Under Construction: Hugo’s, Carman’s, Black Cat, Portland & Rochester


Construction crews are making big strides in completing renovations at Hugo’s. The restaurant announced last week on Facebook that they’re now taking reservations for dates starting on July 8.

Several other businesses on the Under Construction list have been sharing photos and status updates recently:

Reviews: Small Axe Truck & Pai Men Miyake

Map & Menu has published a review of brunch at Pai Men Miyake.

Meredith loved her fried rice with bok choy, chinese chives, ginger, and a Miyake farm poached egg, and after we added a cup of always-amazing Tandem coffee, brunch at Miyake had easily been cemented in our minds as a new Portland brunch must.

The Press Herald has published a review of Small Axe.

Check out Small Axe for an on-the-go experience that’s fast, local and delicious.

Investigation at Petite Jacqueline

An article in today’s Press Herald reports on an investigation at Petite Jacqueline.

A popular Portland restaurant was investigated this month as a possible source of food-borne illness, the second such investigation of the restaurant in 18 months.

Health officials zeroed in on Petite Jacqueline after a food handler and a patron were stricken by the same bacterial illness on June 1, but they could not prove the restaurant’s food was the cause – or that it wasn’t – because too much time had passed since the people who became sick were exposed.

CSFs: Salt & Sea and Eat Local Fish

Today’s Press Herald includes an article on two local community Supported Fisheries, Salt & Sea and Eat Local Fish.

The other buy-direct option is Salt and Sea (saltandsea.me), which is more of a traditional community-supported fishery that is less than a year old. Salt and Sea is similar to Port Clyde Fresh Catch, the popular midcoast CSF that has gotten nationwide attention but does not deliver to the Portland area. With this option, you pay upfront for several weeks’ worth of deliveries, and pick up the fish yourself at one of several drop-off points.

Festival Organizer Interview (Updated)

Dan Shelton, organizer of The Festival, shared his frustrations with Maine alcohol laws with the Bangor Daily News.

The hitch caused The Festival organizer Dan Shelton to criticize the state law restricting brewers from pouring their own samples during festivals, a regulation he blamed for unnecessarily driving up his need for volunteer pourers. He said he needed to have 80-plus volunteers, one at each booth, and wasn’t sure how many he was short by when organizers realized they needed to scramble to add more.

“Maine is a great beer state and Portland’s a great beer town,” Shelton said. “We were all enthusiastic about Portland, but then we started to learn about these laws, and that’s when it started going sour for us.

If My Coaster Could Talk has published commentary from the volunteer’s perspective, and The Beer Babe has posted a piece from the perspective of an attendee.

Food Trucks: Bite into Maine, El Corazon, Small Axe, Mainely Burgers, Love Cupcakes

A group of the old O-Rama food blogging team reconvened this summer to explore Portland’s emerging food trucks scene. Founding members Edible Obsessions and The Blueberry Files joined by Map & Menu to trywhat these mobile kitchens are cooking up.

Edible Obsessions visited Small Axe Truck and Bite into Maine.

On first bite, it was easy to see why it was [owner] Sarah [Sutton]’s favorite, and their choice for entry into The Rumble.  The coleslaw is lightly dressed, leaving a lot of crunch in the red and green cabbage. Add that to a perfect crisp on the bun and you have the perfect balance to the buttery lobster. The roll itself weighed a pound–if not a bit more–and was near impossible to eat with simple bites without plucking out some of the lobster with the fork they provided (this is by no means a criticism of the roll).

Map & Menu visited El Corazon, Bite into Maine, Mainely Burgers, Small Axe and Love Cupcakes.

In the past couple of weeks, Meredith and I have been undertaking the extremely enjoyable challenge of trying as many of Portland’s food trucks as possible. While we missed a few (that we’ll be sure to add as time goes on), the ones we visited spelled out a bright future for the Portland food truck scene. The general gist from all of them was that a tasty breakfast, lunch, late night, or dessert doesn’t necessarily need to come from a brick and mortar establishment – if you concentrate on doing a few things very well, your next great Portland meal might come from the curb.

The Blueberry Files visited Bite into Maine and El Corazon.

Topped off with a pineapple aqua fresca, we had a filling, inexpensive lunch that was a great sampling of Mexican food. I recommend you seek out El Corazon. They post their schedule on their website, and also use Instagram, Twitter, and facebook to announce their daily location. 

I haven’t made it through the full line-up yet myself. Among the ones I’ve tried so far my favorites are Bite into Maine (where I go for the Picnic-style lobster roll), Mainely Burgers (classic burger and an order of fries), Small Axe (General Tso’s pork belly sandwich) and El Corazon (Baja fish burrito). I encourage you to read what the bloggers have to say, check-out the food truck directory below, and then go out there and give them all a try.

Food truck Directory

Bite into Maine – lobster rolls in Fort Williams Park
website | facebook | twitter

El Corazon – Mexican food
website | facebook | twitter

Love Cupcakes – cupcakes in Falmouth and Portland with their new truck
website | facebook | twitter

Mainely Burgers – burgers and fries on Congress Street
facebook | twitter

Portside Picnic can regularly be found in the Back Cove parking lot
facebook | twitter | website

Small Axe Truck – breakfast on Anderson St, lunch on Congress Street
website | facebook | twitter

The Squeeze – located in the Home Depot parking lot on Riverside

Wicked Good Street Kitchen – two trucks, one on Peaks Island near the ferry and one in a variety of locations in Portland
website | facebook | twitter

There are also a number of trucks currently under construction:

Ana’s Mobile Gourmet was mentioned in a food truck article that appeared in the Portland Phoenix.

Mainely Burgers is working on a dessert truck called Mainely Treats that’s expect to launch in early July.

Maine Fodder is working on a truck that will both operate as a traditional food truck and be a mobile farm stand.

Urban Sugar Mobile Cafe will be serving made-to-order gourmet mini-donuts they hope to open mid-July.

This Week’s Events: Twilight Dinner, Greek Heritage Festival, Summer Dinner, Latte Art, 555 10th Anniversary, Pocket Brunch

Wednesday — the Bier Cellar is holding a tasting with North Coast Brewing where they’ll be debuting a collaboration North Coast did with Deschutes Brewing and Rogue, Black Tie is catering a Graze Farm Dinners at Pineland in New Gloucester, and the Monument Square Farmers Market is taking place.

Thursday — Cultivating Community is holding their first Twilight Dinner of the season, it’s the first day of the Greek Heritage Festival, Blue Rooster and Portland Hunt & Alpine Club are collaborating on a New England Summer Dinner, Bard is holding the monthly Latte Art Throwdown, there will be a wine and cheese tasting at the Public Market House, and The Great Lost Bear will be showcasing beers from Greenflash Brewing.

Friday — Five Fifty-Five is celebrating their 10th Anniversary with a 10-course wine dinner, it’s the second day of the Greek Heritage Festival, Rising Tide, Bunker Brewing, Urban Farm Fermentory and Tandem are coordinating on June’s Last Friday event (noon to 7pm) in East Bayside. Love Cupcakes will be at Rising Tide and Small Axe will be at Bunker.

Saturday — the 5th Annual Strawberry Festival is taking place in Cape Elizabeth, it’s the last day of the Greek Heritage Festival, and the Deering Oaks Farmers Market is taking place.

Sunday — the June edition of Pocket Brunch is taking place, Krista Kern Desjarlais and Erik Desjarlais are the guest chefs for Pocket Picnic. Tickets for the June Pocket Brunch sold out in less than 2 hours.

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.

Crowdsourcing Campaigns: Tortillería Pachanga & UFF Community Kitchen

A pair of Portland companies are raising funds on the Indiegogo crowdsourcing site:

The Urban Farm Fermentory (facebook) is trying to raise $16,000 to fund the build out of a community kitchen and the construction of a greenhouse along the back side of their building on Anderson Street. The community kitchen will provide commercial kitchen space that’s needed by small food business that don’t yet have their own building. To watch a short video by owner Eli Cayer and contribute visit the UFF page on Indiegogo.

Tortilleria Pachanga (facebook) is a new company still under development that wants to manufacture “fresh, local corn tortillas using organic and heritage varieties of corn grown” in Maine. They have all the equipment needed, and are raising the funds to build our their space and to underwrite the other start-up costs associated with getting the business running. To watch a short video about Tortilleria Pachanga and contribute visit the Pachanga page on Indiegogo.

While not a Portland food business, it’s interesting to see that Samantha Hoyt Lindgren, co-owner of Rabelais, also has a new company called A Gathering of Stitches that raising funds on Indiegogo.

Regina Spices

Maine a la Carte has published an article about Regina Spices, the second act by the creator of the Portland Spice Co.

Jessica Regina Moore is back selling her original spice blends under the name Regina Spices (reginaspices.com). She does not have a storefront, but her products are available at K. Horton’s Specialty Foods in the Public Market House in Monument Square and at Maine’s Pantry on Commercial Street.

Regina Spice is also part of an article in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.