Upcoming Events: Beard Nominees Due Out Wednesday

Wednesday – the short list of final nominees for the 2022 James Beard Awards will be released; 10 Maine chefs and restaurants were named as semifinalists this year.

FridayUnion Bagel is re-openning their shop on Cumberland Ave.

March 29 – Maine’s newest cidery the Absolem Cider and Oxbow Brewing will collaborating on a beer/cider dinner at the Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford, and chef Cody Finch will be holding the next dinner in his Codex series at Petite Jacqueline (5 courses @ $85/person).

April 9 – the Beer With(out) Beards festival will be taking place.

April 22 – May 14th Maine Seaweed Week.

June 13 – 19 – the 5th Annual Portland Wine Week will be taking place.

July 21Magnus on Water chef Ben Jackson will participating in the Outstanding in the Field series with a dinner at Glidden Point Oyster Farm in Edgecomb.

July 23Chaval chefs Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti will participating in the Outstanding in the Field series with a dinner at Dandelion Spring Farm in Bowdoinham.

F&W: Best Coffee Shops

Food & Wine has recognized Little Woodfords in their list of the Best Coffee Shops in Every State.

Opened elsewhere in 2017 but now very much at home on this busy corner, the pint-sized, fiercely queer Little Woodfords has had an outsized impact in coffee-mad Portland; owned by city council member Andrew Zarro and husband TJ, the shop features coffees from some of the best roasters in New England, keeps a rotating menu of astrology sign-themed drinks, and isn’t afraid to stick its neck out for their workers, for their beliefs, and for Portland. There are a lot of coffee shops in town, this feels like the one where you’re most likely to find someone organizing a revolution.

Bar Futo to Open This Summer

A new Japanese-inspired bar and grill called Bar Futo (instagram) is under construction at 425 Fore Street in the space formerly occupied by Five Guys. Bar Futo is being launched by chef Jordan Rubin and Marisa Lewiecki, co-owners of Mr. Tuna and partners in Crispy Gai.

Chef de cuisine Ian Driscoll will be serving a “menu of skewers, large cuts of meat and whole fish grilled over Japanese charcoal, and kakigori.” The bar program will include an extensive sake list that has been curated by Alyssa DiPasquale from The Koji Club in Boston as well has house-designed and classic cocktails. Sommelier Courtney O’Neil will be Bar Futo’s GM and in charge of the wine program.

The 2,662 square feet 66-seat restaurant (plus outdoor patio seating) is expected to open this summer.

Rubin launched Mr. Tuna as a food cart in 2017, and the Mr. Tuna sushi counter opened in the Public Market House in 2018. Rubin and chef Cyle Reynolds launched Crispy Gai in the summer of 2021.


Brew for Ukraine

Oxbow Brewing is taking part in the Brew for Ukraine (website, facebook) Victory Beer Series launched by Pravda Brewing in Lviv, Ukraine.

Pravda is making their recipes and label art available for their dry hopped strong ale, Belgian tripel, American red ale, Belgian witbier, and Ukrainian imperial stout.

Oxbow began brewing a version of the Belgian witbier at 4 am Tuesday morning and expects it will be available in six weeks. The proceeds will be donated to aid Ukrainians fleeing from the war.

Other Maine brewers: please drop us a line if you’re also taking part in Brew for Ukraine.

MRW: Spirit Quest

Maine Restaurant Week has announced the winners of the 2022 Spirit Quest competition:

The Judge’s Prize of $1,000 went to Blyth & Burrows for their pairing of a Scallops Ceviche made with grapefruit, Fresno pepper, kelp, and lava salt on a prawn crisp, with a “Ponzu Scheme” cocktail made with Pisco, shiso, grapefruit, coconut, soy, ponzu foam. The judges were Angie Bryant the author of the Bar Guide column in the Press Herald, and Christine Burns Rudalevige who is the editor of Edible Maine and also a Press Herald columnist.

The People’s Choice Prize of $750 went to BlueFin at Portland Harbor Hotel for their pairing of Tuna Poke made with crisp wonton, sesame soy tuna, cilantro lime slaw, scallion, Sriracha mayo, and a Cucumber Tonic cocktail made with Drumshanbo Irish Gin, St. Germain, cucumber-cardamom simple syrup, lime and tonic.

Maine Calling: How Maine Restaurants Are Faring

Matt Lewis from HospitalityMaine and Peggy Grodinsky from the Press Herald were the featured guests of Jennifer Rooks on the latest episode of Maine Calling in a show that asks How Are Maine Restaurants Faring?

It’s Maine Restaurant Week, and we check in on the foodservice scene in Maine to find out how restaurants are faring at this stage of the pandemic. We’ll also discuss how Maine chefs and restaurants are regularly honored with James Beard award nominations.

Dok Mali Thai Kitchen

A new restaurant called Dok Mali Thai Kitchen is under construction in the former Lois’ Market space at 47 India Street. The 32-seat restaurant is being launched by chef Nonglack Thanephonesy.

Chef Thanephonesy plans to tap into her own culinary creativity as well as inspiration drawn from contemporary trends in street food and regional cooking in Thailand to serve a menu that departs from the standards served at many Thai restaurants today. Some example dishes include a lychee duck dish she’s currently developing as well as her aunt’s recipe for Mee Ka Tee, a curry soup.

In addition to Dok Mali Thanephonesy is also the owner of Capital Thai Kitchen and Bar in Exeter, NH. She grew up in Portland and is looking forward to bringing her vision for a Thai restaurant to her home town and to downtown Portland.

Thanephonesy hopes to open Dok Mali on Memorial Day weekend.

The architect for Dok Mali is Tracie Reed from Dextrous Creative. Reed has also been the architect of Rose Foods, Belleville on North Street and the redesign underway at East Bayside Tandem Coffee.

Upcoming Events: Bake for Ukraine, Restaurant Week, Beer and Wine Dinners

Through to SaturdayMaine Restaurant Week.

Monday – a 5-course Bissell Brothers beer dinner.

Thursday – the Roma Cafe is holding a 4-course Tuscan wine dinner.

Saturday – it’s pick-up day at Coveside Coffee for the Bake for Ukraine pastry box being prepared by Siblings Bakery and The Purple Whisk.

Sunday – Judy Gibson and Lorne Wine are teaming up on a 4-course wine dinner.

March 29 – Maine’s newest cidery the Absolem Cider and Oxbow Brewing will collaborating on a beer/cider dinner at the Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford.

April 9 – the Beer With(out) Beards festival will be taking place.

April 22 – May 14th Maine Seaweed Week.

June 13 – 19 – the 5th Annual Portland Wine Week will be taking place.

Christian Hayes/World Central Kitchen

Chef Christian Hayes has announced plans to depart for Poland where he’ll be working with World Central Kitchen to serve meals to the Ukrainians fleeing from the invasion of the home country.

Friends and family – As a proud member of @wckitchen, I will be making my way to the Ukrainian border to cook, feed, and nourish the thousands of families and children fleeing the invasion on a daily basis. @chefjoseandres has set up camp and #chefsforukraine is in full effect, and I will be leaving next week for the Poland/Ukraine border to join the effort.

At home, our restaurants will be running special menus during my departure to help raise funds for the cause, and I couldn’t be more proud of the support and encouragement, and willingness to join the fight my team has shown me. Chef José Andrés is a humanitarian, a selfless hero, and an inspiration.

Humans need help. Here. There. Absolutely everywhere. If there is ever a moment that I realize I have the ability to help someone, no matter how big or small, I will jump at the chance to do so because I honestly feel like with each chance I take to help a fellow human being, the world gets a just a little bit kinder, and I desperately want a kinder world for my children.

I’m a cook. So I will cook. Love you all. More info to come.

Hayes is the chef/owner of The Garrison, Dandelion Catering and Thoroughfare in Yarmouth.

World Central Kitchen is a humanitarian organization established by chef Jose Andres that is “first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises.” You can make a donation to World Central Kitchen and learn more about their work to help Ukrainian refugees on their website.