Zach Poole, right, greets Maine Brew Bus tour customers as they board the Maine Brew Bus in Portland. Gordon Chibroski

The founder of the Maine Brew Bus tours announced Tuesday that he’s joining forces with an Australian tour operator to form a new Maine-based travel group.

Zach Poole has partnered with Dave Phillips, founder of Dave’s Travel and Events in Sydney, to form Vestigo Travel Group.

Poole’s Brew Bus tours, founded in 2012, operates craft brewery tours in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Dave’s Travel and Events began as a brewery tour company in 2014, and is now the largest provider of tours and activities in Sydney, according to a news release about the merger.

“We have always wanted to work together in some way since we met at a beer tourism conference several years ago,” Poole said in the release. “Dave has quickly become part of the Portland community, and we have plans to create new opportunities not only here in Maine but in other parts of the country.”

Their first order of business? Buying a majority share of Brews Cruise Inc., based in Asheville, North Carolina. Brews Cruise Inc. operates brewery tours around the United States, in spots such as Denver; Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Honolulu; and Boise, Idaho. Don Littlefield, general manager of the Maine Brew Bus, will be the director of national operations for Brews Cruise.

Spring return for Marshall Wharf?

Marshall Wharf Brewing Co., a once-popular Belfast brewery, and the adjacent Three Tides bar have been purchased in a bank auction by a couple who hope to bring the businesses back to life. Marshall Wharf opened in 2007 and closed last year after it flooded.

Daniel Waldron and Kathleen Dunckel wrote on the Marshall Wharf Facebook page that they are “warmed and inspired by the tremendous outpouring of encouragement and support we received from our Belfast community.”

They are doing renovations and hope to reopen the businesses in the spring.

Rise up and bake!

Maine food writer Kathy Gunst’s new cookbook, with Katherine Alford and out this week, taps into women’s anger over the current political climate. Courtesy of Tiller Press

Maine food writer Kathy Gunst’s new cookbook with co-author Katherine Alford, “Rage Baking: The Transformative Power of Flour, Fury, and Women’s Voices” (Tiller Press, $24.95), landed in bookstores Tuesday with recipes for Im-Peach-Ment Upside Down Cake, I’m Not Your Honey Cupcakes, and Supreme Court Blueberry Crumble. The title of Chapter 1: Sugar and Spice and Done Being Nice.

Gunst began “rage baking” — punching bread and rolling out pie dough as a stress reliever — during the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year. She soon discovered through her social media accounts that other bakers around the country were doing the same, and a cookbook was born. The book is filled with recipes, interviews and essays from the likes of food writer and editor Ruth Reichl, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco, and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.

Forbes called the book “an instant hit,” noting that the publisher has already ordered a second printing.

Gunst, who lives in South Berwick, is a James Beard Award winner and resident chef of the NPR show “Here & Now.”

We eat with our eyes

University of Maine researchers are experimenting with two new potato varieties for making fries that have much lower levels of acrylamide, a probable carcinogen, than high-starch varieties such as Russet Burbanks, which are typically preferred for fries.

The golden brown fries on the left were made from Russet Burbank potatoes, while the lighter fries on the right were made from a potato variety that produces fewer acrylamides, a probable carcinogen. Courtesy of the University of Maine

Acrylamide is a chemical that develops during frying. It’s found in many foods that are baked, roasted or fried, said Mary Ellen Camire, a University of Maine professor of food science and human nutrition. Camire recently conducted a pilot study of the new potato varieties with Aaron Johnson, a senior sensory scientist at ConAgra Brands, and Gregory Porter, who heads the UMaine potato breeding and variety development program. The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Food Science.

Fewer carcinogens? That’s the good news. Here’s the downside: The newer potato varieties look “whitish” as opposed to the more desirable golden brown when fried. The 47 taste testers recruited for the study judged the flavor and crispness highly, but they rated the color of the safer fries “significantly lower,” Camire said. She says an education campaign would probably be needed to get consumers to accept the fries.

“We wanted consumers to have a safer alternative developed by traditional breeding practices,” Camire said in a news release. “It took years to convince consumers to switch from whole milk to low-fat or skim milk; hopefully changing consumer acceptance of these fries will not take as long.”

Winter revelry roundup

This month, you can’t savor an al fresco lobster roll at your favorite shack while watching the sun set, and you can’t spend the afternoon picking blueberries at a nearby farm. But even in the dead of Maine winter, food and drink events abound.

Taste of Wells is scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at York County Community College, 112 College Drive. The $10 admission fee supports the town’s heating assistance program and the Wells High School Project Graduation 2020. Tickets are available through eventbrite.com.

Luke’s Lobster in Portland and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association are hosting their second “What’s the Catch?” event from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 12. The focus will be on Acadian redfish, harvested by fisherman Aldie Leeman and prepared by his son, Zac Leeman, who is Luke’s executive chef. Tickets cost $55 on eventbrite.com. The price includes tasting, recipes, a cocktail and the opportunity to interact with fishermen. Proceeds will go to support the families of Joe Nickerson and Chris Pinkham, who both died at sea on Jan. 23. Nickerson was the chairman of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

Allagash Brewing Co. is holding a series of events during Valentine’s week called “From Maine With Love.” The schedule, listed on allagash.com, includes a free Maine-grown grains workshop, a chocolate truffle-making class ($30) taught by Kate Shaffer of Black Dinah Chocolatiers, and a two-hour oyster-eating spree featuring $1 oysters from Basket Island Oysters.

Freeport will host the 13th annual Flavors of Freeport on Feb. 21-23. The festival includes an ice bar at the Hilton Garden Inn with dishes prepared by more than two dozen chefs and local purveyors. Tickets cost $30 and are available through visitfreeport.com, where you’ll also find a calendar of weekend events, including chocolate factory tours, a lobster brunch, culinary classes and tastings.

Oxbow Brewing Co. is teaming up with Full Plates Full Potential at its beer garden in Oxford on Feb. 23 to raise money to fight childhood hunger. The event runs from 1-7 p.m. at 420 Main Street. Tickets cost $100 and include a roundtrip bus ride from Portland to Oxford; two hours of cross-country skiing; Oxbow glassware; specialty pizza; two 12-ounce farmhouse pale ales; live music and a bonfire. Buy tickets on eventbrite.com.

Coffee delivery

Starbucks is now delivering in Portland, just in case you want to tack on a delivery fee to that already-pricey morning cup of Joe. Starbucks Delivers is available through the Uber Eats mobile app on iOS and Android devices. Customers in newly launched markets like Portland get 25 percent off first-time orders through Uber Eats with the promo code HELLOCOFFEE. You’ll need that discount: According to the fine print in the news release, orders of $10 or less are subject to an additional $2 fee on top of the standard delivery fee.


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