By Eryn Finnegan and Jeremy Austin President and Staff Reporter
The latest excursion found our food reviewers once again at a local joint: The Downtown Press Café. Located in downtown Farmington on Marceau Court, in the building where the former Asian cuisine restaurant – Sweet Ginger – once operated. Downtown Press Café is known for their wide array of paninis, breakfast sandwiches and signature waffles.
The inside of the restaurant has received a substantial makeover since its Sweet Ginger days. The walls are now a warm shade of orange and the counter has moved from the corner of the dining room to a more central location right outside of the kitchen. This gives the space a sense of openness, and creates an inviting atmosphere. T-shirts, mugs and other Downtown Press Café merchandise sit on a shelf off to the side next to the restrooms. There’s also a small coffee and tea bar with a cooler of cold beverages.
Journalism club president Eryn Finnegan kicked off her meal with a small cup of cheeseburger soup (minus the bun). The cheesy broth, vegetables and beef meatballs evoked the flavors of a traditional cheeseburger, and was just small enough to fill her stomach temporarily and keep her hungry for the main course.
Following the soup, Finnegan dove into the “Sweet Mama,” a panini layered in crisp, smoky ham, fresh pineapples, and enough honey mustard to lightly coat the bread – but not so much that it dripped from the sandwich and made a mess. The honey mustard was key in tying everything together as the blend of flavors was surprisingly sweet and tangy, creating a memorable flavor profile.
Staff reporter Jeremy Austin ordered the Whistle Stop, a panini consisting of oven roasted turkey, applewood smoked bacon, tomato, provolone and pesto mayo. The combination was absolutely delicious, and has become the standby order for this staff reporter. The sandwich remained clean and intact, yet was still satisfactorily saucy.
Along with the paninis, the writers split a five-cheese pizza. It had asiago, romano, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella with a marinara base and Italian spices. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple slice of cheese pizza, and this particular one packed a lot of flavor with its blend of cheeses. The pizza was less a pie and more of an elongated flatbread design, giving it a more gourmet appearance.
Though these reporters were too full by the end of their paninis to experience the sweet side of the Downtown Press Café, dessert options were plentiful and tempting. Dessert offerings can range from cinnamon buns to cupcakes and tarts. In addition to baked goods, the café also offers dessert waffles – with new daily flavors.
For college students keeping to a tight budget, the Downtown Press Café is worth a try. The café’s menu is plentiful, and a full meal consisting of a panini, a drink, and a soup or a side comes to less than $20.
By Jeremy Austin Staff Reporter
Over the course of Spring Break the Farmington Flyer Staff Reporter, Jeremy Austin, had the opportunity to dine with some old friends for hibachi at Sea40, a Japanese cuisine restaurant located down in Lewiston.
Nestled into the Lewiston Mall beside FunZ Trampoline Park and a newly renovated and expanded Bull Moose, Sea40 is a classy establishment that’ll prove for a satisfying evening out. To start, Austin ordered a glass of Allagash White. A wheat ale brewed with orange peel, coriander and other spices, the taste is a very smooth yet solid flavor similar to that of other beers like Shock Top and Blue Moon. The others at the table ordered what was called a “fishbowl,” a concoction of various liquors (mostly vodka and Blue Curaçao) mixed with primarily pineapple juice and dyed blue, that was quite literally inside of a plastic fishbowl. Pieces of lime floated at the bottom, and—like any classic cocktail—there was a “well-proofed” gummy worm sitting on the bottom. Multiple straws were placed inside—color-coded to establish ownership to minimize the spreading of cooties—and the drink was passed about the table. While it was delicious, there was an admittedly lacking “punch” from the alcohol content.
The chef that evening provided quality, food-related entertainment that began with a lot of fire. The evening included several attempts at catching sake (Japanese rice wine) in the mouth shot from a ketchup squirt-bottle across the table and griddle and a volcano of fire made rings of onion. While Austin did not participate in the sake-catching of the evening, he did try his hand at catching pieces of sautéed mushroom in his mouth. He is proud to say that he successfully caught a piece. The chef prepared the food almost theatrically as well, and the staff reporter can confirm that it’s indeed a mesmerizing experience to watch.
A salad and soup were brought out as appetizers before the main courses, which were both quite tasty. The salad was a simple mix of lettuce, other greens, and some onion covered in Thousand Island dressing. The soup—called Clear Soup—was light and herby in flavor. The entrée was served with fried rice and vegetables in soy sauce, and a two-piece shrimp appetizer also fried in soy sauce. Austin ordered the red snapper, though other entrées to choose from included vegetable, chicken, steak, shrimp salmon, scallop, filet mignon, lobster, and various combinations thereof. The snapper was cooked thoroughly, and tasted absolutely wonderful.
Towards the end of the evening, several chefs came over to sing “Happy Birthday” to a friend of Austin’s, who was celebrating her 22nd birthday. They brought over a plate of deep-fried ice cream, and this friend was so gracious as to let Austin have a sample. It was delicious – though this didn’t really surprise the staff reporter. The total bill for the evening for Austin was around $40, making Sea40 an affordable dining destination as well as a delicious one.
By Jeremy Austin and Eryn Finnegan Staff Reporter and President
The Fish N’ Chips had crispy, flaky skin, while retaining flavorful juices inside. (Photo by Jeremy Austin)
The Flyer’s dam good food recently visited Calzolaio Pasta Company, a higher-end restaurant located in a tall, dark red building lined with fairy lights and surrounded by a river cutting the road off from the parking lot. A fifteen minute drive from the UMF campus in Wilton, ME, Calzolaio is a place with an expansive menu and creative flavor combos, but runs high price-wise, so be ready to splurge.
After sliding down the steep hill to the door, these reporters were greeted with soft folk music, a black and white film on one screen, and hockey on the screen behind the bar. While a reservation was not necessary for entry, every entrant was asked if they had one, and for good reason; the restaurant began to fill quickly when we were getting ready to leave. Thankfully, our writers managed to slide in just before the dinner rush.
Our reporters were seated at a comfortably small table, with an assortment of red and white flowers in the center alongside tall bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Wanting to live a little, one reporter ordered an Italian Pilsner beer while the other ordered a pineapple vodka and raspberry mixed drink called the “C’monIwannadrinkya.” Even before dinner was served, our reporters were well on their way to an entertaining evening.
Crispy bacon coiled loosely around shining white scallops, coated in a thin glaze of maple syrup set the tone for their taste buds. Though our reporters were only given four scallops total, it was an appropriately sized appetizer, just enough food to leave a good taste and get them revved up for their entrees.
Staff Reporter Jeremy Austin ordered the Fish N’ Chips. Calzolaio’s rendition of the dish consisted of a plentiful helping of batter-fried haddock accompanied with hearty, crispy curly fries. A small ramakan of tartar sauce sat nestled between the mountains of food. The sauce was not only delicious when liberally applied to the batter-fried haddock, but it proved to be a delicious accompaniment to the curly fries as well.
Journalism club president Eryn Finnegan ordered “Tenderloin Tips and Ravioli Bluebeard,” which consisted of several juicy steak tips on a kabob skewer, ravioli with a blue/purple mushroom sauce reminiscent of a blueberry sauce, and a small pot of sweet potatoes. A bite with all four components at the same time was a well crafted symphony of flavor, and each component separately was also tasty. The exterior of the steak was crunchy and charred to a crust, with the inside still juicy and flavorful, the standout component of the meal based on taste, but the blue mushroom sauce was both exciting visually and regarding flavor. This is a good sauce to try for eaters who may not like the texture of mushrooms, but still enjoy the flavor.
It was halfway through this portion of the meal where Austin decided to try one of Calzolaio’s wines, and he ordered a glass of pinot noir. With the deep, sultry red of the wine and its rich and dry yet fruity taste, it proved to be a satisfying beverage indeed. While one writer tapped out for the evening after her entree, the other nobly ended his meal with a divine piece of Toll House pie and a hot cup of black coffee.
By Jeremy Austin & Eryn Finnegan Staff Reporter & President
After a long trip, these voracious writers, stomachs fiending for a scrap of food, searched for a quick, cheap alternative to the fast food, which they spent too much money on already. They stopped at the ever-familiar truck stop on Rt. 4 Wilton Road, nestled between the credit union and the Farmington Ford/Mercury dealership: The Big Stop, a restaurant attached to a Circle K and an Irving. It’s a wonderful place to pick up a hot batch of mozzarella sticks -bursting with gooey cheese, or a large slice of the rich chocolate cream pie.
Stepping into the Big Stop, one nearly forgets they have also stepped into an Irving gas station. The two entities are separated enough to allow for an immersive dining experience. Soft yellow lights warmed the dining area as the sun set outside, and the smell of grilling meat and fresh, generously salted french fries wafted from the kitchen doors and out to the bar where they waited to be seated. After missing out on breakfast sandwiches with donuts replacing the bread, the duo was ready to devour anything on the menu that looked remotely appetizing and nutritional. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as their eyes scanned the spiral bound menu, but it was quickly evident their sandwich craving had not fully subsided.
Fortunately, a hot reuben and a delicious-looking whiskey BBQ burger came to save their hungry stomachs. The reuben was quite delightful. Its sauerkraut, corned beef and Swiss cheese all working in perfect harmony with every bite. The sandwich was served on marble rye bread and, although still hearty in its own right, was panini-esque in nature. Thousand Island dressing was served on the side in a small plastic cup, which the reuben (or the fries it came with) could be dipped in. Either option is highly suggested.
The Whiskey BBQ Burger was a standout item on the menu, boasting sizzling, steaming grilled patties and homemade whiskey barbecue sauce. this burger paired with a steaming batch of fries is a fist pump of greasy, indulgent, tasty victory. Sauteed onions spilled onto the plate with each bite, the tomatoes were juicy, and the whiskey BBQ sauce gave a small burst of heat just intense enough to keep me wanting more.
In terms of ingredients, the burger and fries were standard, but the fact that they were cooked perfectly elevates this classic pairing. The flavor of the onions, tomato, burger, and sauce all in one bite offered a reminder that these recipes and ingredients are cooked together for a reason: they balance each other out by offering spiciness, sweeness, and saltiness simultaneously.
Bookending these lively entrées were mozzarella sticks and slices of chocolate cream pie. The mozzarella sticks, though small in number, were big in flavor. Each bite left behind thick tendrils of cheese as we pulled the sticks apart: the mark of a true artisan mozzarella stick. The slices of pie were about the width of Eryn’s face, but that didn’t stop these reporters from stuffing their faces until their lips had been replaced with crumbs, smears of chocolate frosting and whipped cream. Jeremy’s fiance, who had decided to accompany them on this culinary adventure, was clearly unimpressed by these animalistic behaviors.
Overall, while their appetites at the time may have influenced their ratings, the writers were pleased with the food and the service that the Big Stop provided. The writers give The Big Stop a rating of six mozzarella sticks out of six—they would most certainly be eating there again.
By Jeremy Austin Staff Reporter
Kendrick Lamar’s album damn gets into his life and how he became a successful rapper. (Photo courtesy of Spotify)
For the month of February, the UMF New Commons Project is exhibiting their selection of rapper Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 album DAMN. as an essential work both to the students on campus and to the populace of Maine as a whole.
The goal of the project according to its director UMF English professor Kristen Case is twofold. “The first,” Case said, “is we wanted to talk to people all around the state about cultural works… that they care about and hear about why they think they’re important.” Works included paintings, albums, movies, books, etc., and overall there were 160 submissions.
“Another really important part of it,” Case continued, “is [helping] articulating some ideas about why the humanities matter.” These works all came from either UMF students or from folks all around the state, with the goal of creating both the sense of a cultural commons in the state as well as promoting the importance of the humanities.
The album’s nomination, a video sent in by Kara Chandler of Oakland, made the case for why the album should be selected by the project. “As popular as Lamar is,” Chandler explains, “I feel like he doesn’t get the correct amount of recognition for the content of his songs that he deserves—especially for the songs on this album that target relevant topics in today’s society such as racial bias, poverty and police brutality.”
Chandler describes the album’s first eight tracks, starting with the opening spoken word piece called, “BLOOD.,” and ending with the album’s lead single, “HUMBLE.” The songs cover a wide selection of social issues that Chandler goes through, including being black and famous (“YAH.”), poverty (‘FEEL.”), loyalty (“LOYALTY.”), and the notion that he’s the same on the inside as everyone else regardless of his skin color (“DNA.”).
On selecting the album, Case said that Chandler’s video made a really convincing argument. “She basically talked about the impact it had on her as a high school student to be hearing this music,” Case said. “Many of us just felt moved by that argument and actually persuaded by it.”
She went on to say that she and the others on the committee of faculty, students, community members and many others felt that this was an important experience for a high school student in a “rural, mostly white community” to have.
The project’s assistant director, UMF postdoctoral fellow of Digital and Public Humanities Stephen Grandchamp, said in an email interview, “The original nomination video was particularly powerful in explaining how the album inspires today’s youth to become politically engaged. More than that, DAMN. is a fantastic example from an important contemporary artistic genre (hip hop) that is meaningful to our community.”
Grandchamp also said of the entire project, “One of the aspects of the New Commons Project I love most is how it opens a discussion of artistic works among various populations in our community… Many of the most rewarding moments have been when these groups—students, faculty, community members, etc.—articulate why they believe a work, genre, or author is particularly important to them.”