Hot new eats, hot sauce requests, and generalized hotness.

Greetings, Culture Shockers! This week’s foodie missive contains not one, but two small requests from you, my darling readers. I’ve got two stories in the pipeline that I’d love some additional assistance on. The first is a piece I’ve been working on for a while now, on the array of restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, in the Portland area. By that, I mean anything that professes to serve a specific region or country’s food: French, Thai, Vietnamese, German, Italian, Japanese, etc. I plan to narrow down the list to ten specific cuisines, and while I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on what’s good to eat, I’d love your input. What’s the best Thai restaurant in Portland? The best sushi? The best place for Italian food? The story runs next week, so let me know soon.

The other thing I’d love to hear from you about is something near and dear to my heart: hot sauce. Specifically, hot sauces made in Maine. Even more specifically: really, really hot sauces, that are available in stores or online. I’m working on a story that is perfect for these frigid winter days, in which myself and a few other BDN staffers who enjoy the spicy side of life do some taste testing. Got some ideas? Keep in mind: we want stuff anyone can buy, so your uncle’s homemade hot sauce is out. I’ve got the W.O. Hesperus stuff, and Tiger Teeth, and some hot mustards from Raye’s — what else?  Keep an eye out later on in January for the story, and accompanying video.

Now, in other interesting food news, there’s a fun update from the folks at both the Maine Grind and Cleonice in Ellsworth. Rich and Cary Hanson, the folks behind the James Beard Award-nominated Cleonice, have partnered with the Maine Grind coffee shop to offer new food and small plates. New menu offerings that just started this week include in-house cooked meats, dinners-to-go, expanded catering options, soups made from scratch and new bakery goods. But don’t worry: there’s still yummy coffee and comfy couches.

Also, I’m pleased to report that January marks the beginning of wild Maine shrimp season. Starting this week, I’ll be on the lookout for trucks parked on the side of the road with hand-painted “SHRIMP” signs. I will purchase as much shrimp meat as I can afford at that time, I will bring it home, I will saute it for the briefest of moments in butter and garlic, and I will eat up to a pound of it by myself. With or without linguini and tomatoes.

And finally, in an interesting bit of news, did you know that Mountain Dew, in addition to being a sickeningly sweet caffeinated beverage, also works as a rodenticide? Yes, it’s true: apparently if you submerge a rat in Mountain Dew for an extended period of time, it will turn into a “jelly-like substance.” When I think back to all the kids at my high school who would consume gallons upon gallons of Mountain Dew every week, I can only think about how compromised their digestive tracks must now be. I also think that the Batman villain Two-Face could have just dunked half his body in Mountain Dew for a few weeks, and it would have attained the same effect as hydrochloric acid. The moral of the story? SODA IS NOT GOOD FOR RATS. OR HUMANS. STOP DRINKING IT.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a UMaine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.