The newly expanded Onggi, Portland’s fermented foods market, opens this Saturday in its new location at 131 Washington Ave. Photo courtesy of Onggi

A year to the month since opening in The Black Box on Washington Avenue in Portland, the fermentation market Onggi is moving down the street to a new location four times bigger than its original shop.

Onggi will reopen its expanded retail offerings at 131 Washington Ave. on Saturday. The new 1,300-square-foot Onggi – its previous space in a repurposed shipping container was just 300 square feet – will feature a pastry and lunch service led by Onggi co-founder Amy Ng.

Co-founder Marcus Im said Onggi will continue to serve customer favorites like sourdough chocolate chip cookies, brown sugar milk iced coffee and vinegar shrub sodas. But the menu has been bolstered by new items like kimchi handpies, and Basque-style cheesecake with strawberry shrub topping.

“We’re very excited about how our first year in business has gone,” Im said. “It also feels great that all four of us can work in the new space without bumping into each other all the time.”

The owners said they’ve also increased their product line by adding in-house ferments, proprietary equipment and ferment-forward alcoholic beverages. The store also will carry seasonal kimchis alongside bottles of makgeolli (Korean rice wine) and sake, and earthen crocks to help customers make those same ferments at home.

The second floor at Onggi’s new location will be used to host fermentation classes, workshops and collaborative events.


Maine Grains founder addresses UK grains conference

Amber Lambke, founder and CEO of Maine Grains in Skowhegan, is the keynote speaker for the annual UK Grain Lab conference this week in Nottingham, England.

Lambke flew to London on Tuesday for the three-day grain conference that gathers farmers, millers, plant breeders, bakers, cooks, scientists and academics to discuss ways to strengthen and diversify the grains economy in the United Kingdom. Lambke’s keynote speech, scheduled for Sunday, will cover her experience creating a grain mill from a 19th-century jail house, and as well as building the infrastructure for a grain economy in central Maine by buying wheat, rye and other grains from area farmers and making them into flour and oatmeal.

“A mill has really opened up the possibilities in Maine,” Lambke said, noting that Maine Grains will focus in coming years on expanding the region’s grain farmer network and increasing the number of grains and grain products it sells.

Lambke explained that the founder of the UK Grain Lab conference, Kimberly Bell, was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Kneading Conference, hosted by the Maine Grain Alliance.

Maine Grains also supplies many Maine breweries with local grains for special craft brews. Maine Brewers’ Guild Executive Director Sean Sullivan has called Lambke one of the driving forces behind the farm-to-beverage movement.


Yarmouth, Brunswick farmers markets launch new seasons

Robin Beckwith of Beckwith Farm helps a young customer at the Yarmouth Farmers’ Market last season. Courtesy of Yarmouth Farmers’ Market

The Yarmouth Farmers’ Market is scheduled to open for the 2022 season on May 5 at the Bickford Pavilion at 1 Railroad Square.

The market will be open Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. through October. Market manager Amy Sinclair said 15 seasonal vendors and a rotation of guest vendors will offer goods this year. Because of strong community support, nearly all of last year’s seasonal vendors will return to the market this year, Sinclair said.

“We’re psyched to be reopening,” she said. “The market is growing every year.” Sinclair said market vendors are excited to reconnect with “the two-tote bag customers, whom we especially love, because they come to stock up for several days.”

The Yarmouth 2022 vendors are Andrews Farm, Tender Soles Farm, Beckwith Farm, Liberation Farm, Niyat Catering, Empanada Club, Counterpoint Bread, Hailey’s Kitchen, Noisy Acres Farm, Still Brook Acres, Alchimia, Mindful Folk Farm, Liquid Riot, Artascope and Chef Paul, Sinclair said.

In addition, several food trucks and carts will be on hand at this season’s market, including Snöbirds Shave Ice, Zephyr Ice, Giuseppe Roasters, Greeks from Peaks, Mainely Meatballs, Lucky Lou’s, The Pink Waffle and The Big Bad Food Truck.


On May 7, the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Saturday Farmers’ Market returns to Crystal Spring Farm at 277 Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick for its 23rd season.

The Brunswick market will be open every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. through Oct. 26. The market is one of Maine’s largest, with more than 30 vendors, some of whom have participated every season since the start.

Parking at the farm is limited, and fallow fields surrounding the market can’t be used for extra parking because it would degrade the land quality, organizers said, adding that they encourage carpooling and bicycling to the market when possible.

Death & Co staff at Portland Hunt + Alpine Club

Staff from the Manhattan-based craft cocktail hotspot Death & Co will take over the bar at Portland Hunt + Alpine Club to showcase drinks from the bar’s new book, “Death & Co: Welcome Home.”

Tickets are $60 and can be purchased online. The elite cocktail bar Death & Co launched in New York City in 2006 and now has locations in Los Angeles and Denver, along with its flagship bar in the East Village. Gin & Luck, the parent company of Death & Co, plans to open a new restaurant and bar this spring in Portland called The Danforth in the former Little Giant location.


Guests at the event can mingle with Death & Co staffers and book authors, enjoy passed appetizers and featured cocktails and will receive a signed copy of the new book.

Event organizers said 100 percent of the proceeds from the bar takeover will go to the nonprofit organization Another Round, Another Rally, which provides financial support for hospitality industry workers in the wake of the pandemic.

Crispy Gai benefit dinner

To mark Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, Crispy Gai at 90 Exchange St. in Portland will host a collaborative benefit dinner May 11 at 6 p.m.

Seats for the five-course dinner are $85, and can be reserved by calling Crispy Gai at 207-536-1017. The restaurant will partner for the event with six other Asian-owned local food-and-beverage businesses: Little Brother Chinese Food, Norimoto Bakery, Indy’s Sandwich, Ghee, Pho Huong and Golden Wat.

Event organizers said the dinner will benefit Unified Asian Communities of Maine, a volunteer organization devoted to connecting and empowering Asian communities.


Casa Novello to reopen

After announcing on Facebook April 3 that they were being forced to close because of staffing issues and that “the legacy of Casa Novello has ended,” the Westbrook classic Italian-American restaurant will reopen Tuesday with a new chef and other fresh staffers joining their team.

“We are excited to announce that we are reopening on Tuesday 5/3,” read a Monday post on the Casa Novello Facebook page. “We still have our two original (kitchen) staff, and they are excited to train our new chef and new team members so there are no changes in any of the recipes!” The post did not disclose the name of the new chef, and owner Hope Lawler could not be reached Tuesday for an interview.

“We are hoping for a miracle,” Lawler wrote on the Casa Novello Facebook page in early April after declaring that the restaurant would need to be closed indefinitely. In the following weeks, Lawler reportedly heard from more than 100 job applicants.

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