Friday, February 27

Maine shrimp a dollar a pound

W. Hodding Carter is attempting to live frugally, on $550 a month, apparently in Maine. What's he eating?
While most of the shrimp make their way to Maine supermarkets, well-connected fishmongers around the country, and the larders of sushi chefs everywhere to be served up as ama ebi (sweet shrimp), the rest find themselves alongside Maine’s highways and byways, selling for as little as $1 a pound, via Gourmet.

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Over Grow Organic Cafe

Over Grow Organic Cafe and juice joint is renovating the space at 379 437 Congress St. to be a restaurant and beverage bar. (Previously on Psst!) No news on the owners or the menu yet.

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Food Films: Big Night

March 8 at One Longfellow,
6 p.m. $30.09.

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Week in Review, Feb. 27

President Obama released a list of budget priorities that included fewer subsidies for large farms and "investing in the full diversity of agricultural production, including organic farming and local food systems" (1). Michael Pollan said that the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had ruined the Iowa countryside and the lives of many farmers during his reign as governor (2). Kathleen Merrigan, a sustainable food expert, was named deputy secretary (3) and one of Vilsack's advisers predicted a White House garden by the summer (4).

A lobbyist opposed to a Maine bill that would require calorie counting at chain restaurants said no studies had shown labeling would impact obesity (5) the same day that the New England Journal of Medicine published a study saying weight-loss diets were most effective when they relied on calorie counting (6). A Maine nurse said, "Try to remember that whatever you buy and put into your family, if it doesn't have any nutritional value, then you are wasting your money" (7).

A man allegedly took a taxi en route to breaking into Coffee By Design (8) and another robbery suspect, accused of hold stealing $750 and $3.15 biscotti from Others coffee shop, appeared in court (9). Brian Duff neither attended nor called about not attending a special Sunday dinner that he signed up for (10). Sunday River Brewing was called "a weird mirage... in the northern extremes of Oxford County" (12). Spring break was said to be a dumb idea (13) and stupid, mean people commented on Internet forums (14).

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Maine's foie gras fight

A woman walks into a bar with a duck and the bartender says, "Hey, that's the ugliest pig I've ever seen." The woman says, "It's a duck, sir." And the bartender says, "I was talking to the duck."

No seriously, folks, foie gras is no joke. It's cruelty and the chefs who make it are akin to torturers, at least according to those who want a bill (LD9) banning the force-feeding of ducks passed in Maine, where exactly zero farms are raising the delicacy.
I mean, even out in the hallway, I had my chef jacket on–I might as well have had a target on my chest, Rob Evans told MPBN.
If the legislation passes, foie won't be illegal to serve, so it'll be trucked in, just as it is now, from New York's Hudson Valley.

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Thursday, February 26

flannel, zine, Maine, magazine, university

Photo via Flannel

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Mushroom workshop

Pizza Villa

The Press Herald talks with the Pizza Villa's owners, Tony and Phil Regios:
Q: Have your pizzas always been the same size?

A: We've always stuck to the 10-inch. The recipe's evolved a little bit, but we never went to a size large, for logistical reasons. It's a small kitchen with a limited capacity. We also thought the 10-inch was a superior product anyway. The big pies can get droopy and gooey. Ours tend to be a little spicier, a little crisper, via PPH.

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Blue Cold Distributors (Scarborough, Me.)

Photo: NEC.



Down East lunches with the Portland power brokers at Walter's Cafe on Exchange Street, a place with a casually-dressed owner, and finds a wild fusion:
The grilled fish tacos, for example, consist of haddock over shredded greens, with cheddar and pico de gallo — as well as a sriracha mango tartar sauce and a Fuji apple and jicama slaw. That’s a lot of flavor for one dish. The turkey pastrami sandwich, meanwhile, comes with a somewhat incongruous sundried tomato mayo, via DE.

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Pazzano's opened at 3 Deering Ave. about a week ago inside the old Percy Cycles, whose sign is still above the door. The restaurant's owner, Abdi Aziz Mohamed Mohamud, who said his family was from Italy, plans on getting an espresso machine today. He's also serving sweet African tea with condensed milk, coffee cake, and sambusas. Eventually, Abdi says, there will be lasagna.

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Wednesday, February 25

Clarence Goodell, showing how he does it (1911)

lewis, hine, children, cannery, eastport, Maine, sardines, Library, congress

Photo: Lewis Hine/

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Mark's Topless Donuts closed

Mark's Topless Donuts, at 200 Riverside St., closed earlier this month, according to an employee at Platinum Plus. Which leaves the state with only one topless restaurant and coffee shop, one that's been attracting national attention: The Grand View in Vassalboro. So far, though, there's been no reviews of the views or the coffee. For the adventurous, here's a map. [Update]

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Maine Street Marketplace

If someone growing cheap potatoes on farmland in southern Canada makes it to market in Portland, will a Scarborough farmer growing arugula on houselots survive?
Not to compare [Maine Street Marketplace] with NAFTA, but whenever the local face-to-face marketplace is superseded by a more efficient less-local market, the more-local producers suffer, via EMF.

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Rogue Old Crustacean Barley Wine, 1995

rogue, barley, wine, old, crustacean

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Tuesday, February 24

Awful Annie's Irish Saloon

Awful Annie herself is back behind the bar at 189 Congress Street. Johnny Lomba, who had been planning to convert Awful Annie's into the Typewriter Tavern, has left. "Shit happens," Annie says. Closed Sun. and Mon. Related: The Snug goes live.

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Fat Tuesday at USM

WMPG's Fat Tuesday celebration at the Woodbury Campus Center today from 12 to 3 p.m. Entry is free. Cook-off ends at 3 p.m. Dancing tonight at the Empire Dine and Dance, 9 p.m.

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Monday, February 23

How to raise backyard chickens

The best of Portland food

If that Oscar mood so moves you. Voting wraps up for the Press Herald reader poll this week.

Also, there's The Phoenix's best of here. Vote for best food blog here. Psst! is also soliciting comments for the chefs/cooks with best, most obscure, local ingredient, as well as the top shill, biggest dud columnist, and most hyped.


Sunday, February 22

bird, chili, portland,


Saturday, February 21

Borealis Breads Bakery and Bistro

Borealis Breads Bistro on Ocean Avenue has good enough sandwiches for the Back Bay.
[What] I ended up with was basically a plain turkey sandwich with some lettuce, tomato and onion. I could have made that at home for a lot less dough. Still, compared with run-of-the-mill sandwich shops, Borealis stands above other places, via PPH.
Mostly because owner Jim Amaral promotes local grains. He talks at Bates College on March 2.

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Maine's ag. crisis: aging dairy farmers

He has had both knees replaced, and underwent intestinal surgery last fall. Once, when he got tangled in the power takeoff on his tractor, his clothes were literally ripped off his body. He fell into his manure pit up to his chin and nearly drowned, via BDN.

This profile of an 87-year old farmer mentions high start-up costs for new farmers, the trend of young and organic vegetable farmers (most "from away"), the decline in fluid milk prices, and possible cuts in the state dairy subsidy program, which would not just affect aging farmers:
"If the industry as a whole crashes, that puts pressure on the entire dairy infrastructure, such as trucking, veterinary services and supplies," says Russell Libby.... "So it's important to maintain a base of dairy farming wherever we can in the state," via MS.
Related: Falling milk prices and a milk monopoly in 1933 led to spilt milk and the formation of the Consumer-Farmer Milk Cooperative, the subject of an ongoing exhibit in Brooklyn.

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An Uncertain Nature

Photo: Alison Brady

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Friday, February 20

Week in Review, Feb. 20

A portion of Maine $1 billion from the national economic stimulus plan was directed to food stamps (1, 2). Maine shrimp were selling for 99 cents a pound (2), shrimp antennae and shells, reportedly from a seafood processor, clogged Portland's sewers (3), and the food at the Grill Room was said to be "on a par with a domestic airline terminal" (4).

An Augusta man said that financial leaders should face a similar fate to Chinese officials linked to tainted milk: jail (5). Wal-Mart planned to expand its grocery space in Maine by the equivelent of three football fields (6). Pepsi planned a cola with real sugar (7) and A Brooklyn brewery was ordered to stop making Obama beer (6). The new Yeah Yeah Yeah's album cover features an egg (9).

Port Clyde's CSF inspired fishermen in Massachusetts' North Shore (10). The Coast Guard towed a New Bedford fishing boat to Rockland (11) and one ice fisherman said, "If you pay attention to your fish house, you shouldn't have to do it at all" (12). The fish frying oil at Brian Boru needed to be changed (13).

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Pazzano's Coffee Shop

Pazzano’s Coffee Shop opened in Bramhall Square inside the old Percy Cycles (via PFM).

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Photo: Crackle Union


Thursday, February 19

Restaurant recession roundup

Extra! Extras! Read all about the incentives restaurants are using to lure customers (earlier post):
Prix fixe listings in Portland, via PFM, Phoenix, and Forecaster.
Restaurant Week ME
, via TMS, BDN, and HN (expect backlash a la NYM and GS).
Deal your meal, via CH6 and ES.
Frond-to-root is the new nose-to-tail, via SFC.
Soup and beer, via Ad Age.
99 cent ingredients, via NPR.


Bard Coffee Roasters

Bard Coffee Roasters is moving into the space at 183 Middle Street (not Tim Horton's) across the street from Starbucks. The place reportedly will have organic coffees. No word on an opening date.

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Wednesday, February 18

The Smoker

Vinny, Gartmayer, Bold Coast Smokehouse, Route 189, Lubec, Maine, 888-733-007,, Maine, salmon, Grand Manaan, dulse

Photo: Jon Levitt

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Tuesday, February 17

Food book, six words, no recipe

Topless coffee shop

Would you like some T&A with your coffee? The Hartford Courant reheats the topless coffee shop debate of Vassalboro:
Serving breakfast to a bunch of guys so hung over and exhausted from the night before that they won't know the difference between your own individual person and a plate of eggs sunny-side up has got to be tough, but to show up and get the coffee ready when it's 17 below zero so that none of your demanding patrons will have to wait and THEN to have remove your flannel-lined bra? via HC.

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Potatoes and pepper pizza

no, knead, pizza, dough, how to, make

Photo: NEC.

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Friday, February 13

Maine's James Beard 2009 semifinalists

Sam Hayward, at Fore Street, is a James Beard Award semifinalist for both outstanding restaurant and outstanding chef. Emilitsa is nominated for best new restaurant. Four best chef nominees are from Maine: the Chases (Chase's Daily, Belfast), Rob Evans (Hugo's), Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier (Arrows Restaurant, Ogunquit), Rich Hanson, (Cleonice, Ellsworth), and Brian Hill (Francine Bistro, Camden), via NYM. Previous Beard coverage.

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Week in Review, Feb. 13

It was unclear if lobster evolution was affected by v-notching egg-bearing females (1) and a recipe book about Darwin's wife Emma was coauthored by a part-time resident of Maine (2). Lobster dealers were said to profit off lobstermen (3), a Waldoboro illustrator participated in a show about Darwin called "Spineless Wonders" (4), and one Portland fish dealer, using mermaids for advertising purposes, was accused of not evolving (5). Arby's featured two busty burgers in Sports Illustrated (6) and Tony Bourdain made a food porno (7).

"Wow, they really like spicy food," a student said (8). Seventy-six percent of Bon Appetite readers preferred their favorite food over sex (9) and a Sun Journal employee suggested going on a couch date with frozen food and cheap wine (10). A Scarborough gardener offered a Valentine's Day class on computing (11) and St. Valentine said he was too preoccupied with his spinal cord to enjoy goat cheese (12).

The Hoover Institution said, "Junk sex shares all the defining features of junk food" (13). A Cape Elizabethian suggested a Maine kitchen remodel (14) and blueberries fell to 80 cents a pound (15). A plan to allow hunting on Sundays was shot down (16), hunting was said to be as honorable as growing vegetables (17). “You want to sell them first, then catch them,” a shrimp fisherman said. “The other way is foolish” (18).

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The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants

Photo: E. Atterbury


Thursday, February 12

13th Cookie

Nicholas J. Steven, a "sweet genius," steps into the Portland sweets scene with 13th Cookie. Think vegan-inspired chocolate crisps. He can be reached at 13thcookie [at] One quick aside:
Like the pastry world’s version of breast implants, vegan sweets (the good ones, anyway) have become indistinguishable from their conventional counterparts, via Gourmet.

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Backyard chickens

Two defenders of backyard hens write to the Press Herald.
Chickens are safe, quiet, and friendly pets that can also provide the family breakfast. The time is right for Portland to pass the chicken ordinance on Feb. 18, via PPH.
And pass it without the 25-foot setback rule. [Updated] More on the proposed ordinance's inanities in this week's Forecaster.

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Wednesday, February 11

Like Home

Tom Manning Old Port

Justin Ellis wonders about Tom Manning, the owner of the Cactus Club.

Is he another Portland businessman trying to stay afloat in a bad economy, pay his employees and provide the city with a much-needed service? Or is he the sinister, shadowy figure who stalks Wharf Street, enticing young children to sip tequila and luring wholesome and unsuspecting girls to dance on tables for tips? via PPH.

Well, Tom's "mom" let's us know that if he "chooses to babysit drunks then that is his decision."


Bollos de yuca

In Maine, where the best Chinese restaurant is just a bus ticket away, Freeport's Lindsay Sterling has begun writing about the state's overlooked ethnic foods at Immigrant Kitchens – beginning with bollos de yuca at La Bodega Latina.
My mom used to tell me to do what feels right. I say buns of steel aren't really that sexy anyway. I think my husband, myself, and even those Guatemalan onlookers all prefer a little jiggle in these here buns, via tP.
In the vein of Make Love Not Porn, let's hope there's more ethnic foods made with love and less silly food porn.

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Tuesday, February 10

Hanging 3

The comforts of becoming a vegetarian

When people lose their job—or feel like they could lose their job or have to work harder to keep their job—they often turn to junk food for solace. Why do you think they call it comfort food? via CP.
Which brings us to This is Why You Are Fat, a blog about the most comforting of foods. The alternative reaction (this one favored by the radicalized sons of pencil makers) in a downturn is becoming a vegetarian.

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The Farmer's Table

The Farmer's Table, an unopened Old Port "bistro-style restaurant," is hiring. Any other fresh intelligence out there on this place? [Updated, under comments] Jeff Landry, chef at Eve's, is reportedly behind the bistro at the old Mim's, at 205 Commercial Street. And Travels with Hilary has this:
Eve’s has a stellar rep., but the chef is leaving to start his own restaurant in the former Mim’s location. Hotel manager is upbeat about it. “Change is good, it’s good to mix things up and get new ideas,” he told me, via HN.

[Updated] Reservations available at (207) 347 7479.

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Monday, February 9

Acorn Squash, 2007

Four UK chefs

If you must videosnack, watch these:
Four of the UK’s most renowned chefs tackled issues surrounding local food and animal welfare, via EMD.


Maine Street Markeplace

The Maine Street Marketplace meets Feb. 10 at USM. $10. As the PPH reports:
Stacy Brenner said the initial goal is to have the online ordering site and warehouse and distribution network ready for the 2010 growing season. That will require setting up an online site that makes ordering Maine-produced food as easy as buying a book from, she said, via PPH.

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Reclaimed cookie cutter

joe, conway, cookie, cutter, surf

Design: Joe Conway


Sunday, February 8

Backyard chickens, Round 1

Chicken petitioners are getting organized for a meeting at Portland City Hall next week. (Hopefully, we'll be seeing video reportage like this). The ordinance's proposed 25-foot setback appears to benefit suburban farmers and suburban farming appears to be growing nationally among retiring boomers with green thumbs.

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Bud Pounder's guide to hotel bars

The Bollard's intrepid Bud Pounder investigates four hotel bars – the Holiday Inn's Port of Call, the Eastland's Top of the East, Portland Harbor Hotel, the Regency's Armory Loungue – for three criteria (hot date, night out, and illicit tryst).
Whether you’ve got a hot date, a babysitter, or a pending indictment, Portland has the hotel bar for you. And now, just in time for Valentine’s Day, you have this handy guide.

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Pray Headaches Away

yeshe, parks, maine, collage, artist

Image: Yeshe Parks


Friday, February 6

Week in Review, Feb. 6

Horses were indicative of a new flood of back-to-the-landers (1) and the rise in the number of small Maine farms (5) although both the total number of horses and cows in Maine declined in the last 5 years (3). Sodium-packed canned vegetables were said to save money (4) and a Leeds woman advocated reusing aluminum foil (6). Nitrate-filled Spam was an economic indicator of a recession (7) despite being more expensive than many steaks (8).

Investing in beer – just for its redeemable containers – was said to be a better than some stocks (9). MOFGA failed its USDA organic certification (10) and the USDA said that it may have sent salmonella-tainted peanut butter to Minnesota schools (11). A Portland principal said, "We started offering meatless options as an alternative for vegetarian students who could no longer bring peanut butter sandwiches to school" (12).

Denny's served, like, a free breakfast (13) and a bill banning the sale of energy drinks to kids failed (14). More farmers embraced hoop houses (14.5), Eliot Coleman supported a Vermont farmer who grew greens year-round (15) and a workshop on winter farming was planned in New Hampshire (16). A brick oven pioneer from Australia died (17), a veteran Maine fisherman planned to sell his license (18), and Maine lobster was drowned in ketchup at New York's Rainbow Room (19).

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Beer Dinner

A report from Bar Lola's Beer Dinner by Tom Whitehead includes a mention of an odd pairing with beet salad, but the bottom line:
I know some folks still prefer a hot dog and a Miller High-life at the ballpark, but I certainly have a new appreciation for the possibilities of expertly brewed beer and finely prepared food over a five-course meal, via Beerblog.
Next one is March 10.

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Thursday, February 5

Slow Food potluck

Slow Food hosts a potluck tonight, 6-8 p.m., Public Market House, Monument Square, Portland.

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Wednesday, February 4

When Corn Was Corn

Cactus Club

Fore Street's Cactus Club appears unlikely to be getting a liquor license, reports the Press Herald, Portland Daily Sun, and The Forecaster. The rowdy bar is apparently known on The Internets and around town for its "girlies."
[Tom] Manning, a resident of Falmouth in his early 40s, told councilors the dancers work as “subcontractors.” They are paid with tips stuffed into their clothing or between their breasts, via the Bollard.
[Updated] Because of the City Council's mistakes, the bar will keep its license.

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Pannepot Brewpub

[2/4] Pannepot Brewpub and Cafe planned to open in April 2008 at 1 Forest Ave. Apparently the place was going to be Ebenezer's v. 1.2 and would have served California cuisine, via Beer Advocate. What happened to this project? [Update 2/9] The place is apparently coming to SoPo, at 125 Western Ave., at the old Eggspectation, according to Beernews.

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Some Place You've Never Been

Tuesday, February 3

Play it, Sam, Roger, and Stan

Down East mentions Sam Hayward, Roger Doiron, and Oakhurst Dairy in its March 2009 issue. There's also a piece on Take Back the Tap.

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Lobster four-ways

Earthways' Lodge (Canaan, Me.)

Monday, February 2

Taco Land

Taco Land, 101 York Street, Portland is a "fresh Mexican restaurant" Cheryl Lewis is planning to open this spring, via PFM. Party time: Feb. 11. [Updated] Opened as El Rayo.

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Brunch at the Front Room

Starts with:
So, needless to say, the two girls were hungover. I was not.... I got the eggs bennie and excitedly swirled by english muffin in the creamy mess that I always make of my eggs. The, we all complained about about our boyfriends, via KMB.

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Photo: S. Cramp

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Sunday, February 1

Jubba Internet Cafe

Jubba Internet Cafe opened about a week ago at 17 Veranda Street, between Supper at Six and Beals Ice Cream. Of all the East African restaurants in Portland, this Internet coffee shop/caffe might have the best sambusa–and not just during Ramadan. The crispy, triangular pastry shell is fried and stuffed with ground beef, onions, cumin, salt, hot pepper, and maybe a hint of cardamom. In addition to the inexpensive finger food for the early afternoon, they also have a full menu for lunch and dinner–with goat, beef, and spaghetti.

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Miss Portland

Crab cakes at the Miss Portland diner, reviewed:
Crab cakes ($8.29), also on the earlier menu, display a nicely judged interior with a crisp crust. They are a cut above most Maine versions, both pricey and inexpensive. The lemon dill mayonnaise seemed like overkill, but then again, it might be illegal to serve crab cakes without some kind of mayonnaise, via PPH.

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Making sardine cans at Eastport, Maine