The new lease isn’t locked down yet, but all signs point to the Portland Winter Farmers’ Market being held at the former Maine Girls’ Academy again this year. The organization that runs the winter market has announced on their website it will be held at the former school, 631 Stevens Ave., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from Dec. 1 through April 20, 2019.

The winter market moved to the school’s gymnasium last year because it had more space than previous locations, plenty of parking, and was on two bus routes.

But then the Maine Girls’ Academy closed in July. Nonetheless, negotiations for a new winter lease at the site are “going really smoothly” with the owners of the building, developers Matt Teare and Kevin Bunker of Sea Coast at Baxter Associates, according to Mary Ellen Chadd of Green Spark Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

“They’ve been so warm and friendly to us,” she said. “They want the property to continue to benefit the community as much as they can.”

The outdoor farmers markets in Monument Square (Wednesdays) and Deering Oaks (Saturdays), which run from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., will continue until Thanksgiving.

READY FOR PRIME TIME

It has been a long seven years for Keith Bodine, owner of Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery in Union.

Seven years ago, Bodine laid down a batch of single malt whiskey, then sat back to watch it age. Other Maine distilleries have produced whiskeys since then, but when Bodine’s Sunk Haze brand is released Oct. 3, it will be the longest-aged in the state. You can get one of the first tastes at a release party the Bodine family is hosting from 4 to 8 p.m. that day at its Union distillery, 347 Carroll Road.

Sunk Haze is made from Maine-grown barley and aged in oak barrels. Bodine said it tastes of caramel and vanilla, with peppery, spicy notes. It’s more like Irish whiskey, he said, “not peaty like Scotch.”

“It is unique because it really does seem to reflect the grain that we grow here,” he said.

The whiskey is named after a local place name, a low point in Union near the St. George River called Sunk Haze. Bodine likes to use local place names on his products, such as his Back River gin.

For now, the whiskey, which sells for $54.49 a bottle, will only be available at the release party, and at Sweetgrass Farm in Union and at the Sweetgrass Old Port store in Portland beginning Oct. 4.

“We only have an extremely small amount,” Bodine said. “We’re probably looking at around 400 bottles for this release.”

The Oct. 3 tasting includes Sunk Haze whiskey, as well as an array of hors d’oeuvres and local treats that pair well with whiskey, such as Duck Trap smoked salmon and oysters. Tickets cost $10 and are available through brownpapertickets.com.

‘PIGS & PINKS’ VS. HUNGER

Full Plates Full Potential has put together yet another delicious-sounding event to raise money to fight childhood hunger in Maine. “Pigs & Pinks” will combine “chef-driven, pig-inspired goodness paired with a rosé round-up from Maine’s finest distributors,” according to organizers.

The event is scheduled for Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Broadturn Farm, 388 Broadturn Road in Scarborough.

Nineteen local restaurants and bakeries have signed on to provide food, including Evo Kitchen & Bar, Sur Lie, Chaval, Dandelion Catering, Standard Baking Co., Little Giant, Union, Woodford F&B, The Good Table, LB Kitchen, and the Purple House. You can also expect lots of live music, games and a silent auction.

Tickets cost $65 and are available at fullplates.org

VIP tickets cost $85 and include transportation to and from Portland via the Maine Brew Bus.

MCDONALD’S 2.0

At a time when Maine food culture is more focused on family farms than factory farms, Maine’s McDonald’s restaurants are continuing their move toward modernization, hoping to attract a younger generation of burger eaters used to digital menus and ordering meals with their mobile phones.

The Freeport McDonald’s at 11 Mallet Drive, owned by Ron Lydick, is the latest to modernize and redecorate, and showed off the updates at a grand re-opening celebration Tuesday. Digital self-order kiosks with touch screens, a new mobile app, curbside delivery and table service will change the way customers order, pay and are served at the restaurant.

McDonald’s is investing $36 million in Maine through 2019 on the construction and modernization of 40 restaurants in the state. The McDonald’s on Gorham Road in South Portland was the first Maine franchise to make the changes last year.

The indoor modernization in Freeport should prove to be an interesting contrast with the outside of the restaurant, which looks like a traditional New England home without the usual giant golden arches.

BABYLON AND ON

Reader reaction to the news that Babylon, an Iraqi and Middle Eastern restaurant in Portland, has closed quickly shifted from major disappointment to relief when readers realized the owners are searching for a new location.

Babylon opened in 2012 at 1192 Forest Ave. near the busy – and often confusing – intersection at Morrill’s Corner where Forest intersects with Allen Avenue. In a note to customers posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, owner Nagham Rikan, an Iraqi refugee, and her family said it was “truly a heartache” to close the business, but they plan to search for a new location in Portland, South Portland or Westbrook.

“Words cannot convey the tremendous support we received from Mainers, and if it is one thing we learned from all those years, it is that Maine truly flourish when people come together to support local businesses,” the note reads. “We thank each one of you for your support and patience with us. Food brings people from all cultures together, and that is evident through the many relationships we have established through the years. It has been an honor to serve all of you, and thank you all for giving us this opportunity.”

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

[email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad

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