Itching to travel, but still not comfortable flying to Italy during a pandemic? Joshua Miranda, owner of Via Vecchia, an Italian restaurant at 10 Dana St. in Portland has designed a passport that will (sort of) take you to various regions of Italy and put a Negroni in your hand at each stop.

The Via Vecchia Negroni passport. Photo courtesy of Via Vecchia

Negroni Week begins Monday. It’s a worldwide celebration of the classic Italian cocktail made with gin, sweet vermouth and Campari – stirred, never shaken –  and garnished with an orange peel. Imbibe magazine created Negroni Week in 2013, in part to raise money for charity. More than 12,000 bars and restaurants around the world now participate, creating their own riffs on the drink and donating to causes chosen by the organizers.

Usually Maine is well represented in Negroni Week, but this is an unusual year so perhaps it’s not surprising that as of Tuesday, only two Maine businesses had signed up: Via Vecchia and Academe, the restaurant at the Kennebunk Inn.

The Via Vecchia passport allows the holder to try up to 10 different Negronis based on regions of Italy, such as The Trentino-Alto Adige negroni, which is described like this: “This alpine Negroni pays tribute to the northern Rabarbaro, a medicinal amaro made from a special type of dried rhubarb. Its earthy flavors are grounded by the malty base of Dutch genever. It’ll cure what ails you.”

Shanna’s Life-Saving Negroni with an ice cube that contains brûléed orange. Photo courtesy of Shanna Horner O’Hea

The restaurant will even add your photo to the green, gold-embossed “Passaporto Negroni” and stamp it after every order. In addition to paying for any cocktails you order, you’ll pay a $5 fee for the passport, which will be donated to Via Vecchia’s chosen charity, Another Round Another Rally, which provides emergency aid to employees of restaurants, bars and hotels who have fallen on hard times as well as grants and scholarships to “historically excluded voices in the community.”

Customers who complete all 10 regions will get, among other prizes, a Negroni T-shirt.

Chef Shanna Horner O’Hea said Academe has participated in Negroni Week for several years, and this time around will be offering two versions of the drink. “I’m just a huge personal Negroni lover,” she said. “It’s my personal favorite drink.”

The first, Shanna’s Life-Saving Negroni, is made with Plymouth gin; Antica Formula vermouth; and half Aperol, half Campari “so it’s just a little bit sweeter than the traditional,” she said. O’Hea uses a special mold to make Life Saver-shaped ice cubes that contain brûléed orange slices.

The second, My Old Pal, contains Basil Hayden rye instead of gin. “Some people who don’t like gin, this gives them the opportunity to try the essence of a Negroni,” O’Hea said.

O’Hea said 50 percent of the proceeds from Negroni sales will go to Muttville, an organization that rescues senior dogs.

Break time

After a crazy summer, capped off by a crowded Labor Day weekend, several area restaurants are taking short breaks to let their staffs rest. They include:

Judy Gibson, 171 Ocean St. in South Portland, will be open this week through Sunday, but will close Sept. 15-29. The restaurant will reopen at 5 p.m. Thursday Sept. 30. Regular fall hours will be 5 p.m. to close Wednesdays through Sundays.

Little Giant, 211 Danforth St. in Portland, is closed this week but will reopen at 5 p.m. Sept. 15.

Leeward, 85 Free St. in Portland, is closed this week but will reopen Tuesday at 5 p.m.

New schedules

Other restaurants are making more long-term changes to their opening hours:

LB Kitchen, at 249 Congress St., will start closing on Tuesdays, as well as closing at 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. the rest of the week. After their busiest summer ever, “it’s time for us to slow down a bit, take care of our crew, and prepare for our fall/winter,” the owners wrote on social media.

The owners of Elsmere BBQ have announced that both the Portland and South Portland locations will be closed on Tuesdays, as well as Mondays, until further notice. The new hours, beginning this week, are 4-9 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Filipino street food pop-up

Veranda Asian Market, at 695 Forest Ave., in Portland will host a pop-up event featuring Filipino street food Saturday. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the market’s parking lot.

How ’bout them apples? (Part 2)

A map from last year’s Backyard Cider Project pinpoints the origins of the donated apples. Photo courtesy of Erika Colby

If you’ve got apple trees on your property that are producing more apples than you can use, the folks at Anoche will gladly take them off your hands – and you can drink them later.

The cider house and bistro, at 43 Washington Ave. in Portland, has announced it is partnering with Après Cider House for its second annual Backyard Cider Project. The project uses apples donated by the public to make (hard) cider with a unique geographic footprint. The fruit doesn’t have to be perfect — bring in small apples, blemished apples, even crabapples. Après will also accept pears.

Anoche owner Erika Colby estimates that 50 to 60 people contributed apples to the project last year, and “we’re hoping for a lot more this year.” Last year’s cider, made in partnership with Cornish Cider Co., may be released as soon as next week, she said.

Bring in a bushel or more of apples for this year’s cider and you’ll be entered into a raffle to win an apple tree from a local nursery. Drop off your apples at Anoche from 4-9 p.m. any day of the week, or at Après, 148 Anderson St. in Portland, from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Somebody feed you-know-who

The Netflix show “Somebody Feed Phil” filmed in Maine last week, and paid a visit to Terlingua in Portland on Wednesday.

The show documents the travels of executive producer Phil Rosenthal, the creator of the hit TV show “Everybody Loves Raymond,” as he samples food all over the United States and the world. The fourth season was released in 2020 and included Rosenthal’s adventures in Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Singapore, the Mississippi Delta and Hawaii. The fifth season is expected to have 10 episodes, the most yet, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but no release date has been set.

According to Terlingua, the Maine episode will air next spring.

Ye olde beer

The Tate House Museum in Portland will hold its annual beer event, ColoniAle, at 3 p.m. on Sept. 25. The event begins with an 18th-century beer-focused tour of the Tate House, then moves to mast Landing Brewing Co. in Westbrook at 4:30 p.m. for a 16-ounce pour and a talk by Press Herald beer columnist Ben Lisle.

Lisle, an assistant professor of American Studies at Colby College, will speak about “Ale For Invalids”: Brewing and Drinking Beer Under the Maine Law in Nineteenth Century Portland.”

Find tickets online at tatehouse.org: $45 for general admission, $40 for museum members, and $35 for new members. Masks will be required.

Help for retiring farmers

Land for Good, an organization that helps New England farmers who want to retire and transfer their land, will host a two-day farm succession online training seminar for legal and financial professionals later this month.

Farmers 65 and older own nearly 30 percent of Maine farms, according to the New Hampshire-based nonprofit, and more than 10,000 of them are likely to retire in the next decade. But most don’t have succession plans and need professional advice. The seminar is geared toward attorneys, law students, financial management consultants, business planners and tax accountants.

“Farm transfer is a critical issue for thousands of farm families in New England – and nationally, Shemariah Blum-Evitts, program director for Land For Good, said in a news release about the training. “At no point is a farm’s future more at risk than during this transition.”

The training, which will be held on Zoom on Sept. 21 and 23, costs $225. Half-price discounts and scholarships are available at registration. For more information or to register, go to landforgood.org/professional-training or call Land For Good at 603-357-1600.


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