2022 Good Food Award Winners

Congratulations to the four Maine food producers that are 2022 Good Food Awards winners:

  • Beer – Wolfe’s Neck IPA from Maine Beer Co.
  • Chocolate – Vanilla Crème Brûlée from Bixby Chocolate
  • Fish – Ready-Cut Kelp from Atlantic Sea Farms
  • Preserves – Strawberry Preserves from Josh Pond

Ten Maine food producers were finalists in the 2022 awards program. They were selected from 1,966 entries from 42 states plus D.C. .

Good Beer Hunting Portland Visit

Good Beer Hunting has published a report on a recent visit to Portland.

If I have a problem, it’s time: There’s not enough of it, and I can’t eat and drink everywhere I want to. On the drive up to the city, soundtracked by Taylor Swift’s “Folklore,” I kept doing mental Tetris, unsure of how I would fit everything in. And so I stand on the corner of a crowded street, the smell of Thai-style fried chicken in the air, my feet angled in the direction of my last stop—one of the best beer bars in the world. In an alternate reality, this is how I would spend every Friday night. “I could live here,” I think, for perhaps the thousandth time.

The article highlights: Allagash, Eventide, Bissell Brothers, Crispy Gai, and Novare Res.

The 2021 Year In Review: Pandemic, Food Trucks, Openings, Closings, Etc.

It’s been another busy and challenging year. Here’s an attempt to provide a high level overview of the 2021 year in food:

  • Covid-19 – the pandemic continued to have a big impact on all our lives. With surge in cases that bookended the year in Maine and a peak in the spring Covid-19 continued to have a ripple effect across the industry from outdoor dining in the depths of winter to supply chain issues to a challenging labor market. Vaccines improved conditions during the summer but the delta and omicron variants have driven up case numbers and hospitalizations resulting in customers becoming more cautious and less numerous as we head into winter. A small number of restaurants have implemented their own proof of vaccination policies and in late December a petition is began circulating among Portland restaurants that calls on the City Council to make that a city-wide approach for indoor dining. Despite all the headwinds, new food business projects continue to get launched—a sign that food entrepreneurs feel a sense  of hope and optimism about what’s to come in 2022.
  • Food Truck Boom – Food truck launches continued to surge in 2021. The Press Herald, Mainebiz, Maine Public, Bangor Daily News all wrote and discussed this trend. At one point this past summer there were almost 50 trucks on the streets or under development in Portland. Over the past decade, many businesses that started as food trucks have transitioned into brick and mortar businesses. It will be interesting to see if that’s also the case with this new set of mobile food entrepreneurs.
  • Knightville – There always seems to be some section of town which is a focal point for new restaurant development. In 2021 that new bright spot has been the Knightville neighborhood in South Portland. SoPo Seafood, BenReuben’s Knishery, Cafe Louis opened and Taco Trio moved to new digs. They all joined the Knightville veterans like Smaha’s Legion square Market, The Bridgeway, The Snow Squall, Verbena’s, Cia Coffee and relatively recent opening by Solo Cucina, Judy Gibson, and Foulmouthed Brewing. The former Taco Trio space is now vacant and there are other store fronts that may come on the market so we’re likely to see more growth here into 2022.
  • John Woods – John Woods passed away at the age of 57. Woods was a co-founder of Full Plates Full Potential and was tireless fighter in the battle against childhood hunger in Maine. His work touched the lives of so many people and made Maine a better place. In his memory Full Plates established the John T. Woods Innovation Fund.
  • Upcoming in 2022 – For the full list of new food businesses under development see PFM Under Construction list. Here are some of the current highlights:
    • Bread and Friends – a brick and mortar bakery/cafe being launched by a pair of couples who moved here from the Bay Area. In 2021 they started selling wholesale and at some local farmers’ markets. B&F will be located at 505 Fore Street and is slated to open in late summer.
    • Dila’s Kitchen – a Turkish eatery located on the second floor of the Public Market House. Watch for them to launch in early 2022.
    • Hi-Fidelity Beer – a low ABV brewery  and community space in East Bayside.
    • Lenora – a taco bar focusing on Mexican-inspired street food being launched by partners from from Lone Star Taco Bar and Deep Ellum in Boston. Watch for them to launch in early summer.
    • Twelve – located in the reconstructed Pattern Storehouse from the Portland Company Complex, Twelve will feature the culinary talents of Matt Ginn and Colin Wyatt.
    • TBD – Gin & Luck (the parent company of Death & Co.) is opening an as yet unnamed restaurant and bar in the Danforth Street location formerly occupied by Little Giant.
    • Wicked Fresco – a food truck that was originally slated to open this past summer. Wicked Fresco co-owners Camila Sohm and Eric Mendoza plan to tap into their Colombian and Salvadoran food cultures and Maine seasonal ingredients to serve a menu of sweet and savory salads as well as sides and hand-crafted sodas.
    • Zu Baker – a neighborhood boulangerie in the West End being launched by Barak Olins this spring.

There are also several other exciting new projects that are currently under wraps but will go public soon. Check back later this year for details.

Top 10 Articles

The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.

  1. Valentine’s Day List (February 6th)
  2. Vy Banh Mi food truck (January 20th)
  3. Stacks Pancake Company (April 19th)
  4. Lucky Pigeon gluten-free brewery (January 21st)
  5. Apres in East Bayside (April 19th)
  6. Luna and Salt Yard (March 11th)
  7. Jackrabbit Cafe (March 31st)
  8. BenReuben’s Knishery (March 11th)
  9. Wayside Tavern (April 22nd)
  10. Launch of Truckalico (March 14th)

Notable Events of 2021

Passings

For additional perspectives on the past year in food see the Maine Sunday Telegram A to Z annual round-up, and their restaurant critic’s list of the Best of 2021.

This is the 12th year running that Portland Food Map has published a year in review article. Take a walk down memory lane by checking out these past editions that covered 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Eating Guide to Portland

Eater Boston has published an eating guide to Portland. written by former Portlander Stasia Brewczynski.

Visiting Portland, Maine, at the height of tourist season is a worthwhile challenge, but a challenge nonetheless — which is why taking an off-season day trip to Vacationland is so appealing. The onset of colder weather can mean more limited hours at top restaurants, but it also means shorter lines and ideal conditions for harvesting oysters and brewing spontaneously fermented beer. Here’s a guide for a short yet sweet off-season adventure in and around Portland.

10 Maine Good Food Awards Finalists

Congratulations to the 10 Maine food producers that are  finalists in the 2022 Good Food Awards in these 9 categories:

  • Beer – Wolfe’s Neck IPA from Maine Beer Co.
  • Chocolate – Vanilla Crème Brûlée from Bixby Chocolate
  • Coffee – Ethiopia Duromina from Bard Coffee, Kenya Nyeri Kiandu AA from Coffee by Design
  • Elixirs – Elderberry Syrup from Timberwolves BBQ
  • Fish – Ready-Cut Kelp from Atlantic Sea Farms
  • Grains – Liberation Farms Cornmeal from Maine Grains
  • Preserves – Strawberry Preserves from Josh Pond
  • Snacks – Cran-Raisin Orange Cookie with Walnuts from My 3 Sisters Italian Cookies
  • Spirits – Barren’s Sugar Kelp Vodka from Blue Barren Distillery

This year’s finalists were “selected from 1,966 entries to the 12th annual Good Food Awards, these 351 products represent 42 states plus D.C. and have passed vetting for category-specific sustainability standards”.

The winners will be announced on January 14th.

50 Most Exciting Restaurants: Cong Tu Bot

Congratulations to Cong Tu Bot for their inclusion in the New York Times list of the 50 restaurants in America that the paper is most excited about.

We dispatched our critics, reporters and editors around the country to find the 50 most vibrant and delicious restaurants in 2021. They’re not ranked, but together they reflect the rich mosaic of American dining — from the melding of Thai curry and Texas brisket in the Pacific Northwest, to heritage crab rice on the South Carolina coast, to vegan soul food in the East Village.

Specifically regarding to Cong Tu Bot they shared,

Happiness is a bowl of Cong Tu Bot’s chao chay on a chilly Maine morning — warm, supple grains of rice that disappear into the bowl, slicks of chile oil, tart tangles of mustard greens, a chewy cake of daikon and kale and showers of herbs and scallions. The restaurant was originally a noodle shop; but a few months ago, the owners, Vien Dobui and Jessica Sheahan, transformed it into a daytime cafe, with a menu that includes pho ga, bun cha and outstanding pastries like a crumb-topped, neon-green pandan coffee cake. A meal here is an extremely compelling argument for the superiority of Vietnamese breakfast food.

Vogue Portland Travel Guide

Vogue has published a guide to Where to Stay, Eat and Play in Portland.

Portland is Maine’s most populous city, perched on a coastline of pure beauty. Whether you’re looking to enjoy the last moments of summer on the beach or simply eager to explore a new seaside scene, Portland provides the best of both worlds. Sandy coves on the rocky shorelines offer secret summer escapes without the crowds, while downtown, the streets are lined with alfresco dining and beer gardens.

The article highlights High Roller, Scales, The Honey Paw, Little Woodfords, Blyth & Burrows, Via Vecchia, Terlingua, Maine Beer Company, Oxbow, the Eastern Prom and the Thompson’s Point.

Best Bagels in America

Food & Wine has included Forage, Rover and Scratch Baking on their list of the Best Bagels in America.

A funny thing happened, while New York began settling for mediocrity: a new generation of American bakers figured out just how easy it was to get into the game. Best of all, most of them have their own ideas about what a modern American bagel should look like. My first glimpse of this exciting future came almost a decade ago, thousands of miles from New York, on a sunny winter morning in Northern California. Here, two East Coast transplants had started making meticulous, wood-fired, Montreal-style bagels, opening up the most charming little deli. After years of accepting second best from my neighborhood bagel slinger in Midtown Manhattan, I took this as a serious wake-up call.