Thursday, April 17, 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.
Lemon meringue pie is one of those great American desserts. With its tower of snow-white meringue and tart-sweet filling it just doesn’t get much better than this.
Most recipes are fairly standard. The filling is basically a mixture of sugar, cornstarch and sometimes flour, mixed with water or milk, brought to the boil to thicken and flavored with fresh lemon juice and grated rind.
Every cook has his or own formula, but one of the best that I came across recently was in the cookbook, Back in the Day by Savannah, GA., bakers Cheryl and Griffith Day whose bakeshop there goes by the same name. Their version of lemon meringue pie is quite rich and I’ve adapted it with a few changes.
Why do we Sunday brunch?
Not even this sacred day’s midday meal escapes the hijinks of the gastrotech’s mindset spurring ever serious chefs to reinvent the wheels of eggs Benedict or blueberry pancakes. That’s because the demand is so high, where no brash food centric can live without weekend pleasures of cuisine at warp speed.
Portland doesn’t yet have far-out menus, though, from chefs who want to shock and shake the world of brunch. We’re happy with the few twists on eggs Benedict, hash or waffles smothered in pork belly. The most inventive menu for brunch I’ve found so far is at Caiola’s where the likes of Asian meatballs might accompany your eggs.
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.