Maine is quickly becoming famous for more that just its natural beauty and its charming local color; now, it’s being touted as the next big food destination. To celebrate and promote the dining scene in Maine — where fine restaurants dot the landscape from Portland to Eastport — the Maine Restaurant Association will host RestaurantWeekMe, set for March 1-10 at locations throughout the state. While the list is made up mainly of Portland-area restaurants, including acclaimed spots such as Fore Street, Back Bay Grill, Hugo’s and Evangeline, there are a handful of eastern Maine eateries signed on as well. Natalie’s at the Camden Harbor Inn, the Hartstone Inn in Camden and Café Miranda in Rockland all plan to offer special three-course prix fixe meals, all priced differently. There’s still time for more restaurants to sign up to be a part of the event, designed to create a sense of community among the state’s establishments. To sign up, or for more details, call 775-2126 ext. 122, or visit www.restaurantweekme.com.
Oceans of love
The Marine Environmental Research Institute offers a big valentine to the ocean, the lifeblood of Maine. The MERI Valentine to the Ocean event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, at Emlen Hall at the Bay School, South Street in Blue Hill. Folk legend and local resident Noel Paul Stookey will perform an acoustic set to benefit the institute, which seeks to protect Maine waters and the wildlife species that call the ocean home. After the event, a dinner featuring the creations of Chef Diane Bianco will be held for interested concertgoers and MERI benefactors, at the home of Susie and Rich Gurin in Blue Hill. Bianco’s new cookbook, “Let’s Party in Maine!” will be released later this year, featuring recipes for the gourmet entertainer. The dishes served at the post-concert dinner are all featured in the book, and will be paired with wines from local vintners. Tickets to the concert are $25 ($30 on the day of the show); for details about the dinner and to purchase tickets, call 374-2135, or visit the MERI Center on Main Street in Blue Hill on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Some sad news regarding the closure of another excellent Queen City eatery. Opus, the downtown Bangor fine dining restaurant, recently shuttered its windows after head chef Roger Gelis accepted a job out of state. Gelis, the winner of the 2007 eastern Maine Ultimate Chef competition, was renowned regionally for his unique cuisine, a true fusion of styles that would boast a South American edge one week, then a Greek influence the next. Opus will be sorely missed.
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