My final stop in Portland last week was Empire Chinese Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant right downtown, that calls itself “Portland’s first deluxe Chinese Restaurant.” They specialize in dim sum, and also do great renditions of traditional Chinese soul food — but with a strong preference for cooking with the bounty of Maine’s local produce and seafood.
I could go on and on about my recent culinary shotgunning of Portland, Maine. Here’s a quick snapshot of a beloved spot in Portland that’s doing great things with the best ingredients from the waterways and farms nearby.
I kind of fell in love with Portland, and its progressive, rugged, Nordic feel, cool summer weather, beautiful harbor and island views, and packed, pedestrian-friendly urban scene brimming with amazing restaurants, both high and low.
There’s all kinds of eating in Portland, but I especially sought out Maine seafood, and beautiful local produce which was at its peak.
Last week in Maine, I taught two days of cooking classes at Stonewall Kitchen’s Cooking School, alongside Warren Bobrow, author of Apothecary Cocktails, among other books. We had a blast. Warren shook up some beautiful cocktails with grilled fruits and a wide variety of interesting bitters, and, with lots of help from the Stonewall kitchen staff, I made a few dishes from my cookbook.
It was a lot of fun talking with New Englanders about deep Southern ingredients like okra, field peas, and collard greens. The first day, I made an heirloom tomato salad with field pea dressing and fried okra, a seafood gumbo filled with beautiful Maine seafood, and roasted figs with Grand Marnier, lemon, and mint. On the second day I made a peach, arugula, and goat cheese salad, a chicken, collard, and country ham saltimbocca, and buttermilk pecan ice cream. You can find the recipes in the book, but meanwhile here are a few shots from both days (click “read more,” below).
Last week, I taught two days of cooking classes at Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in York, Maine. The classes were a lot of fun, the staff was incredibly helpful, and I met a lot of cool people and signed lots of copies of The New Southern Table. Speaking with New Englanders about cooking with hot-weather deep Southern ingredients was interesting; folks were surprisingly familiar with okra and collards, though field peas were another story.
But before getting into the cooking classes and all the restaurants I visited in Portland, I thought I’d set the stage with a few shots of the Maine coast.