MRW Overview & The Beer Babe

Today’s Press Herald includes an overview of Maine Restaurant Week. The food event will be taking place March 1-10.

This is the fifth year of Maine Restaurant Week, and while there are some interesting changes in store, its basic structure will stay the same. The breakfast cook-off and the other major event of the week, a cocktail-and-dessert competition called the Signature Event, are extremely popular and usually sell out. These parties haven’t changed much because the basic formats have not yet gotten (pardon the expression) stale.

Also worth noting is a new blog from the Press Herald. The Beer Babe is written by Carla Companion. Her most recent post is a review of the beer list at Pai Men Miyake.

I chose a Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale “Zymatore”, which is relatively rare even at Belgian beer bars. A third party – with agreements with many famous brewers – takes small batches of amazing beer, and then ages it in barrels – in this case Zinfandel barrels, and each release is unique and complex…

Service and Food Up, Tips Down

Portland Daily Sun columnist Natalie Ladd has written about a night when everything went well . . . except the tips.

So why were the tip so overwhelmingly bad?

It stands to reason there should be a direct correlation between customer satisfaction with the big three: Food, Atmosphere and Service (FAT) and a handsome gratuity. Typically that’s how it plays out, but that night, I just couldn’t figure what was going awry. There was the paper napkin upon which somebody wrote, “Fantastic Service! We had a great time,” and left a little over ten percent of their check.

2013 James Beard Foundation Semi-Finalists

The semi-final list of nominees for this year’s James Beard Awards were released today. Four Maine chefs and restaurants made the list:

Final nominees will be announced on Monday March 18 and the awards ceremony takes place May 3 & 6 in New York City.

For reference, here are the Maine semi-finalist from 2012, 2011 and 2010.

50 Finest Donut Shops

Two Maine donut shops have been included by Saveur in their list of the 50 Finest Donut Shops in America: Frosty’s, founded in Brunswick with a shop in South Portland, and Congdon’s in Wells.

The list was part of a extensive series of donut articles. The historical timeline of donuts (1600s to 2011) includes mention of Maine’s Captain Hanson Gregory and his invention of the donut.

Articles from the new issue of the magazine aren’t yet available online.

Vote in Phoenix Readership Poll

The nominations are in and it’s now time to cast your ballot in the Portland Phoenix Best of Portland Readership Poll.

There are a plethora of Food and Drink categories (Bagels, Bars, Barbecue, Beer Selection, Brewpubs, Brunch, etc) to vote on as well as sections for City Life, Arts and Entertainment, and Shopping.

Portland Food Map along with From Away, Map & Menu, Mister Meatball, and the The Blueberry Files are all contenders in the Food Blog category.

Final results are usually made public in April at the Port City Music Hall.

This Week’s Events: Sea State 8.0, Wine Dinners & Tastings, Maine Food Law Colloquium, JBF Semifinalists

Tuesday — Local Sprouts is hosting the Local Foods Networking Breakfast. All week starting on Tuesday The Honey Exchange is running a bee-themed children’s program.

Wednesday — there will be a wine tasting at Old Port Wine Merchants of Bordeaux from 2009 and 2010.

Thursday — GMRI research scientist Steve Eayrs will be giving a talk at GMRI entitled Tools of the Trade: Nets and Computers, the Old Port Sea Grill and Sea Glass Restaurant are holding wine dinners, there will be a Cooperstown Beer tap takeover, and the Great Lost Bear will be featuring beers from Sierra Nevada.

Friday — the Aphrodisiac’s wine dinner is taking place at Eve’s (rescheduled due to Nemo).

Saturday — the Maine Food Law Colloquium is taking place, Sea Change Cooking is teaching a low sugar cooking class, and the Winter Farmers Market is taking place.

SundayTwo Fat Cats is teaching a baking class, Wine Wise is leading a wine walk to celebrate their 3rd anniversary, and Petite Jacqueline is screening Micmacs.

James Beard Foundation Awards — while the list of nominees doesn’t surface until March 18, the James Beard Foundation typically releases the full list of restaurants under consideration in the week after Valentine’s Day. PFM will post a list of all the Maine restaurants on the list.

Feed the Arts @ El Rayo — every Sunday El Rayo is running a program to support local arts organizations. 10% of proceeds are donated to each week’s featured arts non-profit.

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.

Eventide & Five Fifty-Five

Vrai-lean-uh has written up her recent visit to Eventide,

Eventide is a medium-fancy oyster bar from the owners of Hugo’s. I say medium-fancy because even though the atmosphere is casual, it’s also kind of slick and hip inside, and the food about five notches up from the oyster-bar-on-the-waterfront type deal…

and The Golden Dish has posted tasting notes from his Valentine’s Day dinner at Five Fifty-Five.


Interview with Layne Witherell

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published an interview with wine professional and Portland resident Layne Witherell.

Q: I thought one of the best paragraphs in your book was the last one, where you hand out advice to people who want to learn about wine. Can you share a few of those suggestions?

A: Just write down everything that you taste or take a picture of that label, so that way you have a memory of what you had. I ran a store for years and years, and (customers) walk in and go, “This was the best wine I ever had.”