarr

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The Blueberry Files has published a review of Taco Escobarr.

Sigh.  I’m thinking, on one hand, it’s not *that* bad, and if you write a strongly worded review, you may come to regret it for many reasons.  Maybe I’m just crabby because it’s raining heavily, I didn’t bring lunch (or a raincoat), I’m wearing cute flats and tights, and I parked alllll the way in the back of the lot.

None of these things, however, excuse the greasy, declining taco experiences I’ve had at Taco Escobarr.

Pho: Thanh Thanh vs Saigon

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Joe Ricchio has written a comparative review of the pho at Thanh Thanh and Saigon for the Maine magazine blog.

I will say that when it comes to beef pho, I prefer the preparation at Thanh Thanh 2 (I will also admit to having eaten it six days in a row on multiple occasions). This is not to say that I do not greatly enjoy Saigon’s version. And if chicken pho is your thing, Saigon is the place to go. At the end of the day, finding a favorite pho is a personal matter and I suggest you try both of these spots for yourself. After all, they are right across the street from each other!

Review of The Thirsty Pig

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

The Thirsty Pig received 5 stars from the Eat & Run review in today’s Press Herald.

The kudos are well deserved. By the time I finished my meal and headed back out into the cold, I couldn’t figure out why this place wasn’t packed with people taking a break from their Christmas shopping.

The simple menu features a dozen choices of sausages, hot dogs and other fare, plus whatever specials are on for the night. The night I stopped by, it was a $5 bowl of chili made with all of the restaurant’s sausages — just in case you can’t make up your mind.

Immigrant Kitchens: Lomo Relleno

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

In the latest entry on Immigrant Kitchens Lindsay Sterling learns how to make Lomo relleno from Jenny Sanchez (read the recipe and see the photos).

Lomo relleno is a classic Christmas and New Year’s dish in Nicaragua. I’ll admit, I was scared when I saw Jenny putting what looked like a lot of weird stuff in the pan together — and you will be too when you see the ingredients list – but I’m telling you, it works. Lomo relleno gets the award for being the most unpredictably delicious party feast ever encountered.

Winter Farmers Market

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

The LiveWork Portland blog has posted a report on the Portland winter farmers market.

This week, your correspondent saw an array of celeriac, Manchego cheese, duck eggs, fingerling potatoes, rabbit pot pie, bunches of winterberries, Anadama bread, cider, sunchokes, bagels, honey, feta marinade, and a colorful bounty of carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, garlic and more. Over on the stage, a fiddler and guitar duo serenaded the crowd with old-timey music. Kids ran around, parents mulled purchases, old friends reconnected, and pretty soon bags were stuffed with the makings of many delectable dinners to come.

Seasonal Food & Wine Gifts

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes gift ideas for the food, and

Even people who are classically “hard to buy for” because of their age (think elderly relatives), or they already have everything they need, will appreciate finding something really delicious that they’ve never tried before under the tree or in their stocking. It puts the surprise back in Christmas, and gives them that joyful little rush they had when they were kids.

and wine lovers in your life.

Gift-giving for wine lovers is usually difficult. The wine lover, like the anything lover, almost always knows more about the object of adoration than the giver, so the risk of an underappreciated gift is high.

Maine Culinary Podcast: Food Coma TV

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

For their latest episode, the Maine Culinary Podcast interviewed Food Coma TV creators Joe Ricchio and Alex Steed about the first season of their Internet TV show.


Book-o-Rama: Odd Bits, Rock Stars, Feasts, Cooks and Bitters

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

The O-Rama writing team is finishing out the year with a series of gastronomical book reviews. With the generous help of our friends Don and Samantha Lindgren at Rabelais each of the bloggers was able to select a food book to read and review. If one of the titles below tickles your fancy stop by 86 Middle Street where you’ll an extraordinary selection of books on food, drink and gardening to select from.

The group has selected a book for just about any mood. Feeling contemplative, then read Jillian’s review of The Feast Nearby at From Away, or perhaps, you’d like to add some adventure to your cooking then read Dawn’s write up of Odd Bits and about her experience cooking a pig’s head. Looking for more basic instruction? then read about the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook or up your game a bit with Cook Like a Rock Star at, respectively, the Blueberry Files or Edible Obsessions. Easily my favorite selection this month is Vreylena’s pick of Bitters: A Spirited History. I just picked up my first bottle of Angostura to mix some Airmail cocktails (stay tuned for more on that next week) but am intrigued by the potential to use bitters in savory recipes as well.

Appetite PortlandOdd Bits by Jennifer McLagan

Best of all, McLagan makes every recipe sound manageable – be they challenging, day-long adventures or quick dinners. Many re-imagine the common with odd bits. Ravoli of Brains and Morels, for example, sounds simple and succulent. While copping to it as a way to sneak brain to the unsuspecting, she insists that the recipe also plays to calf brains’ rich texture. I’ve dog-eared that page for a future meal – if I can find brain anywhere in the mad-cow fearing US! read the full review

Edible ObsessionsCook Like a Rock Star by Anne Burrell

Her book has the usual suspects: favorite tools and pantry staples, as well as a guide to her lingo (fond=”Crud”; “BTB”=bring to a boil) and a lovely forward by Mr. Batali. When you get to the heart of it her recipes are mostly, and understandably, Italian influenced and pretty decent. Without a doubt, they are definitely geared towards those looking to graduate from easier cookbooks, but aren’t quite ready to put out a Thomas Keller level dish. There’s a whole chapter on homemade pasta, one of her specialties and one which I would have enjoyed if I had a pasta maker, but the recipes can easily be made and adjusted to use dried. Her ‘Piccolini’–or, as she calls them “My little nibbles”–recipes are some of the most interesting, especially the one for the Mortadella Mousse.
read the full review

From AwayThe Feast Nearby by Robin Mather

The Feast Nearby is a valuable little book for those of us who wish to recalibrate our days with the calendar, who want to stretch an overtaxed food budget in tough economic times, and who must begin again with hope and self-reliance, after years gone by without authenticity or reflection. It’s simply written, with a pleasant tone that is neither didactic nor long-winded. Ms. Mather is a wise aunt gently guiding us back to tradition, hard word and constancy, those things that keep us truly alive amidst change, grief and bafflement. In this handbook, the practice of canning is brimming with meaning; being mindful of what we eat is quite simply the onus of all of us. It teaches us how to retreat, how to retrieve our heritage of cooking and eating, and how to enjoy the journey of our lives, however painful and surprising. read the full review

The Blueberry FilesThe Cooks Illustrated Cookbook

And this is where Cook’s Illustrated and I fail to see eye-to-eye. Developed in ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ these recipes have been deconstructed and tested from the ground up. So if they tell you to use a shallot, that means they’ve tried the recipe with yellow onions, without shallots, etc. When they say shallot, they mean shallot. read the full review

Vrai-lean-uhBitters: A Spirited History by Brad Thomas Parsons

That’s not to say I’m not fond of it. On the whole it is a very good and thorough book that left me with a deeper appreciation of bitters than I had before. It covers enormous ground: historical background, tutorials on making your own bitters, a buying guide, extensive cocktail recipes, and a small selection of cooking recipes. The writing was engaging enough that it carried me from the Carthusian monks of the 1700s brewing Chartreuse through The Great Angostura Shortage of 2009-2010 with a minimum of eye-rolling. I not only have a better grasp of bitters, but I have ideas for how to use them in drinks and the full review

This Week’s Events: Wine Tastings, Winter Market, New Year’s Eve

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Wednesday — a wine tasting is taking place at RSVP.

ThursdayHavana South is holding their monthly wine night event, and there will be a wine tasting at Browne Trading.

Friday — there will be wine tastings at Rosemont on Brighton and at Aurora Provisions.

Saturday — the Winter Farmers Market is taking place.

New Year’s Eve — restaurants have started announcing their plans for New Year’s Eve. Here are the ones I’ve heard about so far. Oh and by the way, everyone and their cousin wants to go out on New Year’s Eve. Early reservations are ESSENTIAL.

  • Back Bay Grill, $85 4-course dinner
  • Bar Lola, $55 7-course dinner
  • Bibo’s Madd Apple Cafe, $45 3-course dinner, there are 5-6 options to choose from for each course
  • Bresca, $85 5-course traditional Hong Kong New Years menu on both December 30th and 31st
  • David’s, will be open and serving the regular menu plus some specials
  • David’s 388, your choice of 2 different prix fixe options
  • Figa, $85 4-course dinner with complimentary glass of champagne
  • Five Fifty-Five, $60 3-course dinner in the bar, $90 5-course dinner in the restaurant
  • Grace, $70 5-course menu
  • Havana South, $55 dinner with optional wine pairings
  • Local 188, prix fixe dinner, call for details
  • Local Sprouts is holding a New Year’s Eve Bash serving their standard menu
  • Old Port Sea Grill will be open serving their usual menu
  • Pai Men Miyake, $35 3-course dinner with your choice of appetizer, ramen and dessert
  • Petite Jacqueline, $65 4-course dinner
  • Ribollita will be open offering there standard menu plus some specials
  • Sea Glass, $65 4-course menu
  • Sea Grass Bistro, $65 4-course dinner
  • Sonny’s, prix fixe dinner, call for details
  • The Salt Exchange, $65 4-course dinner with glass of sparkling wine or cider
  • Zapoteca, $60 5-course dinner with optional wine pairings
  • Last year these restaurants also had New Year’s Eve dinners. I haven’t seen an announcement from them yet but it’s a fairly safe bet that they will have a NYE dinner options this year too so give them a call: Bull Feeney’s, Cinque Terre, DiMillo’s, El Rayo, Events on Broadway, Fore Street, Frog & Turtle, Paciarino, Season’s Grille, The Farmer’s Table, The Grill Room, 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.

Review of Bresca

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

From Away has published a review of Bresca.

Bresca wasn’t one of the first restaurants we tried in Portland, primarily due to its good reputation; we knew that it would always be there, and that we’d have plenty of time to circle around and get to it eventually. You should not make that mistake. Go, now, for the panna cotta, one of the single finest dishes I have yet tasted in Portland; it’s reason enough to get you in the door. We feel foolish for having waited so long, moronic for having wasted so, so many low-expectation dinners in restaurants that weren’t Bresca. It may be the only restaurant you need. We knew dinner there would be a special event; what we didn’t expect was that James Beard award-nominated chef Krista Kern Desjarlais would create one of our most memorable dining experiences to date, offering imaginative, exquisitely-prepared, expertly-balanced dishes that would tease us, delight us, and set an entirely new standard for what a meal out should be.

Review of Flask

Friday, December 9th, 2011

The Maine magazine blog has published a review of Flask.

The “starter course” is a vegetarian chickpea soup simmered with warm Indian spices and fire roasted tomatoes. Nolette makes all of her stocks from scratch, and as I dig in I find that the grilled garlic butter pita on the side is a better method of delivery than a spoon, but force myself to use a bit of self-control, seeing a lot of food in my future.

Interview with the Lindgrens

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Find. Eat. Drink. has published an interview with Don and Samantha Lindgren, owners of Rabelais.

Q. What are your thoughts on the “There’s an App For That” mentality towards technology melding with the book world?
A. Don: We’re not Luddites, we own iPhones and an iPad. I frequently look at electronic books online – mostly from academic sources for early texts. But I think the rush for publishers, the food media and much of the public, to expect an app with every book release is just stupid. I read an interview with the authors of the new Eleven Madison Park cookbook, which I think is a terrific book, but the interviewer lost sight of the great new book in front of herself, and kept asking about the possibility of future apps. It’s like sitting down with Scorsese and asking when the video game is coming out.