Piccolo Commentary

Food writer Erik Neilsen has kicked off a new column on the local site Hot Trash with an article about Piccolo,

In the 2 or so years that I’ve been eating at Piccolo, ideas and notions I once held about “Italian food” and what that phrase actually means have been shattered entirely. Southern Italian cuisine in particular is so rich in history and depth that I feel I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what it means to cook and enjoy it today, from here. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better introduction to the ingredients, stories and people characteristic of this part of the world without actually going there than a meal at Piccolo—do yourself a favor and kick it off with a plate of the pulpo.

Post-Chef Life & Interview with the Jenkins

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an article about former chefs who have found success in new careers,

Food magazines are chock-full of stories about talented young chefs yearning to show their chops in the kitchen and work their way up to executive chef. Maybe they’ll even own their own restaurant one day. But sometimes, though we don’t hear about it as much, life happens in the reverse. Talented chefs walk away from their stations, sometimes with scarcely a look back. And, like Durham, they end up in a completely – or at least somewhat – different place.

and an interview with mother and daughter duo Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Sara Jenkins,

Mom is a 13th-generation Mainer and an expert on the cooking of the Mediterranean, with eight cookbooks (and two non-food books) to her name. Daughter is the chef of two beloved Manhattan eateries – the sandwich shop Porchetta and the pasta-centric Porsena – and is set to move to Maine next month with her husband and 9-year-old son to open a Mediterranean restaurant in Rockport.

Reviews of Crooners and Chez Okapi

The May issue of The Bollard includes a breakfast review of Crooners and Cocktails,

I ordered the Chef’s Special Panini of the Day ($14), a warm sandwich of speck (a smoked, cured Italian ham), gruyere cheese, tomato, arugula and raw onion, the bread pressed to deliver a satisfying crunch. The flavors were excellent, though I would have liked something sweet (like a fig jam or fruit purée) as a counterpoint to the salty meat and bitter greens.

a dinner review of Chez Okapi,

Kabata’s Congolese cuisine is minimalist fare, seasoned with restraint. The bone-in, bite-sized pieces of chicken and goat were rubbed with cayenne and other spices, then grilled. Being Americans raised on BBQ, we missed having some sort of dipping sauce, but the meats didn’t really need it. Their innate flavors shone through.

and an article on the growing trend of using fruit as a beer brewing ingredient.

The obsession with hops that accompanied the IPA craze has made it possible for guys to order a pineapple-flavored beer at a crowded bar without a hint of embarrassment. And brewers of the best varieties now eschew fake flavorings in favor of fresh fruits or purées that give their beers a bright character. The improvement in taste has been dramatic.

Under Construction: Fork Food Lab

Portland Magazine has published an article about Fork Food Lab.

“This is going to be the face of Fork Food Lab,” Spillane says. Fork Food Lab is a self-described “collaborative commercial food kitchen serving new and existing businesses.” Spillane and Holstein are now standing in the square, cinder-block former garage attached to the left side of the 1910 brick building. A few days before renovations begin, the future face of Fork Food Lab doesn’t look like much. But this garage will become a tasting room and shop welcoming retail customers.

Anthony Bourdain Speaking in October

bourdainAnthony Bouurdain will be in Portland on October 9th at the Cross Insurance Arena as part of a national speaking tour called The Hunger.

The Hunger serves audiences an all new live show featuring an unyielding, brutally honest monologue reflecting on diverse culture, street cuisine and his travels to lesser-known locations around the world, followed by an open Q&A session.

Tickets go on sale to the general public starting May 6th, but PFM along with a number of other food news outlets have been provided presale link and codes (code: PFM) that will let you buy tickets starting this morning starting at 10am.

Under Construction: Eighteen Twenty Wines

eighteentwentyEighteen Twenty (website, facebook) has leased space at 219 Anderson St in East Bayside. Co-owners Pete Dubuc and Amanda O’Brien hope to open their rhubarb winery and tasting room sometimes this fall.

Read Joe Appel’s recent article in the Press Herald for more information on the Eighteen Twenty.

It’s the eighteen twenty wine’s “mystery,” as Dubuc puts it, that is so compelling. The flavors are at once intense and other, hinting at sweetness but not presenting it outright, offering substantial mass on the palate without weighing you down, combining a vegetal leafiness with the bright drive and vividness of a well-made cocktail. It’s tasty, savory, refreshing, with balanced sweetness, but the best thing about it is that it doesn’t taste like grape wine yet you can’t pin it down. It invites repeated inquiry.

This Week’s Events: Beard Awards, Rising Tide Dinner, Star Wars Dinner, Falmouth Kitchen Tour

Monday — The 2016 James Beard Awards Gala is taking place in Chicago. Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley from Eventide, and Brian Hill from Francine Bistro are nominees for Best Chef: Northeast, and Rob Tod from Allagash is a nominee for Outstanding Beer Wine and Spirits Professional. Sur Lie is holding a Rising Tide beer dinner.

Wednesday — the 3rd Annual Piccolo Star Wars dinner is taking place, as is the Monument Square Farmers’ Market.

Thursday — The Great Lost Bear is showcasing beer from Lone Pine Brewing.

Saturday — it’s the first day of the Falmouth Kitchen, and the Deering Oaks Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday — products from a number of food vendors and local vendors will be on sale at the weekly Crofters & Artisan Market.

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.


Reviews: Emilitsa, Woodford F&B, Hot Suppa

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Emilitsa,

Emilitsa serves high-end renditions of Greek classics in a tiny, quiet space right in the heart of downtown Portland. Chef Niko Regas took command of the kitchen from his father, Demos Regas, in the past year and has proven through his cooking that the decision was a good one…The grilled fish is a great entrée choice, and the traditional Greek herb-rubbed lamb chops and their oniony, potato-parsnip mash accompaniment are not to be missed. Wines are all Greek and are generally good. Our pick is the light and floral Sigalas white, also available by the glass.

the Kennebec Journal has reviewed Hot Suppa,

The first time I tasted Hot Suppa!’s fried green tomatoes I fell in love. They are double battered before being fried, and the batter is well-seasoned. Once cooked, the crusty outside combines perfectly with the soft tangy tomato inside. Their addictive remoulade of mayonnaise, capers, cilantro and a dash of hot sauce (with some other spice I can’t quite figure out) has me craving these often.

and Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Woodford F&B.

From the drink to the dessert, they produced a stellar spread. I felt the service was particularly good too. Our waiter alone was top notch, but the addition of host and hostess assisting at times provided a great team to take care of us. I would highly recommend Woodford F & B.