Monthly Archives: July 2018

Maine Food for Thought tour is informative and tasty

I was recently invited to take a complimentary food tour through Portland. The Land Sea to Fork tour by Maine Food for Thought started last month and – at least when I went – was led by Bryce Hach who owns the company along with his wife Sarah. The tour focuses not just on eating great food, but learning about the food system and its impact on Maine and the people who live and visit our state.

The tour started at Union and took us to six different eateries. Each one was chosen because it offered something to eat that could also be used to teach about the effect our food has on us. What follows are some pictures and a few words about what we ate. It should be noted that the offerings at each location can and do change quite regularly.

Union

Chowder w/ coconut milk, lemongrass, hake, lobster oil, clam, potato
A nice starter soup with plenty of fish flavor, this beautiful bowl got us started nicely.

390 Congress Street
207-808-8700

Evo

Spicy Potato from Stonecipher Farm – tumeric, garlic, coriander, cayenne, cumin, mustard seeds, jalapeno, cilantro, yogurt

This wasn’t too spicy hot, but had multifaceted flavoring from all the spices in it.

443 Fore St
207-358-7830

Solo Italiano

Handmade Handkerchief Pasta with world award-winning Genovese pesto w/ basil from Olivia’s Garden, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan, pinenuts

This turned out to be my favorite dish of the day. The pasta was exceptionally delicate and literally fell on the plate like a handkerchief. The pesto won best in the world for good reason. Rather than oily and separating, it was creamy and full-bodied – an absolute work of art.

100 Commercial St.
207-780-0227

Scales

Bangs Island Mussels – Raye’s mustard, local cider, cream, house shallot garlic thyme butter, bread from Standard Baking

These mussels were like I’ve never had and the key to them was Raye’s mustard. The last traditional stone ground mustard mill in North America makes an incredible condiment which takes mussels – and probably anything else – to another level.

68 Commercial St.
207-805-0444

East Ender

Lobster Roll – lobster mayo, tomato, cheese

How could lobster be bad? It wasn’t, but East Ender was busy on Saturday afternoon, making this the one place where it might have been tough for some to hear the story of Maine’s most beloved shellfish.

47 Middle St.
207-879-7669

Piccolo

Strawberries from Stonecipher Farm w/ pistachio, white chocolate mousse

I could have eaten 25 of these desserts. Light, only a lightly sweet, and really delicious, they were a perfect finish to our tour.

111 Middle St.
207-747-5307

The Land Sea to Fork tour costs $72 and takes three hours or less. It involves a total of about one mile of walking and they take no more than 13 people per tour. I found it fun, informative, and a nice way to pass a summer afternoon. It’s probably ideal for tourists, but at least half the people on my tour were from Maine. If you’re interested in learning about what’s for dinner here in Maine, check it out.

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

Advertisements

Lio has the feel, food, and fun, but at a cost

James Beard award-nominated chef Cara Stadler opened her third restaurant just a few weeks ago. As a fan of her other eateries – Tao Yuan (Brunswick) and Bao Bao – Lio was immediately a must-try. The restaurant – focused on wine and small plates – is located on a second floor which also has available outdoor seating.

Upon reaching the top of the stairs and entering the restaurant, I was amazed by the beautiful setting. From the “horseshoes connected by bridges” bars that ran through the entire center of the main room to the beautiful glass-enclosed wine cellar/room, the design was unique and exciting. We had reserved a table, but since they were all on the outskirts of the room, we ditched our reservation and sat in the center of the action (it was early and slow, so the “action” was limited).

While a few of the half dozen signature cocktails looked appealing, none made me so thirsty as The Vault Key – Bully Boy Vodka, rhubarb, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, Cardamaro, lemon, lime cordial ($13). The wine list was long and the glass options were more than sufficient and available by the full or half glass. Mrs. Portlandeater went with a full glass of Rose ($11) and we began to seek the right food for the evening.

Once initial decisions were made, we ordered the Potato Chips and Caviar – Imperial Baerii, creme fraiche, shallot, egg, lemon ($15) – and Snow Pond – unpasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Kennebec Cheesery, with rhubarb compote, candied pecans and crostini ($7). As we often do with small plates, we planned to order in waves.

My drink was spectacular. It had beautiful, tart fruit flavors with hardly any sweetness and went down smoothly. It was composed of many of my favorite flavors which worked together perfectly and made a great warm weather libation. We sipped for a few and a complimentary aperativo plate was delivered. I hadn’t paid attention, but a sign outside touted that from 5-6, one would be provided with the order of any drink. Our special plate included preparations of shrimp, raw tuna, and carrots.

A board of five dressed homemade chips and our cheese came out together. I wasn’t particularly excited about eating the Imperial Baerii (caviar) on top, but in trying to expand my palette, I did. I must say the concoction as a whole was delightful. The little pile of toppings on each chip acted as a cool, refreshing dip. The Snow Pond provided a solid cheese and cracker option, but I felt the compote a tad too sweet of an accompaniment – distracting from the cheese more than adding to it.

I ordered a middle plate between our starter and main courses – Napa Cabbage Salad – Point Reyes blue cheese dressing, sugar snap peas, pea shoots, duck fat croutons, sunflower seeds ($12). The salad came with a paprika-based seasoning on top and a few pickled green tomatoes. It was relatively large and I liked the looks of the concoction.

It might have been the blue cheese, or the seasoning, or even the tomatoes, but I found the cabbage salad – a favorite of mine – to be a stellar dish. With lots of crunch and some nice tones of flavor, it was a satisfying precursor to my upcoming main course. It took a while to eat since there was more volume to it than our starters, but I enjoyed the process thoroughly.

Our main courses were Seared Scallops – brown butter, almonds, pecorino, sage, kohlrabi, boquerones, Meyer lemon, capers ($16) – for me and Maine Lobster Risotto – fava beans, garlic scapes, fennel, parmesan, preserved lemon ($21) – for her. I had four large half-scallops laying on the round side with their tops encrusted in what I could only assume was pure goodness. There was a smattering of kohlrabi, almonds, and capers artfully strewn about.

The scallops were indeed magical. I was stunned as I could literally taste each flavor in every bite – cheese, herbs, anchovy, and lemon in the crust. I loved everything about my entree. The lobster risotto was pleasant with lots of creamy cheese. While I was happy with the couple of bites that I had, the scallops were more flavorful to me.

We considered ending our meal once we finished what we had, but couldn’t turn down Plum and Raspberry Bavarian Cake – almond, beach rose sherbet ($10). What appeared to be the most exciting dessert item displayed a virtual rainbow of colors, incorporating fruit, candies, and flowers into its presentation. The cake was light as was the sherbet. The fruit flavors were perfect for the season and I appreciated that it wasn’t too sugary. Once done, were given a few strawberry candies, then paid and made our way out.

Lio was a fine experience. I most enjoyed my salad and scallops and my drink was also a highlight. My only concern about Lio is the pricing. I don’t mind paying for excellent food, but I did find the cost a little steep for what was provided. The chips are probably the best example at $15 for only 5, but some other items also seemed a little too expensive for what they were. It was recommend that we order three plates each, which is what we did, and with tip, the meal came to $136.

Despite the cost, I found Lio to be a beautiful setting, the food to be enjoyable, and the service up to par. I would recommend a visit. Just be aware that you might find yourself paying toward the higher end of casual meals in Portland. Still, if you’re looking for a good new place to settle in for drinks and/or food, there’s another viable restaurant in town.

3 Spring St.
207-808-7133

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.

Home made pasta is where it’s at

Fore St.’s purveyor of Italian food, Paciarino has been around for a number of years. They offer a select menu of items including apps and entrees – many of which include their home made pasta and some of which are available to carry out or for delivery if you’re from away. They also carry a sizable selection of wine and a couple Italian beers for your imbibing pleasure.

New since I was last at the restaurant, there were prepackaged Grissini breadsticks waiting on the table as part of each place setting. They apppeared to take the place of the fresh bread which had previously been served with olive oil. To me, complimentary bread is nice, but it’s not something I require as part of my meal, though I suppose the breadsticks weren’t quite as high quality. I ate them without hesitation nonetheless.

She ordered a Prosecco and I went with a Peroni before peering at the food options. Though the menu isn’t huge, there was some question as to whether I wanted to try something new or order an item I had had previously such as their spectacular lasagna. We both started with the Italian Salad – fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, red onions with aged vinegar and extra virgin olive oil – and I decided that one of their specials would do and went with the Black Tagliolini with Lobster. Mrs. Portlandeater chose the Ravioli Spinaci Alla Bolognese – ravioli with ricotta, spinach, fresh garlic & parmesan, topped with homemade Bolognese sauce and parmesan.

We were there early and the place hadn’t yet filled as it generally does when I go. Our salads came out and we remembered immediately that we usually only order one and share them because they are so large. With plenty of fresh veggies and a sprinkle of cheese on top, the salad was delicious with its perfect appointment of dressing.

The ravioli and tagliolini appeared next. Lobster and cherry tomatoes dotted my squid ink-colored pasta. Her ravioli was requested meat-free, and as such, came with basic tomato sauce and speckles of parm. I was satisfied with the portions, but felt that her ravioli in particular stood out when compared to others around town for both size and price.

Garlic and oil were heavily distributed throughout my plate and the lobster and pasta took them on well. I was particularly pleased with their house made noodles were simply some of the best I’ve had. Fresh pasta makes a huge difference and the textures and flavors of theirs was about as pleasant as one could expect.

With plenty of fresh lobster, my dish was both hearty and satisfying. I reveled in the seafood and semolina goodness. I tried one of my wife’s ravioli which was filled with cheese and garlic, creating a slightly decadent pocket of tasty dough. I would have preferred the meat sauce, but she clearly enjoyed it the way she had ordered.

When all was said and done, our meal came to just over $100 with tax and tip. There are a number of Italian restaurants that have opened in Portland over the past few years and I like many of them. But Paciarino holds a special place in my heart and it’s most certainly because their pasta is on another level. They make it daily and it adds a component to their meals that differentiates them from many of the other Italian cuisine purveyors around here. Whatever you get, it’s guaranteed to be tasty, fresh, and filling.

470 Fore St.
207-774-3500
paciarino.com

Stay hungry.

Hungry for more? Get notified whenever Peterpeterportlandeater releases a new blog entry by clicking the “follow” button on the right side of this page after entering your email address directly above it. Seriously, do it. What are you waiting for?

Feel free to email me at peterpeterportlandeater@yahoo.com with any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, or otherwise helpful info or post your thoughts below. Also, like the Peterpeterportlandeater page on Facebook and follow @portlandeater on Twitter. You can also find over 50 articles archived at pppe.bangordailynews.com.