Under Construction: River House

Construction of the River House on York Street is well under way. The restaurant is being built at the former site of Popeye’s Ice House. The most detailed information available comes from a Mainebiz article published back in December,

At the same time, [Tod] Dana and [Alex] Fisher are teaming up with Cheryl Lewis and Noreen Kotts, El Rayo’s culinary team and the former owners of Aurora Provisions, for another venture. The four are converting what used to be Popeye’s Ice House into a new restaurant Dana describes as a “neighborhood bistro.” It’ll have 60 seats, and gets its name for its view of the Fore River. They hope to be open by late next summer.

Making Gelato & Maine Maple Sunday

Today’s Press Herald includes a report on Maine Maple Sunday,

This year’s sap is also unusually high in sugar content, consistently averaging 4 percent instead of the normal 2 percent or 3 percent. At that level, Harris said he can produce a gallon of maple syrup with only 21½ gallons of sap instead of the usual 40. Last year’s warm winter and low sugar content required an average of 47 gallons.

anda Maine at Work column where reporter Ray Routhier works with Mariagrazia Zanardi from Gorgeous Gelato,

Zanardi’s talk of the gelato’s “molecular structure” struck me. When eating ice cream, or gelato, or other similarly sweet treats, I had never thought much about molecular structure.

But Zanardi does, almost constantly. She studied gelato-making at a university in Italy, then moved to Portland and opened Gorgeous Gelato on Fore Street in December, with her husband, Donato Giovine. Giovine had a packaging business in Milan, and Zanardi had been a Spanish teacher before deciding upon gelato-making as a second career.

For some additional photos of Maine Maple Sunday go to Sweeter Salt.

Review of Flatbread

The Spiced Plate has published a review of th gluten-free pizza at Flatbread.

When we dug in, it was still warm.  The crust was delightfully crunchy, while the rest of the dough was more moist, which allowed it to soak up the flavors of the herbs and cheese.  Most gluten free doughs at restaurants tend to be akin to the cardboard box we carried the pie home in, but this dough had the right balance of softness without being too flimsy.  I think a gluten-eating person would enjoy this pizza just as much as Andrew and I did.

This Week’s Events: Latte Art Throwdown, Cheese Making Class, Chocolate Lovers Fling, Heritage Grains Baking Class

WednesdayBlack Tie Bistro is teaching a cooking class.

Thursday — Bard Coffee is hosting a Latte Art Throwdown, The Cheese Iron is teaching an Intro to Cheese Making class, Cinque Terre is serving a 5-course Italian dinner at The Portland Company, there will be a wine and cheese tasting at the Public Market House, The Great Lost Bear is showcasing beer from Switchback Brewing.

FridayWest End Deli is holding a wine tasting. This Friday is also First Friday Art Walk and restaurants will be busy so make your reservations early.

Saturday — Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland will be hosting Eli Rogosa from the Heritage Wheat Conservancy for a lunch and pair of discussions about grain celebrations and growing heritage grains, the Winter Farmers Market is taking place at the Irish Heritage Center and there will be a wine tasting at LeRoux Kitchen.

Sunday — the 25th Annual Chocolate Lovers Fling will take place at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, and Eli Rogosa from the Heritage Wheat Conservancy will be teaching a baking class using Emmer and Einkorn flour.

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 Green Elephant

Maine magazine has published a review of Green Elephant in their April issue.

Green Elephant’s style of food was developed in Thailand, where a large percentage of the population is Budhist and refrain from eating meat. Their devotion, however, doesn’t stop them from craving it, and soy-based faux-meat products have become an acceptable alternative. I personally find the texture quite pleasing, although I learned from restaurant manager Corin Ginter that my reckless use of the term “fake meat” is frowned upon (although I can’t understand why) and that “soy meat” is the preferred nomenclature.

Since it’s the magazine’s wellness issue there’s also a sidebar with a list of “healthy eating” restaurant destinations such as Homegrown Herb and Tea and Local Sprouts.

The article isn’t yet online but the magazine should be available at your local newsstand.

Review of Caiola’s

Caiola’s received 3½ stars from the restaurant review in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.

Caesar salad with fried spicy oysters ($11.95) is another appetizer ample enough to be a main dish. The six oysters surrounding the romaine bear a thick, breaded crust, and taste peppery. Unfortunately, on this night, more attention could have been paid to their leafy vehicle; the overly dressed greens lack the sharp and lemony character of a good Caesar.

Maine’s Wine Industry

Wine distributor Ned Swain has published some interesting observations on the Maine wine industry on his blog Wines; Tasted!

Maine is one of the only states that has bucked this trend and seen a lot of diversification and proliferation in small, grass roots wine distributors. Wine distributors such as myself, SoPo, Crush, and Easterly have built businesses built on unique quality wines and passion. Mark-ups in Maine are also lower than in places like NY, both on restaurant lists and retail.

I have a feeling that this movement to higher quality, exciting, hand made wines has hit a critical mass…

Review of the Micucci Sicilian Slab

From Away has published a review of the pizza at Micucci’s.

There is something so sublime about this pizza, unlike any I have had known. Thick as the name implies, but not at all heavy; the dough of the crust is soft and airy.  Sauce that is fruitsome yet not cloying. And a cheese layer that inspires the best of us to employ a lighter hand when slinging mozarella. Each component has integrity and complements the whole…