X-Rated Wine Tastings

Chow Maine has taken a look at one of the more unusual provisions of Maine’s new wine tasting law. While the law provides shop owners with more flexibility on what can be part of tasting or how frequently they can occur, it also specifies that they must “be conducted in a manner that precludes the possibility of observation by children.”

The changes made by the new legislation won’t go into effect until September, so it’s unclear how the “no children” aspect of the law will affect specific shops. However, an overly strict interpretation of this provision might make it impractical, or even impossible, for some shops to continue to conduct wine tastings.

Natural Foodie

Blogger and former Maine Switch staffer Avery Yale Kamila is now writing a weekly column for the Press Herald Food & Dining section called Natural Foodie. The first of the series appeared in today’s newspaper.

Which brings me to the purpose of this weekly column. Here I’ll chronicle the latest trends in natural food, plus introduce you to the people and products feeding Maine’s healthful eaters. You can look forward to reading about a wide rage of eating styles, such as local, organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, raw and macrobiotic.

Please send me your thoughts and story suggestions and, until next week, don’t forget to eat your vegetables.

Restaurants per Capita Claim

MaineBiz has investigated the longstanding, but unverified, claim that Portland has the “highest or second highest number of restaurants per capita behind San Francisco”. While the source is still murky they were able to calculate the number of “registered food service establishments with food preparation” in the two cities relative to their population. Portland has 1 registered food service establishment for every 118 people and San Francisco clocks in at 1 for ever 231-311 people. The bottom line from MaineBiz:

That math seems to support the claim that Portland has more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. It’s still muddied, though. Those eatery licenses in the Portland City Hall include every school, nursing home and office cafeteria in the city, along with any other location that prepares and serves food.

So where does that leave us on the fact or fiction scale? Somewhere in the middle, leaning toward fact, but not enough to meet Mainebiz‘s high standards of reporting. But for PR purposes, it’s just fine.

Restaurants on Twitter

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a feature story on Maine restaurants use of Twitter.

Arsenault was still new to Twitter, so when she organized a “tweet-up” at the inn for the folks who had been following her posts online, she hoped that maybe 15 people would show up.

“And then people just started piling in,” she said.

To Arsenault’s surprise, 37 diners drove to Scarborough to take advantage of the inn’s tweet-up specials – $5 mussel appetizers, $2 beers and $5 glasses of wine. Many were new to the inn, and some of them stayed on for dinner.

Evangeline on USAToday.com

Evangeline was included in a list of the ten “best French restaurants to hear bon appétit” put together by Saveur Editor-in-Chief James Oseland for USA Today.

At Evangeline, nose-to-tail dining meets French technique: Think crispy roasted calf brains and roasted beef shins with warm marrow for spreading on crusty bread,” Oseland says. “Dishes are built from the ground up with the highest-quality ingredients and with an eye toward what’s local, seasonal and ripe for experimentation.”

Rooted in Community

Justin Ellis from the Press Herald has a report on the annual meeting of the youth group Rooted in Community.

It’s the annual conference for Rooted in Community, an organization that works with young people in areas like urban agriculture, sustainable farming and environmental awareness.

But these folks didn’t just happen to pick Maine at random. Local youth farming groups, such as Cultivating Community and the Local Sprouts Cooperative in Portland, as well as Lewiston’s Lots to Gardens, are hosts for the whole shindig.

Jacques de Villier, Farms and Lobster

There’s a really nice profile in today’s Press Herald on Jacques de Villier the owner of Old Port Wine Merchants.

Tell Jacques de Villier what kind of wine you like, what you’re going to drink it with and how much you want to pay, and he’ll give you what you really want.

He’ll probably throw in a good yarn, too, because a love of stories is the other thing de Villier is known for among his regular customers. Some of his ostensibly true tales are a bit hard to believe – was this unpretentious, garrulous wine merchant really in military intelligence? – and he seems to get that. When he senses skepticism about the claim that he graduated from The Citadel, the famous military school in South Carolina, for example, de Villier pulls up a photo of himself in uniform on the computer.

Also in today’s paper is a timely reminder that this Sunday is Maine’s Open Farm Day–think Maple Sugar Sunday but with animals and orchards instead of syrup. There are 100+ participating farms across the state and 11 are here in Cumberland County.
There is also a Bill Nemitz column on the proposed lobster boat tie-up and the price of lobster, as well as a front page story on the recent shooting incident involving a pair of lobstermen.

The shooting appears to be the most extreme example of growing tensions all along the coast as Maine lobstermen and their families face historic financial pressures related to the global recession and a drop in demand. Some lobstermen are trying to organize a mass work stoppage to force prices higher.

Red Tide at Record Levels

Red tide blooms in Maine are at record high levels. They are at 50-60 times the limit at which the state closes clam flats, according to an article in today’s Press Herald.

“With this (red tide), even a small number of clams would get people very sick and might actually be fatal if harvested from certain locations,” Anderson [a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts] said.

Tomalley, the green substance in lobsters, also is considered unsafe to eat because of red tide. Lobster meat and meat from scallops and from fish are not affected by the toxin.

Maine Foodie Tours in Food & Dining

A front page article on Maine Foodie Tours is in the new Food & Dining section of today’s Press Herald.

This two-hour walking tour was launched in June and developed by Pamela Laskey, owner of a new company, Maine Foodie Tours. The Old Port Culinary Tour takes visitors to local merchants who make and sell artisanal foods.

There’s plenty of sampling to be had, and guides share a bit about the city’s history and its thriving restaurant scene along the way.

The newly redone Food & Dining section (formerly Food & Health) now includes the Taste & Tell reviews that had been in the Sunday paper, a restaurant dining guide and a promise from editor Rod Harmon that this is just the start. “But don’t think that just because we’ve made a few changes to the Food section we’re going to rest on our laurels. We’re constantly on the loookout for new ideas to help make this section better.”
Elsewhere in the paper was an article about Wolfe Neck Farm “losing it’s famed beef cattle“.

The company that is currently raising beef cattle there, Pineland Farms Natural Meats, plans to remove the livestock by September, its president confirmed Tuesday. Erick Jensen said the operation was no longer economical, in part because of the measures that would be needed to keep manure from washing away and contaminating nearby clam flats.