Vegans still get a lot of grief for their food choices, whether deserved or not. Some meat lovers, despite the plethora of tasty new options, still say that vegan food tastes like cardboard or sticks. Or that they feel sorry for vegans for missing out on so much good food.

Well, don’t feel sorry for vegans in southern Maine. A new vegan doughnut shop is scheduled to open this spring at 450 U.S. Route 1 in Kittery, and it will be serving flavors like pistachio cream and mango-vanilla with a tangy guava stripe.

The owners of Lovebirds, Tamara Monroe and Ryan MacDougall, grew up in Maine, and have just moved back from Boston, where they had been working in marketing and finance. Both have restaurant experience, too – MacDougall cooked and managed restaurants in Maine for 10 years, and Monroe worked her way through high school and college with restaurant jobs.

Monroe is a vegan and MacDougall is not, but they both love slow-raised yeast doughnuts and have dreamed of opening their own shop, Monroe said. She said it was important to her that the shop sell only vegan products, so all of Lovebirds’ doughnuts will be free of eggs, milk, honey and butter (they use a vegan butter). “We found that the recipes are not lacking in any way,” she said.

They also plan to offer gluten-free options.

The debut menu will feature 15 to 20 flavors of doughnuts, with flavors changing monthly. Lovebirds will also sell monkey bread, croissant doughnuts and Chelsea buns – similar to a cinnamon bun but filled with different flavors, such as strawberry cream.

Monroe said the couple hopes to open Lovebirds the second week in April.

In other vegan news, the Velvet Box Truffles from Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit has been named one of the top vegan chocolate boxes in the country by PETA.

The animal rights organization chose eight chocolate boxes that would be appropriate to send to your vegan valentine. The box from Harbor Candy Shop contains soy-based dark chocolate truffles in flavors such as pomegranate and raspberry. The 13-ounce box sells for $36.

NEW B&B FOR PEAKS ISLAND

A Peaks Island couple has purchased The Peaks Island House at 20 Island Ave. and plans to turn it into a five-room bed-and-breakfast and 48-seat restaurant, with deck, according to food and lodging license applications filed with the city of Portland.

Katie and Thom Werner are calling the new place the Island Lobster Co., and they hope to open it in May. Katie Werner is a Peaks Island native, and her husband is a commercial lobsterman.

The couple plans a small, mostly seafood menu, with steamed and fried options, for the seasonal restaurant. They’ll also offer a children’s menu and a full bar.

YEE HAW

Get your cowboy boots on. Portland may soon have its first live country music bar.

John Ferrara and Dennis Mahoney, both of Medford, Massachusetts, have applied to the city to open a country music bar with live entertainment and dancing at 82 Hanover St. in Bayside. The bar will be called The Whiskey Barrel.

The proposed bar, which has a target opening date of May 1, will be located in an old Portland Public Works building. According to licensing applications filed with the city, The Whiskey Barrel will have a stage, a dance floor, 32 indoor seats, a bar that seats 26 and an outdoor patio that seats 40.

To eat, the bar plans to offer a pizza station (which will apparently be cooking frozen pizza) and pub food prepared by Foundation Brewing, according to the documents.

OLD PORT LUNCH

Portland’s Old Port may soon get a new lunch spot that will also serve wine and draft beer.

Garrett Fitzgerald, who owned the now-shuttered Portland & Rochester Public House at 118 Preble St., has applied to the city to open Royale Lunch Bar at 11 Union St. The 885-square-foot space is actually part of the 50 Wharf St. building that has housed many bars and restaurants over the years. Royale Lunch Bar is taking over from Hero’s Subs, a sandwich shop that leased the spot in June and has already closed.

Fitzgerald also owns the Bar Harbor Lobster Co. on Main Street in Bar Harbor.

The sample menu for the 25-seat Royale Lunch Bar includes a selection of sandwiches, such as pastrami and Reubens, and a grilled cheese with tomato soup; sides of soup, coleslaw, mac and cheese, hummus and veggies, and poutine; and desserts, including soft-serve ice cream and doughnuts.

BATTLING HUNGER – AGAIN

The annual spring Taste of the Nation dinner to fight childhood hunger is back.

The last fundraising dinner scheduled in Portland was in 2015, when a bad storm forced the last-minute cancellation of the event. Taste of the Nation dinners, through both food and a silent auction, typically raised $150,000 to $200,000 for the national Share Our Strength program as well as local hunger prevention programs. They were often held in beautiful spots outdoors, such as Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth and on Great Diamond Island, and dozens of Maine restaurants participated.

The dinners never rebounded after the storm, when howling winds and pouring rain washed out the event, although the local nonprofit Full Plates Full Potential continued to raise money for the same cause.

This year, No Kid Hungry (part of Share Our Strength) plans to hold a new Taste of the Nation dinner from 7 to 9:30 p.m. March 15 at the Westin Portland Harborview hotel on High Street. General admission tickets are $95. VIP admission costs $175 and includes early admission, a separate VIP area of tastings and drinks, and a caviar tasting from Brown Trading Co. Restaurants that have signed up so far are Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunk, Raleigh in Portsmouth, N.H., and Big Tree Hospitality, a restaurant group made up of Hugo’s and the Honey Paw in Portland and Eventide in Portland and Boston.

NEW BREW

Allagash Brewing Co. Tuesday released a new beer brewed with lemon zest and then blended with Fair Trade Yunnan Black tea from Brunswick-based Little Red Cup.

The beer, called Sun Drift, is made with local pale malt and local raw oats, and is available in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles.

Little Red Cup sells certified organic teas from China, partnering directly with worker-owned cooperatives that grow and process the tea to reduce the number of steps from field to cup.

ACE NOMINEE

Apparently caterers have their own version of the Oscars, and Bar Harbor Catering Co. has been nominated for Achievement in Catering Excellence.

The Bar Harbor company, owned by Mandy Fountaine, is a finalist for the Catersource ACE award in the “Catering- East Region” and “Events – East Region” categories. Fountaine said in a press release that she was “extremely honored and humbled” to be recognized by Catersource, publisher of catering and event industry news and education. Catersource’s annual conference will take place later this month in New Orleans. Fountaine will attend the Feb. 25 awards gala, along with Heather Anderson, Bar Harbor Catering Co.’s creative director and event planner, and Kristen Bradbury, who is the company’s event kitchen manager.

This is the second time the Bar Harbor company has been a finalist for an ACE award.

VALENTINE VARIATIONS

Local wine writer Layne Witherell will be reading a piece he wrote on “Millennial and Boomer’s Valentine’s Dinners” at 6 p.m. Thursday in Room 3 of the Portland Public Library. The event – a contest searching for the best Valentine’s Day pieces – is being held by the Portland Public Library Writers Meet Up.

Witherell will be reading a Valentine’s Day piece he posted on his wine blog last year, an essay that notes that millennial couples don’t need to buy Valentine’s cards, “they can just text one another from across the table.” Don’t worry millennials, when it comes to wine drinking, you have it over the boomers. Witherell says you “drink vastly better and more adventuresome wine for Valentine’s.”

Witherell also plans to do a one-hour talk and tasting at Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland, at 4:30 Friday.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad


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