Under Construction: Vessel and Vine

Nikaline Iacono is launching a new venture called Vessel and Vine (facebook, instagram) at 4 Pleasant Street in Brunswick.

The 1,500 square foot space will be home to a hybrid wine and beer retail store, vintage and new glassware and barware shop combined with a bar serving a beer, wine, cocktails and a compact menu of small plates (see below).

The drinks list will feature a rotating by the glass and bottle selection of wines from small producers with some natural wines in the mix. The bar will have 3 beers on tap, and serve a cocktail list featuring fortified and/or aromatized wines. Iacono plans to have a program for developing bitters and infusions for use in their cocktails and will be creating a house-made vermouth.

The Bearded Lady will be hosting Iacono on February 24th  where she’ll be serving a line-up of V&V cocktails.

I first met Nikaline back in 2008 when she was the bartender at the then newly launched Emilitsa, and am excited  to  see her vision for Vessel & Vine come together. She plans to open V&V in March.

Here’s a look at the draft menu created by chef Matt DeFio.

This Week’s Events: Cajun Challenge, Valentines, JBF Semifinalists, Flavors of Freeport, ProStart Invitational, Empanada Club

Tuesday – the 23rd Annual Fat Tuesday Cajun Cookin’ Challenge is taking place.

Wednesday – it’s Valentines Day.

Thursday – The James Beard Foundation will release the long list of semi-final nominees for this year’s chef and restaurant awards – check back midday to see if your favorites made the cut . Highroller, Eaux and Lone Pine are teaming up on a Mardi Gras menu, and there will be a wine tasting at the new Bow Street on Forest Ave.

Friday – It’s the first day of the Flavors of Freeport, and there will be a wine tasting at the Rosemont in the West End.

Saturday – The MRA is holding the Maine ProStart Invitational, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday – The Bramhall is hosting the Empanada Club, and Foley’s is holding a baking 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.

Black Cat Changes Hands

Founders Jenny Siler and Keith James Dunlap have sold Black Cat Coffee to Ben Graffius and Mike Mwenedata from Rawanda Bean/White Cap Coffee.

Dear friends and neighbors, for 5 years you have graciously welcomed us into this community and your lives. Today we are saying goodbye. As some of you already know, our family has been dealing with a cancer diagnosis for some time now. Given the difficulties we are facing, we have made the decision to find new ownership for Black Cat Coffee.

Reviews: Rose Foods, Drifters Wife, Fore Street, Becky’s Diner

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed Rose Foods,

The best expressions of his intentions are the Harbor Master, a kelp, collards and egg sandwich, and the Monday Morning, filled with rich chopped chicken livers and chicken skin cracklings. The Health Salad, a zingy, dill-and-caraway-scented cole slaw made with cabbage, celery root and shaved fennel, is excellent, as is the classic bagel-and-smoked-fish spread for two, the Fisherman’s Feast. Order it with horseradish cream cheese and a pumpernickel bagel – it’s worth writing home about, especially since you never call and you never write.

The Blueberry Files has posted a first look at the new Drifters Wife,

The new Drifters Wife is like the big sibling to the old space, its elegant menu and unique wines set against a cooler, sophisticated backdrop. As anyone who has visited the restaurant before knows its price point is high, so it’s not for the faint of wallet. But the new space elevates the experience, with more of the same expert natural wine picks and delicious small plates.

Peter Peter Portland Eater has reviewed Fore Street, and

When you walk into Fore Street, you are immediately greeted by the smell of wood smoke, but the smells, colors, flavors, and textures around you will continue to provoke your senses throughout. Even the sounds of the kitchen will add to the experience. For me, this time at Fore Street was even better than the last. The meal was outstanding from cocktail to cake and while the boldest flavors came at the end, the palate throughout the meal painted a beautiful picture one happy, little bite at a time.

The Bollard has reviewed Becky’s Diner.

The diner’s popularity isn’t rooted in some provincial, uncritical enthusiasm. Becky’s is good — a certain kind of good, a cheap and filling, homemade and unfussy kind of good. And it’s not just the food. It’s the florescent lights, the industrial-sized coffee maker, the red vinyl stools along the counter. It’s the service, which is friendly in a Maine sort of way — which is to say, when you ask your server how things are going, she replies, “It’s goin’!”

Regulatory Pressure Hamstrings In-House Curing

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram reports on City regulatory enforcement that has ended in-house meat curing programs at Portland restaurants.

Chefs like curing their own meats because it makes their restaurants stand out and attracts customers who like an artisanal approach to food. But Portland chefs appear to have decided that curing food in-house is not worth the paperwork and potential regulatory tangles. No restaurants have plans on file with the city indicating they are using sodium nitrite, also known as “pink salt,” to cure meats such as ham, bacon, brisket or pork belly in-house, according to Michael Russell, director of Portland’s permitting and inspections department. Some have simply taken the meats off their menus, he said, while others “are finding it more convenient just to buy the product.”

The Proper Cup Now Open

The Proper Cup (website, facebook, instagram) opened for business this morning. The new coffee shop is located at 500 Forest Ave on the corner of Noyes Street.

Owners Rachel Kreie and Zachary Figoli are serving coffee from Flight Coffee Company and baked goods from HiFi Donuts in their “quirky, professional and industrial themed cafe“.

The Proper Cup brings a third option for specialty coffee—Parlor Coffee at Rose Foods and Vivid Coffee at Little Woodfords being the other two—to a section of Forest Ave that just a year ago had none at all. I expect we’ll continue to see rapid change in the retail food scene on Forest from USM to Woodfords Corner in the next few years.