A new Mexican-Salvadoran restaurant is coming to 649 Congress St. in Portland, in the former home of Local Sprouts.

Virginia Abarca of South Portland, a native of Mexico, says she hopes to open the restaurant, which will be called Dos Naciones, by Jan. 27.

A draft menu submitted with Abarca’s liquor license application shows a range of appetizers, soups and salads, as well as a selection of burritos and fajitas. The menu also includes a large selection of margaritas, tequilas and tequila cocktails, beer, sangria and hot drinks, such as Mexican coffee, made with tequila and other alcoholic beverages.

Pasta! Pasta!

Ada’s, a new pasta and pizza restaurant at 642 Congress St. in Portland, opened on Jan. 10. The restaurant is scheduled to hold a public grand opening with a pasta ribbon cutting Thursday at 6 p.m. Pasta and pizza bites will be available during the hour-long event. Ada’s regular hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Good job, Good Food winners

Maine Grains in Skowhegan won a 2020 Good Food Award in San Francisco last weekend. Photo courtesy of Amber Lambke

Six Maine food producers won Good Food Awards over the weekend in San Francisco.

The annual awards honored 207 winners across 17 categories, including beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate and cider. These awards go beyond just taste; winners also must follow standards set by the Good Food Foundation, including sustainable environmental practices. More than 2,000 independent food producers enter the competition each year.

Allagash Brewing Co. in Portland won in the beer category for Crosspath, a Belgian-style golden ale brewed with organic, Maine-grown oats, buckwheat, base malt, hops and Grandy Oats granola. Allagash donates a portion of the proceeds from Crosspath to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

Atlantic Sea Farms in Saco won in the pickles category for its Sea-Chi, a mild kimchi made with raw kelp.

In the confections category, Dean’s Sweets in Portland won for its Maine Sea Salt Caramel Sauce, which is made with local cream and butter.

Posto Bello Apiaries in Camden won in the honey category for its Autumnal Wildflower Honey.

Maine Grains in Skowhegan won two awards in the grains category, one for its Organic Pearled Farro, the other for its Organic Corn Polenta.

And Speckled Ax Wood Roasted Coffee in Portland won in the coffee category for its Ethiopia Jebicho coffee.

Shhh (you didn’t hear it here)

The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club plans to host its first Hush, Hush event of the year Thursday night from 8-11 p.m. Hush Hush is a monthly dinner and drink series in which the menu and music changes for each event. This month’s food theme is caviar, hot dogs and Champagne. The music? 90s Divas.

Bites & Brews

If you find yourself needing to fuel up during Portland’s new winter carnival, Carnaval ME, grab a ticket to a Bites & Brews sessions, either Jan. 31 or Feb. 1.

Six craft breweries have paired with six local restaurants to match beers with nibbles. Allagash Brewing Co., for example, will be serving its Curieux with a bite of lobster mac & cheese from Luke’s Lobster. Maine Beer Co. has paired its Lunch IPA with Union Restaurant’s venison hot dog, served with sauerkraut, black garlic ketchup and Maine Beer Co. mustard. And Rising Tide Brewing has paired its Mountainside IPA with Central Provisions’ smoked Gouda bratwurst served with Brussels sprouts sauerkraut and Mountainside mustard on rye crostini.

Tickets, $65 per session, are available at carnavalme.com.

Crushing on kelp

Earlier this month, the TV show tasteMAKERS premiered its second season on PBS with an episode about Atlantic Sea Farms in Saco. (Why the upper and lower case, tasteMAKERS? It’s as annoying as all those companies that run their names together for no good reason likethis.)

The 26-minute show, hosted by producer Cat Neville, also can be see online at pbs.org/show/tastemakers, and it’s worth watching. Briana Warner, CEO of Atlantic Sea Farms, explains the harvesting and processing of local kelp. Rich Vallente, executive chef at Legal Sea Foods in Boston, and Portland’s own Austin Miller of Mami demonstrate how they use kelp in their kitchens. And a scientist from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay Harbor explains how kelp may help slow the effects of ocean acidification.

Damariscotta pub for sale

Todd Maurer, whose family owns the King Eider’s Pub on Main Street in Damariscotta, tells me he put the building and business up for sale at the beginning of the year.

“We’re a family business, and the new generation of children in the family don’t have an interest in taking it over,” he said, adding that there’s been no serious interest so far and he expects it may take some time to sell.

The building that houses the pub was built in the 1840s. The pub opened in May 1996, and Maurer, 57, bought it from the original owners in 2003. The pub has always been popular, Maurer said, because “people go to the pub when times are good, and when times are not so good.” Maurer said he wants to find someone who will keep the pub as a gathering place for the community, and who will treat his employees well.

“We need to find the right person,” Maurer said. “It’s going to take years.”


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