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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: February 5, 2014

Cure cabin fever: 13 fabulous food & drink events to get you off the couch

Written by: Susan Axelrod

An American Sommelier wine class last fall. The 2014 schedule kicks off with “Sparkle and Shine” on Feb. 11; see details below. Photo by Ted Axelrod

When it’s snowy and cold outside,  it’s pretty tempting just to hole up at home, slurping soup and munching on popcorn in your sweats (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Bundling up, pulling on boots and scraping the car off — again — is just too much trouble. And besides, all those fun food events we love to tell you about are done for a while, right?

Wrong. This is Maine, where we get out there and do stuff no matter what the weather. Especially the kind of stuff that involves eating and drinking.

While the temptation to hunker down may be pretty powerful, be forewarned that hibernating can lead to bad behaviors — like consuming an entire box of Kraft macaroni and cheese in your long underwear. The people who run restaurants and bars get stir-crazy too — that’s why they plan events like those on this list. Put at least one on your calendar to get you out of the house between now and March. It will be fun, we promise, and you’ll eat better, too.

More reasons to get up and out

The cold season can ice our spirits and bury our good natures under a half-ton of ash-colored slush. But we can break free from winter’s frigid clutches with a little help from a toboggan, an ice bar, and a few well-placed snowballs. Find out how, where and where:

Win over winter: 11 can’t miss winter events in Maine

Bar Night II

Tuesday, Feb. 11 | 6-9 pm
Tandem Coffee Roasters | 122 Anderson St., Portland | Free admission; pay as you go
Rosemont’s Brad Messier and CÔNG TỬ BỘT mastermind (and Tandem honcho) Vien Dobui will collaborate on a small menu of Vietnamese-influenced dishes. You pay a few bucks for wine or beer, a few bucks for a plate of food. Drink or eat as much as you wish.

Sparkle & Shine

Tuesday, Feb. 11 | 5-7 pm
Central Provisions, 414 Fore St., Portland | $50
Led by American Sommelier alumnus and faculty member Chris Peterman, this seminar covers not only what makes Champagne Champagne, but also a range of sparklers from around the world. This is a sit-down event but is designed to be a fun, casual night out. See the full calendar of American Sommelier classes HERE.

A Gunther/Funky Bow Hang

Wednesday, Feb. 12 | 7 pm
The Salt Exchange | 245 Commercial St., Portland | Free
So, you missed the Good Nights for Daydreams release shows. You missed the beer. Lucky for you, there’s more of Funky Bow’s Gunther Brown Ale and a great place for you to come drink it with the guys from Funky Bow and the band. They’ll play a few acoustic songs and have CDs and t-shirts available. Just a free, mellow hang out with Gunther Brown and Funky Bow.

Bols Genever “Apres Ski” Night

Thursday, Feb. 13 | 4-8 pm
Portland Hunt & Alpine Club | 75 Market St., Portland | Pay as you go
A Bols-centric menu, ski-related giveaways and more.

The Imbibe 75 Party

Wednesday, Feb 19 | 4-10 pm
Portland Hunt & Alpine Club | 75 Market St., Portland | Pay as you go
Imbibe Magazine has listed Portland in the Imbibe 75 Class of 2014: the “people, places and flavors” they think will shape the coming year. Included in the piece are Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, Rising Tide and Bunker breweries, and coffee houses Tandem and Speckled Ax. The festivities will include beer cocktails with Rising Tide and Bunker, coffee cocktails with Tandem and Speckled and Imbibe swag giveaways.

Allagash/Piccolo Beer Dinner

Wednesday, Feb. 19 | Reception 6:30 pm; dinner 7 pm
Piccolo | 111 Middle St., Portland | $65 not including tax and gratuity
Chef Damian Sansonetti’s 5-course menu will be paired with local  brews from Allagash, including some of the brewery’s vintage and small-production seasonal beers. The menu will feature local pork from Breezy Hill Farm, Maine winter vegetables, housemade sausage, and sweets to finish by Ilma Lopez. For reservations, call 747-5307 or email

Argentine Wine Dinner

Thursday, Feb. 20 | 6-8:30 pm
Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea | 40 Bowery Beach Rd., Cape Elizabeth | $70 including wine flight
Sea Glass chef Mitchell Kaldrovich celebrates his native Argentina with a special dinner, featuring the Ruca Malen vineyard in the foothills of the Andes mountains.

Michael David Winery Dinner

Thursday, Feb. 20 | 6 pm
Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn |83 Bayview St., Camden | $125
Family-run Michael David Winery, which has cultivated wine grapes in the Lodi region of California for nearly a century, has collaborated with Natalie’s on a 5-course menu created to highlight the terroir of the wines. The menu is HERE. For reservations, call 236-7008.

Flavors of Freeport

Friday, Feb. 21 | 5-8 pm
Hilton Garden Inn, Park Street, Freeport | $35 includes access to Chef’s Signature Series and Ice Bar, plus one beverage
Azure Cafe, Gritty McDuff’s, Fiore Olive Oils and Buck’s Naked BBQ are just a few of the restaurants offering samples at the Chef’s Signature Series. The Flavors Ice Bar features a martini luge, fire pits, a DJ and plenty of libations to keep you toasty.

Ice Festival L/A 2014

Friday, Feb. 21 to Sunday, Feb. 23
Fountain Park, Bates Mill Complex, Lewiston | $10 in advance, $15 at the door, free Sunday
By mid-February, winter ice can get pretty thick. Put that ice to work in your favor at the Ice Festival of Lewiston/Auburn, where frosty beverages are served up with a twist and where winter ice is carved into no less than five ice bars and a dozen ice sculptures. Because ice doesn’t seem so bad when it’s serving you a cocktail. Admission includes hors d’oeuvres tickets on Friday and Saturday; the Ice Fest is free and family friendly on Sunday.

Progressive Beer Dinner with Rising Tide and The Maine Brew Bus

Wednesday Feb. 26 | arrive at 5:30 pm; tour leaves promptly at 6 pm
Rising Tide Brewery | 103 Fox St., Portland | $60
A guided tour exploring local dishes inspired by global cuisines and beers hand crafted in the heart of Portland’s yEast Bayside. Tickets include all drinks, food courses, transportation and restaurant gratuities.  The tour will visit Miyake Diner, Boda, Portland Hunt & Alpine Club and Vignola Cinque Terre. Only 12 seats available.

Joe Ricchio Winery Dinner

Wed., March 5 | 6 pm
Natalie’s at Camden Harbour Inn | 83 Bayview St., Camden | $99
The Miyake Diner bartender, Maine Magazine food editor and Portland bon vivant has collaborated with Natalie’s chefs Chris Long and Shelby Stevens on a 5-course tasting menu, paired with European wines. The menu is HERE. For reservations, call 236-7008.

No Kid Hungry Dinner

Thursday, March 20 | 5:30-10 pm
Five-O Shore Road | 50 Shore Road, Ogunquit |$200
Chef James Walter of Five-O, James Beard Award-winning Chef Rob Evans of Duckfat and Chef Derek Bissonette from the White Barn Inn will prepare a multi-course meal benefiting Share Our Strength Maine’s efforts to end childhood hunger in the state. The evening, which marks the first time these three chefs have collaborated, will include a cocktail reception, auction, and a seated dinner, paired with wines.

Flanagan’s Table with Chef Peter Sueltenfuss

Sunday, March 23 | 5 pm
The Barn at Flanagan Farm | 668 Narragansett Trail, Buxton | $110 includes welcome drink and wines paired with each course
The popular monthly dinner series spotlights the chef of Grace Restaurant in Portland, who will offer a five-course dinner of local food and beverages.  Tickets for Flanagan’s Table events always sell out.

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