There's a town just north of Bangor called Orono. It's a college town. Since every college town has to have at least one brewpub (depending on the size of the school!), there's a little place in Orono, not far from campus, called the Bearbrew Pub. I've heard a lot about, especially from Derrick (you may remember him as my co-inventor of the Limeburner), but I've never made any grand effort to go there. There's a great pub in Bangor, which is a bit closer to my home, so it's never really been a priority. Last Friday, however, Kevin and I decided to see the new Harry Potter movie in a small theater close to Orono. We thought we'd make an evening of it and have dinner at the Bearbrew first. It's a fairly small place with a great second-story deck -- and we love to eat outside! There is, of course, Bearbrew microbrew beer on tap, along with a fairly extensive drink list. The food is typical of such a place -- burgers, sandwiches, pasta, etc. But what I really find to be unique about the Bearbrew is its vegetarian-friendly offerings. Several of the appetizers are veg-friendly: hot artichoke dip, cheese quesadillas, a big, soft pretzel with your choice of dips, and our favorite -- samosas! Samosas are an Indian dish -- potatoes, peas, onions, and curry wrapped up in dough and deep fried. The Bearbrew's samosas are a bit different -- they're made with wonton wrappers instead of a bready dough. They're served with raita, a yogurt dip with diced cucumbers and onions. Yum!
For entrees, vegetarians can choose from such meals as veggie burgers, a veggie & hummus wrap, a pasta dish or two, and falafel. Yes, it's foreign. Middle Eastern, in fact. Most people look at me pretty funny when I mention it. As you may have guessed, it's hard to come by in greater Bangor, Maine, so I was ecstatic to see it on the Bearbrew's menu. I am a falafel junkie. Falafel itself is a patty made from ground chickpeas, onions, bread crumbs, and spices. The patty is traditionally deep-fried, but I have recipes that call for it to be baked. Maybe someday I'll get around to actually making my own... but I digress. The Bearbrew serves its falafel patties in a pita pocket with green-leaf lettuce, cucumber slices, tomatoes, and more of that yummy raita. I was a little nervous about trying it because frankly, I'm a falafel snob. I usually only eat it in Paris. Yes, Paris. France. There's a big Jewish population in Paris, and therefore, lots of Middle Eastern food. Next time you're surfing the 'net, do a search for "L'as du Fallafel (the French use two "Ls" in the middle)." Loosely translated, that's "the ace of falafel," and rightfully so. But again, I digress. The Bearbrew's falafel pleasantly surprised me. The presentation is completely different from that of the Jewish places in Paris, but just as good. The raita really pulls the whole dish together. Needless to say, I highly recommend it...
... but I can't say the same for "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." Now, I've read all five books several times through, and seen the first two movies at least as many times. The books are great, and the movies are pretty damn good. Kevin has read the books even more times than I have. Apparently Alfonso Cuaron read a different version of the book. Maybe the Spanish version didn't translate to the same storyline as the English version...? All I know is that when the movie was over, the first thing I said to Kevin was, "what book was that based on?" A lot of plot points were changed pretty drastically. A lot of what I thought to be important details were left out. My other question was "does Cuaron think we didn't see the first two movies?" I know, different directors have different styles... but the differences between Columbus' films and this one were just too drastic for a series. I want to see some consistency. For example, the school and its grounds should probably look the same from film to film. Cuaron tried to make the school grounds look a bit too much like Middle Earth. And the Whomping Willow should probably be "tamed" the same way in each. And Fred & George Weasley probably shouldn't look so much like Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber in the third installment, when they were so clever in the first two. I don't want to give too much away, though. If you haven't read the books, you'll probably think "Azkaban" is fine. But this is supposed to be a food blog, not a movie review blog. And I'm not very happy with my writing today, so I think I'm done. For now. =)
June 16, 2004 07:00 AM PDT
E. -- Glad to hear from you! Kevin and I always eat our falafel on the steps of a church a couple blocks away from L'as... I can never remember the name of the street it's on, but it's right next to a little playground. Oh, and the eggplant is one of my favorite parts, too. =)
June 14, 2004 09:04 PM PDT
Mmm... L'as du Fallafel, I second the vote! The best part, I think, is the nice piece of fried egglant in the sandwich. And the hardest part? Trying to run on over to Place des Vosges while swerving the people ogling your falafel. It was always hard to avoid eating the falafel right away (and risky due to the possibility for soggy falafel), but I really liked the idea of eating it in the gorgeous Place des Vosges. Others were not as restrained, and I saw them eating the sandwiches on the curb.
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