Tio Pepe Challenge Finalist

Congratulations to Chaval bar manager Pat McDonald for becoming a national finalists in the 2019 Tio Pepe cocktail competition.

McDonald’s cocktail is the Alcázar,  a combination of “Gonzalez Byass “Leonor” Palo Cortado Sherry | Spanish Olive Oil washed Tanqueray Malacca | Gonzalez Byass “La Copa” Extra Seco Vermouth | Barspoon Meletti Anisette | Homemade Saffron Bitters | Expressed Lemon Oil | Pickled Fennel Garnish”

Reviews: Top of the East, Amigos

The Portland Magazine has reviewed the Top of the East, and

Great drinks aren’t the only offer at the Top. It serves up romantic city views of our illustrious skyline and Portland Harbor. Your prospects are up in lights from this Olympian perspective. If you haven’t been up here for a while, it’s twice as good as you remember it.

the Press Herald has reviewed the Amigos.

Not just a summer venue, Amigos is also a friendly place to hang out on weekdays after work before it’s warm enough for the patio, especially over a game of pool.

2 Maine Brewers Among Fastest Growing

The Brewers Association released it’s 2nd annual list of the fastest growing craft brewers on Wednesday. Two Maine brewers, Lone Pine and Mast Landing were in the top 50. Lone Pine is #5, Mast Landing is #24.

Representing 27 states across the U.S., these small and independent breweries experienced a median growth of 163 percent with the median size being 1,350 barrels of in-house production in 2018. Breweries on the list range from 50 barrels to more than 40,000, and grew from less than 70,000 barrels collectively in 2017 to more than 170,000 barrels in 2018. As a group, these brewing companies represent approximately 10 percent of total craft growth by volume for the year, and include 13 brewpubs, 35 microbreweries, and two regional craft breweries.

2019 Beard Award Nominee

The list of nominees for the 2019 James Beard Foundation awards were released today.

There is one nominee from Maine this year. Rob Tod from Allagash Brewing Co. is a nominee in the Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits Professional category.

This year’s semifinalists were announced in February. The 2019 award winners will be announced on May 6th at the Awards Gala in Chicago.

Related information:

Natalie DiBenedetto, Chopped Champion

Congratulations to Natalie DiBenedetto, chef/owner of Figgy’s, on becoming the latest Chopped Champion from Maine.

Dibenedetto competed against chefs Sebastian Wijata, Allen Fisher and Stephan Brezinsky in an episode entitled Dollar Dishes where the contestants prepared dishes using inexpensive ingredients in each round.

Food Writing Workshop

Acclaimed Maine author, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, will be teaching a food writing workshop this summer in Rockport, June 23-29.

Want to be a food writer but don’t know how to start? Already a food writer but feeling stumped or uninspired? Whether a beginner or experienced writer, you’ll explore every aspect of writing food, from recipes to restaurant reviews, from profiles to feature articles, from food memoir to food history to the issues that make food a compelling read in today’s news. Read, write and share thoughts about what makes the best food writing, what makes it salable, how to pitch a story, how to craft a cookbook, or just how and where to begin.

Join award-winning cookbook author and food journalist Nancy Harmon Jenkins and several of her peers including Brian Kevin, editor of “Down East” Magazine, and Edward Behr, editor and publisher of the online publication, “The Art of Eating”. Together, we’ll break apart the complex world of food writing and see what makes it work when it does—and also when it doesn’t.

The Down East Food Issue

The new issue of Down East is out and it’s all about Maine Food. The articles include:

  • A discussion of some of the leading female chefs of Maine
  • A list of the 35 “Maine-iest” Foods
  • An article by  Guest Editor Sam Sifton
  • A look at the diverse cuisines being served on Forest Ave
  • An article about American Unagi
  • A profile of a 97-year old lobsterman
  • and a lot more

Most of the articles are not yet available online.

Coffee Roasters (Updated)

The number of local coffee roasters has significantly expanded over the past decade and many run cafes where you can try their coffee such as Arabica, Bard, Burundi Star, Coffee by Design, Speckled Ax, Tandem in Portland, and Elements and Time & Tide in Biddeford.

But there are also a growing number of roasters you can try by visiting coffee shops and restaurants that don’t roast their own and have opted to bring in beans from elsewhere in the state or the country. Here are the ones I know of:

This Week’s Events: Lil Deb’s, Figgy. Seaweed, Beard Nominees, Pierogi Pop-up, Tiki Shake-off

Monday – it’s the second of a 2-night restaurant takeover of Cong Tu Bot by Lil’ Deb’s Oasis. Both restaurants are semifinalists in the Best Chef Northeast category in this year’s James Beard Awards. The event is  purely on a walk-in basis.

TuesdayFiggy DiBenedetto from Figgy’s Fried Chicken will be a contestant on Chopped, Paolo Laboa from Solo Italiano is teaching a pasta making class, the latest edition of Symphony & Spirits is taking place, and there will be a panel discussion at Maine Craft Distilling on Why Seaweed Matters.

Wednesday – the Beard Foundation will be releasing the name of the 2019 award nominees. The list of the semifinalists were announced in February. Check back here mid-day to see who made it to the final stage.

Thursday – the 1st Annual Cultivator Showcase is taking place. Big Tree Hospitality and Portland Flea-for-All are collaborating on a 5-course plant based dinner.

FridayRosemont is holding a wine tasting at their West End store.

Saturday – there will be a Moroccan cooking class and dinner, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday – The Cheese Shop and Tandem are collaborating on a Raclette Night, the 5th Annual Tiki Shake-Off is taking place, and Ripka will be at Rose Foods for a Pierogi Pop-up.

A Look Ahead – here are a couple events happening a little further out that you may want to check out.

  • Fred Eliot from Scales will be the guest chef for a 6-course dinner paired with “classic vintage varietal French wine” taking place at Hugo’s on April 4th. Tickets are $135 per person.
  • The 2019 Portland Symphony wine dinner is taking place April 3rd. The dinner will feature wines from Portugal from Rose Wine Traders with a 5-course meal prepared by chefs Courtney Loreg from Woodford F&B, Jay Magill from Fore Street, Kate Fisher Hamm from Lio, David Turin from David’s, and Troy Mains from the Haraseeket Inn.

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: Empire, Sur Lie, More & Co, Farm to Coast Cafe

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Empire Chinese Kitchen, and

With so much competition, Empire has made adjustments to its once-concise menu, inflating it from eight dishes to nearly 50. Among these are several insipid Americanized dishes. Don’t bother. There are also a few standouts, like crisp-tender wok-sautéed bok choy, super-savory dry-fried green beans and roasted strips of long-marinated pork loin roasted hot and fast. Dim sum dishes are generally good, especially fat, aromatic har gow and golden-crusted, pan-fried bao hiding ginger, chicken and bok choy.

The Golden Dish has reviewed the Sur Lie.

Excellent all the way with beautifully devised tapas and inventive larger plate under the expert guidance of chef Emil Rivera

The Press Herald has also published reviews of the Farm to Coast Cafe in Biddeford and More & Co in Yarmouth.