Tuesday, July 31

Foodie movie

Nine depictions of chefs, via Slate.

The slideshow includes those films now playing - "No Reservations," the fish stick equivalent of "Mostly Martha," and every reviewer's fave "Ratatouille."

Blog nod

Last week's Press Herald on backwater blogs:
"Across Maine, there are dozens of Web sites, each carving out a niche by covering topics such as the upcoming Tom Allen and Susan Collins U.S. Senate race [link], the recent visit of President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin [?], home prices in Cumberland County [link or link?] and new restaurant openings [link?]."
Thanks for the add, Ellis. Include links next time, please.

Monday, July 30

Bt Corn

Maine was the only state where genetically-modified corn was banned. Not anymore, via the BDN (check out those human honeybees), the PPH and MBPN.

Genetically-modified corn was already in imported corn flakes and Cokes, but not in the state's homegrown corn, the precursor to beef, milk and eggs. The genetic modification, which is mostly under control by big agri, includes a bacteria that killed insect pests.

Next up, modified salmon, via NYT.

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Sex in the city

The tender, sweet flesh. Everywhere, the fresh catch glistens. The steamed mussels with white wine and tomato were so good we sat silently soaking up the juices. Feeling flush. Do you need a sticky, nutty, impossibly rich morning bun? The soft, creamy stuff.

Selected excepts from an amourous weekend in Portland, via The Globe.

Thursday, July 26

Week in Review, July 26

Organic and local farms were not conventional (1), hikers ate "weird stuff all the time" (2), and new religions were slow to catch on. "After five years, folks might come to your church supper, if the food's good," said one aging hippie. The new restaurant La Familia closed by 7 p.m. so the owners could attend the Spanish Pentacostal church (4).

Rotting herring reeked (5), and fish fertilizers, labelled Coast of Maine, posed a threat to Homeland Security (6). The chain Red Lobster lauched TV ads intending to evoke the sophisticatated Maine coast (7). The Stadium held a bikini rodeo.

Hunger continued to make headlines (8), drag racers ate sausages (9) and minigolfers liked ice cream (9.5). Bakers planned a kneading conference (10). A clam festival drew attendees for Wheel of Fortune, not clams (11). Pure bottled water proved to be a hard sell (12), Bonobo remained closed, and a former WhoFooMa employee panned John "Wacky" Mackey (13).

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Strawberry fields

"Only pick the really red ones, sweetie. We leave the rest for other people."

-Organic-looking mom at Maxwell's Field, overheard via LL.

Tuesday, July 24

Fried fuel

The future is here and it smells like fried clams.

Positive Energy. PE makes biodiesel fuel for marine uses, trucks and home furnaces. They have yet to disclose the "400 Portland restaurants" where the company gets its used fryer oil. The company plans to make 250,000 gallons a year, which translates into 625 gallons of used fryer oil per restaurant per year, via Working Waterfront.

Thursday, July 19

Week in Review, July 19

Lobster season, off to a slow start, might have an upswing (1). Edible seafood oddities included urchin roe, sea cucumbers and sperm (2). President George W. Bush visited the "Bun Lady" (3) and a "Hot Dog Lady" in Maine moved to a Massachusetts travel agency (4).

An ice cream junkie made his fix in a blender (5), smoothies were said to power men in flying cars (6) and granita was good (7). Slow Food planned a bring your own silver party (8).

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Wednesday, July 18

Miyake

Reviewing usually requires repeat tastings - something of a lost art in this provincial netherregion of North Boston. So with only one taste of Miyake, a place that's been open barely a month, I'm not apt to critique the new Spring Street joint. But, given that its only preview came from a vegan, I went for some raw fish. That was not the only reason.

Masa Miyake serves an astringent green tea ice cream - sweet, creamy and pea green. Unlike some sushi places where the rolls are sticky and sugary, this is simply the sweetest menu item - as it should be. Desserts do not provide reason enough to go to Miyake.

Masa Miyake worked for 10 years at high-end New York restaurants – at Oceana and with Daniel Boulud – before deciding to call his own shots with his wife and one wholesome waiter in Portland. This, too, is not reason enough to go to Miyake.

Miyake's fish comes from True World, also known as the Moonies, who own a worldwide sushi empire. This could be like serving a lobster roll on the Maine coast with Nova Scotia crustacean. Miyake trucks his Massachusetts seafood to Portland, Northern Massachusetts, which itself is awfully close to Maine, a place where life is the way it should be and fresh fish are caught on the beautiful, rugged coast, shipped to Japan and then sent back to Boston. But Miyake is not a lobster shack. He does not traffic in illusions. He admits his albacore is global fish. He'll tell you he should be buying a $5,000 local, line-caught bluefin. Good intentions, though, are not reason to go to Miyake.

Go to Miyake because it is a neighborhood sushi joint, with only a couple of plastic chairs, a Pepsi fridge full of roe, a place where you can ask for what you want from the chef and get his interpretation of that. It's a place where you can bring your own bottle of sake, New Zealand white or California pinot grigio. Go for the $9 lunch special. Get it to go. And tell Masa he should have chopsticks on hand for regular customers.

Go to eat nigiri with your hands. Go because Masa will fire up his torch for that mayonaisey specialty roll with seared yellowtail ($12) that he insists you try. Go because his broken English is more endearing than karaoke, late night Bjork videos and that marmy dude in sandals wearing a kimono. If those are not reasons enough to Miyake, then you're probably better off with a vegan California roll from Whole Foods.

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Bluefish

Caught, via the Globe.

Tuesday, July 17

Plywood Report

Maple's Organic is moving into the old Casco Bay Books, according to signs posted there. The organic dessert and ice creamery has also been selling gelato on Exchange Street on sunny weekends. The Bollard got the gossip first, attributing the info to "an informed source." Rumor has it Kristie Green will keep her 796 Forest Avenue location.

The above link also mentions that Awful Annie's, 189 Congress, was about to become a Norm's knockoff, owned by Geno's JR D'alessandro though. The neighborhood bar will be either be named the Elbow Room (according to the City) or J.R.'s (according to the Bollard). Beer and wine licenses went to Tu Casa on Washington Ave., a new brick oven pizza place, Siano's, on Stevens Ave., and the Miss Portland Diner (still under wraps). No word from the Bollard on what happened with Thanh Thanh and Chaba Thai, both on Forest Ave., who also went before the city for licenses.

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Monday, July 16

Road food

Headed out? Things to consider: Gas is expensive. Public transit, while inconvenient, sometimes means getting in-flight chicken or beef. Plus, if you're just a rider, you can eat with both hands rather than living on cup-in-hand alone.

AirTran offers Cokes, pretzels and $5 drinks. Drinks are in plastic so you feel like a frat boy whether you're business or economy. JetBlue offers blue tortilla chips and $5 drinks.

The Cat has greasy pizzas and Canadien beer, which go down as easily as they come back up on the 5-hour vomit comet ride. Casco Bay Lines has a new ice cream dispensor at the terminal, which pairs well with the cheap beer party boat. The sail powered cruise Maine Sailing Adventures has beer and wine.

METRO frowns on all things food and drink. Concord Trailways keeps it light with free Poland Spring and newspapers. Vermont Transit/Greyhound permits whatever you can drink out of the brown paper bag, generally 40 oz. and under.

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Thursday, July 12

Week in Review, July 12

Police hung out near Fore Play and had fewer complaints (1). Eating Duckfat caused "wacky stomach" (2), and Uncle Billy's, which had "good sides," "pretty good food" and a "good bit" of pork fat, was also a "good neighbor" (3). Lobster men might not want to save right whales (4).

"I'm a little bit of a nut job when it comes to animals," said a bartender at the Downtown Lounge (5). More vegetarians liked their meat (5.1) and meat was the new black (5.4). Vegan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, masquerading as an anonymous online user, posted financial dirt about possible acquisition and rival Wild Oats (6).

Maine led the nation in dispensing food stamps (7) and also in the highest error rates (8). The Press Herald mistakenly labelled mushrooms (9), and China, facing scrutiny of dodgy food exports, executed the former head of its food and drug administration (10). Peas were in season (11) and activists wanted to give peace a chance (12).

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Thursday, July 5

Week in Review, July 5

Fuel served steak frites in Lewiston (1), a city where officials were announcing a lawsuit over a falsely-reported ham sandwich (2). In Bath, a woman sued after being fed table scraps (2.5). Suits were urged against crabby crab shack owners like Crab Louie's (3). Three men wearing suits slurped milkshakes at Duckfat.

In Coney Island, a man ate 66 hot dogs (4). "Having consumed all of one, he again stood up and gently mutilated my other pole like it was straw," a man said about bears (4.5). The Peaks Island American Legion was sent about 30 cases of cheap beer and the Eastern Prom smelled of fried dough.

Vladmir Putin caught a striper (6) and the effects of plastic fishing lures were studied (7). Sushi at Miyake was nice (8) and a PR exec published in Food & Wine (9). "It reminds me of brains," one hunter said. "It's so pitted and it's that color" (10).

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Sardines

Maine's Beach Cliff Sardines, via AM.

Wednesday, July 4

Whole Foods Mark Up

Buy Local's directory does not include Whole Foods - with good reason.

Despite its "local" PR campaign, the store does not have "local" Maine potatoes in the produce section. Vegetable growers say the Texas-based retailer: doesn't pay its bills on time, increased prices without consent, and created guidelines that are tough for small farms to follow.

"They opened the store with good intentions," said MOGFA president, "but they haven't figured out how to match the good intentions yet," via MPBN.

Some of those good intentions can be found elsewhere. At the Rosemont, 559 Brighton Avenue, and at the Farmers' Markets - with others ready to fill the local niche.

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Tuesday, July 3

Friday

A photo series resembling Letinsky's work goes up at Rabelais, Middle Street, this Thursday. Jon Levitt does not employ the shallow depth-of-field shots typical of most food porn; he's a voyeur of all things rural. Show opens July 6, 5 - 8 p.m. No word on what's cooking.

For those who go to First Fridays for the pretzels and cheap Australian reds, please follow Zachary Barowitz's starving artist guide to finger fodder, via the Bollard.

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Plywood

Local 188 may be planning to reopen July 15, followed soon after by Pine Street's Bonobo. New Greek restaurant Emilitsa, at 545 Congress, and a relocated Hilltop Coffee/Fat Baxters both continued renovation work. And Flatbread, on Commercial Street, replaced its back deck - ah, decks, the suburban ideal.

Elsewhere on Commercial, Black Tie Bistro replaced the Union Wharf Market three weeks ago, further indication of the slow demise of the working waterfront. The deli no longer stocks essentials for that trip to Georges Bank - Malboros, 'tussin and Budweisers - but they do serve panini, wraps and microbrews that have been getting good reviews. Portland's Steakhouse has locked the front door and hung up the closed sign. It's unclear if the worst of bad fusion, Oolong, will be back.

Loco Pollo, 56 Washington Avenue, gets some fresh paint - Mexican murals on the wall - for a planned opening in late July. It's not a Southwestern fast food chain (as The Phoenix reported May 4) or Tex-mex. Think puffy lobster tamales and beef & gnocchi, says its owner and Yucatan buff Corey Jones. No beer & wine. If you can't wait, La Bodega Latina has expanded its empanada offerings and Herb's Gully, Oak Street, still has some "crazy chicken." You won't find General Tso's at Portland Hunan, one of many mediocre Chinese restaurants, which has been gutted.

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