October 9, 2013

Here’s your fill of tidbits about Harvest on the Harbor

The lobster competition and beer tasting are already sold out, but you can still make your own wine

(Continued from page 1)

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Chef Chad Conley displays a pepperoni with pickled chiles pizza at Gather in Yarmouth.

Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

Think you could blend a winning wine? Give it a try at a wine tasting workshop on Oct. 25 at Harvest on the Harbor.

Courtesy photo

Additional Photos Below

Don’t get me wrong. I am not implying that only high-end restaurants should be allowed to participate – far from it. But there should be more thought given to the mix of high-end versus more casual restaurants, and those that are located in Portland versus outside Portland.

I also asked Whitten once again (I’m sure she’s tired of hearing me talk about it) why there’s no seafood-centric event this year. If you’re a tourist coming to Maine and spending big money on a food festival, you want lobster, clams, oysters and other seafood, not tacos (unless they’re fish tacos).

She quickly and politely put me in my place, reminding me that the two “Seafood Splash” extravaganzas they have held have not sold as well as some of the other events. Part of the problem was that both events were held in the middle of the day, a tougher time to sell tickets. (The first year was a particularly wonderful event, and I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t sold out.) The second year, they focused on serving only sustainable seafood. The food was, once again, terrific, but fewer people showed up.

“By far the best food you could find on the planet, no question,” Whitten said. “But I think the message about sustainable seafood, and would I eat pollock, was a hard thing to sell.”

Guests will get a good helping of seafood at the Grand Tasting this year (see below), but I still think they should try making it the focus of an entire event again next year, and this time hold it in the evening. And promote the hell out of it.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll shut up about it.

Meanwhile, how about a committee to come up with some creative ideas for the new events they add each year? Why not challenge chefs to come up with a gourmet take on classic New England foods, something that would attract both tourists and curious locals? I don’t mean the usual clam chowder and lobster rolls. How about a kicked-up version of tourtiere? Would anyone dare to use Moxie as an ingredient in a sauce? The point is, let’s do something to encourage creativity and give the restaurants a kick in their chef’s whites.

Step away from the crostinis, people!

Now, on to the events:

GRAND TASTING

WHEN: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 23

WHERE: Ocean View Room at Ocean Gateway Pier, Portland

HOW MUCH: $65

The Grand Tasting only has 18 chef’s stations this year, down from 22. Why? Many of the chefs whom organizers had hoped to lure into the fold did not sign up in time, while the wine folks did a great job of laying claim to 29 out of 49 tables.

“We were full before we even started asking people who we thought should be there,” Whitten said.

The good news is there will still be plenty of talent there, including Kelly Farrin from Primo. Bridging the seafood gap will be the Maine Aquaculture Association, which will turn two tables into a raw bar with lots of Maine oysters. There will also be steamed mussels and True North smoked salmon.

MAINE LOBSTER CHEF OF THE YEAR COMPETITION

WHEN: Noon to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 24

WHERE: Ocean View Room at Ocean Gateway Pier, Portland

HOW MUCH: $65

This event sold out before they even announced who the competitors would be, a first for Harvest on the Harbor, so I won’t waste space here describing it. I will be covering the event, so watch for my story announcing the winner online Oct. 24.

INTERNATIONAL MAINE: TASTE THE WORLD

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Conley checks on a pie in the oven while a spinach and roasted fennel pizza rests on the counter at Gather. Conley will compete in the Oct. 25 Top of the Crop competition, along with Kerry Altiero of Cafe Miranda in Rockland, Richard Hanson of Cleonice Mediter-ranean Bistro in Ellsworth, and David Levi, who will open a restaurant called Vinland in Portland in November.

click image to enlarge

Chef Chad Conley makes a pepperoni, with pickled chillis pizza at Gather restaurant in Yarmouth.

Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge



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