Weeks after opening a new location at 18 Thames St. in Portland, Speckled Ax owner Matt Bolinder has announced he’s found a new location for his roastery – the former Izzy’s Cheesecake bakery at 135 Walton St.

Bolinder, whose wood-roasted coffee has been recognized several times by the Good Food Awards (it was a winner in 2020 for its Ethiopia Jebicho) said the roastery will have a small retail shop with an Italian-style stand-up bar, as well as a training lab and office. Next summer, he plans to set up picnic tables outside.

Bolinder expects to have the place up and running by the end of the year. Here’s hoping he’ll serve cheesecake to go with that coffee, as a tribute to David “Izzy” Izenstatt.

Santa, please stop here

Already stumped for ideas for holiday gifts? The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association plans to open a Maine Organic Country Store in Freeport during the holiday season.

The store, at 48 Main St., is planning a soft opening Friday at 10 a.m., which means the public is invited but the store may not open at 9 a.m. on the dot, says Lucy Cayard, MOFGA’s southern Maine outreach coordinator. The official opening will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the store will operate until early January. Look for MOFGA and Common Ground Country Fair merchandise, as well as items from fair vendors and MOFGA-certified organic producers.


The store will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Ada’s pasta bar in Portland is closing temporarily so the business can focus on retail production. Ray Routhier/Staff Writer

Ada’s to expand its retail line

Ada’s in Portland is taking a break from its Roman-style pasta bar to focus on pasta production for retail, restaurants and markets, and direct-to-consumer sales. The adjacent Ada’s market will remain open, with an expanded line of pasta, sauces, imported foods and wine.

The pasta bar at 642 Congress St. will be back in December, according to owner Jenn Rockwell.
Rockwell also plans to roll out a pasta subscription program, as well as corporate and holiday catering and more meals-to-go.

Ada’s Portland location opened in January, just before the pandemic hit. The original Ada’s is located in Rockland.

In related news, Siddharta Rumma, the former chef at both Ada’s locations, has left the job and announced he plans to open a food delivery business selling his fresh, local pastas; sauces; and other Italian specialties. The business, called Fusillo, will sell and deliver meal kits, with instructions and information about the background of the dish, according to Rumma’s announcement on Instagram this week. The company also will hold pop-ups and pasta classes.


Rumma wrote: “I firmly stand for what I believe in: Keeping my integrity, supporting only local farms and distribution, making small customizable batches, having control of the whole process and say no to US Food, Sysco and big distributors.”

Cong Tu Bot reopens one day a week

Cong Tu Bot in Portland reopened Sunday for takeout only.

The restaurant is offering a limited menu on Sundays from 2-8 p.m., with online ordering only. Owner and James Beard finalist Vien Dobui said each week he will announce on Instagram when ordering goes live. (Last weekend, ordering was opened on Saturday at 10 a.m.) Eventually, both the hours and the menu will expand, he said.

Flood’s has left the building

Flood’s, which opened 17 months ago, announced in August that it was closing because of the pressures of the pandemic, but chef/owner Greg Mitchell left open the hope it might return in a different form.


But last week the restaurant’s space at 747 Congress St. was cleared out for good. Mitchell has not returned email and a phone call requesting an interview.

The restaurant, which received four stars from the Portland Press Herald in September 2019, served retro tavern-style food and classic cocktails. It pivoted during the pandemic to create a more COVID-friendly version of itself, which Mitchell dubbed Mister Burger.

Calling all ambitious home cooks and farmers

Dreaming about a jar of jam with your name on it? Has all that cooking, baking and fermenting at home made you think about opening your own specialty food business?

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has scheduled an online workshop on the topic from 9 a.m. to noon Monday. The cost is $25 (financial assistance is available).

“Recipe to Market” will include an overview of the specialty food industry and product development process, licensing and regulations, business basics, and food safety. The instructors are Louis Bassano, an extension professor emeritus; Jim McConnon, professor of economics; and Beth Calder, extension food science specialist and associate professor of food science, and director of the University of Maine’s Food Testing Service.


Registration is required, at bit.ly/2HO2P7t. For more information, call Theresa Tilton at 207-942-7396.

Learn to bake with heritage grains

Here’s something for all of the pandemic bakers out there: the Maine Grain Alliance has scheduled a Zoom workshop Monday on baking with heritage grains, sourdough and stone-ground flours.

The workshop will be held from 4-7 p.m. and costs $50. A few scholarships are available; to inquire about them, email [email protected]

The instructors will be Amber Lambke, founder of Maine Grains, and Kerry Haney, owner of Night Moves bakery in Biddeford. Haney will demonstrate Nordic-style sourdough rye bread and Mexican cacao brownies made with flint corn.

To register, go to conta.cc/35VJ065


What a pair! Chocolate and social justice

La Nef Chocolate has released a new bar featuring the artwork of Ashley Bryan. Photo courtesy of La Nef

La Nef Chocolate in Bath has released a new chocolate bar in a box featuring the artwork of Maine author and artist Ashley Bryan.

A portion of sales will go to the nonprofit Black Lives Matter.

“At 97 years old, Ashley Bryan is a shining example of someone who has been able to find hope and inspiration through his art and relationships, even during the horrors of war and racial segregation,” La Nef co-founder Mandy Metrano said in a news release. “With a desire to contribute to the movement for racial justice, we are thrilled to collaborate with Ashley Bryan on this bar to benefit Black Lives Matter.”

Bryan, 97, is an internationally known author and children’s book illustrator; his work is on exhibit now at Bates College in Lewiston. Learn much more about Bryan and his art in this recent profile from Press Herald arts writer Bob Keyes.

La Nef has collaborated with other well-known artists to showcase their artwork on the chocolate maker’s packaging. The Ashley Bryan bar features an illustration from his children’s book “Beautiful Blackbird.”

The 1.75-ounce bar costs $7 and is made from 70 percent Honduran dark chocolate and Monhegan Island Sea Salt.

Correction: This story was updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020 to correct the opening time for the Maine Organic Country Store.

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