Vinland restaurant taking local food movement to extremes

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Farm to Table movement is now well established in culinary circles. But a new restaurant in Portland, Maine is taking the "local" food movement to extremes.

Vinland on Congress Street claims to be the only 100% locally sourced restaurant in the entire country. "Vinland is a place where I can do one of the things I love most, make imaginative, delicious, nourishing food," said Owner and Chef David Levi.

Levi said he decided to try to his food experiment in Portland because of the abundance of organic farms, fishermen and foragers. But it's also a place where the ground is frozen solid for six months. "I really enjoy the challenge," said Levi carefully slicing a roast beef.

Local ingredients only means diners will not find any dishes prepared with typical staples like olive oil, black pepper, cane sugar. "It forces us to think how can we create dishes which are exciting? Without using the more obvious ingredients," said Levi.

No lemon? No problem. They use condensed yogurt whey. The small open kitchen looks like a bit like a laboratory with jars filled with raw ingredients, because they have to do a lot of experimenting. No one in Maine makes potato flour, so the chefs figured out how to make it themselves.

What are they serving patrons when there's snow outside? Mouth watering roast beef, creamy turnip soup, local mussels, roasted pan seared parsnips and a smorgasbord of cheeses, meats, eggs and pickled vegetables served on a stone tablet. "You don't expect this much colorful beautiful food in the dead of winter in Maine," exclaimed diner Kate Mockus. "But they're doing it and doing it well."

This is not to say the team isn't looking forward to the growing season. "Really exciting stuff," said Levi holding up one of the first greens of the season, spinach that was grown in a cold frame.

But if they can create this bounty in the dead of winter, imagine what they'll deliver when the growing gets good.


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