Saturday, May 29, 2010

Coffee and Corduroy

Decided to check out the Bard's Thursday Nite ThrowDown.  It's an all comers Barista, best looking Latte (everybody throw a little money in the pot winner takes all) competition.
And the winner is, the Bard's own Justin McEdward
If your an aspiring Barista, check the Bards website or the Portland Food Map's calendar for the next Throw Down.

Before the action got going I looking thru the various cards, along the back counter, advertising various events and spotted a Launch Party at Corduroy, 59 Market Street, for the summer collection of JAQK Apparel.  Corduroy bills itself as a combined lifestyle boutique, gallery & social scene, hosting monthly shows with openings on Portland's 1st Friday party. Details can be found on their website.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Not Quite Havana (South)

A lot of you have probably heard that the very popular Bar Harbor Restaurant,  Havana South is opening a 2nd spot on Wharf Street, in Portland.  The restaurant will take over the entirety of the large (7000sf) building at the end of Wharf Street at Union. Construction has progressed of the interior space for several months now and it is hoped that a soft opening will happen toward the end of June. Whenever that happens I'll be there! A look at their website, finds this statement
Havana is American fine dining with a Latin flair, great atmosphere, extensive wine list, knowledgeable staff and sophisticated menu. Seafood, vegetarian and meat dishes are flavored with intelligence and respect and change weekly, sometimes daily.
From the looks of their operation in Bar Harbor and if the food tastes as good as it looks on the website, given the sheer size of this space Havana South could create quite a splash in Portland food scene.
This looks to the main dining area from the main entry with the large bar at the far end of the building.
The main dining area will run across the middle of the space. The bar is to the right.

The far side of the dining area looking toward the kitchen
This space is directly ahead of the door and will be two smaller function rooms and overflow dining.
This space on the Union Street side of the building will be the last to open. Plans are for a retail meat locker/specialty store. It can be seen under the awnings at the right of the picture below.

EMPLOYMENT: Hiring for bar, servers, hosts etc. Now acception applications. ClickHERE for application - Please email resume to:
SALES/ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: Email inquiries - we welcome them, but prefer email. 

Havana South

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Congress Street #3 Monument Square

As part of my occasional series Congress Street, I've looked thru my image library and picked out a few different uses of Portland's busiest meeting place. Originally called Market Square and home to Portland's 1st city hall, it is used today as a farmers market, a focus of several holidays, a place for public protest or a place to relax over lunch. The picture below is from the book Portland: Then & Now, which I previewed in a post last year.

The first is an 1879 view of Market Square which shows Portland's old market house.  Constructed in 1825 it was modified in 1832 into Portland's first city hall, by Charles Quincy Clapp.  Torn down in 1888 it made room for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in 1891, in todays Monument Square.

The Wednesday Farmers Market
Winter Fun
Home to the Yearly Christmas Tree

For those who haven't heard
As anyone who watches TV or reads the Forecaster or Portland Press Herald probably knows Red's Ice Cream in South Portland had a fire late sunday night. If you've stopped by looking for an ice cream at this landmark you've seen the smokey outside, the  sign and the dumpster. The good news is they plan on re-opening, the bad news is it's going to be awhile.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tandoor Bread

Back at the end of March, just before I left for Europe, Anestes over at alerted me to a post on Kay Horton's blog about a guy who was baking Samoon bread in the  middle of the night in the community kitchen at the Portland Public Market House.   "We have just started carrying “Samoon” made right here in our Community Kitchen. A gentleman from Iraq, thirty years a baker, has started making them. He speaks almost no English, but his wonderful joy and energy speaks clearly. He works in the middle of the night, baking in his Tandoor oven, so as we walk into the Market in the morning we are greeted with heavenly smells. Samoon is a oblong shaped air pocket bread. We slice it the length, open it and fill it with any of our wrap ingredients."

Last tuesday I contacted Chris  from Kay Horton Foods at the Public Market trying to get in touch with the gentleman and to my surprise she called back later to say I could stop by later that night... as in 5AM! later.  Now I'm not an early riser, never have been and if I'm up at that hour it's because I haven't been to sleep yet. And I haven't been up that late for a long time, 1-2 ish is about it nowadays. I was more then a little worried about my ability to focus my camera, even thou it is an Canon EOS with auto focus. Usually any pictures I take before mid day are pretty bad.  So off to bed at 11:30 and up at 4:15 hoping for the best.
Five o'clock rap on the backdoor of the market and a 40-ish man in shorts, a tee shirt, flip flops and a baseball hat, turned backwards lets me in. It's Mr. Audai Naser.  He leads me down cellar goes right back to work as I take a quick look around for a place to put my gear down and introduce myself.  For the first half hour I mostly watch noticing how his hands move quickly in making the bread.

As I start to wake up I take a few pictures trying to get good exposures in the two main work areas.  Finally I try a little conversation. We stick with short simple words and a few hand signals and I find out that he comes from Karbala, which is south of Bagdad.  His father owned a bakery and he has been making bread for thirty years. He first moved to Atlanta in the fall of 2008 with his family, to get away from the fighting. Coming to Portland seventeen months ago. He has six daughters and one son. He started his business in December 2009 and now works mostly 7 days a week making two types of bread.

Tenur, a round flat bread made of a mix of white and whole wheat flour, water, yeast , sugar, salt.   And Samoon, the smaller diamond shaped pillows, which have only the white flour and which he had finish making before I arrived. When I leave just after seven, with a package of each bread, he still has a couple of racks to bake up and clean up to do before he loads his van and makes his deliveries. 3000 loafs a week.
Flash forward thru a little nap I wake up and have my usual lunch of sliced tomato & cuke, some feta cheese and a glass of wine, tearing off half a fresh Samoon to soak in the pepper & olive oil.  When Toby comes in for supper I look at the round flat bag of Tenur. How about we make pizza? Very nice as a crust, not quite thin, tasty and no fuss no muss. We throw the other 3 pieces in the freezer and the next night I'm on my own for supper.  I grab one of the Tenur's from the cold before I prepare my toppings: garlic, onion and peppers cooked with three strips of Appledore Bacon, five minutes more I'm saucing and slicing a hard boiled egg onto my toppings. A little olive oil on the bottom and into the hot oven it goes. Eight more minutes and out it comes! Very successful, very quick. I highly recommend keeping a package of these around if you make pizza at home.
The next night we cooked up a bag of mussels and I take out one of the Samoons from the freezer, slice it in half, open it up and pop it into the toaster, heat about 4 on a scale of 1-10.  Holds up very well, tastes great.
Mr Naser said he'd like to moved to his own place soon. Once the word spreads about his bread, he'll need too! Look for it at Sidibad Market, 710 Forest Ave ( where you'll also find a nice selection of other middle east food items ).