Review of Taco Trio

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a review of Taco Trio.

Owner and original chef Manny Peña’s family recipes still form the basis for most of the menu’s dishes, like puffy sopes, soft tacos and well-balanced aguas frescas (cantaloupe and hibiscus, in particular). In its new home, Taco Trio makes more of a feature of its Mexican liquors without losing a step in the kitchen. The space can get noisy on weekends, but takeout meals are nearly as good as dine-in meals at Taco Trio. Just down that Tequila Honey Bee before you head home with your designated driver.

Review of Twelve

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a review of Twelve.

…Wyatt is a true expert at preparing proteins like New York strip steak, grilled scallops and skin-on chicken breast to their optimal juiciness and flavor. Some of the sauces and marinades, on the other hand, are off-kilter: either too sweet or unremittingly savory. Macon’s breads and desserts, especially her gingerbread, are standouts and deserve much more attention…

More Love for Biddeford

Thrillist has published a guide to eating and drinking in Biddeford.

The longtime mill town is blossoming as a food-lover’s haven, with higher-end gems going toe-to-toe with quality lunch spots, cocktail lairs, and breweries galore. Small wonder that the city got its first boutique hotel last year, and even smaller wonder that out-of-town diners are now mixing it up with locals and students from the nearby University of New England.

Nezinscot Farm: America’s Classic Award

Congratulations to Nezinscot Farm (website, instagram) for being named a James Beard America’s Classics Award winner.

Today’s announcement from the James Beard Foundation includes this description of the farm:

When Gloria married Gregg Varney, she insisted that they open a café on the farm in Turner, Maine that has been in the Varney family for more than a hundred years. The first organic dairy farm in Maine, Nezinscot Farm takes its name, shared by a nearby river, from the Abenaki word signifying a place to gather. The Abenaki name is seemingly also a mission for the Varneys. In 1987, Nezinscot opened its Café and Coffee shop, and Gloria’s original vision has since expanded to include a bakery, a fromagerie, and charcuterie. The Café has something beautiful and exciting on every shelf—cases of homemade cheeses and meats, bagels, freshly baked pies, and perfect breads rolling out the kitchen, topped with farm eggs and homemade sausage and cheeses. The energy behind it all feels directed at building community, with delicious homemade everything (even the teas, even the crackers) serving as the vital instrument of creating and sustaining that gathering. The Varneys feed the community in many ways, significantly providing a warm space to gather around food on a farm in the middle of Maine.

The America’s Classics Awards are given to “locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community.” Maine has celebrated two prior award winners in this category: Waterman’s Beach Lobster in South Thomaston in 2001, and Bagaduce Lunch in Penobscot in 2008.

The Varneys will receive their award at the Beard Awards Gala taking place on June 5th at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

Additionally, 11 Maine restaurants and chefs have been named semifinalists and are in contention for the 2023 awards. The final list of nominees are due out on March 29th with the award winners also being announced in Chicago on June 5th.

Wayside Review & Savory Cocktails

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a review of Wayside Tavern, and

Cast in deep greens, golds and Victorian-era stained wood, this European-inspired restaurant (read: mostly Italian and French) is the sort of bistro-esque neighborhood restaurant any locality would be lucky to have. The cocktail menu takes familiar classics like negronis and boozy spritzes and tweaks them just enough so you’d notice only if you’re paying attention. The menu does the same, although it also plays with format, reimagining a roast chicken as an open-faced sandwich slathered in ricotta and pine nuts, soaking up the fat and juices from griddled chicken thighs…

an article about a trend in cocktail design popping up in local bars.

Au courant cocktail enthusiasts or anyone with an adventuresome palate these days can sip drinks all around town that showcase the savory flavors of everything from fresh spinach and carrots or roasted beets to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, brown butter, lobster, North African shakshuka sauce – even hot and sour Thai tom yum soup.

2023 Beard Awards Semifinalists

This year’s list of restaurant and chef semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards was just released. There are 11 semifinal nominees from Maine:

Additionally, chef David Vargas is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Chef category for his restaurant Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Vargas also owns Ore Nell’s BBQ which is located on Badger Island in Kittery, Maine.

The final list of nominees will be released March 29th, and the awards ceremony will take place on Monday June 5th in Chicago.

Related information:

75 Best and 15 Essential

The Press Herald has published their list of the Best 75 places to eat and drink in Greater Portland. The list is assembled by restaurant critic Andrew Ross. The top 10 section includes: Cafe Louis, Cong Tu Bot, Elda/Jackrabbit, Fore Street, The Garrison, The Honey Paw, Isa, Judy Gibson, Norimoto Bakery, and Nura.

Eater Boston has released their list of 15 Essential Restaurants in Portland which includes: Jing Yan, Cong Tu Bot, Izakaya Minato, Eventide, Fore Street Schulte & Herr, Central Provisions, Evo, Leeward, Miyake, Asmara, Boda, El Corazon, Bao Bao and Chaval.

Bar Futo

The Blueberry Files has published a first look post about Bar Futo.

While there’s an extensive selection of sake, we started with some signature cocktails—my husband had the delicious Calpikachu, a rum and chartreuse concoction ($13) with a foam made from a Japanese strawberry soda, while I loved the Sakura sour ($13), a mix of pisco and cherry blossom with an egg white topper. 

Gold for Chocolate

Five chocolates produced by the West End chocolatier Chocolats Passion (websitefacebookinstagram) have medaled at the Academy of Chocolate awards competition in London.

We are thrilled to announce that FIVE of our chocolates have won medals at the world’s most prestigious competition! We are one of only four US chocolatiers to win, and brought home half of the US medals. We are so proud of our chocolates that won silver, Miso Sesame and Pistachio Raspberry and bronze, Pineapple Black Pepper, Calamansi Almond, and the Coffee Toffee mendiant!