Opinionated About Dining 2020

The 2020 lists from Opinionated About Dining on the top restaurants in the fine dining, cheap eats, heritage and gourmet casual categories are now out.

Here’s a summary of the Maine restaurants in each category:

  • Fine Dining
    • Hugo’s is #16 on the list
  • Cheap Eats
    • Chase’s Daily in Belfast
    • Duckfat
    • Holy Donut
    • Standard Baking
  • Heritage
    • Eventide is #2 on the list
    • Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound is #198 on the list
  • Gourmet Casual
    • Central Provisions is #96 on the list

Actual Foods Launching Friday

A new food truck called Actual Foods (instagram) is set to launch this Friday.

You can find them Friday at the Urban Farm Fermentory from 5 – 7.30 where they’ll be serving a limited menu on their opening day. Moving forward their plan is to be located at the Eastern or Western Promenade on Wednesdays and Thursdays, at Austin Street (Industrial Way) on Fridays, and at UFF on the weekends.

Owner Steffy Amondi shared that the food truck will serve

fresh, made to order wok-style bowls in a fast casual manner. Our menu features few simple, fresh, easy to prepare ingredients tied together with chef inspired sauces- making it a great way to create your own bowl with different permutations yielding completely different flavors.

Here’s a look at the menu:

In addition to ready to eat meals, Actual foods also plans to eventually sell prepared meal packages for simple final preparation at home.

Sam Hayward

Down East has published an article about Sam Hayward as part of their 200 Reasons to Love Maine feature in the July issue of the magazine.

Even as a thought experiment, the idea is scary: imagine a world without Maine chef Sam Hayward, who cofounded Portland’s renowned Fore Street restaurant in 1996. The East Coast may never have had its answer to Alice Waters. The now-lauded Portland restaurant scene may never have found its footing. And the downstream repercussions? A generation of Maine farmers decimated, lacking the markets of restaurant kitchens run by creative young chefs who, without Hayward’s influence, may never have been drawn to Maine.

Old Port Outside, Maine Ginger, Vegan Eating

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a survey of sidewalk dining in the Old Port by restaurant critic Andrew Ross,

My plan on this sun-soaked Saturday afternoon is to take my new mask out for a spin on a walk through downtown Portland, starting where new, planter-topped concrete barricades fence in a pedestrian-friendly stretch of Exchange Street. The blockade offers restaurants and bars a bit more outdoor real estate to help rekindle business as customers begin their cautious return to dining out.

an article about Maine-grown ginger,

[Ian] Jerolmack, now in his seventh year of tending the young ginger rhizomes that sprout from mature ginger root he imports from Peru, has a reputation among local farmers as the best ginger grower in Maine. One flower farmer I spoke with grew it for a couple of years until the novelty wore off; the crop was too labor intensive and not always productive, he said. He told me to call Jerolmack.

and an overview of vegan/vegetarian ratings garnered by Portland.

Portland may be a small city, but it ranks alongside Chicago, Los Angeles and New York as a hot spot for vegans and vegetarians. Over the past five years, Portland has gained a national reputation as a top city for vegans, reflecting the city’s growing roster of vegetarian restaurants and residents’ easy access to locally grown vegetables and fruits.

Mast Landing Food Truck

Mast Landing Brewing is in the process of developing a food truck that will be stationed at their tasting room in Westbrook. Chef Tim Goddu is currently working out the menu, but a date hasn’t been set yet for the launch. You can see a couple pictures of menu R&D on Goddu’s instagram account.

Mast Landing is releasing a new beer today. Windbreaker is a hazy 6.5% IPA with “notes of melon, mango, and grapefruit”.

Demand High for Local Food

The Maine Sunday Telegram reports that an “increased appetite for local food keeps farm stores bustling“.

Although the pandemic has meant economic turmoil for many industries, business at many local farm stores has increased. Some farmers have refocused on selling directly to customers rather than wholesale to restaurants and schools. Many have increased their online presence through virtual stores and websites while at the same time giving up once prime spots at farmers markets. Many farms have said it’s too early to know how much difference the uptick in business will make, and they’ve been too busy with sales to take time to crunch the numbers anyway, but the increased interest in shopping at their stores is certain.

Preble Street

The Bangor Daily News reports that Preble Street will be changing over to food delivery in order to increase social distancing among people who depend on the soup kitchen.

Preble Street Resource Center, one of the largest social service agencies in Maine, will shut down its to-go soup kitchen on Monday and shift to a mobile food distribution program that “brings food to people where they are.”

The initiative aims to provide basic food needs and dissuade crowds from gathering at its Bayside site during the pandemic, according to Ali Lovejoy, a program director at Preble Street.

MOFGA Webinar: Racial Justice in Maine Agriculture

MOFGA is hosting a webinar tomorrow to “discuss racial justice and the Maine agricultural community”.

Are you a farmer that wants to commit to anti-racist practices on your farm and in your community? Join other Maine farmers on July 9th from 5-7 pm to discuss racial justice and the Maine agricultural community. This is not a racial justice training; instead, it is a farmer-to-farmer style conversation to discuss how to move racial justice forward in a committed and sustained way. This online conversation will be facilitated by a skilled team of racial justice facilitators, Arvolyn Hill and Genna Cherichello.

Register online to attend.