The Portland Regency added a whiskey bar as part of its recent renovations. Maine Pro Media

The Portland Regency Hotel & Spa at 90 Milk St. in the Old Port has opened a whiskey bar.

Michael Silver, the hotel’s food and beverage director, says Ironside Whiskey Bar was part of a multimillion-dollar remodel of the lobby. The bar stocks well over 100 whiskeys, as well as a few high-end sipping tequilas and cognacs. Can’t make up your mind? The bar sells flights.

And if the pandemic has made us all start a bucket list, Ironside may be able to help whiskey lovers with theirs. One of the whiskeys the bar stocks is Double Eagle Very Rare, which costs $2,000 per bottle. Aged 20 years, only 199 bottles of this whiskey were made, Silver says, and just two bottles are in Maine. A one-ounce pour will set you back $400. The bar served its first glass weekend before last, Silver said.

“We keep it locked away,” he said. “It’s a lot of pomp and circumstance” to bring out the crystal decanter stored in a silver box. “There’s a whole production, but it’s a beautiful bottle and 20-year-old whiskey inside.”

The new bar opens at 4 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays.

Biddeford bagels: The sequel

Rover Bagel is back in Biddeford, selling bagels out of a take-out window. Photo courtesy of Rover Bagel

Rover Bagel, the wildly popular wood-fired bagel bakery in Biddeford that closed in December 2019, reopened last week in a new location on the Pepperell Mill campus. How popular is it? On Saturday, the bakery opened at 8 a.m. and had more than 80 orders in the first 10 minutes.

The new location is at 10 Westpoint Lane, in North Dam Building 10, the same building that is home to Big Tree Foods, Time & Tide Coffee, Cake for all Seasons, Tootie’s Tempeh, and Night Moves Bakery. Customers order online, then pick up their bagels at a takeout window.

Owners Kim and Alec Rutter told me in 2019 that they were closing their bagel shop because they didn’t have enough production capacity on Elm Street, and Kim wanted to move back to Massachusetts to be closer to her family. In a social media post, the couple said they spent part of last year traveling, and ultimately decided to return because they missed Maine and missed making bagels here. Launching the business anew, during winter and during a pandemic, with only a takeout window, is, they said, “by far the scariest thing we’ve done as a business.”

The hours at the new bakery – which is also selling sandwiches and bakery items such as sticky buns and blueberry coffee cake – are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m. to noon Sunday.

Pandemic essentials?

Beer & Weed is a new Maine-based magazine covering the craft beer and cannabis lifestyle. Photo courtesy of Beer & Weed

The name of Sam Pfeifle’s new magazine leaves no doubt about what you’ll find in its pages: Beer & Weed.

Pfeifle, a longtime local writer and editor, sent the debut issue to the printer Monday. The cover story is an interview with local singer/songwriter Renée Coolbrith, who talks about “how she incorporates cannabis in her life,” Pfeifle said. You’ll also find recipes for people who like cooking with cannabis or craft beer, and an article on CBD makeup.

“We describe it first and foremost as a lifestyle magazine,” Pfeifle said. It’s for readers who, for example, like to enjoy a craft beer after skiing or take weed on a hiking excursion.

“We’re not going to teach you how to run a cannabis company or a brewery,” he said. “One of our articles in the first issue celebrates what a great road Route 26 is. You can take it from the corner of Washington and Cumberland in Portland all the way up to the woods of New Hampshire, and you can hit a bunch of breweries and dispensaries on the way.”

Subscribe (print $24 per year, digital $10 per year) through the magazine’s website, beerandweedmagazine.com. Pfeifle says Beer & Weed also will be available at select craft breweries and cannabis shops.

Sushi rolls made by Alex Herzog of Great Wave Sushi. Photo by Alex Herzog

Kanpai!

Chef Alex Herzog is bringing his sushi-making skills to Austin Street Brewery at 115 Fox St. in Portland twice a week this winter. His Great Wave Sushi food cart will be parked there every Tuesday and Wednesday from 2-6 p.m.

Herzog launched his cart in November, after he lost his job and found out his wife was pregnant. In addition to classic sushi rolls, the menu includes a sushi burger, sushi burritos and a multi-ingredient sushi tuna tartare tower.

Herzog graduated from California Sushi Academy in 2011. After making sushi in the Los Angeles area for a while, he moved back to his native Maine and worked at Yosaku in Portland.

Winter webinars for farmers

The Legal Food Hub (a project of the Conservation Law Foundation) will begin its annual winter webinars in February for farmers and food entrepreneurs. This year, the free webinars look particularly helpful for farmers, covering topics such as “Hiring Your First Farm Employees” and “Opening Your Farm to Visitors and Controlling for Liability.” To see the full slate of topics, with times and dates, go to legalfoodhub.org.

Winter break

The Other Side Diner at 500 Washington Ave. in Portland is taking a winter break until March 4. Co-owner Pete Sueltenfuss says the diner will hold a pop-up or two during the break, the first a prime rib dinner for Valentine’s Day (watch the diner’s Facebook page for details). The Other Side delis on Veranda St. and Vaughan St. will remain open.

Food on film

Three new documentary shorts that tell the stories of oyster and seaweed farmers in Maine are now available for viewing on mainecoastharvest.com.

The shorts, filmed in the summer and fall of 2020, were created and funded by Bill and Patty Zimmerman and produced by GoodFight Media, with production support from the Maine Aquaculture Association.

The first film tells the story of Emily Selinger and Amanda Moeser, who talk about what it’s like for women trying to break into the business of oyster farming. Selinger is the owner of Emily’s Oysters in Freeport, and Moeser owns Lanes Island Shellfish in Yarmouth.

A second film focuses on seaweed farmers Jake Patryn and Morgan-Lea Fogg, owners of Nautical Farms in Machias, and the third on John Cotton and Toni Small, owners of Ice House Oysters in Port Clyde. Less than 10 minutes each, all three films are well worth watching.

John Cotton, a lifelong commercial fisherman in Port Clyde, now has an oyster farming business. He and his partner, Toni Small, are the subjects of a new documentary short, one of a series about Maine’s new sea farmers. Photo courtesy of Maine Aquaculture Association

Freeport Foodie Lotto

Flavors of Freeport, usually held in February (try saying that three times fast), is canceled this year because of COVID, but the town has come up with an alternative way to celebrate local food businesses. Play along, and you could win $1,000 from Visit Freeport and Kennebec Savings Bank, or gift cards from local businesses such as Casco Bay Cutlery & Kitchenware.

The town is holding a Freeport Foodie Lotto. Game cards are available from the Visit Freeport Information Center, or from any of the more than two dozen participating businesses. You can also download a card at visitfreeport.com. Earn game pieces for the card every time you spend $10 or more at one of the businesses. Fill in the card’s center square by donating $10 or more to Freeport Community Services, which runs a food pantry and other emergency aid programs.

Turn in the card at the end of the month to be entered to win the prizes. The drawing will be held in mid-March.

Also check out local restaurants for special limited-edition menu items featuring local ingredients, such as a pizza made with Winter Hill Farm’s Bradbury Mountain blue cheese and a brick oven-baked Pineland Farms meatloaf. Check visitfreeport.com for the list of restaurants and what they’re serving.

Super Bowl munchies 

Super Bowl parties are likely to be much smaller this year – more like gatherings of pandemic social pods – but that doesn’t mean you can’t snack well, keeping at least one tradition intact. And with Tom Brady in the game, even if he is playing for another team, it will almost seem like old times, right?

Here are a few options for Super Bowl food on Feb.7:

Dock Fore at 336 Fore St. in Portland plans to open at 11 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday and will be offering specials on Budweiser and Rolling Rock – for example, $2.95 for a 20-ounce beer from 7 p.m. until the end of the game. The Super Bowl menu includes shrimp cocktail, buffalo chicken dip with buffalo-flavored pretzel chips, and a specialty pizza for each team: Kansas City BBQ pulled chicken pizza for the Chiefs, Ybor City Cuban sandwich pizza for the “Tompa” Bay Buccaneers.

Isa Bistro at 79 Portland St. in Portland has prepared a Super Bowl menu that appears to be a mix of Mexican and Italian food. It includes nachos, taquitos, guacamole, and a local pork carnitas burrito, but also meatballs and marinara, tagliatelle Bolognese, eggplant lasagna and more. Check their Facebook page for the full menu. Call 207-808-8533 to preorder any day after 3 p.m. Curbside pickups will be scheduled in 15-minute increments between 3 and 8 p.m. on the big day.

Terlingua at 40 Washington Ave. in Portland is selling a Super Bowl Box that serves four for $45. Inside the box: crispy potato skins loaded with queso, house-smoked meat, and pickled peppers; a pound of smoked wings with chili-lime agave glaze; and a quart of chorizo, chicken and white bean chili. Pick up is on Game Day only. Order online at terlingua.me or call 207-956-7573.

Big Tree Grocery, part of the Big Tree Hospitality restaurant group, has a huge menu of Super Bowl favorites, including soft pretzels, dips, lobster puffs, smoked wings, baby back ribs, brisket, pork butt, baked heirloom beans, upscale versions of Little Debbie’s oatmeal cream pies, and much more. Prices vary. Order online at bigtreefoods.com. Pick-up is on Feb. 5 and 6 at locations in Portland and Biddeford.

If food is your love language

Last week, we listed some options for Valentine’s Day dinner. Here are a few more:

The Valentines seafood tower at Luke’s Lobster. Photo courtesy of Luke’s Lobster

Nothing says Valentine’s Day like lobster, bubbly, and chocolate. Portland’s Luke’s Lobster‘s Valentine’s special consists of a seafood tower for two, two bottles of Prosecco, and Bixby chocolates. The $130 special is a to-go meal, or you make a reservation to dine in.

In addition to lobster tail, the seafood tower includes a half dozen oysters, smoked scallops, North Atlantic shrimp, and Jonah crab claws. Don’t know how to assemble a seafood tower? No worries, it comes with instructions, so you will be able to impress your date.

Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport plans to serve a four-course meal with lots of choices. Think roasted quail, torchon foie gras, dayboat cod, veal osso bucco, filet of beef, and mushroom lasagna. For dessert, choose from crème brûlée, key lime pie, doughnuts or a sundae.

The special will be available from Feb. 12-14 and costs $100 per person. For reservations, call 207-967-6550 or go to earthathiddenpond.com.

Rosemont Market has three choices for Valentine’s: Meal kits that require a little assembly at home, sweet treats from the bakery, and a six-month pie subscription. (Want to be my Valentine? That pie subscription does it for me.)

Meal kits (there are five options) include lobster pot pie with kale salad, and coconut curry mussels with turmeric rice. The kits cost $70-100 and most serve two to four people. The bakery items are a cookie box, a flourless chocolate torte (which seems to be the official dessert of Valentine’s Day) and cocoa bombs. For details, go to Rosemontmarket.com.

Union, the restaurant at the Press Hotel, 390 Congress St. in Portland, has $120 dinners for two that include oysters, arugula salad, Beef Wellington, and a molten chocolate cake. The meals will be ready for pick-up between 2 and 5 p.m. Feb. 13. To order, go to unionportland.com or call 207-808-8700.

Lake & Co., a Portland caterer, is offering an a la carte menu for Valentine’s Day. The menu includes Coquilles St.-Jacques ($19 per person), citrus endive salad, duchess potatoes and sea salt chocolate tarts. Cookie kits are also available. Ordering deadline is Feb. 9 for pickup or delivery on Feb. 12. To order, go to lakeandco.me/valentines


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