Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By now Portland’s stealth world of secret dining societies is not so hush-hush anymore. Case in point is the highly successful Pocket Brunch series promoted by restaurateurs Josh and Kate Potocki, owners of Café 158 in South Portland.
It may be the hottest invite in town, but if you happen upon the right website or email list you’ll be duly informed of the events. Otherwise inquire at email@example.com for the next round of feasting. But act fast since these events sell out quickly.
The drill, though, is all very top secret. You’ll get an announcement followed by the date and finally right up until the end where and when the event will be held. It’s all in good fun—a nice twist to local dining.
Ultimately there aren’t too many chefs to whom I’d fork out $100 for brunch. But I did in the latest Pocket Brunch series because the guest chef was none other than Rob Evans of Hugo’s and Duckfat fame.
Chef Rob Evans
It was held yesterday morning at Broadturn Farm in Scarborough, which is part of the Scarborough Land Trust whose generational tenant farmers John Bliss and Stacy Brenner hosted this bacchanalian brunch of extraordinary food.
By 11: 00 sharp some 60 serious food savants showed up on a very damp, gray morning. The farm is on hundreds of acres and parking was down the road, which meant that we had to trudge nearly a mile across a muddy, slushy driveway to the farm’s main buildings. Along the way fresh hay was put over the path, and each crunchy step released a delicious scent of hay.
Diners line up at the barn
Hostess with the most
Drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served in the barn. At the door was a waiter holding a try of beet fed oysters with white sturgeon caviar pearl with a foam of vodka whip. On the buffet table chunks of bacon skewered with Broadturn mozzarella rested in a thimble of tomato water, and finally Meyer lemon thyme puffs set a very festive mood indeed.
Oysters at the door
Bacon shots with mozzarella
Coffee was prepared by Tandem Roasters from East Bayside, Portland, and cocktails were an extraordinary array of mixes inspired by Evans. My favorite was the Dean Martini made with vodka, tomato water, spices and celery.
A Champagne brunch was served across the field in a greenhouse set up for dining. That it was a little drafty and damp might be understatement; but once the rows of tables filled up with the participants of this rip-roaring soiree, the surroundings heated up fast.
Nearly five hours later the last course was served—a brilliant dessert of yogurt parfait layered with almond-milk tapioca, blood orange and couscous granola
The four preceding courses stunningly devised by Evans began like this.
Silken puree of Maine sunchoke with fried egg yolk, black truffle and beef tongue grabiche
Spicy gravlax,smoked trout roe, Maine potato rosti, creme fraiche and an incredible pistachio marmalade
23k gold wrapped foie gras,smoked apple butter, apple chip, quince, pickled apple and black bread
Outrageously rich duck egg over mortadella ball, braised sprout hash and luxurious saffron-tabasco hollandaise
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.