CN Traveler: Press Hotel

A Condé Nast Traveler article about the Press Hotel highlights the role the Portland food scene has played in the development of the city.

On the coattails of a truly impressive food renaissance that began in 1996 with Sam Hayward’s Fore Street, gathered speed with Rob Evans’ 2000 reincarnation of Hugo’s, and got truly hot around 2012 with the debut of Eventide Oyster Co., Portland found itself—and then got found. By the time I visited in 2015 momentum was heavy, propelled by a slew of James Beard Award nominations including Best New Restaurant, for Central Provisions, just a few blocks from the Press; Best Chefs in the Northeast for Eventide owners Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley; and Rising Star Chef for Cara Stadler of Bao Bao Dumpling House. Next to Eventide, Wiley and Taylor had just opened Honey Paw, their brilliantly quirky take on noodle bars; and a block south Damian Sansonetti had begun his love song to Italian at Piccolo. And on and on. As food towns go, Portland had gone from simmer to full-on boil.

Scales Now Open

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Sam Hayward and Dana Street’s new waterfront restaurant Scales (website, instagram) opened for business on Saturday night.

Chef Mike Smith and team are serving a large menu of primarily seafood-based dishes with appetizers such as Bang’s Island Mussels, fried whole belly clams, salt cod croquette with spicy tomato chutney, and torched arctic char with cultured cream, and larger dishes like grilled swordfish with yellow eyed beans and fish stew. When you go be sure to get an order of the excellent griddled brown bread.

Scales is located on Maine Wharf at 68 Commercial Street. It is open for dinner 7 days a week 5:30 – 10 (Sun – Thurs) and 5:30 – 10:30 (Fri – Sat). Watch for lunch hours to begin sometime this summer.

Interview with Damian Sansonetti

The Portland Phoenix has interviewed Damian Sansonetti, co-owner/chef of Piccolo.

CP: Why did you and Ilma move to Portland?
DS: We knew NYC wasn’t going to be for us in the long run even though we accomplished so much while there. We wanted a family and our own place. We traveled to other cities and couldn’t find a place we both felt good in, and then our friend Rod Mitchell who owns Browne Trading in Portland, kept asking me to visit Maine. So we did, and the first night we hit up four places to eat and found ourselves coming back four more times in six months and fell in love with the place and the people.

Sansonetti and his wife Ilma Lopez will be the featured chefs for a dinner at the Beard House in New York City this weekend.

Draft Top 25: Mockingfish & Beer II

draftmaptop25Two Maine beers are on Draft magazine’s list of the Top 25 Beers of the Year:

  • Mockingfish from Rising Tide “The tequila barrel’s earthy, agave character zips in at the finish to punctuate the tart lightly lemony sip. Unlike other tequila barrel-aged beers we’ve tasted, the spirit doesn’t contribute any alcohol prickle here, allowing the gose’s wispy salinity to bubble in the center of the sip like a breeze of ocean are.”
  • Beer II from Maine Beer Co. “The session IPA can be just as wonderfully flavorful as its high-octane cousin, and Beer II is proof. The flavorful turns of juicy grapefruit, fresh pine, grass, sweet tangerine and fennel are stunningly complex: just a touch of bready malt holds it together before a quick whip of bitterness pulls it to a pleasant conclusion.”

Rising Tide plans to have a new batch of the tequila barrel-aged available next year.

Tempo Dulu

The Bangor Daily News  has published a profile of Tempo Dulu, the new restaurant located in the Danforth Inn.

It begins with the bread basket, or lack thereof. Instead of rolls and butter, pastel lobster rice crackers — think shrimp crackers but with lobster flavor — with nutty hot sauce arrive on the white-clothed table to coax your taste buds into a new rhythm, the lively sway of Portland’s new restaurant Tempo Dulu.

Portland’s UNESCO Creative Cities Application

The City of Portland is submitting an application to UNESCO to be recognized for its culinary creativity as part of the UN’s Creative Cities program. If successful, Portland would become the 9th city in the world to be included in the Gastronomy category.

The Creative Cities Network aims to strengthen the creation, production, distribution, and enjoyment of cultural goods and services at the local level. It promotes creative expression and enhances participation in cultural life as well as integrates cultural and creative industries into local development plans.

The application deadline is in July and we should know by mid-December if it was successful.

Pickle Forks

exhibitThe Press Herald has published an article on the pickle fork exhibit at The Bearded Lady.

And we can thank Portland resident and metalsmith Maria Wolff for “Piercing the Pickle,” a small, surprising group show of quite beautiful pickle forks on display through June 21 at The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box, on Congress Street. She curated the show, which includes her own work and that of 10 other local metalsmiths, many of them graduates of the Maine College of Art.

Review of Muthah Truckah

The Press Herald has reviewed The Muthah Truckah.

First, my teeth sank into the slices of griddle-fried ciabatta bread. Then came the layers of bacon jam (bacon literally pulverized into jam), bright orange BBQ potato chips with ridges, turkey, cheddar cheese, pickles and BBQ aioli. There were some pretty strong flavors in there, yet no single one shone above the rest.

It was crispy, buttery, chewy, crunchy, tangy, sour and creamy, all at the same time. It was like a blockbuster Broadway musical, dancing in my mouth.

Interview with Standard Baking Co.

The Press Herald has published an interview with Alison Pray and Matt James, co-owners of Standard Baking Company.

Q: I run into bakers and pastry chefs all the time with Standard Baking on their resume. Is mentoring important to you?
PRAY: Mentoring is huge. That is the beauty of baking and bread especially. You can’t learn it from a book. You have to learn by having your hands in the dough. And you have to learn from master bakers, or just bakers better than you. Watching what they do, trying to duplicate their movements, watching as they make adjustments to the dough. You learn from every batch that you make. It’s a constant work in progress to try to make good bread consistently.

Update: MPBN has also posted a profile of Alison Pray and Matt James.