Friday, July 16, 2010

Share Our Strength/Evangeline

Another of the Share Our Strengh's "food / end childhood hunger in America events" happened wednesday evening, this time at Evangeline. The wine tasting and Taste of France dinner was much more of an intimate gathering than the Taste of the Nation at the Ocean Gateway a couple weeks ago, but no less a party for a good cause. The wine tasting started at 4 o'clock along the bar as the first couples drifted in with tables filling around five. Not everyone could stay for the dinner which was just as well as some would have had to eat in the kitchen as all tables were full.
Wines for the evening were provided by Devenish Wines of Portland.
The three course dinner started with a salad or chilled Sparrow Arc farm Potato & Leek Vichyssoisse.

Followed by either Steak Frites or Coq au Vin - white wine braised chicken.
Simple fresh fruit crepes with fromage blanc and a ganache were served for dessert!

Things went so well that talk of an annual event to celebrate Bastille Day was heard as the night wound down. With the silent auction raising $870 on top of the cut on the food and wine, well over a thousand dollars will help feed local kids for a little while.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happening #2

* Les Moulins Mahjoub
* New Rosemont Market
*Pai Men Miyake

I had decided to pass on the Tunisian dinner at Vignola featuring the handcrafted products from the Mahjoub family's organic farm in Tunisia's Mejerda Vally.  As fate would have it I stopped by after rescuing my wife from a check engine light. After Jen Bonaccorsi, of the Rogers Collection graciously offered me a bite of the first course of roast lamb sausage I decided to come back for the closed party for food industry workers later in the evening. Really good sausage, really good decision!

The farm and the El-Mahrine olive groves have been in the family since the 1930's and today they are recognized in the culinary world as one of the premier producers of olive oil, table olives, and condiments. Besides the Meski and Sahli olives the line includes both H'rouss & Harissa, a North African pepper based condiment that releases the flavors in food and can be used much the same way we would use salt.  Other condiments and spreads use garlic, sweet peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke, some in combination with Harissa.

They also make chutney, marmalades and jams using the sun baked fruit from this Mediterranean countryside. I tried both the grapefruit and lemon marmalades and have found a new favorites late night topping to put on my toasted bread and butter. The Rogers Collection has been bringing the Les Moulins Mahjoub line to American shores since 1996 and it is now available in several stores in the Portland area including Rosemont Market (more on them later) the Cheese Iron, Whole Foods and I think one or two more. Oh yeah they offer couscous and pasta sauces and M'Hamsa ( sun dried wheat grains) couscous, hand rolled in the original large grain method.

The dinner was accompanied by wines from RP Imports, one of which I especially liked was the Mount Nelson, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand. Big nose, very refreshing, perfect for my daily lunch of tomatoes, cukes, a slice of feta swimming in olive oil and a ciabatta roll.

Now about Rosemont Market's new store. I had noticed the sign across the front door of the old Rosemont Pharmacy announcing it's coming some time ago,

but hadn't gotten around to talking to John Naylor, the owner, about it till this week. I had several questions. 1) Why the new store? "originally we were looking for a bigger bakery... but decided it was smarter to move the retail store."
2) What happens to the original store at Rosemont?  " it becomes the bakery...  allows us to catch up with demand... and it's undecided as to wether we do retail sales or use it only as a production space."
3) Will the new store be different from the current store in it's offerings?  " yes, it will have a cut butchery and a fresh fish case featuring Harbor Fish products.
4) When will it open? "sometime in late July or August."
This is the walk in cooler waiting for the doors.
The new store is a couple hundred feet and on the opposite side of Brighton Ave from the front door of the old store.
The work is being done by R. Connolly & Co. The new wood floor mirrors the original footprint of the pharmacy, while the tile work covers the later cement slab addition. The red pine is covered with 4 coats of a tung oil based product that will have the floor looking antique in six months. 

Now about the newest Masa Miyake opening, Pai Men Miyake, a noodle bar at the former Local 188 location on Longfellow Square.  Opening depends on how fast the work progresses, late fall is hoped for. If you remember the lay out of Local 188 you can see the change in footprint from these pictures of the rough inside. Ductwork is in place and the workers were busy finishing electrical when I was there on wednesday. If the new Pai Men develops as good of a reputation as his Spring Street Miyake it will be a very popular in this very visible location.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Evangeline Great Food/Great Cause

Come Celebrate Bastille Day With Us!
And Let the Children Eat Cake!

“After participating in Share our Strength Maine’s “Taste of the Nation®” benefit for the first time this year and learning about the positive impact the organization is making in our community, I decided I wanted to do more to help,” said Erik Desjarlais, owner and chef of Evangeline. “I’m also a new father and the knowledge that children in our state are going hungry really hit me hard, so I wanted to share my love of French food and raise money to benefit Share Our Strength. I hope this becomes an annual event at the restaurant.” 

Discover the Tastes of France will be held at Evangeline, located at 190 State Street. The event will start with an open house from 4 to 6 p.m., to feature a wine tasting by Ned Swain of Devenish Wines, French cheeses and delicacies created by Chef Desjarlais. The open house will be followed by a dinner at 6:30 p.m. The menu will include three courses of French favorites inspired by the summer. The evening will also feature a silent auction. Items include a dinner for two at Evangeline with an overnight stay at the Portland Harbor Hotel; a dinner for two at Bresca combined with a one-night stay at the Hilton Garden Inn; and a private wine tasting for 10 hosted by Devenish Wines plus an overnight stay at the Eastland Park Hotel. All proceeds from the silent auction will benefit Share Our Strength Maine’s designated local organizations.
The open house is $20 per person, the dinner is $55; the cost for both events is $65. Evangeline is donating 20 percent of the event’s proceeds to Share Our Stren
gth Maine. Call 207-791-2800 for reservations.

Evangeline...  has earned distinction as one of the country’s best small French restaurants. Known for its quintessential French dining experience and modern bistro atmosphere. Meals are prepared using the highest quality ingredients with an abundance of naturally grown items from local Maine farmers, suppliers and producers. Since opening in 2008, the restaurant has received an impressive amount of press in national and regional outlets including, The New York Times, World Traveler, Sherman’s Traveler, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Portland Press Herald. In 2009, USA Today named Evangeline one of the 10 greatest places in the country to master the art of French eating, alongside nine masters of French food, including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Michel Richard and Hubert Keller. Follow the restaurant on Facebook. 

About Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength is the leading national organization working to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. We weave together a net of community groups, activists and good programs to catch the children at risk of hunger and ensure they have nutritious food where they live, learn and play. We work with the culinary industry to create engaging, pioneering programs like Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation®, Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale®, Share Our Strength’s A Tasteful Pursuit®, Share Our Strength’s Great American Dine Out®, and Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline®. Visit to learn more. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Some 4th of July Images

Herb Adams, Portland historian, reads the Declaration of Independence in front of the Longfellow House at noon on the 4th of July. The Maine Historical Society's copy of the "Dunlap Broadside" issued by the Continental Congress, printed by John Dunlap for distribution thru-out the then colonies is one of only 26 known to exist.
A house on Ocean Ave
A little watermelon was a nice addition to this party 
The Portland Symphony Orchestra Plays the national anthem for the assembled masses.
As the sun begin to dip below the horizon it highlighted the crowd toward the lower edge of the eastern promenade hill.

Members of the Campbell family, of Portland, adds some sparkle to the evening
The closer the fireworks the more Casco Bay filled with small boats 
I spotted this window on Congress Street during the 1st Friday art walk.