This Week’s Events: Drinking Made Easy, Paella Fest, New Year’s Eve List

WednesdayWine Wise is teaching a class on sparkling wines. Both Sonny’s and The Foreside Tavern are hosting viewing parties for the Portland episode of Drinking Made Easy. Several local restaurants and bars are collaborating in a cocktail competition named after a slip of the tongue made by UFF owner Eli Cayer when he was being interviewed for the show.

Thursday — there will be a wine tasting at the Public Market House.

Saturday — the Winter Farmers Market is taking place.

Sunday — Sonny’s is celebrating the New Year with an all you can eat Paella Fest.

New Year’s Eve
Here’s a list of restaurants that will be open on New Year’s Eve. Many in the list are planning special prix fixe dinners and a few will be open with their standard menu. If you know of any other options, post a comment with the details and I’ll add them to the list.

Everyone and their cousin wants to go out on New Year’s Eve so reservations are essential. I’d recommend you call soon before all the good spots get booked up.

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.

Grace in Top 4

The Phantom Gourmet included Grace in their list of the Top 4 Restaurants of 2011.

Grace in Portland, Maine also topped the list, serving new American comfort food in a renovated gothic revival church. Some of the standouts here include the bone-in tenderloin and the pan-roasted cod.

Reviewof Plush West End

Plush West End received 3 stars from the review in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.

This bar and tapas lounge offers enough satisfying food to make it a good spot to drop in for a casual dinner and a drink with friends, especially when appetites vary. It’s also a late-night nosh option. The dishes are interesting if not outrageously original, but most are very well-prepared, and a collection makes for an agreeable and filling meal in a relaxing, stylish and spacious atmosphere.

Down East: Miyake, Bootleggers and Farming

The January issue of Down East magazine includes a review of Miyake,

What impresses most about Miyake’s creations is his mastery of a wide range of techniques and the quality of the ingredients. This isn’t your standard fish. It glistens. The spicy tuna roll combines tender tuna with creamy avocado slices, topped with seared yellowtail, toasted almonds, plum paste, and radish sprouts. The combination of color, texture, and flavors makes you rethink sushi.

as well as articles about bootleggers,

Mark’s applejack — that’s what distilled hard cider becomes — is the best I’ve ever tasted. Better than apple brandy that’s been aged twelve years. Better than imported Calvados at forty bucks a bottle. It’s dry, robust, and carries spicy hints of the fruit it was made from as well as the smoky flavors of the autumn harvest. When I first tried it a couple of years ago after a leisurely lunch at a mutual friend’s house, I thought it was paradise in a bottle.

and Farming in Maine.

What’s in the middle? Not all that much, actually. Rare are the midsized producers who can send a steady supply of crops to even a handful of grocery stores. If Mainers are to follow through on their demonstrated interest in eating locally — as well as making progress on existing efforts to further develop the state’s food system — we’re going to need some of those little farms to grow a bit bigger, while keeping the bigger guys healthy and strong.

Review of Bayou Kitchen

The Blueberry Files has published a review of Bayou Kitchen.

So check out Bayou Kitchen for a brunch that’s a bit different than the tried and true served up at Becky’s, Miss Portland Diner, Marcy’s, etc.  Between the charming service and the southern food, I bet you’ll find something that makes you want to return.

Review of Taco Escobarr

Eat Here. Go There. has published a review of Taco Escobarr.

Overall, I think that Taco Escobarr is doing a lot of things right. They have a small menu and they are mastering that. It’s also fairly inexpensive, we only spent $16. For Americanized versions of tacos they were really well done and I wouldn’t hesitate to eat here again or recommend it to others. If you are looking for a cheap and quick sit down dinner I think this is a great option in Portland, I just beg them to get real crema.

Instant Portland: Fresh Approach, Local Sprouts, Market Street Eats

A new blog named Instant Portland has published reviews of Fresh Approach,

So, if you love quality meats and home baked goods, if you love the idea of a neighborhood grocery store where folks will learn your name, or if you just need something urgently on a day when the Great Big Supermarket is closed, give Fresh Approach a try. I guarantee it will become a regular stop for you on your grocery-buying adventures.

Local Sprouts, and

In a way, the experience of eating at Local Sprouts is like having lunch at a friend’s house (a friend who is a really good cook).  Through the long winter months ahead, they provide a warm space to come in from the cold, eat a healthy meal, and be a little warmer in body and soul.

Market Street Eats.

So, if you’re doing your holiday shopping in the Old Port, or you have an appointment downtown, or you just want to try something new for your weekday lunch, I cannot recommend Market Street Eats highly enough. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Christmas Day Eats?

I’ve fielded questions from a few people who are trying to identify their options for eating out on Christmas Day. This year it’s an especially tough challenge with the major holiday falling on Sunday, a day when many restaurants wouldn’t have been open anyways.

So I’m passing the question on to all of you hoping your collective knowledge can help these folks out. Where would you recommend someone eat out in Portland on Christmas Day?

Phoenix Year End Eats

Food writer Brian Duff from the Portland Phoenix makes it to Pho Hanoi, Pai Men Miyake, Petite Jaqueline and Top Thai to sample some of the cuisine that he hadn’t had the chance to try yet in 2011.

So that is a sample of dishes almost missed. So much of life often comes down to the right words at the right time. It’s a relief that eating out in Portland is so forgiving. The best dishes of the last year will be around for a while, and whether word gets around slowly or quickly, good food, and drink, will out.

Review of Brea Lu

Brea Lu has received 4½ stars from the Eat & Run review in today’s Press Herald.

Despite the cheery disposition of the place, what impressed me most was the dedication to breakfast-food excellence. I like sunny-side up eggs. And I know it’s not easy to get them perfect – yolks full of juice, not overcooked, whites cooked just enough, not runny and not burned. Every time I’ve gotten them at Brea Lu, my sunny-side up eggs have been perfect.

Also in today’s paper is a write up of Shipyard’s Applehead Ale which is due to be released later this month.