Maine Chefs and Writers Awards

The new year means awards seasons for TV, film, and music, and the foodie world is no different. Here’s a review of the awards and nominations that several in the food industry are up for, further proving why Portland was voted “America’s Foodiest Small Town” in 2009 by Bon Appetit magazine.

Will and Kathleen Pratt of Tandem Coffee Roasters

Photo from has nominated their ”Coastal New England Rising Stars,” including eight food and drink professionals from Maine. Nominees include Chef Ravin “Bas” Nakjaroen of Long Grain in Camden, Chef Ilma Lopez of Piccolo in Portland, Chefs Andrew Taylor and Michael Wiley of Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo’s in Portland, Eli Cayer of Urban Farm Fermentory in Portland, Nathan Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewing Company in Portland, Will Pratt of Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland (pictured left with his wife and business partner Kathleen), and Andrew Volk of the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club.

Congrats to all of those nominated! The awards take place mid-April in Providence, RI.

The James Beard Foundation Award nominees were announced last week, with Maine food writer Kathy Gunst receiving a nomination for her work on WBUR’s Here & Now. Unfortunately, all seven Maine chefs and brewers nominated for the semi-finalists did not become finalists. The JBF awards are announced in Chicago on May 2nd and 5th.

Last but not least, three Maine chefs have been nominated for Food & Wine magazine’s Best Chef New England, decided by popular vote. Cast your vote for Eventide Oyster Co.’ and Hugo’s chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley or Cara Stadler of Tao Yuan in Brunswick. Rob Evans of Duckfat was awarded Best Chef New England in 2004 for his work in the kitchen of Hugo’s. Voting continues through March 31st.

Join our Portland Culinary Walking Tour to learn about all the foodie accolades that talented Portland chefs have earned!


Winter Seafood Treats

It was a sad day in Maine when it was announced late last year that there was a moratorium on the 2014 Maine shrimp season. Winter in Maine is a beautiful, quiet, often reflective time, and seasonal treats like Maine shrimp are bright spots after the holidays have passed and the snow has settled in.

Maine shrimp

Photo by Harbor Fish Market

Scallops are another wintertime treat to look forward to. Maine diver scallops are huge, often one inch across, and are carefully harvested by hand by skilled divers in the midcoast region. The scallop season has been shortened, although fortunately, not cancelled altogether like shrimp. Recent write-ups in the Portland Phoenix and on detail the best way to prepare scallops, including a recipe from Portland restaurant Five Fifty-Five.

Smelting season is in full-swing, with ice fishing shacks set up along rivers in midcoast Maine. Smelt are small fish that swim in schools in rivers. They’re available at local seafood markets like Harbor Fish Market in Portland, but the heartiest of us catch these small fish themselves. Just bait your lines, cozy up by the woodstove, and wait. Smelts are best coated in cornmeal and fried in a hot skillet.

To learn more about great options for local seafood in Portland, join our Culinary Walking Tour, offered Saturdays and Sundays in March.


Sweet Treats for your Valentine

chocolate truffles

We love a good sweet treat here at Maine Foodie Tours. With so many talented chocolatiers and bakers around the state, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to treat your sweetie or yourself to some locally-made confections.

If you’ve been on our Portland Culinary Walking Tour, then you know all the local hot spots for sweets – from Stonewall Kitchens’ dessert sauces and jams to Two Fat Cats’ rich chocolate whoopie pies. Dean’s Sweets is all stocked up and ready for your chocolate truffle orders. If you want some company for Valentine’s Day, Novare Res Bier Cafe is planning a beer and chocolate pairing event, with pours local brews paired with Sweet Marguerites chocolates.

Make plans to share some sweets with your sweetie this summer or fall in Portland with tickets to our Desserts First! tour. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Warming Winter Trends

Not to tell you something you already know, but it’s cold outside. So if you’re to brave the elements, it better be worth it. Here, we help you find warming eats and drinks or ones that will have you dreaming of a tropical vacation. 9318494681_8da54560cf_b

The ever-popular Hunt & Alpine Club makes delicious craft cocktails, and any liquor will be sure to warm you up. But at Hunt & Alpine, your cocktails are sure to mixed with care, using ingredients like fresh-squeezed juices and locally made flavored simple syrups. The ‘Autumn Leaves’ rye, vermouth, applejack, strega, bitters cocktail will make you remember a time when it was nice to be outside, maybe sitting around the campfire.

The Bangor Daily News declares hot toddies the perfect drink for a cold winter day and includes recipes for making your own using Rosal Rose cardamom and clove-flavored simple syrups, made in Brunswick, ME.

MaineToday can also recommend six hot toddies around Portland, at some of the city’s finest drinking establishments. Sit at the bar, enjoy a warm drink, and an appetizer, surrounded by other folks who don’t feel much like hibernating.

Time to start dreaming of vacation – check out our summer tours in Bar Harbor, Portland, and Kennebunkport on our website. Where do you go to warm yourself up in the wintertime? (If your answer is the Caribbean, kindly keep it to yourself.) Share with us your winter warming trends on facebook and twitter!

Green gift box

K. Horton’s Specialty Foods, 28 Monument Square, Portland
Shelves full of local and European cheeses, cured meats, olives, speciality crackers, and chocolate await; this shop is the perfect place for the foodie who takes joy in crafting cheese plates and filling picnic baskets.

Two Fat Cats Bakery, 47 India Street, Portland
For the foodie who can’t leave the table without dessert – the bakery even has a pie of the month club!

Dean’s Sweets, 82 Middle Street, Portland
Half the fun of buying truffles at Dean’s Sweets is picking out the flavors, so let your chocolate loving foodie sample and decide.

Vervacious, 227 Commercial Street, Portland
This specialty foods shop is for the foodie who has everything. Whether they go home with whole spices, a balsamic reduction, or a table sauce, this shop is just a fun place to be.

Wine Wise
These educational wine walks with our friend Erica Archer are a great experiential gift for a foodie friend who may be looking to expand their wine knowledge – all while sampling delicious local fare, of course!

Maine Foodie Tours
Of course, for the foodie who loves culinary experiences, we recommend a Maine Foodie Tours gift certificate – they never expire and can be used for any of our scheduled tours.


New Maine Breweries

white-detailEveryone in Maine knows and loves Allagash Brewing Co., one of the state’s largest craft breweries. But how familiar are you with the up and coming? The Maine brewery scene is seeing a huge increase in the number of small businesses opening and here are some that we’re looking forward to.

Austin Street Brewery
Where: 1 Industrial Way, Portland
What: Beer previews show Patina Pale Ale, honey saison, and Westbrook White
When: January 2014


Banded Horn Brewing Co.
Where: 32 Maine St, Biddeford
What: a pilsner, IPA, and a stout to start
When: January 2014

Bissell Brothers
Where: 1 Industrial Way, Portland
What: Hoppy styles, like an IPA, with their homegrown hops
When: Soon!

Foundation Brewing
Where: 1 Industrial Way, Portland
What: saison, saison IPA
When: Aiming for 2013 opening

If you want to learn more about how Maine became a mecca for craft brewers and the history of drinking in Portland, join us on our Sips, Smugglers, and Speakeasies tour offered at happy hour time on weekends through the winter.


Wine Dinners Abound

Fall and Winter in Maine see an uptick in the number of wine dinners hosted by restaurants. As the summer crowds die down, restaurateurs counter the quieter time of year with special events. Hosting a vintner or distributor can be a great opportunity to coax out locals, while diners get the chance to learn more about wine and experience some creativity from their favorite chefs. Here’s some upcoming events courtesy of the Portland Food Map.

glasses of wine

This week Piccolo, the new restaurant from Blue Rooster Food Co. chef Damian Sansonetti, hosts a wine dinner pairing wines from Devenish Wines with Northern Italian fare.

Next week, Bibo’s Madd Apple Cafe hosts SoPo Wine Co. for a Halloween themed dinner, complete with a costume contest and a spooky menu.

The Kabaj Wine Dinner at the Cumberland Club gives the public a rare chance to peek inside the historic private dining club while experiencing wines from Slovenia.

To learn more about wine in Maine, check out our culinary tours in Portland, Kennebunkport, and Bar Harbor. Our guides are full of information about Maine wines and how to pair them.


Harvest on the Harbor, Portland’s premier foodie event, is fast approaching. Tickets for the Lobster Chef Competition, hosted by the Food Network’s Michele Raussis have sold out, but there’s plenty of other great events, including the Grand Tasting on the waterfront to attend.

Beside the tantalizing lobster dishes created in the Lobster Chef Competition, we’re most looking forward to the Top of the Crop competition or Maine’s Best Farm to Table Chef. Maine has so many fabulous local ingredients, the dishes created in this tough competition are sure to capture the diversity of Maine’s bounty. Competing chefs are Chad Conley from Gather, Kerry Altiero from Cafe Miranda, Rich Hanson from Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro, and David Levi from Vinland Restaurant.

With the recent cooler weather, Fall is coming into its prime in Portland, so be sure to come enjoy great seasonal flavors, great wine and beer, and the scenic Portland waterfront at this year’s Harvest on the Harbor.



It seems like every week this year has brought a new restaurant opening in Portland. And this week is no different, with two much anticipated restaurants opening. Tonight, Piccolo opens in the former home of Bresca. Pictures from Eater Maine show that the space has different decor, but still maintains the intimate feeling of this small space.

Piccolo is a high-end Italian restaurant, but with a focus on Northern Italian cuisine, featuring fresh seafood. Chef Damian Sansonetti is the owner of Blue Rooster Food Co., another Maine Foodie Tours favorite, and his wife was the pastry chef at Grace, creating some of the most delicate, fabulous desserts we’ve ever had.

Empire Chinese Kitchen opened last night to much buzz and a few good reviews. This Chinese and dim sum restaurant is where the Empire Dine and Dance was and before that, Empire was one of the city’s first Chinese restaurants, open from 1916-1953. An extensive remodel was completed, and the space now has a very different feel than the previously dark bar and music club.

If you check one of these new restaurants out, be sure to let us know what you think on facebook or twitter!


Maine Cheese Wins Awards

Maine cheese display

Maine cheesemakers took home five awards from this year’s American Cheese Society last month. The competition at the annual conference was held Madison, Wisconsin, a town that knows its way around dairy.

Pineland Farms in New Gloucester won two ribbons: 1st place and 3nd place ribbons for their Cheddar Cheese Spread and Smoked Cheddar.

Silvery Moon Creamery of Westbrook won a 2nd place ribbon for their Provolone, York Hill Farm of New Sharon won a 3rd place ribbon for their Capriano, a dry-aged goat cheese, and new cheesemakers at Crooked Face Creamery won a 3rd place ribbon for their ricotta.

Congrats to all the cheesemakers who won awards! If you’re looking for a great selection of local cheeses, check out Kris Horton’s Specialty Shop in the Portland Public Market.

Older Entries »