Review of Figa—4½ stars

Figa received 4½ stars from today’s Taste & Tell review in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

The chef at Figa had me in the palms of her capable hands within two bites of the eggplant Napoleon ($6), one night’s appetizer special. Humble eggplant had been transformed into discs of creamy tenderness and lacy, crisp edges as slightly browned goat cheese chimed in with sour and tangy richness.

Green Scratch Meal

Edible Obsessions has written about a recent meal prepared with local ingredients sourced from  Green Sparks Farms through  Cape/ SoPo Winter Share, Cranky Rooster Farm and Scratch Baking.

Like most local eggs, these blow away anything you can buy at the local grocery stores. The yolks are plump, orange and LARGE. If I ever come back as a chicken, I want to live on this farm and eat what they’re eating–which is probably better than many people I know.

2011 Meal Deals

The discount pricing of Maine Restaurant Week is still a couple months away but there are some pricing specials out there now for anyone who blew their restaurant budget over the holidays:

  • Bar Lola – a 5-course prix-fixe menu, Wednesday-Saturday, $39.
  • Boda – late night menus items are half off on Sundays from 9:30 – 1 am
  • Browne Trading has declared January Cheese Month and is offering a 10% discount off all cheese in their store.
  • El Rayo – $1 oysters, Monday nights.
  • Five Fifty-Five – $1.55 oysters & drink specials, Thursdays nights at the bar.
  • Grace – happy hour from 5-6:30 Tuesday through Saturday, featuring bar food and drink specials including $15 bottles of wine
  • Hugo’s – the 6-course blind tasting menu, normally $85 per person, is $42.50 on Tuesday through Thursday from now until March 31.
  • Pom’s Thai Taste – $1 sushi, Monday & Tuesday.
  • Ri-Ra – half priced burgers on Wednesday nights.
  • The Great Lost Bear – Monday and Tuesday nights are Short Beer Nights when you can get a 23 ounce draft for $4.25. You can find a full list of happy hour specials on Portland Taps.
  • The Salt Exchange – 3-course prix fixe for $30.
  • There have been a number of discount offers for Portland area restaurants in the past few weeks on Dealitious and Groupon (but not this morning). Living Social has an offer today for Local 188 a $50 certificate half off for $25. Another local coupon site, The Maine Deal now is offering $10 gift certificates to Gorgeous Gelato for $5.

What’s missing from the list? Post a comment and share what you know.

Farmland and Organic Acres

MPBN has reported on two announcements made at this year’s Maine Agricultural Trades Convention. MOFGA set a goal to double the number of organic farms in Maine over the next 5 years and bring the percentage of organic acreage up to 10%,

MOFGA commissioned a study based on statistics from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, and among other things, it found that Maine has one of the largest collections of organic farms in the nation. Still, admits Libby, they’re a small part of the agricultural landscape in Maine. Organic farms account for roughly seven percent, respectively, of the state’s overall farming acreage, assets and gross revenue.

and the Maine Farmland Trust has…

launched a campaign to preserve 100,000 acres of farmland throughout the state by 2014. The initiative, announced this morning at the annual state farm show in Augusta, was prompted by concerns that much of Maine’s farmland will be in transition in the next 10 to 15 years as aging farmers sell off their farms or die.

For additional reporting on these announcements read this Press Herald article.

Immigrant Kitchen: African Fou Fou

Immigrant Kitchens author Lindsay Sterling has published a recipe and video instructions for making African Fou Fou as well as the back story behind how she learned to make the dish.

She plugged in a little portable stove and showed me right there how to make fou fou, a dish that’s as popular in parts of Africa as hamburgers and fries are here. She put cassava flour and corn flour into a pot of water, heated and stirred vigorously for some time.

Sterling will be teaching cooking class this Friday in Freeport with Swedish Cured Salmon, Potatoes Au Gratin, and Mustard Vinaigrette on the menu.

Gorgeous Gelato, Angela Landsbury and Going Vegan

Read the Soup to Nuts article in today’s Press Herald and learn about the connection between the TV show Murder, She Wrote and the opening of Gorgeous Gelato here in Portland.

Opening a gelato shop in Maine in December seems a little like opening a hot chocolate stand in Phoenix in July, when the average high is 105 degrees.

You really want to ask: “What were you thinking?”

Donato Giovine and Mariagrazia Zanardi, owners of the new Gorgeous Gelato shop at 434 Fore St., are happy to explain.

Today’s Food & Dining section also includes an article on an online service that helps people convert to a vegan diet.

Student Food Writing Competition

Slow Food Portland have announced the First Annual Young Food Writer’s Contest. The competition is open to “any student enrolled in public or private school, or being home schooled, in Cumberland County.”

To enter the competition students need to “write a short essay about food, which can be fiction or non-fiction, and written on the chosen theme.” For 2011 Slow Food has chosen “The Taste of Maine” for the theme. The winners will receive share in the CSA of their choice.

Deadline for entry is February 11, 2011. For all the details on the competition visit the Slow Food Portland website.