Both the October issue of Bon Appetit and today’s article by Julia Moskin in The New York Times told you what I have been saying for five years on this website. Portland, Maine, is America’s best small city for food, and Rabelais Books is one of the world’s best culinary bookshops. I was just in Portland for the umpteenth time this last weekend (my Dad lives there), and I ate steamers and lobster rolls at Days on US Route 1 in Yarmouth (207-846-3436). I didn’t make it to Five Islands (my all-time fave roll!), but I did have other amazing eating experiences at Standard Baking and Back Bay Grill, the little joint around the corner from my Dad’s house. This is a great eatery, and though not even in the top five in this little town of 65,000 people, it would compete for title of best restaurant in the Twin Cities any day of the week. It's not that our restaurants aren’t great and that my bosom doesn’t swell with pride every time I think of our incredible food scene, but a teeny little town like Portland has to be eaten through to be believed—Hugo’s, Duckfat, Fore St., BBG, 555, 12 Seats, el Rayo, Evangeline, Salt Exchange, Grace, Corner Room, even the breads at Micucci’s are amazingly awesome. Imagine if we cloned Roberts, McKee, Woodman, Becker, Flicker, and Brown, and they all owned three eateries with the vibe of a 112 Eatery or Barrio, then add about 50 too-good-to-be-true clam bars and you would begin to approach the scene in Portland, Maine.
Jason Matheson is going to be a big star somewhere soon. I was sitting on his ‘couch’ talking on-air with cohosts Keith Marler and Alix Kendall on their new show, Fox9 Buzz, and I thought back to his lengthy resume. He has done it all as a young man—written, produced, hosted, edited. He has a radio show, writes on and off line, and through it all has become a superb interviewer/ad-libber, and most of all has lost all traces of self-consciousness when he’s on-air. I am telling you right now, I would be shocked if he is not scooped up by a major network and given a shot in a top five market or on a national program.
I got an e-mail from the Mill City flacks telling me what we all know, that “this week the most popular subject in Germany is the upcoming Oktoberfest celebration in Munich,” but also sharing the rarely heard news re: costs, specifically—how much a liter of beer will cost. "The annual 16-day festival is September 19 through October 4, and this year the cost of a beer in Munich will be 8.30 - 8.60 euro."
Beer in the beer gardens was high-priced when I was in Germany this summer, but I was reminded that the cost inferred included maintaining the beer garden, and that Oktoberfest is a pretty spendy event to put on. I don’t drink, but wish I could see the insanity in the beer halls next week. Anyone heading over should be sure to go to Salzburg, Austria, a quick drive from Munich, to what I think is the world’s best beer hall experience. Check out this site, and all the online chat about this amazing room, where the food will blow your mind as well.
Coincidentally, the Mill City Oktoberfest will be held here in Minneapolis on September 19. The event celebrates Minnesota’s German heritage and rich brewing history, featuring local craft beer tasting, a beer garden, live music, traditional German food, and more. Get more info here.