Summer is fast approaching, according to the calendar. Summer in Maine is already here, according to hardy Mainers. As such, it's time for the food trucks to sally forth and feed the hungry, if still chilly, masses. Some newcomers are arriving while another is expanding.
1) One new food truck was announced a week ago by Portland Food Map. Named for owner/chef Clayton Norris' initials plus the type of food it will serve, CN Shawarma: Arabian BBQ on Wheels should hit the streets during the first week of June, serving lunch and dinner in a new spot each day.
Originally from Bath, Norris picked up some cooking skills from his mother, who has owned Sarah's Cafe in Wiscasset for 32 years. Like his mother, who never intended to open a restaurant, Clayton didn't set out to enter the culinary field. He attended the French Culinary Institute only after deciding his journalism degree wasn't the right fit. He worked in New Jersey for years—at Restaurant David Drake, Due Mari, and Le Rendezvous—before returning to Maine and joining chef/owner Abby Harmon's team of sous chefs at Caiola's. Then he found his truck.
Norris explains that his main influences are the shawarma and falafel carts he discovered during his time in New York City. He "loved the flavors of the meat on the rotating spit and how assertive the seasoning was...not spicy, but complex." After working alongside a cook from Egypt, picking the man's brain about the eastern Mediterranean region, Norris realized this was something he wanted to share. He hopes to expand the notion of Mediterranean cuisine, which tends to "create images of food from France, Spain, Italy, and Greece [while] neglecting so many delicious food traditions that are influenced by the fantastic growing seasons and the history of the spice trade."
Is Portland ready for its own mobile shawarma dealer? Norris is betting on it. "I think Portland will take to the grain salads, the pickles, and the heavy use of herbs and spices in this cuisine...not to mention the roasted meat!"
2) Another new truck launching by the end of May is Maine-ly Meatballs. To clear up the elephant in the room, the answer is no, this is not an offshoot of Mainely Burgers. To answer your next question, yes, the logo is a lobster holding a meatball, superimposed over the state of Maine. Run by Jean Krull and Hope Lawler, the business is banking on the power of balls of meat, with the tagline "These Ain't Yo Momma's Meatballs!" Frozen meatballs can be taken to go, while combo meals listed on the online menu include a side, fresh bread, and sauce, for those wishing to complement such meatballs as "classic beef and pork" or "lobster with signature sauce." Even a "dessert ball of the day" is promised for those with a sweet tooth.
Maine-ly Meatballs will be at Westbrook Together Days May 30 and 31, and on the streets June 1 in an unknown location, though they are scheduled to feed the tasting room crowd at Rising Tide Brewing Co. on Friday, June 6. Is there room for a meatball food truck in your routine? How about another food company called "Maine-ly"- or "Mainely"-Something?
3) Formerly Love Cupcakes, the dessert truck now called KupCakes INC has also been selling its treats from a table on the second floor food court of the Portland Public Market House in Monument Square. As Portland Food Map reports, one of two new vendor spaces under construction should house KupCakes INC more permanently (the other space is for an unnamed Dominican restaurant). You should have no trouble feeding your cupcake habit in this town.
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