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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: November 13, 2014

Snacktime: Dutch’s opens, Restaurant Week news, absinthe tasting, more

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Go Dutch for breakfast & lunch


Photo courtesy of Dutch’s/Facebook.

There’s a new option for breakfast and lunch downtown, with a menu that looks like a good mix of classic and creative, at pretty reasonable prices. Dutch’s, owned by restaurant veterans Lucy and Ian Dutch, opened Tuesday at 28 Preble St. (the former home of Down Home Cookin’). They’re making everything from scratch, even the butter served with the breakfast biscuit.

Other options for breakfast, served 7 – 11 a.m. include: grapefruit brulee with granola ($3.50); an egg white, avocado, cheddar and chimichurri sandwich ($4.50); brioche cinnamon bun ($2.50); and “The Big D” — “hot dog, pimento cheese, whole grain mustard, croissant blanket” ($3.50). The lunch menu, served 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., lists 10 sandwiches. Among them are: “Old Fashioned Grilled Cheese” with American and cheddar ($5.50); “Big and Beefy,” with red wine-braised beef, mashed potatoes and crispy onion strings ($8.50); and “The Grasshopper,” a vegetarian sandwich with grilled haloumi cheese and hummus($8.50). Dutch’s is open Tuesday – Saturday.

Maine Restaurant Week is now 2

Bartenders shake up cocktails at the Signature Event wrapping up Maine Restaurant Week 2014. Press Herald file photo

Bartenders shake up cocktails at the Signature Event wrapping up Maine Restaurant Week 2014. Press Herald file photo

Weeks, that is: In it’s seventh year, the event will run March 1 – 15, 2015. Restaurants who want to participate can register by tomorrow, Nov. 14, for a discount — sign up at or call 775-2126. Last year, nearly 100 restaurants joined in from all over Maine, offering three-course, prix-fixe dinners for $25-$55 and/or 3-course lunches for $15. The events associated with MRW are always a blast, including the Breakfast Cook-Off, Pancake Race (a team will be running again this year), Chef-Am Bowling Tournament, and the Signature Cocktail and Dessert contest that wraps up the whole shebang. Proceeds from these events are donated to local charities; to date, MRW has donated more than $60,000 to Preble Street, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine and others. To nominated a charitable beneficiary for 2015, email

Cellardoor takes home gold

Proving that you can indeed make good wine in Maine, all six wines entered by the Lincolnville winery in the American Wine Society’s 2014 Commercial Wine competition were awarded medals, including two double gold and one gold. According to the press release: “The awards are determined based on a 20-point evaluation scale developed in 1959 by Dr. Maynard A. Amerine, Professor of Enology at the University of California at Davis. Wines are judged on appearance, aroma and bouquet, taste and texture, aftertaste, and overall impression.”

The winning line-up from Cellardoor:
2012 Ned Said Red: Double Gold Medal
2012 Riesling: Double Gold Medal
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon: Gold Medal
2012 Pinot Gris: Silver Medal
2012 Prince Valiant: Silver Medal
2012 Chenin Blanc: Silver Medal
2012 Chardonnay: Bronze Medal
2012 Dolcetto: Bronze Medal

Oakhurst debuts almond milk

Photo courtesy of Oakhurst Dairy.

Photo courtesy of Oakhurst Dairy.

Portland’s Oakhurst Dairy dropped off their new line of almond milks — the brand name is Almond Goodness — for us to try this week. I passed the original and vanilla varieties on to almond milk-loving colleagues to try, but made sure to snag the chocolate, which at only 100 calories a cup (8 ounces) is a fabulous treat. I also used it in my Nespresso machine to make a delicious mochachinno and am thinking that this weekend, I might use it in chocolate rice pudding. According to the press release sent with the milks, Oakhurst is “the first New England dairy to offer consumers a local branded alternative to traditional milk.” All three almond milks are made with non-GMO ingredients; the original and vanilla flavors contain no added sugar and the chocolate is sweetened with cane syrup.

Absinthe tastings

Shutterstock photo

Shutterstock photo

No, you will not go crazy drinking absinthe from the only distiller of the storied spirit in New England. (Absinthe, a favorite drink of Vincent Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde, was banned for nearly a century because of it was thought to cause hallucinations; it does not.) On the third Thursday of the month, Tree Spirits, 152 Fairfield St. in Oakland, hosts free tastings, history talks and a tour, each month a different absinthe-based cocktail is featured. The next one is Nov. 20, 4:30 – 7 p.m.

Bonjour Beaujolais Nouveau!

MJ's Wine Bar owner Mark Ohlson at the 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau Day.

MJ’s Wine Bar owner Mark Ohlson at the 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Photo courtesy of Damon H. Louck/MJ’s.

 It’s the biggest day in the wine universe, and whether or not you like light, super-fruity Beaujolais Nouveau, parties that celebrate the annual release of this young wine are always a good time. MJ’s Wine Bar owner Mark Ohlson has ordered two 15-liter barrels of of the stuff from France, to be cracked open at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20 (the event starts at 5:30 p.m.) For $12 you can fill up your glass — when the barrels are empty (about 40 glasses per), it’s all over until next year. MJ’s is on the ground floor of One City Center in Portland.
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