Monday, September 29

Linda Greenlaw

Linda Greenlaw, the author of Recipes from a Very Small Island, was arrested for allegedly fishing in Canadian waters, via CTV.

[Update] It's not just her ship that's adrift. Her book:
Fisherman's Bend could have used a heavier editor's hand to even the rhythm of the writing. Chapters in the middle of the book feel like there is no one at the helm-they drift, via WW.

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Sunday, September 28

Coffee plywood

Arabica coffee, formerly of 16 Free St., reopened at a new coffeeshop at 2 Free St.

Sun Tiki Tanning, Smoothie and Espresso bar, at 375 Forest Ave., should be added to the PFM's comprehensive list of places never reviewed (under Subsection B, Class 4.D: "not really worth reviewing anyway").

Ditto Knit Wit, 247A Congress St., which has coffee and yarn.

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Black radish

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Friday, September 26

Why the scoop is for the ice cream parlor

Just as the development of modern agriculture led to a demand for varieties of processed food, the information age has created a demand for processed information. We need someone to put it into context, give it theoretical framing and suggest ways to act on it, via AJR.

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Week in Review, Sept. 26

During an overnight drafting effort, the U.S. House of Representatives ordered pizza, while the Senate sent out for Thai food (1). Kosher foods, which were said to have a low carbon footprint, were worth $12.5 billion (2), Wal-Mart pledged to cut its plastic bag use by a third (3), and reusable grocery bags were said to biodegrade slower than plastic bags (4).

Lobstermen met about sustainable certification (5) and also prepared to catch additional herring for bait (6). Fish flown in from Greece at Emilitsa was called bland (7). A Falmouthian was surprised that the Aurora Provisions deli had tables and chairs (8), a proposed ordinance in Falmouth would permit chickens (9), and a woman made jerk chicken rub (10).

A fiddler named Hope wrote an ode to her winter CSA share (11). Gifford's was said the one of the best places to work in the food industry (12). A makeover at the Millinocket McDonald's was said to rejuvenate the local economy (13), and the winner of Maine's version of the Iron Chef said, “I’ve always been a potato kid” (14).

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Thursday, September 25

Custom House Wharf

Benny's

Fresh stuff on Commercial Street's frozen fish fry shack:
The fried haddock sandwich was fine, too, though nothing exceptional. There were two small pieces of haddock on a sesame seed bun, some tartar sauce, a bit of iceberg lettuce, and a slice of processed cheese melted over the fish. But keep in mind we weren't looking for fine dining here. For a fast and inexpensive seafood fix, this sandwich served well, via PPH.

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Wednesday, September 24

"Deep in the Horchata"

Kennebunkport's Joel Thibodeau, who performs tonight at Space at 9:30 p.m., is touring with his band, Death Vessel. They've got a song about horchata, a geographically-protected Spanish drink made with tigernuts and sugar (you can find the Salvadorian version with rice milk at Tu Casa).

Listen to "Deep in the Horchata."

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(Pickup) truck farming

Giving new meaning to truck farming. One gardener, Jennifer Rose Cote, couldn't get a loan so she decided to start a truck garden – literally – in the back of a pickup. It makes an appearance at the Deering Oaks Farmers Market and in this month's Port City Life (sorry, not online). Earlier photo here and blog post about her effort from the Kennebunk Post.

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A year of mornings

Evangalesca

Bresca's Krista Kern and Evangaline's Erik Desjarlais plan to tie the knot this weekend. (Previously on Psst!). Congrats!

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Not so new potatoes

Since Maine's already had a frost and the vines of potatoes have died, it's hard to reason why the Portland dePressed Herald would run a recipe about new potatoes.
New potatoes are harvested from a plant with still-green foliage, unlike mature potatoes, which are pulled from the ground after the vine dies.

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Wanted: Narrangansett Apple

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Harvest on the Harbor

Jim Britt's got a shameless plug for Harvest on the Harbor. What I can't figure out is who the target audience is?

Tuesday, September 23

Food and booze in the Rogues' Portland

Rogues Gallery isn't just outfitting that inner outdoorsman in you. Now, they've got a bike map – and the hippest places to booze it up on your ride around town are: Sangillo's, Local 188, DTL, Bonobo, Bubba's, and Top of the East.

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Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, speaks tonight at 7 p.m. Merrill Auditorium. 239 Park Ave. with a private, backstage wine and dessert party afterward, via The Telling Room and MPBN.

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Monday, September 22

Chestnut Street Church

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Mr. WashPo and BoGlo visit Portland

Two more travelers hit town.

The BoGlo plays house and discovers an odd assortment of eateries.
The West End has its share of great restaurants, including Aurora Provisions, Bonobo, and Caiola's.
And The WashPo, during a reported visit to Rabelais, Brown Trading, Evangeline, Hugo's, and Cape Elizabeth's Lobster Shack, Tom Sietsema, who is known for giving DC the inside scoop on Minneapolis restaurants, covers every night at least one place the BoGlo omitted: Evangeline.
Any night is a treat, but Monday features a deal of a meal prepared by the chef and his fiancee: $28 for three courses of "whatever we feel like cooking," he says. "We're kind of laid-back." And very talented.

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Friday, September 19

Week in Review, Sept. 19

Maine had its first frost (1). When the stock market dived, President Bush dined on Maine lobster with more than 100 guests in honor of Ghana's president John Kufuor; he then watched “The Lion King” (2). “The rain has really plumped them up,” said an apple orchardist (3).

Al Diamon suggested that the Apple computer store was not a good place to get cider (4). Little sunshine and high rainfall made Mainers the 12th most neurotic in the U.S. (5). "It is like an overpopulation phenomenon," a pomologist said about the sweetness of apples this year (6). Three skinny-dippers-for-sandwichers had their trial date set (7).

“They followed the herds of the caribou and the moose," said a state tribal representative (8). Trangenic DNA inserted into genetically-modified animals was expected to be regulated as a drug (14). Food booths were not targeted by buglars at the Farmington Fair (10) and 66 vendors hawked food at the Common Ground Fair (11), where the keynote speaker was called a fringe voice in the GMO debate (12). "I agree that they must be smoking their breakfast to be able to stomach the food at the fair," said one Common Ground critic (13).

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The edge of the forest (Whipple Pond, Maine)






Photo: Keliy
Anderson Staley
.

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Common Ground Fair (Unity)

The fair is on. The Common Ground is for those who see the world on its head. And in that sense, it might be unfair to call MOFGA's Common Ground Country Fair a fair.
The last time we went, we squeezed our pickup between a battered Volkswagen bus and a gleaming Volvo wagon with two childseats. That, in a nutshell, sums up the fair’s demographics, via HN.
Recovering hippies don't ride Ferris wheels – even the homemade, handbuilt kind. The fair is difficult to conceptualize. And, yes, it's a deliberate, ideological fair. The fairness of the vegetable (organic only, please) judging is skewed to favor those following the Righteousness Path on The Way Life Should Be. It's a homogeneous, community rally, a postmodern, post-Big Organic political barbecue of sorts, minus the smoked beef and red snappers and with the addition of prizes for the best – the ugliest – Chiogga beets. Everything is better the Common Ground way; it's both easy and elitist, a classic example of back to the land theology, as Rebecca Kneale Gould has described in her discussion of the Nearings:
The blend of humility and exceptionalism here, as elsewhere, produces a curious effect. While claiming that "anyone with their perpicacity" can learn to sugar, the Nearings also make an effort to emphasize the ways in which their own approach to the maple sugaring business was unique and more effective.
It's tailor-made for the wealthy and morally-superior and those members of the choir willing to shell out the double-digit dollars ($10, tickets available at Books Etc and WhoFooMa in Portland) just to get in and hear the preaching. Go yogic flying! Grow your own! Save money! Shell out those Jacksons for Sweet Annie! Corporations is gonna kill you! Eat local, live forever!

And like the organic movement in general, the real problem is that for the privilege of eating donuts made with organic, whole wheat flour (it's Common Ground mandate) – not because that's authentic or tastier or even from local Aroostook County wheat farmers, but because it's Better For You – you'll pay a price. Or if you're feeling like joining the insular ranks, the Common Kitchen, where volunteers eat, is where the real food gets made. Fried shittakes and a bag lunch come highly recommended.

Not that I'll forgo the traffic jam outside Unity (rural traffic jams!) – or the caffeine deprivation (coffee, fair-trade or not, it's all Evil!), I raise my glass of cheap, imported wine to the organic revolutionaires who need one thing that will be in short supply at the sheep dog demonstrations and around all the instructional tutorials on all things homesteading this weekend: Fun!

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Bogusha's

A radio profile about schnitzel and other Polish foods at the deli on Stevens Avenue, via WMPG. (Thanks WSCBP!)

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Thursday, September 18

Plywood

Portland Diner was hiring. So was Thai Chef Buffet, on Congress Street. All you can eat Thai. Just what Portland needs.

The Lost Coin Cafe (right), on Portland Street, at the former location of Binga's Wingas, plans to start serving coffee and sandwiches in two weeks – along with its Bible lessons, Sunday church services, and recovery groups sessions.

Sounds a little like Little Lads, which has been serving Nondairy Larry's "ice cream" at its Congress Street location.

McDonalds on Saint John Street had its grand reopening. There are banners to prove it, too.

And, for those with more refined tastes, Hugo's Restaurant appears to be getting a new sous chef (in two weeks?): Ben Hasty, formerly of the Dunaway in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. But Hasty's not from away; he grew up gutting fish and picking strawberries in South Berwick, Maine. Look out.

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International Market

International Market, on Vannah Avenue, sells fresh-killed meats reportedly from "local" sources on Fridays.
A brief and somewhat labor-intensive conversation with the owner established that the market receives fresh local meats every Friday, and a sign atop the empty meat case advertised goat, beef, sheep, and lamb, via tP.

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Wednesday, September 17

Prunus persica (Brackett Street)

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Cookbooks, fall 2008

Fall cookbooks, via LAT.

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David Foster Wallace

One of the more memorable trips to the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland was chronicled by David Foster Wallace in Gourmet. Harper's magazine has also posted the author's trip to the Illinois State Fair (PDF).

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Chase's Daily (Belfast, Maine)

Chase's Daily is part farm stand, part groovy vegetarian restaurant, and part all-day cafe, via BG.
And part front for a big-time, corn-raising, chemistry lab.

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"The new rock n' roll"

Tuesday, September 16

Bottlemania + Rutabagamania

Bottlemania author, Elizabeth Royte, comes to One Longfellow Square, Sept. 17, 7 p.m., via Rabelais. $5. Her talk is also free at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, Sept. 17, from 12 to 1 p.m.

The researcher of the somewhat elusive Waldoboro Greenneck Turnip and author of Renewing America's Food Traditions, Gary Paul Nabhan (map here), comes to Space, 538 Congress, Sept. 19, 7 p.m. $5.

[Add] A Parmigiano Consortium representative, protector of Parmigiano-Reggiano's PDO, comes to the Cheese Iron, Scarborough, Sept. 19 and 20, 1 to 5 p.m., via PPH.

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Ice is nice

If it's on a newfangled "blog", chances are Joan Silverman will never read it. That's because she believes that the written word rules, and that's especially true when it comes to the shortened short-term memories of inept restaurant staff (jeez, that's redundant, aren't they all inept?).
Personally, if I owned a restaurant, I'd want a wait staff of scribes, not illusionists. Panache is nice; accuracy is better, via dPPH.

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Beth Schiller

Monday, September 15

Happy Teriyaki of Maine

A name like Happy Teriyaki almost makes you want to cross the street, just to keep your distance from that creepy, cartoon bear pasted on the window that won’t stop smiling at you with his gleaming white teeth. The inside isn’t much better: a giant photograph of a mountain gorge, a wall full of Mongolian-style hats, and a few empty lacquered wood tables.

But because I was on a quest for kimchi (just saying that word makes me salivate thinking about garlic and chili and fermented cabbage), I went to Happy Teriyaki at 630 Congress St (771-2000).

That was despite a review earlier this year that has led to the unfortunate mislabeling of this humble ethnic restaurant. What will make you happy is not Japanese-style tempura (the restaurant serves Korean-American food, too) and it’s not a copy of the Portland dePressed Herald (for those waiting for take-out or $6.95 lunch specials, the restaurant serves up the Wall Street Journal).

Myung and Kum You make steaming hot ceramic bowls filled with fried rice and beef and mushrooms, the bi bim bop, and kimchi stew with soft tofu that has the mouth-coating pleasure, the umami, of Parmesan cheese with cultured soy beans and fermented cabbage. Both are topped with raw eggs that cooks into the rice or soup.

The bul go gi, which comes in both the blacked strips of pork variety (dwe ji go gi boc um) and the blackened strips of beef variety (beef bul go gi), come on a sizzling platter and are served with rice and a half dozen Korean sides, including pickled cucumbers, sweet pickled onions, and pickled Napa cabbage. The kimchi is garlicky, crunchy, and spicy. In keeping with the temper of the place – Korean food for the paper-napkin, college crowd – there’s little fishiness and the spice won’t immediately cause you to break out into a sweat.

If you can weather the smooth jazz on the radio and the slow refills on water, there’s few reason to travel to South Portland for your daeji bulgogi with kim chi fix ($13.95). What’ll make you happy is the BYOB, the earnest explanation of pickled Asian cucumbers, and decent Korean food.

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Sunday, September 14

In the night kitchen





Illus.: Maurice Sendak

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Voter's guide

A gastronomic guide to the Presidential candidates, via BG.

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The Inn on Peaks Island

The Inn on Peaks Island offers two things on the menu that are local: The beer and the view.
On a warm night, the terrace was thronged and the night air clear as distant Portland shed a band of light across the water... On another plate, I skipped the coated, previously frozen fries, but encountered with gratitude the first serving of fat, juicy fried clams ($18.95) I had enjoyed all summer.... North Coast Seafood in Boston was the supplier of the clams from Ipswich, Mass, via PPH.

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Friday, September 12

BOS to PWM

The Boston Globe bucks the recent trend of visiting only Portland's staple foodie establishments – Fore Street, 555, Browne Trading, Duckfat/Hugo's, and Rabelais (see here and here) – and broadens everyone's horizons by visiting Micucci's on India Street.
Besides Micucci's, Portland is an appealing food destination, especially if you don't have to drive. Gas prices make the Concord Coach Lines bus from South Station directly to the Portland Transportation Center ($35 per round-trip ticket) quite appealing, via BG.

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Capsicum chinense

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John Thorne's Maine summer

John Thorne, the author of Simple Cooking and Mouth Wide Open, talks about The Way Life Should Be:
I learned to cook in two extreme situations. As a young man, I spent my summers alone at a family cottage in Maine. I had very little money and no cooking experience. I just had to figure out what to do. But one day, it occurred to me that I was surrounded by food: I just had to go out and get it and figure out how to cook it. I started digging clams and picking blueberries and gathering wild salad—and as I did that my interest in that grew, and I became better at feeding myself, via Saveur.

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Plywood Report

Arabica Coffee closed for two weeks or so to move down the street to 2 Free St.

Kath's Cafe and Catering opened on Brighton Avenue inside the former location of Francisco's, via PFM.

Maine Fare was reportedly still on, via TMS. (Not really.)

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Clare Grindal (Sargentville, Maine)

Week in Review, Sept. 12

Poland Spring's rank below agriculture, ski resorts, and water utilities in water consumption was said to be a reason to ban local beers (1). The bottled water market faltered (2), Cooke Aquiculture brought salmon farming back to Maine (3), and a San Francisco blogger found fresh vegetables at Browne Trading (4). Harvesting rockweed for beverages and nutraceuticals was compared to cutting grass (5).

A woman planning a gristmill and bakery inside an old jail said she wanted to promote Maine grains (6) and Pinelands wanted to Maine on the map of world class food producers (7). Meat recalls spurred the sales of local beef (8), Unity College promoted local foods by buying frozen French fries from McCain (9), and the Belfast Garden Club produced 28,600 pounds of food for schools (10). Organic fertilizers were said to contain heavy metals (11) and Maine's largest composter of lobster shells was shut down (12).

The favorite food of leatherback turtles was jellyfish (13). The lemon bars at Others were called "gummy" with a "pasty" crust (14). “Animals are being surrendered to shelters or are being abandoned in record numbers,” said the founder of a pet food bank (15). Collection cans were put out to help raise funds that would aid in the return of a mechanical gorilla (16), a mechanical Megasauras ate cars (17). "My mother would make a meat pie out of it that was excellent," said a man who once ate rabbits and squirrels. "I wish I had one today." (18)

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Wednesday, September 10

Caswell Farm pig roast

The 8th annual Hogstock, pig roast, Caswell Farm fest, drunken volleyball, sleepover, whateveryoucallit bash – complete with fireworks and music and pulled pork and a couple of kegs – will be held on Saturday. $20.

Previous posts here and here. Map to the fest coming soon.

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Soda v. pop

Maine appears to be firmly in the grasp of soda.

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On the farm





Photo: Cecily Upton.

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Local Local Locavore

Say it enough and it sounds like the call of the loon. A short dispatch from an award-winning paper on locavores. It's not just papers lacking insight today. Check out this trip to Bermuda.

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Tuesday, September 9

Roberto Rubino's Maine visit

Roberto Rubino, renowned DIY Italian cheese maker (previous post here) will be visiting Nezinscot Farm, one of Maine's first organic dairies, in Turner on Sunday Sept. 14 from 2 – 4 p.m., , via SFP.

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Eve's at the Garden, Portland Harbor Hotel

Kathleen Fluery Fleury says Jeff Landry's dining room should be a local hangout – and apparently not just for the glitz and glam crowd seeking to rub elbows with some supernice PR types:
Eve’s first priority is serving its hotel guests — mainly corporate types, often in Portland on business, as well as other upscale travelers. But in its quest for accommodation, Eve’s goes beyond being just a corporate hotel watering hole. It is a low profile, underutilized asset to the dining scene in Portland. “We’re striving for that local support,” admits Landry. Their efforts should not go unnoticed, via DE.

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Rudy Rozema (Exeter, Maine)






Photo: Paul Mobley/
American Farmer,
via DE.

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How to eat fried clams

First, ask where they came from. (Many seashore restaurants traffic in illusions. You may be in Freeport, but the clams are still from Harpswell.)

Then, find out if they are clam bellies or strips, with or without siphons, via NYT.

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Monday, September 8

Food stops

Along with obligatory stops on the well-worn Portland foodie trail – Bore Street, 555, Hugo's/Duckfat – F&W takes note of Rabelais Books. The unfortunate aspect to the oversung establishments is that only two of them seem to have owner/operators that regularly tend to business. Thankfully, Sam and Don don't seem to be giving up on their choice reads, great eggs, and indefatigable charm.

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Sunday, September 7

The cult of the amateur

Yelp, 1. Zagat, 0. Via NYT.

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Roger Doiron (Scarborough, Maine)




Photo: Roger
Doiron
, via PFM.

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New masthead

The Psst! design team received a long-awaited approval from the incompetent management for a redesigned masthead, which has been collected from restaurant and supermarket signs in and around Portland. The IT department is still working on the sizing issues. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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The Grill Room

Two takes on the Grill Room, organized in descending order of difficulty to read:
Ordered medium-rare, which the server said would be red and cool in the center at this restaurant, the ribeye steak ($27 for the steak, $2 for potatoes, $3 for spinach) had retained a juicy texture but was pale in color, and its flavor was mild, via PPH.

With so many expediters and ancillary staff, the aisles of the Grill Room are filled with a tortured dance of staff members waiting to get out of each other's way, via FWA.

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Saturday, September 6

Soil to supper

Rippling Waters Farm Soil to Supper, Sunday Sept 7, Standish. Starts at 2 p.m. with cheesemaking workshop and food around 5 p.m., via EMF. $10.

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Press Herald can opener (circa 19??)

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Friday, September 5

Italian

The Italian, a veritable regional hero.

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Week in Review, Sept. 5

Machine guns were heard on a North Anson farm (1), agroveillance was increasingly common (2), and farmers hunted potential pests carrying E. coli in California (2.5). John T. Edge was reportedly in town to preview restaurants for the James Beard Awards (3). Bike cops were photographed with homeless men drinking booze (4), email buying clubs grew in popularity (4) and Russia banned poultry from 19 U.S. companies (5).

Bar owners with outdoor decks opposed a Portland smoking ban (6). "It's the most rewarding job I've had cooking," said the Bangor Christian Schools' chef (7). Bates College received a $2.5 million grant for good food (8), and, in Damariscotta, "Little kids were eating organic potatoes saying, 'I love this. Can we have this every day?' " (9).

Georges Bank cod stocks were at 12 percent of what they needed to be to be sustainable (10). Anchovies were reportedly overfished (11). Herring boats are permitted to fish in the inland waters of the Gulf of Maine for four days during the entire month of September (12). Lobstermen were said to be squeezed by declining prices and declining catches (13). The owner of Demillo's told a unionized newspaper reporter covering a restaurant workers' union: "I don't see what the benefits of organizing would be for them, not in this competitive marketplace" (13).

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Thursday, September 4

Lobster pricing pipeline

What do falling lobster prices mean for restaurants?

"Dwarf lobsters where steroidal crustaceans once reigned," says Frank Bruni.

But low dock prices don't necessarily translate to budget lobster chix dinners. The largest lobster pricing markup – three hundred percent – is at the restaurant, according to a recent piece in Working Waterfront:
There can be between four and six stages in what some refer to as "the lobster pipeline:" the hands a lobster passes through between the boat and the plate. The tricky part of this equation is that at each stage, both buyer and seller takes his or her cut or commission, and each cut along the pipeline can and probably will be a different amount of money because each buyer has different operating expenses.

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Wednesday, September 3

Physalis pruinosa (Husk cherry)

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Slow Food – Fast

The double bind of organic foods made for the freezer aisle, of local, artisan cheeses sold across the world took center stage in San Francisco last weekend.
The paradox of Slow Food lies somewhere between the Taste Pavilions’ high-ticket gastronomists swooning over bloomy-rind triple-crèmes, and the Victory Garden firebrands pushing for organic 2 percent milk for the masses. Stung by accusations of offering little more than epicurean thrills for the well fed, the organization is seeking new relevance at a time when the politics of the plate have moved center table. “Everyone else is organizing to try and save the world,” says the festival’s executive director, Anya Fernald, “but we’ve just been sitting around, talking about the cheese course,” via SFMag.
The accusations of elitist can be stinging. Let's hope the criticism doesn't stymie local organizers (if it hasn't already). Maine's Slow Food meets Monday [Sept. 8?] at the Public Market House, via PPH.

There's also an upcoming Slow Food USA-sponsored talk by DIY cheesemaker Roberto Rubino at the showcase Pineland Farm September 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Tuesday, September 2

Solanum lycopersicum (Sungold)

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Deathmatch 2008

Visual deathmatch dispatch from Jonathan Levitt. More on the Sunday mussel extravanganga from Johnny D over at eGullet. A brief update about the dinner from Accidental Veg. And more expected from Maine Home + Design. Earlier posts on the invite-only, quarterly dinners in Portland, Maine here and here and here. [Updated: For the latest on Deathmatch, click on the label below.]

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Food phonies

The next time an expert recommends a bottle or a plate of the fanciest of fancy foods, keep that in mind. Not the actual recommendation, but the notion of expertise.
[W]hen it comes to food, we all think of ourselves as experts. But we taste with both our tongues and our minds, and it’s easy to lead minds astray. Brownies taste better, for example, when served on china rather than on paper plates, research has shown. And we prefer wine with a pedigree, even if it’s a phony one, via NYT.

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Blueberry rake maker

A dying craft. One apparently done for burrito barter.

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