Portland Summers and the Return of Cheryl and Noreen
Things that are making me happy about Portland this week:
El Rayo: The return of Cheryl and Noreen
When I want Mexican food, I drive to El Camino in Brunswick. This seems wrong. I live in the food epicenter of the state. I can order a whole roasted duck from the corner Asian market. Why do I travel 30 miles for a decent quesadilla? Holy frijoles, we finally have a taco bar! El Rayo Taqueria opened up in an old gas station with tons of parking. It looks like it was plopped at the bottom of York Street direct from L.A. and I don’t mean Lewiston Auburn. Chefs Cheryl and Noreen (of old Café Always fame) are back in the kitchen serving up tasty Mexican fare. They make the craziest spicy pepita rice krispie layered with caramelized milk.
Other than the fact that we have a six-month winter, Portland is the perfect scooter town. Nothing is too far away, we’ve got a few hills connecting our hoods and we appreciate the lines on a restored Vespa. The city has designated 31 new parking spaces throughout the city reserved just for scooters. Motorcycles are allowed, they just aren’t as cute.
Two local artists have teamed up to create the project Portland Pins. The collaboration encourages anyone to create an image, doodle, drawing or collage and submit it to be turned into a pin. One-inch pins are all the rage now. The goal is to create 1000 pins and sell them in a bubblegum machine which will move to different locations around town all summer. First stop for the pin dispenser: Eli Phant on Munjoy Hill during June 5th First Friday Art Walk.
Working Alone Together
OK, I have a desk job, can I still go to Jelly?
Jelly is an informal gathering of folks who work from home and miss the creative brainstorming, sharing, and camaraderie of a traditional office. It started with two guys in New York inviting other at-home workers to come over and work. The idea was a hit and now there are regular Jelly gatherings in cities around the world. Portland holds their first Jelly at Space Gallery on June 9th. Bring your laptop and a willingness to learn more about what other people are working on. I reckon that Arabica Coffee will look like a ghost town on that day.
The University of Southern Maine sold Portland Hall earlier this year. The new owners, Gary Shinberg and Justin Alfond, decided that parts of the aging structure needed to be razed. Before demolishing though, they turned it over to the taggers and graffiti artists, who had a massive surface to work on before the wrecking ball came through.
Over the Bridge
As much as I enjoy a gelato at Maple’s or a tasty treat from Beal’s in the Old Port, I have a new favorite spot, gasp, across the bridge. In South Portland’s Willard Square, kitty corner to Scratch Baking, is the new Willard Scoops, selling ice cream made by Mount Desert ice cream company in Bar Harbor. This is very very tasty ice cream with oodles of butterfat making it insanely creamy. Plus the flavors are right up my alley: sea salt and caramel, nutella (after eating this flavor, I dreamt about it), chocolate orange and Mexican chocolate. Good god, at this rate, I will have to walk there and back on a daily basis to justify this indulgence. I am lacing up my shoes now.