Sunday, March 9, 2014
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.
You’d have to be otherwise bound, gagged and blindfolded not to know that upon entering Zapoteca you’re in Portland’s only highly regarded Mexican restaurant. There are snippets of authentic Mexican cooking at a few other establishments around the state, but it’s still not a pervasive feature that defines Maine’s global culinary reach.
Yet sometimes I wonder if the constriction of following a go-local credo influences the cooking too much at Zapoteca. Namely, should it look more to south of the border for ingredients and inspiration rather than to stay within the boundaries of our local foodstuffs that chef Shannon Bard so proudly does to instill in her cooking Mexico in Maine?
Put in a pound each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs and you’ve made the old formula for pound cake, one of the most universally enjoyed cakes and an easy one to make.
There are endless variations on pound cake. These include flavoring it with lemon, using brown sugar instead of white sugar, buttermilk instead of whole milk or adding sour cream or cream cheese to the basic mixture.
Portland continues to attract food mavens who flock to our restaurants, farmer’s markets and locavore’s delights and endeavors. But what we lack is a retail shop that focuses on specialty foods from around the world.
What the good global foodie needs is one place to find it all. We have a handful of stores where you can buy various items, but no one-stop mart where it’s under one roof.
Larger cities like Boston and New York are chockablock with gourmet food shops. In New York, Dean and DeLuca is the best known as is Eataly, the Chelsea Market and hordes of smaller specialty food retailers.
It’s been nearly six months since I’ve stepped foot into Salvage BBQ after the kafuffle of barbecue joint openings late last summer that included the aforementioned and South Portland’s Elsmere, both of which debuted around the same diametrically planned time.
Nice touches like this vintage diner bench turn out to be a convenient place to wait for your take out order at Salvage
Sometimes you find a recipe that’s so good it becomes a firm favorite. That happened recently when I was thumbing through the cookbook, Southern Comfort, by husband and wife chefs and authors, Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing.
The book is based on their food memories of growing up in the south and their various cooking journeys working in restaurants from San Francisco to New York. They’re back on home turf now, in New Orleans, where their highly regarded restaurant, MiLa, is located
The recipes in the book are very inventive and the few that I’ve tried so far have been wonderful. The one I’ve included here is Chicken Thighs Braised with Creole Mustard. It has great flavor, from combining the sweetness of the raisins, wine, cream and stock with the mustard.