The Chef and the Dishwasher

Today’s Press Herald Food & Dining section includes an article on the 2 decade relationship between Back Bay Grill chef/owner Larry Matthews and the restaurant’s dishwasher William “Franco” Tucker.

Larry Matthews Jr., chef and owner of the elegant Back Bay Grill in Portland, and William “Franco” Tucker, dishwasher at the same, have worked together for about two decades. Longer than many marriages last. Longer, by decades, than dishwashers typically stay at restaurants. Longer than either ever expected, and longer than Matthews has worked with anyone else at his reliably first-rate restaurant.

Under Construction: Fork Food Lab

Mainebiz reports that Fork Food Lab will be launching a $30k Kickstarter campaign Thusrday to fund their tasting room.

“This is part of the Food Lab that will be open to everyone,” Holstein, who is chief operating officer, told Mainebiz. Contributors will get different goods depending on the amount they give. For example, $100 gets them a holiday gift basket, while $25 gets access to a tasting session.

The company also plans to hold an event at Portland’s Bayside Bowl on June 15 to promote the crowdfunding campaign.

Best Food Truck: Urban Sugar

The Daily Meal has named Urban Sugar Maine’s best food truck in their annual survey of mobile food options across the country.

The traditional flavors are cinnamon sugar and classic sugar sprinkles, and the mini dips inlude glazed, chocolate, maple, and lemon — but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t opt for one of the signature bites. Whether it’s “The Lucy” (chocolate cream, chocolate sauce, and chocolate graham crumble), the “Southern Sugar” (with maple bourbon and candied pecans), or whatever the weekly special happens to be, you’ll walk away with a smile on your face — and probably some sugar and frosting too.

This Week’s Events: Latour Dinner, Negroni Week, Fried Chicken Friday, Pigs & Pink

MondaySur Lie is holding a 10-course Louis Latour wine dinner, and it’s the first day of Negroni Week at Central Provisions.

Wednesday — there will be a wine tasting at Old Port Wine Merchants, and the Monument Square Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Friday — Oxbow is hosting Palace Diner for a Portland edition of Fried Chicken Friday.

Saturday — there will be a wine tasting at LeRoux Kitchen, and the Deering Oaks Farmers’ Market is taking place.

SundayThe Well and American Sommelier Maine are collaborating on Pigs & Pink, a pork and rose dinner raising funds for the culinary program at the Wayfinder School, and the weekly Crofters & Artisan Market is taking place.

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.


Review of Scales

The Portland Phoenix has reviewed Scales.

The fish stew is equally effective in mellowing strong flavors just enough — so that fennel animates rather than dominates the bright roasty tomato broth. The broth, a lovely orange-red, doesn’t pool with oil as so many do. Its richness complements the big pieces of firm swordfish and squid, along with many mussels. And a dish of seared scallops confirmed that Scales can make ambitious and complex dishes from shellfish too. Big chunks of sausage added some salt and fennel and chew, while the scallops themselves were buttery and tender. Pieces of charred endive added a bitter note to the creamy sauce.

First Review of Thai Esaan

The Maine Sunday Telegram has given Thai Esaan 4 stars.

Diminutive but exceptional Thai Esaan only seats eight people, but it packs an outsized wallop, introducing northeastern Thai (Esaan-style) cooking to Portland. No matter what else you order, be sure to sample at least a few of the regional specialties, especially the robust and comforting kanaa moo grob (crispy pork with Chinese broccoli), and the fragrant, oniony laab gai (ground chicken salad). King of all the Esaan offerings on the menu is the naked-looking khao mun gai (broth-steamed chicken with rice and chili sauce), a dish so perfect in its contrasts and secret scents and flavors that it will haunt your dreams – at least until you can order another serving…

Under Construction: Tasting Cellar

Ricker Hill Farms has leased the former Evolution Fitness space in 1 Monument Way where they plan to open the Tasting Cellar. The 52-seat venue will serve Ricker Hill ciders and wines, as well as sell a variety of seasonal produce, baked goods from Foley’s, and other locally-sourced products (see draft list on page 288). They also have submitted plans to set-up an outdoor seating adjacent to the  building in Monument Square.

Ricker Hill is following in the footsteps of Sweetgrass, Oxbow and Cellardoor in setting up tasting rooms in town to reach a larger market more directly. Another good example is Black Dinah which moved their entire production facility from Isle au Haut to Westbrook.