At Sichuan Kitchen, No-Frills Authenticity and Warmth Abound

Years ago, the running joke around town was that the best Chinese food in Portland required a drive to Boston, which actually held some weight until Empire Chinese Kitchen brought its take on traditional Cantonese cuisine to the city in 2013. Then came Bao Bao’s addictive dumplings just one year later, a second venture for Cara Stadler after her success with the exceptional Tao Yuan in Brunswick. Suffice to say that things have improved, but…

Back to Basics: New England Double IPA

Winter is back, readers, and this beer writer is tried of fruits, berries, and funky adjuncts. With the sun setting at 4 PM, I'm done with fluff and back to basics, which, at this point in the year are, #1. Alcohol and, #2. Hops! What better way to resume appreciation of more convention beer styles than to taste some Double IPA? This week, we'll focus on a sub-genre of Double IPA that's close to my…

On Becoming a Baker — Kerry Hanney of Night Moves Bread + Pie

“For me, baking bread and pies is the culmination of my life’s journeys.   As a young person, Kerry Hanney felt disconnected from nature. Born in the Midwest and raised in Atlanta, she recalled spending a good deal of time outdoors as a child, but that changed as she attended middle school and high school in the city.   That was how she came to Maine — well, that’s part of it. Kerry’s father passed…

Just Say Yes — Mint, coffee, and jalapeno beers shine at Yes Brewing

In a crowded market, there’s a tendency for new breweries to “go big,” to have eyes on big money and a seat at the table of a large-scale craft. So it’s refreshing to encounter a start-up brewery with an acute understanding of scale, one that uses its size to its advantage. Yes Brewing in Westbrook had five beers on draft when I visited, and not one kowtowed to trends. Each was unique and delicious. From…

The Roma wasn't built in a day — Industry vet Mike Fraser's long journey in reviving the vintage Italian restaurant

Try walking into a restaurant that is closed for business in the middle of the day — it’s eerie. Ghosts of the evening prior permeate the space and muffled laughter sends chills up your spine. I met with Mike Fraser of the Roma Cafe at such a time of day to learn more about who he is and what motivates him. Though he was reticent to talk about himself, it didn’t take long for him…

Take flight with galactic beers

In the western brewing tradition, beer is spiced with hops like foods are spiced with, errr, spices. Hops, the flower of the herbaceous vine Humulus lupulus, used to be responsible strictly for only the bitter, herbaceous quality of many beers. As growers developed new varieties and brewers developed new techniques, we've seen a profusion of beers that feature the more subtle, unusual flavors and aromas of the hop flower. Now, it's possible to find beers…

Cheevitdee aims for healthy living in the Old Port

For a city of roughly 70,000 folks situated in the American Northeast, Portland boasts a surprisingly large amount of Thai restaurants — 11 brick-and-mortar establishments within city limits. Perhaps even more surprising is the amount of ground covered by the list as a whole, both literally and figuratively. Crawl down Forest Avenue, and you’ll eventually be met with the fiery Lao-influenced cuisine of Northeastern Thailand at Thai Esaan — arguably the city’s finest option for…

The Gourd Horror: Pumpkin Brews

We all have our fears. Some dread a visit to the proctologist. Some tax season. As a beer writer, I have a special horror of one terrible week that combines unique horror of all fears plus the possibility of a dreadful hangover. Yes, loyal reader, it's that time of year where brewers add bloated orange squash to perfectly good beer, douse it in laboratory-derived flavoring agents and cackle with the keening, disturbing laugh of a…

Yobo proves that lovers can do better — New Korean spot shows off distinctive magic

The terrific new restaurant Yobo is named for an affectionate term Korean couples call each other. What it means is “Hey you!” and it reflects a useful dose of cynicism baked into the Korean concept of love. Such realism is too rare here in the US, where sociologists observe that coupledom has undergone a process of “deinstitutionalization.” Pairing off with a spouse, once a normal part of transitioning to adulthood, now represents an ontological capstone…

Cheers to Cherries

Fall is mad this year, loyal reader. First, it's 40 degrees, then it's 70. I suppose we shouldn't complain, because it's October in Maine, but the wild gyrations in weather are driving my palate crazy. I’m not ready to begin my traditional cold weather descent into heavier, maltier beers, so we're going to continue our exploration of beers with added fruits, berries, and other interesting ingredients by tasting cherry beers. Cherries are a perfect fruit for…
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