Saturday, January 31

Olive Garden

A review of what was once dubbed Maine's most-visited restaurant:
Olive Garden has all the basics down pat. Its fried calamari were crisp and tender. Its pasta is al dente. But the featured dishes... reminded us of those all-in "garbage" pizzas we gobbled down in college, via WSJ.

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Friday, January 30

Week in Review, Jan. 30

The scallop season was partially restored in some areas off the coast of Maine (1), snowfall forced restaurants to improvise specials (2), and a state bill would require farmers to notify neighbors of pesticide drift (3). “Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good as fresh," a Maine Extension educator said, "They’re going to have about the same nutritional value as the fresh” (4).

Another Falmouth restaurant was reviewed (5), the 'burbs suffered (6), and Jim's Smelt Camp appeared to be the only ice fishing shack in the state (7). Cutting calories improved the memory of the elderly (8), high-fructose corn syrup reportedly contained mercury (9), and the tamales at Loco Pollo could "rack up your corn-calories the old-fashioned way" (10).

PeTA was never going to air a Superbowl ad celebrating sex with asparagus, prompting one ad blogger to reward the animal-rights group with a squirrel sandwich (11). Blacks squirrels descending from one rogue American animal appeared to be terrorizing native squirrels in England (12). Poles headed to milk bars (13) and a woman who almost appeared to be pouring soup on her face showed up at newsstands (14).

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Thursday, January 29

Praying to the Pie Gods

Colony Collapse

Keep the bees off the interstates en route to the blueberry fields. The case for feral bees.

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Come sei bella, winter pasta lunch!

The one review worth reading in this week's Phoenix didn't make it online (so close):
A welcome addition to my lunch rotation, Paciarino – at 468 Fore St. – opened up early in the new year. Run by husband-and-wife restaurateurs from Milan (already have a bit of a crush on Fabiana), the lunch spot offers four or five different handmade pasta dishes, ranging from about $6-9. The setup's a little confusing the first time out – it's counter service, but then you sit down and are treated like a king...
Oh, and there's no wine – even if you bring it yourself. Other than that, it's a noontime crush.

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Slow Food Writers' Night

With Milk's Anne Mendelson,
SPACE, 6 p.m., $25

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Wednesday, January 28

Community Supported Mussels

Community Supported Shellfish are the latest addition to the city's CSA/CSF share offerings.
On Feb. 8, [Harpswell's Phil] Gray will be one of the first seafood harvesters to have a table at the annual community-supported agriculture fair at First Parish Church on Congress Street. He'll be selling his mussels for $2 a pound, with a three-pound minimum, via PPH.

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Monday, January 26

The nation's food policy

Here's why food activists may not bring change to the White House:
"They don't have a central, core message," James Thurber, an expert on lobbying and the director of American University's Center on Congressional and Presidential Studies, told [Jane Black]. That, or they're not getting it out. "Is this about reducing obesity in schools?" he asks. "Is it about pesticides on the farms? It's a wonderful thing to try to change policy, but what policy are they trying to change?" via WashPo.
The bottom line: Too many cooks spoil the soup. Same goes for political messages.

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Missing: Maine farms

milk, maine, pricing, farms

Illus: George Danby/

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Sunday, January 25

Stonewall recall

Stonewall Kitchen recalls dessert sauces. [Updated 1/26: Story from the PPH here.]


Friday, January 23

Ice fishing (Bowdoinham)

From Bowdoinham, the story of an ice shack:
We fry fish for lunch in a cast-iron pan on top of the woodstove. We drink beer. We eat chips. Thick steamy vapor comes up from the cold water. The floor is wet from flapping fish, via BoGlo.
Just one alternative to winter camping in a yurt with a bag of granola.

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From America's Kitchens

Bore Street

Fore Street has "very good wine," "delicious" monkfish, "great" condiments, and "great" duckfat, according to this not-so-new or exciting profile in the Portsmouth Herald:
Fantastic dishes prepared old style in new, exciting ways, via PH (via PFM).

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Thursday, January 22

Week in Review, Jan. 22

On his first day in office, President Obama blocked rules on mandatory country-of-origin labeling reportedly because it blurred the distinction between US and foreign meats (1). Four Mainers were sickened from eating peanut butter tainted with salmonella, a bacterial infection usually transmitted by animal feces (2). MSNBC's Rachel Maddow used a citrus cutting board apparently made in the Maine correctional facility to make cocktails (3). An intoxicated man crashed a Zamboni at the Portland Civic Center (4).

A Mainer passed on eating puffin in Iceland (5), a professor said, "If Olive had olives then this town's greasy spoons would really have something to worry about" (6), and a columnist found free drinks harder to resist than bacon (7). A blogger said that chairs at Borealis Bread reminded her of elementary school (8) and only the corn chowder at Morrison's was worth eating (9). Barber Foods recalled its Stuffed Chicken Breast Roast with Rib Meat after a customer reported finding plastic in the food (10).

An aspiring dairy farmer said the U.S. had the safest food chain in the world (11), dairy subsidies did not appear to benefit cider and sauerkraut makers (12), and lacto-fermented produce was sold at the winter farmers markets (13). A dairy industry lobbyist said, "When the dairy farmers struggle, [feed dealers and equipment dealers] struggle as well’’ (14). Gawkers were said to be more of a problem than bare breasts by a man named Boober (15).

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Fish-Work (Bering Sea)

Are Portland's restaurants in a recession?

If Saturdays at Caiola's, Fridays at Happy Teriyaki, and Wednesdays at Hugo's (where three-courses weeknight dinners Tues-Thurs are now $25) are any indication, restaurants worth a damn are hopping despite any so-called recession. Same thing's happening in SFO. Icing on the cake for the no-frills scene, flannel-wearing set:
"The predictions are that we are over the era of pretension," [Bonny Wolf] says. "What we're going to see is a lot more bistros and osterias, which are the Italian form of the bistro. They'll be less expensive, more casual, simple kind of restaurants," via NPR.

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Dry beans and cabbage

The Sun Journal says if you don't save money with its money-saving tips, then you'll get money back on your subscription (story also via the AP). While there's no web presence devoted to the section, here's one recent description of a woman's cooking:
When cooking, she uses a lot of fresh carrots, potatoes, dried beans and cabbages for salads, soups and casseroles. Those foods are nutritious and inexpensive, via SJ.

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Tuesday, January 20

Joey Ramone, 1982

Will Obama change the White House garden?

When Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl, and Danny Meyer called for a new White House chef to make locally grown, organic products, little did they know that the current White House chef had been doing exactly that since 2005. [Updated 1/21: The NYT sums up the debate.]
"It turns out the gastronomers didn't have their facts straight, so they ended up with egg on their faces," says Newsweek.
If there's already a kitchen garden at the White House, is it really important to have a Victory Garden on the lawn? Won't that just be another symbolic victory at a time when the country needs substantial change (more than harnessing "the soil to fuel our cars")? Or would unmaking the National Archives to recreate the bustling public Center Market be too DC, too fake, too regal – when a humble garden is the change we need? And, in light of all these suggested gastronomic or agricultural changes, maybe it's time for another question:
Is it really incumbent upon a president to serve as a model eater for the nation? via WashPo.

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DIY cheese (Freeport)

Do-it-yourself mozzarella cheesemakers at Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport were profiled in today's Press Herald:
"I have this delusion that I'm a Mr. Fix-It, that I can fix things and cook things, and I can't. That's why I'm here," said Jake Hanin, 23, of Portland, via PPH.
Additional DIY classes, including an upcoming fermentation class, can be found here.

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Monday, January 19

Bush's lame duck dinners

Illus: David Friend and
David Moore/VF


Sunday, January 18

The Well-Dressed Ape

From a review of The Well-Dressed Ape by South Portland's Hannah Holmes:
While examining herself for the Physical Description chapter, Holmes explains how extra food that isn't burned off as energy gets converted to oil stored in fat tissue. "Evidently I've done this a few times," she writes, "because cookies are too damned easy to capture," via WashPo.

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Happy Teriyaki

Nancy English reviews Happy Teriyaki's decor, soft tofu, and wines:
Wines lined up on the wall near the lighted cooler, including Kendall-Jackson ice wine and Fu-Ki plum wine, are also available though rarely requested, via PPH.
It's still not a Japanese restaurant, but apparently it's not BYOB per an earlier review.


Egg fettuccine pasta dough

Photo: NEC.

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Saturday, January 17

In memoriam: Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth, who painted in Maine, often with egg tempera, died yesterday. According to the New York Times:
"In today’s scrambled-egg school of art, Wyeth stands out as a wild-eyed radical,” one journalist wrote in 1963, speaking for the masses, via NYT.


Friday, January 16

Maine shrimp, a "gustatory joy"

CSFs make the pages of the WashPo. Nancy Harmon Jenkins writes about the Port Clyde Fresh Catch:
The idea behind the CSF goes back to the Libby brothers' sense, in Glen's words, that "30 years ago there was a lot more fish, and the gear was a lot less high-tech. So maybe we should take a step back and lighten things up," via WashPo.
Earlier this year, fishermen in MDI and Stonington also began offering shrimp shares, via EA. Out in BC, there's also salmon shares (via Mofga). [Updated] A share fair is coming to Portland Feb. 8.

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Christopher Lake (Bryant Pond)

Photo: Robert Bukaty/AP,
via BDN and NPR.

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Plywood Report

Papaya King moved in to 5 Dana Street, according to Bryan Bruchman over at Hillytown.

Port City Music Hall will reportedly open on Saturday. But possibly only with bottled beer, via tF.

437 Congress Street, the old Mainely Masters, may have gotten a lowboy. Some sort of deli?

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Thursday, January 15


A Portland bookstore concept spreads to San Francisco, an influence that appears to be a reversal of the ideas appearing in most travel writing.
"Most cookbook dealers focus on fine and rare 18th to 19th century books, or 1950s spiral-bound American kitsch," says [Celia] Sack. [Rabelais' Don] Lindgren widened his approach to include books like Hugh Corley's midcentury book "Organic Farming," cited often by contemporary sustainable farming advocates such as Michael Pollan.

"What he had connected to was what is going on now," says Sack, via SFC.

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Backyard chickens may be coming to Portland

The Forecaster is reporting that residents may be able to keep six live hens in each city lot, provided they have a chicken permit ($11). The proposed ordinance goes to the City Council next month for a vote.
To qualify for having backyard hens, residents will have to have enclosed areas and an elevated chicken pen. Hen houses will not be allowed within 25 feet of a neighbor’s house and must be in backyards.
SoPo took similar action in 2006, and as NPR reports, many city homesteaders have apparently followed suit.


Liberty Canning Factory

Loco Pollo

The PPH reviews Loco Pollo, although it's hard to call it a review since the only word used to describe the food is good. (Nice probably would have been substituted had the place served tea).
Yes, the tamales are good at Loco Pollo, a new Mexican restaurant on Washington Avenue. But don't leave without trying one of the stews, via PPH.
Now, anyone have some real insights? [Updated 1/16]
The filling wasn't an explosion of rich Mexican spices, it was more of whimper, Brad says.

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The Art of Eating

The Financial Times has a profile of Ed Behr, who once fought a woman at Old Sturbridge Village over a loaf of bread (that wasn't sourdough and therefore wasn't historically accurate):
Behr grew up in a family of serious eaters, where lamb kidneys and herring were not unusual breakfast-table companions. He was in something of a lost phase before he started The Art of Eating, via FT.
There's only one place to find it in Portland.

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B&M Red Jacket Brand

Label via MMN.

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How to make Little Lad's popcorn

All it takes is some nutritional yeast and dill. Click here. Besides, it might even be Kosher.


Wednesday, January 14

La Bodega Lindsay

Lindsay Sterling promises a stories about Venezuelan cheese smuggled into PWM, La Bodega Latina's bollo de yuca, and SoPo's Croatian cookies. All promising. But not in this week's edition of the Phoenix. The Phoenix also has a guide to eating cheap food.


The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

The new Nancy Harmon Jenkins cookbook has the word "diet" in the title, but according to Serious Eats:
If you're looking for a quick (and probably unpleasant) way to drop a dress size, this isn't it, via SE.

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Tuesday, January 13

L.L. Bean

Photo: Jay/PTLDME.

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A brief history of food

In a New Yorker piece on mother's milk (which slipped onto the culinary radar last year), Jill Lepore condenses the history of eating into this one parenthetical sentence.
A brief history of food: when the rich eat white bread and buy formula, the poor eat brown bread and breast-feed; then, they trade places, via NYer.

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Coffee by Resign

One short review of the working conditions at Coffee By Design concludes: "Go to Arabica, the coffees better anyways."

Also seen in the want ads on Craigslist: a managerial job at Coffee by Design, an unknown and apparently very busy women's bathroom, a small yet fun dishroom, and a bakery in the woods. Who knew work could be so much fun?

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Percival Baxter and Spotted Trout

Photo via MMN.

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Monday, January 12


The staycation was so last year. This year, says MAKE, is the year of staying home. And not staying home to relax, but staying home to make stuff. Today it was citric acid + sodium bicarbonate = alka seltzer. More of these How Tos in the works.


Mystery meat

In a recent interview with 207, the editor of Maine Food and Lifestyle says that Maine is becoming "very trendy" without even mentioning PDX or SFO. Unfortunately, the burning question about the magazine remains unanswered: What is this square piece of thing on the cover?

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Japanese ice shack

ice fishing, Scott Peterson, Maine, photo, shack

Photo: Jon Levitt.

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Sunday, January 11

Liquid gold in the new Napa Valley

Bintliff's, a place that's been attempting to remake Maine into the "new Napa Valley," charges extra for real maple syrup. Its owner Joe Cattogio tells the PPH:
[E]ven though he increased the price of syrup from $1.50 to $1.75 this year, the restaurant is still losing money on the item. He said he sells it anyway because customers expect the real thing. "We decided to eat the cost," he said.
It's still a ways off for Maine Maple Sunday but the story reports a possible uptick in sugaring this year.

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How to sharpen a knife

Regular nightly knife sharpening will keep your knives in order, unless it's a steel from Goodwill:
Any decent knife can be made sharp at its cutting edge; what matters is the shape of the steel behind it, via NYer.
Chowhounders have been also wondering where to find to find the sharpest grinder in Maine: Freeport Knife Co. or LeRoux? Or just staying home? [Updated] Do it yourself.

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Saturday, January 10

Pushaw Lake (Orono, ME)

Photo: Kate Collins/BDN.

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Harding Smith's farm

The owner of the Front Room/Grill Room/Corner Room has land in Westbrook Windham, where he's apparently raising vegetables and chickens for this restaurants, at least according to the latest issue of MH+D (not online). [Updated: Link to article]

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Friday, January 9

Week in Review, Jan. 9

A Maine woman who stored wild berry jelly in the toilet of her camper during a trip to Alaska died (1). Ice was called optional for winter fishing (2) and a smelt camp owner said he could rent 200 additional shacks if he had them (3). Because of a drop in supply and relatively steady demand, lobster prices rose (4). “We have seen energy costs fluctuate for the past 12 months and we need to do whatever we can to make ourselves extremely self-sufficient,” said Maine's ag commissioner (5).

A pig that evaded its capturers on the Colby College campus found a warm home (6) and Borealis Breads plans a talk on how a backyard wood-fired oven (7). The Italian couple that run Paciarino were photographed in unflattering light (8), a super Wal-Mart was planned for Skowhegan (9) and Punky's made cheap eggplant sandwiches that delighted an "eggplant parmesan connoisseur" (10). Two Mainers came down with salmonella (11).

Companies encouraged employees to eat green because it saved them money (12), antibiotics were found in vegetables (13), and an astronaut said the views in space were better than the food (14). The University of Maine reportedly researched veggie burgers made with blueberry purée (15) and packaged pickles from Pakistan were reportedly part of the evidence found connecting the country to recent attacks in Mumbai (16). Governor Baldacci bought a box of girl scout cookies (17).

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Wolffish eating urchin

Photo: Jonathan Bird/EA.

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Eating on a dollar a day

A California couple have been eating on one dollar a day, via CSM and WNYC. Pro-poverty activists or the latest in downwardly-mobile yuppies exposing their desire to become classless?


Thursday, January 8

Blue Spoon

The Blue Spoon, the hilltop's best spot for steady, stellar grass-fed burgers, creamy polenta and pork, and some of the sweetest service, now offers a nightly five-course prix fixe menu for $40. In addition to daily lunches, the intimate, unpretentious restaurant is now open on Mondays.

More places called lounges or bistros (as opposed to restaurants, which are bound to sound expensive) are likely to open this year. And at those neighborhood restaurants, prix fixe menus might be one thing to expect – despite little apparent dropoff in consumer spending. Not that anyone needed another reason to go to the Blue Spoon.


Mussel and chorizo soup

Photo: Tammy/Tastespotting

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Joe's New York Pizza

According to Adam Platt:
The more flat-screen TVs that glow on a restaurant’s wall, the harder the food will suck, via NYM.
Well, Joe's New York Pizza, 420 Fore Street, has two screens and about twice as many dudes talking about whatever game is on those screens. The pizzas range from pineapple to spinach and are passable, which is to say the place lives up to the Platt Axiom.

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Cactus Club

The bar at 416 Fore St. has been the site of a shooting and a beating. No surprise, then, that Portland police don't want the Cactus Club's owner Tom Manning to get a liquor license renewal:
Manning and his bars have faced scrutiny from councilors and police before. Councilors pulled the liquor license of his former club on Forest Avenue, Metropolis, in 1999 after a police raid during an all-night rave netted a variety of illegal drugs, via PPH.

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Tuesday, January 6

Portland Daily Sun

A new free daily paper, the Portland Daily Sun, is apparently going to hit the newstands before the end of January. Its office is the coffeehouse, says owner Curt Robinson.
The paper, however, is about more than restaurant reviews. "We're a hard-news model, we have real reporters," via Mainebiz.

How to make Maine shrimp boil

Joy of Cooking + Joy of Sex

Irma Rombauer in the Joy of Cooking instructs that when entertaining:
Satisfy yourself that you have anticipated every possible emergency — the howling child, the last-minute search for cuff links, your husband's exuberance...
And one recent review in the New Yorker carries through on the parallels between the Joy of Cooking and jouissance, er, the Joy of Sex and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Ariel Levy also calls the new Joy of Sex "Cook's Illustrated with boobies." And compares Our Bodies, Ourselves to the Moosewood Cookbook:
As an erotic reference book for adults in 2008, it's a little vegan.

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Shrimp tows in December were reportedly higher than average, reports the Ellsworth American. But
With almost no processors operating, fishermen found very little market for their shrimp.... The price for fishermen marketing through peddlers ranged from 30 cents to 75 cents per pound. Fishermen selling their catch directly to the public were doing better.

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Harbor Fish Market

Photo: Rich Brooks.

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Monday, January 5

Topless coffee shop

Right up there with Mark's Topless Donuts in Portland and PeTA's KFC protests in Bangor. This steamy coffee shop's planned for Vassalboro, right on Route 3. [Update 1/12:]
"We're not just going to pick someone off the street," [the owner, a trying lobster wholesaler] Donald Crabtree said of his staff. "They've got to be friendly, and we'll try to hire a variety of sizes. Not everyone likes a skinny girl. Not everyone likes a big girl. I think it's important to have a variety," via BoGlo.
[Updated 2/25:] The Grand View Topless Coffee Shop opened on Feb. 23 and one topless photograph, albeit a discrete one for family newspapers, can be found here. One waitress tells the Kennebec Journal:
"There are more serious issues to worry about in this country than something like this," via KJ.

[Updated 6/3] Arsonists allegedly set the place on fire, [6/9] spurring a new round of cartooning.

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Awaiting smart anglers with baited breath

Ted Williams's Where Baitfish Don't Belong is reprinted in DownEast. Most anglers don't know what kind of bait they're fishing with or where to dump it when they haven't caught a thing, he writes.
"I think we're making some headway with baitfish introductions," says Maine's chief fish biologist, John Boland. "Ice fishermen [the primary baitfish users in the East] are much more cognizant about not dumping bait down the hole." Still, the level of ignorance is appalling.


Dogfish Cafe

Illus: Mia.

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Sunday, January 4

Goat meat

Goat meat, something that's been up-and-coming and was recently recognized as a food trend, gets some play in the most recent issue of The Bollard.

Zackh Barowitz, a faithful reviewer of the city's overlooked international cuisine, tastes "delectably soft" goat curry and the patty and coco bread at Federal Spice. He also tastes the Italo-Somali cuisine at Hamdi, where he writes there's "little effort to smooth out the rough edges."

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Beer cozy

Beer cozy or beer coozy or beer koozie?
Cozy sounds off-kilter in the context of keeping something cold; the adjective cozy has always meant safe and snug, strongly implying warmth, via BG.
Unless, of course, the beer is outside in Maine, and that cozy is keeping the beer from freezing.

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Classes have apparently started in time for holiday shopping at Paciarino, 486 Fore Street, at the 1,600-square foot kitchen, pasta making center, and restaurant next to the Portland Harbor Hotel (thanks Dominic!), according to The Phoenix. [Updated 1/4] The place formally opens on January 5, 2009, with a party beginning at 4:30 p.m. Lunch will begin Jan. 6. [Updated 1/12] A short profile here.

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Photo: Scott Peterman

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Saturday, January 3

Figa restaurant

A Brazilian-Indian fusion inspired place plans to open at a newspapered-over hair salon, 250-ish 249 Congress Street between Eli Phant and Knit Wit. Figa, in case you've lost that Italian-English dictionary, means pussy. It's also the Brazilian symbol for good luck.

According to the Figa Restaurant website: Chef Lee Farrington has cooked at Fore Street ("one of the main draws in Portland"), Uffa!, Park Slope's Al Di La, and Manhattan's Raga. The Cape Elizabethian recently spoke to MPBN about sea scallops.

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Week in Review, Jan. 3

The Governor's concept and name was said to do well in recession times (1). Harding Lee Smith's high-volume, thin profit-margin strategy resonated so much with customers that he is opening a third restaurant (2). He also reportedly used dirty kitchen tongs (3). A dog mauled three sheep (4) and crows communicated about food locations (5). "We're just watching movies and making cocktails," said a video store employee (6).

Girls taste better than boys (7). Type A received less traffic from this blog (8), recession dining provoked coffee drinking and thinking at Arabica (9), and the Internets was a good place to find out about junk food (10). Bigger piles of waste made better compost in the winter (11).

A man in Freedom caught an 18-inch, 2.93-pound white perch at Ellis Pond (12). Tourtier, sambusa, and homemade pizza made it into a cookbook in Lewiston (13), a mother made a pizza-lasagna hybrid (14), and a food project map was being built (15). A sewing activist said, "They want their children to grow up in a secure environment with food to eat and a warm place to sleep" (16).

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Untitled (Icehouses)

catherine, opie, icehouse, ice house, ice shack, scott peterman

Photo: Catherine Opie/Guggenheim


Allagash white

This Belgian-style wheat beer from Portland, Maine-based Allagash Brewing was the beer I couldn't stop buying, via SFC.

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On blogging

Welcome to the blogosphere, Portland Food Map. The food mapping site now has a Wordpress frame and RSS. The shift toward a comments section and regular updates hopefully will mean more sharp-tongued dispatches and more lively commentary on the offerings of the cryptojournalism establishment. In short, more snark.
When no one—from politicians to pundits—says what he actually means, irony becomes a logical self-inoculation. Similarly, snark, irony’s brat, flourishes in an age of doublespeak and idiocy that’s too rarely called out elsewhere. Snark is not a honk of blasé detachment; it’s a clarion call of frustrated outrage, via NYM.
And while being wrong isn't something to strive for, being a blogger, sometimes it happens, as Andrew Sullivan writes.
Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud., via The Atlantic.

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Friday, January 2


Justin Richel, maine, art

Gouache: Justin Richel/

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Dumpster diver's revenge

Whole Foods Market is unhappy about reports (here and here) about the alleged waste of food after a recent power outage, a spokeswoman tells The Bollard.


Morning in Paris Old World Cafe

Breaking New Grounds, 13 Exchange St., is now called Morning in Paris Old World Cafe (Thanks BD!). There's a new creamer station. Anyone know if there's been a change in ownership?

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Thursday, January 1

Life by Lobster

life by lobster, maine, film, video

Film: Iain McCray Martin,
via BDN.

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