Wine Cellar Dining & Mushroom Hunting

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an article about Dan Agro, an expert in foraging for edible and medicinal mushrooms,

After we make our way to the base of the birch tree, we gaze high above our heads at two dark, misshapen knots protruding from either side of the white bark. We all ponder the same question: is the growth the sought-after medicinal mushroom known as chaga or is it a wooden burl?

and an article on the wine cellar dining rooms at Caiola’s and the White Barn Inn.

Just last week, Caiola’s hosted a wedding in the cellar. It’s also been used for business meetings, birthday celebrations, marriage proposals, and lots of rehearsal dinners. “With the music going,” Vaccaro said, “it’s pretty romantic.”

Review of Otto Pizza

Map & Menu has published a review of Otto Pizza.

You can order any of Otto’s flavors as entire pizzas, but one of the coolest parts of Otto is the ability to grab a few of their extra large slices and mix combinations. Like any pizza joint, Otto offers the standard pepperoni or cheese (and mighty fine versions of both), but where they truly excel is in the unique flavor combinations of pizzas like the bacon, mashed potato, and scallion (where the potato is the base), the four cheese tortellini and fontina, or the butternut squash, cranberry, and ricotta.

Photo Credit: Map & Menu

The Foie Gras Advantage

The new issue of Portland magazine interviewed chef/owner Krista Kern Desjarlais and other Maine chefs about their use of foie gras now that California has banned the ingredient.

We’re not saying Maine’s trendy restaurants are spiking the ball, but Bresca serves a foie gras ice-cream sandwich [$10]. Says chef Krista Kern Desjarlais, 2012 James Beard award nominee for Best Chef Northeast: “Our variation is foie gras ice-cream with a toasted almond chocolate torte and pan-seared apricots with warm caramel sauce.”

Food Bloggers From Away Touring Maine

Sharon Kitchens from Delicious Musings with the help from the Maine Department of Tourism has arranged for a set of ‘from away’ bloggers to go for a week long culinary tour in Maine. The bloggers participating in the program are:

I had the pleasure of joining them last night for a 12-course kick-off feast at El Rayo (see photos by Use Real Butter). The meal featured Nonesuch Oysters and goat from Ten Apple Farm. Karl Schatz and Margaret Hathaway, owners of Ten Apple Farm, and Abigail Carroll from Nonesuch were on-hand to join in the meal and provide background on their respective operations.

Today the bloggers are visiting GMRI, The Well, Jordan’s Farm, Broadturn Farm, and Maine Mead Works capped off by a dinner at Fore Street. Tomorrow morning after a fueling up with some baked good from Standard they will travel to the Midcoast and then out on a 3-day trip sailing trip.

It sounds like a really fun adventure and I look forward to reading all about it on each of their blogs in the near future.

Photo Credit: Sharon Kitchens

Cool Hunting in Portland

Schulte & Herr, Scratch Baking, Novare Res and Catch a Piece of Maine were all featured in an article about Portland on Cool Hunting.

At the same time, the harbor brings in some of the best seafood in the world, and alongside the scenic seaside and tucked away among the tourist traps are plenty of crackerjack restaurants, sandwich shops, bakeries and watering holes steeped in the local, unassuming character of Maine. Here, a handful of my favorite food and drink spots from four years as a local and frequent trips back to check out what’s new.

This Week’s Events: Latte Art Competition, Portland Brew Festival, Twilight Dinner

Tuesday — it’s Growler Nite at Bunker Brewing.

Wednesday — the Monument Square Farmers Market is taking place.

Thursday — Bard Coffee is hosting the monthly barista Latte Art Competition, Cultivating Community’s ninth Twilight Dinner of the summer is taking place (tickets available online), and The Great Lost Bear is showcasing beer from Cisco Brewing, Browne Trading and Aurora Provisions are holding a wine tastings, and the Maine Food Producers Alliance offering a class on food testing.

Friday — it’s the first day of the 2nd Annual Portland Brew Festival.

SaturdayLeRoux Kitchen is holding a wine tasting, the Deering Oaks Farmers Market is taking place, and it’s the last day of the 2nd Annual Portland Brew Festival.

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 White Cap Grille

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a review of the White Cap Grille.

Dining reviews practically write themselves when the experience is outstanding, and although less fun (since restaurants do represent a person’s livelihood), they are equally easy to compose when the experience involves a spectacular failure. The creative stumbling happens in the middle, when a meal is “meh.”

Since “meh” does not translate as a technical term in any culinary dictionary, let me explain.