Friday, December 6, 2013
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.
Following the trail of bar food in Portland’s peripatetic offerings of fine eats, local lounge lizzards have some interesting ooptions beyond peanuts and pickles at the counter.
The newer establishments are definitely more upscale than the old Fore Street haunts, which still attract a rowdy bunch of arrivistes out for a blast. Instead, what’s more common in town are the sophisticated lounges where mixologists reign and chefs are lurking in the background creating imaginative nibbles.
My thought was can you make an evening of nibbling and drinking at various places in town without going overboard and still feel well fed?
We began at the ever snappy Hunt and Alpine Club. This has certainly received its share of press and accolades regarding proprietor and mixologist Andrew Volk’s highly successful establishment.. The lounge attracts a good-looking crowd of steady 30- 40-somethings (and older) who make up Portland’s business class.
Though I subscribe to most of the major food magazines, I look at the recipes more than I make them.
However, in the November issue of Saveur Magazine, there were some intriguing food ideas introduced by the cover caption, “Best Fall Comfort Foods”. The actual article was titled, "The Food I Dream Of”--about the writer’s experiences with Portuguese food from the Alentejo region, “rich with rustic foods.”
The one that popped most for me was Braised Spareribs with Potatoes, Entrecosto no Forno.
Besides the pork, the most important part of the preparation called for using a paste of red peppers called massa de pimientao, a commonly used condiment in the region. The magazine gave instructions on how to make the paste, a 5 day process that involved curing red peppers in salt. Too much effort, I thought. But it also gave the alternative of using a commercially made product made by a food company called Incopil and available at Amaral’s Market in New Bedford,
The farm store at Kay and Greg Fowler’s Spring Brook Farm has been in operation since 1997. Kay, who presides at the shop—husband Greg tends the farm—comes from an old Cumberland farming family, the Blanchard’s, who started farming in 1820 on the road of the same name. That land is no longer farmed. But the Fowlers, who are now in their retirement year, are perfectly content to manage their 30-acre Greely Rd. spread and keep the shop open.
Spring Brook Farm, Greely Rd
The store is known to area residents who come in regularly for grass-fed beef, pork, eggs, dairy, baked goods and farm food from other local growers and producers. It’s where customers go to get their roasts for Thanksgiving, Christmas and their hams for Easter and everything else in between. Kay is also a fixture at the Falmouth and Cumberland farmers’
I’m late in the game to share in the infinite pleasures of Chef Cara Stadler’s Brunswick restaurant, Tao-Yuan.
If my only excuse has been the distractions of Portland’s restaurant scene, then I readily chide myself for the omission. After a recent Sunday brunch, which is held on the last weekend day of the month, I now admit to being thoroughly awestruck by the experience. The confluence of flavor, texture and brilliant roster of ingredients in every dish was the stuff of revelation. It was like experiencing the first foray to nouvelle cuisine in a Paris restaurant in the late 1970s with all of those wondrous emulsions and painstakingly simplified techniques that were the canons of French cuisine of the day.
The charmingly simple dining rooms are divided by a wall between the front bar room and the sunny back
Since the weekend the food stores have been packed with a frenzy of shoppers going after all the Thanksgiving paraphernalia.
And each year the professional Thanksgiving pundits create such a sense of peril and doom regarding the roasting of the holiday bird that you’d think a turkey was a newly discovered animal.
I admit that when they come out of their pens, yards and other turkey habitats that anything over 12 pounds is virtually too big to handle easily. Imagine if you had a 20-pouind leg of lamb or a 25- pound standing rib. You’d be ready to hoist it into the hoosegow.
I’ve never cooked a turkey larger than about 18 pounds and that was cumbersome enough. Twenty-five pounds and up belong in restaurant kitchens where paid minions do the dirty deeds of stuffing, trussing, lifting and watching the heebie-jeebies out of it to make sure it doesn’t dry