This Week’s Events: Allagash Beer Dinner,Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Dinner, Maine Beer Week

Monday — As part of the continuing Maine Beer Week events, Novare Res is showcasing Urban Farm Fermentory cider.

Tuesday — Novare Res is showcasing Sebago Brewing, and Local Sprouts is hosting a local food networking breakfast.

Wednesday — Novare Res is showcasing Marshall Wharf Brewing, Girl Gone Raw is teaching a raw food cooking class, the Old Port Wine Merchants is holding a wine tasting, and the Monument Square Farmers Market is taking place.

Thursday — As part of the last night of Maine Beer Week, the Great Lost Bear is converting over all but one of their taps to Maine made beer, Novare Res is showcasing Maine Meadworks, and Vignola is holding the 6th Annual Allagash Beer Dinner. Additionally, there will be wine tastings at Aurora Provisions and Browne Trading, a vegan/macrobiotic cooking class is taking place and Havana South is holding their monthly wine night.

Friday — Rosemont on Brighton will hold a Thanksgiving wine tasting.

Saturday — the Deering Oaks Farmers Market is taking place.

SundayPetite Jacqueline is holding a wine dinner to celebrate this year’s release of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Viva Lebowski — fans of White Russians and the movie The Big Lebowski should check out this year’s Viva Lebowski festival. The event is taking place December 3rd at Bayside Bowl. There will be bowling, a screening of the movie and a Lebowski costume contest. All ticket sales will benefit the Maine Heart Association.

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 The Front Room

The Front Room received 3 stars from a review in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.

The Front Room, one of three Portland “Rooms” that chef Lee Harding Smith opened in Portland (The Grill Room and The Corner Room being the others), has garnered avid followers and good press. On a Tuesday night, plenty of people were lining up for supper.

My experience did not measure up to the hoopla.

I’d like to see some of the centerpieces we had — that juicy chicken, tender beef and silky smooth potatoes, for instance — get to show off their innate flavors. Let herbs, burgundy, garlic and such outshine the salt in the well-conceived items. A little hovering and tasting was in order.

Reviews of The Grill Room & El Rayo

Eat Here. Go There. has published reviews of The Grill Room,

Despite the pizza mishap, there is no way I won’t be eating here again, there are too many other wonderful menu items to keep me from coming back, but I am going to go with this brief closing sentiment. Go for the grilled items, blow off anything else (or risk extreme dissatisfaction). In short—burger, amazing. Pizza, lousy.

and El Rayo.

All in all, it was a good start to a fun night. While not my favorite place to get burritos, tacos or enchiladas in Portland I don’t think that it’s terrible. I can’t put my finger on exactly what is lacking there for me, but if a friend wanted to go have a causal dinner there again, I would certainly go. I would not, however, get the enchiladas ever again. The quality of the pork was good, so it gives me hope if I decide to go back sometime and try a pork dish another time around. I just don’t think I’ll be knocking down their door anytime soon though. I apologize profusely to Bitzy and other El Rayo frequenters, but it’s just not my jar of salsa kids.

Review of Walter’s

From Away has published a review of Walter’s.

We’d read good things about the Crispy Asian Raviolis, but I used birthday leverage to order more calamari: “Cracklin Calamari,” ($10) spice dusted fried calamari, with lemon caper cherry pepper aioli, basil leaf, and candied jalapeños. It just seemed like the thing to do. The squid was cooked exquisitely, not too greasy or chewy or heavy with breading. And the candied jalapeños were piquant adult candy flecked throughout the plate. Unfortunately, a saccharine vanilla sauce coated every morsel in an overbearing fashion.

Talking Turkey

Forecaster columnist Edgar Allen Beem shares his experiences buying an $80 turkey.

Spending $80 on a turkey (about four times as much as supermarket bird) strikes me as something of an exercise in feel-good environmentalism, but if it makes my family happy, so be it.

Food is about my only extravagance. We’ve lived in the same little house for 30 years, don’t go on exotic vacations, don’t drive expensive cars, and I buy most of my clothes at the L.L. Bean employee store. The pants I’m wearing (in fact all my pants) cost 25 cents, so I guess I can afford an $80 bird once a year.

Tasting Notes from the Maine Brewers Festival

Beer columnist Tom Atwell relays some of his tasting notes from this past weekend’s Maine Brewers Festival.

I was surprised by the complexity of the Honey Rye from Kennebec River Brewing Co. in The Forks. When I have had their beers, both at their pub while on fishing trips and in bottles, they have been good middle-of-the-road brews. But the Honey Rye had a wonderful sweetness upfront from the honey and an absolutely dry finish. I could see this as a superb beer for warm days.

Shift Drinks Explained

Portland Daily Sun columnist Natalie Ladd gives a behind the scenes look an aspect of restaurant life, rules around shift drinks.

The employee shift drink is a slippery slope because management sanctioned or not, it is going to happen. Many, but not all restaurant employees will drink alcohol after, during and upon rare occasion, before a scheduled shift. Recognizing this to be true and accepting the inevitable, many managers and owners have policies that read something like this, “Each employee may have one draft or well beverage after their shift. Each drink must be rung up on a house tab. Employees may not sit at the bar during hours of service. Employees may not pour their own shift drink. Employees may only have one drink per evening. Employees may not sit at the bar in uniform and drink. Employees must be punched out before having a shift drink.” And, so on and on as it’s the stuff lined birdcages are made of.

Maine Beer Week & Jim Gerritsen

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a profile of Jim Gerritsen, a Maine farmer who is leading the challenge against Monsanto over GMO seeds,

The lawsuit questions the validity of Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seeds, and seeks protection from patent-infringement lawsuits for the plaintiffs should their crops become contaminated with Monsanto’s transgenic crops.

“The viewpoint of Monsanto is that (in such a situation) we have their technology, even though we don’t want it and it has zero value in the organic market,” Gerritsen said. “We think they should keep their pollution on their side of the fence.”

and an inside look at what restaurants are planning for Maine Beer Week,

Allagash Black chocolate cake. Beer-battered fried pork rib with ginger barbecue sauce. Ale-braised pork osso buco.

Expect to see some especially creative collaborations in Maine restaurants over the next eight days, when chefs and brewers start showing off what they can do by putting their heads together for the first Maine Beer Week, which starts tomorrow and runs through Nov. 17.