Wine Service and Choice, Theater Food & Infusions

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes advice on improving wine lists and wine service in Portland’s restaurants,

“The server who constantly points people to Chardonnay and Merlot,” Chase said, “might be a nice person. But being nice isn’t the only part of being a good server.” Amen, brother. I’d take a nice enough server who took genuine interest in her kitchen’s menu and wine list over a boatload of trying-too-hard “how’re we doings?” and “you guys” “you all set with thats?”

a report on the new healthy choices for snacks at Maine movie theaters,

You rarely find the words “movie theater” and “health food” in the same sentence, but this could change. As more Mainers seek out healthier fare and adopt alternative diets, cinemas around the state are responding with new menu offerings.

and an article about the current trend for bartenders to develop their own infusions.

Wine & Meatball Tasting

Mister Meatball has posted a report on the meatball and wine tasting he organized with James Beard Award-nominated sommelier Scott Tyree.

The sommelier, who had barely touched his own frosty beverage, quickly displayed a far more complex understanding of our mission. I became hip to this when he brought out a crisp pad of paper, a pen and a pair of what I would describe as handsome yet rather stern-looking reading glasses. This must have rattled me more than I was aware because as our waitress delivered my newly opened beer I instructed her to please go ahead and bring me another at her earliest convenience.


Apples, Restaurant Wine and a Vegan Marathoner

The Food & Wine section in today’s Press Herald includes several articles about the Fall apple season: a report on the 2011 harvest, a list of apple events across the state, a guide to finding 40+ different varieties, and an article about John Bunker and his quest for rare Maine apples,

For years, John Bunker has been traveling around Maine on “fruit explorations,” hunting down old trees in out-of-the-way orchards and abandoned farms that may have been bearing fruit for 100 years or more. He lectures around the state, always encouraging his audiences to bring in apples they’ve found in their old orchards so he can try to identify them and solve the mystery of where they originated.

Those lucky enough to have secured a share in Bunker’s rare apple CSA this year will be picking up 7 different apple varieties today: Charette, Garden Royal, Milton, September Ruby, St. Lawrence, Wealthy and Whitney Crab.

Also in today’s Food & Wine section is an article about wine service and wine lists at Portland restaurants,

Today, I’ll use reader comments in order to explore some challenges to the health of our little wine culture here in southern Maine.

My hope is that you’ll come away from the following remarks feeling that you’re not alone, and that your own curiosity and investment in wine will be most highly rewarded if you actively push your friends, restaurant servers and retailers to treat wine less as a passively traded commodity and more as a pathway to rich experience.

and an interview with a vegan who is running in the Maine Marathon.

Because she follows a vegan diet and is training to run the Oct. 2 Maine Marathon, Angela May Bell of Portland occasionally gets questions from concerned friends who worry she’s not getting enough protein. It turns out her whole foods, plant-based diet gives her plenty of protein, but comes up a bit short on the extra carbs long-distance runners need.

Maine Wine Regulations

The Appel on Wine column in today’s Press Herald examines state regulations that are impeding the Maine wine industry,

As Ned Swain, owner of the Maine distributor Devenish Wines, put it, “Allow shops to sample people on wine. If they’re in good standing (and) not selling alcohol to minors, having a sample bottle open wouldn’t harm anyone. It would make it a lot easier for shops to sell new, unusual, unknown wines.” (I’ll add: The state liquor authority could conduct undercover monitoring of a one- or two-ounce maximum per customer, to prevent an increase in public inebriation.)

Maine: Wine Distributors and Taste of the Nation Benefit

The June issue of Maine magazine (not yet available online) includes a Joe Ricchio article on Maine’s small independent wine distributors,

With small distributors, someone is doing the dirty work for you. They are your advocates and personal tasters. They are willing to take chances on wineries that might not have the best packaging, but deliver a product they truly believe in. And since they’re are fewer people involved in the buying decisions, the portfolios have more character and focus.

and an article about Taste of the Nation, an annual benefit that raises money to address hunger in Maine,

Rob Evans agrees. “The issue hits everyone,” says the renowned chef. “We can all empathize . . . people are going hungry, and we’re surrounded by so much.” Once Evans got involved, he saw how much more could be done. As a board member of Share Our Strength in Maine, he teaches cooking classes for another one of the non-profit’s programs—Cooking Matters—and he is in the process of developing a restaurant dining series that will raise even more funding to support the cause.

This year’s Taste of the Nation dinner is taking place June 26 on the SMCC campus. Tickets are available online.

Restaurant Staff Weight Loss, Girl Gone Raw, Wine with Tofu

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an interview with raw vegan chef Elizabeth Fraser,

The ease with which she made the almond milk coupled with its flavor was like a health food revelation to me. But to Fraser, it was just another day in the life of the Girl Gone Raw.

That’s the name of her raw vegan chef business, which offers classes, private parties and food coaching from her Munjoy Hill studio to groups and individuals.

an article about a staff weight loss program being run by the owner of David’s,

David Turin, the owner of David’s, noticed his staffers’ girth increasing from year to year, and decided to do something about it. He started a 90-day weight-loss competition at the restaurant and will be rewarding the “biggest losers” on his staff with lots of cash.

and advice on pairing wine with tofu.

She literally laughed. “I have no idea. You can’t drink wine with tofu.” With that, she was off to pay, and I started to say, Yes-Wait-Yes, but she laughed again and was gone.

This was what’s known as a teachable moment, and although I missed the opportunity then, I’ll try to re-seize it now. First of all, you can and should drink wine with tofu! There’s wine for everything.

Vegan Thanksgiving, Box Wine and Brett DeBlieck

The Food & Dining section of today’s Press Herald includes advice on cooking a vegan Thanksgiving dinner.

In recent years, supermarkets have been flooded with processed vegan foods. And while faux meat products such as Tofurky and Celebration Roast can work in a pinch, you’ll satisfy more people at your table when you go the scratch-cooking route.

Also in today’s paper is a declaration by the Appel on Wine column that you can get good wine from a box and a Q+A with sous chef Brett DeBlieck.

Oysters, 2 Buck Chuck, Robert Pieper

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes Joe Appel’s take on the Trader Joe’s 2 Buck Chuck wines,

Yet. Yet there are hidden costs. The biggest one is a general dumbing down of the wine market. I know everyone’s shopping Trader Joe’s exclusively right now, but next time you feel the need for an edible vegetable, head over to any other Portland-area supermarket and note the changes in the wine departments. See?

Everyone’s racing to the bottom, all desperate to offer an alternative to $3 Chuck. The interesting bottles lose their shelf space, taken over by more and more case stacks of faceless, automaton wine engineered to move.

a feature article on Maine oysters,

Once, oysters were as much a part of holiday celebrations as cranberries and champagne.

There’s never been a better time to revive this tradition. There are dozens of Maine oyster growers who can supply the freshest shellfish for your holiday table.

and interview with sous chef Robert Pieper from Nosh.