Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Chefs participating in the Grand Tasting on the Harbor gathered for a group photo last week on the Portland waterfront. Left to right are Al Hynes of the Black Point Inn, Jay Villani of Sonny's, Jeff Buerhaus of Walters, Justin Rowe of the Chebeague Island Inn, Alan Cook of Twenty Milk Street, Charles White of Cinque Terre, Melissa Bouchard of Dimillo's, Tony Lavelle of Solo Bistro, Eric Simeon of Grace, Christopher Bassett of Azure Cafe, Dan Crook of the Blue Wave Grill at the Wyndham Hotel, Jonathan Cartwright of the White Barn Inn, Harding Lee Smith of the Rooms, Jeff Landry of the Farmers Table, Joe Boudreau of Havana South and Mitchell Kaldrovich of Seaglass at the Inn by the Sea. Not pictured: Theda Lyden of the Harraseeket Inn.
Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Chefs William Clifford of the Portland Harbor Hotel, Kelly Patrick Farrin of Azure Cafe in Freeport and Clifford Pickett of Dimillo's in Portland are the three finalists in the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition.
GRAND TASTING ON THE HARBOR
WHEN: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 21
WHERE: Ocean View Room at Ocean Gateway
HOW MUCH: $65
THERE ARE THREE CERTAINTIES in autumn in Maine: the leaves will change color, the days will get shorter, and the Grand Tasting at Harvest on the Harbor will sell out.
THE GRAND TASTING is a chance to sample the cuisine of numerous Maine chefs in a fun atmosphere with live music. Some of the chefs take the opportunity to try something a little different that's not normally on their menus.
IT'S GOOD EXPOSURE for the restaurants at a time when the summer crowds have gone back home and they need to start filling seats with locals again. It's also as much of a good time for the chefs – there are 17 participating this year – as it is for the people sampling their food.
"FOR ME, IT'S REALLY a good opportunity to talk to people that go out to eat a lot," said Eric Simeon, the chef at Grace in Portland. "And it's a good chance to co-mingle with other chefs and restaurant people."
CHEF CHRISTOPHER BASSETT of Azure Cafe in Freeport said it's a great way to expose several hundred people to his food in a single night. "You have to have a dish that definitely gives them a taste of your restaurant," he said, "but also makes a lasting memory really quick so they walk away from your table thinking about you. I like that opportunity."
CHEF JONATHAN CARTWRIGHT of the White Barn Inn calls the tasting and Harvest on the Harbor "a great event with a great following, and it gets bigger and bigger and better every year."
HERE'S A LOOK at what the 17 chefs will be serving at the Grand Tasting:
Chef Jeff Buerhaus, Walter's, Portland: Sake Kasu Tuna
Chef Eric Simeon, Grace, Portland: Seafood Sausage made with Maine shrimp and lobster
Chef Melissa Bouchard, DiMillo's, Portland: Seared Diver Scallop with Pumpkin Bisque and Bacon Jam
Chef Harding Lee Smith, The Rooms, Portland:
The Corner Room: Lamb Polpettine (Meatballs) with Porcini Mushroom-Goat Cheese Fondita; Chicken Liver Crostini
The Grill Room: Beef Tartare with Truffle Aioli
The Front Room: Cheddar Apple Bacon Grilled Cheese on Brioche
Chef Dan Crook, The Blue Wave Grille, The Wyndham Hotel, South Portland: Roasted CornAhiAvocadoTower with Caper-Lime Essence
Chef Alan Cook, Twenty Milk Street, Portland: Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese and Forest Mushroom Confit
Chef Christopher Bassett, Azure Cafe, Freeport: Saffron Poached Potato and Roasted Garlic Balsamic Glazed Lobster with Red Amaranth Microgreens
Chef Jeff Landry, The Farmer's Table, Portland: Housemade charcuterie, including Bresaola and some chicken- or pork-based pate. Also serving fall pickles, including basalmic pickled beets, onion, and carrots or squash
Chef Al Hynes, Black Point Inn, Prouts Neck: Lamb Chops Peperonata and Cream Puffs
Chef Charles White, Cinque Terre, Portland: Duck Consomme and Duck Confit with Apricot Mostarda
Chef Tony Lavelle, Solo Bistro, Bath: Cured Halibut with a Ginger Beet Glaze and a Pickled Onion Relish
Chef Justin Rowe, Chebeague Island Inn: Devils on Horseback – Great Hill blue cheese-stuffed date wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon
Chef Jay Villani, Sonny's, Portland: Seasonal ceviche
Chef Jonathan Cartwright, The White Barn Inn, Kennebunk: Yellowfin Tuna with a Coconut-Cucumber Marinade
Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich, Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, CapeElizabeth: Cured Salmon Tartare on Cones
Chef Theda Lyden, Harraseeket Inn, Freeport: Whipped Triple Creme on Tender Pastries with House-Dried Tomatoes and Thai Basil; Petite Lobster Mousse Eclairs
Chef Joe Boudreau, Havana South, Portland: Spice Rubbed Seared Rare Sushi Grade Yellowfin Tuna on a Flour Tortilla Chip with a Charred Local Fennel and Tomato Salsa; Roasted Lamb Tenderloin on Roasted Jalapeno, Corn and Potato Cake
This year, the Marketplace has been moved to the large parking lot by Ocean Gateway, with a tent triple the size of last year's. The event has also been divided into two sessions to better accommodate ticket holders. Both Michael Ruoss and Zac Young will be at the marketplace.
Young, who will be hosting the Sweet Stage, says he tries to get back to Maine four times a year, especially in the fall for the major "eating" holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. He always asks for his grandmother's pumpkin pie and matzoh ball soup, a family tradition.
"The best part of the soup is the carrots from her garden," Young wrote in an e-mail interview. "Hopefully I'll swipe some when I'm home for Harvest on the Harbor, if the groundhog doesn't get them first."
Young's go-to restaurant when he's home is the Vientiane Market on Noyes Street in Portland.
"I grew up a block away, and I love how fresh and lively this Southeast Asian 'eat-in take-out' spot is," Young said. "Give me some summer rolls and tom yum soup and I am ready to go."
The Maine food he can't live without? Wild blueberries.
"There are some farms in upstate New York that try to grow low bush blueberries, but they are not the same," Young said. "The sweet/tart pop of a wild Maine blueberry is unparalleled. I'll pay top dollar if anyone wants to ship me a flat or 5."
Young also has fond memories of visiting the original Mister Bagel on Forest Avenue, and counts a bagel from that store as his favorite pastry in Portland.
"The late Rick Hartglass – 'Mister Bagel' himself – and my father were very close," Young said. "We went every morning before school. I remember being fascinated with the process of proofing, boiling and baking these treats, Rick would let me stand in the corner and watch. That store has the greatest smell in the world, a mixture of yeast, sugar and toast."
Ruoss will be at the Ultimate Seafood Splash on Thursday, and at the Savory Grilling Stage at the marketplace on Saturday.
At the Ultimate Seafood Splash, Ruoss will be serving a seafood gumbo similar to that served in one of his company's Louisiana restaurants, Gumbo Shop.
When he's not busy at Harvest on the Harbor, Ruoss will be visiting some of the old haunts he stops by whenever he comes home for a visit. His visits used to come once a year, but ever since Hurricane Katrina hit, trips home have stretched to every other year.
His must-do list includes a clam cake from Rapid Ray's in Saco and a visit to Fore Street in Portland, because he is "a huge fan" of Chef Sam Hayward.
"I don't consider it a trip home without going to Fore Street and then swinging by L.L. Bean at 2 o'clock in the morning," Ruoss said.
His final treat is loading up his suitcase with a case of Moxie before flying home.
Moxie? Hear that, Harvest on the Harbor?
Maybe in 2011 ...
Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE ULTIMATE SEAFOOD SPLASH
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 21
WHERE: Ocean View Room, Ocean Gateway
HOW MUCH: $45.
If it's seafood you're interested in, this is the ticket to buy.
Benkay Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar will be providing the sushi, and there will be lots of local oysters shucked by the Maine Aquaculture Association.
Smoked salmon? Yep. Mussels and scallops? You betcha.
Chef Michael Ruoss, a celebrity chef visiting from New Orleans, will be introducing Mainers to his seafood gumbo.
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Amy Bouchard of Wicked Whoopies will be preparing a signature Harvest whoopie pie for the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition on Oct. 22 at Ocean Gateway. These Whoop-de-Doos are her classic Wicked Whoopie dipped in chocolate.
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This apple and crab salad, made with local McIntosh apples, lightly dressed and served on endive, was prepared by Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich of Cape Elizabeth's Inn by the Sea for a preview of Harvest on the Harbor. Kaldrovich is one of 17 chefs who will be cooking for the Grand Tasting on the Harbor Oct. 21 at Ocean Gateway.
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Michael Ruoss will prepare his seafood gumbo for the Ultimate Seafood Splash.
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Zac Young will host the Sweet Stage on Oct. 23.