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UPDATE: Nancy Heiser Answers Questions, Gives Favorites in Not-Quite Farewell Column

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Nancy Heiser, who is stepping down as one of the Maine Sunday Telegram's two freelance restaurant critics, used her farewell column to answer some of the questions she receives the most from readers. Her answers shed a bit of light on how the paper handles its reviews:

· She used a different name on reservations in an attempt to keep her identity hidden, but didn't use disguises. (She does use a sketch rather than a photo as a profile picture on her website and social media.)

· She picked the restaurants to review, but consulted with fellow reviewer Shonna Milliken Humphrey, as well as the paper's features writer and food editor. She writes: "The goal is to include a mix of types of establishments, cover the whole state, and not repeat a review for at least three years. But generally, more than half of the restaurants are in the greater Portland area."

· Advertisers play no role in her reviews.

· The paper's policy is to wait six weeks before printing a review of a new restaurant.

The column also has Heiser's "Best Of" picks for the past year. It's an interesting list, with some off-beat selections. And all 11 of her picks come from outside of Portland. Here's a sample:

Most brilliant bruschetta award goes to Enio's in Cape Elizabeth, which serves a tangled mound of pickled fennel, Broadbent ham and Buffalo mozzarella on crisped bread, demonstrating again how simplicity done right translates into deliciousness.

And her favorite restaurant of the past year?

My top restaurant from the last 12 months is Tao Yuan (originally Tao), in Brunswick. A dinner here is a journey across Asia, using local ingredients of the season. Steamed buns with braised lamb tongue, salt cod brandade with pureed celeriac, or simple Asian slaw – nothing here is ordinary.

Heiser spent close to three years on the job and is known for her straightforward style. There's been no official word yet on her replacement. If you've got any insider info, feel free to send us a tip:

UPDATE: Heiser commented on the post that this was not her final column for the Maine Sunday Telegram. "I have several more reviews left to write, and I look forward to doing so. This round up column is similar to one I did a year ago, and that was its purpose -- to sum up the last year."
· All Coverage of Nancy Heiser [~EMAINE~]
Nancy Heiser's profile sketch. [Twitter]