You might need to pour yourself a drink before reading this one. The owners of Vena’s Fizz House at 345 Fore St. in Portland announced Tuesday that they will be “buttoning up our brick and mortar venue in January.”

“After seven years in our quaint little corner in the heart of the Old Port we are bitter, sweetly letting go to move Vena’s on to the next phase of our business to scale and grow in Portland.”

Details will be announced in a couple of months, but according to Mary Jo Marquis, Vena’s director of business development, the long-range goal is to expand the bar and retail shop into a larger space in 2021.

Meanwhile, Vena’s will continue to sell online and offer a series of virtual mixology classes via Zoom. And starting Friday through Christmas Eve, the shop will be holding a “Holiday Parlor” selling gift baskets, vintage barware and more.

Lois’ consolidates

Lois’ Natural Marketplace announced last week that it would be “hibernating” its Portland store at 47 India St. for the winter and moving its entire staff to the original Scarborough store. But co-owner Lois Porta confirmed Tuesday that she does not have plans to reopen the Portland location.

“With the help of PPP loans, 30,000 loyal customers and a fantastic staff, we have adjusted to the continuously changing circumstances of operating an essential business during the pandemic,” a note posted on the store’s website read. “To those ends, in order for us to remain fiscally viable and continue to best serve the community, we will be consolidating our business into one location in Scarborough.”

Hours have been expanded in Scarborough, and the deli will be reopening to serve hot soups and coffee.

Wednesday, Nov. 25, is the last day the Portland store will be open. The Portland store opened in 2015.

Cookies are good medicine

Everyone needs some cheering up, and the cookies we bake at this time of year, with their whimsical shapes and warm spices, will help do the trick. Join in our virtual cookie swap at the Portland Press Herald. Send me your favorite seasonal cookie recipes and they may be featured in the Sunday food pages and on our website. Email your recipes – and photos  too, please – to [email protected] by Dec. 2.

Indoor farmers market returns

It’s getting a bit too chilly to buy those root vegetables for your cold-weather stews in Deering Oaks Park. The Portland Farmers Market will move indoors Dec. 5 and will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through April 17.

For the fourth consecutive year, the winter market will set up shop at 631 Stevens Ave. in the Steven’s Square Community Center Gym (formerly the Maine Girls Academy). The location has 125 parking spaces, plus plenty of street parking.

The market will follow CDC pandemic guidelines, which means that masks will be required and hand-sanitizing stations will be available. Customers will be required to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. A door attendant will count customers to ensure that the market doesn’t go over the building’s state-mandated capacity. Pre-ordering is encouraged.

For more information, go to portlandmainefarmersmarket.org.

Help for struggling families

Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells is going forward with its giving tree this year, but donations will only be accepted in the drive-thru. Photo courtesy of Congdon’s

For 20 years, Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells has been offering a free doughnut to customers who bring in items for their holiday giving tree “decorated” with toys, clothes for babies and toddlers, and diapers.

The tradition will continue this year, beginning on Black Friday and continuing through Dec. 20, but with a pandemic twist. The shop’s dining room at 1090 Post Road has been closed since March, so gifts should be dropped off at the doughnut shop’s drive-thru window. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Support for food entrepreneurs, gifts for Aunt Nancy

Fork Food Lab in Portland has expanded its online marketplace in time for the holidays.

Starting now, customers can pre-order small-batch specialty food items from “A Taste of Fork” for contactless pick-up between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, which is “Small Business Saturday.” After this weekend, the pick-up hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

The marketplace will sell frozen soups and meals, snack bars, sweets, condiments, and wine and beer. Specials this Saturday include a “Confection Collection” made up of cookies and bars from seven bakers, and a “Some Like It Hot Collection,” which features three hot sauces paired with a four-pack of craft beer.

The nonprofit food business incubator and shared commercial kitchen, located at 72 Parris St., has more than 30 members.

“Starting a business is challenging under the best of circumstances,” Executive Director Bill Seretta said in a news release. “The pandemic makes it that much harder on our entrepreneurs because we’ve had to cancel most of our public events where they could sell directly to customers.”

To order, go to forkfoodlab.com.

Buy beer, nab swag

Buy a craft beer, then drink it in this free Boomerang glass from Live and Work in Maine. Photo courtesy of Live and Work in Maine

This weekend the nonprofit Live and Work in Maine will launch its third annual event celebrating so-called Boomerangs – people who either grew up in Maine or spent time here, but left the state and later decided to return.

The group has partnered with craft brewers in all 16 counties to give away T-shirts, hats and glassware (a pint glass that reads “Hey, Boomerang, welcome home”) to customers all through the holiday season.

Participating breweries in southern Maine include Gneiss Brewing in Limerick, Funky Bow in Lyman, Fore River Brewing and Foulmouthed Brewing in South Portland, and Banded Brewing in Biddeford.

And in cookbook news …

BikeMaine cyclists have long raved about the meals provided on its annual ride through far-flung corners of the state. Not only does the food refuel their weary bodies, it tastes great too.

Now the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, along with its partner, Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative, is sharing its recipes with the rest of us in a new cookbook. The book costs $30. Order by Dec. 7 to ensure delivery by Christmas.

Three Maine residents have been named finalists in the 2020 Readable Feast New England cookbook competition. They are Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz of Gray for “The Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook” (Islandport Press, $20.20); Kathy Gunst of South Berwick and Katherine Alford for “Rage Baking: the Transformative Power of Flour, Fury, and Women’s Voices” (Tiller Press, $24.99) ; and Barton Seaver of Freeport for “The Joy of Seafood” (Sterling Epicure, $35).

The new Wonder Woman-themed cookbook by Portland restaurateur Briana Volk. Photo courtesy of Briana Volk

Portland restaurateur Briana Volk, co-author of “Northern Hospitality,” has a new cookbook out. The theme? That iconic, kick-bigtime-butt superhero, Wonder Woman.

“Wonder Woman: The Official Cookbook” (Insight Editions $19.99) features more than 50 vegetarian recipe for dishes such as Justice League Lasagna, Paradise Island Pancakes, and Baklava of Themyscira. The book also offers suggested menus for Wonder Woman-themed parties.

Now I’ve got an earworm of the opening song from the ‘70s TV show starring Lynda Carter running through my head: “Wonder Woman!/All the world is waiting for you/And the power you possess/In your satin tights/Fighting for your rights/And the old red, white and blue.”

Thanks, Briana.


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