Source Awards

The Press Herald is seeking nominees for this year’s Source Sustainability Awards. Past year’s winners have included butchers, grocers, aqua-cultivators. If you know of a person or organization (or are one yourself) that are “contributing to the state’s environmental well-being” then take a moment to nominate them for consideration.

Local Hot Sauce Production

The Food & Dining section in today’s paper reports on the growing number of restaurants producing and bottling their own hot sauces.

Now, interest in hot sauce is soaring in Maine kitchens and chefs are playing around with peppers, making their own sauces to serve and sell – traditional vinegar-based hot sauces as well as fermented ones. And it’s not just a Portland craze; restaurants from Tao Yuan in Brunswick to Anju Noodle Bar in Kittery are impressing hot sauce-loving diners with their in-house creations. Local entrepreneurs who are part of the hot sauce subculture are developing new lines of sauces for the marketplace, and at least three Maine farms are growing peppers destined for bottles of hot sauce.

Vegan Sandwiches, Restaurant Theft

The Food & Dining section in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes articles on rampant theft from restaurants,

At DiMillo’s on the Water in Portland, customers steal steak knives, souffle cups, and nautical decorations from buffets. A chef who owns several Maine restaurants says pictures have been removed from their frames. And someone once stole a large ficus tree – like Volk’s painting, a gift from a parent – at one of his openings.

and on the improved availability of vegan breakfast sandwiches.

A few years ago I couldn’t buy a vegan breakfast sandwich in Portland for love or money, and now at least five places sell them. The sandwiches reflect a wider boom in vegan breakfast taking place across the city. From sandwiches to tofu scrambles to pancakes and doughnuts, it’s become easy to eat vegan in the Forest City for the first meal of the day.

Eighty 8 Donuts for Sale

Owner Kevin Sandes has decided to put Eighty 8 Donuts up for sale.

Greetings friend,

I’m writing to you today regarding my future with Eighty 8 Donuts. Something personal and relevant you may not know about me, this July will mark my 10th year as a kidney transplant patient – or my 10th second birthday as I like to call it. To be blunt, facing death as I have and receiving a second chance at life has taught me (more than anything else) the significance of ‘now’ and my misconceptions of ‘later.’ Unfortunately kidney transplants are not cures. They do not last forever and the chances of receiving just one are pretty slim. So…time being what it is…. this chapter of my life has been outstanding and as much as I want to hang on to it, I know that the time has come for me to let go.

It’s important to me to say that although I will no longer be making the donuts ‘that make ya go nuts’ I will in fact remain grateful that our lives happened to come together, if only as brief as it may have been. Moving forward, the plan is to find a passionate new owner for Eighty 8 Donuts. From there, I will continue to explore some other passions of my own while I seek out future medical care possibilities abroad. Until then, please pass my contact info along to any interested parties and please always, always eat well.

Kevin

No-Show Fees, Winter Deals

The Food & Dining section in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article about the fees restaurants have to discourage reservation no-shows and the reasons for them,

Restaurateurs say that when you skip out on your reservation, it can have a big ripple effect on supplies, staffing and finances, especially for smaller restaurants. Knowing how many diners to expect helps the chef determine how much food to buy, and what size staff to have on the floor that night.

“It hurts everybody here,” said Niko Regas, chef at Emilitsa, a 48-seat Greek restaurant on Congress Street in Portland. “It doesn’t just hurt the business. It hurts my employees as well.”

Servers may go without tips, Regas said, and the back-of-house staff might be sent home an hour early.

and an article about program some restaurants have put in place to encourage Winter business.

Winter has always been a tough season for Maine restaurants in seasonal communities along the coast. Once tourists go home, making enough money to get through until spring can be a challenge. Towns like Yarmouth, where snowbirds fly south for the winter, can also suffer. This year has been especially difficult, since winter started early with snow on Halloween. Keeping diners in the seats requires creativity – cue the special events, exclusive dinner offers, and happy hour specials that run only during snowstorms.

Nonalcoholic Bars

Vena’s was featured in an article on Eater about nonalcoholic bars.

Born out of a love for seltzer, Vena’s Fizz House in Downtown Portland, Maine is made to feel like a old-fashioned soda fountain spot. Bartenders shake up fizzy specialty mixed drinks like “The Pear Drop” (pear purée, pear shrub, lime, rosemary, and bitters) and “The Bangladesh Express” (coconut crème, blood orange, lime, ghost pepper, bitters). Downstairs, there’s a mixology shop, where owners, Johanna and Steve Corman sell homemade bitters and syrups, allowing attendees to make fun for themselves at home, too. The catch? When the bar opened in 2013, all of its drinks were zero proof.

The artcle also shares potential plans for a second Vena’s in Utah,

And while she’s not Mormon herself, she’s also seriously considering opening a second location of Vena’s Fizz House in Utah, because many tourists have come in saying nothing like it exists for the Mormon community there.

New Vegan Products

Avery Yale Kamila has put together a list of new (mostly) vegan products that are now available in Maine.

Maine chefs and entrepreneurs have been busy making new vegan products to serve the growing plant-based food market. I wrote about new vegan meats being made in Maine last spring and the state’s growing group of vegan ice cream makers in July. Yet those just scratch the surface of the new items on Maine’s vegan food scene.

New Owners for Hilltop Superette

The Hilltop Superette, formerly Colucci’s, has changed hands. The new owners hail from Augusta where they opened and run the Twins Country Store. Here’s an excerpt from their announcement on Facebook,

We have nearly 10 years experience owning and running a very similar store in Augusta called Twins Country Store. Our motto at Twins which is our goal for Hilltop is to be a friend to the community and to provide our customers with high quality foods and fantastic customer service. We want you to come into Hilltop and leave smiling.