Portland Coffee Shops

The Portland Daily Sun has published a survey of six Portland coffee shops: Hilltop, Crema, Arabica, CBD on Washington, Bard and Aurora Provisions.

Traveling, local or otherwise, is not always sunny. You don’t always want to spend quality time with your family at the beach or at the hotel pool. Sometimes you want a friendly place to read the paper and have a little downtime, alone. Portland coffeehouses meet the criteria for cozy, cool and neighborhoody, and here are six of my all-season favorites within shouting distance of downtown.


Hayride Autumn Ale

Baxter Brewing has announced the upcoming release of their Fall seasonal beer, Hayride Autumn Ale. Hayride should be showing up on Portland store shelves in just a couple weeks at the start of September. According to the press release,

Cold conditioned on a bed of American oak, Hayride is a blend of rye malts and exotic New Zealand hops, enhanced with touches of peppercorns, ginger and sweet orange peel, which produces a unique beer perfectly timed for leaf-peeping, apple picking, evenings around the campfire,  and hayrides.

Restaurant Day

I cam across a Facebook page last night for an organization called Restaurant Day Portland, Maine. It’s part of a larger international effort of Scandinavian origin which encourages people to run one-day pop-up restaurants.

This year’s international Restaurant Day is scheduled for this Sunday, August 19. Unfortunately, word about this event is getting out a little late here in Maine and so there aren’t any Portland locations on the map. However, it seems to be an interesting concept and hopefully by next year there will be some Restaurant Day events taking place in the city.

Maine Beer Tours

A new company, Maine Beer Tours, is offering tours of Maine breweries on Friday and Saturday each week. MBT is run by Mark and Nichole Stevens.

Mark and Nichole have been dreaming of getting into the beer scene for years, and finally decided there was no time like the present.  They love craft beer, and know there are many people just like them.  Mark started homebrewing back in 1998, as a freshman in college, with his first batch brewed through his Mr. Coffee.  While it may have been pretty horrible, the love affair with all things beer was born…

The Friday tours visit Shipyard, Sebago, Maine Beer Company and Bull Jager. The Saturday tours go to Allagash, Urban Farm Fermentory, Rising Tide and a 4th stop which is TBD. Tickets are available online.

Local Hop Farm, Reviews of Mellen Street Market and Congress Bar & Grill, Lobster Dinner Math

Today’s Press Herald includes a bar review of Congress Bar & Grill,

The menus were tucked in between condiments in round tins on the bar. Specialty drinks range from the house-made sangria for $6 to the “JD Rita,” the bar’s spin on a margarita, for $12. There are eight beers on tap for $4 or $5 apiece, and a number offered by the bottle for $2 to $4. There’s also a selection of white, red and pink wines costing $5 to $7.

and a review of Mellen Street Market.

I ordered a steak-and-cheese with green peppers and onions for $6.49, which I thought was a fair price. The bun was chewy, the veggies were freshly grilled, and American cheese embedded underneath the meat melted into a favorable gooey mix.

The steak? Eh. So-so. It was very chewy, which disappointed me. But it was mostly chunky and not cut into strips, so it was easy to eat.

Also in today’s paper is an article about Rock Island Hop Farm in Springvale which raises hops for Sebago Brewing Bunker Brewing, and a detailed explanation from the President of the Maine Restaurant Association on what factors go into the price of a lobster dinner.

Calculating the average lobster cost at $4.25 per pound, a 1.25-pound lobster means a $5.31 raw lobster food cost for a typically served one and a quarter pound lobster. Add drawn butter, side salad or fries and a roll and you arrive at a total food cost of $6.815. This would result in a retail price of $20.63 for the meal, with a 33 percent food cost. All of that retail price except for $1.03 (5 percent profit) goes to pay the business overhead.

Gould Nets Golden Buoy

According to a report from the Associated Press, chef Chris Gould from Boston was the winner of the Shucks Maine Lobster World Series.

The winner of the lobster world series championship in Maine is the chef who created a butter-basted lobster with corn and sweet miso puree, served with roasted fingerling potatoes, cinnamon-and-hay smoked carrots and piquillo pepper sauce.

Chris Gould of Uni Sashimi Restaurant in Boston accepted his golden lobster buoy — and $5,000 — during a ceremony at Portland City Hall on Wednesday.

Press Herald food writer Meredith Goad was on the scene live tweeting and twitpicing the competition. She reports that Gould plans to opening a Portland restaurant in Spring 2013, and her article in Thursday’s paper provides further detail on the competition and the upcoming restaurant.

Gould is a native of Bethel, but until last week he worked for renowned chef Ken Oringer at Uni Sashimi Bar in Boston. He said he plans to open his own restaurant in Portland next spring that will feature “internationally inspired small plates.”

For additional reporting see this piece on WCSH TV.

New England Distilling & Maine Coastal Vineyards

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a profile of New England Distilling Company,

Wight’s rum, which will be bottled as Eight Bells Rum, is expected to be on the shelves by the first week in September. It’s the second artisanal spirit hand crafted by Wight’s new company, New England Distilling. His Ingenium Dry Gin, a flavorful sipping gin made with southeast Asian herbs as well as more traditional botanicals, launched in April.

and an article about Maine Coast Vineyards.

Steve Melchiskey has a dream. “I truly believe there’s a future for 10 to 12 good wineries in southern and coastal Maine that use only grapes grown on their properties.”

Melchiskey’s Maine Coast Vineyards (distributed in Maine by Mariner Beverages) is the first, and he’s working hard to create a culture that nourishes more.


Restaurant Inspections

According to the Press Herald the city’s restaurant inspector has been holding a series of sessions to educate people in the industry about the FDA rules in use in Portland.

On July 13, Sturgeon sent a letter to all city-licensed food establishments, inviting their operators to information sessions because she was finding “a lack of education” about the food code during inspections.

Sturgeon and her boss, Michael Russell of the city’s Health and Human Services Department, hosted their third session Tuesday night. About 20 people, most of them restaurant owners, attended the session at City Hall.

For additional reporting read the Munjoy Hill News.

Don’s & Smaha’s

The Press Herald is reporting that Don’s Lunch in Westbrook has been bought by the son of the original owner,

The food truck was bought recently by Jim Richards, the only son of the original owners, Don and Yvonne Richards, who ran the business for 25 years.

and that Smaha’s Market in South Portland has also changed hands.

Smaha’s Legion Square Market has been sold to Alan Cardinal of Scarborough, a former Hannaford Supermarkets executive who will run the grocery store and butcher shop with his wife, Sylvia Most.