Prepping for the Greek Heritage Festival

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about all the prep work that goes into creating the food for the Greek Heritage Festival.

There will be marinated and grilled lamb souvlaki (kabobs), rice pilaf, Greek salad, spanakopita (spinach pie), moussaka (eggplant casserole), pastitsio (Greek lasagna), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and an assortment of desserts, most of which non-Greeks can get nowhere else in Portland except on these three days. I spent a couple hours with the pastry team last week as they prepared for the event.

The festival starts on Thursday and runs through Saturday night.

Strawberries Squared & Kids Gone Raw

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald has an article on strawberries which includes recipes from 3 Portland chefs, a guide to farms where you can pick your own strawberries, details strawberry dishes on the menu at local restaurants, a calendar of strawberry festivals in Maine and info on a strawberry jam making class taught by Kate McCarty.

“My advice to people is to get out a little earlier this year to get what you want, and certainly call the farmer ahead of time to see how things are going,” David Handley, a small-fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said in an interview after last week’s stretch of hot weather. “I’ve been out in the fields for the last couple of days, and I’ve been amazed how two days of temperatures approaching the 90s will ripen strawberries so quickly.”

The season started a little early as well, anywhere from a week ahead of schedule to just a day or two, depending on the location of the farm.

Also in today’s paper is an article about Kids Gone Raw,

Sensing an opportunity, Knowles quickly contacted her friend Elizabeth Fraser, who runs the Girl Gone Raw cooking school in Portland. Over lunch at Local Sprouts Cooperative Cafe, the two came up with the idea of a raw foods cookbook filled with kid-friendly recipes.

The book is now written and the pair is in the process of determining which publisher they want to work with…In the meantime, the two are busy creating a line of raw vegan foods for children, making appearances at events and teaching classes.

Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries

Both Sweeter Salt and Map & Menu have written up their recent trips to Maxwell’s Farm for strawberry picking,

…There seemed to be quite the contest to see who could pick the most perfect looking strawberry (I maintain that I was a clear winner in this contest) – in the end, we ended up picking quite a lot of these perfectly shaped beautiful, bright berries, and have enjoyed eating them on just about everything since! They’ve accompanied our morning oatmeal and daily salads, and have made the perfect topping for an angel food cake we picked up at Whole Foods. Strawberry pie & strawberry jam are both on our list of things to make this week as well.

and via a pair of re-tweets from Maine Foodie Tours we learned that Allagash is working on a strawberry-infused variant of Allagash Four called Avance (pic 1, pic 2), and that Maine Mead Works will be putting out a strawberry-flavored mead in July.


NPR’s food blog, The Salt, has published an article about MOOMilk.

Now, things are looking up, albeit modestly. MOOMilk has been picked up by Whole Foods and Hannaford’s, as well as by a swath of small purveyors across northern New England. Even with demand for organic milk booming, though, the cooperative is struggling to push past 5,000 gallons in weekly sales.

Portland Coffee

Mainebiz has published an article about Portland’s growing coffee industry.

“We believe there’s lots of room in Portland for people who are serious about our craft,” says [Bard co-owner Bob] Garver from behind the bar on a busy afternoon as [co-owner Jeremy] Pelkey and two baristas zip around him, pouring water over fresh grounds set over a weighed glass Kalita server and pulling espresso from the shiny Simonelli machine Garver bought recently from the World Barista Championships. “Portland’s got a wonderful food scene and we feel like the coffee in Portland should meet or exceed that standard.”

Under Construction: Salt Cellar

Salt Cellar is under construction in the basement space on the corner of Middle and Market Streets. Salt Cellar was founded in Portsmouth NH and this will be there second location. You can see there full product line of finishing salts on their e-commerce site.

The windows of the new retail store are filled with a set of quotes about salt:

  •  It’s a true saying that a man must eat a peck of salt before he knows him. -Cervantes
  • Thou hadst better eat salt with the Philosophers of Greece than the Courtiers of Italy. -Ben Franklin
  • Salt is what makes things taste bad when it isn’t in them. -Anonymous
  • Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt. -George Herbert
  • Salt is the policeman of taste: it keeps the various flavors of a dish in order and restrains the stronger from tyrannizing over the weaker. -Margaret Visser
  • Salt is born of the purest parents: the sun and the sea. -Pythagoras
  • It takes four men to make a salad: a madman for the pepper, a miser for the vinegar, a spendthrift for the oil, and a wiseman for the salt. -Unknown


This Week’s Events: Kathy Freston, Cloak & Dagger, Greek Heritage Festival, Latte Art Competition, Petite Jacqueline, Strawberry Festival & Vinald Tasting Dinner

Monday — vegan chef and author, Kathy Freston, will be at Whole Foods for a book signing.

Wednesday — Sea Change Cooking is teaching a farm share cooking class, the 4th Clock & Dagger supper club dinner is scheduled to take place, and the Monument Square Farmers Market is taking place.

Thursday — it’s the first day of the Greek Heritage Festival, Bard Coffee is hosting the monthly latte art competition, there will be  wine tastings at Browne Trading and Aurora Provisions, a wine and cheese tasting at the Public Market House, The Great Lost Bear is showcasing the beers from 4 Vermont breweries.

Friday — there will be a wine tasting at Rosemont on Brighton, Petite Jacqueline’s namesake will be at the restaurant for a special 3-course dinner, and it’s the second day of the Greek Heritage Festival.

Saturday — the 4th Annual Strawberry Festival is taking place in Cape Elizabeth, Wine Wise is leading a wine walk in the Old Port, chef David Levi is hosting a tasting dinner, the Deering Oaks Farmers Market is taking place, and it’s the last day of the Greek Heritage Festival.

Sunday — chef David Levi is offering  the Vinland tasting dinner #5 for a second night.

Bastille Day Feast — Devenish Wines and Cultivating Community with the help of chefs Brad Messier, David Levi, and Philippe Donald are putting together this 4-course with wine pairings feast to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14. The cost is $48 per person. You can buy tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets.

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 Boda

Diningsense has published a review of Boda.

Boda is an example of a restaurant that really benefits from its location in a semicircular restaurant row in the Arts District, and the energy of each restaurant builds off of each other. There is a French restaurant in Hyde Park (Chicago) whose motto is “Hyde Park to Paris and Back” and I think this is the sort of philosophy that characterizes many ethnic restaurants in this country, which market themselves as though they were transporting the diner to a foreign culture. In the case of Thai restaurants, this involves assenting to an Orientalism that makes the restaurant nothing more than a cliché. I appreciate how Boda is able to avoid such artificial exoticism, introducing a new facet of Thai cuisine to Maine while at the same time integrating seamlessly within the geographical setting.