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A Few Of Her Favorite Things; A Mexican Hideway; More

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A list of "a few things" that reviewer Nancy Heiser has "found particularly noteworthy around the state," stands in for the usual review in yesterday's Portland Press Herald. She not only cites food and service, but also design, atmosphere and views.

Three bites I won't soon forget: Red radishes sauteed in duck fat with duck confit atop warm arugula at Bar Lola in Portland; the Toro corn appetizer -- fresh ears rolled in grated cotija, garli aioli and pimento -- at Earth(in Kennebunkport); and fried oysters at The Slipway in Thomaston. Crisp, light coating over a juicy burst of hot, briny flavor. Killer.

The Boston Globe goes off the traveled path to discover XYZ in Manset, "a Mexican cantina nestled among pine trees on the so-called quiet side of Mt. Desert Island." The name stands for Xalapa, Yucatan, and Zacatecas, the Mexican regions where owners Janet Strong and Bob Hoyt collected most of the recipes for their menu on their annual escapes from Maine winters. Strong runs the front of the house, while Hoyt handles the kitchen with just one helper.

He is mostly a self-taught cook, who acquired his kitchen chops from his many travels. The result is a menu of authentic dishes, such as the moist, earthy cochinita pibil, a traditional Yucatan dish. The pork is rubbed with achiote paste, marinated in citrus, and then baked until it falls apart.

XYZ is also recommended - along with Havana and Eden - in a BG travel piece that includes Bar Harbor as one of "three great New England destinations for scenery and food."

Joe Ricchio's distinctive voice is put to especially good use for a review of iconoclastic Hoss & Mary's Tasty Grub in Old Orchard Beach on the Eat Maine blog.

There are no frills to the setup here. Upon entry, it takes a moment for your brain to wrap itself around such menu items as "The Longhorn Leghorn," a junior cheeseburger topped with chicken fingers, BBQ sauce, jalapenos, and onion rings on a toasted bun with mayo. Once you have come to terms with the shameless gluttony that will ensue if you do things right, you step to the counter, place your order, and wait excitedly—albeit a bit nervously—for your name to be called and you're off!

· After Hundreds Of Dishes Sampled, These Rise To The Top [PPH]
· Mexican Cuisine In Maine, Where You Least Expect It [BG]
· Three Great N.E. Destinations For Scenery, Food [BG]
· Hoss & Mary's Tasty Grub, Old Orchard Beach [EM]

[Photo: XYZ Restaurant]

XYZ Restaurant

80 Seawall Road Southwest Harbor, ME