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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: April 4, 2014

11 food and drink events to get you thinking Spring

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Left: A Wine Wise class. File photo, Right: Cooking Matters Chopped Challenge 2013 winner Peter Sueltenfuss of Grace Restaurant with runner-up Jason Loring of Nosh Kitchen Bar. Photo by Ted Axelrod

It’s officially Spring, which means that regardless of the weather it’s time to stop hibernating, get out of the house and do things. Go places. Eat and drink in the company of others, (instead of in front of the TV while wrapped in an afghan). To inspire you, we’ve rounded up a some noteworthy food and drink events and activities — from wine dinners to cooking classes  — some of which have the added benefit of raising money for worthy causes.  This list will be updated, so be sure to check back.

Winemaker Event: Vines on the Marycrest

Tuesday, April 8 | 6 – 8 p.m. | $27
Rosemont Market, 5 Commercial St., Portland
Most wines from blazingly hot Paso Robles, California are big to the point of bursting. Over-ripe, over-alcoholic, overdone. The wines of Vines on the Marycrest are thrilling exceptions: balanced, delicious, and just supremely fun. The same could be said of the winemaker, Victor Abascal, according to the folks at Rosemont Market, who will host Victor and taste his Zinfandel and Rhone-inspired wines, alongside locally sourced small plates from Rosemont Chef Brad Messier.

EAT Brunswick!

April 7-13 | Pay-as-you-go
A variety of restaurants and food businesses are participating and offerings will be available for breakfast lunch and dinner, as well as treats and snacks. Special pricing will range from $6.14 to $30.14

Gourmet Gala

Thursday, April 10, 6 to 9 p.m. | $40
Ocean Gateway, Portland
The ninth-annual benefit for Gary’s House features numerous restaurants, caterers and bakeries who bring some of their favorite dishes to share with guests in support of Mercy Hospital’s home away from home for families with a hospitalized loved one. There is also a raffle, with the grand prize a $5,000 shopping spree from event sponsor Whole Foods. A new activity at the event will be “Raising the Bar.”  Four teams from Portland-area legal firms will be given 45 minutes to create a dish with secret ingredients.  (The ingredients will not be revealed until that night.) They will have access to a pantry stocked by Whole Foods, as well as kitchen appliances and cookware provided by Bon Ton to aid in their creations.

Family Feast

Sunday, April 13, 6 – 10 p.m. | $50
Grace Restaurant, 15 Chestnut St., Portland
The menu features contemporary versions of several Indonesian classics, including steamed dumpling, bakso, seafood curry and beef rendang. Nostalgic Asian snacks start the feast, with entrees shared family-style at large tables. Cash bar. Some proceeds help support Sjaki-Tari-Us, a non profit organization in Ubud, Bali, who use their full service restaurant to educate youth with disabilities by providing them salaried jobs preparing and serving food.

Winemaker Dinner: Bordeaux Rebound

Friday, April 18 | 6-9 p.m. | $65
Rosemont Market, 5 Commercial St., Portland

Bordeaux is currently suffering from a crisis of identity, marketing, and economics. Once a beacon to all, the region has priced itself away from everyday wine enjoyment and put off countless enthusiasts through an aloof, fusty, members-only vibe. Michele D’Aprix is helping change that. As winemaker with the renowned Stéphane Derononcourt and an importer with Christopher Imports, Michele is on a mission to prove that Bordeaux still matters because terroir still matters, taste still matters, place still matters. Rosemont Chef Brad Messier will create an exuberant, farm-based multi-course dinner that will show off the subtleties of these wines brilliantly. The inspiration is what actual winegrowers in Bordeaux eat with the wines they make. And so, house-made charcuterie, all-natural locally sourced beef, vibrant vegetable preparations and local cheeses will all be part of the mix, served family-style. Seating is limited, to preserve the family-style vibe and ensure your direct access to Michele.

Joe Yonan “Eat Your Vegetables!” Class

Wednesday, April 23, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. | $50
Stonewall Kitchen, 2 Stonewall Lane, York
Washington Post Food and Travel Editor Joe Yonan wants you to eat your vegetables and like them. Among the dishes he will demonstrate are Kimchi Deviled Eggs and Kale Salad with Lemon Chili Vinaigrette.

West End Wine Walks

Sparkling Wines: Saturday, April 26, 3-5 p.m. | $45
Wines of Spain: Saturday, May 24, 3-5 p.m. | $45
Starting location TBA
Join sommelier Erica Archer on a guided wine tasting and discussion with paired foods from local restaurants.  You’ll walk away with confidence knowing how evaluate, select, serve, and pair wines and describe what you smell and taste.

Maine Beer Co. Dinner

Thursday, May 1, 6 p.m. | $50
Robert’s Maine Grill,  326 Route 1, Kittery
Each of four courses will be paired with a Maine Beer Co. beer. Guests will get a commemorative glass.

Chopped Challenge

Sunday, May 4, 5 p.m. | $50
Grace Restaurant, 15 Chestnut St., Portland

Cooking Matters Maine, a program of Good Shepherd Food Bank and Share Our Strength, is partnering with Grace for an evening of excitement and culinary drama. In this version of Food Network’s  “Chopped Challenge,” cheer on your favorite local chef while providing support for Cooking Matters Maine, a program which empowers low-income families with the knowledge and skills to prepare healthy delicious meals at home on a tight budget. This year, celebrity chef Jason Roberts, best known for his role on “The Chew,” will be on the judging panel, along with chef Rob Evans, owner of Duckfat and “Chopped” champion, Joe Ricchio, food editor at Maine Magazine and host of the successful web-based series Food Coma TV, and last year’s winner, Peter Sueltenfuss, executive chef at Grace. The chef competitors are: Chris Gould (Central Provisions),  Jason Williams (The Well at Jordan’s Farm), Karl Deuben (Small Axe Food Truck), and Shannon Bard (Zapoteca).

Cellardoor Winery Cellar Series Dinner

Friday, May 23, 6-9 p.m. | $90
The Rooftop at The Portland Regency, 27 Pearl St.
Kick off the unofficial start of summer with a four-course gourmet dinner under the stars, paired with Cellardoor wines. And as the sun begins to set, get your dancing shoes ready for live music by the Band of New York.

More events

Mud races, a moose-calling competition, seed swap and multiple festivals are all here in our guide to the best spring things to do.

25 Can’t Miss Spring Events in Maine

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