Sunday, May 31, 2009

Better Late Then Never: The Press Herald Strikes Again

Tastes and textures of Italy carry the day at Paciarino
Translation: I've Wandered into Another Dimension.

Not much registers with the senses at first as you push your fork around a dish of pasta at Paciarino, aside from the cute little curve of the house maccheroni – ridged and short tubes of pasta.

I can't hear anything, smell anything, or feel the weight of my fork as I vacantly push my food around on the plate. Boy, that little curve sure is cute... I wonder what it tastes like.. Hmmmm..

But a bite or two into your meal, the inner quiet is broken by a resounding encounter with good flavor and perfect texture.

HOLY LIVING FUCK! My neck snapped back and I almost fell out of my chair. My pulse starts to race and my entire world is thrown into a tornado of pasta and emotional turmoil... I have never encountered anything like this before in my life, this is going to change EVERYTHING.

A ragu di tonno, or tuna ragu sauce, registers its ferocity with hot pepper and the savor with salty rich tuna ($13.75). Cannelloni, wrapped in a sheet of pasta almost as diaphanous as a woman's stocking, bursts with creamy chopped chard and the tang of good Parmigiano Reggiano.

Ragu is Italian for Ragu, but don't let the funny words fool you. Once you've taken steps to unleash the ferocity of the Tuna in your Tonno Ragu you just may never look at Tuna when you order Tonno in a restaurant the same way ever again. The Canneloni reminds me of the good old days when I was so busy eating women's stockings that i had no time to review food. The chard was creamy like a young man's hamstrings.

Ravioli as plump as an overstuffed pillow encloses toothsome Maine shrimp and haddock, dense and yet irresistibly tender.

As plump as an overstuffed pillow that puts me to sleep where I have vivid and terrifying dreams of being chased by toothsome haddock..

The details carry the day in these straightforward dishes, while the thickness of the pasta and the resilience of the briefly cooked noodles provide a texture unique to the best rustic Italian cuisine.

The thickness of the pasta and the resilience of the briefly cooked noodles are NOT details, therefore they DO NOT carry the day..

Those tastes and textures almost erase the difficulty of hearing the waitress across a table. With any luck, you will have an indulgent table mate happy to repeat every word. Amid the painted brick walls and wood floors, the open, high-ceilinged space of Paciarino echoes with voices and noise.

The tastes and textures actually made the waitress louder, like some kind of culinary hearing-aid, while my food remained quiet as a church mouse. If you have any luck at all, you can annoy the living fuck out of the person next to you as they indulge your inability to pay attention and repeat every word the waitress says.

Still, with its large abstract paintings, the restaurant does give a feeling of space. The pale wood tables are set with placemats and wooden oblongs on which the variously decorated plates and bowls are set.

The oblongs carry the day here.

A wooden candlestick sits on a square of dark slate, its candle lighting the table until, as it did on our visit, the whole top of the candlestick quietly started to burn. The server whisked it away with an experienced sigh.

I always hate it when my server sighs in an inexperienced manner. I nodded knowingly to my dining companion as I listened to the experienced nature of the sigh. A wooden candlestick on a square of dark slate brought visions of blood and fire. As the whole top of the candlestick started to burn, my soul was aflame with the dark passions of women's stocking and creamy chard..

Fabiana De Savino and Enrico Barbiero opened Paciarino at the end of 2008 as a pasta shop. They still sell its packaged house pasta and sauces, along with a range of products from Frantoio di Sant'Agata d'Oneglia.

What's That? Something relevant? Holy Shit....

Little tins of olive oil from that producer, made with olives grown on the west coast of Liguria in northwestern Italy, are set on each table to pour on a plate for moistening the bread.

From what producer? The olive oil is made from Olives? Get the fuck out of town! They are set on each table to pour on a plate for moistening the bread, not for masturbating with.

My wine aficionado companions were eager to taste the 2007 Pala Crabilis ($8 a glass, $24 a bottle) from Sardinia, a favorite wine region. It proved remarkable, with a delightful finish and perfect acidity from the fragrant vermentino grape from which it was made.

Sardinia is a favorite wine region. Of whom I'm not sure. I'm glad it was able to achieve perfect acidity from the Vermentino grape, from which it was made, as opposed to inspired by.

The 2006 Terre de Trinci Sangiovese ($6 a glass, $23 a bottle) was pronounced a good rustic red table wine, perfect with a plate of maccheroni al ragu' di tonno. But one tablemate was disgruntled with the tumbler-like wine glasses, however authentic they may be.

I arose from my chair and began banging on my glass with my butter knife. When I had the entire room's attention, I raised my glass and declared my Sangiovese to be "Awesome with my plate of maccheroni al ragu (Italian for Ragu) di tonno (Italian for Tuna)." My table mate got his/her panties all up in a bunch about the juicey-juice glasses, and wouldn't shut the fuck up about how authentic they "may be." I forgave him/her however, because they helped me understand the waitress earlier.

Ten red and white wines and two dessert wines are all reasonable in price, with a splurge of $40 for a Tenuta Vitanza Rosso di Montalcino, the list's "baby Brunello."

Every list has a "Baby Brunello." Baby. Baby, You Gotta Splurge! Baby! Bitch!

From the antipasto list – perfectly situated on the menu before its nine pasta dishes – the torta salata della casa ($6.75) turned out that night to include a wedge of goat cheese tart, crumbly and delicate, and a slice of a tart made with greens such as Swiss chard and spinach, set in a slightly tangy custard. Too much nutmeg, pronounced one of us; but just enough for those who enjoy it in this northern Italian specialty.

The antipasto list was in a great position to shine.The torta salata della casa turned out that night to include a wedge of goat cheese tart, sasquatch root, fantasia fish, and friendship mushrooms. Once again I arose from my seat and started banging on my glass with the butter knife. Once I had everyone's attention, I declared that my shit turned out to be too "Nutmeggy." but just enough if any of you dumb motherfuckers enjoy it in this Northern Italian Specialty..

Crostini all'Italiana ($5.95) showcases the shop's tapenade, both from oily, intense black olives and creamier green. An artichoke pate and a goat cheese spread were more on the plate. But not-very-chewy plain white bread was not the best vehicle for them.

Nothin' like them Creamy Greens... Not-Very-Chewy bread is a traditional Italian favorite. Not-So-Much my favorite but what are you going to do?

Prosciutto crudo e melone ($11.75) doesn't shirk on expensive, mountain-air-dried ham, with several thin slices overlapping three fat wedges of cantaloupe, which improved after losing its refrigerated chill.

Prosciutto Crudo as You Know Makes Me Go Bonkers and Go with the Flow and Slap the Ho.

Next up was Cannelloni di Magro ($15.95), a generous serving of stuffed pasta rolls touched with a little cream and grated cheese. The stuffing of chopped, tender greens enrobed with cream was perfectly wonderful – even reheated,...that sin against fresh pasta, for lunch another day.

As I gently and tenderly de-robed the greens they started to shiver. I assured them that there was nothing to be afraid of..
I got all fucked up and tossed these bitches in the microwave later. Fucking Awesome!

The ravioli di pesce, seafood ravioli, ($16.95) had been made with chopped Maine shrimp and haddock as well as some ricotta. The utterly fresh stuffing inside the thin house pasta could not have been better – except that a deep red sauce of tomatoes, no doubt another Italian product artfully canned at full ripeness, offset the slight sweetness of the seafood with its own, more meaty flavor.

Pesce is Italian for "Fish." As I mentioned earlier, these terrifying little visions of fire were plump as an overstuffed pillow. Artfully canned, utterly fresh, and meaty..No doubt this shit was Italian!

Who could resist a return trip to taste the goat cheese ravioli ($14.75) or the ravioli made with ricotta and spinach served with Bolognese sauce? Even the simple dish of spaghetti, garlic, oil and peppery peperoncini appeals with its promise of high-quality ingredients.

The ravioli promised me that It would be good. I couldn't resist a return trip, I'll tell you - Once you pop, You can't stop. Peppery Peperoncini Pepperiness Peppers My Thoughts with Dreams of Peppadews.

Dessert was boccondivino ($7.25), espresso-soaked amaretto cookies sandwiching marscapone that crumbled in the mouth. One bittersweet chocolate chip on top of a heap of the marscapone in the middle of the plate made another exalted mouthful.

I've got an exalted mouthful for you. Sorry.

Vanilla gelato with strawberries and "balsamic cream" ($8.50) and Tiramisu ($7.25) are more reasons why, despite the low price of the entrees, dining inexpensively at this restaurant can be a challenge.

What the fuck are you talking about?

Espresso, nicely capped with its crema, finished the meal.

Somebody Kill Me Now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Journey Into the Sausage Party...

Here you go, the brilliant work of Ms. Katie Schier..I will post the full album on facebook.
I also would like to point out that I had an amazing meal at Caiola's last night. It was exactly what I needed to bring me back to life after, as you know, having my first drink at 9 a.m.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Sausage Party

As I sit here at 9 in the morning and crack myself a Dogfish Aprihop I think to myself, "Hey! Since you think twitter is fucking stupid, why not write a blog about what you're doing RIGHT NOW?"
So off I go, blogging about Christ knows what, Already pitching myself head-first into another day of alcohol fueled madness. I do want to tell you about a party we had the other night at Deathmatch Land. The Sausage Party.

18 Guys. 0 Girls. 10 Courses of Sausage. Drew's H3. Journey. Pantera. A Dance Party. Things that outsiders would definitely consider pretty gay but we're all comfortable enough in our masculinity to know it was just "having fun."

There was no theme to the booze, everything from Donhoff Riesling to Cristom Pinot Noir to Tecate 24 oz. cans. Rob Todd from Allagash showed up and generously donated several 750ml of selections including Confluence and Black. Other highlights were the pony keg of EKU pilsner and several different smoked beers.

The Menu:
1st: Eurasian Devil Curry with Smoked Linguica - Joe
2nd: House-Made SPAM Nori Rolls - Brad
3rd: Franks and Beans with Cole Slaw - Gary
4th: House-Made Smoked Kielbasa with Pierogies - Otis
5th: Fried Yuca with Chorizo Filling - Dietz
6th: House-Made Brioche Baked Around Sausage - Nolan
7th: Chocolate and Chorizo paired with Pedro Ximinez Sherry - Arlin
8th: Sausage and Pepper Subs - Spencer
9th: "Sloppy Does" Venison Sausage Sloppy Joes - Eric
10th: Pork, Clam, and Black Bean Sausage - Jay

Around 9:30 I surprised the guys with Katie Schier showing up to do the photography. One of the best decisions I've ever made... Her lack of breasts made her fit right in, and she showed up wearing a skirt with images of penises all over it. She is an amazing photographer, as you will see when I post the pictures of myself posing Whitesnake-style on the hood of Drew's Hummer.
By midnight I was raw from sausage-induced orgasms.
So what's next, you ask?
The Clam Party, probably in July. All Girls. (with the exception of Dietz and myself, of course) All Clams. Probably a dance party. Probably a special gay male guest photographer. Probably me, per usual, leading a sing-along to "Don't Stop Believing"

Life's Amazing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tripe Soup, etc.

So I'm back to working 7 days a week again because when you're a wildly irresponsible human being with a penchant for excess you need to work three jobs to keep your head above water.
Normally I would have torn Nancy English to fucking pieces for her piss-poor review of Wild Willy's Burgers, but lucky for her I was too hungover to type. Plus, that would be a little repetitive. I will, however, tell you that an overwhelming taste of iron is not a priority for me when it comes to cheeseburgers.
Click Here for what I consider to be a great food review:

Currently I'm in the middle of making tripe soup for staff meal tonight at Local 188. I've come to the conclusion that you should always buy your tripe from an Asian market rather than Hannaford. I like Haknuman Meanchey on Forest Ave. The one time I got tripe from Hannaford it smelled like feces and will always be referred to as "The Poop Soup" incident.

Here's the Recipe for some kick-ass Tripe Soup

Juice of 3 Lemons
9 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup a.p. flour
2 cups dry white wine
2 ½ quarts chicken stock
2 lbs. beef tripe, cut into ½ inch dice
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice
3 leeks, cut into ¼ inch dice
4 bay leaves
½ teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 3-4 lemons
chopped parsley, for garnish.

photo by Erik Desjarlais
1. After you cut up the tripe, put it in a bowl and cover with cold water and juice of 3 lemons. Let it hang out while you mis en place the fuck out of the other stuff.
2. Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat slowly until soft and translucent but not browned.
3. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes to develop a nutty aroma (mmmm..) Do not let the fucking mixture brown. Whisk in the wine and increase the heat to medium. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, whisking often to make sure there are no lumps. Add the tripersons, carrots, leeks, bay leaves, and thyme. Simmer, covered, until the tripersons are as tender as you want, I go a little under 2 hours.
4. Combine the egg yolks and cream in a bowl and whisk to blend. Reduce the heat to low on the soup, then whisk in the egg mixture. Continue to cook, stirring the soup constantly, until it thickens slightly. Don’t let the soup get too hot you fucker or it will curdle. Remove the pot from the heat and season with s+p and lemon juice. Test as you go to reach the desired amount of lemoniliciousness. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Remove bay leaves, garnish with chopped parsley. consume. cream in your pants. consume again.

What would you drink with it?
Good Question! Here are some ideas..

If You Want to Pair Up:

2007 Vina Godeval Godello, Valdeoras Spain.This obscure Spanish wine has amazing minerality to compliment the lemony notes of the soup.

If you don't give a shit and just want to murder some red wine with your soup:
2005 Stanley Lambert "The Silent Partner" Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa, AustraliaBig, powerful, opulent, seductive, and reasonably priced. The wine to have when you're just straight down to "wreck some wine."

If you like beer:
Rogue Brewery Morimoto Soba AleKind of my favorite beer right now.

If you're on the wagon:
Jarritos MandarinIt's a fucking fiesta in a bottle every time. Every time.

Here's what your going to drink after you finished your soup:
Sauza Tres Generaciones PlataOn the rocks, I can't think of a better way to cart you off to oblivion..

I would now like to take the opportunity to point out that my Spencer, my fellow bloggerson over at Portrockcity, has falsely credited me with created what is quite possibly the most disgusting cocktail ever. I witnessed him rattle this monstrosity off the bartender at the white heart, and had to smell his burps after he drank it. Disgusting.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Press Herald Strikes Again - Joe's Boathouse

Joe's Boathouse, Where the Calamari Sets the Standard.
Translation: Joe's Boathouse, Where I Know What's Best For Everyone.

SOUTH PORTLAND — A recent Friday night at Joe's Boathouse started out well, after scoring a water-view table without reservations at 7:30 p.m. Joe's Boathouse has been a favorite restaurant of many Portland area folks for years, and of course the water-view seats are the first to fill up.
If you go to Joe's, try to score a water-view table with a water-view.
According to a server, the restaurant usually doesn't have a wait for a table now, but in summer it often does. The tables are not entirely booked by reservation. In the summer, customers willing to enjoy a drink on the side deck before dinner can relax while waiting for a table.
...Or customers unwilling to enjoy a drink can grow impatient and fucking lose it on the side deck while enjoying the water-views. The tables are not entirely booked by reservation, some are booked with magic, a server told me.

Tender fried calamari and a satisfactory seared tuna dinner were highlights of the meal, although the fish was served cold in the center. Both the tuna and a swordfish special were served cold in the center. Unfortunately, a return to the kitchen for the swordfish, while it raised the temperature, left the fish tough.
Seared Tuna Dinner, Is that a combo meal? My fish, also both the tuna and swordfish, were served cold in the center. A trip to the kitchen that I thought would teach the swordfish a lesson only made it tougher upon return. I proceeded to stab it with my steely knife but I just couldn't kill the beast.
No one on the restaurant staff had any insight to share about a French white wine called Louis Latour St. Veran ($28 a bottle) on the wine list, our server told us apologetically after we had asked about it.
That's because there isn't really a lot to say about soulless, crappy wine. I've got some insight for you - It's a cheap bottle of white burgundy, probably not worth discussing and/or drinking. You happy now?
She brought us a taste of the Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc ($6.50 by the glass, $29 by the bottle) from Chile, which seemed too sweet and citrusy to enjoy with the fish. Les Setilles, a French white burgundy ($30 a bottle) from Olivier Leflaive, proved clean and refreshing, although its modest blend only hinted at the glories of white Burgundy. And unfortunately, our questions about wine had delayed that first taste until after we had eaten most of our appetizers, because each question took a good while to answer.
It was a French White Burgundy as opposed to an Australian White Burgundy. The Veramonte Ca-Ca Sauvignon Blanc SEEMED too sweet and citrusy but that was merely an illusion. It proceeded to take me on a roller-coaster ride of lies and deception throughout the rest of the meal. "It's modest blend only hinted at the glories of white burgundy (and water-views)" What the fuck are you talking about? And, unfortunately our asinine questions about grocery store wine had annoyed people to the point that they wished we would just shut the fuck up and eat our goddamned appetizers.
The main room at Joe's Boathouse holds the bar and two levels filled with tables, allowing a view past the wharf for anyone inside. A long, covered side porch holds more tables beside a row of windows.
Floorplans are an important part of any food review.
On the night of our visit, glittering tugboats were nudging an emptied oil tanker off the dock and back to sea. Shrouded boats still crowd the parking lot, but it had been warm enough for folks to settle into the side porch outside during happy hour and enjoy the sea air. Dinner al fresco might be delayed until a little later in the season, although one noble pair began the evening on the deck before coming back inside.
AHOY! This paragraph alone makes me want to throw my computer through a window. I challenge anyone to find one relevant remark here, anything.. tugboats, shrouded boats, NOBLE COUPLES? oh my god...
The calamari ($11.95) sets a standard and remains a kind of institution in itself, like Fore Street's mussels. Just how does the kitchen manage to fry those crisp squid rings and tentacles so very deep golden brown and still keep them tender?
Anointed with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with chopped red onion and dry, grated Parmesan, the sweet, sour and salty flavors make a chorus in the mouth that perfectly harmonizes.
If you'd read the title, you would already know that the Calamari sets the standard. It remains only kind of an institution, kind of like Fore Street's mussels - which should be discussed in a review of Fore Street. Just how do they? In a deep fryer you moron. I'll anoint you with some sweet, sour, and salty flavors that will perfectly harmonize in your mouth... Sorry.
Lobster bisque ($9.95), on the other hand, was ill-served by a thick consistency. The tang of sea and mineral intensity of some bisques was muted in this version, but it was graced by a few good-sized pieces of lobster.
Not so much of an institution was the lobster bisque, which isn't like Fore Street's mussels at all. The server was very rude when I tried to send it back and order some of Fore Street's mussels instead, because they compliment my water-views.
The center of the rare tuna ($23.95), as deep-pink as a hanging-basket fuchsia, was cold, and my companion chose to keep it that way. It resembled a kind of sushi dinner, and assorted well with the also-cold, perhaps just out of the refrigerator, mango salsa or salad, with barely ripe mango.
Anyone having deja-vu? My rare tuna dinner resembled kind of a sushi dinner, that resembled a hanging basket fuschia, that must have been in the fridge, that's why it was so cold - because refrigerators are cold and fuschia's are pink and I forgot to take my meds this morning...
But a cold-in-the-center piece of swordfish ($24.95) registered as odd, and the server agreed that it was intended to be cooked through. Off it went, to return hot and, unfortunately, too tough to enjoy. A relish or salsa of Maine shrimp and tomatoes set on top was also cold.
My keen senses allowed me to come to the conclusion that cold swordfish was odd. I validated myself by getting the server to agree with me. We both came to the conclusion that this naughty little piece of fish needed to go cool it's heels a little in the kitchen. Oh, but that journey proved to be disasterous. Upon return my fish was tough. It registered to me that tough swordfish is kind of odd as well. I called my trusty server over who, once again, agreed with me. It was at this moment that I knew I should review food professionally, because the things I say are brilliant and the world needs to know!
Better on both plates and also chewy and hot was the side of "multigrain," a mix of white rice, corn and barley. The chewier bits of a narrow brown grain certainly gave the dish its best ingredient.
(see above)
Filet mignon ($24.95) with shaved fried onions, Thai curry scallops ($23.95) on rice noodles topped with fried wontons, and haddock Gabrielle ($22.95), "topped with cheddar crumb topping and sauted Maine shrimp and lobster sauce," are more on the entree list.
More on the entree list than what? The appetizer list?
Izzy's Cheesecake white chocolate and blueberry cheesecake ($5.95) was on a recent menu for dessert. On other nights the restaurant might offer a carrot cake or other baked good from Katie Made, a bakery in Portland that provides desserts for Maine restaurants.
Izzy's Cheesecake Cheesecake is my Favorite Cheesecake to enjoy with water-views. The other desserts on the list including desserts from someone who provides desserts for restaurant dessert lists.
The one dessert made at Joe's Boathouse the night of my visit was Key lime pie ($5.95) – and this version was slightly tart and thoroughly sweet. A fringe of canned whipped topping and decoration of unpleasantly flavored green syrup contributed nothing but the look of synthetic ingredients to the plate.
My keen senses allowed me to register that the green syrup looked synthetic. I nodded knowingly to my 4 year old dining companion and called the server over. The server agreed with me and I sat there quietly for several minutes, basking in the certainty that I truly was born to review food....