Maine Beer Madness

Maine Today has launched the 2016 edition of their bracket beer competition, Maine Beer Maddness.

This first round features some big match-ups. Dinner from Maine Beer Company goes against Allagash White — two behemoths in their own right. Super Fresh from Peak Organic meets Peeper Ale from Maine Beer Company, which will be a fun hoppy beer match-up to watch playout.

This Round of 64 will run for five days, giving you the opportunity to try a slew of brews and get the word out about the tournament. Voting ends on March 20 at 8 p.m.

Under Construction: Fork Food Lab

Fork Food Lab (website, facebook, instagram) has closed on the purchase of a building, enabling them to now move forward with their project to establish a shared commercial kitchen/business incubator in Portland. The 5,700 sq ft building is located at 72 Parris Street in West Bayside. Founders Neil Spillane and Eric Holstein are hoping to move quickly on fitting out the space and hold a soft opening this August.

Fork provides the equipment, serves as a business mentor, runs catering, and distributes the product, leaving the food entrepreneur to focus on what they do best: creating delicious, innovative food. Did we mention there will be a tasting room on-site to test your creations on the public?

Since last May 30 businesses have signed letters of intent with the food lab ranging from bakeries to packaged food producers to food trucks and carts. Spillane and Holstein hope to market the space to prospective restaurateurs who would use the kitchen and tasting room to test out restaurant concepts with the general public (think week-long pop-up).

forkfoodlab_logoFunding for Fork has come from CEI, the Bangor Savings Bank, the Small Business Administration and private investors.

If you’re interested in learning about using the food lab for a project of your own email Spillane and Holstein at


2016 James Beard Award Nominees: Rob Tod, Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Brian Hill

James Beard Foundation has released the list of nominees for this year’s awards competition. Of the 8 Maine-based semi-finalists announced in February, 3 are final nominees:

  • Best Chef: Northeast – Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley at Eventide and Brian Hill at Francine Bistro
  • Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional – Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co.

Maine native Tina Antolini is also a nominee for her work on the Gravy podcast which she produces for the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on May 2nd at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

Related information:

Update: Read these two articles from the Press Herald and Bangor Daily News on the chef’s reactions on being nominated.

Under Construction: Blake Orchard

Raw foods producer Blake Orchard (website, instagram, facebook) has launched an $18,250 kickstarter campaign to open a “locally sourced artisan juice shop” in Portland.

Owner Alexandra Blake Messenger started Blake Orchard about a year ago and sells 9 raw juices and nut milks at farmers’ markets in Worcester and Somerville. She has identified a retail space in Portland and is raising funds to help with build-out and equipment costs.

Here’s a look at the draft menu of cold-pressed juices, nut milks and breakfast bowls for the retail shop in Portland:


Forest Gardens in the ’60s

Cumberland resident Tom Foley has written about his memories of Forest Gardens bar in the 1960s.

The Sox and Celtics reigned. Fifteen-cent draught beer, usually Narragansett or Pabst Blue Ribbon, was served in 8-ounce fluted glasses. Frequent refills ensured that the beer was always fresh and cold. Six-ounce “dimeys” were also available, as were 10-cent bottles of “Little Bo Colts,” a National Bohemian brand associated with the Baltimore Colts. Most patrons were Giants fans, but who could resist a 10-cent bottle of beer when short of cash?

Under Construction: El Rayo

The Historic Preservation Board is reviewing plans to add a deck on the back of 22 Free Street, the future location of El Rayo Taqueria. The documents plans provided to the City include not only a drawing of the 23′ x 26′ deck with 8 picnic tables, but also a floor plan for the 43-seat restaurant (not including the deck) and rough artists sketch of the restaurant interior.





This Week’s Events: JBF Nominees, Sicilian & Filipino Dinners, Bearded Brewfest, Tiki Shake-off

MondayTwo Fat Cats will be a “special pie with the math symbol emblazoned on the crust” to celebrate Pi Day (today’s date is 3/14).

Tuesday — The Beard Foundation will release the list of nominees for the 2016 awards; 8 Maine semi-finalists are in the running. The local foods networking breakfast is taking place.

Wednesday — Vinland is holding a Sicilian Wine Dinner.

Thursday — It’s Saint Patrick’s Day.

Friday — The Sinful Kitchen is holding a Filipino Dinner.

Saturday — The Annual Vignola Beer and Cheese TastingBearded Brewfest and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday — The USBG is holding their 2nd Annual Tiki Shake Off cocktail competition at Rhum, and Tiqa is teaching a cooking class.

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.

Interview with Carla Lauter

Great Beer Adventure has posted an interview with Carla Lauter, who blogs under the name the Beer Babe.

Carla’s career in beer journalism started in 2007 when she started blogging about beers that were new to her. As a scientist, she was interested in the wide range of flavors that can come out of craft beer. Carla’s thoughts and adventures in beer can also been found in a monthly column in the Bollard magazine, weekly Wednesday nights on the Seacoast Beverage podcast, as well as weekly Thursday mornings on WCYY 94.3 FM.

Jason Loring, Restaurant Revolutionary

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a profile of restaurateur Jason Loring.

Loring, the 39-year-old co-owner of Nosh, Slab and the newly opened, subterranean Rhum tiki lounge, is slowly undergoing a professional and personal transformation, with the help of his business partners. Once a stressed-out cook (he still doesn’t consider himself a chef) who didn’t eat or sleep well, he has become a busy restaurateur juggling multiple projects.

The article includes the first public mention of Yeti, the waffle and fried chicken restaurant Loring is launching this summer.