Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

Bayside American Cafe

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Portland Street breakfast restaurant Bintliff’s American Cafe is changing its  name to Bayside American Cafe. The current owners, Joe and Diane Catoggio, purchased the restaurant from Roger Bintliff in 2003. According to the press release,

The name change will be rolled out in the coming months. While the Catoggios are excited to embrace the cafe’s new identity, the message to their customers is clear: the name is the only thing changing. The menu, style and staff that diners have come to know and love will remain the same.

Weather’s Impact on Restaurants (Updated)

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Today’s Press Herald reports on the negative impact the large number of snow storms are having on Portland restaurants.

Most of all, downtown restaurant owners dread parking bans. The owners are particularly upset that the city declared a 36-hour parking ban last weekend for a storm that dropped 2.3 inches of snow. The ban began at 10 a.m. Saturday – Valentine’s Day – prompting some restaurant managers to ask city officials to keep the tow trucks away until closing time. The city honored the requests.

The city in practice doesn’t begin towing cars downtown until 1 a.m., but many people don’t know that, so business suffers.

Update: The Forecaster and WMTW have also posted reports on the snow’s impact on restaurant sales.

2015 James Beard Awards

Monday, February 16th, 2015

The semifinalist nominees for the 2015 JBF Awards will be announced this Wednesday by the James Beard Foundation.

What Maine chefs and restaurants do you hope will be on the list?

For reference take a look at the semifinals lists from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

Revisiting Uncle Andy’s

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

The Press Herald has revisited Uncle Andy’s to learn what lasting impact there has been on the South Portland diner from their appearance last year on the show Restaurant Impossible.

But even though Fogg found plenty to argue with Irvine about, six months later he says that he can’t argue with the results. In the first few months after the Uncle Andy’s episode of “Restaurant Impossible” aired in August, the diner’s business increased roughly four-fold. That initial boost has leveled off, and today Fogg says the family-run place is doing about twice as much business as it did before the show.

Don’s Lunch Closed by State (Updated)

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

The Press Herald reports that the Maine Revenue Service has shut down Don’s Launch in Westbrook.

A sign posted on the door by Maine Revenue Services says the business’ registration certificate “has been revoked for noncompliance” with state sales tax law. The agency would provide no further explanation and a spokesman for the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services said laws protecting personal taxpayer information prevent officials from providing specific details about the situation.

The Press Herald has published an update on the Don’s Lunch closure.

Food Writing in Maine

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Today’s Press Herald takes a look at the growing population of food writers and expanding coverage of food in Maine and asks if

All the media coverage around food – blogs, new publications, the renewed commitment from established outlets – is it too much for Maine?

Location, Location, Location No. 3 (Updated)

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

There are 20+ restaurants and other food-related businesses currently under development in Portland and new ventures are being announced all the time. The demand for vacant restaurants and retail space remains quite high. So, once again, I’ve put together this list of retail spaces to help out anyone who’s searching for real estate to get their new venture off the ground.

If there are any good spots I’ve overlooked give a shout out in the comments or email me at anestes@portlandfoodmap.com and I’ll add them to the list.

Old Port

  • 245 Commercial St—this space was the home of The Salt Exchange for the past 5 years.
  • 13 Exchange St—until very recently 13 Exchange Street was occupied by the Old Port House of Jerky.
  • 34 Exchange St—until late last year this was the location of JL Coombs.
  • 57 Exchange St—Country Noel is located in the basement space on the corner of Exchange and Middle. They’re closing at the end of January.
  • 90 Exchange St—this restaurant space had been occupied by Thai 9, before that it has been a succession of establishments: Little Seoul, Greek Corner, Bandol and Rachel’s.
  • 363 Fore St—over the last couple years this space was a Dunkin Donuts and then an Orange Leaf franchise. It would be nice to see this store front on the corner of Fore and Market occupied by a local business rather than yet another national chain.
  • 367 Fore St—on Fore Street near Bull Feeney’s.
  • 420 Fore St—this is the former home of Joe’s NY Pizza which went out of business after a fire broke out in the building a couple years ago.
  • 455 Fore St—right on the corner of Fore and Union Streets, this space used to house Gingko Blue.
  • 465 Fore St—for a few month last year this was a vegan juice bar called Liquid M2; it’s adjacent to Dean’s Sweets and across the street from Miyake.
  • 24 Free St—across from Sur Lie, this was the original home of Sapporo in 1985.
  • 50 Middle St—there are plans are to develop the remainder of the lot that used to be the home of the Jordan Meat plant which will include 12,500 square feet of retail space. Hugo’s, Eventide, Duckfat, Eat Ender and Miccuci’s are all right in the immediate vicinity.
  • 151 Middle St—this listing on Loopnet indicates that both the Bull Moose and Videoport spaces are both for lease.
  • 15 Monument Square—This was the location of the Portland branch of Wannawaf for a season, prior to that it had been the home of Cobblestones.
  • 11 Temple St—this is the former Minot’s Flower Shop on the corner of Temple and Federal Streets.
  • Widgery  Wharf—a new construction project on Commercial Street that includes a 5,175 sq ft restaurant space.

Art District

  • 604 Congress St—this space was formerly a thrift store. It’s currently under construction along with the rest of the Schwatz Building. It’s immediately adjacent to the Down Town Lounge and across from the State Theater.
  • 660 Congress St—the Queen Anne style building was the first space Roxanne Quimby originally bought to house her artist colony. The last business to operate there was Zinnia’s Antiques. A developer is now renovating the building; a retail space is planned for the first floor.
  • First floor of the Schwartz Building—the building at the intersection of High and Congress is still under construction. Once it’s finished the corner space on the first floor could be a really sweet street cafe.

West End

  • 769 Congress St—for a few years 769 served as headquarters for The Quimby Colony. 1935-2009 it was the home of the Roma restaurant. As part of the renovations to the Roma it now has a very nice commercial kitchen.
  • 870 Congress St—there a first floor space for lease located in the Maine Medical Center parking garage almost across the street from La Bodega Latina.
  • 79 Mellen St—the Mellen Street Market building is for sale.
  • 72 Pine St—a small street level commercial condo in Andrews Square is for sale.
  • 260 Saint John St—the former Jan Mae restaurant in the Saint John strip mall is available.
  • 237 Spring St—this store is located at the corner of Spring and Clark Street is for lease. It used to be the Spring Street Variety store.

Bayside

  • Amergian Bros on Pearl Stthe sign for this neighborhood market is one of the last vestiges of a large Armenian community that thrived here during the early 20th century. Perhaps it’s time to see this historic location once again serve as a neighborhood market.
  • 337 Cumberland Avethe building that Maria’s Ristorante is located in is for sale. According to the listing the restaurant will relocate.
  • 45 Marginal Waythe old Century Tire property is being turned into the Century Plaza strip mall. Two national franchises have already signed on, two spaces remain.
  • Midtown—the new plans for Midtown include 87,0000 sq ft of retail space located on the first floor of the buildings.

East End/Washington Ave/India St

  • Bay House—this new set of building near India Street has several ground floor retail spaces available.
  • 229 Congress St—the space to the right of Ramen Suzukiya currently occupied by Goody G’s
  • 249 Congress St—Lee Farrington did an excellent job of converting this former hair salon into a restaurant. It’s unfortunate that Figa closed but it would be even sadder to see this space go unused.
  • 58 Washington Ave—this space was the former home of Falmouth Flower & Gifts.

Other

  • 34 Vannah Stthis space has housed a number of neighborhood markets over the past few years. It garnered some attention in 2014 when Hugo’s/Eventide briefly considered leasing it.
  • 1207 Forest Avefor several decades this had been the home of the Wok Inn.
  • 1706 Forest Avefor many this was a neighborhood variety store called Papa’s Place. I’ve heard that since then it’s been renovated and there’s a new commercial kitchen on the premise.
  • 906 Brighton Avethis space was formerly occupied by La Familia restaurant.
  • 1363 Washington Avethis space is currently occupied by Sala Thai.
  • Pine Tree Shopping Mallseveral different store fronts in the mall are available for lease including, presumably, the Full Belly Deli space.
  • 305 Rte 1, Yarmouth—this building was recently Oscar’s New American and before that was home to the Sea Grass.

Some of the best spots out there aren’t officially on the market. If there’s a space you’re interested in, it never hurts to talk with the current occupant and see if you can work out a deal that they’re happy with. They move to another address and you get the perfect location for your  business.

Give a shout out in the comments or email me at anestes@portlandfoodmap.com if there are any additional properties I’ve overlooked and I’ll add them to the list.

Snowmageddon Eats

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

A few Portland eateries are still scheduled to be open today. Here are the one’s I’ve heard  about:

If you hear of any others, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

Year in Review: Best of 2014, Crowdfunding, National Press, ‘Culinary Boom’, Top Restaurants and Articles, Look Ahead to 2015

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

lolita

2014 was a very busy year for the food and dining industry in Portland. I’ve scanned through the records for the past year and here’s my summary of the key events and trends:

  • Best Newcomers – There were more than 40 openings in 2014. Some lasted a few months or less, and others are very strong ventures that made an impact in their first year and I hope will be with us for many years to come. Of them, I’d put Central Provisions, Lolita and Palace Diner at the top of the class of 2014. Right out of the gate all three had a focused vision of what they wanted to be and delivered at a high level of consistency and quality.
  • Crowdfunding – Portland food businesses have been tapping into crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo since 2010 when Cakeface raised $1,545 on a $1,000 goal to buy baking equipment. This year that approach seems to have hit an all time high with approximately a dozen Maine food ventures raising more $350,000. Crowdfunding can be a good way for a new business owner to providing start-up capital while at the same building awareness and an online network of contributors who are also likely to be regular customers.
  • National Press – national press coverage of the Portland food scene was truly amazing to watch this year. There were feature articles in Bon Appétit, Saveur, Food & Wine, and the Wall Street Journal, and nearly every week there seemed to be reports on Portland food in publications as diverse as Maxim and the Financial Times. Press attention from outside Maine does tend to be cyclical so I’ll be surprised if this continues at the same level into 2015.
  • Beer – the amazing growth of the Maine beer industry continued in 2014 with approximately 20 new breweries opening across the state. In the Portland area a number of existing breweries added capacity, Bissell Brothers had an extremely successful first year, and both Foundation Brewing and Austin Street launched. Oxbow and Geary’s opened a tasting rooms in Portland in 2014, and Sierra Nevada brought their roving beer festival to Portland in August. Both the Maine Brew Bus and Maine Beer Tours seemed to be doing brisk business all summer. Another Portland brewery, the Fore River Brewing Company, is already under development with plans to open in 2015.
  • Under Construction – There are 20+ new businesses currently in various stages of development. A few themes I saw evident in the past year were small plates (Lolita, Central, Sur Lie) and a shift in interest to Mediterranean cuisine (Ebb & Flow, Lolita, Sur Lie, Lazari, Tiqa). The Longfellow Square area continued to be a hot spot for new business development and several eateries are now venturing into the post-Longfellow stretch of Congress (Tandem Bakery, Bramhall, Figgy’s, Arabian Days). Inner Washington Ave and the portion of Congress immediately nearby seems to also be gathering momentum. We’re also seeing beginings of a mobile to brick-and-mortar transition with the acquisition of Steve & Renee’s by Hella Good Tacos and Small Axe taking over the East Ender.
  • Upcoming in 2015 – the number of new businesses under development seems to be slightly tapering off but there are many new ventures already in process. The ones I’m looking forward to the most are:
    • the new incarnation of the East Ender by Karl Deuben and Bill Leavy
    • Figgy’s, a fried chicken and southern food cafe in the West End
    • Lincolns, a inexpensive bar in the Old Port
    • Maine & Loire, a natural wine shop opening soon on Washington Ave
    • Eventide/Hugo’s new restaurant, The Honey Paw
    • Dana Street and Sam Hayward’s new seafood restaurant on Commercial Street
    • The new eatery under construction on Market Street by Steve and Michelle Corry
    • The bar Joe Ricchio and Joel Beauchamp have in development

Notable Events of 2014

  • miyakedinerJanuary – Casa Fiesta and Miyake Diner opened, Small Axe’s Karl Deuben and Bill Leavy began the search for a brick and mortar restaurant, the Food Co-op announced that they leased a space at 290 Congress Street for their new retail store, Nathaniel Meiklejohn announced plans for his bar The Jewel Box, Novare Res and The Great Lost Beer were on Draft magazine’s list of America’s top beer bars, the Oxbow edition of Off the Wagon was released, Tandem’s Ayele Yirgacheffe was an award winner at the Good Food Awards, Shannon Bard was the featured chef of a James Beard House dinner, Little Bigs began selling crauxnuts and Mesa Verde went out of business.
  • centralFebruaryCentral Provisions and Thai 9 opened, the blog Eating Portland Alive got started, Oakhurst Dairy was sold to a national dairy farm cooperative, a controversy flared up over an archaic provision in Maine law that prohibited bars from listing the ABV of the beers they serve, Black Dinah announced plans to open a facility in Portland, Peggy Grodinsky became the food editor of the Press Herald, Tortilleria Pachanga started production, the list of James Beard semifinalists were released, word first surfaced about a new waterfront restaurant being launched by Dana Street, Jonah Fertig left Local Sprouts to help other organization successfully launch cooperatives, the Meat House closed.
  • fiftystoneMarch – Red Sea and Vietnam Bakery opened, Hella Good Taco bought Steve & Renee’s Diner, Portland Police made a formal recommendation to the City Council not to renew Sangillo’s liquor license, Maine Craft Distilling released their Fifty Stone single malt, Tandem announced plans to open a bakery in the West End, Star Chefs include several people from Portland in their 2014 Rising Star list, the Uprising iPhone app was released, three Maine chefs were contenders in the F&W’s People’s Best New Chef competition, MECA kicked off a culinary program, Hugo’s announced their Yankee Swap series and Maine Restaurant Week took place.
  • April – India Bazaar, Liquid M2 and Ana’s Mobile Gourmet opened, the Chalice mobile app launched, Hugo’s and Miyake were included in the Opinionated About Dining list of the top 100 restaurants in the US, Pepperclub began a search for a new space, the City Council voted not to renew Sangillo’s liquor license, the books Eating in Maine and Portland Food were released, and Roost and Slainte went out of business.
  • bestfoodblogMay – Clark Street Market, Old Port Spirits, Riverside Grill, Timber and Maine-ly Meatballs opened, Coastal Root Bitters launched, and Vincenza’s Bakery opened for a very short time on Exchange, Blue Rooster announced their summertime guest chef series, the inaugural Rum Riots cocktail festival took place, Piccolo held a Star Wars themed dinner on May the Fourth, PFM won the Best Food Blog category in the Phoenix readership poll, the Boston Globe published an article about Bissell Brothers, I led a Maine Brew Bus Portland Coffee House Tour and wrote a Portland dining guide for Down East magazine, El Rayo closed the Cantina, Gingko Blue and Down Home Cookin’ also closed.
  • slabJune – Lolita, Fishin’ Ships, CN Shawarma, King’s Head Pub, Foodworks, Anapurna’s Thali and Slab opened, Uncle Andy’s was featured in an episode of Restaurant Impossible, Dean’s Sweets announced plans to move to Fore Street, Food & Wine named Cara Stadler one of the Best New Chefs of 2014, Speckled Ax held a Panamanian/Gesha tasting, Bon Appetit published an article about food in Maine, partners Masa Miyake and Will Garfield decided to end their partnership resulting in the closure of Miyake Diner.
  • elrayoJulyEl Rayo Scarborough and Maps Cafe opened, Zest magazine launched, Saveur and Maxim both published articles about the Portland food scene, Tasting Table produced a Portland eating guide, Andrew Zimmern put together a Portland eating guide for Food & Wine, Down East made an exhaustive search for Maine’s best lobster roll, Piccolo hosted brewers from Oxbow and Del Ducato for a beer dinner, and Portland & Rochester went out of business.
  • beercampAugustThe Farm Stand, Ten Ten Pie and Tandem Bakery opened, an SUV crashed into Bruno’s, Beer This Week launched, Andrea Swanson bought Foley’s Bakery, the Maine Seaweed Festival took place, Tiqa announced plans to open a restaurant in the Marriott on Commercial Street and O’Maine Media owner Rory Strunk announced plans to launch a media kitchen, Central Provisions and Palace Diner were on the Bon Appetit list of Best New Restaurants in the US and Hunt alpine was on their list of the Best New Bars, Zagat published their list of the 10 hottest restaurants in Portland, chef Natalie ‘Figgy’ DiBenedetto announced plans to launch Skillet/Figgy’s in the West End, Sierra Nevada’s traveling Beer Camp festival came to Portland, Liquid M2 and Thai 9 went out of business.
  • nanlSeptember – Arcadia National, Geary’s tasting room, The Jewel Box, Huong’s, Golden Lotus and Sur Lie opened, Dean’s Sweets relocated to Fore Street, author Rowan Jacobsen was in town to launch his new book on heirloom apples, Novare led a campaign to get actor Bill Murray to come to Portland Beer Week, Rob Evans wrote an article about Portland for Serious Eats, the Pepperclub went out of business.
  • October – Bramhall, Arabian Days, C Salt and Bao Bao opened, Rosemont announced plans to open in the West End and Hugo’s announced plans to open The Honey Paw, the Boston Globe published an article about the ‘culinary boom’ in Portland, David Turin was the featured chef for a dinner at the James Beard House, food writer Malcolm Bedell announced his plans to launch a food truck called ‘Wich, Please, the Financial Times wrote an article about the Portland food scene, Maine Pie Line announced plans to close and Harvest on the Harbor took place.
  • sangillosNovember – Dutch’s, Oxbow tasting room, Ebb & Flow and the Portland Food Co-Op opened, the local chapter of the US Bartenders Guild got its start, Joe Ricchio posted his annual pumpkin beer survey, the Maine shrimp season cancelled for 2nd year, Sangillo’s appeal hearing took place, chefs Frank Anderson and Rebecca Ambrosi launched The Hunter’s Bend, the North Spore mushroom CSA got its start, preeminent wine writer/importer Terry Thiese was in Portland for a series of events, Portland Beer Week took place, Pocket Brunch held a breakfast and a game dinner, Mainebiz published an article about the Maine brewing industry, Alton Brown spoke at Merrill, and The Salt Exchange and Oscar’s New American went out of business.
  • palaccetunaDecember – Otto opens 2nd location in South Portland, Maine Craft Distilling opened a tasting room in Freeport, Frank Cornelissen was at Vinland for a natural wine dinner, Two Fat Cats bought Maine Pie Line, Palace Diner’s tuna fish sandwich was highlighted by Bon Appetit as one of their best meals of 2014, Ilma Lopez shared new about her husband Damian Sansonetti’s illness.

Top 10 Articles

  1. Tandem Bakery – first word on plans for Tandem Bakery (March 17)
  2. Bao Bao – floor plan and draft menu of the restaurant (April 26)
  3. Bramhall & Sur Lie – floor plan and draft menus for the bar and restaurant (August 2)
  4. F&W Andrew Zimmern – details on Food & Wine article by Andrew Zimmern on his favorite places to eat in Portland (July 19)
  5. Alton Brown – first word on his planned visit to Merrill in November (May 31)
  6. Guest Chef Series – details on the Blue Rooster summer guest chef series (May 8)
  7. The Jewel Box – first word on Nathaniel Meiklejohn’s plans to open The Jewel Box (January 7)
  8. Dutch’s Opening Soon – details on the soon to open Dutch’s with photos by Zack Bowen (November 3)
  9. The Honey Paw – first official word about Eventide/Hugo’s plans for a third restaurant (October 8)
  10. West End Rosemont – first official word about a Rosemont Market in the West End (October 8)

Top 25 Restaurants

  1. Central Provisions (-)
  2. Timber (-)
  3. Slab (-)
  4. Vinland (-)
  5. Empire Chinese Kitchen (11)
  6. Lolita (-)
  7. Outliers Eatery (2)
  8. Bao Bao Dumpling House (-)
  9. Blue Rooster Food Co. (3)
  10. Back Bay Grill (22)
  11. Caiola’s (10)
  12. C-Squared (-)
  13. The King’s Head (-)
  14. Piccolo (7)
  15. Eventide Oyster Company (4)
  16. Fore Street (27)
  17. Five Fifty-Five (18)
  18. East Ender (40)
  19. Grace (24)
  20. Hugo’s (14)
  21. Sur Lie (-)
  22. Petite Jacqueline (6)
  23. Blue Spoon (23)
  24. Golden Lotuus (-)
  25. Miyake Diner (-)

The numbers in parentheses indicate their rank last year. Order is determined by the number of times these restaurants were looked up on PFM during the year.

Passings

For some other perspectives on the past year see Dig Portland, The Golden Dish, Urban Eye, Map & Menu, Eater Maine, Maine Today, and Peter Peter Portland Eater.

For more information on Portland’s food past see the 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 year in review reports, as well as PFM blog posts from 2009, 2008 and 2007, and the Portland Food Timeline.

Press Herald Looks Forward

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Meredith Goad has assembled a list of “suggestions for ‘food experiences’ worth seeking out in 2015″,

When you’re talking food with friends, are you embarrassed to admit you’ve never been to Red’s in Wiscassett for one of their classic lobster rolls? Time to get in on the conversation. Here’s a goal for you in the new year: Make a list of can’t-miss Maine classics, and start checking them off.

and wine write Joe Appel has put together his 2015 wine resolutions.

So, moving into a new calendar year, here are my resolutions for trying to find different ways to engage with wine. I don’t expect to “achieve” all of them, or to accomplish even a single one of them comprehensively. But I’ll rejoice in the attempts.

CBD Kinetic Coffee Sculpture

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

The Bangor Daily News has published an article on the kinetic coffee sculpture that sits atop the new CBD building in East Bayside. The article includes a short video interview with the artist.

The handiwork of South Portland sculptor Jac Ouellette is a 1,000-pound statement piece that can be seen from Interstate 295.

“This was a good challenge for me,” said Ouellette, who spent the last year working on the sculpture, which soars 15 feet high on the Diamond Street building and moves with the wind.

More on the Portland Food Co-op

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

MPBN, WCSH and The Golden Dish have all published reports on the Portland Food Co-op,

The dairy cases stock all of the products that we’ve become so familiar with at farmers’ markets: Lakin’s Gorge’s ricotta (Rockport), Balfour cultured cream (great sour cream), yogurts and cheese to Swallowtail’s dairy lineup of kefir, cheese and flavored yogurts. Ice cream choices include the excellent Catbird Creamery and the store has a small but professional kitchen where many preparations like soups, sandwiches, salads and vegetable dips are made. [Golden Dish]

and today’s Press Herald includes an interview with Mary Alice Scott, the co-op’s education and outreach coordinator.

Q: Why join a co-op instead of going to a mainstream grocery store?
A:
It’s a mission-driven idea. People want to support businesses that are locally owned and know they’re generating jobs. Our mission is to have a huge amount of organic and local products and buy from local vendors whenever practical. It’s not just fruit and vegetables, it’s local cleaning supplies and other local items. We already have relationships with more than 120 local producers.

Two Fat Cats Buys Maine Pie Line

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

News became public yesterday that Two Fat Cats bakery has purchased Maine Pie Line from owner Briana Warner.

Two Fat Cats has purchased both the business name as well as the recipes and plans to restart MPL’s wholesale business,

That means savory hand pies like spinach, feta and artichoke and southwest veggie will be back in Maine cafes, such as Coffee By Design, and a fresh line of gourmet, locally sourced pies will soon fill the cases at the nine-year-old India Street bakery.

[Two Fat Cats owner] Begin expects to see her retail business grow by 15 percent and double wholesale orders with the acquisition.
[Urban Eye]

For more information see these reports from Urban Eye and Eater Maine.

Star Ratings, Restaurant Critic Interview, Natural Foods Movement

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an article by Krista Kern Desjarlais about star ratings in restaurant reviews,

On the positive side, stars can fill seats, and they give a measure that lets chefs place their restaurant against others in their genre. A lukewarm review may not affect an already busy and popular restaurant. In this business, we all know the restaurants that meander up and down the scale of consistency and quality, yet remain popular regardless of a critic’s awarding (or withholding) of stars. This is an enigma of the restaurant world and shows why stars do not always tell the whole story.

an interview with Sunday Telegram restaurant critic James Schwartz,

Q: Many restaurant critics say that awarding stars is the hardest part. Is it?
A: Yes, it’s my least favorite decision. I am conscious of two things: First, I am standing in for the reader, because I have had the good fortune to go to the restaurant. So I feel a responsibility to the reader to accurately describe my experience. And I am conscious of the fact that the number of stars awarded can positively or adversely affect the business life of a restaurant. That is a second responsibility that I take very seriously.

and a conversation with author Joe Dobrow on “How the natural foods revolution has changed what we eat”.

His book offers a captivating behind-the-scenes look at exactly how we got from the dusty co-ops of yesteryear to the shiny mega-stores of today. It also explains how the growth of natural foods propelled a number of health food products into the mainstream, such as granola bars, almond milk and kale. Along the way, Dobrow explains how natural foods companies (built on values and ideals as much as capitalist principles) have begun to influence mainstream business culture by promoting concepts such as corporate accountability, transparency and the triple bottom line.

Bao Bao Review & Maine Cookbooks

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Portland Magazine has published a short review of Bao Bao,

On to the dumplings. Our first indulgence, Steamed Hake, Burdock ($8.08), is like nothing we’ve seen anywhere. “Thread-cut” dumpling wrappers are ribboned layers enveloping the tender fish. Happily devouring our six pieces, we accelerate into our next plate of dumplings: the absolutely essential Lamb, Black Bean, Chili, Peanut ($8.08).

and an article about Maine cookbooks.

Some of the great Maine cookbooks are out of print but hardly out of sight in a city and state with such a good used-book network of stores and used sections within stores. “Saltwater Seasonings is one of the very few that really catches the spirit of Maine,” says Don Lindgren, owner of Rabelais Books in Biddeford, probably the center of the universe for vintage and rare cookbooks.

Crowdfunding: Als Pals Pickles

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Westbrook-based Als Pals Pickles(twitter, facebook, instagram) has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Kickstarter-clone site Indiegogo. Owner Al Arsenault is hoping to raise $5,000 to “better pickling equipment, promotion and building up a stock”.

I am passionate about making awesome pickles, I take pride in the quality of my product and I’ve really enjoyed all of the pickle lovers I have come across in my time as a pickler What your contribution will go towards is better equipment for maintaining a great quality pickle, this includes kitchen equipment such as knives, cutting boards, pickling pots and gloves and would allow me to buy my pickle jars in bulk. It also includes promotional equipment like banners, business cards, label paper, label printers, promo art and a tablet for mobile card transactions.

For more information or to contribute to the campaign visit the Als Pals page on Indigogo.

Portland Food Co-op

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

The Forecaster has published an article about the new Portland Food Co-op.

West End resident Jennifer Morrison works nearby on India Street, and said her first store visit came after months of anticipation.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, clutching a carton of almond milk and an orange. “I feel like I could do all my shopping here.”

Morrison said she tries to shop at locally owned markets, and was pleased to find a large selection of organic fruits and vegetables. Before leaving, she stopped at a table in the front of the store and signed on as a co-op member.

The co-op has a grand opening planned for December 10.

Outdoor Seating Regulation

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Today’s Press Herald reports on discussions between city officials and restaurant owners regarding regulation of outdoor seating.

Portland planning officials are struggling to find a way to protect the city’s vibrant restaurant scene while also making sure that pedestrians can maneuver through sidewalks and public spaces cluttered with outdoor seating.

Turkey Buying Guide

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

The Blueberry Files has published her annual Thanksgiving turkey buying guide. It includes price per pound details on 18 different turkey brands available from local farms and markets.

Ah, meat. The epicenter of the local food dilemma. On one side, you could argue that meat should not be cheap. On the other side, you have your desire to serve a huge, perfectly-roasted, glistening bird that will satisfy all of your guests, with plenty of leftovers for the next day. Somewhere lost in all of that is the financial reality that locally-raised or organic meat simply costs more than the unethical alternative. 

Booze, Fish and Coffee: Bramhall, Hunter’s Bend, Wich Please

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

In the new episode of Booze, Fish and Coffee co-hosts Bo Bigelow and Brian Ericson talk about the new Bramhall, The Hunter’s Bend and the kickstarter campaign for Which Please food truck.