Brunch at new café promises gluten-free, Paleo accent

When Dave Mallari closed Francisco’s Blue House Café in 2008, many people asked him if he would ever open another restaurant. He usually responded, “Never again.”

Well, never say never.

Mallari plans to open a new café, a “small, quirky place” serving brunch Wednesday through Sunday, at 906 Brighton Ave., the former home of La Familia. The new place is expected to open in early March.

Sounds simple, but here’s an interesting twist: Mallari has celiac disease and is an avid CrossFitter, so he plans to serve many gluten-free and Paleo-friendly items, including pancakes, eggs Benedict, and biscuits with sausage gravy.

After Mallari closed Francisco’s Blue House Café, he focused on throwing pig roasts and paella parties under the name The Pig Kahuna. Mallari said he’s been wanting to expand into a year-round business for some time now.

The kitchen at the old La Familia place is perfect for catering, he said, and he’ll use the 35-seat dining room for brunch, monthly theme dinners and small private functions with special dinner menus. He’ll serve beer and wine to start, but hopes to have a full liquor license eventually.

The Pig Kahuna will continue to operate as a separate entity from April through November.

Chili and chowder galore for a good cause on Sunday

Take a break from the bitter temperatures this weekend and warm up at the Great Chili & Chowder Challenge, the popular annual fundraiser for the Portland chapter of Altrusa International, a nonprofit organization focused on community service.

This event, held every year at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 Spring St., is usually packed, even when it’s snowing like crazy outside. From 12:30 to 3 p.m., attendees can sample chili and chowders from more than a dozen restaurants and caterers.

Tickets cost $20 in advance or $23 at the door. A $35 special preview ticket gets you in the door an hour early so you can avoid the line at your favorite chowder station. For tickets, call 797-4494.

Rosemont presents events with ciders, wines, films

Rosemont Market has a busy late winter schedule. First among several upcoming events is a free hard cider tasting from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brighton Avenue store. Rosemont butcher Omen Biele, who makes cider himself, will guide you through ciders from the United States, France, Spain and Chile.

On Feb. 13, Viennese wine importer Carlo Huber will lead a tasting of red and white Austrian wines from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Think Tank, 533 Congress St. Rosemont chef Brad Messier will cook traditional Austrian tavern food to pair with the wines. The event costs $35, and there are just 30 seats available.

Rosemont is collaborating with Cultivating Community and Maine College of Art to show a series of films that explore the local foods movement, including “My Father’s Garden” on March 1, “Real Dirt on Farmer John” on March 26, and “In Organic We Trust” on May 3. All films are shown at 4 p.m. in the Osher Hall at the Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St. Admission is free, but seating is limited.

Tours will feature Scotch and chocolate with wine

Get in the mood for Valentine’s Day by exploring wine and chocolate pairings in the West End from 2:45 to 5 p.m. Saturday. The tour will start at Congress Squared, 157 High St. Tickets cost $49 in advance or $55 the day of the tour, if available, at winewiseevents.com or 619-4630.

If chocolate isn’t your heart’s desire, or if you prefer hard liquor to wine, how about a Scotch walk in the Old Port from 2:45 to 5 p.m. Sunday? It starts at RiRa, 72 Commercial St., and costs $55 in advance or $60 the day of the event.

Local chefs to demonstrate cooking skills at home show

Every year, the Maine Home, Remodeling and Garden Show features a Meet the Chefs cooking series with demonstrations from local chefs.

This year, participating chefs include Harding Smith, owner of The Rooms restaurants in Portland; Brant Dadaleares, pastry chef at Fore Street in Portland; and Ben Slayton, owner of The Farm Stand in South Portland.

The event, which features more than 180 exhibitors, seminars and a marketplace with specialty foods, will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

For a Meet the Chefs schedule and other show information, go to maine.newenglandexpos.com.

Buy tickets at the door: $8 for adults, $6 for ages 65 and older, and $5 for ages 6 to 16.

Taste of the Nation moves meeting to Feb. 16

The kick-off meeting for Taste of the Nation Maine 2015 has been postponed because of snow.

The meeting, originally scheduled for Feb. 2, will be held at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 16 at Five Fifty-Five at 555 Congress St.

The meeting will discuss volunteering at the group’s annual dinner, which raises money to fight childhood hunger.


Sea Glass chef and wife to open their own eatery

After seven years as executive chef at Sea Glass at Cape Elizabeth’s Inn by the Sea, chef Mitchell Kaldrovich and his wife, Lisa, are opening their own restaurant at 2 School St. in Lisa’s hometown of Gorham, where they also live.

In an email, Mitchell Kaldrovich described MK Kitchen as a “local community restaurant” with “simple handmade food, all from scratch from desserts to pastas.”

The menu will change weekly “according to abundance and availability,” but the chef says he doesn’t want to pigeonhole his food as farm-to-table.

“I just want to do the food I love – from the memories of my grandmother’s kitchen’s aromas to those great recipes that you only learn when working with great French chefs around the world, mixed with my Argentinean heritage into a new modern Mediterranean twist,” he wrote.

A small bar will offer cocktails, a short wine-by-the-glass list and local beer.

Lisa Kaldrovich has been a server at Fore Street for eight years, her husband said. Their new restaurant will be in the building that previously housed Sierra’s Mexican Restaurant. They expect to open in April for dinner only, seven nights a week.