Review of Judy Gibson & 4 New Food Books

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of Judy Gibson,

The first rule of Judy Gibson is that you must start telling absolutely everyone you know about Judy Gibson. Let friends know that chef/owner Chris Wilcox (Eventide, Velveteen Habit) isn’t serving his pandemic-legendary fried chicken anymore, and that’s a good thing. Instead, he’s making excellent use of an encyclopedic larder of house-preserved local ingredients, adding a portion of pickled blueberry stems to his extraordinary tuna crudo, dusting dried ramp powder on a rich beef tartare hash brown … you get the idea.

and an article about four new food books with connections to Maine.

With summer here and leisurely pursuits on the rise, it’s time for a fresh batch of cookbooks and food writing from Maine authors. Here, we’re taking a look at four recent publications that will suit readers with a range of interest in food, from aspiring mixologists to nostalgic eaters.

Yordprom’s Tobi Takeout Now Open

Yordprom Coffee (instagram) owner Tom Yordprom has launched a new takeout restaurant in the West End called Tobi. Shown here is the Pad Pik Pao prepared with stir fried rice noodles, peppers, onions, tomatoes, chicken, and chili soy paste, eggs, and basil and a side of the crispy chive cakes.

Tobi is located on Walker Street in the former takeout kitchen that was home to Figgy’s. They’ll be open Tuesday through Saturday, 5 – 8 pm to start.

Here’s a look at the full opening night menu:

Prior to launching Yordprom Coffee in 2010, Tom Yordprom operated Siam Grille on Fore Street in Boothby Square.

Fish and Whistle Opens Saturday

Fish & Whistle (website, instagram) is slated to open this Saturday and Sunday. F&W is being launched by Kate Hamm and husband Jason Eckerson at 299 Maine Street in Biddeford. The restaurant is named for a song by John Prine.

Fish and Whistle is opening this weekend with a reduced menu (see below) but will eventually serve fish and chips as well as fish and chicken sandwiches, a calamari burger made with Maine squid, smoked tempeh sandwich, salad, chowder, hand cut fries, seasonal vegetable slaw and a chip butty sandwich. Additionally, the dessert menu will includes soft serve ice cream as well as Hamm’s deserts.

Hamm is the former pastry chef at Leeward and founder of Sweet Woodruff Provisions. Eckerson has worked for Big Tree Hospitality where he’s been the sous chef at Eventide and seafood buyer.

Big Tree & Town Landing Market

Big Tree Hospitality (website) is the new owner of Town Landing Market (website, facebook, instagram) on Route 88 in Falmouth. Big Tree closed on the purchase Wednesday. They don’t expect to make any major changes to the operation of the market.

In operating the Town Landing Market, Big Tree will be taking the baton from previous owner MaryBeth Bachman and generations of proprietors who have operated the market since the late 1800’s and established it as one of the pillars of the Falmouth community. Big Tree intends to do no more or less than carry on in their footsteps, keeping the market in its current form and striving to make it the best version of itself. “We have always loved the Town Landing Market and the rich history it holds as a building and community institution and hope we can be as good stewards to the market as those who have operated it for over a century now. We look forward to bringing our love for food and local markets to Falmouth” says Co-owner Kira Butera.

In 2021 Big Tree Hospitality became the owners of the Higgins Beach Market in Scarborough. They also operate Eventide Oyster Co and Eventide Fenway, The Honey Paw, Big Tree Catering, and Big Tree Grocery.

Food Truck Lottery

The City held their Eastern Prom food truck lottery today and per a report from the Press Herald four entrants representing five trucks were left out in the cold “Eighty 8 Donuts, Mr. Tuna, Maine Maple Creemee and two trucks, Cheese the Day and Ironclad Eats, that applied jointly to share one spot.”

Mr. Tuna owner Jordan Rubin is quoted saying that he’ll need to cut 6 to 10 positions from his staff as a result.

“This is really disappointing. There goes our business,” said Jordan Rubin, chef and owner of Mr. Tuna, a mobile sushi bar, following the drawing held on Zoom on Wednesday morning.

“That’s six to 10 people who don’t have jobs anymore because of this lottery,” Rubin said.

A representative from Mr. Tuna shared the loss of the Eastern Prom location will result in a $500,000 drop in revenue.

A protest is scheduled to take place at City Hall at 9 am on Thursday.

The 10 trucks that got spots are On A Roll, BOGS Bakery, Falafel Mafia, George’s North Shore, Gelato Fiasco, Vy Banh Mi, Tacos La Poblanita, Cargo Pizza Company, Twist and La Mega.

Neighborhood Bars

This week’s Portland Phoenix takes a look at neighborhood bars with an update on The Continental which is under construction on Brighton Ave, and interview with owners from Samuel’s and Howie’s.

“The neighborhood decides if you’re the neighborhood bar,” he said. “You try to provide a great product, you have to want to be there every night and find good people to work for you. And the neighborhood decides, they have to show up. You’re the fortunate one if they do.”

He said there is something about knowing all the regulars’ names that sets a neighborhood bar apart. He said it makes you feel accepted, where if you see the regulars out walking around or at the store, you wave and say hello, and they do the same.

“There’s something about knowing the community is happy to know you’re there,” Barbuto said. “When that finally clicks, it’s like the business is breathing on its own.”


New Food Truck: All Grill

A new (or at least new to Portland) food truck called All Grill (instagram) is at Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth today. All Grill hails from Tampa, Florida and serves a menu of “[g]rilled food with a Venezuelan touch”.

Upcoming Events

Monday – it’s Memorial Day.

Friday – Tomaso’s new taco food truck Disco Jalisco is holding a prelaunch pop-up at the Rathskeller.

June 8/9 – the Knotted Apron will be hosting a 6-course dinner with the Back Bay Grill’s longtime chef/owner Larry Matthews.

June 13 – The 2022 Beard Foundation Awards gala is taking place in Chicago. Five Maine chefs and restaurants are contenders for this year’s awards.

June 13 – 19 – the 5th Annual Portland Wine Week will be taking place—see details on their Women in Wine Dinner.

June 18 – the grand opening of the Absolem Cider tasting room in Winthrop, Maine.

July 21Magnus on Water chef Ben Jackson will participating in the Outstanding in the Field series with a dinner at Glidden Point Oyster Farm in Edgecomb.

July 23Chaval chefs Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti will participating in the Outstanding in the Field series with a dinner at Dandelion Spring Farm in Bowdoinham. The Wavy Days Beer Fest is taking place.

July 25 – 30 – the Kneading Conference is taking place.

September 3Tender Table is holding their 2nd Annual Food & Art Fair in Congress Square Park.

September 19 – 25Maine Lobster Week is taking place in Skowhegan.

September 23 – 25 – the Common Ground Fair is taking place in Unity.

October 9 – the Maine Cheese Guild is holding Maine Open Creamery Day.

Lopez/Sansonetti Opening The Ugly Duckling

Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti have leased 246 Danforth Street in the West End where they plan to open a new daytime bakeshop and cafe called The Ugly Duckling (instagram). They hope to have The Ugly Duckling open by the end of July.

Our focus will be Buttermilk English Muffins with a range of flavors, freshly made tarts, Our Famous Trocaderos, Custards, Mousses and more. (There will be some Gluten free and vegan options also). It’s a Bakery/Patisserie Our way. We will serve espresso (and espresso drinks) and drip coffee from Speckled Ax beans. There will be house made preserves, spreads, jams and more for the muffins (that will also be available retail). And we will serve some breakfast style items in the morning also. Then come lunch the menu will shift and wine and cocktails will be available to pair with your charcuterie & cheese, or tinned fish, or sandwich. We will also expand on the Custom-Made Cakes or any occasion and tailor it to your tastes. And we will be open for Brunch on the weekends also. All in a great place to hang out in all day to eat and meet with friends.

Their aim is to create an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome,

This is a place where all the misfits find themselves, be you and proud. Because at the end of the day we are what we see in the mirror, and to my eyes we are all just perfect. It is our self-reflection and perception that matters, how we see ourselves that matters, we need to show up for us, we need to love us.

Lopez and Sansonetti will introduce a pay-forward system at The Ugly Duckling that will enable their customers to donate funds to feed members of the community. Funds that don’t get used by the end of the month will be donated to Maine-based nonprofits.

As you can see from the floor plan the space features a 15-seat horseshoe coffee bar as well as additional table seating in the front windows of the former PrintCraft shop. The Ugly Duckling will be available in the evening as an event space and to host private parties.

Lopez and Sansonetti also own and operate Chaval, and previously operated the now closed Piccolo.

Food Truck Update

The Portland Phoenix has shared an update on Eastern Prom food truck situation.

More than a dozen food trucks applied for 10 permits to operate this summer on Portland’s Eastern Promenade, which means the city will hold a lottery to decide which ones are allowed to do business in the popular park.

According to the article these trucks have all applied for a spot: On A Roll, Bogs Bakery, Mr. Tuna, Falafel Mafia, George’s North Shore, Gelato Fiasco,  Eighty 8 Donuts, Vy Banh Mi,  Cheese the Day, Tacos La Poblanita, Cargo Pizza Company, Twist, and Maine Maple Creemee.