Wednesday, October 31

Restaurant love

The H-day holiday feels like V-day with all this restaurant love.

After a motorcycle trip out west, Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh of Hugo's tied the knot two weeks ago in Yarmouth, via WoM. Rumor has it that's not the only romance at the Middle Street restaurant.

Erik Desjarlais and Krista Kern travelled on horseback to Montreal, via bB, and both reportedly came back with engagement rings, via Psst!

Nutmeg Foods' Victoria and Charles Hamilton, in SoPo, "shush each other when they find their off-hour discourse veering back to truffles" and Oyster Creek mushroom wholesaler Candice Heydon said her favorite coworker is her husband of 19 years. "I love my boss," her husband Dan said, via Mainebiz.

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Chantenay

Bar Lola's Guy Hernandez gets profiled as the last of the season's beauty with some heirloom carrots. He's this week's Fresh Chef, the localized hot chef column:
Someone asked me to describe a Chantenay carrot, and I told them to think of the kind of carrot Bugs Bunny would like; the kind of carrot a 5-year-old would conjure up; a carroty carrot with the greens still attached and perfect, orange crunch, via PPH.

Tuesday, October 30

Agenda

Editor Judith Jones, author of memoir The Tenth Muse, comes to Rabelais, 86 Middle Street, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. Free. "Ms. Jones may not be the mother of the revolution in American taste that began in the 1960s and transformed the food Americans cook at home. But she remains its most productive midwife," via NYT.

Annual white truffle dinner, Cinque Terre, 36 Wharf Street, Nov. 8, 9 & 10. Call 347.6154. $100/ person. Ms. Harmon Jenkins, a regular Nancy, reports on truffles, via NYT.

Sixth annual potato dinner, Hugo's, 88 Middle Street, Nov. 11. Call 774.8538. $100/person SOLD OUT. Crown O'Maine distributor Jim Cook, an Aroostook County "potato farming legend," will be there, via Mofga and JimmyB.

Slow Food dinner potluck, Public Market House, 28 Monument Square, Nov. 12, 6 p.m.

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Monday, October 29

The Gastrocartographer

Anestes Fotiades, the gastrocartographer behind the frame-laden science class diagrams over at Portland Food Map, gets a nod from Justin Ellis, via PPH. Here's an earlier Psst.

The report cites 13 food blogs. Three are on MaineToday, an online Press Herald. The least digestible? Shh....
Under the nonedible category, you'll find stores that sell cooking equipment, bookstores and local blogs such as Portland Psst!, which offers news and gossip from all around Portland's food culture.
Illustration Michael Fisher

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Sunday, October 28

Slow food


Photoillustration by Douglas Gayeton, via BB.

fresh!

fresh! a SoPo eatery founded by Walter Loeman, formerly of Walter's on Exchange, got panned by Type A largely because of the lack of options - one soup and one salad. Nancy English found a rotten tomato and takes a stab:
The concept of fresh! makes perfect sense. But the restaurant needs improved execution, from its dishes to its service, via PPH.

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Friday, October 26

Plywood

By next month, Mexico Lindo, 671 Main Street in South Portland, plans to open a branch of the "family restaurant" at 865 Forest Avenue, the former location of Flirts. StarEast Cafe also planned for Woodford's Corner, at the old location of the Safari Club.

Two markets also recently opened. International Market, a store with Iranian influence, stocked the shelves at 34 Vannah Street, the former location of Portland Spice & Trading. Fat Baxters, 88 Congress Street, opened Thursday, via TMS.

And in South Portland, Barb's Kitchen became Emma D's, 388 Cottage Road 119 Ocean Avenue, via PPH.

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Thursday, October 25

Week in Review, Oct. 25

A man held up the Big Apple using a paper bag and his hand, but was caught after stealing cigarettes from Colucci's (1). Another man robbed a Dunkin' Donuts by saying he had a gun (2). “It didn’t turn out to be a tragedy," said the owner of a damaged restaurant. "Instead, it was only a huge pain in the tukas.” (3)

A cartoonist showed birth control pills being dispensed on the lunch line (4)."When combined, beets and mayo become electric pink," said a bookseller (5). Duckfat's double-fried French fries with cheese curd and gravy were considered "goopy cheese fried magma" (6) and a woman made a pink curry "inside her pretty white china bowls with a periwinkle pattern of hexagons along the outside rim" (7). The produce aisle was seductive (8).

Disaster funds were denied for groundfisherman (10) and Canadian lobsterman prepared for low prices when the season opens next month (11). Lobster cookers revised their cooker for better viewing (12). Purse seiner Danny Fill harvested 15 million pounds of herring over his quota and received a $510,000 fine. "They want to crucify me," he said (13).

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Wednesday, October 24

Lacinato

Two kale recipes, via NYT and Sam Hayward (in today's print Press Herald).

Tuesday, October 23

Beefing up

The big Topps meat recall this summer resulted from chronic lack of Federal oversight, via NYT. Still, there's a problem. No one cares. In its history of the American Way of Beef, the Atlantic Monthly explains:
"Livestock are treated better in Europe because Europeans want them treated better. They are treated worse here because we hardly think of them at all," via AM.
For some, it's about treating animals right. But a happy steer makes for better steak.
It may seem screamingly obvious that there's a connection between the way you treat an animal and the taste and quality of its meat, but it is a notion that has taken a while to penetrate the cost-driven consciousness of the modern meat industry, via UKG.
Maine beef can be found at Maine Food Network [link changed]. Image above from a beef alphabet, via Robert Bolesta.

Monday, October 22

Nut Brittle

Jim Britt, this is Mission Control. Do you copy?

10-4, this is Jim.
Jim Britt who has been Jimmying around over on the moon MaineToday told the world he also does PR for Hugo's, Portland Harbor Hotel, Eve's, the Front Room, and some others. "Apparently, someone who knows my firm, gBritt PR, felt that I am being unethical with my blog. Hmm."

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Miyake revisited

Miyake's nigiri is just okay. Table service is passable at best. At worst, you need warm sake and lots of it. One-time customers who go there for a single roll are bound to be disappointed. All true. All part of a recent Type A review and an old Brian Duff review. But both miss most of Miyake: omakase. Six to 7 courses for less than $60.

Miyake makes probably the best crab cake special in Portland. No, he doesn't use breadcrumbs; he uses butter and crab. If you sit at the dry bar, you can watch him deftly sculpt an avacado roll, laying the shades of green just so. Look at the specials. They're called that for a reason. Where else can you get live uni on the 3/4-shell? Tell me another sushi place serving matsutakes. Here's a guest Psst! from "Ms. Ray":
Food Factory Miyake voted best restaurant in Portland, Masa Miyake voted nicest and best restaurateur.

Try the Sazae special - Maine "conch" escargot-style with anchovy butter, parsley, and red pepper.

Monk fish liver, shiso flowers, Old Orchard clams 3 ways, live sea urchins, BYOB...
Now, if you go there once and sit at a plastic table, expecting the best nigiri on a random night instead of delivery night because you are too timid to sit at the bar (it seats 4) and ask when the fish arrived and from where, stay in Falmouth, please, and save the reviews for overrated Asian fusion. What the world really needs is more reviews of Arrows.

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Sunday, October 21

Potato miles

Food miles don't account for the mode of transport. Truckers have taken over the long-defunct Maine potato train. So, maybe that Idaho potato at Whole Foods has better karma than a local Aroostook County spud after all:

For a consumer on the U.S. East Coast, the Maine potato seems the winner in the local food derby. But Maine potatoes get to market by long-haul truck while Idahos go by train, a more energy-efficient mode of transportation, so they have a smaller carbon footprint even with a larger number of food-miles, via Reuters.

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Aroostook County, Me. (1942)

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Alright y'all

A review from Mims, 205 Commercial Street, via PPH:
If not for an overcooked hunk of pork that no bacon-embrace could redeem, and missing-in-action fudge sauce, the meal I shared with friends would have entirely sustained that wonderful feeling a restaurant can occasionally create, that all's right with the world.

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Thursday, October 18

Week in Review, Oct. 18

Wiscasset lobsterman protested a power plant (1), lobsterman protested new federal rules on the protection of right whales (2). Groundfisherman protested trawlers catching lobster bait (3) and lobster sold for $4.75 a pound (4). A city council candidate in Portland protested rules barring his lobstertrap campaign signs (5).

Farmers booby trapped a pot farm (6), Sally met a pig named Lettuce (7) and a Portland couple recommended microwaving food to save energy (6). The best bar in Portland was a parking lot (9). "I think we've had a remarkable year," said a potato expert (10)

A Maine cook, accused of killing four, wanted to take over an inn (11), a cannibilistic writer in Mexico City may have killed his girlfriend but apparently did not eat her (12), and a chocolate Jesus contained 485,460 calories (13). Gossip made human society possible (14). "Like cilantro, people either love the food at Becky's or think it tastes like dish soap," said a breakfast club member (15).

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Venison

Reports from the Deer Deathmatch '07: Eight courses, 520 lbs of deer, 8 courses, 16 chefs, via eG and bB.

[Updated] Hands up! The editor of Security System News, Leischen Stelter, shoots in a week and a half later with this report from The Phoenix.

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Wednesday, October 17

Community Supported Fish

The CSA appears to be moving from the farm into the sea because of an initial public offering (IPO) of Ready Seafood's lobster shares, via MB and PPH. Consumers have bought into farm shares and raw milk shares. Will Community Supported Fish (CSF) fly? A tipster posted Fore Street's Sam Hayward comments on CSFs, or Community Supported Miscellaneous Uncouth Fish (CSMUF):
Any local groundfishing boat is going to bring in species that a lot of New Englanders aren't accustomed to buying. A weekly groundfish share is likely to include a mix of all the hakes, pollock, cusk, wolffish, various flounders, plus some of what Alan Davidson refers to as "Miscellaneous Uncouth Fish" (my favorite designation!)
Shareholders and investors should be lining up monkfish, triggerfish, blowfish, cunner, skates and rays, dogfish, and hagfish matelote, via PFEX.

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Local 188

A great place to drink. With okay food to wash it down, via FA. Brunch used to be a lot better. Fragments from Friday night from the hungover Accidental Vegetables:
Horrible experiences, extreme bitchiness, long waits, and, on one occasion, complete lack of food... A bartender, a man with very impressive mustaches... Tapas. Shrimp in garlic, and chourico... The bread was not as good as the pile of shredded bread they used to give you, via AV.
[Updated] Experts at the The Phoenix, mixing advanced degrees in labor relations and sociology, also visit with similar results. Slow service, tender, tasteless lamb, and tapas fit for Argentine hipsters. The bottom line:
Lean west toward the bar. You are closer to the knives, the heat, and the liquor (though maybe not to sex with the staff). It reminds you of the old community feel across the street, where a misplaced dish was no big deal, via tP.

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Golden

The Golden Boy is back from the Hamptons. John Golden joins the Jimmys on the iPress Herald MaineToday. His most recent post focuses on the farm-to-table movement sweeping New York and, well, Maine. And his reviews and views may be coming:
While I’ve visited some of my old Portland favorites recently—Caiola’s, Fore Street, Five Fifty Five--I’ll get to the rest of the group as time allows, where at the very least the outcome is usually “better than not bad,” via FfT.

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277.5

Oh, baby. Five fifty five father, Steve Corry, makes his baby's food. It's called Squapkin:
My primary focus of creating dishes with balance, seasonality and taste changed to making sure that the little man got his liquid nourishment whenever he would, oh so subtly, inform me that he was ready for it, via PPH.

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Monday, October 15

Oatmeal by noon

Squirrel

Jimmy, the mincemeat over at Yankee Fare, has some new recipes that might make venison look like sissy fodder:
Rip the fur off and gut it. Wrap as much bacon around it as you desire. Cook until done. Take squirrel out of the pan and add flour to grease, stir and brown. Add a cupful of water, a spoonful of butter and walnut catsup. Stir together and pour over squirrel, via YF.
Remember, Maine Department of Transportation permits those who hit deer to get the first cut. More on roadkill here and here. For those averse to small furry animal pies, take a fortune cookie, via Squirl.

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Dark horse

The newest steakhouse on the waterfront, Gauchos, which replaces Oolong at 100 Commercial Street, opens next month with a prix fixe menu, via PFM and tB. It's death has been fated for November 2009, and already the bad reviews are pouring in:
The service totally stinks, the food is sub-par (sorry, but filet mignon is not supposed to have the same consistency of a tire) and often not available, via CH.

Saturday, October 13

Caribou, Me. (1940)

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Friday, October 12

Pizza plywood

Portland Pie Company's 505 Fore Street location will be headed to 51 York Street in November following complaints from office workers about noise from the vent, via tB.

Brick-oven Siano's Pizzeria, on the corner of Brentwood and Stevens Avenue in Deering Center, will open October 20, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Includes walk-up window.

A previous Psst critiqued the PFM's Pizza Map for its pie omissions. Vignola, Micucci's, Petrillo's and Standard, and there's apparent pizza fans for Silly's, 40 Washington Avenue, and Bruno's, 33 Allen Avenue.

And this from Chowhound: "Sometimes the biggest finds are obvious places that are undervalued by locals. No one in Portland doesn’t know Bill’s Pizza. But no one in Portland seems to fully recognize the majesty of their pies. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out taken-for-granted brilliance..."

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The Whether

Organic farmers don't know which way the wind's blowing and they can't predict a frost. Here are the numbers from a Farmers' Market report, via PPH:

Farmers weighing in about the late frost: 5*

Organic farmers at the Wednesday market: 4.

Number appearing in the report: 0.

Number of nonsensical weather idioms: 1**

*Lawrence Gillespie, Carolyn Snell, Wendy Fowler, Mike Farwell (Uncle's), Doug Chipman.

** "No one raises crops on the tarmac. Frost, like politics and real estate, is local."

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Thursday, October 11

Week in Review, Oct. 11

A patron at a Greenville restaurant suggested that serving a free prime rib sandwich, called the Skinny Dip, to skinnydippers plunging into Moosehead Lake was inappropriate (1), but the restaurateur, known for his humor and his mooseballs, vowed to keep the sandwich on the menu (2). "First the big seller was mild, then medium, and now hot, and that really correlates with the population boom," said a hot sauce expert (3).

Lubeckers raised pigs (4), Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo Made with White Chicken was recalled (5) and ConAgra recalled chicken pot pies (6). Cranberry crops suffered from drought (7) and construction workers in Florida found a baby inside a Big John's Pickled Sausage jar (8).

“Today is a disastrous day," read a fortune cookie. "If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”(9). A New York Hooters waitress, called "grass-fed," served men who treated her like meat (10). In the meat case at Fresh Approach, a Twinkie expert found fresh haddock for just $7.99 a pound (11).

A woman announced her love for clients who love sushi (12). A very old Rolfe tree bore apples despite its age (13) and an apple sleuth made wanted posters for Haynes Sweet Apple (14). A gastrovac sucked moisture out of food (15) and Seattle composted its food scraps (16).

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Wednesday, October 10

Crypto-gastronomy

With so many wonderful views and delightful restaurant reviews online, a stogdy-sounding Wall Street Journal sounds off about a nasty new form of cryptojournalism:
As online food sites become increasingly influential in the restaurant business, chefs and owners are plying bloggers with free meals to get good write-ups. Some are also posting favorable reviews about themselves on popular Web sites or becoming Internet scribes, via WSJ.
So, some online foodies don't make Wall Street money. They eat free meals, via NPR. This is an old news story that ignores high-ranking print cryptojournalists. In Eater terms, shills. An Oct. 6 correction in the New York Times (see also Kevin Allman's post):

Mr. Asimov is a friend of the Paleys, and while doing reporting for the article in Portland, Ore... Mr. Asimov said it had “a warm and intimate dining room” and that Paley’s Place “is recognized as one of the top restaurants in the Northwest, if not the country.” Even though Mr. Asimov was not reviewing or assessing the restaurant, he should have disclosed in the article his friendship with the owners.

New York magazine's Grub Street writes:

"The restaurant world is a more exciting place thanks to bloggers, few of whom are ever going to get rich, or at least get benefits, from their efforts. If more pro writers were half as dedicated, maybe there wouldn’t be a need for food bloggers."

Well, sometimes, life just isn't The Way Life Should Be.

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Fort Kent, Me. (1942)

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DIY fast food

Ditch the strip mall. Make pizza, pad thai, chicken nuggets and beef chow fun at home, via BG.
So, if you want pad Thai like the one you had at a street stall in Phuket, or the beef chow fun you remember from 3 a.m. in Chinatown after a particularly late night out, or chicken nuggets from your fast-food days, take your finger off speed dial, and turn on the oven or fire up the battered Joyce Chen wok.

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DIY seltzer

How to make bubbly with buying bottled water, via NYT. Still skeptical of the need for eco-conscious effervesce, this article describes Maine's big bottler Poland Springs, via VN.

Tuesday, October 9

Plywood

Al Mustaquim Halal Market opened at 783 Congress. For Portland Food Math, it's the fourth halaal market on the map - omitting Washington Avenue's Hamdi (restaurant and market), and Congress Streeet's African Style (clothing store and market) and African Grocery (coffee and market).

Huong Vietnamese Food, 349 Cumberland Avenue, is under new ownership. Look out, Hollywood-types. He's rolled out the fake green grassy carpeting for customers for its reopening in one week.

Veggie burgeria Blue Mango Foods plans to open at 648 Congress Street, a few doors down from the herbivoraceous Green Elephant, at 608 Congress Street.

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Wrecker


Jay "Local 685" Villani observes a train truck wreck, via WEN. His restaurant, Local 188, at 685 Congress Street, is a 28-year old female. He is a mature adult who loves losing baseball teams.

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Monday, October 8

Pom's preview

For more on the burgeoning Thai debate, Type A has a take on Pom's Thai Taste, located near the Maine Mall on Western Avenue in So. Portland, which plans to open a third location at 517 Congress Street:
Pom's Thai Taste is built for speed, serving working professionals from nearby office complexes with limited time for lunch during the week. Though we dined on a Saturday afternoon at 2pm when speed was not necessary, we were told that our entrees would be ready in five minutes - and they were.

Pub Dounder

In drinking news this weekend, The Bollard looks at The Icehouse (still open despite the bloody fights) and Threeways (still open despite some alleged nearly bare buttocks being shaken at children).

Lobster share

Invest in Ready Seafood's lobster shares, via PPH. You get a postcard in a box:
Included with each 'Catch a Piece of Maine' lobster shipment: one pound each of clams and mussels, a Maine-made dessert, lobster bibs, lobster picks and utensils. The recipient will also receive a gift card with a picture of the lobstermen who fished the trap.
Earlier post here.

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Sunday, October 7

The Pizza Map

Portland Food Map puts newly-opened Leonardo's, a take-out joint at 415 Forest Avenue, on The Pizza Map. The guide is the first locally-produced Google food map (see here and here for mashups from away). PFM hits Ricetta's, Flatbread, Bonobo, Pizza by Angelone, Bill's, Pizza Villa and Portland House of Pizza.

Some of the overlooked places include: Vignola, where overpriced and somewhat forgetable pizzas can be found later (2:30 a.m.) than Pine Street's Bonobo with the same quality ingredients and much better service. The Sicilian slabs ($3.50), available with cheese, sausage and apple, at Micucci's are sweet and puffy from the Diet deCoder Steve Lanzalotta. Standard Baking Company also serves some doughy, cheesy goodness some days. And (way off the peninsula) is Petrillo's on Depot Road in Freeport run by Dom, a Hugo's alum who makes you feel like a college boy back from school, serves thin, crispy pies like his grandad's favorite anchovy.

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Agenda

Today is Open Creamery Day, via Maine Cheese Guild, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For participating vendors and farms, a chcese map can be found here.

On Thursday October 11, Philip Conkling, of Island Institute, talks about the working waterfront at gmri, on Commercial Street, from 7 to 8 p.m.

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Friday, October 5

Portland, Me. (1938)



Menu

Breakfast: granola (recipe 7/5), yogurt, blueberries (Libby)

Lunch: ham (WIndy Hill), hard boiled egg, sun gold tomatoes, green beans (Broadturn), tally ho dill cheese (SIlvery Moon), plums (Uncle's), apple (Snell), pumpkin seeds (Grandy Oats)

Dinner: chicken (Mainely Poultry) peppers, onions, tomatoes (Broadtrun), watermelon (Freedom Farm), via LocalFoodie

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Oyster tour

Slow Food oyster tour on the Damariscotta River, via PCS.

Thursday, October 4

Week in Review, Oct. 4

Rats ferreted out organic grain (1), barefooted, tie-dyed hippies ate tasteless "Indian food" (2), and a blueberry farmer returned to Bangor's market (3). "A lot of people will go out of their way to buy organic food and then come home and spray the same chemical around their home,"said a man selling pesticides (4).

Worms invaded German apples, despite organic viral sprays (5) and Maine apple harvests appeared to be high (6). A man investigating tree poisonings at a Searsport subdivision got sick to his stomach (7). "Wing Ding the Parking King" banked on fairgoers in Fryeberg (8) and a chef at Francisco's Blue House, who was "no fatty," made risotto that was "tender but with a touch of chew and fatty without being too heavy" (9). An amputated human leg, found in North Carolina smoker, might bring fame and fortune (10).

An aging ballplayer banded lobster claws (11) and new rules about rope designed to protect whales that may or may not exist pissed off lobsterman (12). "The guys on the radio are so pissed that they have so few lobsters, they're talking of going in," said one lobsterman. "We haul 200 traps, period" (13).

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Herring

An upbeat report earlier this year said herring catches were up because of a ban on mid-water trawlers. Others disagree.
It’s a moonless night in the Gulf of Maine. In the wheelhouse of the blacked-out Western Sea, radar and sonar screens cast weird palls of blue and red on captain Danny Fill and his crew as they watch for herring on the sounders. The light accentuates barely simmering anger in their faces.

“Last year we had two and half million pounds this week. This week it’s 100,000 pounds,” says Shaun Rockett, the purse seiner’s skiff man and engineer. He pulls sharply on his cigarette, one from a carton of Marlboros that he and Fill are burning through tonight in their frustration, via National Fisherman.

Wednesday, October 3

Agenda

"Apples.... a pomological celebration" with a book release from John Bunker, of Fedco Seeds, apple tasting and Middle Street cider making at Rabelais Books, 86 Middle Street, Thursday October 4, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.




"A Season under the Sun: Photographs from Maxwell's Farm" by Susan Porter go on display October 4 through November 25 at the Westbrook College Campus, at 761 Stevens Avenue. Opening October 4 from 5 to 7 p.m.


Nose to Tail Pork Processing Workshop, October 6 though 8, in Unity.

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Whole Foods Morphine

It's like some sort of drug, something warm and happy and dangerous and visceral they inject into the lighting system or mist all over the carefully constructed mountains of pornographic produce or slather all over the nearly religious seafood and meat departments because, oh my sweet Jesus with a Le Creuset ramekin and 10 pounds of artisanal Gruyere, there really is something frighteningly addictive about the glorious hellbeast grocerypalooza known as Whole Foods, via SFC.

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Punkinhead

Foie Gras Death Match organizer and Ladel man Erik Desjarlais makes a pumpkin soup with honeyed apple compote and roasted foie gras for the PPH. The best is when he brains a pumpkin: "We would take them home, cut off their cranium, and dig out the stringy membrane and seeds, my brother, sister and I gagging in unison."

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Tuesday, October 2

Thai'd

Q: Does Portland need any more mediocre Thai restaurants?

A: Not really, via AV and FA, and an earlier Psst. Why not some passable Chinese food?