Thursday, April 30

Best Burger in Maine

According to the new Food Network Magazine, the best burger in Maine is: Owls Head General Store's "seven-napkin burger."

Was the research confined only to the Internets? After all, Maine Food and Lifestyle Magazine said the same thing last year.

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Wednesday, April 29

Street view

Seen on Exchange Street

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Port City Life (now owned by MH+D) has a new issue with articles about Paciarino, church suppers, food distributors, Local Sprouts' Community Supported Kitchen, and two dinner theaters: Naked Shakespeare and Blue Hammer. Nope, not online.

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Adds to the blogroll

Krista Desjarlais of Bresca now has a blog.

So does The Snug. And Kristen Andresen, the Maine Maven, has also been blogging about greater Portland.

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Tuesday, April 28

Kelp pasta

Sunday, April 26

Sunday Read: Is local food better?

World Watch reporter Sarah DeWeerdt talks to Rich Pirog, the man who defined the oft-repeated statistic that food travels about 1,500 miles from farmers to consumers, about the meaning and value of local food:
"Food miles are a good measure of how far food has traveled. But they're not a very good measure of the food's environmental impact," [Pirog says.]

That impact depends on how the food was transported, not just how far. For example, trains are 10 times more efficient at moving freight, ton for ton, than trucks are. So you could eat potatoes trucked in from 100 miles away, or potatoes shipped by rail from 1,000 miles away, and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their transport from farm to table would be roughly the same, via WorldWatch.

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Friday, April 24

Beer, wings, and Holy plywood

Binga’s Wingas plans to move to 50 Wharf Street, the former location of Cake. Owner Alec Altman had tried two previous locations on the fringes of the peninsula (one burned, the other got robbed). This seems like a prime beer and wings real estate.

Also on Monday: Grace, 17 Chestnut Street, goes before the City Council for a liquor license. For more, check the full council agenda.

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Photo: Andres Gonzalez
Salt, 9-4:30 (via PaBB!)

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Stephen Cooks (again)

After a long hiatus and a diagnosis of Type II diabetes, Stephen Smith returns to cooking up meals on one of the few local recipe blogs worth reading: Stephen Cooks.

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Week in Review, April 24

"I'm going to make sure no kid in Maine goes hungry again," said an underwater treasure hunter (1). Tom Vilsack said genetic engineering would boost food productivity (2), but opponents called genetically engineered canola, corn, and soybeans being grown in Maine "science fiction" (3). Ira Glass was given a ginger root and a gift certificate to J's Oyster Bar in appreciation of his show at Merrill Auditorium (4). The author of Organic Inc. bought Maine seed potatoes (5).

"If one were to judge Maine’s dining scene solely by the recommendations made by Down East, one would be forced to conclude that, aside from a few beacons of gustatory solace, you’re pretty much out of luck once you drive north of Lewiston," said a Bangor columnist (6). A Lewiston woman said she preferred eggs from caged chickens (7). Honeybees were called "white man's flies" (8) and the egalitarian spirit at Barava was dubbed "a PR coup" (9). Alice Waters coined the term arugulance (10).

The state veterinarian said, “A lot of people are making decisions about what they eat based on horror stories on YouTube. In Maine, 99.9 percent of farmers are doing it right.” (11). A dead cow inexplicably washed ashore (12). Lobstermen were urged to cut the number of traps (13) and a research vessel in the Gulf of Maine hit and killed a right whale (14).

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Food, Inc.

Documentary: Magnolia
SPACE Gallery, May 8

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Wednesday, April 22

Chalking one up for Ramsay

At the University of Southern Maine, Ardis Cameron is teaching a "Project Chef" class, where students will interview local chefs and waitstaff, according to PFM. Here's a raised glass of piss and vinegar to hoping Cameron and others hold students more accountable, you know, like Gordon Ramsay on Hell's Kitchen.

An important lesson is being taught: The teacher is no fool, and he doesn't work for you. He doesn't want you to like him; you need to earn his respect. One might say that Chef Ramsay — like other fearsome reality-TV judges — is a warrior in the battle against snowflake culture, via CHE.

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Tuesday, April 21

Portland (Don't) Buy Local

Amuse Bouche

Photo: Katie Selva

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How to brew tree tea

The magazine includes a story about tea, a roundup including Emilitsa and the Grill Room, and a piece on how to brew tea from hemlock trees.

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Down East Eats

Down East's list of where to eat in Maine is now online (via a redesigned website).

Portland establishments on the list include: Fore Street, the Grill Room, Novare Res Bier Cafe, Top of the East, Una Wine Bar and Lounge, Susan's Fish and Chip's, 555, Fore Street, Paciarino, Vaughan Street Variety, 555, Bresca, Bar Lola, Fore Street, Haggarty's, North Star Music Cafe, Thanh Thanh II, bonobo, Portland Coffee Roaster, and Fore Street.

See also, 2008.

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Monday, April 20

Deathmatch: Last Supper

Photo: Zack Bowen
(Thx JohnnyD and AV!)

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On the battle of Lexington and Concord

Plant peas on Patriots' Day. See also, recent Fedco seeds profile.

Today is 420, with reggae and munchies at Empire Dine and Dance.

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Seeds of Change Fresh Start

Seeds of Change Fresh Start, a 10-minute film about farms by Sharyn Paul Brusie, plays tonight at 5:30 p.m. and April 22 at 5:30 p.m., via MAFF.

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Garden monument (Rockland)

Photo: Arthur

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Sunday, April 19

Sunday Read: Fresh

The media might be on to the obesity epidemic and food safety problems, but, as geography scholar Susanne Freidberg points out in Fresh:
despite this glut of media coverage, the provenance of most food is little known or understood. Whether at Tesco or farmers’ markets, consumers must take vendors’ avowals of freshness on trust, via TLS.

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Relocalizing, reskilling Portland

Train for the end times. Portland, Maine is a Transition town, via CSM and NYT. (Paging the Portland Press Herald. Is anybody out there?)

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Hobo Den (Topsham, Maine)

Saturday, April 18


Watch out in the Bubba's parking lot.


Dwell: Portland

Dwell gets some tips from a local architect on the city's modern design and Portland's foodie scene. Christopher Campbell says:
Fore Street always gets a great deal of attention but there are a great number of excellent restaurants all through town. Places like Evangeline, Hugo's, Miyake, Bresca, (and on and on) are all top notch. One of the best guides for food in town is Portland Food Map the places they call out with four and five stars are really must-eat stops if you're planning a visit.

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Friday, April 17


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In my fantasy, I enter a restaurant, order and sweetly ask the waiter if I can "hold on to the menu" during dinner. Then, using a distinctive purple pen, I discreetly copy-edit the descriptions of the dishes, via WP.
As in the letter "k" in "chickory."

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Week in Review, April 17

Police reportedly ordered a man picking up PBR cans on the side of the highway to stop (1) and public safety officials said online wine sales would erode their ability to enforce drinking laws (2). Coffee, beer, boatbuilding were the three crafts people associated with Maine (3), four bills addressed genetically engineered crops (4), and Dunkin’ Donuts didn't fit with the "snobby" feel of Camden (5).

A Cape Elizabeth farmer sold lobsters (6) and a reviewer said: "And farmers may not eat that much lobster, which are hard to raise inland. But lobster will appeal to the masses who visit the Old Port in the summer, and at the Farmer's Table they are doing good things with them" (7). Historian Sandy Oliver weighed every vegetable she grew last year, raising an estimated $3,200 (8), and community gardens had longer than average wait lists this year (9).

The value of lobster landings dropped by $50 million last year (10) and a collision in New Jersey disabled the Maine fishing boat Dictactor (11). Lawyers interpreting CIA interrogation techniques said, “Although we do not equate a person who voluntarily enters a weight-loss program with a detainee subjected to dietary manipulation as an interrogation technique, we believe that it is relevant that several commercial weight-loss programs available in the United States involve similar or even greater reductions in caloric intake” (12, 13).

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"Not Food"

Photo: Jeff Hoffman

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Thursday, April 16

Bard Coffee Roasters

Bard Coffee Roasters brews the best espresso drinks in town. At least that's what Justin Henry says.
The shot I had at Bard was at least as good, if not better than Arabica.
The coffee tends to be a little too American and the Bollywood tunes somehow don't jive with the space. But where else can you get multiple single-origin brews that aren't burnt to a crisp? There's a small selection of pastries and cakes, free Wi-fi, and lots of empty, lacquered chairs. Now, if only there were an orange juice press.

[Update 5/13] The Maine Mouth talks with Bard co-owner and coffee guru Bob Garver.

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Wednesday, April 15

Portland Tax Day Tea Party

Ceremoniously dip a tea bag in a bathtub to protest taxes, Munjoy Hill Beach, 4-6 p.m.

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Tuesday, April 14

Common Ground Fair 2009

John Bunker

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Monday, April 13

Clever horses

E.B. White apparently invented the term "clever horses" during his time in Maine. The term appears in The Elements of Style, a book that has been dispensing everything from "limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense" for the last 50 years.

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Sunday, April 12

Expressive Instructions: How to bone a chicken

In The Craftsman, Richard Sennett writes about handling knives and the daily ritual of eating. On the transmission of craftsmanship, he looks at three recipes for boning a chicken; the last from an obscure Persian-born cooking teacher Madame Benshaw.
“Your dead child. Prepare him for new life. Fill him with the earth. Be careful! He should not overeat. Put on his golden coat. You bathe him. Warm him but be careful! A child dies from too much sun. Put on his jewels. This is my recipe,” via New Statesmen.

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Photo: Brook DeLorme

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Friday, April 10

Week in Review, April 10

Only four Portland residents took out permits to legally raise backyard chickens (1). A Maine composting firm attempted to make a substance that was safer than dirt (2). Eight starving Maine horses were rescued (3), but other abandoned horses had nowhere to go because of the shutdown of U.S. slaughterhouses (4). The Animal Refuge League attempted to disuade consumer from buying real animals for Easter (5). "This is the problem with our ecosystem having become a domesticated ecosystem," said a University of Maine biologist (6).

A farm that had been featured in Stonyfield Farms advertising material had its milk contract canceled (7), two New Hampshire men were accused of stealing ice cream in Maine (8), and the owner of Good Eats Boutique learned about business from a state unemployment training class (9). A northern Maine parishioner who drank arsenic-tainted coffee six years ago died (10).

Raw food impaired a woman's fertility (11), part-time veganism became popular (12), and the meat backlash was said to be unrelated to the case for eradicating men's nipples (13). The author of the Tightwad Gazette suggested living on lentils (14), Allagash brewed with a wild American yeast (15), and, in Brewer, a prostitution ring named Cinnamon's Sweets served clients (16). A brewfest organizer said, "It's not a drunk fest, it's a micro-brew tasting event" (17).

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Spring specials

Here are a couple of fertile treats, some traditionally made during the spring holidays:
Caviar, fish roe, via Browne Trading.

Balut (Hột vịt lộn), fertilized duck egg, via Makot Pech.

Ovetti nonnati, unlaid eggs from a butchered hen.

Cabrito or kutti pi, goat kid (sometimes unborn and seethed in it's mother's milk).

Persian lamb, unborn lamb meat.
Time magazine once wrote: "How succulent the flesh of unborn animals is, few civilized people know."

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Thursday, April 9

Of deer and unicorn

Photo: Mandy Lamb/
Bakery Photo, Westbrook, 7 p.m.

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Saigon Sandwich and Variety

A California chain, Saigon Sandwich, plans to open inside the old and cleaned-up Portland Grocery Store on Cumberland Avenue. The classic Vietnamese-American take-out place is scheduled for aopened April 15 debut. Phone: 780 1489.

Banh mi addicts should also check out Kim's.

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Food bills

A couple pieces of food-related legislation in the state legislature, summed up:
LD 904, an act to allow micro-breweries to sell 1/2-gallon growlers: Pending (via Sun Journal).

LD 916, an act to ban trans-fats: Did not pass (via MPBN).

LD 989, an act to permit licensed retail beer/wine stores to sell beer/wine on premises in conjunction with a meal: Pending.

LD 1182, an act to fine milk processors when the retail price of milk exceeds twice what is paid to farmer: In committee.
If you give a damn about any of these, contact your representative.

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Wednesday, April 8


julianna, swaney, portland museum, beebeard, biennial

Art: Julianna Swaney
(MeCA '05)

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Maine's online farmers markets

Maine Street Marketplace is just an idea and the Rosemont Market is only in the very early stages of developing a Portland-based web ordering system. Out in Farmington, though, the state's first online farmers market Western Maine Market has gone live.
The first pickup of about a dozen orders started equally well Tuesday afternoon as farmers brought eggs, spinach and jellies to the distribution site at Tranten's Market where orders were available for customers from 4 to 6 p.m., via Sun Journal.

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In wine (and books), there is truth

Bookland and Port in A Storm closed. And Books Etc. in Portland plans to shut down in June. But Rabelais remains. mav writes:
Whether it’s adding another cookbook to my collection or just a day for browsing, a stop at Rabelais is one of my favorite simple pleasures hands down, via DesignSponge.

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Tuesday, April 7

Photo: Rose Marasco

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Friday, April 3

What's the capacity at Gritty's?

Forbes names Portland, Maine, well, actually, most of Southern Maine (513,000 people) as its #1 most livable city. Not sure if this made the press release, but "Portland" is #81 for best places for business. Which sort of leads us to a panacea:
The beer at Gritty McDuff's might be enough to lure people to Portland, Me.


Thursday, April 2

DeCoster Egg Farm

Just in time for Easter. The Decoster Egg Farm in Turner, one of the larger brown egg farms and the site of a long list of grievances, has been investigated by the Ohio-based Mercy for Animals. An anonymous worker recorded live hens going in the trash. The company said:
I was shocked to see we hired a fraud. Instead of taking care of the birds, he did his best to not to that. I find it inappropriate for someone to take money from a company to do a job and not do it, via WMTW.

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Victory Brand Pickling Vinegar


The problem with food

n+1 has an essay by Mark Greif on food culture, elitism and the paradox of modern eating:
You can eat your Powerbar, product of an engineering as peculiar as any the world has known, and wash it down with unpasteurized unfiltered cider pressed by Mennonites, and on both fronts, you find it good, via n+1.

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Homegrown Herb + Tea

Homegrown, at 195 Congress St., gets profiled in DesignSponge. Sarah keeps the apothecary-style shop stocked with crumpets and teas, tonics and Ayurvedic advice, sweets and soups. There's caffeine, but no coffee.

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Ricky and Daniel, 1990

Olive Pierce

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Wednesday, April 1

Sea Dogspectations

Not Pannepot. The old Eggspectations, on Western Avenue in South Portland, is apparently going to be a Sea Dog Brewing Co. restaurant in May. Breakfast will still be served. So will beer.

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Ham is not a toy

Who's the April Fool?

About two weeks ago, a judgment was handed down in Levesque v. Doocy. The case involved a 2007 incident in which the morning news show "Fox and Friends" (Doocy) failed to corroborate a fake online news story hosted by Associated Content about a racially motivated incident at a middle school involving a ham sandwich. The story, among other things, quoted the superintendent (Levesque) as saying, "Ham is not a toy."

Levesque claimed he was defamed; the court ruled that the First Amendment protected the "gullible" hosts, but added:
Poetic justice would subject [Fox News] to the same ridicule that they accorded the [school superintendent]. But in real life, the aggrieved school superintendent must be satisfied with their later retraction and a professional reputation sullied less than theirs, via MediaShift.