Maine Cheese

The Portland Daily Sun ran an article this weekend about Maine-based cheese production and the Maine Cheese Guild.

The group provides education around cheesemaking and is trying to encourage new cheesemakers. “We aren’t making enough cheese to meet demand,” noted current guild president Eric Rector, “we still need more cheesemakers making high quality cheese to meet demand before we start marketing outside the state.”

This Week's Events

Bar Lola is holding a wine dinner Tuesday evening contrasting wines of the same varietal from the Old World and the New. The Slow Food Book Group is meeting Wednesday, they’ll be discussing Down and Out in Paris by George Orwell. There are four classes scheduled this week: cooking clases at Piatto per Tutti on Monday and Black Tie Bistro on Wednesday; as well as Maine Ambassadors of Food and Drink classes on Tuesday and Thursday. There are two wine tasting: at the West End Grocery on Friday and Leroux Kitchen on Saturday. Sunday evening the next movie in the Food Film Series, Tampopo, will be screened at One Longfellow Square with dinner sourced from Miyake. Farmers’ Markets are being held in Monument Square on Wednesday and at Deering Oaks Park on Saturday. If you’re up for a road trip, Ruth Reichl, the Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine, will be speaking in Portsmouth on Friday night. For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

Asmara Review

Asmara, the Eritrean restaurant on Oak Street, has received 3½ stars from the Taste & Tell column in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram.

Asmara, an established culinary outpost of Eritrea in Portland, serves dinners with the scents and tastes of eastern Africa. Spicy cayenne, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, thyme and cloves imbue meats, greens, dried peas and lentils with an exotic allure. Red cayenne in a paste called berbere livens up lamb, chicken and beef with a trickle of fire.

Under Construction Updates

Old Port Wine Merchants is building a new retail space at 221 Commercial street and will be moving out of their space on Fore street relatively soon.
According to a report from Justin Henry’s Green Galoshes, Viet Bangkok Cuisine is up for sale and plans to close if no buyer is found within the next month.
Good News Portland has a news brief about the re-opening of the renovated Porthole.
A new liquor license for Binga’s Wingas is on the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting. Binga’s location at the corner of Deering and Congress was the site of a fire back in November of last year. Binga’s plans on opening their new Portland restaurant at 50 Wharf street in the space formerly occupied by Cake.
Grace will also be at the City Council meeting Monday for their liquor license application. A sample menu for the restaurant (located on page 163 of the agenda) provides a first look at what Chef Eric Simeon has planned.

Potatoes, Wine & Beer

There are a few late additions to this weekend’s calendar worth drawing attention to. This morning Cultivating Community is holding their 8th Annual Potato Planting and Farm Clean Up Day out at Turkey Hill Farm in Cape Elizabeth. Go for the pancake breakfast and stay for the potato planting. This afternoon Rosemont Market is holding a tasting of some excellent wines from Burgundy. Tomorrow there will be a group of Belgian brewers and associated professionals at Novare Res where they will be “pouring hard to find draughts and rare bottles.” For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

Under Construction: The Salt Exchange

Martha and Charlie Bryon, the owners of The Salt Exchange, sent along this photo of their work site on Commercial street. The Bryons write that the kitchen will lead by Jacob Jascinski, who’s resume includes the White Barn Inn. They hope to open their “small plates endeavor” in late May with “regional ‘New American’ cuisine designed for sampling and sharing”.
As you might be able to discern from the blueprint (Commercial street is shown on the right) the plan calls for a bar, seating for 50+ and tables on the  sidewalk.

Barava Review

The Portland Phoenix has reviewed Barava, the new Somali restaurant that opened on Congress street early last month.

The entrées, while perfectly fine, could not live up to the opening. The kabaab, “broiled with complementing addition in the tandoor” as the menu said, was a bit drier as an entrée then it seemed in the basket. But is came with a creamy, spicy, lemony hummus, and a spectacular thick African flatbread called muufo baravani.