Today marks the anniversary of the launch of Portland Food Map. It’s been fascinating to watch the evolution in the food scene that’s taken place since 2007. A majority of tourists now come to Maine for the outstanding options for food and drink. I can hardly imagine what 2023 will be like but regardless, I look forward to chronicling what happens in the years to come.
Archive for the ‘PFM’ Category
I recently learned of a pair of new Portland food blogs:
- Perusing Portland – has been publishing since late November. It’s a multi-author site written by “four friends that have known each other since college”. So far they’ve published their impressions of Local 188, the East Ender, Salvage, and Nosh.
- Eating Portland Alive – just got started earlier this month. The blogger credits a college course for getting them to stop “looking at food merely as sustenance and more of an experience.”
Today marks the 5-year anniversary of the launch of Portland Food Map.
I think it’s fair to say that had you told me then that I was headed down the path to running a daily news site for the Portland food community that would be read by thousands of people I would have thought you were crazy. But that’s exactly what’s happened and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, and as long as there continues to be an interest and an audience for PFM, I expect I’ll still be at it when 2017 rolls around.
I owe a a big thanks to all of you for showing such support for the site over the years, and to the restaurant and food community for building such a fascinating industry for me to obsessively focus my attention on.
It’s once again been a very busy year for the food and dining industry in Portland. I’ve scanned through the news and events for the past year and here’s my summary of the 2011 Portland Year in Food:
- Whoopie Pies – whoopie pies were a hot topic in early 2011. In order to further establish Maine as the true home of the whoopie pie, the state Legislature considered naming it the State Dessert but ran head on into the powerful Blueberry Lobby. Compromise was struck in April with the whoopie pies being named the State Treat and ceding the title of State Dessert to blueberry pie. Whicked Whoopies contributed to the hoopla by building a 1067 pound pie beating out the prior title in Pennsylvania by more than 800 lbs.
- Food Trucks – The city’s ban on food trucks stopped Bite into Maine from operating their lobster roll truck in the Old Port. Inspired by their story, Creative Portland Corporation took up the challenge and been very active in raising the issue for review by the City Council. The Press Herald has issued an editorial in favor food trucks and a volunteer committee assembled by CPC has proposed a set of guidelines that will hopefully get review and approval by the City Council in the new year.
- Schulte & Herr – Petite Jacqueline, The Holy Donut and Zapoteca all generated a lot excitement in 2011, but the most unexpected and talked about new businesses to emerge last year was Schulte & Herr. The small German restaurant run by Steffi and Brian Davin has received raves reviews from almost the first day they opened. Who could have imagined that a small German Cafe on Cumberland Ave would have opened at all, much less generated so much enthusiasm in 2011?
- Dessert – many of the new openings this year are focused on satisfying Portland’s sweet tooth. Gorgeous Gelato, Foley’s, Bakery on the Hill, The Holy Donut, and Bam Bam Bakery to name just a few. The fascination with cupcakes continued into early 2011. East End Cupcake opened a retail store on Fore Street, several other cupcake vendors entered the fray. A group of 5 food bloggers convened for round 2 of a comparative cupcake tasting. My sense is that restaurants have been investing more effort in their dessert menus in 2011 as well.
- Make Mine a Double, Again – Last year’s trend of restaurateur’s doubling up continued into 2011: Five Fifty-Five opened Petite Jacqueline, Nosh opened Taco Escobarr, Slainte opened Gogi, Walter’s opened Gingko Blue, Aurora Provisions opened the Museum Cafe. The trend doesn’t show any signs of weakening in 2012. Already on the books we have El Rayo’s plans to open the El Rayo Cantina and the Riverhouse, Silly’s plans to open Silly’s with a Twist, and Arabica’s plans to open Crema.
- South of the Border – Portland restaurateurs continued to try to answer the demand for Latin food. Gogi, Taco Trio, Hella Good Tacos, Taco Escobarr and Zapoteca all opened in 2011, The Wine Bar got into the act with a summertime taco lunch option, and both the El Rayo Cantina and Sabor Latino are slated to open this year. Now if only we could see an equal focus this year on addressing the dearth of great Chinese food in Portland…
- Expansion Fervor – while a lot of new establishments opened in 2011, the number business under construction went through a steady decline all year. At the start of 2012 there were 20+ eateries in the works and by December the Under Construction list dropped to as low as 6. A few additions late in the year have tempered the decline but it still looks like the growth rate has tapered off.
Notable Events of 2011
- January – East Ender and Gorgeous Gelato opened, Cultivating Community established the Chef Bob Smith Fund, Terroni’s Market closed after 62 years in operation.
- February – Shanghai Tokyo opened and Slow Food Portland announced the winners of the Young Food Writers Competition.
- March – Petite Jacqueline and Top Thai opened, dueling cocktail events took place on the eve of Maine Restaurant Week, and for the 3rd year in a row Silly’s won the Cajun Cookin’ Challenge. Both The Bollard and From Away published surveys of Portland area Chinese restaurants and found them wanting. Red’s Dairy Freeze reopened and Henry VIII closed their sandwich shop in Monument Square. Krista Kern Desjarlais became a finalist for the Beard Foundation’s annual awards in the Best Chef: Northeast category. Wicked Whoopies constructed a 1067 whoopie pie and in doing so snatched the title for the World’s Largest Whoopie from Pennsylvania. Nosh won the Cuban Sandwich Smackdown. Gabrielle Hamilton was in town for book signing and wine dinner in her honor, and the 6th Annual Slow Food Writer’s Night took place.
- April – China Taste, Gogi, Deux Cochon, Apsara and Dobra Tea opened. SPACE held the 2011 edition of Food+Farm, 158 won the Taco Smackdown, and The Cheese Iron was named a Outstanding Specialty Food Retailer by NASFT. A law was passed that makes the whoopie pie Maine’s official State Treat and blueberry pie the official State Dessert.
- May – Gingko Blue, Cobblestones and Exchange Street Cafe opened, Sebago Brewing moved to Fore Street, and Phil’s Dogs started operating at night on Congress Street. Opinionated About Dining rated Miyake, Hugo’s and Fore Street as Highly Recommended, Chef Wilfred Beriau retired from SMCC, the Maine Culinary Podcast was launched, and Hugo’s won the Chicken Smackdown.
- June – The Holy Donut, Museum Cafe and Zapoteca opened, and Foley’s returned. Grace and architect/chocolatier Dean Bingham won the People’s Choice Award from the American Institute of Architects. Barber Foods was acquired by AdvancePierre.
- July – East End Cupcakes, White Cap Grille and Fez opened, and Miyake moved to their new location on Fore Street. South Portland kicked off a weekly farmers market.
- August – The Honey Exchange and Taco Escobarr opened, Cafe at Pat’s reopened under the guidance of the founding chef, and the Portland Food Co-op relocated to roomier digs on Hampshire Street. Food Network magazine recognized Otto Pizza as one of the 50 best pizzerias in the nation. Coffee by Design roaster Dylan Hardman and his team took first place at the national Roasters Guild Retreat. Joe Ricchio launched Food Coma TV.
- September – Schulte & Herr and Bam Bam Bakery opened, and , Granny’s Burritos returned. Bard Coffee was recognized as one of the top coffee establishments in the nation. Novare Res was one of 30 locations worldwide to participate in Cantillon Zwanze Day 2011. An effort got underway to allow food trucks to operate in Portland. The beekeeper at UFF began blogging at Urban Jungle Honeyees, and the inaugural Portland Brew Fest took place.
- October – GoBerry and Plush West End opened and Bull Jagger Brewing launched. the Press Herald issued an editorial in favor of food trucks and several others weighed in on the issue. Controversy erupted over plans by Gelato Fiasco to open a store on Fore Street near Gorgeous Gelato. Rob Evans competed and won an episode of the reality cooking show Chopped, and the premiere of Farms and Fables was staged. In anticipation of a visit by Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain the Press Herald explored the antipathy Portlanders have toward Bourdain and Chubby Werewolf published his perspective on Bourdain. A new video food blog, Parsley Sage Rosemary and Tim was launched.
- November – Bakery on the Hill, Roma Pizza and Al Huda opened. Hugo’s won the Lobster Smackdown, and Maine Beer Week took place.
- December – The Edge opened and Instant Portland launched. Chubby Werewolf published an interview with Krista Kern Desjarlais about the start of lunch service at Bresca, the 3rd Annual Obscure Holiday Cocktail party took place, and Otto Free Slice Day took place.
25 Most Popular Restaurants of 2011
- Petite Jacqueline (-)
- Zapoteca (-)
- District (>25)
- Schulte & Herr (-)
- Bresca (1)
- Bar Lola (2)
- Miyake (19)
- Figa (>25)
- Caiola’s (9)
- Five Fifty-Five (4)
- Local 188 (10)
- Boda (3)
- Grace (15)
- East Ender (-)
- Hugo’s (>25)
- Walter’s (11)
- The Salt Exchange (6)
- Paciarino (14)
- Emilitsa (17)
- Gogi (-)
- The Thirsty Pig (-)
- Taco Escobarr (-)
- Pai Men Miyake (23)
- Blue Spoon (16)
- Fore Street (24)
The numbers in parentheses indicate their rank last year.
- Michael Barriault – photographer and food blogger who published PortlandTown died of cancer at the age of 64.
- Stanley T. Bennet II – the President of Oakhurst Dairy passed away at the age of 64 after a battle with cancer.
- Frederick P. Dyer – founder of Dyer’s Variety on Portland Street passed away at the age of 90.
- Taylor Griffin – President of The Rogers Collection died in a car crash at the age of 40.
- Bob Mathews – the longtime owner of Botto’s Bakery on Washington Ave died at the age of 78.
- John Palanza – owner of Uncle Andy’s Bakery in South Portland died at the age of 89. He ran the bakery for 45 years starting in 1951.
I’ve made a couple additions to the PFM directory:
- Banadir Halal Market has moved into Morrill’s Corner on Forest Ave where Nabile’s Market and before it Bell’s Antiques had been located.
- Snap Reviews, a Flikr-based restaurant review site, has been added to the Blog list. Each new mini-review consists of a single photo and a sentence or two of commentary.
A new food blog entitled Eat Here. Go There. has been added to the Food Map blog list. The author is a transplant from West Virgina and a self described “newbie Mainer, writer, bon vivant, wife, and puppy momma”. The most recent two posts are reviews of Pai Men Miyake and Boda.
Finally, Ben decided on the Pork Hocks braised in Star Anise, which the menu told us is one of the most popular dishes in Thailand! Score! The pork was so tender it came apart easily with a fork, and it tasted great, with just the slightest hint of licorice from the star anise. All in all I thought it was one of the most interesting combinations of spices I have ever had in a dish. I would consider it a must try for anyone.
A collection of food news and links for your Saturday morning:
- Miyake has leased the space adjacent to Paciarino on Fore Street. They’ll be moving their Spring Street sushi restaurant there later this year.
- Brown paper is up in the windows of the old Katahdin on High Street and the Restaurant for Lease sign is down. There’s no word yet on what kind of restaurant it will be but I’ve added it to the Under Construction list.
- The folks from Dobra Tea recently took a break from getting their tea house on Middle Street ready for the grand opening to be interviewed for a book about tearooms in America. Dobra’s grand opening is scheduled for March 31.
- According to documents filed with the city, Bonobo pizza is changing hands. The new owners, Louise Murphy and Denise Compton, plan to “operate the business in much the same manner as the original owner and chef.”
- According to a job posting on Craigslist, Chef Eric Simeon is leaving Grace to “to pursue his own dream of opening a restaurant of his own.”
- Chef Jeff Hodgdon from The Salt Exchange appeared on the local Fox morning show yesterday. Hodgdon had been the sous chef at TSE and took over the kitchen when Jacob Jasinski left for a job in California last Fall.
- Saturday is the last day of the 3rd Annual Maine Restaurant Week.
I’ve posted four new additions to the Food Map:
- Cannoli Joe’s is a specialty bakery. They have a menu of 24 different flavors of cannoli for you to choose from priced at $18 for a mini-dozen and $36 for a large dozen.
- Chubby Werewolf is a new food/pop culture blog that went live in late February. CW recently published a burger review of Local 188.
- Expanding Horizons Food is a Portland consulting company that helps businesses “capture growing food movement markets, build a loyal community around your enterprise, and keep your expanded customer base coming back for more.”
- Tandoor Bakery is owned by Iraqi immigrant Audai Naser. He originally started his bakery in the community kitchen at the Public Market House and then moved out to his own place on Forest Ave.
Here are few food news updates:
- Mousse Cafe closed up shop for the last time on Saturday ending a run that started 2 years ago in August 2008.
- Liban Market, an African market on Washington Ave, has been added to the food map.
- A new Chinese restaurant is under construction on Washington Ave at the location formerly occupied by Litza’s.
On the heels of the comparative cupcake tasting engineered a couple weeks ago by Edible Obsessions, The Blueberry Files and Appetite Portland comes word of an additional cupcakery, Buttercup Cupcakes, and a blog wholly devoted to tracking down the best cupcake in Portland called Cupcakes! Cupcakes! Cupcakes!.