Charter Brew

Citing quotes from Benjamin Franklin and historical precedents, the Portland Daily Sun has published an editorial promoting the role beer has to play in the city’s upcoming Charter Commission.

If we’re going to re-write what amounts to the city’s constitution — and with the charter election next Tuesday, we seem on the way — then we’re gonna need to engage Portland’s biggest untapped good-government asset: The brewers.

Wine, Coffee, Labels and Growlers

Governor Baldacci recently signed into law LD 904. The new law will allow breweries to sell half gallon containers of beer (aka growlers). See Shipyard’s blog for photos from the signing in Augusta.
A bill that would relax the restrictions on direct shipment of wine to Maine (LD 1008) passed an initial legislative hurdle last week with a 107-39 vote in favor in the House.
The Legislature is considering LD 1259 which would require chain restaurants to display calorie counts for items on their menu. The Maine Sunday Telegram came out in favor of it in a recent editorial,

As the trend in home-prepared meals shows, people are trying to eat better but need support when they go out. That’s why the Legislature should pass a law requiring chain restaurants to post the calories contained in a food item on menus and other displays.

The Portland Daily Sun last week suggested that “[w]hen coffee is illegal, roadside tests are next“.

I don’t know when they’ll finally outlaw coffee, but I have an idea what the roadside uber-sobriety test will look like.
Okay, not totally “outlaw,” but get it onto an alcohol-like track before it’s too late.

The officer, noticing you driving too intently or maybe having noticed your car was outside Arabica for three house in mid-afternoon, will hit you with the pull-over lights.

They will approach with caution. Everyone’s heard the recent stories about caff-fiends losing control, spouting bad poetry and wreaking violence all over town.

ELFC Food Map

The Eat Local Foods Coalition of Maine (ELFC) has launched a beta version of a resource to help people more easily connect with local foods organizations in the state. It’s called the Maine Food Map (the map is quite large and the page will take a while to load) and it’s a Google map/directory of local food resources such as farm stands, CSA, CSF, Buying Clubs, etc. While not yet a complete listing, it already provides information for more than 1300 organizations statewide.
ELFC describes the map as an “evolving project”. They hope to raise $6,000 to continue development and work on the “suggestions about functionality that people would like to see added”.

Public Market House Expansion

The Public Market House on Monument Square is moving ahead with plans to expand to the second floor with space for 4-5 new shops and an eating area, according to an article in today’s Press Herald.

[Kris] Horton said the expansion will include a second floor and four or five new shops – averaging 380 square feet of space each – as well as new public restrooms and eating areas looking out over the square.

Horton and her partners are meeting with potential businesses.

Horton said they hope to fill the space with businesses that sell locally grown and produced products.

A butcher, a flower shop, a home-made clothing shop and a soup restaurant have shown interest, she said, and the space will be available by midsummer.

The Food Switch

The latest edition of The Maine Switch includes articles about Cultivating Community “a Portland-based nonprofit that connects people to the earth, their food and one another through agriculture” and about Grown@Home which provides “weekly maintenance and new plantings throughout the growing season” for your home garden. There’s also an article by Harding Smith about barbecuing and additional piece about local barbecue sauce manufacturers. Especially interesting in this edition is a piece by Avery Yale Kamila as she tries to establish which watering hole is truly Portland’s oldest bar.

Buy Local

Fore Street, Micucci’s, Coffee by Design, Becky’s and the Portland Farmers’ Market were among the winners at Buy Local’s Indie Biz Awards on Wednesday night. For more details on the event check out the latest post from Portland in a Snap.
Buy Local also figured prominently in a new article on the Down East site (via Psst!) advocating for a Portland Buy Local truck that would trundle about town Good Humor style dispensing croissants and locally grown veggies.

At first, I simply wanted our local Maple’s Gelato or Beal’s Ice Cream to operate their own truck. Fresh ingredients would be a huge improvement. I could call it a victory and gain ten pounds. Then I thought, why stop with ice cream?

Portland needs an entire Buy Local truck of items such as ice cream, bread, dairy, produce and beer. Imagine a truck painted by a local artist with a jingle produced by local musicians. Did I mention it would run on biodiesel?

Hayward and Evans on Portland

The Press Herald interviewed chefs Sam Hayward and Rob Evans about winning Best Chef: Northeast, Hayward in 2004 and Evans in 2009, and what it means for the city’s reputation as a foodie destination.

Hugo’s, the Middle Street restaurant owned by the 45-year-old Evans and his wife and business partner Nancy Pugh, probably will be tough to get into in the coming weeks, at least on the weekends. Calls for reservations are running four to five times higher than normal for this time of year, and foodies from New York and Connecticut are booking tables well into summer and fall.

the article also reports that Evans is planning on launching a third restaurant.

Evans himself is planning more restaurants, including a new Duckfat gastropub in the heart of the Old Port (think Wharf Street or Commercial Street) sometime within the next year, as soon as he and Pugh can find the right property to purchase. The original Duckfat will remain open.

They’re also looking for a place to open a Duckfat in Burlington, Vt., hoping to cash in on the college-town vibe where french fries and beer are considered staples.

Street Meat

The new issue of The Maine Switch takes a look at the food cart options in the city.

Street meat isn’t gourmet. It isn’t meant to be vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free. It isn’t even healthy — not in a Whole Foods kind of way. But you don’t have to sit to eat it, you only need a few bucks for a dog and a Coke and it sure tastes good. That’s why when the weather’s good in Portland you’ll find everyone from high school students in flip flops to businessmen in suits and ties sitting on a bench in Tommy’s Park and wiping ketchup from their chins.

Coffee Press Herald

Coffee shops are front and center on the front page of today’s Press Herald. Bard, Coffee by Design, Arabica, Maine Roasters Coffee and Mornings in Paris are all part of the article.

Jeremy Pelkey raised a few eyebrows when he opened a new specialty coffee shop in the Old Port last month.

Starting a business in the depths of an economic recession may appear to be an unwise financial move. Opening a coffee shop in the Old Port, where coffee sellers are already plentiful, might seem even riskier.

But five weeks after Bard Coffee opened across the street from a Starbucks, business is going well, Pelkey said.

“We have a ton of regulars,” he said. “We haven’t moved backward yet.”