Rabelais Books in Portland, Maine

by Maggie Battista on November 5, 2009

in Authors, Maine

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Last weekend, I visited Portland, Maine for the annual Harvest on the Harbor Festival. This post is not about the festival as it was kind of a big let-down. (I drove up hoping to mingle and taste with Maine artisans and chefs, as I had done last year, but the rain brought out thousands of people to the event and there was no mingling. In fact, it was so crowded that my guests and I left about an hour into the event.) But my letdown was also my gain!

After escaping the foodie mob on the waterfront, I walked up the road to visit the much talked about Rabelais Books, a small boutique dedicated to books on food, wine and art. A quick visit turned into more than 45 minutes browsing every book in this tiny shop. Between the new and the vintage books lining all the shelves, Rabelais has a foodie tome to please all palates. I was seriously blown away by the variety and seriousness of this spot. No New England home cook, chef or restaurateur should miss the opportunity to chat with Samantha Hoyt Lindgren and Don Lindgren, two very experienced food fans who have completed long stings in the industries for which they now curate books. They also happen to be sweet as pie.

But it’s not all about the books at Rabelais. Their little shop has become a hub of foodie community events, bringing in chefs and authors from all over. On the day of my visit, I bumped into two fabulous, food Gods – Peter Berley, author and former chef of Angelica Kitchen in Manhattan, and Lucinda Quinn Scala, co-host of Everyday Food and leader of all things food at Martha Stewart Omnimedia. Peter was on his way out, but not before he signed my copy of his Fresh Food Fast. I was a regular diner at Angelica in the 90s and felt a bit nostalgic in his presence.

Lucinda was just starting her signing event and chatted with me for a while. She had fun stories about Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver, and we shared our food blogging stories and Twitter experiences. If you’re on Twitter, do follow her and let’s hope she gives me a follow too. I also love her new book Mad Hungry, Feeding Men and Boys; it feels like a book that’s needed writing for some time. She did it very well, IMHO.

I had a delightful time meeting some great food folks and exploring Rabelais Books last week. I could have disappeared into each and every book, easily losing myself for hours and hours. But Duck Fat is just down the street from Rabelais and I needed a well-deserved pile of their fancy fries. And, frankly I think I had stalked Lucinda for long enough.

Rabelais’ fabulous upcoming events:

  • Saturday, November 14th: Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City, the Education of an Urban Farmer.   1-3 PM.
  • Saturday, November 21st: Barbara Lynch, chef and author of Stir, Mixing it Up in the Italian Tradition. 4-6 PM.
  • Sunday, November 29th: Julie A. Usher, author of Cookie Swap, Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year. 1-3 PM.
  • Saturday, December 6th: David Chang, chef and author of Momofuku. 1-3 PM.

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Maggie Battista

Founder at Eat Boutique
Maggie, is the founder of Eat Boutique. She started Eat Boutique as a blog in 2007, and sold out of her first gift box of small batch independent food in 2009. Maggie continues to offer unique and delicious handmade food in tasting subscriptions and seasonal gift boxes for food fans and home cooks. Maggie also hosts Eat Boutique Markets, where she spotlights cookbook authors and food makers. She’s written for Style Me Pretty, Food52, Time Out New York, Spencer Magazine, and writes a cocktail column for the popular wedding blog, Snippet & Ink. Maggie's also created retail experiences for the largest floral and event design company in New England. She regularly travels far distances to find the next great chef, farmer, food maker or host. You can follow her worldwide – and homemade – gastronomic adventures on Twitter at @mizmaggieb or @eatboutique. Maggie's writing her first-ever cookbook Food Gift Love to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in fall 2015.

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