Immigrant Kitchens: Burek

In the latest entry on Immigrant Kitchens Lindsay Sterling learns how to make Burek from Sanja Bukarac (read the recipe and see the photos).

Once the top of the burek was crispy and golden brown, she served slices on small plates and glasses of kefir with spoons in them. She instructed me to take a bite of the burek and then a spoonful of plain kefir. I was hesitant. Plain kefir? Straight? It was delicious! So this is what plain kefir was made for! Since the pressure is on this week for love, I might suggest making burek and remembering as we eat it: if we are with loved ones and not being shot at, life is good. And if you’re looking for love, it can’t hurt to visit the dentist.

Samuels vs

Today’s Portland Daily Sun reports on a restaurant coupon deal at Samuel’s went awry.

“They were only supposed to sell one certificate per person per month, and not for three bucks. I hardly do any advertising, and this seemed like a good idea to get new people to try the place, but it was a mess. They sold them for like a dollar each or something on Christmas Eve, and I had one week where the same guy came in every night with a $25 certificate. My sales rep guy, Jerry, is from Portsmouth, and he told me they weren’t monitoring who was buying them or how many they were selling. It was supposed to be, ‘We’re selling this amount of certificates for this certain price,’ but they went nuts and I can’t afford to do it.”

Valentine-o-rama: FFAW, Don’t Dwell, J’s Oyster Bar, Tandoor, Bunker Brewing, Variety Pack, Enzo or Eat In

It’s February and the month’s key cultural holiday (no, not President’s Day) is almost upon us. Dedicated readers of this series will recall that last year the O-Rama crew was tasked with compiling suggestions on where a pair of love birds should go if there first date occured onValentine’s Day. As I seem to recall many of the bloggers pointing out at the time it was an improbable and ridiculous set of circumstances, but it was also fun to take Valentine’s Day and turned it up to a Spinal Tap level 11.

This year we decided to explore the other end of the dial. The basis for this year’s recommendations are where to go, whether your single or not, if you want to avoid the more Hallmarkian aspects of February 14th and just go out and enjoy yourself. You may be avoiding reminders on the national day of romance that your single or you might be a couple that’s trying to reclaim the day to define as you wish, either way, the options explored below should give you plenty of ideas.

Appetite Portland – Postpone to March 2

Sure I could (and certainly have been known to) throw down a wad (say $200) for a marvelous prixe fixe dinner with pre-meal cocktails, pricey wine and tip in Portland. But if you, like me, are both watching your nickels and wishing for more together time you’ll need to be more creative this year. So what’s a happily hitched couple to do? Well, Adam and I have set aside half that aforementioned dinner wad to spend for a full day of fun, gifts and noshing. Here’s our agenda: read the full article

Edible Obsessions – Don’t Dwell, Rebel

But, on the other hand, if you’re feeling a bit full of piss and vinegar, then do something dramatically different. Go out. Go out and treat yourself to a fantastic meal to spite all of those happy couples and creepy faced Cupids. Go sit at the bar of Five Fifty Five, Hugo’s, Caiola’s, Miyake or Back Bay Grill–wherever couples are gathering–and treat yourself. Do for you. And you know what? Those people that have to wait on and serve those happy couples aren’t on a date for Valentine’s Day, either. Keep them company. Tip them well. read the full article

From Away – Go to J’s Oyster Bar

All of this will likely cost you half what it would anywhere else in the city. The preparation is basic, but seafood this fresh requires little more. You won’t be the drunkest person there. You won’t be the only one who is lonely, raw, and bitterly sad, whose heart aches and who has lost it all and expects to lose it all again. You go to J’s not because you have no hope, but because you have too much. Love hurts. Life hurts. J’s is there to help. read the full article

Instant Portland – Go to Tandoor

It’s my husband’s birthday. As you can imagine, that poses some logistical challenges if we want to celebrate in any way that doesn’t involve eating cake at our kitchen table. In our younger days, back before every restaurant had a website, we more than once found ourselves wandering around the Old Port trying to find some place for dinner that wasn’t all wine and roses, with a hundred-dollar prix fixe menu. Tandoor has fixed that for us and has become something of a birthday tradition. read the full article

The Blueberry Files – Bunker Brewing @ Sonny’s

Valentine’s Day: a holiday that has been discussed to death in the blogosphere, for sure. If you’re looking to avoid the prix fixe affairs, but don’t want to sit at home on Tuesday night like a shunned single, come check out this first pouring of Bunker Brewing Company. read the full article

Vin et Grub – V-Day Avoidance Variety Pack

After drinking, it’s time to satiate yourself. Head to Schulte and Herr (they start serving dinner on February 1st), Tu Casa, Saigon, or Ruski’s. Personally, I’d go for Tu Casa or Saigon. Plato Montanero or Pho? Ultimate comfort food… certain to ease your pain. The reason why I picked all of these fine establishments is not necessarily because they’re inexpensive (they are though, keep that in mind), but because most couples are more than likely going to bypass these options. read the full article

Vrai-lean-uh – Go To Enzo or Eat In

If you must go out to eat, I would recommend going somewhere that does not radiate “romantic restaurant.” Go someplace brightly lit that doesn’t take reservations. Go someplace where it would feel inappropriate to hold hands across a table. I recommend Enzo. read the full article

As promised they’re all excellent suggestions for someone(s) who wants to go off script this Valentine’s Day. As for my recommendation, I plan on following Kate’s suggestion and will be at Sonny’s for the launch of Bunker Brewing. With three new beers to choose from there’s sure to be at least one I can love.

Reviews of Slainte and El Rayo Taqueria

The Bollard has published a review of Slainte,

Though it’s located in the heart of downtown Portland, just steps from Monument Square, it can be as easy to overlook Slainte Wine Bar & Lounge as it is to mispronounce its name. The door to this cozy establishment is set back a few steps from the sidewalk along Preble Street and angled such that if you’re heading in the same direction as that one-way street, it’s easy to walk right by. That would be a shame.

and a brunch review of El Rayo Taqueria.

I’m pretty sure we were the only people to order off the brunch menu that morning. Apparently my informal survey was pretty accurate — word has yet to spread about the newest addition to Portland’s growing ranks of brunch eateries. El Rayo Taqueria probably won’t be my new go-to spot. I like a few more options to choose from, and my quest for the best breakfast burrito in town continues. But all in all, the fresh ingredients and bold flavors were definitely worth the trip. And now you know, too.

Shipyard & Farmers Market Sales

Today’s Press Herald includes an update on the Shipyard sewer bill snafu,

Contrary to what a city official said last week, Portland sewer and water officials did have experience dealing with brewery operations in 1996, when a metering mistake was made that cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue from Shipyard Brewing Co.

and a report on last night’s City Council decision to allow raw milk and alcoholic beverage sales at the Farmers Market.

After a long discussion, the City Council voted Monday night not to amend the city’s Farmers Market Ordinance to require vendors to display a placard and provide handouts to consumers detailing the risks of unpasteurized milk.

Councilors also authorized farmers market sales of malt liquor, hard cider and wine produced by Maine farms.

This Week’s Events: Cajun Cooking Challenge, Port and Chocolate, Chocolat and Beer, Chilli and Chowder Challenge, Valentine’s Day

Monday — there will be an Italian Wine Seminar co-hosted by Caiola’s and Devenish Wines.

Tuesday — the 17th Annual Cajun Cooking Challenge is taking place, the organizers of Green Drinks are hosting a Green Dinner at The Salt Exchange and the UFF is teaching a mushroom growing workshop.

Wednesday — a wine tasting is taking place at Old Port Wine Merchants. LeRoux Kitchen, in cooperation with chef Skawinski from Cinque, is holding an Italian cooking demonstration.

Thursday — Browne Trading is hosting a Port and Chocolate tasting, an Italian wine dinner is taking place at Vignola, and the Public Market House will be the site of a UFF cider and kombucha tasting.

Friday — it’s the first day of a chocolate and beer menu at Novare Res, and there will be a wine tasting at Aurora Provisions.

Saturday — Chef Jeff Kingman will be preparing the February Peaks Island Gastro Society dinner, the UFF is teaching an apple tree pruning workshop, LeRoux is holding a sweet and savory crepe cooking demo, and the the Winter Farmers Market is being held.

SundayMan and a Woman is on the schedule for movie night at Petite Jacqueline, Dobra is teaching a Black Tea Workshop, and the 18th Annual Chilli and Chowder Challenge is taking place.

Valentine’s Day — Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Here are the V Day options I’ve heard of so far. Post a comment with info for others that I should add to the list.

  • Bar Lola, $45, 5-course dinner with optional wine pairings
  • BiBo’s Madd Apple Cafe, $40 3-course dinner
  • Bresca, 5-course Paris 2066 Dinner, $65 per person, $100 per person with wine pairings
  • Cinque Terre, 5-course on February 13 and 14, $59.95
  • East Ender, 3-courses $40 with the option of wine pairings for $18
  • El Rayo Cantina, is putting together a special Valentine’s Day menu
  • Five Fifty-Five, your choice of $75 or $100 5-course meals in the restaurant or a 3-course $55 dinner in the lounge
  • Gelato Fiasco, Valentine-themed red, pink, white, and chocolate flavors
  • Geno’s Rock Club will be the venue for the Local Muscle Valentine’s Day Film Festival
  • Novare Res, Sweet Marguerites chocolates paired with beer from the Novare Res menu, February 10-14
  • Peaks Island Gastro Society, $100 6-course prix fixe with wine pairings on Saturday February 11
  • Petite Jacqueline, $65 4-course dinner with optional wine pairings
  • Sea Glass, 4-course dinner $62
  • Sea Grass Bistro, 4-course $65
  • Sebago Brewing, is offering a special Valentine’s Day menu
  • The Inn on Peaks Island, 3-course dinner, $55 includes a champagne toast
  • The Frog & Turtle, $45 3-course
  • The Salt Exchange has posted their Valentine’s Day menu
  • Vignola, 4-course, $39.95
  • Wine Wise, Wine & Chocolate Pairings, $35
  • Zackery’s, serving a special Valentine’s Day menu
  • Zapoteca, $40 with optional pairings for $20, served February 10-14

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.