Maine Restaurant Week (March 1-10) kicked off this year’s festivities with The Signature Event, a competition / showcase of desserts and cocktails from participating establishments. Guests were given bead necklaces of different colors, and voted for their favorite dessert, cocktail, and table arrangement by placing beads of the correct color around the restaurant employees who were working the table.
In addition to this method of voting, 3 judges – ( John Gertsen of No. 9 Park in Boston – master barman and expert on the history of cocktails, Portland’s John Meyers – regarded as the best bartender in the state and also a cocktail historian, and Shannon Bryan, blogger and content producer at MaineTodayMedia) had the tough task of tasting every drink and making their choice.
Chillwave music thumped lightly in the background as the Portland Harbor Hotel’s function rooms began filling to capacity. Beads began accumulating on the necks of the chefs and restaurant employees working different tables, and things quickly became overwhelming – Do I try the habanero-infused margarita from Zapoteca first, or the dessert from Standard Baking Co. that I hear is giving people instant orgasms? Ahhh! Choices!
Somehow, I maintained my composure and had one (or ten) of most everything I photographed. The flavors, creativity, and enthusiasm of the participants was amazing. I was reminded once again how lucky I am to live in an area with such a vibrant culinary scene. Enjoy the photos, and be sure to look into Maine Restaurant Week on Facebook to stay up to date on the fixed-price menu specials running for the next 10 days.