Life & Culture – Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel Features news from the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine and Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine. Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:15:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘Coco’ keeps top spot at weekend box office Sun, 10 Dec 2017 22:41:10 +0000 LOS ANGELES — The animated family film “Coco” has topped the box office for a third time on a quiet, pre-“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” weekend in theaters.

Disney estimated Sunday that “Coco” added $18.3 million, which would bring its domestic total to $135.5 million.

The weekend’s sole new wide release was the Morgan Freeman film “Just Getting Started,” which launched to a meager $3.2 million from 2,161 theaters and barely made the top 10.

Most studios have chosen to avoid competing against “The Last Jedi,” which is expected to dominate theaters and moviegoer attention when it opens on Dec. 15.

Thus, most of the charts have looked quite similar for the past few weeks. Warner Bros. and DC’s “Justice League” took second place with $9.6 million and Lionsgate’s sleeper hit “Wonder,” which has now passed $100 million, placed third with $8.5 million. Warner Bros. also crossed the $2 billion benchmark domestically Saturday – the first studio to do so in 2017.

This quiet period before “Star Wars” has allowed some of the indie and prestige titles to thrive in limited releases and expansions, like James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist.” The film, about the making of one of the worst films of all time, “The Room,” expanded to 840 locations in its second weekend in theaters. It managed to bring in $6.4 million, landing it in fourth place.

Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film “Lady Bird” also added 363 locations and placed 9th in its sixth weekend in theaters. With the $3.5 million from this weekend, “Lady Bird” has netted $22.3 million.

The Guillermo del Toro-directed romantic fantasy “The Shape of Water” expanded to 41 theaters in its second weekend and earned $1.1 million.

– From news service reports

]]> 0 estimated Sunday that its animated film "Coco" added another $18.3 million to its blockbuster earnings.Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:16:41 +0000
Jane Fonda’s 80th birthday benefits a cause Sun, 10 Dec 2017 22:29:06 +0000 ATLANTA — Jane Fonda used her 80th birthday celebration to raise $1.3 million for her foundation.

The two-time Oscar-winner held the “Eight Decades of Jane” fundraiser at an upscale hotel Saturday night. The event recognized Fonda’s life achievements along with her foundation, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, which she created in 1995.

The Atlanta-based nonprofit focuses on teen pregnancy prevention and adolescent health.

Guests included CNN founder and ex-husband Ted Turner, her son Troy Garity and producer Paula Weinstein. James Taylor and Carole King performed “So Far Away” and “You’ve Got a Friend.”

– From news service reports

]]> 0 Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:27:00 +0000
New ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres to cheers and praise Sun, 10 Dec 2017 14:30:56 +0000
LOS ANGELES — There were cheers, gasps, droid photo opportunities, casino games and more than a few standing ovations at the jam-packed world premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Saturday night in Los Angeles, which many are already praising online. Rian Johnson, the writer and director of the eighth installment of the franchise, dedicated the night to the late Carrie Fisher, who died after filming had completed.
“She’s up there flipping the bird and saying, ‘Don’t bring this night down with solemn tributes,’” Johnson said on stage at the Shrine Auditorium. It was in that spirit that Johnson excitedly introduced his cast, including Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac. Hamill and composer John Williams, who Johnson called one of the “greatest living film composers” were among the few who got standing ovations.
“Let’s watch a Star Wars movie!” Johnson exclaimed as the cast took their seats, the lights dimmed and the yellow Star Wars logo and iconic scrawl appeared on screen to signal the start of the film. The enthusiastic audience laughed and cheered throughout much of the two-and-a-half-hour film. One audience member even shrieked “What?!” at a key scene deep in the film.
The elaborate premiere featured a massive assault vehicle and a procession of Stormtroopers and droids that preceded the first showing of the film in advance of its Dec. 15 release. The mood was joyous and pregnant with anticipation for the highly anticipated and guarded film, which sees the return of Hamill’s Luke Skywalker as well as Fisher’s final performance.

Daisy Ridley arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Formal reviews won’t be out for a few days, but journalists and others at the screening who shared their initial reactions online said “The Last Jedi” packed the adventure expected in a Star Wars film, but took it into new territory.

J.J. Abrams, who directed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and will return to direct Episode IX told The Associated Press that the film was “great” and that “Rian killed it.”

“Logan” director James Mangold also praised the film’s director, calling the movie “a great chapter of a blockbuster franchise,” that also had Johnson’s “voice shining through.”

Producer Adam F. Goldberg wrote that the film made him feel like a kid again.

Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican said the film “will shatter you and then make you feel whole again.”

Many who posted online about the premiere said they were still processing the film.

Attendees at Saturday’s premiere were the first people outside the cast, filmmakers and top executives at Walt Disney Co. and Lucasfilm who had seen “The Last Jedi.” Director Edgar Wright, Patton Oswalt, Greta Gerwig, “Stranger Things” actor Gaten Matarazzo, and Constance Zimmer were among the attendees Saturday.

Wright, who makes a cameo appearance in the film as a rebel, added on Twitter that the film was, “Really great.”

At the after-party, which was modeled after Canto Bight, a casino-based city in the Star Wars galaxy seen in “The Last Jedi,” attendees could play blackjack, roulette and craps to win commemorative Star Wars pins.

Fans at the premiere were also treated to up-close looks at new characters, including an elite squad of guards clad in red armor as well as a collection of droids, including the droids C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8, who walked and rolled down the red carpet before the film’s stars arrived.

“It’s a Star Wars movie, and the energy tonight is pretty amazing,” said a beaming Andy Serkis, who plays the villain Supreme Leader Snoke.

Ridley, who plays Rey, arrived wearing a shimmering dress adorned with stars. Ridley was in good spirits, saying about her dress, “I mean, it’s just fun. It’s fun. And I feel fun. And it’s got stars on it.”

Newcomer Kelly Marie Tran wore a bright red dress with a lengthy train behind it. John Boyega, who earlier in the day tweeted that he might miss the premiere because a snowstorm had snarled travel out of Atlanta, arrived sporting a dark blue tuxedo and turtleneck.

Secrecy about the film remained in place on the red carpet. Anthony Daniels, who plays C-3PO, told a reporter looking for details on the film, “I’m going to let you work out everything for yourself.”

“The Last Jedi,” which arrives in theaters on Dec. 15, is one of the year’s biggest releases. Early box office projections are for the film to debut in the $200 million range for its first weekend.

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Maine parody site is far from fake news, and enough readers get the joke Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 In early December, New Maine News reported that climate scientists had determined the cause of the state’s unseasonably warm temperatures and lack of snow: a new snowmobile purchased by a man from Rangeley.

The parody news site (think Maine version of The Onion) was, of course, poking fun at a gripe you’re likely to hear by the coffee pots at a corner store – that as soon as you buy an expensive new snow toy, the weather won’t cooperate.

It’s about as believable a news story as “Sexy Paul LePage” being the least popular Halloween costume for seven years in a row, or Portland’s mayor calling out the name of his native New York in bed – other “articles” on the site. But, these days, with ads and click bait posing as news stories, journalism being dismissed as fake news and politicians offering “alternative facts,” it can be hard to tell whether a ridiculous headline is real or, as in this case, satire.

Fortunately for New Maine News creator Seth Macy, enough people get the joke. Macy, a writer and former estate caretaker from Rockland, started the site in October. With an average of 50,000 page views a week and more than 7,300 followers on Facebook, he’s already drummed up enough ad revenue to cover his costs.

Fans say it’s obviously satire and are laughing out loud at New Maine News’ take on the people, trends and quirks unique to Maine. But some critics say the site, which isn’t clearly labeled as satirical content so as not to ruin the joke, helps continue the trend of blurring the line of what’s true and what isn’t, especially when it comes to the internet.

Belfast City Councilor Michael Hurley was upset by a New Maine News story in November that said Belfast was stamping out poverty by making it illegal for poor people to live in the well-heeled tourist town, attributing fake quotes to a real city councilor, Mary Mortier, such as: “Let’s face it, the poor are noble, hard-working and downtrodden, but they also drive their loud trucks through town and shop at places like Walmart.” Macy, who picked Mortier’s name at random from the city’s website, removed it after getting several complaints. She didn’t return a phone call seeking comment for this story.

“I do think the site is funny, but I think it’s sophomoric, to just make up quotes from a real person,” Hurley said. “People read things online and believe what they want. If you look at the comments on (New Maine News), some people believe the stories.”

One of those people is Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling’s mother, who called him to ask what was going on when she saw the story: “Portland City Council Says Mayor Must Pay for Own Top Hat and Sash” – a dig on Strimling for being accused of trying to grab more power than the city charter allows.

Strimling, however, has a sense of humor about it. Both times he was lampooned by the site, he posted the stories from his own Facebook page.

“I thought the pieces were very funny,” he said. “I think parody can get at deeper truths. He (Macy) touched on some of the back and forth, some of the tension, that’s going on with the council.”

Still, people do get fooled by the ever-growing number of parody and fake news sites that post enticing headlines just to get page views, like stories that appeared last year about pop star Katy Perry moving to Portland and a Harry Potter spinoff film being shot in Maine. New Maine News has a motto across its homepage that, to someone unfamiliar with Maine media, could be taken at face value: “Maine’s only trusted source for local real breaking news.” But since satire and parody are included in the First Amendment, Macy is pretty confident what he’s doing is protected speech.

Macy has written satire before, for gaming sites mostly. He’s a big fan of The Onion, probably the best known national satire site. He also remembers, as a youngster in the ’80s, seeing the Maineiac Express — a twice-printed newspaper parody with headlines like “Northern Maine Secedes!” and “Illiteracy declared official second language.”

Macy, 40, grew up on North Haven island near Rockland, where his father is a minister. Married with two children, he has worked as a caretaker of island property and is currently working as a freelance writer for gaming sites like Imagine Games Network and Hard Drive.

He started New Maine News mostly “to write some funny stuff and make my friends laugh.” He doesn’t want his satire to be political, like so much is, but wants to follow The Onion’s lead and lampoon the nuts and bolts of daily life – in his case, daily life in Maine.

“The Onion makes fun of everybody and everything, and that’s what I’m striving to do. I never want my stories to let people know what my politics are,” Macy said.

Macy writes all the satirical stories himself, usually posting one a day with photo-shopped art – like a woman in a winter scene wearing a sleeping bag with arm holes and a headline claiming it’s the season’s “hottest trend.” He pays close attention to Maine news and events, and keeps an eye out for anything that’ll make a funny headline. His advertisers, such as Yopp Skis in Bethel, pay enough to cover the costs of producing the site at home on his computer, including software and WordPress services. He also sells New Maine News hats and T-shirts on the site and has started a campaign on the funding site to raise money to pay people who want to submit satirical articles to New Maine News.

Tim Sample, a veteran Maine humorist known nationally, said he enjoyed several of the stories he saw on New Maine News, including one about Uncle Henry’s new swimsuit issue. It said the venerable Maine publication, where people place ads for everything from firewood to unwanted wedding rings, was putting out an edition listing ads for swimsuits. No pictures, just written ads, including one for a “lace-up flower 2-piece,” $140 or best offer, in Rumford.

Sample thinks parody is getting harder and harder to do, because some of the things happening in the world – like the president’s Twitter usage – already seem like something a comedian might dream up.

“Parody is an interesting form of humor, very hit-and-miss, and it depends largely on how familiar someone is with the subject, and what their own views on it are,” Sample said. “For parody to work, you need an agreed-upon norm and then you have to exaggerate that. But today it’s hard to find an agreed-upon norm about anything, or something that doesn’t already seem like exaggeration.”

]]> 0, ME - NOVEMBER 9: Seth Macy created and writes pieces for the satirical website New Maine News, which pokes fun at all things Maine. Macy is photographed at his Rockland home on Thursday, November 9, 2017.Sat, 09 Dec 2017 20:57:09 +0000
MECA’s new president sees arts education as key to navigating an ever-changing world Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Laura Freid has a resume peppered with Ivy League schools that led to a globe-trotting job with a world-famous musician, which she left to become the newest president of Maine College of Art.

“I wanted to do something in my career that could really help artists stay artists their whole life,” she said.

Freid became MECA president this past July, leaving a 12-year partnership with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and their collaboration, the Silk Road Project. He was the public face of the global cultural arts organization, while Freid served as CEO and executive director. Before that, she worked as chief communications officer at Harvard University and as an executive vice president at Brown University.

Coming to an art school feels like a natural landing spot at this moment in her life and career, and also at this moment in the world. Freid is an advocate for passion-based learning and believes that art-school students are best equipped to handle the challenges and opportunities of the world today and tomorrow, because art is present everywhere we look.

“Designers are the problem-solvers of the future,” Freid said in an interview in her Portland office. “The 21st century is the creative century, and an arts education is a great education to have. We are all walking around with art on our wrists, on our tablets and on our phones. We need people in the world who can present that art in a beautiful way.”

Freid lives in a condo in Portland’s East End and walks to work most days. She appreciates the vibrancy of Munjoy Hill and Portland as a whole. Her husband lives and works in Massachusetts, and they own a house in Newton.

She spent her first 100 days in Portland listening. She’s met with more than 800 people since she arrived in July, including folks directly associated with MECA and those on the periphery of the school.

She said yes to MECA because she wanted to further integrate her interests in arts and education. Freid studied philosophy as an undergraduate at Washington University, earned a master’s in business from the Boston University School of Management and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania. “My intellectual interest is in aesthetics and the philosophy of aesthetics, so art is very important to me, and I think to the world,” she said. “Art helps us understand what’s going on in our life.”

Mostly, she loves being around students who are creative, active and engaged. The period in people’s lives between the ages of 18 and 24 are when so many transformational experiences occur, “and when you find out who you are and what you contribute to your world,” she said.

When Freid researched MECA after being asked to apply, one of the things she noted was the school’s Artists at Work program, which connects students to internships, jobs, commissions, professional development opportunities, community partners and residencies so they can work in their fields of training. At Harvard, Freid began a cultural entrepreneurship program that encouraged artists and business people to create businesses that serve society. She saw parallels between the program at Harvard and the program at MECA and was impressed.

As president, her job is to figure out what the school will look like in five, 10 and 20 years from now.

The challenges are mostly financial, and those are tied to the cost of doing business in Portland. MECA’s fall enrollment was 512, which continues a trend of enrollment increases. Of those students, about half live in downtown dorms owned or rented by MECA. The school has to increase its housing stock at a time when affordable housing is harder to find. “Supply and demand is decreasing our students’ ability to find housing at a reasonable cost,” Freid said. “We want students to focus on their learning and not have to worry too much about their housing.”

Toward that end, she has convened an informal task force to explore downtown options. The next step will be making a plan and raising money. The school’s annual budget is $14.3 million, and Freid said the school “needs to increase fundraising and corporate and foundation support.”

The opportunities are as endless as imagination. She wants MECA students to “go deep” in their studies so they can avail themselves to all possibilities.

When she talks about MECA to people in the community, she reminds them of the importance of creativity in America’s economy and culture. “It’s important to understand that everything we touch and see and feel has been designed and made by somebody,” she reminds people. “When we go online, everything we look at was designed by an artist.”

Supporting students through scholarships, she said, is one of the most important things a person can do. That’s especially true now, when America’s investment in the arts is less than solid. “We spend a lot of time applauding ourselves for our creativity, but we are not investing enough in the creative leaders of tomorrow. If we don’t watch it, we might turn out like some societies that have very accomplished engineers and mathematicians, but they are lacking creativity. And when you lack creativity, you aren’t innovating.”


]]> 0"I can think of nothing more important than investing in our artists of tomorrow," said Maine College of Art President Laura Freid, who is working on improving housing availability and scholarship opportunities for MECA students.Fri, 08 Dec 2017 16:46:40 +0000
Jerusalem: Special, shared, complicated Sat, 09 Dec 2017 01:09:45 +0000 Three major religions have coexisted – not always easily – in a city that holds deep meaning for each.

NEW YORK — Jerusalem holds deep religious significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians, heightening the stakes for President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

Jerusalem includes the holiest ground in Judaism, the third-holiest shrine in Islam and major Christian sites linked to the life of Jesus.

The three religions have co- existed in Jerusalem with mixed results, under long-standing agreements that give oversight of different sectors in the Old City to separate coalitions of Muslims and Christian groups, and to Israeli authorities. Trump’s announcement Wednesday has no direct impact on those arrangements, but creates new tensions around already fraught relationships.

Pope Francis said he was “profoundly concerned” over the move and appealed to these shared ties to Jerusalem among the monotheistic faiths, “who venerate the holy places of their respective religions and has a special vocation to peace.”

Here are facts on the city’s significance to the three religions:


The Temple Mount, on a hilltop compound that is also revered by Muslims, is where the biblical Jewish Temples stood thousands of years ago and is considered the holiest site in Judaism. When Jews pray, they face Jerusalem. Those in Jerusalem face the Temple Mount. At the end of the Passover Seder, Jews say “Next year in Jerusalem,” among other traditions.

The Western Wall, in the heart of the Old City in Jerusalem, is the holiest place where Jews can pray and draws Jews from around the world.


The Temple Mount is home to the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina, and is at the center of one of the most important moments in Islam: the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey and Ascension.

According to Islamic teaching, Muhammad was carried by the angel Gabriel on a winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem’s Noble Sanctuary, where he prayed with other prophets and ascended to Heaven before returning.

“Muhammad saw God face-to-face. Muslims are trying to see God face-to-face,” said Omid Safi, a Duke University professor and author of “Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters.” “It’s simply the defining experience that spiritual seekers are trying to replicate in their own life.”

Muslims originally prayed facing in the direction of Jerusalem, putting Islam among the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism and Christianity, before reorienting the direction of prayer toward Mecca, Safi said.


The most pivotal developments in the Christian faith occurred in and around Jerusalem. Christian tradition holds that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is where Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead. The city includes the Garden of Gesthemane, where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before his Crucifixion, among other sites of significance for believers.

Christian pilgrims have been visiting the site for centuries.

“Jerusalem is important to Christians because Jerusalem was important to Jesus,” said the Rev. James Martin, author of “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.”


The administration of the various sites in Jerusalem is complicated.

The Islamic Waqf, or trust, administers the Temple Mount complex. Jordan, which is the former ruler of the Old City, retains custodial rights over the area and oversees the complex.

Any Israeli attempts to add oversight of that sector have sometimes sparked violence.

Separately, the Israeli government controls the Western Wall, while a group of Christians administers the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Rev. Deanna Ferree Womack, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, said those religious connections “have been employed both to unite and to divide” throughout history.

]]> 0 Jerusalem, a Palestinian prays in front of the Dome of the Rock during Ramadan at the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.Fri, 08 Dec 2017 20:29:28 +0000
Festival of Trees to light up Good Will-Hinckley on Friday Thu, 07 Dec 2017 21:58:11 +0000 FAIRFIELD — With the flick of a switch Friday evening, the 25th annual Good Will-Hinckley Festival of Trees will light up Prescott Hall in a ceremony officially ushering in the Christmas holiday season.

Twenty-three decorated Christmas trees — plus this year, 23 miniature Christmas trees with presents under them to be won in a raffle — will all be part of the spectacle beginning about 7 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 6. A performance by the Bell Ringers will follow.

Admission to the tree-lighting ceremony costs $5 and includes dessert. Children under 12 get in free.

“This is the first time since I’ve been here that we’re doing the lighting,” Michelle Theriault, Good Will-Hinckley development coordinator, said of the Friday night ceremony.

Ken Coville, president of Good Will-Hinckley, said all the lights in Prescott Hall will go down and once everyone is seated, all the Christmas tree lights will go on.

“We’ll have this room completely dark, and as soon as we have every one in, we’re going to arrange for a young person to come up and throw a switch and all the lights come on,” Coville said.

Coville said the Festival of Trees tradition at Good Will-Hinckley started 25 years ago when Ann Marden, wife of Justice Donald H. Marden, a Good Will-Hinckley board member, came up with the idea.

“She worked with Jim Henniger, and they established the first Festival of Trees,” Coville said from inside the hall, festooned Thursday with lights and trees and two seats on stage for Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. “Over the course of the whole week, we will have thousands of people who attend. Not only do we have the general public, but we have school groups who come in during the week, nursing home groups coming and community groups coming in during the daytime.”

Coville said there will be entertainment during the evening hours, beginning Friday night and continuing throughout the week.

Theriault said she assisted with sponsorships for the festival and has a teal-and-purple tree of her own in the display for suicide awareness. Other trees in the festival are decorated by area groups, business and individuals.

“It’s beautiful,” Theriault said of all the trees and lights filling Prescott Hall. “It’s always beautiful. Usually we have 3,000 to 4,000 people, and hopefully this year even more, because we have more entertainment this year and the craft fair is back. We haven’t had a craft fair in a couple of years, so I think that will be well attended. Most people say this gets them in the spirit.”

The festival runs through Dec. 16 with events and entertainment almost every day.

This Saturday the festival is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. with crafts, vendors and raffles. The Triple C Dance Team, which has a jazzy Mardi Gras Christmas tree in the display, is scheduled to perform at 10 a.m. Saturday, and Kennebec Valley Chordsmen will perform at 2 p.m.

On Sunday, a public brunch is scheduled to be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 each and must be bought in advance.

Pictures with Santa Claus are scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Monday. A down-home dinner is set for 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Festival of Trees this year is sponsored by Sappi North America.

For a full schedule of events, go to

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


]]> 0 Coville, president of Good-Will Hinckley, talks about the decorated Christmas trees of the many businesses and organizations that sponsored them, including the Recycled Shakespeare Company tree at left, at this year's Festival of Trees. The festival begins Friday in Prescott Hall in Fairfield and runs through Dec. 16.Thu, 07 Dec 2017 17:17:08 +0000
Westbrook library wants to add cameras to discourage ‘sexually deviant behavior’ Thu, 07 Dec 2017 21:02:21 +0000 WESTBROOK — The city is looking to upgrade the security cameras at Walker Memorial Library to better ward off sexually inappropriate behavior there.

According to Police Chief Janine Roberts, people have been engaging in “sexually deviant behavior” at the library. This has included physical behavior as well as use of computers to access sexually explicit material.

“Unfortunately, the actions of some people are making the staff and other people uncomfortable,” Roberts said.

The library already has some cameras, but new digital cameras would provide increased security in more areas. The 11 new cameras, which would replace the current analog models, would show higher-quality images. They would be placed in the gathering room, the local history room, the maker-space/youth activity room, the second floor lobby, the adult services room and several outdoor locations.

The City Council on Dec. 4 voted 5-0 at first reading to approve the purchase of the cameras, with councilors Brendan Rielly and Gary Rairdon absent.

The low bidder for the project was Cunningham Security at $7,722, which was $10,000 less than the library’s current security provider, Advance Technology.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the library has had cameras for many years, but that it needs more since the staff can’t monitor all library patrons.

“We have a diverse population who use the library and we can’t physically staff every room because the cost would be excessive so we rely on technology,” he said.

Library Director Rebecca Albert said she hopes the new cameras will cut down on inappropriate behavior.

“It’s a deterrent for bad behavior and theft,” she said. “It’s security for the staff and the public.”

Albert would not say exactly what people are doing at the library that is inappropriate.

“I’d rather not say specifically, but it’s inappropriate for a public space, particularly in a space where children are,” she said. “I don’t want to say anything too explicit.”

At first, Roberts wouldn’t say either.

“If you can’t infer what the library director and city administrator are not specifically saying, I’m not going to step in there,” she said.

When pressed, she said there have been instances of “sexually inappropriate behavior.” She said this has included behavior between two people, indecent exposure, and use of computers to access sexually explicit material, but police reports don’t specify exactly what type of behavior people are engaging in.

“It’s not frequent, however, it only takes one incident to affect the staff and other library patrons,” Roberts said.

Albert said when library staff notice or are made aware of inappropriate behavior, they intervene if appropriate. If the situation is more serious, they call the police. She said the police are called about once every other month.

Roberts said people have been arrested at the library, but that most people who are engaging in sexual behavior flee before police arrive. She said it’s up to library staff or other witnesses to file a police complaint.

Most of the criminal activity happening at the library is theft, but the sexually inappropriate behavior is usually people viewing pornography.

“Like any library in the country, we’ve had instances of inappropriate computer use,” Albert said.

Roberts said while that isn’t illegal, it’s not appropriate and makes other people in the library very uncomfortable.

“I don’t know if watching pornography on a public computer is against the law, but it certainly doesn’t comply with library rules,” she said.

Albert said the library’s Wi-Fi has content blockers, but that people sometimes find ways around it. Other times people bring in personal laptops with images and videos already downloaded on them.

According to Albert, people have been temporarily banned from the library and the length of banishment depends on the severity of their action. She said only one person is banned right now, for theft, and that person cannot return for eight more months.

The City Council is expected to approve the security upgrades at second reading at its next meeting.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

See this story in Keep Me Current.

]]> 0 staff at Walker Memorial Library in Westbrook is hoping to upgrade its video security system to discourage sexually inappropriate behavior, including the viewing of pornography in the public space.Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:24:09 +0000
Trump administration proposes allowing tip-pooling in restaurants Thu, 07 Dec 2017 15:22:16 +0000 One of the most contentious issues in restaurants, at least in higher-end restaurants, is the pay disparity between the tipped servers and hourly cooks.

The U.S. Department of Labor has just proposed new regulations to help narrow that gap, but critics say the Trump administration’s rules go too far: They would allow employers to control all tips, potentially legalizing a practice that is now considered wage theft under the law.

The regulations are “not just about sharing tips with the back-of-the-house staff – that part would be OK – but employers would have the right to decide what to do with the tips,” said Saru Jayaraman, president of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, or ROC, an advocacy group for restaurant workers.

Allowing employers to distribute tips as they see fit, Jayaraman added, would end the Labor Department’s practice of treating gratuities as the property of workers, a custom that dates to the 1974 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Greg Dugal, director of government affairs for the Maine Restaurant Association, said that Maine is one of the states exempt from the administration’s proposal because restaurateurs here can take advantage of the tip credit, which allows tipped workers to be paid at a lower rate than hourly wage workers.

Voters last year approved a referendum that increased Maine’s minimum wage and eliminated the tip credit. In June, the Legislature restored the tip credit at the urging of restaurateurs and restaurant workers alike.

The new federal proposal “has only to do with people who don’t have a tip credit or who don’t use a tip credit,” Dugal said. “Here in Maine, we worked very hard to retain the tip credit.”

In recent years, high-profile chefs and restaurateurs have been sued for alleged wage theft, including Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud and Jessica Biel. Shutterstock photo

The Labor Department officially published the proposed regulations Tuesday in the Federal Register, and the public has 30 days to comment on them. The rules would roll back some Obama administration-era regulations from 2011 that had expressly prohibited employers from splitting server tips with traditionally non-tipped employees, such as cooks and dishwashers. Back then, the agency was concerned server tips could, among other things, be used to pay the hourly wages of back-of-the-house employees.

The Obama regulations instigated a number of federal lawsuits, including ones from National Restaurant Association and other regional hospitality trade groups. The groups argued the Labor Department had overstepped its authority with the 2011 regulations, which were issued more than a year after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that employers could split server tips with traditionally non-tipped employees, but only if the businesses directly paid workers at least the full minimum wage and did not claim a federal tip credit. A tip credit is the portion of tips that employers are allowed to use to cover a worker’s minimum wage.

Before the 2011 rule change, some in the restaurant industry questioned whether all employers were required to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act’s rules on tipped employees. Some assumed that only restaurants that took advantage of the tip credit would have to heed the rules. Among other things, those rules require employees to retain all of their tips or take part in a tip-sharing pool that includes only “employees who customarily and regularly receive tips,” a group that does not include back-of-the-house cooks and dishwashers.

Federal courts – sometimes the same one – have issued conflicting rulings on whether some businesses don’t have to follow the act’s rules for tipped employees. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit sided with the Labor Department and its 2011 regulations, reversing its own ruling from 2010.

To muddy the waters more, the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit earlier this year held that some employers could rightfully claim servers’ tips and use them as they want. The clashing legal decisions could compel the Supreme Court to take up the National Restaurant Association’s case this term and clear up the confusion.

In the meantime, the Trump administration’s proposal seeks to remove some of the Obama-era prohibitions on tip-sharing. A Labor Department spokesperson, speaking on the condition of anonymity, did not challenge criticisms that the rules would transfer control of tips from employees to employers. “This proposal would give workplaces the freedom to share tips among more employees,” he said.

While the proposal sounds promising in principal – a way to balance inequities between, say, fine-dining servers and bartenders earning nearly six figures a year and their colleagues in the kitchen earning $13 an hour – critics say the new rules could invite trouble. The rules, they say, would allow employers to distribute the pooled tips to anyone, including salaried managers or even themselves. (Worth noting: Some restaurants have opted out of the messy tipping system altogether; instead, they add a service charge to checks to pay employees equally.)

In recent years, high-profile chefs and restaurateurs have been sued for alleged wage theft, including Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud and Jessica Biel.

Molly Elkin, an attorney who represents workers in cases brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act, said it’s delusional to think that employers will take server tips and share them only with back-of-the-house employees, instantly creating one happy restaurant family. She compares the pay-equity fantasy to the trickle-down economics that the Trump administration and the GOP are promising with their tax bill.

“I just don’t see that happening in reality,” emailed Elkin, a partner at the Washington law firm Woodley & McGillivary. “The proposed rule does nothing more than authorize wage theft on the part of the employer. The employer can simply pocket the tips, and Trump’s [Labor Department] will not care.”

Jayaraman, the ROC president, said the new rules could have an even darker side. More than two-thirds of tipped employees in American restaurants are women, and they don’t all work in upscale restaurants with leather banquettes, 200-bottle wine lists and genteel diners. They work at IHOP, Applebee’s and similar national chains, Jayaraman said. They earn, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average annual wage of $24,410, though the agency’s figures may be lower than the actual incomes due to underreporting.

Regardless, Jayaraman points out that women in the restaurant industry, especially those in tipped positions, are routinely subject to sexual harassment. In 2014, ROC and Forward Together issued a report, “The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry,” based on nearly 700 surveys of current and former restaurant workers.

In a recent investigation on sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, The Washington Post found women were frequent targets. For example, in 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 5,431 complaints of sexual harassment from women. Of the 2,036 claims that listed an industry, 12.5 percent came from the hotel and food industry, more than any other category, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

Jayaraman said allowing employers to distribute tips will make a bad situation worse for female servers who already tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers to receive decent tips.

“That will exacerbate a problem that already existed,” Jayaraman said.

It’s not clear how many restaurants the new rules would actually affect. In the proposed rules, the Labor Department assumes that “30 percent of all waiters and waitresses and bartenders work in states that prohibit employers from obtaining tips received by employees,” and therefore wouldn’t be affected by the change of rules. Elkin, the attorney, said that in her experience, most large companies don’t pay their employees the full minimum wage, so they wouldn’t be eligible under the new rules to control the workers’ tips.

“They better not get confused and start stealing tips from workers,” she added, “because they’re going to get in trouble.”

]]> 0, 08 Dec 2017 20:49:19 +0000
18 can’t-miss Maine holiday events Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:46:55 +0000 0, 07 Dec 2017 08:46:55 +0000 Royals’ ring maker won’t be taking copycat orders Thu, 07 Dec 2017 03:54:04 +0000 LONDON — The jewelry maker who worked on the engagement ring Prince Harry gave to Meghan Markle says it’s been inundated with requests for replicas– but it won’t be taking any orders for copycat rings.

Stephen Connelly, director of Cleave and Company, told The Associated Press the intense media attention has been “a bit of a shock.” He added: “We’re not going to be making replicas of it. If you want a ring, then we’ll design you a different one.”

Harry has said he sourced a diamond from Botswana for the yellow gold engagement ring, which also features smaller diamonds that had belonged to his mother, Princess Diana, so she could be with them “on this crazy journey together.”

David Thomas, a former Crown Jeweler who looked after the royal family’s jewels and now works with Cleave and Company, said working on the ring was the “biggest and hardest secret” he’s had to keep in his life.

He said he has been bombarded by questions from the press – including how much the ring had cost – but he declined to violate the royal couple’s privacy.

“Jewelers are like doctors: we never discuss our patients!” Thomas said.

The company wanted to keep such a low profile that it only allowed the AP access to its workshop on the condition that its location is kept secret.

Harry and Markle are getting married at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in May.

]]> 0 Harry and his fiancee, Meghan Markle, plan to get married in May.Thu, 07 Dec 2017 00:48:59 +0000
Christine Keeler, whose Profumo Affair rocked 1960s Britain, dies at 75 Thu, 07 Dec 2017 03:26:01 +0000 Christine Keeler, a London showgirl whose simultaneous relationships with British war secretary John Profumo and a Soviet military attache produced the country’s most notorious political scandal of the 1960s, died Dec. 4 at a hospital in Farnborough, England. She was 75.

Her son, Seymour Platt, announced the death on his Facebook page, noting that the cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Profumo Affair, as it became known, has echoed through the years as one of the era’s most lurid tabloid scandals, with hints of espionage, Cold War politics, class prejudice and sexual hypocrisy.

The case has stayed in the popular imagination in the form of theatrical plays, including a musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, a feature film and dozens of books – three of which were written by Keeler.

The Profumo Affair made the strikingly beautiful young woman from the British provinces a London celebrity and a perennial staple of headlines and gossip.

A nude photograph of Keeler straddling a chair in 1963 became one of the decade’s most famous images.

She was often described as the call girl – a term she adamantly refuted – who brought down Britain’s ruling Conservative government. Profumo, a rising political star who held the cabinet post of secretary of state for war, saw his career go down in flames.

He and Keeler met in 1961, when she was taking a dip in a swimming pool at the estate of a British lordo.

Profumo was 46, married and wearing a dinner jacket; she was 19, free-spirited and wearing a smile.

They began an affair that lasted several months. At the same time, Keeler was seeing other men, including Yevgeny Ivanov, widely believed to be a Soviet spy.

Profumo, who was married to film actress Valerie Hobson, tried to conceal his affair with Keeler. But in 1962, another of her jealous lovers, Johnny Edgecombe, opened fire on the front door of the house where Keeler was living.

When she failed to appear as a witness at Edgecombe’s trial, people began to wonder why. The full extent of the scandal came to light in 1963.

After the press learned that Keeler was keeping company with a Soviet spy, there was concern that she had been wheedling state secrets from Profumo during pillow talk. She said she had to devise clever ploys to keep her romantic (and geopolitical) rivals from bumping into each other.

The disgraced Profumo resigned his cabinet post and his seat in parliament.

The scandal also led to the 1963 resignation of Britain’s Conservative prime minister, Harold Macmillan.

“Christine was no spy,” her onetime lover, Edgecombe, said years later after he served a seven-year prison sentence. “She was far too scatterbrained. She was a party girl. A gorgeous-looking woman who liked men, liked sex and liked to be the center of attention.”

Keeler and a friend, Mandy Rice-Davies, who died in 2014, acquired a cheeky kind of notoriety, known for their looks and their airy dismissal of stuffy social standards.

When Lord Astor, the nobleman in whose swimming pool Keeler had been cavorting, denied that he was involved with the teenaged Rice-Davies, she quipped in court, “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?”

Wherever she turned, Keeler found herself caught up in legal trouble. She was convicted of perjury in the assault trial of another of her onetime lovers, a man named Lucky Gordon.

She found her connection to high society through a well-connected osteopath named Stephen Ward. In 1963, Ward went on trial for living off the “immoral earnings” of Keeler and Rice-Davies – a charge denied by all three.

“This is a political revenge trial – someone had to be sacrificed, and that was me,” Ward said at the time.

Near the end of the trial, he took an overdose of sleeping pills. He was found guilty, then died days later without regaining consciousness.

The story of Profumo, Ward and Keeler was portrayed in director Michael Caton-Jones’ 1989 film “Scandal,” in which Keeler was played by Joanne Whalley.

Christine Margaret Keeler was born Feb. 22, 1942, in Uxbridge, England.

]]> 0 showgirl Christine Keeler's affair with British war secretary John Profumo has been explored in films, theater, books and a musical.Wed, 06 Dec 2017 22:48:15 +0000
Brunswick powerlifting competition will benefit Toys for Tots Wed, 06 Dec 2017 17:27:47 +0000 BRUNSWICK — After winning four world championship titles for powerlifting, Ryan Martin decided to use his passion to give back to his community.

Martin is the organizer of the second annual Squats for Tots powerlifting competition, which will take place Saturday at Black Bridge Crossfit in Brunswick from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

The meet benefits the Toys for Tots Foundation, an organization run by the U.S. Marine Corps that collects new, unwrapped toys each year between October and December. The toys are distributed as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Martin said after receiving approval to hold a small meet at the facility around this time last year, he realized it would be a great opportunity to tie in philanthropy. He said he doesn’t work for Black Bridge Crossfit, but is allowed to use the space for the event.

“It’s nice for us strength athletes to donate to charities (that) help those who can’t help themselves,” he said. “I basically only donate to children’s charities.”

After he came up with the idea, Martin said he put together the first Squats for Tots event last year in approximately two weeks, asking lifters he knew if they wanted to participate. He ultimately had 21 lifters sign up, and said he collected between 60 and 70 toys for Toys for Tots.

Martin said following last year’s success, he has made an effort to get the word out further in advance this year, by promoting the event on social media and in other ways for the past two months. He does not have a definite number of lifters that will compete this year, but said 40 is a safe estimate, nearly doubling last year’s participation.

Lifter sign-ups will be the day of the meet, and tickets to Squats for Tots can be purchased through a link on the event’s Facebook page. The entry fee for athletes is $10, plus an unwrapped toy, which the event’s Facebook page asks be in the $20 range. The spectator fee is also $10, and Martin asks those who come to bring an unwrapped toy as well. All levels are welcome, and singlets are not required, but holiday attire is encouraged.

Lifters and organizers of Squats for Tots pose for a group photo at last year’s event. The Forecaster/Contributed photo

Along with having an opportunity to donate to charity, Martin said he thinks the meet gives novice lifters who might not try competing otherwise a chance to get a taste of what it’s like.

“A lot of lifters won’t try something like this because a lot of meets cost over $100 to join,” he said. “So for (about) $20 they get to try it out.”

Martin also said his event will have more collaboration from Toys for Tots this year, whereas last year he organized the event on his own and dropped the toys off at Brunswick Landing afterward. The organization is sending two Marines to attend the event, and a Marine will be competing as well.

The top three lifters in each category for both the women’s and men’s division will be given a prize, which Martin said are all holiday themed, such as nutcrackers and Christmas ornaments. He said costumes are a way to break up the monotony of the competition for both spectators and competitors.

“I kind of like making things a little more light and a little more fun for stuff like this,” he said. “These things tend to run long and drawn out, and if I can bring some levity to a long, boring day (it’s a good thing).”

He also said the level of talent that will be competing is impressive.

“It is a charity event, it is for fun, but the caliber of lifters we have coming is astronomical,” he said. “We have anyone from people that have never lifted, to multi-world champions. There will be people benching 100 pounds and some benching 700.”

Making the competition a charity event has also led some lifters to tell Martin their personal stories. The organizer said one elite lifter pulled him aside during last year’s competition, and told Martin the first Christmas gift he’d ever received as a child came from Toys for Tots.

For another lifter, a woman from Martin’s training group, Squats for Tots will be her first powerlifting meet ever. She promised herself she would get into strength sports after beating cancer five years ago.

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]]> 0 lifter dressed as Santa Claus executes a squat lift at last year's Squat for Tots, a powerlifting competition benefiting the Toys for Tots Foundation at Black Bridge Crossfit in Brunswick.Wed, 06 Dec 2017 12:30:20 +0000
World’s largest, most lavish Starbucks opens in Shanghai Wed, 06 Dec 2017 15:47:07 +0000 Starbucks once made waves with the indulgent sizes of some of its drinks, such as the Trenta, which contains a staggering 31 ounces of joe. Now, as part of the company’s aggressive expansion in China, the Seattle-based coffee retailer opened its largest store in the world: a nearly 30,000-square foot compound that does much more than simply serve coffee.

The new Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which opened Tuesday in Shanghai, is the first non-U.S. location of a new series of shops designed to offer a more “immersive” experience for coffee lovers, according to Starbucks. The first such roastery, which opened in Seattle in 2014, is about half its size, CNN reported.

The Shanghai location is the world’s largest Starbucks. It includes three coffee bars, one of which clocks in at 88 feet long – the chain’s longest to date. The coffee bars will serve cups made from beans grown in China’s Pu’er in Yunnan Province, USA Today reported. A two-story, 40-ton copper cask towers over the store, refilling the coffee bars’ various silos.

A barista makes a siphon brew in the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai. Joshua Trujillo/Starbucks

As a nod to the local beverage of choice, it also includes a tea bar made from 3D printed materials, and an in-house bakery employing more than 30 Chinese bakers and chefs, the company stated.

The experience seems curated to keep people mulling about the store. It is the first Starbucks location to integrate augmented reality, which refers to technology that combines real-world surroundings with tech, in this case the customers’ smartphones. They can point their phones at various spots around the cavernous room to learn about the coffee brewing process.

China might seem like an odd place to open the world’s biggest and arguably flashily Starbucks, given the country’s traditional warm beverage has long been tea, not coffee. And, in fact, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said the company struggled when it opened its first store in China in 1999.

“We had to educate and teach many Chinese about what coffee was – the coffee ritual, what a latte was,” Schultz told CNN. “So in the early years, we did not make money.”

But now, the company is expanding faster than frothed milk. Since 2016, it has been on pace to open an average of one new store every day for five years, CNN reported. In 2021, the company plans to have almost 5,000 stores across the country. For comparison, there were more than 11,100 Starbucks in America in 2012.

“When people ask me how much can you really grow in China, I don’t really know what the answer is, but I do believe it’s going to be larger than the U.S.,” Schultz told the New York Times.

The world’s biggest Starbucks, at 30,000 square feet, includes three coffee bars. Joshua Trujillo/Starbucks

The company’s practices in China haven’t been free of criticism. In 2014, reports came out that a latte cost nearly a dollar more in China than in the United States, even though the U.S. boasted a per capita income that was 5½ times China’s, the Atlantic reported. The company defended its pricing structure, and has not adjusted it.

“When you look at our pricing structure, we look at it market by market. It’s based on our true cost of running our business in China and or any market that we operate,” John Culver, group president at Starbucks Coffee China and Asia Pacific, told CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box.”

The higher prices don’t seem to have driven away many customers. Over the past year, sales in China grew by seven percent compared to a three percent in the rest of the word, ABC News reported.

Some believe that’s why the company chose to open the new splashy location in Shanghai.

“This is a show store,” John Gordon, a restaurant analyst at Pacific Management Consulting, told CNN. “The point is to be in a highly, highly visible, touristy [area] where there’s foot traffic, offices and urban housing in order to promote the brand.

The store’s boasting rights as the world’s largest won’t last long, though. The company plans to open a 43,000 square foot location on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue in 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported.

]]> 0, 06 Dec 2017 11:08:32 +0000
Welcome the new year with a special sparkling cocktail Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Everyone knows the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne.” At least, everyone knows the last three words to “Auld Lang Syne,” or at least the general sound they should make coming out of your mouth.

If you’re like some of us, you may be a little fuzzy on the exact sentiment of this iconic New Year’s anthem. And while humming along has gotten you this far, this year it might be worth giving those lyrics a quick Google.

“Auld Lang Syne,” which roughly translates to “times long past” or “days gone by,” is a poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Set to that familiar folk song melody, the version we know (sort of) has been translated to modern English, and encourages us to think about the people with whom we’ve shared our lives. After all, what better moment for solemn reflection than while wearing a paper tiara and swinging a champagne flute?

So now that you know a little bit about what you’ve been hearing all these years, we’re going to give you a cheat sheet for the most important part of the song. During the chorus, revelers in-the-know sing, “.and we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.” A cup of kindness is a special sentiment, and here at The Culinary Institute of America, we love kindness. But we also feel like raising a cup of kindness is sort of a missed opportunity.

Lucky for us, Culinary Institute of America instructor Rory Brown has created a special cocktail that we can use to fill our cups and raise to the New Year. This recipe for the Kindness sparkling wine cocktail mixes botanical gin, lightly spiced Drambuie (in honor of the Scotsman himself, Mr. Burns), and the complex sweetness of honey, all topped off with the requisite New Year’s Eve bubbles.

If you’re hosting a party, you can make the cocktail in a pitcher ahead of time–just leave out the sparkling wine. Guests can add that to their glass at 11:55. We like this cocktail served in a wine glass instead of the traditional champagne flute. Not only does it limit the opportunity for spills for an enthusiastic partygoer, but it also helps to distribute the aromatics of the cocktail.

Honey Simple Syrup is an easy make-ahead recipe that you’ll enjoy for more than this cocktail. Use it to lightly sweeten lemonade for young guests (add a splash of sparkling water for bubbles) or as a sweetener for mulled apple cider. Choose your favorite honey, but keep in mind that some varieties, like orange blossom, are more flavorful than others.

When he created this cocktail, Brown said, “In an ode to the New Year, we have combined the sparkling wine you expect with the history you might have forgotten. Burns reminds us to take a minute to recognize the moments of the past year, for there is but one until we must begin again.” We’ll raise a cup of Kindness to that.


Servings: 1

3/4 ounce (11/2 tablespoon) Drambuie

1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) gin

1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) lemon juice

1/4 ounce (11/2 teaspoon) Honey Simple Syrup (recipe below)

4 ounce (1/2 cup) sparkling wine

In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine the Drambuie, gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup, and stir to combine. Strain into a wine glass and top with sparkling wine just before serving.


Makes about 3/4 cups (enough for 24 cocktails)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup water

Combine the honey and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until the honey dissolves. Cool completely before use.

]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 17:06:04 +0000
Field blend wine: Like a party full of diverse grapes, with some dice-rolling Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Undoubtedly, you’ve tasted a blend at some point. Probably a red wine blend. Between 2013 and 2014, sales in the red blend category increased by a whopping 400 percent.

But blends and field blends are different, and regrettably, field blend wines are not well-known, although they’re tasty. Here’s a brief synopsis of the two styles.

A red blend or a white blend is a wine whose finished product is a mix of different grape varietals. Let’s say, for example, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and mourvedre, all growing in California. A winemaker there buys some zinfandel grapes from Paso Robles, some cabernet sauvignon from Napa and some mourvedre from the Sierra Foothills. They are picked in accordance with when they are ripe; the zin might be picked in early October, the cabernet and mourvedre later on in the month.

Each varietal is vinified separately and then the wines are blended together according to what the winemaker wants to achieve. It might be 75 percent zin, 20 percent cab and 5 percent mourvedre. The process is fairly predictable. Each varietal lends something unique, and the winemaker selects for the qualities she wants. Nice and tidy.

A field blend is different and, I think, more interesting. A field blend is likewise made up of several varietals, but they could be a mix of red and white grapes. All are picked at the same time, from the same vineyard, and they are co-fermented. Unlike a standard blend, where the varietals are fermented separately and are usually the same color, field blend grapes undergo their alchemical transformation together.

Field blend wines have a strong element of unpredictability. While a winemaker can know the characteristics of the zinfandel, cabernet and mourvedre when they are fermented separately and blended, field blends are more of a crapshoot. A roll of the vinous dice, you might say. How do zinfandel and cabernet taste when they’re fermented together? What if I throw in a little viognier to boot? Hard tellin’, not knowin’. And that, for me, is the exciting thing about field blends. If they were a punctuation mark, they’d be an ellipsis or a question mark, not a period.

Field blends make up a small percentage of available wines in the world. But here are a couple you can get your hands on right here in Maine.

National Distributors has recently brought in a slew of Hungarian/Georgian/Slovenian wines. The Crnko “Jarenincan” is, mostly, a field blend of white grapes co-planted in the ’70s. The blend is dominated (in most years) by Muller-Thurgau with dashes of riesling, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. It is, at once, aromatically floral, full of orchard and stone fruits and completed with a fresh acidity that is kept in check by a tad of residual sugar. It’s quite good, and it’s inexpensive, too. Oh, and it comes in a traditional liter bottle so you get an extra glass of wine for no more money than many 750ml bottles. A no-brainer. Rosemont Market on Brighton Avenue carries the Jarenincan.

Pine State Beverage brings in Paul Draper’s Ridge wines. They are iconic – plain and simple. If you haven’t had the opportunity to sip one of their classic zinfandels, I highly recommend buying one for yourself as a Christmas gift.

Ridge’s Geyserville is a robust blend of zinfandel, petite sirah, mourvedre and carignan. The Old Patch vineyard where some of the grapes come from was planted 130 years ago. The blend is dark and spicy. Blueberry preserves, cocoa powder, toasted coconut and figs are obvious. Ridge winemaker Eric Baugher has managed to retain ample acidity in this one, which is quite a feat. Line your Christmas dinner table with a few bottles, especially if you are serving a Christmas ham or short ribs. This wine is fairly allocated, meaning it’s scarce. You’ll have to special-order it at your local wine shop.

If you, like me, are always on the lookout for interesting wines to expand your drinking repertoire, field blends will make a great addition. They are an underrepresented category of wine – but they don’t have to remain so.

Bryan Flewelling is the wine director for Big Tree Hospitality, which owns Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honey Paw, all in Portland.

]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 17:20:57 +0000
Salad can add pizzazz to a hearty holiday meal Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 When it comes to planning a holiday spread, a salad is often an afterthought. Stately roasts, crowd-pleasing potatoes and sultry pies tend to grab the spotlight, and by the time we think, “Oh, yeah, we should probably have a salad,” a bag of mixed lettuces and a container of cherry tomatoes might be all we have the mental bandwidth for.

But there are good reasons to give salad its due consideration. A salad adds some critical lightness and crunch to a hearty meal. It can also be one of the vegetarian offerings that help non-meat-eaters make a real dinner out of what is often a meat-centered holiday feast.

Salads can also be out-and-out beautiful, with very little work. Here, a few types of lettuces mingle with slivers of red onion, tart apples and cranberries, and creamy goat cheese, tied together with a zippy dressing. You could add some chopped pecans or walnuts, or slivered almonds on top if you like (skip this if you are concerned that any of your guests have nut allergies!).

This stunner comes together in 20 minutes, and is a bowl of vibrant color and texture that seems anything but a postscript to the menu.


Servings: 4


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon smooth or coarse Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1 large head Belgian endive, thinly sliced crosswise

3 cups baby spinach

1 cup baby arugula

1/2 red onion, thinly slivered

1 Granny Smith apple

1/2 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

In a container, place the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon, honey, and salt and pepper. Shake to combine well.

In a large bowl, place the endive, spinach, arugula and onions. Quarter and core the apple, then slice crosswise into thin slices. Add the apples and about 3/4 of the cranberries to the bowl, and toss to combine. Shake the dressing once more, drizzle it over, and toss to coat the salad with the dressing.

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle the remaining cranberries and the goat cheese over it. Serve.

]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 17:28:22 +0000
Head chef at Scales painstakingly prepares paté en croute over 3 days Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 When a customer at Scales tastes a slice of the restaurant’s paté en croute, it’s like seeing the Wizard of Oz in all his glory, without peeking at the mortal chef behind the curtain.

The diner has no idea that it has taken the head chef, Frederic Eliot, three days to make the 14-by-3-inch rectangle of pork paté layered with duck breast and sweetbreads, wrapped in a special dough, and filled with gelée, a savory gelatin. Or that he has been making them again and again in the last 15 months under the occasional guidance of chefs from New York, France and England, learning a little bit more – and perfecting it more – with each one he finishes.

The diner never glimpses the whole, remaining ignorant of the artistry and labor that goes into completing a paté en croute. The slightest crack in the dough can ruin it. The layers of farce (the pork mixture), duck and sweetbreads must be placed evenly, and the farce painstakingly smoothed into all the little crevices so the slices won’t be marred by air pockets. Small variations in temperature can leave the dough overcooked, the pork undercooked, or the gelée a mess.

Before it is cut into beautiful slices, Eliot’s paté en croute is carefully decorated with dough cut into the shapes of leaves and grapevines. The delicacy is both a favorite memory from the chef’s childhood in Paris – in France, it’s a treasured holiday custom – and a labor of love.

If it all goes well, the finished paté en croute is eaten first with the eyes. It’s like a Christmas gift for adults. What will be inside this beautiful package?

Learning how to make paté en croute has been on Eliot’s bucket list for years, but it was only when he came to Scales that he had an oven that could do it justice, one that was able to bake at very precise temperatures. Now he makes one every other week, displaying the increasingly stunning results on Facebook and Instagram. It often sells out in one night.

“It’s got pork and booze and cream and duck and sweetbreads, and it’s encased in dough that’s crunchy,” Eliot said. “You can’t really go wrong with that stuff. It’s delicious.”


It’s the second day in the process, and Eliot has all the ingredients for this week’s paté en croute lined up for assembly. On the counter in the restaurant’s open kitchen sits a traditional, rectangular paté en croute mold; a tray of rolled-out dough, including the pastry cutouts; and two large pastry bags filled with farce – made the day before with ground pork shoulder, cognac, pistachios, fatback, pork liver and paté spice, which is made up of warm spices similar to those in gingerbread. Next to the paté is a pan containing four duck breasts that were seared in duck fat and quick-cured the day before, a pan of poached veal sweetbreads (the thymus gland of the young cow), a container of egg wash, and two containers of gelée made from a clarified veal demiglace. Scissors, a spatula, an offset spatula and a pastry brush are laid out, as well.

“Every time I make one I learn something from it,” Eliot said. “There are a lot of things that can go wrong with it if you don’t pay attention.”

Frederic Eliot, the chef at Scales, applies an egg wash atop his oven-ready pate en croute. Staff photo by Jill Brady

Today Eliot is taking another baby step forward toward mastery. He has dyed some dough with squid ink and used cookie cutters to make black leaves. The decorations will be placed on the sides of the paté en croute mold so they will embed in the dough when he presses it in. The best chefs make elaborate designs, Eliot said; he just wants to get good enough that he can do a few snowflakes or Christmas trees, or maybe holly for the holidays.

His dough lies somewhere between pie dough and puff pastry, but it contains eggs, milk powder, and a little vinegar, which gives it elasticity. Working with it and baking it can be tricky. “You want to make sure that the dough is cooked without overcooking the farce,” Eliot said.

Getting the dough just right is one of the topics Eliot discusses with other chefs in France, New York and England, where there’s been a recent resurrection of paté en croute, especially in England, Eliot says. The art of making paté en croute went out of style sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s, about the time that French nouvelle cuisine came along, he said. It’s coming back now because European chefs are revisiting old-school dishes, and with the new techniques and equipment they have available, “they can make really beautiful stuff now.”

“We chit-chat and exchange information and exchange knowledge, which is nice because it’s a field that’s pretty obscure,” he said. “No one wants to give up their secrets.”

(At the world championship paté en croute competition held Monday in France, Chikara Yoshitomi, a Japanese chef who works at La Rue de l’Ambroisie in Paris, took home the prize.)

Eliot also reads a lot of French books about charcuterie, and he has a well-thumbed copy of Michael Ruhlman’s “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.”

Why did it take so long for Eliot, a Frenchman, to start making such a quintessential French dish? It takes a lot of time and the right equipment, for one, but Eliot adds that before he could make a decent paté en croute, he needed a strong foundation in charcuterie. He says he didn’t start learning those Old World techniques until he worked in New York.

Eliot places duck breast into the pan while building paté en croute at Scales. Staff photo by Jill Brady


Wearing black gloves and a blue apron, Eliot gently pats the side and bottom dough into the mold, working hard to get it the same thickness all the way around. The dough must be very cold so it doesn’t rip. A little hangs over the edge of the mold. A brush of egg wash, and the mold is ready for the next steps.

First comes a flat layer of cold farce, laid down nice and tight so there are not too many air pockets. Both pastry bags burst, and Eliot pauses to jerry-rig them.

Next comes a layer of black trumpet mushrooms, followed by sliced duck breast, then another layer of farce. Eliot then trims and slices the sweetbreads and layers them in, and adds more mushrooms. He ends with a final layer of farce.

The “lid” of dough is placed across the top, then Eliot starts folding and crimping the edges. The leaf and grape decorations are the final touch. In addition to those designs, Eliot lays down three dough circles that look like little wreaths, evenly spaced along the top of the mold. These will become vents with foil tubes sticking out of them that, Eliot jokes, make the paté en croute look like the Titanic. But without these vents, the project would indeed be a disaster in the making.

As the farce cooks, it swells and pushes up the dough, which can bake and set that way, leaving a gap between the meat and the dough that can cause the dough to collapse. It can also crack the dough, which means when the gelée goes in, it pours out everywhere, along with the meat’s juices.

“If I didn’t have holes in there, everything would sort of explode,” Eliot said. “The dough would crack and all the liquid would come out. So you have to have these chimneys.”

The gelée is added after the paté en croute has come out of the oven and cools to a temperature of 90 degrees.

Eliot’s finished paté en croute shows the dish’s prized delineated layers and no gap between filling and dough. Photo courtesy of Frederic Eliot

Eliot’s next big challenge is to make a paté en croute with foie gras. He has mixed foie gras into the paté before, but he has never attempted pure foie gras, which is added in frozen blocks so it won’t melt away.

“It’s like the Jedi-level of paté en croute,” he said. “When you have foie gras in there and it doesn’t melt everywhere, you’re not Yoda, but you’re almost there.”

For now, he’s happy introducing Portlanders to his creations, one slice at a time. When he first started making them, he said, customers “weren’t sure about it,” but no longer. Often they now sell out the first night they’re put on the menu. Each mold produces about 12 slices, priced at $14 each, and served with whole-grain mustard, pickled carrots, red onions, chanterelles, and a frisée salad.

Eliot eats a slice of paté en croute every time he makes it – “a little pleasure that I have.” He checks to make sure the flavors are well balanced, and always – always – thinks about ways it can be improved. That’s part of the fun of making it, he says.

“The most satisfying thing for me is not eating it,” he said. “Obviously I taste it to see if I need to adjust seasoning, but it’s the process of making it, of putting all this love into it, and then the epiphany of his moment when you slice it and you see all the layers have set properly, and the gelée has set properly, you haven’t had any leaks anywhere. Then you’re just super satisfied.”

]]> 0 Eliot, the chef at Scales, applies an egg wash atop his oven-ready pate en croute.Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:26:19 +0000
Santa seem buff? Could be from hoisting all those vegan cookbooks Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Sure, you could find vegan cookbooks 10 years ago, but they were neither as plentiful nor as polished as they are today. In 2007, “Veganomicon,” an impressive hardback, with a chatty style and comprehensive contents, changed all that. Co-authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero revolutionized the food world’s approach to vegan cuisine.

To mark the book’s 10-year anniversary, Da Capo has reissued it with a new (hard) cover, new layout, more photographs and 25 new recipes.

It is among dozens and dozens of books released in 2017 that are inspiring American cooks to try their hand at a vegan dish.

Another of this year’s new releases stirring up talk of plant-based eating is one that isn’t even vegetarian. “The TB12 Method,” by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, is mostly a workout book, but it includes details about Brady’s plant-centric philosophy and a section of recipes (some with meat), including his-much discussed, all-vegan chocolate avocado ice cream.

The growing international profile of plant-based eating can be seen in both the recipe composition and the author biographies of this year’s vegan titles. The new crop of books also makes clear that vegan eating is coalescing into a cuisine of its own, one that includes standard dishes ranging from pancakes and mac and cheese to shepherd’s pie and cauliflower Buffalo wings. Cauliflower, in fact, continues to pop up everywhere, from sauces to gratins to steaks to “rice,” while carrot hot dogs are an emerging trend.

On the dessert front, smoothies, granola bars and cookies remain plant-based mainstays while more decadent sweets such as panna cotta, doughnuts and ice cream are on the rise in the vegan repertoire.

The embrace of homemade pantry staples, such as condiments and plant-based “meats” and “cheeses,” continues to be a strong focus of vegan cookbooks.

Chickpeas, too, remain a favorite of this year’s plant-based books.

But the real story is the liquid in the chickpea cans – recently dubbed aquafaba and used as a substitute for egg whites.

It skyrocketed to super star status this year, with two titles devoted solely to the topic, “Aquafabulous!” and “Baking Magic with Aquafaba,” and many, many vegan cookbooks featuring the ingredient in their recipes.

After spending weeks reading through piles of new cookbooks, here’s my list of 2017’s 10 best vegan books, well worthy of gift giving. Happy holidays, and may your winter season be filled with good food and great books.

“The China Study Family Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Bring Your Family to the Plant-Based Table,” by Del Sroufe. BenBella. $19.95.

Best for: Fans of “The China Study” and “Forks Over Knives”; parents of young children; people who eat an oil-free, plant-based diet; and anyone in need of a dietary intervention.

With vegan eating’s arrival in the mainstream, it’s no longer just a health food trend.

And while many of this year’s vegan cookbooks use refined sugar, white flour and processed oils freely, Stoufe stays true to vegan eating’s nutrient-dense roots in this book.

It’s an approach well-suited to “The China Study” conception, and it’s well-paired with family-centric recipes that kids can help cook.

Stoufe also includes a section of age-specific suggestions for getting children involved in the kitchen.

Recipes center on oil-free remakes of vegan comfort food classics, including breakfast tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches, carrot dogs, tater tots, Mediterranean meatball subs, ramen and tortilla pie. Sweets, such as cheesecake pops and whoopie pies, close out the cookbook.

“The Edgy Veg: 138 Carnivore-Approved Vegan Recipes,” by Candice Hutchings. Robert Rose. $27.95.

Best for: Fans of Candice Hutchings and her Edgy Veg YouTube channel; meat-eaters skeptical about vegan food but whose family member has recently gone vegan; vegetarians who crave veganized fast food; and cooks who prefer their vegan veal Parmigiana served with a side order of sass and “straight talk.”

Based on the ideas that “you can’t eat a kale salad every day,” this hardcover book features only a handful of heavier salads but is chock-full of heartier remakes of animal-based comfort foods. It covers a lot of standards with plenty of recipe hacks and variations on a theme – three recipes for pancakes, three more for ice cream, four for bacon, six for aioli, and seven for Buffalo cauliflower wings.

At the center of the table find chive and sriracha beer waffles (made with aquafaba); très flawless French onion soup, Montreal poutine, famous Edgy Veg fried chicken, street-food style Thai basil beef, shredded Hogtown jackfruit and the pho-ritto.

The book ends with smoothies, cocktails and sweets such as New York cheesecake with raspberry coulis and “literally dying” skillet cookie à la mode.

“Field Roast: 101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share & Savor,” by Tommy McDonald. Da Capo Lifelong Books. $30.

Best for: Fans of Field Roast meats; lovers of plant-based charcuterie; skilled kitchen wizards; vegetarians who own meat grinders; and people who appreciate artisanal preparation techniques.

Since 1997 Field Roast, the vegetarian meat and cheese company from Seattle, has been steadily increasing its shelf space in the coolers and freezers of the country’s mainstream grocery stores. Now its executive chef has written a hardcover book that provides a how-to for making plant-based roasts, sausages and deli slices.

The recipes don’t spill the beans (or more precisely the vital wheat gluten) on the company’s signature products, but they do serve up 15 unique plant-based meat recipes and more than 100 other recipes that use those meats (or the store-bought variety).

The book’s meat recipes include harvest holiday roast, pastrami roast, fennel and garlic sausage, and Little Saigon meatloaf. These plant-based meats then star in recipes including biscuits and gravy with spicy sausage and corn; Jackson Street five-alarm chili; cornmeal-crusted oyster mushroom po’boy; and leek dumplings in dashi.

“The Healthy Convert: Allergy-Friendly Sweet Treats,” by Nicole Maree. Hardie Grant Books. $19.99.

Best for: Lovers of dessert; people who want to stop eating junk food but don’t want to give up doughnuts or cheesecake; people you invite to your parties; and anyone who is allergic to gluten, eggs or dairy.

This approachable introduction to the world of healthful sweets comes from an Australian who suffers from food allergies but loves dessert.

The hardcover book begins with a thorough section on substituting for white sugar, wheat flour, eggs, dairy and nuts, where Maree also provides a number of conversion charts. The recipes range from bars (triple layer caramel cream; strawberry blondie bars; and peanut berrybutter fudge) to baked goods (cappuccino cupcakes; red velvet cake; and pumpkin pecan tart) and finally special treats (sticky date donuts; cookie dough ice cream; and rainbow meringue, which uses aquafaba).

“The Naked Vegan: 140+ Tasty Raw Vegan Recipes for Health and Wellness,” by Maz Valcorza. Murdouch Books. $24.99.

Best for: Fans of raw food; fans of boozy late nights who need a detox; chefs who like new challenges; people seeking health food; and people who don’t eat enough health food.

From the former owner of a raw vegan restaurant in Sydney, Australia, this lavishly illustrated book elevates the uncooked meal. Valcorza organizes the book like a restaurant menu with sections for smoothies and cold-pressed juices (piña colada zinger; green velvet smoothie); breakfast (banana crepes with coconut whipped cream, chocolate fudge sauce & berries; the Sadhana Kitchen Benedict); breads (bagels; burger buns); snacks (cheezy pea & cauliflower croquettes; mushroom calamari with tartare sauce & pickles); main meals (stir no-fry with coconut cauliflower rice; banh mi wraps with sriracha mayo); fermented foods (aged macadamia cheeze; kombucha); and desserts (choc-raspberry cheezecake; strawberry doughnuts). Sections devoted to nut milks and tonics finish the book.

“This Cheese Is Nuts! Delicious Vegan Cheese at Home,” by Julie Piatt. Avery. $25.

Best for: Cheese lovers who are sensitive/allergic to dairy; vegans who like to make homemade pantry staples; fans of ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll; and adventurous cooks who want to tackle new challenges.

Piatt, who co-authored “The Plantpower Way” with her husband, Rich Roll, and used to live in Paris, returns with a cookbook devoted to plant-based cheese.

Her vegan alternatives are organized into quick spreads and sauces, formed cheeses, aged cheeses, nut-free cheeses, and cheese-based recipes.

Her creations rely on nuts (most often cashews) and ingredients that include acidophilus, agar-agar, nutritional yeast, miso, coconut oil and aquafaba.

Cheese recipes range from cream cheese, fondue and queso fresco to smoked gouda, cashew bleu cheese and aged red pepper cashew-pine nut blend. These creations can then be turned into elaborate dishes, such as raw beet ravioli with cashew-macadamia nut aged truffle cheese, almond fettuccine alfredo and banana cream pie.

The book ends with a handful of dairy-free crackers, yogurts and other related staples.

“Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and In-Between,” by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen. $29.95.

Best for: Vegans who want hacks to popular plant-based recipes; non-vegans who want recipes tested by omnivores; fans of America’s Test Kitchen; and anyone who wants a comprehensive survey of American vegan cuisine.

Following up on its 2015 “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook,” the editors behind the popular public television cooking show and magazine have returned this year with the results of their rigorous testing of popular vegan recipes.

These plant-based standards include tofu scramble, whole wheat pancakes, kale chips, Buffalo cauliflower bites, avocado toast, chickpea salad sandwiches, tofu banh mi, mac and cheese, shepherd’s pie, saag tofu, pad Thai, chocolate chip cookies, strawberry shortcake, coconut ice cream and tons of other vegan favorites.

All come with the tips and tricks the editors discovered while rigorously developing and testing the recipes. The test cooks worked extensively with aquafaba, and reveal the secret to whipped peaks (cream of tartar, just as with egg whites) as well as how to use to produce meringues and other baked goods. Two other notable tips: Using oat milk as the key to golden brown baked goods and processing potatoes in a blender to create a sticky nacho cheese.

“Vegan for One: Hot Tips and Inspired Recipes for Cooking Solo,” by Ellen Jaffe Jones with Beverly Lynn Bennett. Book Publishing Company. $17.95.

Best for: Single vegans; vegans who live with omnivores and cook for themselves; college students; and people with small appetites who love veggies.

Cooking when single brings a number of challenges. At the top of the list? The fact that most cookbooks are designed for family-sized meals.

Enter veteran cookbook writer, fitness trainer and former TV journalist Jones, who has put together a book that combines recipes that make just one or two servings with simple preparation techniques and money-saving tips.

Since single cooks often lack the motivation to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, these recipes fit the bill with few ingredients and steps.

The dishes include overnight oats, Tex-Mex breakfast burritos, seitan and veggie stew, easy vegetable fried rice, deconstructed veggie lasagna, rich and chewy brownies and no-bake dried-fruit cereal bars.

A handful of recipes – particularly for the soups – make larger quantities so some can be frozen for later.

“The Vegan Holiday Cookbook: From Elegant Appetizers to Festive Mains and Delicious Sweets,” by Marie Laforêt. Robert Rose. $19.95.

Best for: Non-vegans who host a lot of holiday parties; vegans who go to a lot of parties; fans of northern European food; and anyone who loves the winter holidays.

Packed with ideas for pretty party dishes, this book veganizes many staples of the Christmas holiday.

The author is a Parisian, so it’s no surprise that the 60 recipes tend to replicate meat-and-cheese-based dishes from northern Europe.

There are many veganized fish dishes, too, such as caviar (in three flavors), blinis with carrot gravlax, tofu gravlax canapés, and fisherman’s puff pastries.

Other dishes include foie gras-style terrine, mozzarella cranberry croquettes, vegan sausage mini tarts, chestnut vol-au-vents, holiday roast, lentil Wellington, Swedish meatballs, and seitan pot pies.

Those with a sweet tooth will appreciate recipes for cardamon almond kringle, mince tarts, pepparkakor, frozen tiramisu log, and glazed citrus merinque log (which calls for aquafaba).

“Vegan: The Cookbook,” by Jean-Christian Jury. Phaidon. $49.95.

Best for: Serious vegan cooks; chefs looking to expand their plant-based repertoire; cookbook collectors; and libraries.

Released as part of Phaidon’s library of international cuisine series, the hefty hardback (clocking in at 2 inches thick and more than 4 pounds in weight) is an encyclopedic compendium of 450 plant-based recipes from more than 150 countries.

While impressive in size, scope and presentation (including two sewn-in ribbons for marking recipes), the book’s prose is no-frills, without introductions to chapters or recipes. It’s the sort of book written for busy professionals. No surprise since Jury is an acclaimed chef from France who went plant-based after suffering heart failure. Now he works as head chef at the Blue Lotus plant-based academy in Thailand.

The recipes show their restaurant roots (including liberal use of margarine and sugar) but the ingredients and instructions are straight-forward and relatively short. (The exception is a staggeringly long French recipe for gargouillou of young vegetables in the guest chef section at the end.)

The recipes are wide-ranging and include shiitake and toasted hazelnut paté; black bean and mango soup; crispy orange-ginger tofu with broccoli; and sweet potato gnocchi. Desserts include lemon mousse; beet and chocolate cake; raspberry pie; panna cotta with caramel sauce; raw lime cheesecake; chocolate-mint macarons (that use aquafaba); and baked papaya with coconut cream.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 16:52:34 +0000
Coconut, the star of many food trends, bakes up beautifully in pound cake Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Coconut is optimizing its resume. As it should. No job is secure in the gig economy, not even topping seven-layer bars over the holidays.

Coconut counts up its credentials: the tropical background, that first job serving as squeaky snack. Extensive travel. The innovation that inspired flake. The collaboration that led to cream pie, curry, candy. The side hustle in cocktails. Impressive.

Now, when many a fruit is packing it in, padding the 401(k), picking out real estate in the Keys, coconut is taking on the 21st-century challenge: retooling, again.

Coconut’s got new skills: not just meat and milk, but oil, sugar and flour. A cake mixed from coconut components might, the baker reasons, reconstitute into a whole shaggy brown nut.

It doesn’t. Coconut pound cake bakes up moist and aromatic, with a dense, fine-grain crumb. Add that to coconut’s handbill: megatasker.


Makes: 1 loaf

About 2 teaspoons butter or coconut oil for greasing pan

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup coconut flour

1/3 cup almond flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (whisk before measuring)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons solid coconut oil

3 large eggs

1. Prep: Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter or coconut oil. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Whisk: In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, coconut flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt. In a measuring cup with a spout, whisk together coconut milk and vanilla.

3. Fluff: Using an electric mixer (a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment is handy) set on medium-high speed, beat sugar and coconut oil fluffy, about 1 minute. Crack in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stop and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Switch to low speed. Mix in some of the flour mixture, then some of the milk mixture, alternating until the ingredients are just incorporated.

4. Bake: Scrape batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth top. Slide into oven and bake until top turns golden and firm and a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean, 45-48 minutes. Let pound cake cool in its pan, 10 minutes. Tip loaf out of its pan, and cool on a rack. The cake is good warm or at room temp.

]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 16:58:15 +0000
Dozens of local restaurants to serve up the sweets at fundraiser Monday Tue, 05 Dec 2017 23:09:52 +0000 More than two dozen restaurants, bakeries, confectioners, mixologists and other food and beverage businesses will be at the Great Holiday Dessert & Drink Extravaganza on Monday at Thompson’s Point in Portland.

The event is a benefit for Full Plates Full Potential, a local nonprofit that fights childhood hunger.

In addition to sweets, the 6 to 9 p.m. event in the Brick South building at Thompson’s Point will include craft cocktails, wine and beer pairings, a hot chocolate bar, a raffle, and live music by the Bob Charest Band. Buy tickets, $50 each, at

The participating restaurants and bakeries include Chaval, Piccolo, The Purple House, Tao Yuan, Bao Bao, Little Giant, the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, Landry Confections, East End Cupcakes, Standard Baking Co., Little Bigs, Dean’s Sweets, and Hugo’s, Eventide and The Honeypaw.

]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 18:31:45 +0000
Salt Lake City chef to open restaurant in Biddeford Tue, 05 Dec 2017 23:07:25 +0000 Chef Bowman Brown, formerly of the celebrated restaurant Forage in Salt Lake City, is opening a restaurant Tuesday in Biddeford called Elda.

Elda, at 140 Main St., the former home of Custom Deluxe, will serve a variety of small plates inspired by local ingredients, ranging in price from $6 to $24. A sample menu is posted on the restaurant’s website, Dishes include a cherrywood smoked arctic char with preserved cherry blossom and monkfish roasted with carrots and mussels.

The restaurant plans to eventually serve wine, beer and cocktails.

Forage, which Brown owned with chef Viet Phan, closed in 2016. It was considered one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City and was credited with helping to elevate the food scene there. Brown and Viet Phan were named in the 2011 class of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs. Brown has also been a six-time semi-finalist for the James Beard Best Chef: Southwest award.

The name of Brown’s new Maine restaurant is an homage to the chef’s great-grandmother, Elda Whiting Brown.

Bowman’s culinary roots are in New England. He attended the Atlantic Culinary Academy in Dover, New Hampshire. He has worked at the Dunaway Restaurant in Portsmouth, at 231 Ellsworth in San Mateo, California, and at Gary Danko and Fifth Floor in San Francisco.

]]> 0, 06 Dec 2017 07:38:28 +0000
Holy Donut criticized on social media for teaming with Salvation Army Tue, 05 Dec 2017 19:09:52 +0000 Portland doughnut shop The Holy Donut has drawn a backlash for a holiday promotion that intended to provide gifts, including warm winter clothes, to children in need.

The doughnut shop announced its plan on Facebook. Users did not take kindly to the fact that The Holy Donut partnered with The Salvation Army to find a few children in need. Commenters on Facebook took issue with the partnership, alleging that The Salvation Army has a history of discriminating against the LGBT community. The Salvation Army has denied that it discriminates against anybody for any reason.

“They proselytize to the people in their programs, they reject LGBT people from their shelters. They have tried to scrub their image, but still discriminate,” one commenter wrote on The Holy Donut’s page.

“People are going to boycott The Holy Donut because of YOUR choices. Do you see what we’re getting at? You’re supporting an establishment that doesn’t support your customers, so your customers will stop supporting you,” another commenter said.

The Salvation Army has often come under fire from the LGBT community. In 2012, a Burlington, Vermont, woman said she was fired by The Salvation Army for being bisexual. The Salvation Army has a page on its website that addresses the rumors it has an anti-LGBT agenda.

“We need your help in ending these rumors,” the post reads. “They can persuade people not to give, which in turn diminishes our resources and our ability to serve people in crisis. Please share what you know about The Salvation Army – that we serve anywhere there is need, without discrimination.”

Online commenters seem unmoved. The Holy Donut has received multiple one- and two-star reviews in the past few days on Facebook as people vent their displeasure about the charity drive.

On Tuesday, The Holy Donut posted for a second time about the controversy. If the comments on that post get too negative, the doughnut shop warned, it might delete the post. Comments on that post have been overwhelmingly positive.

]]> 0, ME - SEPTEMBER 25: A stack of donuts, from top include a raspberry glazed, dark chocolate sea salt, and vegan cinnamon sugar, at The Holy Donut on Park Avenue in Portland Thursday, September 25, 2014. Leigh Kellis, owner of the business, is constantly trying to determine how many donuts to make for the day so as not to run out, but also not to make too many. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Wed, 06 Dec 2017 10:08:40 +0000
New York City theater helping Kennebunk with high school musical Tue, 05 Dec 2017 16:41:22 +0000 The Kennebunk High School Theater Department will collaborate with the Public Theater in New York and the Kennebunk-based MaineStage Shakespeare troupe on the high school production of the new musical “As You Like It.”

The Public Theater premiered the musical adaptation of the Shakespeare play in September at the Delacorte Theater in New York. The Kennebunk production will be the musical’s first outside of New York. It was created by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery.

It will be presented at the newly opened high school theater March 1-11 and will give high school performers the opportunity to work alongside professionals from New York who will mentor, rehearse and perform with the students and community members.

In a press release, MaineStage Shakespeare Artistic Director Chiara Klein called the collaboration “unprecedented” and said it reflects an arts resurgence in town that includes the new high school theater, which opened this fall with a production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

“This led us to think, wouldn’t it be amazing to represent the coming together of the school, professionals and community though a piece of art? And shouldn’t that piece of art be a celebration of not just the community, but of the community we wish to be,” Klein asked in the press release. “That is what ‘As You Like It’ will strive to do.”

Michael Herman, the high school theater manager and co-director of “As You Like It,” said the collaboration and the opening of the theater raises the school’s mission “to the next level, and offers both students and community members a chance to join together and celebrate the rebirth of theater and the arts in the Kennebunks.”

]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 11:53:20 +0000
Portland String Quartet pays tribute to Maine composers and their teachers Tue, 05 Dec 2017 16:18:48 +0000 The Portland String Quartet put a spotlight on works by two Maine composers – Peter Ré and Elliott Schwartz – on Sunday afternoon, when it played its second concert of the season at Woodfords Congregational Church. And for good measure, the quartet added a work by Paul Hindemith, with whom Ré studied, and another by Beethoven, who one could argue was the teacher, if only by example, of any composer who turned his hand to the quartet format after him.

Ré, who taught at Colby College from 1951 until his retirement in 1986 and died in 2016, was given pride of place here, by way of his Quartet No. 3 (1987). He composed the work for this ensemble, which has recorded it, along with the first two quartets, for Albany Records.

The three-movement score is stormy and sometimes brusque, but never really harsh, and though the players gave its fast outer movements an energetic, hard-driven performance, they also took care to highlight the work’s lyrical qualities and rhythmic inventiveness.

Its most memorable material is in the central slow movement, which radiates warmth, but also a sense of disquiet. This is where Ré’s imagination seems to have been particularly sparked. Its textures and mood change quickly, with sweetly harmonized passages giving way to darker episodes, which in turn morph into aria-like sections in which individual instruments seem to soar, however briefly, over the ensemble.

Hindemith’s Quartet No. 7 (1945) tells us a lot about how a major composer, who was a refugee from wartime Europe, processed the spirit of his time – in this case, a mixture of questions, doubts and fears for the future, tempered by hope and a touch of relief. But in the context of this program, it also gives us further insight into Ré.

In terms of language and mood, the two works, though separated by 42 years, have a great deal in common, starting with a mildly thorny language, rhythmic variety and vitality and most of all, an alternation of tension and lyricism.

The players – violinists Dean Stein and Ronald Lantz, violist Julia Adams and cellist Patrick Owen – made a strong case for it, bringing out the almost folk-like melodies within the angular third movement and keeping the counterpoint in the finale carefully balanced, even in moments where Hindemith’s vigorous, lurching rhythms threatened to upend that precision.

Elliott Schwartz’s Quartet No. 3 “Portrait of Deedee” (2016) has had an unusually good year, for a new work. The Portland String Quartet gave the work its American premiere at the Portland Conservatory’s Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival in April, and the Cassatt Quartet played it at Space Gallery, as part of the Seal Bay Festival, in July. Having reviewed it both times, I will note only that Schwartz, who died last year, composed it as a tribute to his wife, Dorothy, a visual artist who died in 2014.

There is always the danger that a new work in a mildly dissonant idiom might wear out its welcome by its third encounter in eight months, but there is considerable charm in this piece, which weaves quotations from works of the past without dwelling on them. And the ensemble has it fully under its fingers: This was the freshest and liveliest of the three performances I’ve heard.

Beethoven’s Quartet No. 11 in F minor (Op. 95), nicknamed “Serioso,” closed the concert with a sudden shift from modernism to comforting familiarity of the Romantic mainstream. The challenge for the Portland players was to make it sound not just familiar, but fresh, and that they did, in a performance that made Beethoven’s notes leap off the page as if they were the substance of a dialogue between these four excellent players.

Allan Kozinn is a former music critic and culture writer for The New York Times who lives in Portland. He can be contacted at:

Twitter: kozinn

]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 11:45:05 +0000
Metropolitan Opera took no action for a year on accusations against conductor Tue, 05 Dec 2017 03:39:00 +0000 NEW YORK — A big question remains after renowned conductor James Levine was suspended from the Metropolitan Opera amid accusations of sexual abuse: Why did it take so long for the company to act after it was informed by police that he had been accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy?

The Met was in crisis mode Monday after The New York Times published interviews with three men who said that Levine, 74, had sexually abused them when they were teenagers.

The opera company said after the report Sunday that it was suspending its relationship with Levine, its director from 1976 through 2016. As music director “emeritus,” Levine was still conducting and had been scheduled to lead upcoming productions, including a planned New Year’s Eve gala featuring Puccini’s “Tosca.” He conducted Verdi’s “Requiem” Saturday – a live, global radio broadcast that could well prove to be his last Met appearance. The first report of the allegations, in the New York Post, was published not long after the performance.

Those quick actions, however, came more than a year after a police detective in Illinois first reached out to the opera.

The detective from the department in Lake Forest, Illinois, first contacted the Met in October 2016 and said she was investigating an allegation made by a New York man, Ashok Pai, who reported that Levine sexually abused him in Illinois when he was 16.

The Met’s general manager Peter Gelb, said he briefed leaders on the opera company’s board about the investigation and also spoke to Levine, who denied the allegations.

But at the time the Met took no action. “The Met did not wish to interfere with the police investigation and thought it was the purview of the Illinois police department to follow through and question those who could corroborate (the) allegation,” the opera’s spokeswoman, Lee Abrahamian, said.

That police investigation slowed last fall, but the Lake County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman, Cynthia Vargas, told the Associated Press Monday that it was still active.

Possibly complicating the decision for the Met last year on whether to act against Levine was the fact that it had – for decades – been asked by reporters about persistent, unproven stories about his sexual habits and had always written them off as the product of an overactive rumor mill.

As part of its Sunday report on Levine, the Times unearthed a 1979 letter written by the Met’s executive director Anthony Bliss to a board member who had received an anonymous letter accusing Levine of misconduct.

“We do not believe there is any truth whatsoever to the charges,” Bliss wrote.

Bliss also suggested in his letter to John T. Connor that, perhaps, the allegations were driven by a vendetta against homosexuals.

“I do not believe that the existence of homosexuals within management, or for that matter on our Board, can be considered a cause for dismissal,” he said.

]]> 0 LevineMon, 04 Dec 2017 23:09:45 +0000
Movie buff mecca Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion shutting its doors Mon, 04 Dec 2017 22:21:56 +0000 Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion, a movie buff’s haven in downtown Brunswick for 15 years, will close at the end of December.

Owner Bart D’Alauro said Monday he decided Nov. 30 to close the store because rentals, which have been declining for years, had fallen too low to make the store viable. He said that November is often the store’s best month, but this year it was the worst.

He’s been telling customers about the planned closing, but hadn’t put up any signs or posted anything online as of Monday.

“There’s been a lot of sadness,” D’Alauro said. “But the people we’re telling are our loyal customers, so they really couldn’t do any more for us.”

The store has an eclectic selection ranging from Hollywood blockbuster to art house fare. The store is in the Tontine Mall on Maine Street, an easy walk to Bowdoin College.

Online streaming services like Netflix have eroded the demand for video stores around the country over the past decade. Portland’s best-known independent video store and mecca for movie buffs, Videoport, closed in 2015 after 28 years in business.

Bart & Greg’s was opened in 2002 by D’Alauro and Greg Morris, who is no longer involved in running the business. The two had worked at another independent Brunswick video store, Matt and Dave’s Video Venture, in the 1990s. When Matt and Dave’s closed many people lamented a college town like Brunswick losing its independent video store, so D’Alauro and Morris decided to try to fill the void.

In 2016 D’Alauro teamed with the Frontier theater in Brunswick to present a monthly movie series focusing on acclaimed foreign films not shown in Maine, with pre- and post-film discussions.

D’Alauro also works at the Bowdoin College library, which is part of the reason he was able to keep the store open this long, he said.


]]> 0, 05 Dec 2017 06:58:26 +0000
Trump pounces on ABC News journalist Brian Ross’ suspension for false report Mon, 04 Dec 2017 01:20:36 +0000 WASHINGTON — President Trump on Sunday morning lashed out at ABC News, two days after investigative reporter Brian Ross made an erroneous report involving the president.

Ross had incorrectly reported Friday that during the presidential campaign, Trump directed Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials before the election.

Later that night, Ross read a “clarification” on “ABC World News Tonight,” saying Trump had actually asked Flynn to make contact with Russia after the election, when he was president-elect.

Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser after the election, pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI.

ABC News apologized for the mistake Saturday and issued a full correction. The network also suspended Ross for four weeks without pay, effective immediately.

On Twitter Saturday night, Trump initially offered his “congratulations” to ABC News for “suspending Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the Russia, Russia, Russia Witch Hunt.”

The network broke Ross’ report Friday with a tweet that read: “JUST IN: @BrianRoss on @ABC News Special Report: Michael Flynn promised ‘full cooperation to the Mueller team’ and is prepared to testify that as a candidate, Donald Trump ‘directed him to make contact with the Russians.’ ”

The tweet, which has since been deleted, included a link to a story and a photo. It was shared and liked tens of thousands of times before it was removed.

Later Friday night, ABC then issued a “clarification,” in the form of a new tweet and Ross’ on-air appearance on “World News Tonight” with host David Muir. The subsequent tweet, which has also since been deleted, read: “CLARIFICATION of ABC News Special Report: Flynn prepared to testify that President-elect Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians during the transition – initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria, confidant now says.”

ABC News was widely panned, even by those in the media industry, for its bungled handling of Ross’ error. Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the network’s “clarification” a “cop-out and just another reason for the decline in trust of the media.”

Several lamented that ABC had given ammunition to those who have long accused the mainstream media of being “fake news.”

It wasn’t until late Saturday afternoon that ABC issued a full correction and characterized Ross’ mistake as a “serious error.”

“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday. The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process,” ABC News said in a statement. “As a result of our continued reporting over the next several hours ultimately we determined the information was wrong and we corrected the mistake on air and online.”

The statement continued: “It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience – these are our core principles. We fell far short of that yesterday.”

Ross said he accepted the disciplinary action.

“My job is to hold people accountable and that’s why I agree with being held accountable myself,” he tweeted Saturday.

Ross has worked for ABC News since 1994.

He has racked up several notable corrections in his career. In 2012, following a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, Ross incorrectly reported that the suspect was a local tea party leader with the same name as the actual shooter. He later retracted the report.

In 2001, Ross erroneously linked anthrax used in attacks in Washington and New York with Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein.

]]> 0 Ross has been suspended for four weeks.Sun, 03 Dec 2017 21:10:25 +0000
New host of ‘Prairie Home’ calls Keillor allegation ‘heartbreaking’ Sun, 03 Dec 2017 23:02:15 +0000 NEW YORK — The man who replaced Garrison Keillor as host of “A Prairie Home Companion” says the workplace misconduct allegation against Keillor came as “heartbreaking news.”

Chris Thile on Saturday addressed alleged improper conduct by Keillor in the opening minutes of the first show to be broadcast since news of the allegation broke.

Thile says the country is in the middle of a movement he believes represents progress. He says people are recognizing the “harmful power imbalance that women have had to endure for so long in our culture.”

Minnesota Public Radio, the show’s producer, ended its relationship with Keillor after what it said was an allegation of improper behavior with a person who worked with him on “Prairie Home.”

Keillor says he touched a woman’s bare back as he tried to console her, and that he apologized.

Thile, Keillor’s hand-picked successor, took over the show in 2016 after Keillor retired.

The name of the radio show will be changed, but a spokeswoman for MPR says Sunday that a new name had not yet been chosen.

]]> 0 Thile, host of "A Prairie Home Companion," talked about allegations against his predecessor Garrison Keillor on Saturday's show.Mon, 04 Dec 2017 07:58:41 +0000
Miss Maine pageant gets a different look Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 As Hamdia Ahmed strutted down the stage in Portland, the bright lights made her gold sequin dress sparkle. At the end of the catwalk, she faced a crowd of a couple of hundred strangers and a panel of judges.

The only real difference between Ahmed and the 23 other Miss Maine USA contestants who walked down the stage in their glittery evening gowns on Nov. 25 was that Ahmed donned a hijab. She was the first Muslim woman to do so in the Miss Maine USA pageant.

Being the first isn’t something that has ever deterred Ahmed.

“When I was younger I always wanted to be the first Muslim girl in a magazine wearing the hijab,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed was born in 1997 near the border of Somalia and Kenya. Her mother, Mumina Ali, was escaping violence in Somalia on foot with her children when she went into labor with Ahmed. Ali said that after she gave birth the other people in her group told her to abandon the baby because there was no way that she could survive the rest of the journey to the refugee camp, Dadaab, in Kenya. But Ali refused to leave her newborn behind and walked for three days after giving birth to make it to the camp. Ahmed lived in Dadaab with her family until they were resettled in the United States in 2005.

Ahmed, now 19, lives with her family in Portland. She said she decided to do the pageant for two reasons: to open doors in the modeling world, and to open doors for other Muslim hijabi women on the Maine pageant scene. “Representation matters,” Ahmed said.

When Ahmed told her mother she wanted to participate in the pageant, Ali said at first she was hesitant but supported her daughter’s choice. “If she stayed true and respected herself and her values, I was fine with it,” her mother said. “She is in America, so freedom.”

To qualify for the pageant, contestants are interviewed and must pay a fee of about $1,100. Some receive sponsorships from businesses.

Ahmed appeared in floor-length, long-sleeved dresses at the pageant, and during the swimsuit competition she wore a “burkini,” a modest swimsuit made for Muslim women. “I’m only worried about myself and being who I am,” Ahmed said. “I will respect other women in however they dress just like they should respect me with how I dress.”

Ahmed’s mother, sister and four nieces came to the pageant on both nights to support her. “My family was the hypest!” Ahmed said. The second night they brought a sign with positive affirmations, such as “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about saying you did it!”

Ahmed said her fellow Miss Maine USA competitors and the pageant organizers treated her like any other contestant. Before going on stage the second night, Helena Higgins, a contestant from Belfast who was familiar with Ahmed’s background, told her, “After all you’ve been through, you’ve got this.”

“I feel like I broke barriers in Maine,” Ahmed said. “Because I think people were like, wow, this girl is just like every other girl out on this stage, she is just dressed differently. Some people might see me at the grocery store and tell me to go back to my country, or that type of thing, but nobody said anything like that to me (at the pageant). I was just one of the American girls.”

The winner of the pageant was 22-year-old Marina Gray, an Army National Guard sergeant in the 133rd Engineer Battalion in Brunswick.

Ahmed didn’t place in the top 10 at the pageant, but she said it was a positive, “life-changing experience” for her. She isn’t sure whether she will participate in Miss Maine USA again next year, but said she hopes more Muslim women in Maine will try to win the crown.

“I would love to see a Muslim girl win the pageant in the state of Maine. To go out there and say: ‘This is who I am. I’m not going to change who I am, but I belong here. I have the same dreams like all of these girls, but I want to dress modest and respect my culture and religion.’ I want to see that day happen.”

Pageant or no pageant, Ahmed has big dreams. She wants to become a model but is focusing on her political science degree at the University of Southern Maine. Ahmed said that “2018 is about to be my year.”

She added: “Inshallah” – If Allah wills it.

Brianna Soukup can be contacted at:

]]>, Hamdia Ahmed, far left, smiles at her family offstage after the first night of the Miss Maine USA pageant. At top, Ahmed takes a moment to rest while Miss Teen USA contestants Rileigh Jones, center, and Adrianna Knight, right, finish getting ready in the mirror.Sat, 02 Dec 2017 20:31:37 +0000
A photographer’s nearly forgotten archive comes home to Maine Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 It’s a tedious, daylong drive under the best circumstances from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to Searsport, home of the Penobscot Marine Museum in midcoast Maine. But the drive home over Columbus Day weekend felt unusually swift and purposeful for Kevin Johnson, the museum’s photo archivist.

On that drive, Johnson carried as cargo seven brown banker’s boxes filled with envelopes overstuffed with prints, negatives, contact sheets and handwritten notes of the late Maine photographer Kosti Ruohomaa. Johnson picked them up at a warehouse in New Jersey just outside of New York City, where the Ruohomaa archive has resided in the care and storage of his New York agency for the past half-century.

“Three Quarter Century Club,” by Kosti Ruohamaa. This 1947 photo taken in Portland was included in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) exhibit “Family of Man,” curated by Edward Steichen in 1955. Ruohamaa’s original caption read, “Edward Rogers Castner, who ran a general store in Damariscotta, Maine, for 60 years, gives his wife a fine ride. Both husband and wife are 80 and have been married for 60 years.” Photos by Kosti Ruohomaa/Courtesy of Penobscot Marine Museum and Black Star photographic agency

Johnson packed the seven tattered boxes bound by plastic straps in the back of his car and hightailed it for Maine. He was repatriating Ruohomaa’s photographs with the place that mattered most to him, and Johnson felt the photographer’s presence in the car with him. “While I didn’t have any ghost sightings, it really resonated with me at that moment that his work was coming home,” Johnson said.

Ruohomaa – pronounced “row-home-a” – was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1913 and moved to Maine in 1924. His parents bought 240 acres on Dodge Mountain in Rockland, where they harvested blueberries.

As much as any other artist, except maybe his friend Andrew Wyeth, Ruohomaa was responsible for the image of Maine in the outside world during the 1940s and 1950s, when his mostly black-and-white images appeared on the covers of Life and Look magazines and many others. He was a rugged man and was motivated to capture the grit and grease of Maine instead of its light and shine. He went into the woods with lumberjacks and onto the decks of trawlers with fishermen. He preferred Monhegan in the winter and considered Maine summers “a bit too idealistically beautiful” for his tastes. He photographed the town meeting in Washington in 1948 to show the nation how small-town Maine conducted its affairs.

Like a lot of Mainers, Ruohomaa couldn’t wait to leave Maine – and, later on, was eager to return. He finished high school in Rockland and moved to Boston to study painting and drawing at the Boston School of Practical Art. He worked commercially, then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as an animator for Walt Disney.

He began taking photos in 1944 and signed a contract with the Black Star photographic agency in New York. That brought him back east and launched his art career. He loved shooting pictures of Maine in all its seasons and worked hard to promote the idea of Mainers as honest, hard-working people.

Johnson holds Kosti Ruohomaa’s c. 1950 photograph of Andrew Wyeth, right, and Ralph Cline, a sawmill operator who is rowing them to Louds Island off Port Clyde. Wyeth was headed to the island to purchase a hearse he’d seen advertised for sale and planned to return it to the mainland via lobsterboat. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

He died young, at age 47, in 1961, and his memory slowly faded. His photos were the subject of one book, “Night Train at Wiscasset Station,” published in 1977. Written by Lew Dietz, the book shows mid-20th-century Maine with one-room schoolhouses, lobsters and logging. A few years ago, now-retired Maine State Museum curator Deanna Bonner-Ganter began restoring Ruohomaa’s memory and rebuilding his image. She organized a yearlong exhibition of his photographs, followed by a biography that she wrote about his life and career, “Kosti Ruohomaa: The Photographer Poet.” At the same time, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland prepared a show examining Ruohomaa’s friendship with Wyeth and their shared subject matter.

“Maine Fog,” a 1947 photo of Kosti Ruomomaa’s father at his farm on Dodge Mountain in Rockland. Courtesy Penobscot Marine Museum

After finishing the biography, Bonner-Ganter and Johnson began exploring bringing his archive home to Maine. The archive itself had been largely forgotten after it was moved out of Manhattan many years ago, when Black Star gave up its downtown offices. Johnson heard rumors that the archive had been damaged by Hurricane Sandy while in storage in New Jersey and was pleased and relieved when he saw for himself that those rumors were not true.

With the blessing of Ruohomaa’s family, Johnson and Bonner-Ganter simply wrote a letter to Black Star, asking if they could take over the care and storage of the archive, bring it home to Maine and give it the attention it deserved. It proved easier than they expected. Black Star readily agreed.

“They are keeping publishing rights for a while, which is fine,” Johnson said. “We are allowed to do whatever we want in terms of exhibitions and putting it online and using it for educational purposes.”

The archive fits in the Penobscot Marine Museum’s larger mission. The museum owns the largest collection of historic images in Maine and, under Johnson’s direction, has mounted several historic photography exhibitions and made its collection available to scholars for research and publications.

The Ruohomaa archive appears to be in great shape, Johnson said. It consists of thousands of medium- and large-format negatives, 35mm negatives and slides, as well as contact sheets and vintage prints. The archive is mostly organized by the assignments Ruohomaa completed for national magazines, with each assignment contained in an envelope with his notes and captions. He marked his crops and edits with wax pencils on contact sheets.

“It gives an insider’s look at how Kosti approached an assignment, what he was going for and how he chose within his own work the images that would stand for his assignment,” Johnson said.

It’s also very local. “There were hundreds of assignments, either that he was given or that were self-assigned,” Johnson said. “More than a third of them are Maine-based, and most of those are within the area of Knox and Waldo counties.”

Johnson points to his favorite frame from the contact sheet of a photo essay demonstrating the various stages of eating a lobster. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Bonner-Ganter has come out of retirement to volunteer at the museum three or four days each week, helping to create an inventory for a more complete understanding of the contents of the archive. Working with Ruohomaa’s photos and negatives directly is a privilege, she said. She has studied Ruohomaa’s pictures for 30 years, interviewed many of the people who knew him best and wrote the most complete biography about him.

Working hands-on with his images has given her a different level of appreciation for how he saw and was inspired by Maine.

“Here was a man who really loved Maine,” she said. “Maine was beloved to him, and I can see that more clearly looking through what I am looking at now. He captures the essence of Maine and Maine’s culture and Maine’s landscape – and the weather. He looked for the moods of Maine and those mood changes, and knew how to capture them.”

A frame from a Ruohomaa contact sheet of a photo essay demonstrating the stages of eating a lobster. The man in the photos, Stanley Powell of Washington, Maine, was a friend of Ruohomaa’s family. Photo by Kosti Ruohomaa/Courtesy of Penobscot Marine Museum and Black Star photographic agency

The first public display of the photos will happen in April, when Johnson will organize an exhibition of Ruohomaa’s images with a maritime theme at the Camden Public Library. After that, Johnson will begin raising money to digitize the collection so it’s widely available. Preliminarily, he estimates he will need to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 for the task. “But before we can start looking for money, we need to know what we have and what we need,” Johnson said.

Bonner-Ganter thinks Ruohomaa would be pleased that a Maine institution led the effort to reclaim his work and bring it home.

“For all these years, his work has just been put in boxes and put away in storage,” she said. “He’d be thrilled to know that his work is being cared for by the Penobscot Marine Museum. It’s the perfect place for the collection. Finally.”


]]> 0 Johnson, photo archivist for the Penobscot Marine Museum, holds what is believed to be a self-portrait of Kosti Ruohomaa with his Linhof camera in Rockland in 1958.Sat, 02 Dec 2017 07:29:53 +0000
Loss of Maine shrimp deprives chefs, clam shacks of a delicacy Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 There have been times – boom times – when Maine shrimp was so plentiful, it was taken for granted.

Rick Frantz, owner of Andy’s Old Port Pub on Commercial Street in Portland, recalls going to Boothbay with his girlfriend in the late 1960s and buying Maine shrimp by the barrelful. For poor college kids, it was a cheap source of protein.

“It was very, very inexpensive,” he said. “We’d take it back to the fraternity and boil it.”

Fifty years later, the Maine shrimp season has become a casualty of warming waters because of climate change and, consequently, strict regulations. On Wednesday, regional fisheries managers voted to extend a moratorium on shrimping in northern New England through the 2018 season, which traditionally runs between December and April. For the fifth year in a row, the sweet little morsels likely won’t appear on Maine restaurant menus. At a time when chefs are more focused than ever on local ingredients, what will they do without these winter delicacies – especially when it looks as if they may never come back?

Shellfish distributors who sell to Maine restaurants say chefs are searching out alternatives to satisfy diners’ appetites for Maine shrimp. Frantz, like many others, now substitutes Canadian shrimp, which are the same species but a genetically distinct population. At his Andy’s Old Port Pub, they are deep-fried to use in po’boys and salads, served as appetizers, and piled onto plates for shrimp dinners.

These days, the shrimp po’ boy at Andy’s Old Port Pub in Portland is served using Canadian shrimp, a genetically distinct population from the Maine species. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

“They seem to be a pretty good substitute,” Frantz said. “We don’t push them as hard, only because we would rather push something that is from our own (fishermen).”


Other chefs are using farmed shrimp from around the globe (Maine has no commercially available farm-raised shrimp), or shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico that is a similar size to Maine shrimp, but white instead of pink. The fussiest are dipping into a small supply of Maine shrimp from a limited (and pricey) fishery designed to aid research. And some chefs have taken shrimp off their menus altogether.

Ross Carroll, general manager at Maine Maritime Products in Belfast, says the classic fry shacks that go through 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of shrimp a year are using the Canadian shrimp, and “most people won’t even know the difference.” Most other restaurants, he said, are flocking to 70-90 count (meaning 70 to 90 shrimp in one pound) farm-raised shrimp from Southeast Asia. Those shrimp, farmed in places like Thailand and Vietnam, are larger than Maine shrimp, but they are half the price of Canadian shrimp and come peeled, deveined and individually frozen so cooks don’t have to thaw a huge block of them at once.

“It’s a more consistent supply that will never go away,” Carroll said. “It’s not so volatile like the wild shrimp.”

Wild northern shrimp are light pink and prized for their sweet taste and delicate texture. They cook very fast – add them to a bowl of hot broth, and they’ll be done by the time the bowl is carried to the table. The species, Pandalus borealis, is found in the Arctic, north Atlantic, and north Pacific oceans. In the North Atlantic, Maine is at the southern edge of the species’ range. The shrimp are temperature-sensitive, and as climate change warms the waters of the Gulf of Maine, they are struggling – either not surviving, or not reproducing, according to Margaret Hunter, a Maine Department of Marine Resources scientist with the northern shrimp program.

Gone are the days of fishermen selling cheap Maine shrimp by the side of the road, or families buying them a couple hundred pounds at a time, as Carroll’s grandfather did, then blanching and freezing them for budget-friendly meals.

“Maine shrimp was a staple for a long time,” said George Parr, owner of Upstream Trucking, which sells seafood to lots of Portland-area restaurants. “People would buy 50 pounds of whole shrimp to take home and sit in the corner and peel them and freeze them.”


Like Carroll, Parr has seen his regular customers switch to farmed shrimp. “They went to farmed shrimp because you can’t get wild shrimp” from other parts of the globe such as South America and Mexico, he said. “They don’t bother fishing wild shrimp that small because they can’t get any money from them. … Even Canada is not putting out that much product.”

This coming year, those chefs who have relied on “test shrimp” – caught in the Gulf of Maine and sold by some fishermen to support research into the decline of the shrimp population – may be out of luck. Last year, that catch was limited by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to 53 metric tons, and fishermen were able to land only 32 tons. Next year’s “research set-aside” catch of Maine shrimp has been drastically reduced to just 13.3 metric tons, but Commissioner Patrick Keliher of the Maine Department of Marine Resources has said Maine will not participate in the research harvest at all.

Cara Stadler, who owns Tao Yuan in Brunswick and Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland, buys some Southeast Asian farm-raised shrimp, but says she will only use Maine shrimp for certain classic Chinese fried shrimp dishes.

“They mimic a type of shrimp that’s in Shanghai,” she said. “But they’re even smaller in Shanghai.”

For those dishes, in the past she’s purchased Maine research shrimp from Parr, and will again next year, if it is available.

“Every year we’ve gotten maybe a couple of pounds,” she said. “It basically goes on the menu for a half second, and then it goes right off. But you work with what you get.”

Zach Yates, sales manager at Harbor Fish Market in Portland, says in the last few years, sushi bars have used the test shrimp, too, and higher-end restaurants have bought it whole, since buying it peeled is exorbitantly expensive.

When Maine shrimp were plentiful, they could be found for $1 a pound, or even 50 cents a pound right off the boat. Distributors estimate that in recent years the Maine test shrimp have sold for $6 to $8 a pound whole; peeled, they went for $13-15 a pound.

Keiko Suzuki Steinberger at Suzuki’s Sushi Bar in Rockland used test shrimp last year to make a big supply of dumplings, which she then froze to make her supply last. She has used Canadian shrimp in the past and says she will again if she can find a good supply at a reasonable price.


Mike Wiley, co-owner of Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honeypaw in Portland, says he and co-chef Andrew Taylor served the Maine test shrimp lightly grilled at Hugo’s last year, and fried at their other restaurants.

“Both Andrew and I believe that there’s no substitute for Maine shrimp, and if we can’t get them super-fresh, we just won’t serve shrimp of any kind,” he said.

Likewise, Scales restaurant on the Portland waterfront – whose very name evokes thoughts of seafood – has decided not to serve shrimp at all “because they’re really hard to get, and if you serve them fresh they have a really short shelf life,” chef Frederic Eliot said.

But it isn’t these high-end places that have suffered the most. “It was the clam shacks, and places like that, that really got hit” by the shutdown of the fishery, Parr said.

At Bayley’s Seafood Restaurant in Scarborough, Canadian shrimp is used in shrimp rolls and shrimp stew, and fried shrimp is piled high on plates for shrimp dinners. Owner Dan Bayley says the restaurant goes through 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of shrimp a year. The lack of Maine shrimp has been especially hard on him because he used to process shrimp himself, and he invested in new processing equipment just before the shrimp fishery first shut down in 2014. The equipment has been sitting idle ever since, and now that the fishery will be closed for a fifth year, he’s trying to decide whether or not he should sell it.

“It’s a hell of a slam, you know,” he said. “We used to have 50 or 60 people down there in the plant peeling shrimp, and now it’s down to zero.”

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

]]> 0 days, the shrimp po' boy at Andy's Old Port Pub in Portland is served using Canadian shrimp, a genetically distinct population from the Maine species. A ban on shrimping in northern New England has been extended through 2018.Sat, 02 Dec 2017 21:52:43 +0000
Dine Out Maine: Italian-American classics survive – and some thrive – at the new Roma Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The Roma Café you remember is gone forever. You should know that from the outset. The original, an Italian-American restaurant that once occupied the lower floors of the Rines mansion in Portland’s West End, had a remarkable run. When its white tablecloths were taken to the laundry for the last time in 2008, the restaurant had been open (and mostly family-owned) for the better part of 80 years. It was, to many locals, the place to celebrate special occasions.

Nearly 10 years later, Mike Fraser, the owner of Bramhall – the bar/bistro in the basement of the same building – and Anders Tallberg, the chef behind the short-lived Roustabout, decided to resurrect Roma Café, at least in spirit. “We knew if we wanted to keep it as the Roma Café, that brought about some expectations. So we’re reviving it, but it’s different. We’re gunning for a neighborhood restaurant where people can come hang out, or, you know, if Uncle Bob is in town, you can say, ‘Let’s go to The Roma,’ ” Tallberg explained.

In many ways, Tallberg is the ideal person to undertake a reimagining of an Italian-American icon. In addition to his soulful, yet unerringly contemporary, approach to Italian cooking at Roustabout, his experience includes a stint at Napa Valley, California’s Bistro Don Giovanni, as well as four years in the kitchen of a tiny, single-family Italian restaurant in Keene, New Hampshire. At this point, he’s practically an honorary nonna.

“For the food, we want to keep it classic Italian-American: spaghetti and meatballs, cutlets, that sort of thing,” he said.

Rejecting formality in favor of familiarity is very on-trend, and it’s transforming more than The Roma’s menu. Gone are the stuffy service captains, acres of heavy drapery and even the white tablecloths. In their place, leather-cushioned bench seating, a stone-topped bar and neutral paint colors accented by tiny test tubes, each containing an individual branch pimpled with winter berries. On the walls of the main dining room, dozens upon dozens of votives flicker on floating shelves. Catch a glimpse of those candles in the mirror and it’s hard not to feel a little like Sting in the “Wrapped Around Your Finger” video.

In its gestures toward simplicity, The Roma seems to have let some important things slide. When I arrived with a guest on a recent rainy evening, we were ushered to our table with our wet coats and dripping umbrellas in tow. We had little choice, so we placed our outerwear next to us on the banquette, just as all the other diners had done. As we left, we nearly slipped on a pool of water from our neighbors’ four umbrellas. Surely, there must be room somewhere in the mansion for a coat rack and umbrella holder.

Service can feel a bit skimpy, as well. At one stage, we had to start an empty dish pile, because our table was loaded down with entrée plates and bowls, bread plates, empty wine and cocktail glasses, appetizer plates and a generous platter of decent housemade focaccia, shards of Grana Padano cheese and a dull, quick-pickled giardiniera that needed more acid.

At the center of the crush of dishware: a birdbath-sized bowl containing the house salad for two ($13). Tallberg’s version intentionally echoes the monster salads of his youth. “It’s a throwback to the Olive Garden and to Seguino’s, the fancy Italian-American restaurant (formerly in Bangor). They both have chopped, family-style house salads,” he said. “I love the idea of sharing salad for meals, but with good quality provolone, pepperoncini and a great dressing.” The Roma’s is a solid enough bowl of greens; its standout component is the fatty, fine-grained nubs of air-dried pepperoni from Salumeria Biellese in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Another large appetizer, the Chicken Liver Toscano ($8) – a grilled slice of Standard Baking Company’s levain bread slathered in chicken liver mousse and topped with chopped vinegar peppers – is a head-scratcher, both conceptually and in its execution. Into seared chicken livers, The Roma adds shallots, sweet vermouth, heavy cream and, in a blender, a county fair’s worth of butter. “By the time we’re done, it’s about 50/50 livers and butter,” Tallberg said. But by diluting the livers’ funky, mineral flavor with so much dairy, then adding sharply acidic peppers, the kitchen creates a peculiar whipped spread that, in the dark, could easily pass for a too-tangy bleu cheese dressing.

Entrées, all of which include pasta, are where The Roma’s vision of producing high-quality, familiar Italian-American dishes starts to take shape. It’s halfway there in the veal piccata ($25), served with slow-roasted moons of local delicata squash and a nest of simply dressed al dente linguine with olive oil and Grana Padano cheese. Yet on my most recent visit, the pounded cutlet was tough in spots and covered so completely with capers that I could not see what was underneath.

Clockwise from left rear, Julia Morelli, Ed Mendelsohn, Lydia Percival, Peter Morelli and Jan Morelli enjoy a family dinner at the newly reopened Roma Café. Staff photos by Brianna Soukup

The calamari puttanesca ($24), on the other hand, is a fully realized dish that puts Tallberg’s skills with both pasta and seafood on full display. Cooking with squid is a challenge in the best of times; over high heat, it goes from delicate to garden-hose in an instant. The condition of your calamari matters, as well. “We clean our squid daily,” Tallberg said. “It’s a super monotonous task that my cooks would probably love not to do, but you can’t expect frozen, pre-cleaned calamari to taste good.”

So in a “ripping hot pan,” they flash-sauté fresh squid tentacles and rings until they are barely cooked, then combine them with extra-thick artisanal spaghetti and, best of all, The Roma’s housemade tomato sauce. Tallberg’s marinara might well be the best thing on the menu. It is rugged – pulpy with crushed and diced whole tomatoes, and sweet from sautéed onions and a little sugar. Exactly the sort of classic, slow-cooked “gravy” that gives red-sauce cooking its name.

In close contention for Roma Café’s best dish is pastry chef Emily Delois’s dark chocolate, toasted pistachio and Amarena cherry spumoni ($8), a tri-color layering of house-made ice creams, sliced and topped with candied pistachios and a crunchy chocolate crumble. It’s a traditional dish, but upgraded in all the right ways.

“I think I could eat four more of those,” a middle-aged woman says to her server as she prepares to leave. She is dining at The Roma with her husband, and she tears up a little as she tells the server how they shared their first date at the original Roma Café, sometime in the 1980s. “It’s not like I remember it,” her husband says, putting his arm around her shoulder. “But I sure am glad it’s back.”

Andrew Ross has written about food in the United Kingdom and in New York, where he co-founded NYCnosh, a food website. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is an Internet researcher and higher education consultant. Contact him at:

Twitter: @AndrewRossME

]]> 0 with house-made chocolate, cherry and pistachio ice cream, amaro cherries, fresh whipped cream, candied pistachios and chocolate crumble.Fri, 01 Dec 2017 16:48:03 +0000
Holidays speed up in Waterville with Joy to the Ville Sat, 02 Dec 2017 19:42:47 +0000 WATERVILLE — Haddie Bickford, 5, and her brother, Eli, 3, climbed into chairs Saturday at Holy Cannoli downtown as baker Beth Lefferts placed sugar cookies spread with green frosting before them on the table.

With help from their mother, Rebecca Deschaine, the children spooned colorful sprinkles shaped like candy canes, snowmen and snowflakes onto the cookies to decorate them.

“Mom, I want a little more,” Eli said.

“How about one of the mini-marshmallows?” Deschaine suggested.

The boy nodded approval.

Across the table, Brad Poulin, 5, of Winslow, was decorating a gingerbread man cookie covered with yellow frosting by placing tiny candy snowmen on it. Earlier, he had decorated cookies with his sister, Sydney, 2, who decorated a snowflake-shaped cookie, and their mother, Kate Poulin.

“I thought it was going to be fun, and it is fun,” he said.

They were at Holy Cannoli on Saturday as part of Joy to the Ville activities, hosted by Waterville Creates!

The free, all-day community event, designed to celebrate the magic of the holiday season, included visits with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus at Kringleville, story time at the Children’s Book Cellar, story time and card-making at Waterville Public Library, a screening of the movie “Elf,” a live performance of the musical “Annie” at the Waterville Opera House and quilted card and ornament making at Common Street Arts. Colby College Museum of Art’s Bernard Langlais-inspired snow globe-making also was featured at Common Street Arts.

Free hot chocolate for children and cappucino for adults were served up at Italia Market and Restaurant, Loyal Biscuit Co. downtown had pet holiday eggnog from the Honest Kitchen for dogs visiting the store, Selah Tea featured free tea tastings, holiday drinks and treats, The Framemakers hosted free holiday ornament making and Aroma Joe’s on Kennedy Memorial Drive gave out free milk moustaches with 16-ounce holiday drinks. Children were invited to dress up for a free green-screen winter photo at the opera house.

Jorgensen’s Cafe offered free cookies for children, Downtown Home Decor offered discounts on merchandise, Madlyn’s New & Used Consignment Shop hosted a $1 sale, and Christopher Hastings Confections gave out free candy to children. Camden National Bank doled out free popcorn and hot chocolate.

The opera house, the Maine Film Center, the library, Colby College and the Children’s Discovery Museum helped organize the day’s activities.

In the Common Street Arts arts classroom and gallery space at The Center, Inland Hospital hosted a free Let’s Go Family Fun Series — Healthy Holiday Activities event in which children got to make figures and characters out of fruits and vegetables.

The Bickford children made snowmen, candy canes and other figures, with Haddie crafting a candy cane by alternately placing pieces of banana and strawberry on a toothpick. Then she plopped her creation into her mouth.

Eli made a Santa Claus figure by using pieces of banana and strawberry and topping it with a tiny marshmallow. After consuming that, minus the toothpick, of course, he pressed a tiny marshmallow on the tip of a toothpick, waved it like a hammer and then ate it. Deschaine, their mother, said she was enjoying the activity with her children.

“I think it makes healthy eating a lot more fun,” she said.

Baylee Doughty, community health program coordinator for Inland, whose primary focus is the Let’s Go! series, said the activity was a fun and creative one for children, and a way to help make fruits and vegetables appealing to them.

“They love it,” she said.

Serena Sanborn, Waterville Creates! education and outreach coordinator who helped organize the event, said a reception would be held at 1 p.m. to honor 12 winners of a winter banner art contest. The children used various media such as colored pencils and markers to draw colorful winter scenes that included a snowy owl, reindeer, snowmen and other figures, and their works were transferred onto huge canvas banners that were hung downtown. Each winner was to receive a banner to take home, Sanborn said.

With all the activities happening in the city for children, Sanborn said a friend of hers with children told her she no longer has to travel to Portland to find things for them to do.

In the gallery space at Common Street Arts, a pop-up store with pottery, wood crafts, jewelry and other gifts were on display and fresh holiday wreaths and garlands were featured for sale.

Nate Towne, marketing manager for Waterville Creates!, said the day was going well. Like Sanborn, Towne said many people are drawn to all the activities and events happening in Waterville.

“You don’t have to go to the coast or the big city to have fun,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

]]> 0 Veilleux, 4, makes holiday cookies Saturday with her brother Isaiah Vear, 11, at Holy Cannoli on Main Street in Waterville.Sun, 03 Dec 2017 09:00:42 +0000
Space Gallery announces $65,000 in funding for 13 Maine artists Fri, 01 Dec 2017 23:34:43 +0000 Space Gallery announced $65,000 in funding for Maine artists on Friday as part of its 2018 cycle of the Kindling Fund, which rewards artists who take risks and experiment with projects that engage the community, create dialogue and encourage collaboration.

This is the fourth year Space has administered the Kindling Fund. It is one of 11 national grant programs supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts. This year’s grants range from $3,959 to $5,000 and represent direct funding to 13 artists and their collaborators.

The projects that were selected include the creation of an experimental artist smart phone app, a photography and writing project profiling people of color in Maine, multiple artist residency programs, and a site-specific project at Portland Fish Exchange called “Chasing the White Whale” combining theater, multimedia projections, a visual arts installation, music and a story about the opioid epidemic as it relates to Maine’s fishing community.

“The Kindling Fund offers a level of support to artists who might not have access to other granting opportunities in the state,” said Elizabeth Spavento, who administers the Kindling Fund for Space and handles the art center’s visual arts programming. “One of the strongest things the Kindling Fund does is it prioritizes individual artists and individual artist’s ideas.”

Grantees are Yoon S. Byun, Mali Mrozinski/Doublet Design, Cody Ross, Jenna Crowder/The Chart, Michael Gorman, Deborah Wing-Sproul, Alexis Iammarino, New Fruit collective, Juliette Walker and Devin Shepherd, Sarah Baldwin, Jessica Hankey, Pilar Nadal/ Pickwick Independent Press, and Myron M. Beasley.

Spavento said artists from across Maine applied for grants. “We have tried to expand our outreach, and we are happy to report, this is the first year we received an equal number of applications from outside Portland as we did for Portland-centric ideas,” she said. “Word is getting out that this is a statewide opportunity.”

A panel of three jurors selected the projects from 40 applications. This year’s jurors were Katy Vonk, a Minneapolis- based visual artist, librarian and Visual Arts Fund administrator at Midway Contemporary Arts; Xander Marro, a Providence, Rhode Island-based artist, arts nonprofit director and co-founder of the feminist arts collective Dirt Palace; and Derek Jackson, a Portland artist and 2017 Kindling Fund grant recipient.

The gallery’s executive director, Kelsey Halliday Johnson, said the Kindling Fund offers “new possibilities” for artists in Maine. “In a larger cultural moment where direct funding opportunities for artists continues to be at risk, this year’s important projects demonstrate the vibrancy of contemporary practice throughout the state,” she said in a statement. “The self-organized artist projects supported by this year’s Kindling Fund play a critical role in both pushing artistic boundaries and reflecting on the changing world we live in.”

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

Twitter: pphbkeyes

]]> 0 Gersen of Porland looks over the works on display Thursday at the Portland Museum of Art. One change the museum made was to mix contemporary art into the gallery spaces, like the piece "Grotto," by Lauren Fensterstock, in the background behind Gersen.Fri, 01 Dec 2017 19:46:06 +0000
St. John’s School in Winslow holds annual Christmas fair Fri, 01 Dec 2017 22:53:02 +0000 St. John Regional Catholic School in Winslow opened its annual Christmas fair at the school at 4 p.m. Friday.

Amid the trappings of the school, classroom whiteboards, brightly painted lockers, long-necked giraffes on safari on cinder block walls, and a portrait of Jesus, garlands had been hung with care, evergreens festooned a display with red-ribboned wreaths, and baked goods beckoned the eye if not the nose.

The fair with its holiday fare continues from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

]]> 0 Vigue, 16, picks out a wreath at the annual Christmas fair at St. John Regional Catholic School in Winslow on Friday. The fair will continue today from 2 to 9 p.m.Fri, 01 Dec 2017 18:15:29 +0000
Founder of Maine-based Dead Poets Society gets a tombstone for the ages Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:37:15 +0000 FREEPORT — The founder of the Dead Poets Society of America is preparing for the day he’ll become a dead poet himself — by getting a tombstone.

Walter Skold is drawing inspiration from his visits to the graves of more than 600 bards for his own tombstone to be carved by the son of novelist John Updike.

The design created in collaboration with Michael Updike in Newburyport, Massachusetts, represents a poignant and humorous mishmash inspired by the graves of poets including John Keats, Herman Melville, Elizabeth Frost and Frances Osgood.

“At 57, I have outlived lots of poets, so now is a good time to have my tombstone carved,” Skold said.

One day, he said, it will be placed on his final resting place at his family’s plot in York, Pennsylvania.

He hopes it’s not anytime soon.

Skold, who is moving from Freeport, Maine, to Pennsylvania, has documented the final resting places of hundreds of American poets since he launched the Dead Poets Society in 2008. The society’s name was inspired by the 1989 Robin Williams movie about a teacher who inspires students to love poetry.

His graveyard visits and poetry readings have bordered on the macabre, but he said his goal all along was to draw attention to dead and largely forgotten bards.

Along the way, he has produced the largest single repository of information on poets’ final resting places, along with an online equivalent of Poet’s Corner that honors poets and writers at England’s Westminster Abbey, said Deidre Shauna Lynch, an English professor from Harvard University.

Updike, a sculptor and stone carver, was commissioned to create a tombstone that’s both contemplative and irreverent.

Topped with a dancing skeleton and a quill, it will merge traditional and modern styles, Latin and Hebrew letters, Greek Muses and a biblical quote from St. Paul.

A late addition to the design is Skold’s beloved “Poemobile,” a van that carried him on his adventures before being destroyed in a rollover crash. The front of the tombstone will feature an image of a healthy Poemobile, while the back shows the overturned vehicle.

“It’s a fun project. And there’s a lot of inside jokes in there. So yeah, we’ll see how it goes,” said Updike, who created the tombstone for his late father’s memorial in Plowville, Pennsylvania.

Skold’s goal was to visit 500 gravesites. He far surpassed that by visiting 627 gravesites, and he has identified more than 100 additional poet graves. But those will have to wait.

Right now, he’s settling down to focus on his research and a book of original poetry once he’s in his new home in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, where he’ll be closer to his family.

As for the tombstone, it will be carved on a piece of slate rescued from a pool table. Skold said it’s appropriate that it’s being carved in New England, where many tombstones are carved from slate.

He hopes there’s an appreciation for some of the dark humor.

For example, the bottom of the tombstone that’ll be covered with dirt will carry these words: “This here rock’s a talking stone just like Walt, who’s turned to bone.”

]]> 0 Skoldof Freeport, Maine, poses Friday at the grave of his father in York, Pa. The Dead Poets Society of America founder visited his father’s grave after completing his tour of 97 poets’ graves in 70 days. With Skold is his mascot Raven, a stuffed black panther that was given to him.Fri, 01 Dec 2017 19:30:38 +0000
Jim Nabors, Gomer Pyle on TV’s ‘Andy Griffith Show,’ dies at 87 Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:14:33 +0000 HONOLULU — Jim Nabors, the shy Alabaman whose down-home comedy made him a TV star as Gomer Pyle and whose surprisingly operatic voice kept him a favorite in Las Vegas and other showplaces, died Thursday. He was 87.

Jim Nabors, during a visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in 2010. His starring role in the 1964 TV comedy series “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” forever linked him to the armed services. U.S. Marine Corps photo

Nabors, who underwent a liver transplant in 1994 after contracting hepatitis B, died peacefully at his home in Hawaii after his health had declined for the past year, said his husband, Stan Cadwallader, who was by his side.

“Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that’s all we can say about him. He’s going to be dearly missed,” Cadwallader said.

The couple married in early 2013 in Washington state, where gay marriage had recently been made legal. Nabors’ friends had known for years that he was gay, but he had never said anything to the media.

“It’s pretty obvious that we had no rights as a couple, yet when you’ve been together 38 years, I think something’s got to happen there, you’ve got to solidify something,” Nabors told Hawaii News Now at the time. “And at my age, it’s probably the best thing to do.”

Nabors became an instant success when he joined “The Andy Griffith Show” in the early 1960s. The character of Gomer Pyle, the unworldly, lovable gas pumper who would exclaim “Gollllll-ly!” proved so popular that in 1964 CBS starred him in “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”

In the spinoff, which lasted five seasons, Gomer left his hometown of Mayberry to become a Marine recruit. His innocence confounded his sergeant, the irascible Frank Sutton.

Audiences saw another side of Nabors in appearances in TV variety programs — his booming baritone. The contrast between his homespun humor (“The tornado was so bad a hen laid the same egg twice”) and his full-throated operatic arias was stunning.

For two seasons beginning in 1969, CBS presented “The Jim Nabors Hour,” on which he joshed with guest stars, did sketches with Sutton and fellow “Gomer” veteran Ronnie Schell, and sang country and opera.

Offstage, Nabors retained some of the awed innocence of Gomer. At the height of his fame in 1969, he admitted, “For the first four years of the series, I didn’t trust my success. Every weekend and on every vacation, I would take off to play nightclubs and concerts, figuring the whole thing would blow over some day.

“You know somethin’? I still find it difficult to believe this kind of acceptance. I still don’t trust it.”

After the end of his variety show, Nabors continued earning high salaries in Las Vegas showrooms and in concert theaters across the country. He recorded more than two dozen albums and sang with the Dallas and St. Louis symphony orchestras.

During the 1970s he moved to Hawaii, buying a 500-acre macadamia ranch. He still did occasional TV work, and in the late 1970s, he appeared 10 months annually at Hilton hotels in Hawaii. The pace gave him an ulcer.

“I was completely burned out,” he later recalled. “I’d had it with the bright lights.”

In the early 1980s, his longtime friendship with Burt Reynolds led to roles in “Stroker Ace,” ”Cannonball II” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

He returned to concert and nightclub performances in 1985, though at a less intensive pace.

“It was kind of like ‘The Twilight Zone’ for me, all of us standing there in costumes, the girls in spangles, no tops,” he told The Associated Press during his comeback stint at the Las Vegas Hilton.

“I looked around and told the girls, ‘I’m used to being on the back of a tractor, then to be dropped into the midst of this! It’s kind of weird.’”

Among his regular gigs was singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the Indianapolis 500 each year, which he first did in 1972. The first time, he wrote the lyrics on his hand so he wouldn’t forget.

“I’ve never thought of (the audience reaction) as relating to me,” Nabors said. “It’s always relating to the song and to the race. It is applauding for the tradition of the race and the excitement.”

Illness forced him to cancel his appearance in 2007, the first one he had missed in more than 20 years. He was back performing at Indy in 2008, saying, “It’s always the main part of my year. It just thrills you to your bones.”

Nabors was an authentic small-town Southern boy, born James Thurston Nabors in Sylacauga, Alabama, in 1930, son of a police officer. Boyhood attacks of asthma required long periods of rest, during which he learned to entertain his playmates with vocal tricks.

After graduating from the University of Alabama, he worked in New York City for a time, and later, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he was an assistant film editor and occasional singer at a TV station.

Nabors moved on to Hollywood with hopes of using his voice. While cutting film at NBC in the daytime, he sang at night at a Santa Monica club.

“I was up there on the stage the night that Andy Griffith came in,” Nabors recalled in 1965. “He said to me afterward, ‘You know somethin,’ boy? You’re good. I’m going to bring my manager around to see you.’”

In 1991, Nabors got a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in ceremonies attended by pals Carol Burnett, Loni Anderson, Phyllis Diller and Florence Henderson. His reaction? “Gollll-ly!”

The late Associated Press Entertainment Writer Bob Thomas wrote biographical material for this story.

]]> 0 - In this Nov. 14, 1967 file photo, singer and actor Jim Nabors, best known for his role as Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," reads a book at his California home. Nabors died peacefully at his home in Honolulu on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, with his husband Stan Cadwallader at his side. He was 87. (AP Photo/File)Thu, 30 Nov 2017 20:37:43 +0000
In ‘Point of Departure,’ Monmouth artist Amy Ray honors her father Thu, 30 Nov 2017 17:59:52 +0000 0, 30 Nov 2017 13:00:30 +0000 Sessions hints that U.S. may crack down on recreational pot Thu, 30 Nov 2017 02:16:10 +0000 WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinted Wednesday that the Justice Department may take a tougher stance on recreational marijuana in the near future, a change in policy that would have a significant impact on the five states plus the District of Columbia that already allow the drug to be used for more than medicinal purposes.

California is scheduled to join that group Jan. 1.

Sessions and other DOJ officials previously indicated that they would continue the policy laid out by the department under former President Barack Obama, which allows state officials leeway in dealing with the drug as long as they meet certain standards, such as keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors, keeping it from crossing into states where it isn’t legal and preventing impaired driving.

Marijuana, however, remains illegal under federal law, and there was always the possibility that the Trump administration could crack down.

“In fact, we’re looking at that very hard right now. We had a meeting yesterday and talked about it at some length,” Sessions said at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it, and it represents a federal violation, which is in the law and is subject to being enforced.”

]]> 0, 30 Nov 2017 00:18:31 +0000
Iceland summit stresses gender equality in politics Thu, 30 Nov 2017 02:02:14 +0000 REYKJAVIK, Iceland — More than 400 female political leaders from around the world met in Iceland on Wednesday for an annual summit aimed at promoting gender equality inside and outside of the political sphere.

The summit sponsored by the Women Political Leaders Global Forum comes amid the sexual misconduct scandal that has rocked the world of politics, as well as the entertainment and media industries.

In Iceland, often regarded as a champion of gender equality, hundreds of women in politics have signed a pledge against sexual harassment.

Former Iceland President Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the world’s first elected female president, said the accounts given in recent weeks will improve the environment for women in politics.

“This will change the attitude of both women and men,” she said Monday. “Women will be more confident discussing with men, and men more careful.”

Finnbogadottir became the world’s first elected female president in 1980 after she defeated three male candidates. Women currently account for 7 percent of world heads of state.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who until recently led the United Nations Development Program, said work-related sexual misconduct contributes to a lack of women in leadership positions.

“That kind of behavior, which is now deemed widely unacceptable, has been one of the barriers to women getting ahead,” Clark said. “Lots of sectors – parliaments, film industries and others – are having to face their past and say, ‘We are going to do it better.’ “

]]> 0 sexual-assault victims come forward, attitudes will change, former Iceland President Vigdis Finnbogadottir says.Thu, 30 Nov 2017 00:19:25 +0000
Cells with DNA made in lab lead to ‘Holy Grail’ of synthetic biology Thu, 30 Nov 2017 01:35:04 +0000 Scientists in San Diego have achieved a major milestone in the effort to craft artificial organisms: A microbe whose genetic material included some lab-made instructions was able to live, reproduce and synthesize proteins that included molecules never before used by life.

The development, described Wednesday in a paper in the journal Nature, is a step toward a world in which scientists can engineer organisms capable of producing highly specialized proteins that may be used to improve medicines, construct new materials and perhaps change the functions of cells.

“This is the edge of science,” said Andrew Ellington, a biochemist at the University of Texas at Austin who was not involved in the research. “We are better learning how to engineer living systems.”

In 2014, the San Diego scientists, led by chemist Floyd Romesberg of the Scripps Research Institute, rewrote the genetic material for a strain of E. coli to include a new pair of bases, dubbed dNaM and dTPT3 but informally known as X and Y.

Though the resulting microbe population wasn’t stable (they usually lost their X and Y bases after a few days) these were the first organisms in the history of life to include a new base pair in their DNA.

In their latest experiment, Romesberg’s team instructed the cells to synthesize proteins from “noncanonical” amino acids – hundreds of molecules that can be found in nature or the lab but are not naturally used by organisms. The semi-synthetic cells were able to produce artificial proteins almost as efficiently as their unmodified parents.

“This last step of the adding an unnatural base pair to add an unnatural amino acid into a protein is sort of the Holy Grail of what we’ve been trying to do the whole time,” said Yorke Zhang, a graduate student in Romesberg’s lab who designed, performed and analyzed the experiment.

]]> 0, 30 Nov 2017 00:22:37 +0000
Monica Lewinsky bristles at title of segment on Clinton affair Thu, 30 Nov 2017 00:30:07 +0000 NEW YORK — Monica Lewinsky isn’t too pleased with the title of an upcoming TV special about her affair with President Bill Clinton that led to his impeachment.

Lewinsky tweeted a screenshot of a headline about HLN special “The Monica Lewinsky Scandal.” She crossed out the title and suggested replacing it with “The Starr Investigation” or “The Clinton Impeachment.” She quipped in the tweet: “fixed it for you. you’re welcome.”

The special is part of HLN’s true-crime series “How It Really Happened.” The show’s website lists the title of Sunday’s episode as “The Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal.”

Clinton initially denied the affair before admitting to it in 1998.

“The Starr Investigation” is a reference to Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel whose investigation led to Clinton’s impeachment trial.
Clinton was acquitted by Congress.

]]> 0 Wed, 29 Nov 2017 20:24:54 +0000
Annual Skowhegan Holiday Stroll celebrates 25th year Wed, 29 Nov 2017 21:40:01 +0000 SKOWHEGAN — Preparations for the 25th annual Holiday Stroll in downtown Skowhegan kicked off Wednesday with volunteers from Main Street Skowhegan decking the trees in the downtown Pocket Park, getting them ready for the two-day event.

Mary Haley, project coordinator for Main Street Skowhegan, said the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Semper Fidelis, made strings of “light orbs” out of Christmas wreath rings in a class led by Pam Powers on Tuesday night at Bigelow Brewing in Skowhegan.

Darcy Spooner, co-owner of Country Crow Primitives and a member of the Main Street Board, said the lights will be strung on the branches of the spruce, fir and pine trees in the small park at the corner of Commercial Street and Madison Avenue.

“It’s something totally different,” Spooner said of the lights.

Kristina Cannon, executive director at Main Street Skowhegan, said more foot traffic is expected this weekend, beginning with a big parade at 7 p.m. Friday featuring Santa Claus arriving on a firetruck.

“There seems to be even more anticipation than usual for this year’s Holiday Stroll,” Cannon said. “Perhaps because it’s the 25th annual and because we just had a successful Small Business Saturday where the downtown was bustling with holiday shoppers.”

She said the return of the popular elf-on-a-shelf scavenger hunt also will generate excitement.

Downtown merchants will host Santa’s Village activities for children, such as cookie decorating, the Lions Club talking Christmas tree, free screenings of the movie “Elf” at the Strand theater both days, horse-drawn wagon rides, marshmallow roasting over an open fire and, this year, a special fire hula-hoop performance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the municipal parking lot.

For a full schedule of events, go to the Main Street Skowhegan website or visit its office above The Bankery on Water Street.

“With dozens of people involved in the planning and several hundred attendees, the Holiday Stroll is a great community event for Skowhegan,” Cannon said.

This year’s Holiday Stroll begins at 10 a.m. Friday with the annual holiday bazaar at the public library, followed by free gift wrapping and free hot cocoa starting at 5 p.m. on Water Street.

There’s breakfast with Santa Claus from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at Tewksbury Hall, behind the Federated Church; the Tessier Farms petting zoo; craft fairs; bake sales; and other activities, including the Festival of Trees at Redington Memorial Home.

At 11 a.m. performer Phoebe Flows will demonstrate her fire hula-hooping.

“She’s a fire hula-hoop performer and she’s from Portland,” Haley said. “She’s bringing lots of extra hula hoops and she’s going to teach any of the kiddos that are around watching how to hula hoop — with the regular hoops, not the fire hoops.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


]]> 0 Street Skowhegan volunteers and board member Darcy Spooner, second from left, string hand-made balls of Christmas lights on trees Wednesday in the park in downtown Skowhegan for the upcoming 25th annual Holiday Stroll. Volunteers are, from left, Devin MacMichael, Spooner, Mary Haley and Kylie Damon.Wed, 29 Nov 2017 16:57:55 +0000
Garrison Keillor fired for allegations of inappropriate behavior Wed, 29 Nov 2017 17:25:31 +0000 Garrison Keillor, one of the nation’s most lauded humorists, was fired Wednesday by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of “inappropriate behavior” that occured while he was in charge of “A Prairie Home Companion,” his long-running variety show heard nationwide by millions every week.

Keillor, 75, who retired from the show last year and did not respond to a request for comment, denied any wrongdoing but described what he believed to be the allegation against him in an email to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back,” he wrote. “I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

Minnesota Public Radio did not immediately confirm whether that allegation was the reason for the firing, and declined to give additional details on the accusation in question, including whether it was sexual in nature. The news broke hours after another enduring broadcaster, “Today” show host Matt Lauer, was fired by NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior.”

“Minnesota Public Radio is terminating its contracts with Garrison Keillor and his private media companies after recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him,” said Angie Andresen, communications director for the station.

Keillor spent his career creating and tending a fictional place called Lake Wobegon, “the little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve.” His radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” launched in 1974, stitched together old-timey jingles for fictional brands of biscuits and acoustic performances by guest musicians. But the heart of the show was Keillor’s storytelling – a slow, artfully rambling monologue about a stoic heartland community.

By the 1980s, Keillor had won a Peabody, and the show was one of public radio’s biggest cash cows – as popular as public-radio juggernauts “Car Talk” and “Marketplace,” and capable of matching the audience of the Saturday TV baseball Game of the Week.

Keillor was shy, wry and unreadable in many ways, but his grave persona created an American enterprise as familiar and cozy as a hearth.

His program, despite its sense of place, was a road show, with a tractor-trailer full of sets and props and a traveling crew of stagehands, producers and performers who spent long hours together in college auditoriums, civic centers and hotel rooms.


Keillor has been married five times, twice to people who had worked with him on the show. But three long-time members of the show’s staff, who asked not to be named because they don’t know the details of the new accusation, said that Keillor’s shrinking demeanor and social awkwardness were a far more powerful part of his personality than any forwardness around women.

“The guy screams ‘fatherly,’” one longtime female staffer said. “He was awkward and fascinating and lovely.”

On the road, Keillor kept mainly to himself, holed up in his hotel room to write his weekly monologue. Writers would join him to work over material, but those encounters were often stilted and quiet, the co-workers said.

In 1994, Keillor addressed the National Press Club and defended Bill Clinton against a battery of accusations, calling him a “soulful man” who “got himself elected without scaring people.” Keillor warned that society should try “not to make the world so fine and good that you and I can’t enjoy living in it.”

He added in his hangdog baritone: “A world in which there is no sexual harassment at all, is a world in which there will not be any flirtation. A world without thieves at all will not have entrepreneurs.” Twenty-three years later – amid a reckoning of workplace behavior that has felled politicians, TV anchors and Hollywood heavies – a viewer is left to wonder: Was Keillor being straight, or satirical?

In 1998 Keillor wrote “Wobegon Boy,” a novel about a radio host who is wrongly accused of sexual harassment and fired by his station.

On Tuesday, the day before his firing, The Washington Post published his opinion piece ridiculing the idea that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., should resign over allegations of sexual harassment.

Calls for Franken’s head are “pure absurdity,” Keillor wrote, “and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness.”


Keillor, an avowed Democrat, last year became a weekly columnist for The Washington Post News Service and Syndicate – meaning he was a contract writer, not an employee with a desk in the newsroom. Many of his columns took mournful aim at President Trump, who “would would have enjoyed the 17th century,” when “the idea of privileged sexual aggression was common in high places.”

Richard Aldacushion, general manager and editorial director of The Washington Post News Service and Syndicate, said there was no revision of its relationship with Keillor as of late Wednesday. The organization “takes the allegations against columnist Garrison Keillor seriously and is seeking more information about them,” the syndicate told its clients Wednesday.

In his email to the Star-Tribune, Keillor shared other thoughts. “If I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie with me and who slipped an arm around me and let it drift down below the beltline, I’d have at least a hundred dollars,” he wrote. “So this is poetic irony of a high order. But I’m just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else.”

Minnesota Public Radio said it has retained an outside law firm to conduct an “independent investigation” into the allegations. The station will stop distributing and broadcasting “The Writer’s Almanac,” a show Keillor still produced after retiring from “A Prairie Home Companion,” which will now be renamed. It has been hosted by Chris Thile since Keillor’s retirement.

In 1998, when “Prairie Home” was on 433 stations and in the ears of 2.5 million listeners, a Washington Post reporter spent a week with the show to write a profile of Keillor. One day, after rehearsal, the host gathered his cast in his hotel room for water and appetizers.

“Care for a social moment?” he asked.

The group stood around awkwardly for a few minutes, and at one point they all tried to speak in the voices of a variety of animals – whale, walrus, horse, bird – which provided a chance to exhale and chuckle. But after a short time, Keillor brought the social moment to an end.

“I might write something new,” he said, which was the invitation for his guests to file out of the room.

]]> 0 Keillor, former host of radio's "A Prairie Home Companion," says he does not listen to the new show.Wed, 29 Nov 2017 21:50:24 +0000
Former Marine drafts plan for Cumberland craft brewery with a higher purpose Wed, 29 Nov 2017 16:58:04 +0000 CUMBERLAND — Brad Nadeau’s dream is to brew craft beer and donate a percentage of proceeds to military veterans in need.

All the former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant needs is a place to do it.

Nadeau, who’s been brewing beer at home as often as three times a week for two and a half years, started a Kickstarter campaign Nov. 10 to raise $20,000 in working capital that will help him obtain a lease and bank loan for Stars & Stripes Brewing Co. He needs $180,000 in all to get started.

Nadeau and his wife, Nancy, who has a background in marketing, had raised $10,000 as of Nov. 16.

“I can’t believe the outpouring from people,” Nadeau said in an interview.

Their deadline for the Kickstarter project to be funded is Sunday, Dec. 10.

The proposed brewery’s website,, showcases nine year-round, specialty and seasonal offerings, with names that acknowledge Nadeau’s military experience: “Semper Fi.P.A,” “Platoon Pale Ale,” “Stout & Give Me 20,” and “Ooh-Rah! IPA.”

The business’ slogan is, in military fashion, straight and to the point: “Enjoy your beer, that’s an order.”

Nadeau served in the Marines from 1999-2003 in Japan, the Philippines and Thailand, before being deployed to the Middle East for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“My unit was the first in Iraq,” he recalled. “We did the 21 days to Baghdad. We did the mine clearing for the convoy going up to Baghdad, and ended up clearing two minefields.”

Since then, Nadeau has earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, worked in the cardiac rehabilitation at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and is now an insurance inspector.

But his sights have been set the past year and a half on expanding the home brewery he’s been operating using 380-gallon stainless-steel tanks in his West Cumberland garage.

Nadeau has worked since last November with SCORE, a network of business mentors with a chapter in Portland, to develop the brewery. Once he’s found a location, Nadeau will use his construction background to build the business.

“We’re really going to focus on making great beer,” Nadeau said, while donating a percentage of proceeds to veterans who could use the help, such as those with disabilities.

He said he also would like to hold events at the taproom for charitable organizations.

The Nadeaus said the business will be family friendly, with a section set up with activities for children while the parents drink responsibly.

“We want to be a place where we have a large tasting room, and we have a lot of people there,” Nadeau explained. “We’re going to focus more on having people come to us, and not as much on distribution.”

In order to legally sell beer, Stars & Stripes must obtain a brewer’s license from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. But to procure that license, an operation must first have a commercial location and associated equipment in place, so the agency can inspect it, Nancy Nadeau said.

“Everything’s like, what comes first, the chicken or the egg,” she added with a smile.

They can’t get the bank loan until they have a property lease. The Nadeaus have looked at various places in Cumberland, but have yet to find what they need, when they need it.

“We’re itching to get it started,” Brad Nadeau said.

They’re looking for 2,500 to 3,500 square feet – about 1,000 for the brewing equipment and another 2,000 for the tasting room.

With many factors in play, the Nadeaus hope to be up and running at least by next spring. “We’ve got, certainly, our work cut out, but I think we can do it,” Nadeau said. “I know we can do it.”

Perhaps what fuels his conviction most is that this undertaking is, first and foremost, a labor of love.

“We’re not focused on making money,” Nadeau said. “We’re not looking to be millionaires. We just want to be able to pay the bills, and be able to give back. That’s more rewarding than money.”

See this story in The Forecaster.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

]]> 0 and Brad Nadeau of Cumberland are looking to expand their home-based Stars & Stripes Brewing Co. to a full-fledged commercial operation, with a percentage of proceeds going toward veterans.Wed, 29 Nov 2017 14:12:42 +0000
‘Today’ host Matt Lauer fired after complaint about ‘inappropriate sexual behavior’ Wed, 29 Nov 2017 12:18:27 +0000 NEW YORK – “Today” show host Matt Lauer was fired for what NBC on Wednesday called “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a colleague and was promptly confronted with a published report accusing him of crude and habitual misconduct with other women around the office.

With his easygoing charm, Lauer has long been a lucrative and highly visible part of NBC News and one of the highest-paid figures in the industry, and his downfall shook the network and stunned many of the roughly 4 million viewers who start their day with him.

He is one of the biggest names brought down in recent weeks by the wave of sexual misconduct allegations that have swept through Hollywood, the media and politics.

Matt Lauer, co-host of the NBC “Today” television program, appears on set in Rockefeller Plaza, in New York in 2016. NBC News announced Wednesday that Lauer was fired for “inappropriate sexual behavior.” Associated Press/Richard Drew

Network news chief Andrew Lack said in a memo to the staff that NBC received a complaint about Lauer’s behavior on Monday and determined he violated company standards. NBC said the misconduct started when Lauer and a network employee were at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued beyond that assignment.

Lack said it was the first complaint lodged against Lauer in his 20 years at NBC, but “we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

NBC News received two new complaints against Lauer on Wednesday, “NBC Nightly News” reported. The network didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Earlier Wednesday, it was left to Lauer’s shaken “Today” colleagues, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, to break the news to viewers at the top of the morning’s show.

Word of Lauer’s abrupt exit came on the day of NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” special featuring the annual Manhattan tree-lighting ceremony. Lauer was to have co-hosted the Wednesday night program with Guthrie, Kotb and Al Roker.

Hours after the firing, the trade publication Variety posted what it said was a two-month investigation that included dozens of interviews with current and former staffers who asked to remain anonymous.

Among other things, Variety reported allegations that Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy with an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her; that he exposed himself to another female co-worker; that he would question female producers about their sex lives; and that he would talk about which co-hosts he would like to sleep with.

In other developments, former “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor was cut loose by Minnesota Public Radio over an allegation of “inappropriate behavior.” MPR gave no details, but the 75-year-old Keillor said he inadvertently put his hand on a woman’s bare back in an attempt to console her.

Messages to Lauer and his agent were not immediately returned, and NBC would not say whether he denied or admitted to any wrongdoing. He is married with three children.

Lauer becomes the second morning host in a week to lose his job over sexual misconduct allegations. CBS fired Charlie Rose after several women who worked for him complained about his behavior.

In other developments, former “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor was cut loose by Minnesota Public Radio over an allegation of “inappropriate behavior.” MPR gave no details, but the 75-year-old Keillor said he inadvertently put his hand on a woman’s bare back in an attempt to console her.

Lauer, 59, has essentially been the king of television morning news since first being paired with Katie Couric on “Today” in 1997.

For many years, “Today” was the unquestioned ratings leader, until it was eclipsed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” following the ugly 2012 firing of Lauer’s co-host Ann Curry. The show had stabilized in recent years with Lauer’s pairing with Guthrie.

Lauer’s “Where in the world is Matt Lauer?” segments were popular for years, and he regularly played a lead role at the Olympics and other major news events.

He joins a lengthening list of media figures felled by sexual misconduct accusations this year. Besides Rose, they include Lauer’s NBC News colleague Mark Halperin, Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and National Public Radio newsroom chief Michael Oreskes. The New York Times suspended White House correspondent Glenn Thrush last week.

Co-anchors Hoda Kotb, left, and Savannah Guthrie embrace on the set of the “Today” show Wednesday after NBC News fired host Matt Lauer. Associated Press/Craig Ruttle

The flood of allegations was set off in large part by the downfall of Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexually assaulting or harassing numerous women.

Ari Wilkenfeld, the attorney for Lauer’s accuser, praised NBC for acting “quickly and responsibly” in response to the morning host’s “egregious acts of sexual harassment and misconduct.” The lawyer did not identify his client.

Lack, in his memo, said, “We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can.”

An immediate challenge is filling a giant hole on a show that has long been the most lucrative for NBC News. One potential replacement, Willie Geist, on Wednesday called Lauer someone “I have always looked up to in the business, and he taught me a lot.”

As for Keillor, Minnesota Public Radio said it will end distribution of the radio program “The Writer’s Almanac,” Keillor’s daily reading of a poem and telling of literary events, and end rebroadcasts of old “Prairie Home Companion” episodes.

“I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it,” Keillor said in an email to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

On Wednesday’s show, Guthrie appeared to fight back tears as she called Lauer her friend who is beloved by many at NBC. She said she was “heartbroken for my colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”

“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But I do know that this reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it’s long overdue, and it must result in workplaces where all women, all people, feel safe and respected.”

Later in the show, NBC’s Megyn Kelly, who has written about being sexually harassed by former boss Roger Ailes at Fox News Channel, noted the anguish on the faces of her colleagues but said, “What we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who found the courage to come forward, and it is still a terrifying thing to do.”

On Twitter, President Donald Trump said, “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News.”

Trump also alluded to potential misconduct by three other NBC News figures, while offering no details.

Natalie Morales, a former “Today” show colleague who left the show for “Access Hollywood” last year, said she was in shock about the story. She referred to stories that said she and Lauer had an affair, which they both denied.

“I have personally dealt with rumors in the past few years that were hurtful to me and to my family,” she said. “They diminished my hard work. I’ve addressed these rumors head-on in the past. It’s not the story today.”

Another former “Today” host, Deborah Norville, said she was stunned by the news.

“As a journalist, it’s upsetting to see another from our ranks caught up in these kinds of scandals. But as we’ve seen, no profession is immune,” she said. “Sadly, I doubt if anyone will be surprised if there are similar headlines to come.”

]]> 0 - In this April 21, 2016, file photo, Matt Lauer, co-host of the NBC "Today" television program, appears on set in Rockefeller Plaza, in New York. NBC News announced Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, that Lauer was fired for "inappropriate sexual behavior." (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)Wed, 29 Nov 2017 22:08:58 +0000
Lighten up shepherd’s pie with beef and cauliflower Wed, 29 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The weather is getting colder and we’re tucking into comfort food over in our home. Doing a recipe makeover on a tasty-but-less-than-healthy dish is one of my favorite challenges.

Today, I’m taking on a wintertime classic with my Lightened Shepherd’s Pie. Typically, shepherd’s pie is made from fatty-and-filling lamb, which is turned into a flavorful, slow-cooked and heady stew, and is topped with creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes. The resulting marriage is divine. How close could I get to the original, while making some healthier ingredient swaps? The answer is: pretty close.

The changes were actually pretty simple, and the resulting recipe stayed quick enough to make this easily a weeknight meal. I cooked the filling in a large oven-safe skillet, topped it and baked it right there in the saute pan, saving on cleanup time, too. Frozen veggies also saved both prep time and money.

The biggest recipe change: I swapped out potatoes and used cauliflower puree instead. I simmered frozen cauliflower and fresh garlic in broth until tender and then blended it up into a puree with a touch of cream cheese instead of butter and cream. The cream cheese added a marvelous silky texture and a hint of pleasantly-tangy cheesiness to the topping, so just a little bit of shredded cheese melted on top of the pie felt cheesier than it actually was.

I also tweaked the filling, relying on vegetables more than meat for heft and flavor. Onions, mushrooms, peas, carrots and spinach all added enough complexity and texture so that one pound of lean ground beef easily stretched to eight servings.

The lightened pie is perfect for a winter weeknight.


Servings: 8


1 pound (16 ounces) frozen small cauliflower florets, about 5 or 6 cups

11/4 cup chicken broth

3 cloves garlic

1 ounce cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup shredded gruyere or cheddar cheese


1 slice bacon, chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup chopped celery, about 2 stalks

1 cup chopped onion, about 1 medium onion

8 ounces finely chopped white mushrooms, about 21/2 cups

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef

2 cups frozen peas and carrots

11/2 cups chopped frozen spinach

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup ale or beer

11/2 cup beef broth

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Place the frozen cauliflower florets, broth and garlic together in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and let simmer until the cauliflower is very tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Pour everything into a blender and add the cream cheese and salt. Blend on low until very smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping to stir as needed. Set the cauliflower puree aside.


Cook the bacon in the olive oil in a large oven-safe saute pan over medium heat. Once crisp, remove the bacon from the pan and reserve, keeping any fat in the pan. Add the teaspoon of olive oil, and the onion and celery. Cook over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Scoot the onion and celery a little to side and add the mushrooms to cook them in the center of the pan.

Once the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes, add the four cloves of minced garlic and stir all the vegetables together. Scoot them again to the side and brown the ground beef, stirring, in the center of the pan until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the peas, carrots and spinach and reserved bacon and stir together.

Add the tomato paste and flour and stir, cooking for a minute or two. Increase the temperature to medium high, and add the ale or beer, and allow to bubble for a minute. Add the beef broth and let simmer a minute or two while the sauce thickens. (If the filling is too dry, add 1/2 cup water.) Spread the cauliflower puree over the filling, top with the shredded cheese and bake until shepherd’s pie is heated and cheese is bubbling, about 10-15 minutes if everything is still warm. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

]]> 0, 28 Nov 2017 16:54:03 +0000
Hospitals in Maine work to offer healthier menu options Wed, 29 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Patients at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta can recuperate with a freshly squeezed green juice for breakfast and later order a pizza with vegetarian sausage. The hospital’s menu for patients also includes steel-cut oats, vegan veggie burgers, a Super Antioxidant Salad, and a hummus and vegetable wrap.

Since moving into its new campus in 2013, MaineGeneral has added more fruit, vegetables and plant-based meals to the patient menu. The hospital has also removed ham from the menu and reduced its offerings of sugar-sweetened beverages, resulting in soda being yanked from the cafeteria and offered in a smaller size on the patient menu.

“In the cafeteria every day we have a vegetarian option,” said Shelley Goraj, food and nutrition director at MaineGeneral. “Some days it is vegan and some days it is not. On the deli line we’ve added hummus. On the salad bar, there’s a lot of bean dishes and grains such as kamut and quinoa.”

Hospitals across Maine have worked in recent years to better align their menus with their health-care missions, with some institutions like MaineGeneral ahead of the pack.

Such efforts got a significant nudge this summer when the American Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the country, adopted a resolution calling on hospitals to do three things: add plant-based meals to their menus, get rid of processed meats, and re-stock beverage coolers with more healthful drinks. The move by the AMA follows years of clinical studies linking diets high in animal products and sugar with chronic ailments, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

In recent years, other doctors groups, ranging from the American College of Cardiology to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, have called upon hospitals to add plant-based meals and eliminate processed meats. These policy directives aren’t meant to cater to vegetarians and vegans, but to increase the overall nutrition of the menu by getting everyone to eat more plant-based food and less meat.

“It’s really exciting that there are resolutions coming out and more and more people are recognizing how important nutritious food is,” said Shelia Costello, nutrition services director at Waldo County General Hospital.

The Belfast hospital started making changes to its patient and cafeteria menus after Costello was hired five years ago. One of the first things she did was sign on to MaineHealth’s Hospital Healthy Food Initiative, which was launched in 2012.

While the initiative doesn’t call for adding plant-based meals or removing processed meats, it does focus on a long list of related concerns. Among its policy goals: reduce sodium and saturated fat; increase fruits and vegetables; remove deep fat fryers; add whole grains; and downplay soda. In an indirect way, these goals have resulted in changes to the meat served in some Maine hospitals.

“We know that processed meat is incredibly high in sodium,” said Emily Kain, MaineHealth wellness program manager who oversees the initiative. “We had a grant around sodium reduction, and processed meat was certainly a focus on that grant and finding ways to reduce it by making your own or replacing it with low sodium (meat brands).”

Waldo County is among a handful of hospitals that have gone beyond the baby step of replacing processed meat with slightly improved options and have instead begun to remove it from the menu altogether.

In the years since joining the effort, the Belfast hospital has nixed ham, bacon and sausage from its menus. Plant-based meals have been added to the patient menu (including a split pea soup, a pasta primavera and a hummus plate), and soda was axed.

Soda is also gone from the Waldo County General Hospital cafeteria, and more vegan meals are being served and eaten there too. Costello said roasted vegetables are particularly popular with hospital staff, as was a recent grab-and-go salad called the Super Vegan Salad that sold out swiftly.

The pace of change is slower at Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford, but still visible. Soda is off the patient menu and relegated to the lower shelves in the cafeteria. Hot dogs are gone from the cafeteria, but other processed meats remain there and on the patient menu. The cafeteria offers vegetarian and some vegan dishes, while its salad bar features an expanded selection of plant-based proteins and whole grains. However, the patient menu offers no all plant-based entrees, since even the veggie burger is made with cheese.

Mike Sabo, hospitality director for Southern Maine Health Care, said while hospitals “need to model the proper diet,” the patient population must be considered. “We’re an acute care hospital,” he said, “and our folks here are very ill. Our primary concern is we need to get calories into them.”

At Maine Medical Center in Portland, where the menu is also evolving slowly, nutrition and food service director Kevin O’Connor echoed Sabo’s sentiment: “Our overarching goal is to nourish the patients,” he said.

The Maine Med patient menu was updated this November yet sausage, bacon, deli meats and even hot dogs remain. On the other hand, patients can order hummus and tabouli, rice and beans, and rotini with marinara sauce.

Like Southern Maine Health Care, the Maine Med veggie burger is made with cheese. But the Maine Medical Center menu surprises with soy milk and a vegan apple crisp. Soda is gone from the Maine Med patient menu, and moved to a less prominent spot in the cafeteria. As a result, soda sales have slumped and sales of bottled water and unsweetened seltzer have risen. O’Connor said an expanded salad bar also boosted sales, while admitting that the patient menu has been more difficult to change than the cafeteria offerings because of the “wide variety of patient diets and cultural differences we try to accommodate.”

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenblatt, a cardiologist who attends patients at Maine Medical Center, has long advocated for more plant-based choices on the patient menu. He is encouraged by the steps the hospital is taking, and hopes to soon vault the state’s largest hospital to the head of the pack in terms of cutting-edge patient menus. Rosenblatt and a group of cardiologists are in talks with Maine Medical Center’s administration to create a wellness program that adds new vegan dishes to the hospital’s patient menu and features a prescription for plant-based meals.

Doctors at the University of Toronto and the 39 hospitals in the Kaiser Permanente health network are among those already writing such plant-based prescriptions.

At the same time, Rosenblatt said the hospital should follow the lead of other Maine hospitals and eliminate all processed meats and sweetened beverages.

“Empty calories, red meat, processed food, sweetened fruits, dairy, highly processed breads and buns and other simple carbohydrates are of near zero nutritional value and in fact have all been scientifically proven to be a major cause of cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack as well as diabetes and a slew of other common medical problems,” Rosenblatt emailed me from Qatar, where he is deployed as a flight surgeon with the Maine Air National Guard.

“Let’s not lose a precious opportunity to have an impact on our patients when we care for them and they are most open to change,” he wrote, referring to the postoperative period when patients are eating from the hospital menu.

“I now often joke with my colleagues that the patient is in need of an acute, aggressive intervention,” Rosenblatt wrote. “They start to get all excited and activate the cath lab to put in a stent. I calm them down and continue, ‘No, I’m talking about an acute aggressive dietary intervention.’ ”

In other words, eat two veggie burgers and call me in the morning. If the American Medical Association and doctors like Rosenblatt get their way, this will no longer be a joke but a standard treatment in Maine hospitals.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

]]> 0 Carroll, a cook at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, makes a grab-and-go Super Vegan Salad for the cafeteria. The salad sold out quickly and is one of the new plant-based dishes being served in Maine's hospitals across the state.Tue, 28 Nov 2017 16:42:04 +0000
‘Grill My Cheese’ offers upgrades to the classic comfort food Wed, 29 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “Grill My Cheese.” By Nisha Patel and Nishma Chauhan. Quadrille Publishing. $16.99.

My mom deserves sainthood or at least a James Beard Award for the dinners she has prepared for our family of six over the years.

But even top chefs need to take time off sometimes, and feeding four teenage girls is no easy task. So when we were old enough to navigate the kitchen on our own, she instituted an occasional policy she aptly called “Fend For Yourself.” On “FFY” nights, we assembled our own dinners from leftovers in the fridge or cooked for ourselves.

My specialty was a grilled cheese sandwich, done in less than five minutes and perfectly gooey.

So I thought I found kindred spirits in Nisha Patel and Nishma Chauhan, the authors of “Grill My Cheese.” These two friends started a street food company four years ago, selling grilled cheese sandwiches in London. Their cookbook is a collection of recipes for what Brits call “toasties.” But these recipes are more advanced than the simple sandwiches of my childhood.

“This book is all about trying new ideas,” Patel and Chauhan write in their introduction. “Although there is always a place for a standard white bread toastie, we knew we could do better.”

“Grill My Cheese” is 144 pages of bright colors, cartoon drawings, pop culture quips and grilled cheese tips. Patel and Chauhan first establish their “Ten Commandments of Grilled Cheese.” In particular, they recommend grating cheese for a sandwich rather than slicing it, which they say produces a better melt. They also give tips on bread – sourdough is their favorite. And they give their formula for a blend of cheeses that goes beyond orange plastic-wrapped squares.

Patel and Chauhan use a flat-top grill and a meat press to make their sandwiches. But their recommendation for home cooks like me is a frying pan and weight. When cooking the toastie in the frying pan, press down gently with a spatula or use a saucepan to hold it down. They said this will guarantee an even cook with melted cheese in the middle, which I found to be true. Other possible methods use a panini press or the oven.

The names of the recipes in “Grill My Cheese” had me laughing, and their ingredients had me drooling. The “Justin Brieber” adds bacon and brie to a traditional grilled cheese. “Baby Got Mac” is pulled pork, mac ‘n cheese and barbecue sauce between two pieces of sourdough bread. I can’t wait to make the “Every Day I’m Trufflin’ ” – a melt stuffed with butternut squash, sage, ricotta and other cheeses, with a drizzle of truffle oil. The chefs used their own childhoods as the inspiration for the “Slumdog Grillionaire” with chutney and potato. There is a doughnut grilled cheese and a pizza grilled cheese. There are recipes for pestos and chutney to add extra flavor to a simple sandwich. And there’s a “Milky Way Melt” that is exactly what it sounds like for dessert.

I set out to make the “What’s Poppin’ ” sandwich, which promised a little heat. I came home from Whole Foods with $26 worth of cheese and put my fiancé to work with the grater. When he complained about his hands getting tired, I said, “Fend for yourself!” (I am my mother’s daughter.) I chopped peppers for the relish and fried the bacon. The prep took a half-hour, but the sandwiches themselves took only three to four minutes per side to cook.

The end result was the most decadent sandwich I’ve ever eaten. The cream cheese slathered on the inside added a richness I had not anticipated. The filling had crunch and heat and sweetness all at the same time. The grated cheese did indeed melt better than slices I normally use, and I mentally redefined what I understood as “perfectly gooey.”

This is not the cookbook for an “FFY” night when you just want to slap together a grilled cheese. But when you want a toastie, it’s just right.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHORS: A firm favourite of ours with the cream cheese adding an indulgent element to this toastie. It came about from our love of jalapeño poppers (cheese-stuffed, fried chillies), which are cheesy and creamy with a touch of heat. We’ve added apricots to give it a hint of sweetness. This relish recipe will make enough to fill a large jar, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It also works really well on a hot dog or as an accompaniment at a barbecue.

Serves 1

2 rashers (slices) of smoked streaky (lean) bacon (optional)

2 slices of sourdough bread, buttered on one side

100 grams (31/2 ounces) mixed grated cheese (see below)

2 tablespoons cream cheese


1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

100 grams (31/2 ounces) dried soft apricots

854 grams (3 ounces) green pickled jalapeño chillies, plus 3 tablespoons brine from the jar

Juice of 1 lime

Pinch of salt


Keen’s Cheddar (1 part) – an unpasteurized, strong-flavoured Cheddar matured for a minimum of one year. It has a creamy, smooth and firm texture and long, earthy, rich, nutty flavours with a sharp finish.

Farmhouse mature Cheddar (2 parts) – a great flavour enhancer to mellow out the blend slightly

Swiss Gruyère (1 part) – a buttery, sweet, slightly nutty cheese with a flavour that varies widely with age. We use one of the younger varieties; the more mature it is, the more earthy and complex the flavour.

Cow’s “low-moisture” mozzarella (2 parts) – known for its mild flavour and great “stretch,” this is one of the most versatile and best cheeses to use when adding stronger flavours to a toastie.

To make the relish, halve, de-seed and finely dice all the bell peppers; set aside in a mixing bowl. Put the apricots in a food processor and add the chillies with the brine. Blitz to a paste and add to the mixing bowl. Add the lime and stir to combine. Add the salt and leave the rest for at least 1 hour.

For the toastie, if you are including the bacon, grill or fry it until nice and crispy.

Place the bread slices buttered side down and sprinkle the grated cheese over one slice. Spread the cream cheese onto the other side, followed by an even layer of the relish on top. Add the crispy bacon, if using, before closing the sandwich and cooking using your preferred method.

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