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Everything posted by CSASphinx

  1. I recently switched from mixing dry sapphire martinis to perfect sapphire martinis. It happened only by necessity (I'd always had dry martinis) as one night my dry vermouth bottle was, well, nearly dry and had only half the amount needed. I put the only other vermouth I had to supplement (sweet red) and was amzed at what a deleicious drink it is. I know I should probably use a sweet white to make this to preserve that crystal clear aesthetic so many want for a martini. However, I love the orange amber tint using the red gives the drink and it seems the prefect color for adding a twist. As for my favorite drink, a Manhattan, I'm very tired of getting crappy ones that are all cloying vermouth and no bourbon, so I simply order it and say "four parts bourbon, one part vermouth please."
  2. If you go to the State for a show, go to the Vietnamese place across the street. Good soup over there. Saigon Thinh Thanh.
  3. I can remember when I was kid walking through the big field next to my gradfather's house to collect bowls of chanterelles. He'd bring them back and sautee them with a simple cream sauce. And that's how I came to love mushrooms. Thing is, it was such a regular part of the summer that I grew up not knowing how coveted chanterelles are and even as an adult would often pass them by on the menu. Good story. Thanks for sharing.
  4. It's been a couple years (at least) since I've ventured up to Robinhood Meetinghouse for a meal. Years ago it received lots of hype and word of mouth recommendations in the Portland area as a must-go place. When we went, we had much the same impression -- that the menu was too extensive and too varied. As a result, I couldn't get a real sense of what Gagne's style is. It seemed more like he was interested in recreating a bunch of straightforward dishes from a number of different "ethnic" cuisines instead of incorporating aspects of them to put twists on traditional favorites and make them his own. That said, my last meal there was good, but uninspired and as a result I haven't been of the mind to drive more than an hour for another visit -- especially with so many promising places to eat right here in Greater Portland. That said. I attended a wedding about five years ago that Gagne catered and it was some of the best food I've ever had at a wedding...spicy shrimp, steaks with a variety of rubs and mustards/sauces all served in a kind of buffet style, served by his staff, or meat carved to order.
  5. Still working out the kinks!?!? at Cinque Terre? They've been open AT LEAST two years.....yikes. Maybe I shouldn't give them another chance. The part I didn't tell you is that my wife wrote them a letter after our first meal there and they promptly sent us a $30 gift certificate. We've NEVER used it. I think it remains, dog-eared, in my wife's wallet. Soffrito wasn't a bad choice. I think you pretty much get waht you expect there. When you were in Hallowell, you didn't, by chance, eat at Slates did you?
  6. I simply must give Cinque Terre another try. My wife and I went probably a month after it opened and the service was simply terrible. I mean this is how bad it was: I ordered a Manhattan straight up for my drink and after 10 minutes of waiting I had to flag down the waiter to ask where it was. Her reply: "We are all out of Martini glasses so we are waiting for someone to finish a drink to get you a glass." Unbelievble. We also witnessed a party of six with a 7:00 reservation wait until almost 8:30 before finally giving up and leaving. That said, my simply prepared olive oil and rosemary marinated T-bone steak was stellar. Unless they rolled back prices, I'd say the dinner for two estimate in the Times article was low. It's more than Fore Street, especially if you go the primi, pasta, secondi, dolce route. So where DID you eat, ghost? Or did I miss that earlier in the thread?
  7. GG, Good point about the thread name. I'm in this for all of a week or so now, so I'm still gettign up to speed on how to manage the technical aspects. Bear with me for a while if you don't mind and I'll look into it. Chris
  8. yeah, harbor fish is (to continue a theme) the cat's meow. My wife likes to go to Browne Trading farther down Commercial Street, even though the prices are enough to make many people blanch. I've had no luck trying to persuade her to give Harbor Fish a try, but that's probably because the fish she brings home from Browne is always, always top notch. Ghost, the Protland Green Grocer is on the LAND side of Commercial St. not to far from the aformentioned Mims. Good idea to meet johnnyd, perhaps once I get my feet under me a little more and more comfortable with what I'm doing here, we can arrange a Portland eGullet night out...GG and family welcome to join, if in town, of course. Oh and since I like to keep the debate moving, I must admit I've never been a big fan of Street & Co. stemming from an early incident of receiving the briniest liguine w/ white clam sauce I have ever tasted (my measure of a seafood place). But as we all know, you can't please everybody.
  9. I've never been, so I only have passed along accounts. The people I know who have been there say it is very good. If you do stop there, please give us an account.
  10. Let's not forget the Portland Greengrocer. Not too shabby selection of produce there. I do agree that you can't find the scope of what you can find at the Public Market in any other one place in the area, though I must admit I have been sorely disappointed by the service at Horton's in their cheese area lately not to mention what seems to be a very picked over -- and limited -- selection of smoked seafood. This is not a knock on the Public Market at all, merely a yearning for what it could be. Wasn't aware that Scales was a Fore Street/ Street & Company venture. But I'm confused since Sam Hayward is already partners with Dana Street at Fore Street and Dana is also the owner of Street & Company....
  11. CSASphinx

    Ginger brews

    I'm a big fan of Reed's Ginger Brew. I think it's the best I've had. Stewart's makes good sdoas though -- I've never tried their ginger beer -- so it wouldn't surprise me to hear that it is tasty as well.
  12. It depends on my mood. If I'm looking for a good belt of juniper, Tanqueray it is. Something more delicate, Bombay Sapphire. As I've mentioned before, it frosts me no end to go to a friend's house, be offered a gin and tonic then have a drink handed to me with a smile and a "Sorry, we don't have any limes."
  13. Ah, hitting a topic of slight marital discord at our house. I like to give a rough clean to our grinder every time I use it. My wife does nothing to get the excess, essentially overground coffe out. If she makes the coffee three days straight there is a ring of scudge below the blade, at the junction of stainless steel and plastic AND coating the plastic cup. How does she live this way? That said, I do what Steve does: damp paper towel to remove the accumulated flotsam, dry one to, well, DRY it. C--
  14. ghostrider, Not too far from the Eastland is Uffa, funky little room and much, much easier to get into than Fore Street. Go out the front of the Eastland take a right, then a right on Congress St. and Uffa! is on the other side of Congress at Longfellow Square. As I mentioned on another thread my wife and I really like to go to Five Fifty-Five (take a left on Congress instead) and it's a couple of blocks down at 555 Congress. You'll need to call for a reservation at both places. Another place, I honestly haven't been to for a couple fo eyars, but always had solid food is Katahdin (this time go straight across Congress and it is on the corner of High and Spring Street one block down. For a funkier place, try Pepper Club on Middle Street. Veggie selections included here. Get the mezze plate for an app. The style is Med./North African. Also on Middle Street diagonally across from Pepper Club try Woody's for a more casual beer and good sandwich. On Commercial St. again more casual is Flatbread Co. near the ferry terminal. Looking for fried seafood? There are two good places (and you'll need to drive to these). First is Susan's Fish and Chips. It's in a non-descript building on outer Forest Avenue, probably a mile or so from the Eastland. If you see McDonald's on the way out of town, you've gone past it. Turn around and it'll be just after the light on the left. Also consider heading out to Two Light in Cape Elizabeth for the Lobster Shack. Good food. GREAT view of bold ocean front. Head out Route 77 and follow the signs for Two Light Sate Park, then take a right when you get by the park entrance and follow the road to land's end. I believe johnnyd also has good things to say about the saefood place at the end of Commercial St. but you'll have to get his words for that, since I've never been.
  15. Thanks for posting this story. As someone who made a life change myself a few years back to be with my family more, I wonder if there is anything more to this than John wanting to have a "regualr" life and not one that ties him to a kitchen from noon to God knows when. Of course the other possiblity is for bigger changes at Au Bon Pain than were indicated in the story. Perhaps they could go in the directions of Eatzi's a chef-centric specialty store that features a wide variety of upscale take home meals, artisan breads and desserts, all prepared on premises - and often on the spot - by trained chefs. Maybe that's a stretch, but even if they get halfway there the change would be significant.
  16. Hey johhnyd Not trying to stir up the pot at all here. The quality of the cheese being produced in Vermont was never in question. I merely thought calling the state THE dominant force in farmstead and artisan cheese making was an overstatement...considering the relative strength and quality exhibited in other states. Not that awards are necessarily an accurate barometer, but recent awards from the American Cheese Society bear this out. And even though judging is subjective, I think ACS has as much credibility since there aren't always 1st place winners in every category. If none of the entries is up to snuff, they'll simply place the best of that year's bunch second or third and move on. But to get this back on track....I think the program UVM is launching is important and I really hope it helps bring more cheesemakers out of the shadows, if you will, and get them wider distribution at least in the region if not nationally. A successful program in Vermont could be used as a model in other states or regions to further the production, education (and eventually) distribution of artisan cheese. Further, this could be a godsend for smaller diary operations, particularly those in the business of cow's milk production since a successful on-the-farm cheesemaking operation is exactly the kind of thing that can help these farmers get the premium for their milk they simply can't get today selling wholesale to large scale diaries.
  17. lala, I wouldn't feel obligated to go to Fore Street. It is certainly good, but I have noticed that the experience isn't always consistent--at least it hasn't been for me. Sometimes I leave thinking it was just what I wanted that night and others, it is just so-so. For other places I'd suggest Hugo's...here's a post of my recent visit there. As noted, the food is really stellar though I had some problems with the service and my wife was disappointed by the portion sizes. As an alternative you may want to try one of our new favorites, Five Fifty-Five at 555 Congress St. It's not in the Old Port but the room is really cool. Open kitchen downstairs and a large opening in the center of the room to the upstairs with a wooden rail. I think it used to be a library at one time and was a cafe/bookstore about 10 years ago. Sitting upstairs along the rail is great as you can see into the kitchen in spots and people watch. It's another husband and wife team there, Michelle Corry in the front of the house, has worked at both the French Laundry and Arrows, Steve was sous chef at Grissini in K-bunkport . I love the "steak and cheese" they serve, beef carpaccio with toasted capers, white truffle oil and big shavings of Reggiano. The last time I was there a couple of weeks ago I had halibut with a buttery corn sauce, Niman Ranch bacon, PEI mussels and wilted spinach....very good. They also have soe wonderful, changing cheese selections for before or after dinner. If you do go for some cheese I’d advise before dinner since the pastry chef there (I keep forgetting her name) was an assistant at Arrowsin Ogunquit. Very understated flavors, not too sweet. I think she's the best pastry chef working in Portland right now. Note to self: Find out her name. PHONE: 207-761-555 We also like Uffa! even farther from the Old Port in Longfellow Square (that's a statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow you cna see on their homepage. The menu they have posted is old but it should give you an idea of what they do. One thing I like about Uffa! is that the food is always perfectly cooked. Down the dollar scale a little, but still very good is an old favorite Pepper Club (just around the corner from Hugo's). It's kinda funky, has a bunch of veggie offerings and tends toward Mediterranean/North African preperations. PHONE: 207-772-0531 On Commercial Street near the ferry terminal is Flatbread Company, sister to the one in Vermont...yummy flatbreads in a more rustic, family setting. A newer place I haven't been to, but have heard good things about farther up Commercial St. is Mimms, a french bistro. Apparently, simple rustic french cuisine with accompaniments a la carte. I'll think of some others and post again.
  18. Yes, that is the one...looks very eel-like. The only possible reason I can think of anyone selling it as John Dory would be to make a huge premium on the sale, since John Dory is of very tight supply. Of course, I'm also wondering why you would go to a fishmonger that perpetrates this deception. Don't you ever worry about other little fibs?
  19. Let me know if you are still looking for Portland dinner reommendations. I have a few.
  20. But therein lies another problem. While major metro areas have places like Murray's where you can eat your way through the store with a knowledgeable guide handing you piece after piece on the edge of a knife, there are sadly not enough place like that in New England where the population is thin and the cheese case is plastic-wrapped self-serve. That said, the Boston area is truly lucky to have someone like Ihsan Gurdal of Formaggio Kitchen, whose dedication to cheese is so complete that he spent a couple of years in France, learning about the conditions in the cheese caves, then set about replicating the temperature and humidity conidtions in his own man-made cheese "cave" in the Cambridge store. What Fat Guy said about education is also important and I think he meant to educate consumers. Most Americans don't know how truly delicious (and varied) good cheese can be because all we know is 24 differnet flavors of vanilla -- and not very good vanilla at that.
  21. GG, While there is no question Vermont has a bunch of really fine cheesemakers, it might be a stretch to say that it is the dominant player in this regard. Wisconsin, California, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and even Maine ( I have to plug my home state) all have more than a handful of very talented cheesemakers. My hope is that the program at UVM is so successful that other states or organizations may take notice and try similar measures, which would only lead to more truly delicious cheese and better choices for everyone.
  22. If you're a fan of Vermont cheese and the variety and quality of the small artisinal makers that dot the countryside, this could be good news. The University of Vermont announced recently that it secured $500,000 in funding for its newly-formed Cheese Artisan Institute which has a mission of providing the latest research on cheese making, outreach to the cheesemaking community and educational opportunities to help cheesemakers hone their craft. The $$ come from Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, The John Merck Fund and an anonymous donor. The institute intends to use the funding to provide a range of services under one roof, from understanding regulatory complexities that govern the cheese trade domestically and internationally to finding a fellow cheesemaker who can help small companies replicate an award-winning batch of cheese. In addition, the Cheese Artisan Institute will conduct cheese making classes along four tracks, including cheese making basics for beginners and a Master Artisan Cheesemaker Program for experienced cheesemakers. In short, the program hopes to provide the kind of support to small-scale cheesemakers that is fairly common in Europe and virtually non-existent in the United States The institute is an outgrowth of the Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship, a joint venture of UVM and Cornell University. It is co-directed by two UVM professors of nutrition and food science: Catherine Donnelly and Paul Kindstedt. So, is this the kind of thing people think will generally increase the quality and variety of the artisan cheeses we can get here in the Northeast? Now if we can only get people to age their cheeses long enough…..
  23. Gang, I know that some people feel priced out (understandably) of the fine fish they have at Browne Trading, so I thiought you might like to know of a deal my wife brough home this weekend. 2 pounds of wolf fish @ $2.99 pound. If you've never had wolf fish you deeserve to give it a try. White fleshed and firmer than a lot of the other white fleshed fish we see in markets around here, it is really a great fish for grilling...which we did with a simple lemon-herb sauce slathered on each side. As an added bonus you'll get to see the mongers take the fillets off the whole fish...one of the ugliest you'll see in a fish case anywhere.
  24. Hey lala, Sorry I haven't responded sooner. I only have a little time, but I will say this: If you are staying in Camden you gotta go next door to Rockland and eat at Primo Here's the web site: http://www.primorestaurant.com/home.cfm I mean seriously, don't miss out on this. Make your reservations now. Go, go, go. More later...
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