Thursday, May 31

Week in Review, May 31

A man eating a cookie said Crab Louie would draw locals and the cruise-ship jet set crowd (1). A 1,200 passenger ship would arrive in June. "It's bright green," a chef said about his soup, "the color of the ocean" (2).

A bottle of champagne christened a Naval destroyer in Bath, and in Brunswich, a group of men at meat loaf (3). Costs of meat and milk were said to increase, in part because of the increase in ethanol production (4). An ice cream truck was heard near Mayo Street.

"I feel lousy. I feel tired," said a man on a food stamp diet in New York (5). The Skinny would not be reopening on Congress Street any time soon, and Austin's Boot & Buckle, on Warren Avenue, reportedly closed (5). El Camino remained in Brunswick (6).

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Wednesday, May 30

The Stadium

Oh Canada!

Food writer Jessica Porter apparently moved to Canada, where Canadian bacon is called back bacon and where canucks are just as receptive to popcorn lovers as they are to aging radicals. She's certainly better off. Are we?

Todd "Tofu is Too Fun" Richard seems to have replaced her with his "20 $pot" and from tofu to undercooked eggplant, this could only be worse if we had paid for The Phoenix.

For a taste of Quebecois, head to Uncle Billy's Resto-Bar, at 653 Congress Street. There's no Molson on tap but their poutine - crispy, gooey gravy curd cheese fries- is fantastic. Umami! While the Montreal beef brisket has been on the chewy side, Colonel Jonny also cooks a mean-ass fried chicken. And fries to die for that are home-cookin' goodness not that duckfat double fried chi-chi.

Inside Uncle Billy's, it's practically another county. No credit cards. Imprompu live blues. A jukebox. Bleacherboards and bondage paddles. Stoney-eyed patrons. Well, that is until the waitress yells, ""One riesling, four Jagermisters, one Shipyard."

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Monday, May 28

Beer & Wine

PortCity Life hosts a beer tasting in this month's issue. Local microbrews. Nothing unheard of here. Likewise, for the Budweiser of beer reviews, head over to Scott Dud.

Gulf of Maine Shrimp

A shrimp recipe by a vegan food writer. This has got to be a joke. First, clams and fish tacos; now, shrimp.

Besides, the season for Northern shrimp (Maine shrimp) ended April 30.

Local Plywood

Odds that Local 188 will reopen in June as planned: 1 to 81.

Odds that Local 188 will reside on a block of stupidly named restaurants, via FA: 1 to 2.

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Inventive uses for those extraneous cookbooks, via Portland's LT.

Friday, May 25

Eating out

With the Tourist Day weekend, here are some places to eat on the peninsula in the lovely Maine air with the salty breeze in your hair. On Commercial Street, that's Mims, Dry Dock, Sapporo, The Porthole, Bill's Pizza, J's Oyster Bar, Portland Lobster Co., The Standard Baking Co., Flatbread, Benny's, and Cinque Terre. Close by, Yosaku and Brian Boru.

In no particular order, on Congress Street, watch the traffic at the Point 5 Lounge, The White Heart, Wild Burritos, Bankok Thai, Uffa!, Bar Lola, the Blue Spoon and the Front Room. In Monument Square, Henry VIII, David's and Shay's.

On or near Exchange Street, with no comment on the burrito quality, Federal Spice, JavaNet, O'Naturals, Natasha's, Sebago Brewing Co. and Mark's hot dogs. On Middle Street, Duckfat and Ribollita, with outdoor benches at Norm's East End and Hugo's.

Elsewhere, Amatos, Two Fat Cats, and Coffee By Design on India Street, Tu Casa on Washington Avenue. Aribica, The Dogfish Bar & Grille, Starbucks, and Marcy's (waiting only) on Free Street. Susan's Fish & Chips on Forest Avenue, and the Ohno Cafe on Brackett Street.

With a nod westward to picnics, via TFS, head to: the Eastern Cemetery on Congress Street, Evergreen Cemetery on Stevens Avenue, the Eastern Promenade, Hobson's Wharf, Custom House Pier, and Pleasant Street Park.

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A lid

Coffee lid design, via the Phoenix.

Thursday, May 24

Week in Review, May 24

Beef in Ellsworth schools was recalled (1) and an article saying that vegans killed their children sparked debate (2). Many supported a Maine bill to limit bear trapping but one state representative said it distanced people from death: "You go in McDonald's and there's a cow killed somewhere for that" (3). The smell of sausage permeated North Street.

Burgers could be found in New York (4) and Boston (5) but not among amateurs in Portland (6). A bagel shop owner said the city has been "mushrooming" (7).

Literary ethicurianism remained popular (8), a scientist called new figures on the cost of overweight Mainers "bloated." (9) and 5 lb. female lobsters would be set free (10). Gas prices would make more expensive pie in the Old Port (11).

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Wednesday, May 23

The dogs

Taking your bitch to Freeport?

If not, Gert's sometimes parks on Commercial Street. She offers dogs for people and biscuits for dogs. Also, dogs are in season, via NPR.

Tuesday, May 22

Bar Lola

"Yeah, I'm standing outside the restaurant where we were supposed to meet at. And they're closed."


Sunday, May 20

Monday, Monday

If Sunday's bad, what's open Monday night?

The best bet is probably the grocery store. Many restaurants close Monday (a partial list can be found at this neighborhood guide), including Caiola's, Bar Lola, Hugo's, Cafe at Pat's, Rachel's L'Osteria, Uncle Billy's and Silly's. Before heading out to the ones open on Monday Fore Street, Street & Co., Vignola, Back Bay Grille, Flatbread or Five fifty-five, consider:
The weekend is the weekend, adrenaline-charged, fully wound up. The aftermath is the aftermath, an institutional winding-down that actually begins before Monday, and suggests a Billie Holiday song with wisdom for the picky gourmand (Frank Bruni).
If the second-string line cook with a hangover isn't discouragement enough, consider this:
Kitchens prepare food on a first-in, first-out basis, meaning whatever is oldest gets served first... Distributors typically take Sunday off and make their last deliveries Saturday morning, which means that by Monday any food not used over the weekend is at least three to four days old. (Christine Bockelman, via HM).

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Saturday, May 19


Allagash Brewing, 100 Industrial Way, uncorks this year's fermented grape Victor Ale Monday May 21 from 5:30 - 7:30 pm to benefit the St. Lawrence, 76 Congress Street and the Victoria Mansion. With food by the Front Room. $12.

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Made in Maine

"Made in Maine" on PBS tonight at 7 pm (also viewable on the site), shows fancy gourmet restaurants in Greenville Junction, Isle au Haut, and Frenchville, via Edible Coastal Maine, the lesser known of the Edible communities.

Crab Louie's

Mike Keon, the owner of the new Crab Louie fish fry joint on Portland’s Commercial Street, knows a thing or 2 about seafood (from Switch).
But knowing "a thing or 2 about seafood" is not something you can expect from a vegan "Whole Foods fanatic," who wrote the above ad.
All the seafood comes from the local docks*, and Keon and crew fry it up the traditional way, using creamy lard (instead of trans-fat laden vegetable shortening).

* Local docks means Bristol, a Portland-based company. Traditional could mean fish & chips come wrapped in newsprint (an abundance of useful material can be found locally) but Louie's food goes in paper bags. It's like an indoor picnic place with a sanitized viewing area and decent fried foods. But Switch doesn't use taste buds to lunch on chunks of breaded, fried haddock atop generous portions of waffle-cut French fries, the writer relies on the size of the line:

Judging by the steady stream of guys queuing up at the cash register when I visited (during what I thought would be the lull between lunch and dinner), the place is already garnering a local* following.

* It is unclear what local means here. It seems like the nearby Doors of Doom have more of a local following. It's all in the marketing, as Wal-Mart says; after all, local sells.

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Thursday, May 17

Week in Review, May 17

Micucci's began dishing out Diet Code author's biscotti (1), Excellent Drinks served iced skiny lattes within view of Starbucks (3), and Crab Louie's, which does not serve crab, ran out of fried clams (2). Go To Susan's, said a sign in front of the closed Cap'n Newick's restaurant (3.5).

State legislators considered a tax on restaurants, and a consultant said, "A box of crackers is a box of crackers" (4). Sen. Olympia Snowe called a vote on importing drugs, which has been tied to pet food scares, a "red herring " (5). Less haddock and yellowtail flounder would be caught next year on Georges Bank (6).

A cook accused of murder pleaded insanity (7). "Meat was his specialty and he knew how to cook it," the son of a dead grocer said (8).

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Wednesday, May 16


Missed Mother's Day?

Brunswick's Simply Divine mailorder brownies showbized last month's issue of MaineBiz, and Frontier, also in Brunswick, iced the cake for this Blue Room shoot.

As for Portland pastry makers, Standard Baking Co., on Commercial, is the standard for stollen and hamantashen, financiers and flaky chocolate croissant. Two Fat Cats is also a standard, at 47 India St, only with more frosting, and yellow, black forest and lemon poppy cakes. Big Sky Bread, at Monument Square's Public Market House, has granola and cookies. So does the North Star Cafe. There's also Foley's, coming to Monument Square; Tony's Donuts, 9 Bolton; Katie Made, 147 Cumberland; Cakes Extraordinaire, 1041 Brighton Ave.; Handmade Desserts, 171 Walton St.; Black Tie Catering; Aurora Provisions; and Old Port Candy Company.

Nutmeg Foods crafts chocolate truffles and crumpets for Homegrown Herb & Tea, 195 Congress. Little Tiger, a South Portland chocolatier, sells to Walter's on Exchange. Scratch Baking Co, Willard Square, has dense coconut things and cinamon buns. One-Fify Ate, Benjamin Pickett, has scones.

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Tuesday, May 15

More plywood, addendum

Becky's Diner, currently under expansion, remains open. 4 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Binga's Wingas, on Portland Street, plans to reopen June 1. This time, with the bottles of booze further away from the windows.

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Monday, May 14

Front Burner

Front Burner PR gets front burnered in MaineBiz. Front Burner promotes Vignola, which was reviewed this month by former MaineBiz editor here.


Fish Exchange


With only two years left to the commercial fishing industry here, by some reports, is Maine ready for kapu?

Saturday, May 12


Fiddlehead festival is next Sunday, May 20, sponsored by Slow Food Portland.

Until then, the furled ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) can be found by the pound at Paul's Food enter, 585 Congress Street, for $3.99. Free Range Fish & Lobster, 450 Congress, sells them at $3.49. Browne Trading had ferns for $6.99. Harbor Fish, Custom House Pier, has yet to carry them and Whole Food Market, 127 Marginal Way, was selling them for $5.99.

If you can't find them in the city, wooded stream banks grow dense with ferns. Pick. Clean the orange chaff off completely, soak in cold water (s0metimes gritty), and blanch until bright green and crisp. The taste is similar to asparagus. Nutty.

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Farmers' Market

Credit cards at the market? Federal legislators consider plastic at the market in this year's farm bill. Also consider: less than 1.7% of food sold is "green, affordable, healthy, organic..." at least according to ethicurean.

Today, there's a market in Deering Oaks.

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Thursday, May 10


The Press Herald blogged about Esquire writing this month about Rosie's, 330 Fore Street. It was here first.


Week in Review, May 10

My Chemical Romance cancelled a show in Portland because of food poisoning in New Jersey (1). OJ Simpson was asked to leave a Kentucky steakhouse (2), two Atlanta vegans were charged with starving their baby to death (3), and Mick Fleetwood reportedly stayed near the Armory Lounge (4). Ogunquit's Barnacle Billy's burned because of a flood light.

Middle Street was called a "food ghetto" (5) and no Maine chefs won a 2007 James Beard award (6). Food scientist Harold McGee said the 5-second rule had little validity (7) and time was the only hangover cure (8).

Bear trapping with large cages caused debate. "What part of the twelve hours before that animal finally gets whacked is a clean kill?" asked one hunter (9), and one mock hunter used Dunkin' Donuts to lure the majestic animals (10). In potato country, a Cook planted celery root (11).

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Wednesday, May 9

More plywood

Bonobo, 46 Pine Street, got a beer and wine license but still had some woodworking to do. Nearby, Fresh Approach Market, 163 Brackett Street, was reportedly robbed by a boy, age 15, but the convenience store remained open.

Vendors at the Public Market House had summer plans to move upstairs. Norm's owner Norm Jabar hung a sign about the opening of his neighborhood hardware store on the corner of Congress and Park.

Miyake, a "food factory" and upscale-looking sushi take-out, is in the old Akira's Kitchen/West End Pizza Gallery, on Spring Street, with a new owner (Masa Miyake?) who plans no pizza and, from the smell of the place, less fried food.

Pizza will still be available at Andy's Old Port Pub, 94 Commercial Street, says the Bollard. No nasty drunks, though. That location was the former Nappi's Bar & Grill.

Also closed: Chicky's Fine Diner, on Bridge Street in Westbrook, The Phoenix blogged. And the only thing left inside the old Casco Bay Books, 151 Middle Street, was some milk crates.

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Weenie Wagon

"I don't know who chose that silver. They're really fucking ugly, especially for condos."

A construction worker at Weenie Wagon, Chestnut Street.

Monday, May 7

A nice cup of tea

We considered Nancys. What about the nice of Maine.
Balsamic glazed quail was nicely prepared... the desserts were nice... It’s a bit more expensive than Ribollita a few blocks away, but offers a more interesting menu and nicer atmosphere. (The Phoenix on Bresca).
"NICE” is an adjective that Portland, Ore., can't seem to shake. But below the fleece-clad and Teva-wearing exterior lurks a cool and refreshingly unneurotic city that marches to its own cosmopolitan beat. (The Times on PDX).
Nice is in southern France not southern Maine.

A couple years ago, mark morton (also not from southern Maine) found descriptive phrases about hot liquid drinks. "Good" was more frequently paired with "coffee" and "nice" with "tea," as in "a good cup of coffee" and "a nice cup of tea."

So, in contrast to previous view, Bresca has very good desserts, including a spring financier and beignets with house-made sorbets. They are especially good with French press coffee. Espresso's in the works.

Saturday, May 5


El Camino is on the way. So you can get Wild, or you can get sloppy Cuban sandwiches and pork with lime at La Bodega Latina, 863 Congress. They have a/c and Goya fruit drinks for those hot May days.

Friday, May 4

Week in Review May 3

Foley's Bakery plans a move to Monument Square, Akira salon served food along with botox and hair coloring, and crazy chicken was headed to Washington Avenue's Southwestern eatery. No charges were filed against students in Lewiston school's ham sandwich incident.

A murderer was reportedly force fed, and lobster dealers reported cold water. 2000 pounds of beef labeled "Hamburg" and "Caldwell Farms Beef All Natural Beef" was recalled and pet food recalls buoyed the veterinary health markets.

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Wednesday, May 2

Three doors

[Corrected] Crab Louie's, a fried clammerie with bright baby blue walls, opened two weeks ago at 127 Commercial Street, replacing Ruby's Choice burger joint. Ruby's was between two of the Three Doors to Hell: Angie's, Sail Loft (now the Silver House) and Range Light (Commercial Street Pub), according to Thirstin Howl.

Last year, a woman sitting on the steps there, said, "I don't come out every night, honey."

So long seedy. Hello Louie.