Sunday, September 30

Caribou, Me. (1940)


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Road soda redux

Reactions to The Times' road soda piece vary.

DownEast, a chardonnay kind of place, says they did microbrew tasting first.

From the Bollard Empire, where hooters, sausage and beer are paramount (at right), johnnyd points to his eG blog.

Chowhounders say The Gray Lady missed mentioning Bar Harbor Brewing's Cadillac Mountain Stout.

At a recent tasting, TMS samples the Big Four - Allagash, Casco Bay, Geary' and Shipyard - along with Stone Coast, Gritty's and Sebago.

Other brewers still don't get a nod, including Brunswick's Growstown, Belfast's Marshall Wharf Brewing Company, and Skowhegan's Oak Pond. More studies planned for the Maine Brewfest November 7 3.

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Congress St. Plywood

Empire Dine & Dance, expected in September, had yet to open.

Pom's Thai Taste Restaurant & Noodle House goes for a beer and wine license.

Fat Baxter's remained unopened, despite some reports, and Hilltop Coffee would relocate before Thanksgiving.

With all this Hiawatha, Erik Desjarlais named his baby Evangeline.

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Friday, September 28

Road sodas

A brew tour, via NYT, which reports "Portland has enough beer destinations to support a tour of its own."

Stops include: D. L. Geary Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Shipyard Brewing Company, Three Dollar Dewey’s, the Great Lost Bear, Gritty McDuff’s and the burial site of Neal S. Dow, the “Father of Prohibition." Further north, The Times stops at Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company, Andrew’s Brewing Company, Atlantic Brewing Company and Bar Harbor Brewing Company.

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Hong Kong Market

Roasted pig and duck. The Hong Kong Market, 947 Congress Street, imports these crispy critters on Sunday. The Chinatown truck arrives around noontime when things at the market get busy.

Thursday, September 27

Week in Review, Sept 27

A man launched a pumpkin bombardment (1), a New Jersey company recalled hamburger (2), and a goat farmer called the Suburu Outback Maine's state car (3). "Goat Love" spread (4). Bargain steaks sold in Lewiston (5) and Hannaford planned a green supermarket in Augusta (6)

Homemakers stopped baking apple pies, which led to the nation's cupcakification (7). The winner of a burrito eating contest attributed his victory to candy (8). El Camino related to Christmas (9) and Francophiles devoured donuts (10). The smell of deep-fried organic whole wheat permeated the Common Ground Fair (11).

Federal regulators introduced guidelines on potato growing (12) and a potato farmer wrangled foreign kids (13). "I can get fried dough or corn dogs anytime," a fairgoer said. "This potato is what I crave during the other 11 months of the year" (14).

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Wednesday, September 26

Whole Foods, Redux

Here's what some "anonymous vendors" told Stacy "Big Box Brawler" Mitchell in the summer issue of the (paper) Bollard:
Local food is the foundation of [Whole Foods’] image, but it’s this lip service. They get the local products in, but they have no motivation to try to sell them... They put much more effort into promoting their own products. It’s not an account we see a big future with.

I had a terrific relationship with Whole Grocer. I was hoping I would have the same success with Whole Foods...

We’re not moving a lot of product at Whole Foods, and I think it’s pricerelated... I think we’re going to have to pull it.

They are gaining so much benefit from these local producers. It’s a huge marketing strategy for them. They set them all up and then they jack the price up.

Fortunately, no one wants to drink 365 beer.

Our product is prominent in their stores. I think they consider it a really valuable item in their lineup.
The local dudes quarterly got this big breaking news story because of the anonymity of those unnamed above, says Al "Hernia Hill" Diamon, via NxE. Before the release of The Bollard, WhoFooMa was relegated to cost comparisons, barstool commentary, gripes and a radio news story. Psst! Anyone who can identify those quoted above wins a case from the man who's glad there isn't 365 beer.

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Apples

Mutsu, Empire, Jonagold, Ginger Gold, Northern Spy, Ida Red, Cortland and Macoun make Appelmus, via Down East. Pick-your-own-apple resources available from Get Real.

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Footsie and the Farm Bill

Bathroom stall footsie - part of the Republican Party's Endless Cummer - inexplicably related to thick, cheesy slices of Sicilian Slabs at Miccuci's a couple weeks ago ago, via The Phoenix. No reports of public bathrooms at the India Street grocery/bakery, though Lanzalotta's thick chewy slices should not be overlooked for cheap ($4) thrills. But back to Senator Craig. Here's one mention of how the Idahoian relates to the Farm Bill, via KJ. For a serious campaign on revising the Farm Bill, talk to Roger Dorian at Kitchen Gardeners.

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Caswell Farm, revisited

Forget Halo 3 or J.Lo 3. Shoot pigs.

For those who missed the Caswell Farm pig roast weeks ago and want the experience of holding a gun, shooting pigs named Lunch and Dinner, Lindsay Sterling offers a second-person shoot-'em-up this week, via The Phoenix.

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Saturday, September 22

Urban chix

Better than dog-walking. Urban chickens move to the park in, where else, but Berkeley, via ethicurian.

Bresca

This review, via The Forecaster, takes a look at the uneven, and mostly-unchanging menu at Bresca.
I wanted to love Bresca, but I didn’t.... The pasta kerchiefs ($18) were under-seasoned and my agnolotti ($9 as an appetizer/$18 as an entrée) was over-orchestrated. The kerchiefs were, literally, like kerchiefs in size and shape – seemingly homemade, not something you’re likely to find available by the box at Hannaford or Whole Foods.

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Thursday, September 20

Frankenfood

If you're an opponent of GM foods, here comes the scary punchline. A big chunk of all that genetically modified corn and soy go right into our processed foods and into feed for the animals we eat. So chances are, unless you are a raw or organic foodista, you ate a GM food derivative this very day, via Wired.

Drinking agenda

Another feature on Maine's potato vodka distillery in Freeport, Cold River Vodka, via Switch. 750 milliliters of the hard stuff retails for $40; they do not sample. Potato vodka is part of burgeoning microdistillery movement that followed the explosion of microbrewed beers in the mid-90s, and some say recreates the old Northeast. Maine gin is one recent adherent. For those still into microbrewed beers, there's a brewfest next Saturday Sept. 29, via PPH.

Week in Review, Sept. 20

A woman cooking chicken pot pie spared a cock named Fluffy (1), dogs appeared in a video nodding their heads to chicken (2) and Bang Bangs plucked a chicken (3). In Brooklyn, backyard chickens clucked (4), Alice Waters frowned on whole wheat-coated chicken nuggets (5) and vegetarianism related to naked chicks named Alicia (6).

A salmon hooker caught a fish (8) and a man sold baking soda as cocaine (9). After competitive eating binges, or "esophagal extravaganzas" (10), one eater drank a lot of O.J. and vomited (11). In Las Vegas, a man in a chicken suit wanted to jail O.J. (12).

"You can't fence off the whole country but we are lucky with our clean air and a good water supply," said a farmer (13). Maine crop sales topped the Northeast (14). Dole recalled salad mix (15), a 90-year old harvested potatoes (16), and a dairyman who lost 42 cows in a fire was pinned under a tractor and died (17).

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Wednesday, September 19

Nancy H. J.

In this week's celebrity-packed edition of the Globe Food section one of the Nancys of Maine, has a cookbook that makes the cut: Ms. Harmon Jenkins.

Sterling masala

Hopefully, Todd "Tofu is Too Fun" Richard is now in charge of The Microwaved Popcorn Division. A pre-Colonial lass, Lindsay Sterling, joins The Phoenix masthead with a qualified description of Indian masala from a mediocre restaurant. Her story doesn't mention desi ghee, clarified butter, usually the basis for Punjabi cuisine and doesn't tell us where to find any ingredients. In the end, that may be the point:
You don’t have fenugreek; you don’t have the paddle; you don’t have three Indian restaurants under your belt, or a childhood in Punjab province. And you don’t have all day to cook dinner. Luckily, Tandoor is at your service seven days a week.

Kathy and Dave's Cafe

This review of an unassuming joint at 949 Forest Ave. just in from the Breakfast Serial, via tB.
If you're looking for a reasonably priced breakfast at a place where words like "caramelized," "chevre" and "pecan-encrusted" aren't on the menu, this may be just the place for you.

Tuesday, September 18

Lobster share

In a profile of Ready Seafood, on Hobson's Wharf, this Mainebiz piece introduces investors to lobster profit-sharing:
The company's "Catch a Piece of Maine" business is set to launch Oct. 1, and according to Brendan Ready, will significantly alter the way consumers interact with the lobster industry by allowing customers to own shares in a lobster trap.

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Monday, September 17

Plywood

Uffa!, now known The Frog and Turtle, opened at 3 Bridge Street in Westbrook.

The old Portland Spice & Trading Company, 34 Vannah Ave, may reopen as an ethnic foods store International Market, via PFM.

Shokudo Teriyaki, a sort of McDonald's of sushi, opened on St. John Street.

Spring Street, a West End gay bar, has a sign that says Closed For Renovations.

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Locavores

More on locavores in Brooklyn, via NYM.

Saturday, September 15

Ice

Maine's ice cream season slows
to a close,
via CH.

Morrison's

"The menu is nice and concise, six kinds of chowders or stews, four seafood rolls, salads, four desserts, and some stuff for kids," via PPH.

Thursday, September 13

Sowin' self-righteousness

Farmers are so wholesome and American. Or not. Unleash the Michael Pollan backlash. It's back to E.B. White, a part-time resident of Brooklin, Maine:
"My general feeling about farmers is that they can go fuck themselves. Perhaps this is strong. But farmers also come on strong in their own sort of farmer way. They take a homespun approach but they often wrap themselves up in a hell of a lot of self-righteousness," via SmartSet.

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Week in Review, Sept 13

Two woman made whoopie pies for a former convict's TV show (1), an aspiring Food Network teen star rode a horse named Belgium Waffle (2), and a vegetarian, who thought like four people, said her PBS show dispelled myths about bland vegetarian food (3). A minimalist packed his show with hijinks (4). A microwave popcorn addict suffered from popcorn lung (5).

A reviewer urged beer guzzlers to "chew this slowly, as it is dense" (5), a high-maintenance eater called the scallops at Caiola's "humongous" (6), and there were reports of a "poultrygeist" (7). In California, purists turned to a 100-yard diet (8). A Raymond woman sold candy cigarettes to kids (9) and grocery store employees carded a 65-year old (9.5). Competitive burrito eaters prepared to invade South Portland (10).

A Portlander poached fish (11). "They're in nice, big bunches for miles," said a herring fisherman (12). The smell of lobster bait appeared to cause a slowdown in book sales (13) and "Psst" was linked with drinking events (14).

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The Jimmying of Maine

The iPress Herald adds two food bloggers to its thinning ranks, both named "Jim."

Jim Britt, of food PR firm gBritt, says, "'Enjoy your meal,' those beautiful words, are music to his ear...almost every time," via Enjoy Your Meal. Chances are Britt will never almost enjoy his meal at the Front Room, where he does PR.

Jim Bailey, not chef Jim, not Barb Jim, not anyone really, "can build a Walnut-encrusted Free-range Chicken with Gorgonzola Infused Duck pate and Pine-nut Puree as well as any former and current chef that have been with this company, but I am a YANKEE!," via Yankee Fare. Aaargh.

At least they are no John Golden. But so far these Jims haven't done much posting, so Psst is sticking with The Nancys.

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Wednesday, September 12

Nothin's Final

The Porthole is one of the most photographed restaurants, pretty much on every Portland website. The least photographed place is the renovated Becky's Diner. The Commercial Street hangout used to have the crusty exterior of a diner.

It used to have long lines, and passable food, at least according to some. At least, there was somewhere to go at 4 a.m. Now it looks like a really bad suburban development, right on the waterfront. The breakfast is still passable but will the out-of-towners still stop?

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Monday, September 10

Pho

Viet Bangkok Thai, on St. John Street. "A person spent years on the stretching sand of Thailand beaches, and learned to love the fresh taste of lime juice and the searing handmade curry mixtures, said Viet Bangkok Cuisine was doing several things right." Not many. "The Chi-chi, with coconut milk, pineapple juice and vodka ($5), which uses sugar where it belongs. But missing some tropical juices on our visit, the Mai Tai was oversweet," via PPH.

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Sunday, September 9

Criticism From Away

On Bresca: "We finally got a reservation for this tiny joint. I can't say that I was terribly happy. Have you ever been to a restaurant where it was obvious that the chef smoked cigarettes like a chimney? Maybe that's not the case at Bresca, but everything we had was skewed towards too salty or too sweet," via FA.

On Local 188: $6 "crapshot tapas." Also, "A tapas restaurant should serve bread regardless of what you order. Local 188 no longer does. The bread they do serve when you ask for some pales in comparison to the crusty goodness you received across the street. Granted, that bread was drenched in olive oil, but the new bread is toothless and dull," via FA.

On Five-fifty five: "Brunch at 555 is quite nice -- the menu ranges from upscale standards that pleased my central Maine father-in-law to more creative stuff that wowed the foodies in the group... Only caveat is that the wait staff pushes a little hard on drinks, cheese courses and other ways to make the brunch crowd a bit more lucrative for them," via CH.

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Saturday, September 8

Harvest Dinners

[Corrected] There's an annual pig roast at Caswell Farm in Gray this Saturday. Legend has it the cooks have hacked it at Fore Street, Bar Lola, 158 and Aurora Provisions. It's $20, including the morning's Bloody Mary drunken pirate volleyball, via WoM.

On Sunday, Cinque Terre has a harvest dinner at 3 p.m. in Greene, with transportation from its restaurant at 12:30 p.m., $65, reservations required, via PPH.

Also on Sunday, Rippling Waters farm hosts a concientious dinner in Steep Falls, $10, via Slow Food.

Maine Fare is next weekend. Krista Kern of Bresca (not the Marketside Grille, as the site reports), cooks Sunday at 6 p.m., in Camden, $80.

Cultivating Community hosts a "20-mile" harvest dinner Sept. 30 at Broadturn Farm in Scarborough.

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Friday, September 7

Plywood

Two bits of unsubstantiated gossip, possibly unrelated and more than likely untrue: 1) The Salt gallery on Exchange Street with all its nice windows plans to leave, pending the arrival of some sort of something establishment, says JohnnyD on eG. 2) Simultaneously, former Bandol chef Erik Desjarlais reports signing a lease, via bB, probably at the former location of Uffa!

[Add 9/7:] And here's the latest skinny on The Skinny, now called the Empire Dine and Dance, at the NE corner of Forest Ave and Congress St. It plans to open in late September, via tB.

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Thursday, September 6

Week in Review, Sept. 6

A Bostonian braised fish in beer (1), a Maine microdistiller made gin with wild blueberries (2), a man selling recorded drinking songs and sea shanties thought hotels on the waterfront were a bad idea (3), and Pellegrino launched a 420 water, which some called luxury bong water (4).

"This sort of tradition, which we think is old and withered, should be gone like bad history," a college dean said (5). "There's a better way to do it, better ways to create bonds and links and friendships."

A man fell off a party boat (6), a tomato fight was waged (7), and 8,118 cartons of fresh spinach were recalled (8). Farmers selling hay were warned about out-of-state wire scams (9), and inmates raising vegetables avoided radishes (10). Gilbert's Chowder House was a reason to love Maine (11), and Morrison's was called a "chowerhouse" (12).

A woman made apple salad dessert (13) and a reviewer linked bathroom-stall footsie, curdled milk, Foucault and hackey sack with Steve Lanzalotta's relocation (14). Food additives were linked to hyperactivity (15).

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Wednesday, September 5

Basil seed soda

"Soda pop has a lot of mouthfeel, but what Asian drinks have is texture – chewy, slithery texture." The irreverent and slightly irrelevant Zachary Barowitz takes on Asian drinks "Off the Eatin' Path," via tB.

Food Map

Kudos to Portland Food Map. There is now a simplified plywood report - minus Miss Portland Diner - and also a list of those restaurants in need of reveiws by local media. This site is bound to become the listing ground for restaurants city-wide, with an excellent, not-yet-comprehensive set of links to reviews. Not that some spots, like Bill's Pizza, deserve a review any longer than five lines.

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Two Whole Foods

With higher than projected revenues, Whole Foods Market is considering opening another store in the Portland area, via PPH. Probably a store with more prepared foods and an equally abysmal selection of local foods [add 9/6: see also the SF of the West, via SC]. Bring on the marketing campaign. The news follows a recent acquisition of Wild Oats.

WhoFooMa doesn't Buy Local. Even Wal-Mart carries more local potatoes. And a number of reviewers have said the overpriced food options aren't worth it. Viable alternatives for local produce, booze and prepared foods include the Rosemont Market, the Public Market House, Pat's, the Farmers' Market in Monument Square on Wednesday and the Market in Deering Oaks Saturday, a subscription to a CSA, and coming produce attractions. Call your aunt in Falmouth and tell her to shop at Hannaford. Not that there's anything wrong with Whole Foods. Just one is enough.

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Tuesday, September 4

Blueberries

Still raking, via MCN.

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Psst!

Complaints about the lady selling eggs at the Green Market, savory tidbits of schadenfreude and other thoughts on gossip, via Salon.

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Monday, September 3

Tuna

A recent study showed scrawny bluefin tuna catches in the Gulf of Maine, via MPBN. A user-friendly guide to "sustainable" catches is available from Blue Ocean Institute, which is affiliated with conservation groups the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

Dog food

It's not just your socially-responsible dinner date, more people are looking for local food for their bitches.
The increasing specialization of the pet-food industry today may well reflect not just our desire to keep our pets healthy but also our continuing urge to shape them in our own image....The latest trends in pet food emphasize not only natural and organic ingredients but also an increased obligation to identify the precise origins of those ingredients, writes Frederick Kaufman, via NYT.
The real question is, Are pets useful? via Orion.

Maple's

Maple's Gelatoria, which opened at the old Casco Bay Books on Middle Street for the last weekend of summer, has espressso and gelato. If winter weren't so long, this would undoubtedly usher in a FroYo invasion of sorts (for those in the TCBY-era, refer to eater). Some of Kristie's freshly-made gelato have icy crystals, usually found in freezer-burned peas but her frozen treats and organic cookies are wholesome and sweet. Also, Maple is a dog not a sugar replacement.
Dear Sam-
While I have been unable to convince Kristie to give me a beef or even poultry-flavored gelato, I would highly recommend the vanilla. Really. Sometimes I can get Kristie to hold the cone while I lick it and boy, it's a real treat for my palette. I like the vanilla beans from Madagascar the best...nice and fruity.
Kisses,
Maple, PhD

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Thai Taste

Thai Taste, currently on Cottage Road and near the Maine Mall under the Pom's label, is supposedly opening another location on Congress Street. While it may be one of the better Thai places around, via Type A, it's hard to keep track of all of them. And do MECA students really need another option for cookie-cutter thai.? Chaba Thai II, just opened on Forest Avenue, right around the corner from Pom's location at 517 Congress.

Kim's

Kim's Sandwich & Cafe, between the Blazin' Ace and Smoker's Depot, at 261 St. John Street, might be easy to overlook. Except for a note on eG, the sandwich place, which has been open since May, has received little notice. Take note, sandwich fans and frugal gourmands, Kim's "Paris Sandwiches" are piled with pork and vegetables, easily making the best banh mi in the state. There's a lot of love here for not a lot of dough.

Banh mi submarine-style sandwiches, along with pho, dim sum and spring rolls, are fast becoming part of the mainstream. Banh mi is essentially an "Italian" with the works, with some esoteric Vietnamese cold cuts piled on a French baguette. "And," Kim says, "they're cheaper than Italians. And better too."

On the first point, an average banh mi sells for $2.75. The most expensive one, Barbecue Beef & Grilled Pork, is $3.50. On the second point, competition has done little for the city's paltry Italian offerings and Kim's combination roll bests most "real Italians."

Kim's sandwiches come on toasted white French demibaguette with a crispy exterior and pillowy interior. These are not artisinal loaves of baguettes with browned crusts, but the frozen bread is saved from the realm of soggy hot dog bun by Kim and her daughter's careful toasting.

The combination banh mi has mayonaise, pate, jambon (ham), cha lua (bologna), julienned carrots, cucumbers, sliced onion, soy sauce, and a generous bouquet of cilantro. If head cheese and cha lua of questionable origin don't excite you, options for the timid include a "Turkey, Ham and Cheese" and "Roast Beef and Cheese." A "Shredded Pork" was not cubano, and remained almost flavorless without jalepeno and cilantro. At $2.75 how much can a frugalitarian complain? There's 12 sandwich choices in all, from meatball and cured pork. Vegetarians can choose fruit smoothies or prepared tofu salad.

Two doors down, Makot Pech serves prefab bahn mi from Boston. Personally, I'm apt to call Kim's (774-7165). Walk out with lunch for less than 5 bucks, including an ice-cold coffee or tea sweetened with condensed milk. Or grab eight sandwiches for a Jackson, call friends and picnic at the park.

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Saturday, September 1

Meat

“You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist,” says PETA in a recent PR campaign linking men in chicken suits, SUVs and global warming, via NYT. Ads also link Michael Vick with PETA's animal killing policies, via PKA.