Katie Made Bakery – Portland, Maine

Katie Made Bakery - Portland, Maine

Street Address: 181 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
Hours Of Operation:
Mon: Closed
Tue-Wed: 7:30am-4:30pm
Thu-Fri: 7:30am-6:00pm
Sat: 8:00am-3:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-12:00pm

I’ve become more familiar with businesses on Munjoy Hill and the surrounding neighborhood a bit more since my girlfriend started living there about a year ago. Since there are so many good places to eat, I figured I’d try some of them out and put the results down for all to see on my blog. I frequently search on the web to see if a place is highly-regarded before I seek out food there, so I figured there would be some use for my reviews of these places.

Katie Made is a little bakery situated right up near the Portland Observatory on Congress Street, mid-hill. It’s an unsuspecting little place and one might easily overlook it since parking on the hill can be spotty depending on what time of day and year one visits. However, if you’re in the area and want to try out some baked goods and maybe a little breakfast or lunch, you won’t want to miss out.

I’ve been going to Katy Made for a while now, and they’ve never given me anything resembling a bad experience. The staff consists of Katie herself, who you can see toiling with a smile in the kitchen and who even hand-delivers your food to you if she has the time, along with a cashier and another baker in back who I’ve rarely seen but who I’m sure is there quite a lot like the other two women. They are always friendly and accommodating.

The only downside to this establishment is that if you’re looking to dine in somewhere, there aren’t a lot of options open to you. The place makes use of its interior room but even doing so, there is only room for about 10-12 people maximum, less if you don’t want to sit across one of the small tables from a stranger. There are a couple of seating options available outside as well, but those are dependent mostly on weather.

For breakfast, one can get a variety of regular menu items Katie offers, including a loaded breakfast sandwich (which I always get) that comes on an english muffin with a scrambled egg patty, mushrooms, sizzling sausage, caramelized onions (though I get it without onions, myself), melted cheese and a touch of mustard. The price isn’t bad, either. The breakfast sandwich is only around $6.00 if I remember correctly, making it on level with big chains like McDonald’s but with extremely superior ingredients.

However, for this review, I went in to grab a quick bite to eat for take out lunch. When I arrived, the place wasn’t super-packed and I was waited on right away. The cashier put my purchase through with no problem – a Cuban Sandwich ($7.00) and two Strawberry-Cheese Danishes (Forgive me for not remembering the exact price, but they were around $1.50 or $2.00 each). I sat down on one of the comfortable seats near the window and waited only around 5-10 minutes for my food to be brought out by Katie herself, smiling as she handed me the foil-wrapped sandwich that was good and hot through its wrappings. I bid the women adieu and left to enjoy my sandwich.

The Cuban Sandwich came on a delicious roll that held up its integrity throughout the meal. There were tangy pickles, melty cheese and very delicious and generous strips of real cut pork. The mustard had a zip to it, but did not overwhelm the taste buds. I finished with my favorite thing at Katie Made, which are the Strawberry Cheese Danishes (I reluctantly gave one to my girlfriend). The pastry was light and fluffy with enough backbone to chew and to give it a pleasing texture. The insides were creamy and addictively delicious, the strawberry slices bursting with flavor.

Anyway, if you find yourself in the Munjoy Hill area and want a really solid breakfast or lunch, or a nice pastry to accompany you for the day – hit up Katie Made Bakery. You can tell Katie and her entire staff put a lot of love into what they do.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Check Out The Katie Made Bakery Web Site Here
http://katiemadebakery.com

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Otto’s Pizza – Portland, Maine

Art work on take out boxes done by Ella Trout from the Breakwater School

Art work on take out boxes done by Ella Trout from the Breakwater School

Street Address: 225 Congress Street (Munjoy Hill Neighborhood)
Hours of Operation: Sun-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12am (Note: Other Locations May Be Different)

I was first introduced to Otto’s Pizza one night after I attended a show at the Port City Music Hall. I was semi-new to the Portland city night life, and one of my friends, who was more familiar with the area, texted me and told me to try Otto’s on upper Congress since they were open later than most other places in the area. I did, and I am so glad I did.

Otto’s has one passion, and it is pizza – using a host of fresh ingredients and combinations that will leave not only your hunger satisfied, but also that of your taste buds. The price is pretty average for a pizza joint, but is also cheap compared to other establishments. One can get a slice of pizza for around $3.50 if you’re not that hungry, or a 12″ pie for $10.00 and a 16″ pie for $15.00 if you’re really famished.

I was at my girlfriend’s place on Forest Ave and her brother was visiting so I decided to pay a visit to Otto’s for a late-night pizza party and also decided to use my experience there for my first ever food review on my blog. Keep in mind – I did not have a sit-down meal while there, aside from a slice I enjoyed while waiting for my pies to be baked in the oven. My review, this time, is for the take out version.

When I arrived, the lobby was semi-packed with folks waiting for their food, and all of them seemed in good spirits. Two men and a young boy waited for one of the employees to be finished with her shift at the counter and two women waited separately for their own food.

“Hi,” smiled the girl at the counter. “What can we make for you? Are you here to get a slice or some pies?”

“Actually,” I said. “I’m going to be getting two pies. The 16″ Chicken and Basil ($19) as well as a 16″ White Bean, Sausage, Herb and Chili Flake ($21).”

She rang me up for my purchase and then I also added a slice of Pepperoni pizza ($3.50) to munch on while I waited. She finished ringing up the order promptly and then warmed the slice for me and placed it on a paper plate to hand to me. “Here you go,” she said.

I took the slice and enjoyed it at a table near the wall. The waiting area is a bit drafty in cold weather and so I was glad I had my coat on. The main dining room is a much more suitable place to enjoy your meal if you’re not just stopping in for a slice, but I was only getting take out this time. The pepperoni was crispy and not too greasy. The cheese was, as usual, very springy, delicious and not too melty. The dough was just the balance needed between really crispy and really soft. I took my time enjoying the slice and after around fifteen or twenty minutes, my pizzas were finished being made.

When I arrived at my girlfriend’s place, she and her brother were happy to see me with the pies and they dived in right away. We all tried one of each slice to start. The White Bean, Sausage, Herb and Chili Flake had virtually no grease and had just the right amount of spicy finish with the mild sausage and the chili flakes to mesh really well with the creamy white sauce (you can choose red or white sauce for this particular pizza) and the delicious blend of herbs and cheese. The Chicken and Basil was delicious, with generous dobs of what seemed to be a sort of pomodoro sauce on top of the cheese along with a happy amount of fresh strips of basil. The chicken seemed to have been marinated and had a great flavor that could stand on its own. However, because the sauce is loaded with lots of olive oil and the cheese has a bit of grease, the crust’s integrity in the middle of the pie didn’t hold up as well as the White Bean’s. This didn’t detract in much of a negative way to the eating experience, however, because the flavor was so spot-on.

I’ve long been a fan of Otto’s up to this point and this visit ensured that I would definitely be back. For those of you not near Munjoy Hill, there are other locations as well in Maine and even in Massachusetts (their Cambridge/Brookline location is especially nice as it’s right near Harvard).

If you’re craving pizza and you want to enjoy a nice, solid experience – check them out.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Check Out Otto’s Website Here
http://ottoportland.com/

Check Out Otto’s Website For This Location Here
http://ottoportland.com/225congress.html

Check Out Otto’s WordPress Blog Here
http://ottopizza.wordpress.com/

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12 O’Clock Boys (2013)

12 O'Clock Boys (2013)

Original Theatrical Release: January 31, 2014
Director: Lofty Nathan

Pug, a young man from a dangerous block in Baltimore, Maryland is enthralled by a band of people who partake in illegal street riding calling themselves the 12 O’Clock Boys. When his older brother, Tibba, dies – Pug looks to the Boys for guidance, much to the worry of his mother, Coco, and others in Pug’s family. Pug must weigh his obsession with bikes and this group against a rising police response to the riding and his inner desires to become a veterinarian.

To be clear – I kind of accidentally stumbled into this documentary. I went with my girlfriend to a place called the Space Gallery in Portland, Maine – and we were supposed to be going to a women’s writer group Q&A seminar. As we sat down and waited, we wondered why the audience was overwhelmingly male. We had our answer in a few minutes as the documentary started. We had come on the wrong day, and we already paid so we stayed – and I’m glad we did.

First off, the style was fresh and kinetic. Lofty Nathan, the director, filled the frame with choice morsels that assisted the narrative in telling the deep and complicated story that is Pug’s life and upbringing. Not once did he delve into stereotypical urban characters – but let each person identify themselves through their own ways. Some were gangsters, some were struggling parents, some were police officers, some were just kids.

Rather than glamorize the dangerous lifestyle led by the 12 O’Clock Boys, Nathan portrayed them as human beings in a tough situation relying on what they feel is their only release other than gang activity, drugs or other less-positive things. Through Pug and his own tough life, we understand that belonging to a group and being good at something (even if it’s just being able to wheelie really well) is what we all strive for. We all secretly want to be a 12 O’Clock Boy.

A good documentarian holds a mirror up to the rest of us and says “Look. This is you – this is your reality” and makes us reflect on it, think about it. I felt that way when watching this film. I do love documentaries but this is one of the better ones I’ve seen in a while. Lofty Nathan does not insert himself directly into the narrative as is sometimes the case with other documentarians, but we see through his eyes the disarray that this suburb, inner-city culture has become and all the problems that stem from it.

In Pug we have someone who is truly likable and easy to care about. We see his struggles and we want him to get on that bike. We see him training and we root for him as he gets better and better at riding and doing wheelies. We see the danger and we wish someone would stop him before he gets in over his head. It’s a really complicated emotional response evoked, at least in my case. Pug starts out somewhat innocent but then slowly evolves (or de-volves, possibly) once his world view perspective is changed over and over again.

On the other side of things, just visually it’s entertaining to watch. There are many dynamic shots and kinetic images on display for the visually-oriented folks out there like me. There are lots of slow-motion shots of the riding as well as fast-paced chase scenes and tension-ridden conflicts between police and the Boys.

12 O’Clock Boys is the total package. Go watch it.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For 12 O’Clock Boys

Hello, Again

For those of you who don’t know me too well, I’m in my fourth semester with an MFA program called Stonecoast. Well, I’m stopping in to say that due to all the work associated with this program, I’ve been away for a couple weeks and over the next six months until I graduate, I’ll be working on my thesis – so I won’t be able to do as many reviews as I normally do.

Stonecoast has been amazing, thus far. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different and talented authors including Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Wench), Nancy Holder (Resurrection, Domino Lady, Buffy) , Michael Kimball (Undone), David Anthony Durham (Acacia: The Sacred Band), James Patrick Kelly (The Wreck of the Godspeed and Other Stories), Elizabeth Hand (Radiant Days) and Elizabeth Searle (Girl Held In Home) (. I’ve also had the pleasure of working closely with authors such as Mur Lafferty (Shambling Guide To New York City), Thomas Morrissey (Faustus Resurrectus), Laura Navarre (By Royal Command) and Magdalen Braden (Blackjack and Moonlight) among other many talented writers of all genres.

This is not to say that I won’t be doing any reviews, though. I have a backlog of both new and old pop culture items to post reviews on. Until then, here are a couple pictures of me at my residency in Freeport, Maine:

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Sorry to have been away for so long.

Sorry to have been away for so long.

So, I’ve been sort of sporadic about updating the blog because not only have I been busy with school (I get my Master’s Degree in June, hopefully!) but also….it has been Halloween/Comic Convention season during the past couple of months.

If any of you know me, you know what this entails: Lots and lots of time and money spent costuming.

So, I went to Coast City Comicon in Portland, Maine (where I live) and also to Super Megafest in Framingham, Massachusetts. Both were really fun, with Coast City Comicon being a true comic convention while Super Megafest was more of a pop culture convention.

I dressed up as Obi-Wan Kenobi for all of the events and was able to meet some really cool people. Ray Park (Darth Maul from Star Wars: Episode One) stabbed me with my own lightsaber. I taught Ernie Hudson (Winston from Ghostbusters) the ways of the Force. I also got to meet Lee Weeks (Artist from Daredevil) and J.K. Woodward (Dr. Who/Star Trek).

Here are some of the pics to show you how busy I’ve been. 🙂

Me with my friends Spencer Doe (Snake Eyes) and Nicole Marie Jean (Shredder)

Me with my friends Spencer Doe (Snake Eyes) and Nicole Marie Jean (Shredder) at Super Megafest

Me with some other Obi-Wan cosplayers of various ages at Super Megafest

Me with some other Obi-Wan cosplayers of various ages at Super Megafest

 

Me with Ray Park (Darth Maul from Star Wars: Episode One) at Super Megafest

Me with Ray Park (Darth Maul from Star Wars: Episode One) at Super Megafest

Me with Sergeant Slaughter at Super Megafest! He was one of my childhood heroes!

Me with Sergeant Slaughter at Super Megafest! He was one of my childhood heroes!

Lots of other talented Super Megafest Star Wars Cosplayers.

Lots of other talented Super Megafest Star Wars Cosplayers.

Me, teaching Ernie Hudson (Winston from Ghostbusters) some new tricks!

Me, teaching Ernie Hudson (Winston from Ghostbusters) some new tricks!

Me with Slave Leia at Super Megafest

Me with Slave Leia at Super Megafest

Me with Chewie in Salem, Mass

Me with Chewie in Salem, Mass

Me with Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper in Portland, Maine on Halloween

Me with Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper in Portland, Maine on Halloween

Me squaring off against Vader in Salem, Mass

Me squaring off against Vader in Salem, Mass

Me with Strawberry Shortcake in Salem, Mass

Me with Strawberry Shortcake in Salem, Mass

Me promoting artist J.K. Woodward's site as Obi-Wan at Coast City Comicon

Me promoting artist J.K. Woodward’s site as Obi-Wan at Coast City Comicon

The Mandalorian Mercs finally got me as Obi-Wan at Coast City Comicon

The Mandalorian Mercs finally got me as Obi-Wan at Coast City Comicon

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)Original Theatrical Release: July 27, 2001
Director: David Wain

It’s 1981 at Camp Firewood in Maine, and it’s the last day of camp. Beth (Janeane Garofalo) has a crush on the nerdy astrophysics professor, Henry Newman (David Hyde Pierce), who is trying to save the camp from a piece of Skylab. Meanwhile, other campers and counselors all have their own piece of drama to play out in the camp’s microcosm before the big talent show that will wrap up the summer.

When I first watched Wet Hot American Summer, I only caught the end of it, and I was really confused. For one, I had never heard of it. Second, I thought it was a real 80’s movie and I was trying to do the math in my head because I saw that Paul Rudd was in it. Obviously, I figured it out and then watched the film in its entirety but they did such a great job making it feel vintage that it felt less like a spoof on those classic 80’s flicks and more like it was one of them.

This film showcases a lot of talent; The aforementioned Paul Rudd, David Hyde Pierce, Janeane Garofalo, Joe Lo Truglio, Michael Ian Black, Amy Poehler, A.D. Miles, Christopher Meloni, Molly Shannon, Ken Marino, Bradley Cooper and others. Most of these actors work well off each other, and you can see many of them together in other films like Role Models.

David Wain did an overall good job on directing this, but the story was sort of all over the place. For what it is, it does well, however disjointed some may find it. As a Mainer, it was a delight to see all this quirky action taking place, seemingly at random, in Maine. There is a scene where the characters “go into town” and end up in Waterville, Maine…and it’s just so ridiculous that it had me cackling.

If you like silliness, partake in this film. If silly is not your thing, then you should probably stay away. Rumor has it, by the way, that Wain is working on Wet Hot American Summer 2. Can’t wait!

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Wet Hot American Summer