Monday, April 21, 2014
Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.
Thomas Pisha-Duffly is just back from a culinary journey through Java, Bali and Lombok, and he wants to share what he learned about the cuisine with you.
Pisha-Duffly, a professional cook who has worked in Boston and at Hugo's right here in Portland, will be putting together a multi-course, family-style dinner inspired by his travels at Nosh Kitchen Bar on Feb. 23.
Among the dishes to be featured at this "Family Feast" event are Indonesia's celebrated fried chicken Ayam Goreng, goat coconut curry with roti, whole fish, a varietyof sambal, pickles, rice, sides, noodles, fritters and salads.
After dinner, guests will be served an array of Indonesian sweets and pastry with coffee from Tandem Coffee Roasters.
When the Chebeague Island Inn opens for the summer, it will have a new chef at the helm.
Casey Prentice, the president of the hospitality group that owns the inn, tells me that chef Justin Rowe has moved to Boston with his wife, where he will be searching for new opportunities and become a new dad.
Worth magazine, which describes itself as " the definitive wealth management and lifestyle magazine for high net worth readers," has named Hugo's restaurant in Portland one of its "Top 10 Iconic Restaurants" in the country.
The restaurant - owned by Mike Wiley, Andrew Taylor and Arlin Smith - is in some heady company. Also on the list are Le Bernardin, Le Cirque and La Grenouille in New York; L'Espalier in Boston, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif.; The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.; the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia; Spago in Beverly Hills, Calif.; and Canlis in Seattle.
The magazine says the list was made on "reputation and influence," and identifies 10 restaurants "that have excelled for at least 25 years."
It makes one wonder how much research the people who make these endless lists actually do before they publish something. While the magazine does note Hugo's has evolved from its "humble Irish pub roots," there is no context. A quarter century ago, Hugo's was owned by former Portland restaurateur Johnny Robinson (it's named after his son). While the restaurant, located at 88 Middle St., was a popular place back then, it was a completely different animal. Hugo's only started gaining widespread notoriety after chef Rob Evans bought the place in 2000, kept the name, and started cooking his way towards a James Beard Best Chef: Northeast award, which he won in 2009.
Fans of Back River Gin know that it hasn't always been so easy to find.
In the early days, it was truly an artisanal product, made in small batches at Sweetgrass Farm Winery by husband-and-wife team Keith and Constance Bodine. Finding it in local stores often depended upon when the Bodines could make it down to Portland next, so if you were really hankering for a Back River martini, sometimes you had to make the two-hour trek to their out-of-the-way place in Union.
Then the awards started coming in. The Bodines began distilling other spirits, including whiskey and rum, and expanding their wine offerings. Last year, they completed a 4,000-square-foot addition to their distillery so they could make more whiskey and meet the increased demand for Back River Gin.
On Monday, James Beard Award winners Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier will launch their new venture, MC Spiedo Ristorante & Bar, in the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.
The chefs, owners of MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and former owners of Arrows, will be giving the Today Show audience a sneak preview of the place Friday. They are taping the segment today, and it will air during the fourth hour of the show tomorrow with co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.