Nonalcoholic Beer

The Press Herald has published a report on Maine-produced nonalcoholic beers.

Nonalcoholic beer is currently having, it would seem, a moment. Or, if we look at Maine’s brewing history, a revival. In previous decades, the production of nonalcoholic beer (which legally means a beer with no more than 0.5% ABV) was dominated by brands from multi-national and mass-market breweries. But today, we now have local options that drink much more like craft beer than the infamous O’Doul’s.

Maiz in Brunswick

The Bangor Daily News reports that Maiz will be opening a second location in Brunswick.

When Martha Leonard took her La Fritanga food truck to Brunswick last year, she found a friendly community and college town open to a new type of food.

The co-owner of Maiz Colombian Street Food in Portland was so impressed with the atmosphere in the midcoast town that she plans to open a second physical restaurant in Brunswick this spring and hire six full-time employees.

Martha Leonard shared with us that the new 20-seat Maiz will be located at 11 Pleasant Street. It will be about twice the size of their Portland location and will incorporate a small market that will sell house-made products for home preparation.

Leonard expects to launch with a similar menu to Portland and then evolve it to fit the unique tastes of their Brunswick customers. She hopes to open the new Maiz  in April.

An Oral History of Beetle’s Lunch with Cheryl Lewis & Norine Kotts

Back before they moved to Portland and opened Cafe Always and went on to found Aurora Provisions and help launch El Rayo, Cheryl Lewis and Norine Kotts were part of the team that opened the Beetle’s Lunch in Allston. Professor Janice Irvine at University of Massachusetts has recorded and published this oral history interview with Kotts and Lewis about those early days.

But first there was Beetle’s Lunch! Before moving to Portland, Lewis and Kotts were two of the four lesbian co-founders of Beetle’s Lunch in 1982, a café in Allston, Massachusetts. Known as a queer-punk space also welcoming of locals, Beetle’s was named the”1983 Best Punk Restaurant” by Boston magazine. I lived a block away from Beetle’s during that time, while a graduate student at Brandeis University, and frequented the café several times. Almost four decades later, I moved to Portland from Massachusetts. Serendipitously, I met Cheryl and Norine at a dinner party. We immediately discovered, and bonded over, our shared history at Beetle’s. As a sociologist, I knew their stories would be those of a radical generation reimagining work, politics, and food. In this oral history, they recount Beetle’s origin story, and the daily pleasures and challenges of launching and running a restaurant (while in their 20s!). More broadly, their stories capture that dynamic historical moment of feminist and queer politics, a nascent food revolution, the emergence of alternative community spaces, and early ‘80s experiments in establishing collective workplaces. This oral history covers the period ca. 1981-83.

Regards Opening Saturday

Regards (websiteinstagram) is scheduled to open this Saturday. It is located at 547 Congress Street in the space formerly occupied by Emilitsa. Regards is being launched by chef/owner Neil Zabriskie and co-owners Kimberly Lund and Cameron Lewin.

The menu includes options like a charcoal roasted beetroot with juniper, blackberry & kumquat and macadamia, and a dish of Spanish mackerel prepared with smoked cream emulsion, aji limo and tatsoi. Zabriskie envisions the menu as the melding of Southern Californian inspiration with local Maine ingredients. The beverage program will feature natural wines and agave-focused cocktails.

You can make reservations for Regards on Resy. Proof of vaccination is required to eat at Regards.

Upcoming Events: Valentine’s Day, Cider Dinner, Portland Wine Week

February 10The Yard is hold a pre-Valentine’s Day Dueling Pianos event, and Evo is holding a dinner in support of the Dempsey Center with seatings at 5:30 or 7:45.

February 13Cocktail Mary is holding a Champagne Brunch.

Valentine’s Day – this list continues to grow as restaurants announce their plans.

  • Black Tie – a Valentine’s take-out menu for two; order by February 8th.
  • BlueFin – is serving a menu of “featured Valentine’s Day cocktails”.
  • Bravo Maine – is holding a French Bistro cooking class.
  • Chaval – will be serving a special Valentine’s Day menu, details are still TBD.
  • Elda – Valentine’s Day tasting menu; $125 per person.
  • Evo Kitchen + Bar – a 6-course dinner for $120 per person, also available for takeout.
  • Isa Bistro – 3-course dinner for $75 per person.
  • Tiny Feats Confections – Chocolate Raspberry Tortes available for pre-order.
  • Top of the East – a 3-course take-out dinner; order by February 11th.
  • Vena’s Fizz House – a Valentine’s Day mixology class.
  • Verbena’s – will be serving a Valentine’s weekend menu featuring the flavors of Southeast Asia.
  • Wine Wise – a Black Truffle Wine Dinner for two in collaboration with Chaval; $250, delivery included.
  • Yardie Ting – will be serving a surf and turf dinner for two at the Public Market House; $80 for a couple.
  • Chocolate shops and bakeries – check in with your favorite chocolate shops and bakeries to find what Valentine’s Day special candies and baked goods they may have available.

February 17The Porthole is holding a wine dinner.

March 29 – Maine’s newest cidery the Absolem Cider Company and Oxbow Brewing will collaborating on a beer/cider dinner at the Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford.

June 13 – 19 – the 5th Annual Portland Wine Week will be taking place.

Forest Ave: Luis’ Arepera & Thai Essan

Luis’ Arepera quietly closed down their restaurant at 948 Forest Ave late last year. They’ve now announced plans to re-open in Gray this summer.

Due to a fire back in September, the Fishermen’s Net, Thai Essan and Paella Seafood had to close. Thai Essan has announced they plan to re-open sometime this summer or early fall. The owners of Paella Seafood and Fishermen’s Net also plan to eventually re-open.

Vegan Lunches & Cooking Classes

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article about the return of vegan lunches to Portland schools, and

In September, Portland, Maine’s largest school district, restarted its vegan hot lunch program for the elementary schools. It was begun in the 2019-2020 school year but put on hold the following year because of remote schooling during the pandemic. It resumed this fall. Each day, students in the city’s 10 elementary schools can choose among a vegan hot lunch, a traditional hot lunch or a vegan sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich.

an article that highlights some of the options for cooking classes being offered in Maine.

Are you resolved to shuck your first dozen oysters this year, to master a few Italian classics, or simply to cook more and eat out less? When looking for a nudge to get started, you might be surprised to discover the bounty of culinary classes offered around the state. Those seeking to hone their kitchen skills, expand their repertoire of recipes, or to safely “travel” to a new country by way of its cuisine can choose from a mouthwatering Maine menu that features both in-person and virtual, hands-on and demonstration classes.

Rupee Beer

This week’s Portland Phoenix reports on Rupee Beer which was developed by brothers Van and Sumit Sharma in conjunction with Alan Pugsley the co-founder of Shipyard Brewery.

With [Alan] Pugsley’s help, the brothers took a year to do test brews, figure out what ingredients they wanted, and finally settle on a product: Rupee Beer, which Sharma described as a refreshing and smooth lager, light on the carbonation and brewed to pair well with traditional Indian food.

The brothers’ family founded Bombay Mahal in Brunswick and operate Tandoor in Portland’s Old Port.

To learn more about Rupee Beer visit their website: www.rupeebeer.com.

Onggi Expanding on Washington Ave

Onggi, the fermentation-focused shop on Washington Ave, has leased the former A&C Grocery building at 131 Washington Ave. The move will more than quadruple their space—from 300 sq ft to 1,300 sq ft—enabling them to expand the retail, food service and experiential elements of their business. They hope to open at the new location this spring.

The new building will have a dedicated space to hold in-person classes, workshops, and special events, and also have room for a bigger selection of fermented provisions, books, and fermentation equipment in their retail shop.

With a larger kitchen, Onggi 2.0 will offer a wider selection of pastries and beverages, add a new rotating lunch service featuring fermented foods, and produce more house-made fermented products. The new location will also have indoor seating.

Onggi was founded by Amy Ng, Erin Zobitz, and Marcus Im in April 2021. Onggi is currently located in one of The Black Box retail spaces on Washington Ave.

Upcoming Events: Frying Dutchman, Business Workshop, Pig Roast, Sushi Class, Valentine’s Day

Monday – The Frying Dutchman is scheduled to open today at 10 am.

TuesdayFork Food Lab is kicking off their food business webinar series.

Sunday – Pig Roast on the Patio is taking place at Thoroughfare, and Great Wave Sushi chef Alex Herzog is teaching a sushi making class.

February 10The Yard is hold a pre-Valentine’s Day Dueling Pianos event, and Evo is holding a dinner in support of the Dempsey Center with seatings at 5:30 or 7:45.

Valentine’s Day – this list will be continuously updated as restaurants announce their plans.

  • Black Tie – a Valentine’s take-out menu for two; order by February 8th.
  • Bravo Maine – is holding a French Bistro cooking class.
  • Chaval – will be serving a special Valentine’s Day menu, details are still TBD.
  • Elda – Valentine’s Day tasting menu; $125 per person.
  • Tiny Feats Confections – Chocolate Raspberry Tortes available for pre-order.
  • Top of the East – a 3-course take-out dinner; order by February 11th.
  • Wine Wise – a Black Truffle Wine Dinner for two in collaboration with Chaval; $250, delivery included.

March 29 – Maine’s newest cidery the Absolem Cider Company and Oxbow Brewing will collaborating on a beer/cider dinner at the Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford.