Nov. 30—Maine's newest barbecue joint, Smoke BBQ, opened in Kennebunk on Saturday in the space formerly occupied by Herb's Seafood.
Located at 58 York St. in a 2,000-square-foot building that seats 70, Smoke will have an additional 36 seats outdoors in warmer weather. Owner Joshua Maynard said a propane firepit outside has 10 seats to accommodate patrons this winter as well.
Maynard bought a massive smoker from Mesquite, Texas, that can handle up to 650 pounds of meat at a time. He said Smoke BBQ uses Maine red oak, and the restaurant is among the minority of barbecue joints that uses a 100% wood-fired smoker without propane assistance.
The menu at Smoke features some of Maynard's favorite barbecue dishes, cherrypicked from America's smoked meat hotspots, including Texas brisket, North Carolina pulled pork and Memphis baby back ribs.
"The meats stand on their own," Maynard said. "Everything here is dry-rubbed (with spices), so you're not forced to eat some kind of sauce." Still, Smoke has five housemade barbecue sauces to pair with the meat, for those inclined.
Smoke is open Thursday through Monday from 4-9 p.m.
FARMERS MARKET: WINTER EDITION
The Portland Farmers' Market launches its indoor Winter Market on Stevens Avenue on Saturday.
Winter Market co-manager Jessica Koubek said the market will feature 15 vendors inside the Stevens Square Community Center at 631 Stevens Ave., including a new seafood purveyor spotlighting farmed tilapia and another selling microgreens. Some of the vendors have signed on through the holidays, while others will be at the Winter Market until spring, according to Koubek.
The Winter Market will run Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. — except on Dec. 24 — through April 22. Live music will be featured at the markets as well, Koubek said.
The Portland Farmers' Market is the longest-standing, continuously run market in the country. "As a year-round farmers market, we have been providing fresh local food to the Greater Portland area now for over 200 years," Koubek said, noting that the market first started in 1768.
TIME FOR TEMPEH
Tootie's Tempeh, a new plant-based food company taking an innovative approach to its fermented soybean products, launched last month in Biddeford.
Located in the Pepperell Mill next to Rover Bagel, Tootie's Tempeh takes up about 2,000 square feet in the mill building. The production facility houses large equipment like a steam kettle, tumbler and 6,000-pound centrifuge, allowing the new company to turn out about 200 packages of tempeh, a labor-intensive product, each week.
Made from organic soybeans sourced in Aroostook County, Tootie's Tempeh also uses 50 percent less plastic than other commercial tempeh producers.
"I wanted to focus on sustainable agriculture and food that's really healthy for people and the planet, and doesn't harm animals. So tempeh was a natural," said Tootie's Tempeh CEO Sarah Speare.
Tootie's was a company three years in the making, delayed in part by the pandemic and related supply-chain issues. But the extra time allowed Speare to find viable ways to produce tempeh in metal pans rather than in single-use plastic bags like other commercial manufacturers.
"Without the plastics, it simply tastes better," said Speare, adding that Tootie's customers so far strongly agree.
"If they've never had tempeh and they try ours, they love it," she said. "People who love tempeh say this is the best they've ever had. And people who don't like tempeh like our tempeh. So it was worth the effort and the wait to get it right."
Tootie's Tempeh is available in nearly 30 stores in Maine and Massachusetts.
FEAST OF THE SEVEN SUSTAINABLE FISHES
Bissell Brothers Brewing on Thompson's Point in Portland will host a traditional Italian-American Feast of the Seven Fishes next month spotlighting sustainable, local seafood.
Set for Saturday, Dec. 10, from 4-10 p.m., the yet-unpriced dinner includes seven different seafood dishes as well as dessert and recommended beer pairings. Bissell is working in partnership with the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
The feast is not a ticketed event, but reservations are recommended and can be made online.
Maine star chef Erin French is featured on the cover of the latest issue of biannual magazine Cherry Bombe, which spotlights women in the food and beverage industry.
"We wanted to share Erin's story because she's such a breath of fresh air in a world that sometimes seems out of control," a statement from the Brooklyn, New York-based magazine reads in part. "Everything she does is focused and even a little old-fashioned, and it's working for her."
The Lost Kitchen chef stars in a show based on her Freedom-based restaurant on the Magnolia Network. Her New York Times-bestselling memoir, "Finding Freedom," was published in 2021.
"The theme of our new issue is Heart & Hospitality, and Erin embodies that 100 percent," the Cherry Bombe release states.
A HAPPY, WRAPPY HOUR
The Inkwell Lounge at Portland's Press Hotel in December will host weekly Wrappy Hour events, featuring free fancy gift wrapping for bar customers.
Set for Wednesdays in December from 5-8 p.m., the Inkwell events allow bar patrons to bring in their holiday gifts and get them decked out at no charge, while enjoying drink specials from the bar. Expert wrappers will adorn the gifts with upscale wrapping paper, gift tags, calligraphy, head-turning ribbon work and more.