Maine Heirloom Apple Guide

For the last six years Portland Food Map and The Righteous Russet (instagram) have held an annual Heirloom Apple Tasting. We were so looking forward to the opportunity to share our passion for heirloom apples with you again in 2020 in person, but, for obvious reasons, that will not be possible.

In its temporary place we’d like to offer up this Maine Heirloom Apple Guide. We hope that in a small way it can take the place of the apple tasting and give you the information you need to go out for a self-directed exploration of Maine orchards and the many heirloom apples they offer.

The Guide includes detailed information on where and when to purchase dozens of heirloom apple varieties grown at fourteen outstanding Maine orchards. Use it throughout the fall to go exploring so you can take advantage of the entire season.

Brewery News: Marshall Wharf, Brewery Extrava

A pair of updates from Maine’s brewing industry:

  • Marshall Wharf Brewing in Belfast has re-opened under new ownership. According to an article in the Bangor Daily News, Dann Waldron and Kathleen Dunckel purchased the brewery in January and re-opened it on Friday.
  • Brewery Extrava in Portland is for sale. The brewery launched last July and is located in a 5,000 sq ft building in East Bayside. The asking price is $750,00 but the listing says ” will consider all reasonable offers”. The business is for sale because “Partner interests [are] diverging”.


Clam Bar

Garrett Fitzgerald has leased the former Benny’s Fried Clams building on West Commercial Street where he plans to open a seasonal seafood restaurant. This will be a second location of the Bar Harbor Lobster Company that he operates on Mount Desert Island.

Garrett Fitzgerald has previously launched two restaurants in Portland: the Portland & Rochester, and Royale Lunch Bar.

Update: The name of this new business will be Clam Bar (instagram). Their plan is to launch with a food truck in LAte August or earlier September and then open the brick and mortar space next.

Restaurant Worker Quandary

An article in this week’s Portland Phoenix explores the difficult choice restaurant workers have to make—balancing personal/family health and financial needs—when considering when to return to work.

“Everyone obviously wants things to be normal and wants things to go back to normal,” said one Portland bartender, Hanna, who left her job in July after feeling uncomfortable with on-premise dining. “If we can make things feel normal for a couple hours then that seems worth it to a lot of people, but I know that my coworkers were pretty uncomfortable with everything.”

Despite new COVID-19 regulations, sanitation precautions, and mandated masks, industry workers said they feel unsafe returning to work, yet feel pressure to continue working at the risk of losing financial security.

Dean’s Sweets on Marketplace

Dean’s Sweets will be featured this Thursday on the public radio show Marketplace as part of a report on past and current sales, trends, and future effects of the pandemic on small retailers around the country.

According the an announcement from Dean’s Sweets on the show,

Co-owner Kristin Thalheimer Bingham describes the challenges of owning a food-related business at this time, as well as outlining the strategies Dean’s Sweets has employed to build their business during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Bingham also projects how the pandemic may affect the fall and upcoming holiday season.

Dean’s Sweets last appeared Marketplace late last November. This week’s piece will mark the sixth time Marketplace has featured the Portland chocolate maker.

Survival & Making Something Special

The Food & Dining section in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram talks with business owners about the current state of the restaurant industry, and explores the need for federal and state programs to help them survive.

In Maine, especially in Greater Portland, small, independent restaurants are a huge part of both the economy and culture, drawing visitors from all over the country who come here to explore the city’s food scene, named the best in the nation in 2018 by Bon Appetit. Many of these restaurants, often owned by the chef, have suffered enormously during the pandemic, and say that efforts to help them so far have not been enough. The state shut down restaurants in mid-March and allowed them to reopen in June, initially only to outdoor dining in Maine’s more populated counties, then two weeks later to indoor dining with requirements for capacity, spacing, mask-wearing and sanitization – measures that cost money to implement and reduced the number of customers that could be served, on top of those unwilling to dine out because of the health risks.

Restaurant critic Andrew Ross tries to identify “what made Drifters Wife and Piccolo so special“.

Both restaurants shut their doors permanently last month – Portland’s first high-profile casualties of the novel coronavirus pandemic. But it’s only now, after weeks of thinking about their absence, that I’ve started to see why the two restaurants were so important, and how their example can become a model for whatever sprouts from the fallow of the city’s locked-down food scene.

Vinland Has Permanently Closed

Chef/owner David Levi has announced that he’s permanently closing Vinland, his locavore restaurant at 593 Congress Street.

Vinland has closed. It is a hard loss for me and for those closest to me, professionally and personally. It is also a beginning. Vinland could not withstand the long quarantine required for the Covid-19 pandemic, the disproportionate impact on the fine dining sector of the food industry, and the overall downturn in the economy, the last of which may reverberate for years. This is plain and simple. It’s a reality that was not lost on me as I cooked and served the last Vinland meals on March 15th, but one which settled in and calcified, slowly, over the ensuing months. I’d hoped for a reopening even as I failed to see the viable path. The path, for us, didn’t exist.

For now Levi looks forward to “spending far more of my time with my wife, my son, and, very soon, my daughter.”

As  for the future,

Have I served my last oat brown bread, my last hakurei turnip soup, my last smoked monkfish, my last parsnip turmeric custard? Has Timm served his last Sunstone cocktail? No. So stay tuned. There will be more Vinland meals. Just not at Vinland, and not six nights a week. If we’ve entered the Brigadoon stage, I promise, we’ll show up a little more often than once a century.

Read the full announcement on Facebook.

The 1,720 sq ft restaurant space in Congress Square is now available for lease for $2,782/month (Modified Gross).