March 4, 2024

Maine’s James Beard Semifinalists

Maine has an impressive array of 10 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard Awards. Cara Stadler and Cecile Stadler of BaoBao Dumpling House in Portland and Tao Yuan Restaurant and ZaoZe Cafe & Market in Brunswick have been nominated in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. Joe Robbins of Bissell Brothers Three Rivers Kitchen in Milo is a semifinalist for Emerging Chef. For Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker, Atsuko Fujimoto of Norimoto Bakery in Portland is in the running. The Best Chef Northeast category has given the nod to Celia Bruns of Artemisia Cafe, Ian Driscoll of Bar Futo, Valerie Goldman of The Honey Paw, and Jake Stevens of Leeward, all in Portland. The Alna Store in Alna is a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. The Outstanding Bakery category has named ZU Bakery in Portland, and Woodford Food & Beverage in Portland is up for Outstanding Hospitality. The James Beard Foundation presents the awards annually to recognize chefs, restaurateurs, authors, and journalists in the United States. The winners will be announced on June 10, 2024.

The Nylander Museum of Natural History

One of Maine’s finest small museums is The Nylander Museum of Natural History, founded in 1939 to house various artifacts collected by its namesake, Olaf O. Nylander. The self-taught geologist, paleontologist, and botanist collected over 50,000 minerals, prehistoric fossils, and mollusk shells. The Smithsonian coveted his discoveries, but they remained at this regional museum in Caribou. The Nylander, which features a life-size wax sculpture of Nylander at his desk, closed during the pandemic but has reopened on Saturdays and Sundays.

Film Festivals

Maine has a variety of film festivals throughout the year, starting with The Maine Outdoor Film Festival, which will celebrate International Women’s Day with a two-hour program at Toad & Co. in Portland of women-driven outdoor adventure and conservation short films, their 2nd Annual Women in the Wild event. The Maine Jewish Film Festival will show “Born in Chicago” on April 14,  about the first-generation blues performers who had made their way to Chicago from the Mississippi Delta. It will be followed by a concert by The Blue Prophets, a Maine-based ensemble. A project of the Maine Film Center, The Maine International Film Festival runs from July 12-21 in Waterville. The 10-day festival showcases nearly 100 films, representing the best American independent and international cinema, and spotlights some of Maine and New England’s most exciting and innovative filmmakers. The 20th edition of the Camden International Film Festival will occur throughout venues in Camden, Rockport, and Rockland from September 12-15.  Main Street Bucksport and World Ocean Observatory will host the 8th annual International Maritime Film Festival from September 26-28 at The Alamo Theater in Bucksport.

Fishing Season in Maine

fishing-in-maineMaine is one the best states in the Lower 48 for a fishing trip, thanks to its 6,000 lakes and ponds, wild rivers, and 3,000-plus miles of coastline. Northern Maine opens for freshwater fishing on April 1 (Southern Maine is now open year-round), and anglers can pursue wild brook trout, landlocked salmon, and even arctic char. Lakes and ponds are filled with large and smallmouth bass. Saltwater angling thrives along the state’s southern coast, with fishermen casting for striped bass and bluefish. Go to Visit Maine for more details.

The Longfellow Hotel to Open in Portland

The Longfellow Hotel will open in Portland in April, the first independent, full-service hotel to open in the city in two decades. Named for Portland-born poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of America’s most-beloved bards, the five-story boutique property at 754 Congress Street will have 48 rooms, including four suites. Dining options include the Twinflower Café, a wellness-focused restaurant serving wholesome breakfast and lunch offerings, while The Five of Clubs is the bar’s name. Astraea is the hotel’s 1,800-square-foot spa, inspired by Nordic traditions and focusing on whole body and mind wellness. It will offer a sauna, massage treatments, and meditation experiences. Maine-based, family-owned hospitality group Uncommon Hospitality is behind The Longfellow Hotel, designed in partnership with the New York-based Post Company. Visit The Longfellow Hotel for more information.

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