Archive for the ‘events’ Category

pocket brunch

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012


This past Sunday we were thrilled to be part of a new Portland food venue, Pocket Brunch. It was the best of what Portland offers as an inventive food town. A great group of professionals, and professional eaters, gathered in a private home for a five course brunch prepared by Rocco Salvatore Talarico, Joel Beauchamp and Josh & Katie Schier-Potocki. These are scheduled to be monthly events so you can get in on the action by buying tickets from the website. But don’t take our seats…!


This weekend, August 4th, we will not have our regular open hours, due to a scheduling mishap. We apologise for this mix-up and hope that it does not inconvenience too many folks.  We will be back in the saddle Saturday August 11th. Hope to see you then!  And remember you can call to make an appointment if Saturdays don’t work for you.




Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Wow, that went by fast.  We are now on a regular schedule with open hours every Saturday from 11:00 to 5:00, or by appointment.  For clarification purposes, by appointment means you can call us and see if we are around when you would like to come visit.  If we’re already here we will be happy to welcome you.  Saturdays work well for most civilians, but for those who work in ‘the business’ it is almost always a workday. So for those who sling hash, or pints for a living, we can be flexible on your days off.  Since you are there for us when we need your loving care, we will do a level best to return the favor.

Reference Wall

Saturday was so much fun.  We saw smiling faces we hadn’t seen in months, as well as some new ones.  The flow of folks was consistent so at no point were we lonely, although I may not have had quite enough time with each person.  I apologise if you didn’t get enough time with either Don or me, but the beautiful thing is that you can just come back next Saturday, or the one after that, or….

Moving out of a retail space was bittersweet for both of us.  We desperately needed more room, and more quiet time for working, but we were very proud of the community that built up around Rabelais in Portland.  The constant flow of cooks, bartenders, farmers, dishwashers, home cooks, wine geeks and armchair gastronomes was extremely gratifying.  We started the business with an idea, an idea borne from the gastronomic integrity and diversity that is Portland, and Maine.  Rabelais was also making a point about brick and mortar book stores, and how they can still succeed in this electronic world.  But our needs and the machinations of the world of modern publishing diverged too greatly.  It became necessary for Rabelais to move.  The transition was smooth, but a bit anxious due to the unknown nature of where we were going and what this new location held for us.  We are so happy and relieved to discover that this new setting is just what we had hoped it would be.  Physically it is quite perfect, and if you haven’t yet checked us out in person you are in for a treat.  Two desks on opposite sides of the loft allow us each the room to spread out and take care of our business without getting in each other’s hair. The flow around the standing bookshelves is smooth, and since we have so many square feet, I cannot yet imagine it being overcrowded in here.  There is tons of light from the seven windows. The shelves can now hold all the editions of any given book we may have.  Oh how my heart sings at the full shelves of James Beard and Julia Child, among many others.

All of that would be great in itself, but then you add on the fact that you lovely people are seeking us out, traveling the distance, short or not, to check us out.  That is a beautiful thing.  For so many reasons.  Amazon be damned, to hell with ereaders.  Indie book ventures can thrive.  We look forward to re-inventing this concept in the future with your support. We are still fine tuning (!?) the kitchen, still filling out the inventory.  But the days ahead will only be better and fuller.  So thank you for being part of Rabelais and let’s get cracking!


later in the Fall, Boston book fair

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

No denying it’s Fall. We’ve been waking to frost most days lately.  Cold weather breakfasts of oatmeal with apples, toasted nuts and our own maple syrup to start the days warming.   I went down to the garden to do some clean up last week and discovered a crop of beets I had missed.  Sweeter still for a little frost.  Don made a delicious borscht the other night that we’ve had for a couple of meals. The obnoxious snow came while we were in Toronto. So there was no last minute harvesting of the chard or the last green onions.  This weird weather makes the garden that much more challenging.  I haven’t planted any garlic for next year yet.  Think I should still have some time but who knows.

Rabelais is going to Boston.  This weekend is the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Hynes Convention Center.  Details can be found at their website.  Don has been pouring over inventory, picking just the right books to bring. Our short list for the fair is in the form of a menu. We’ve got some quirky ideas for display that I will photograph for those who can’t make it. To kick off the baking season I made some Brown Sugar Butter Cookies to give out in the booth. (ah, the smell of butter and sugar on my hands…)  If you are in the Boston area this weekend (Friday-Sunday) please do come by and say hello.  If you’ve ever been to a book fair, this is a top notch experience, one of the few international book fairs in the US.  If you are a book fair neophyte, this would be a great place to enter this fascinating subculture.  A huge room filled with some of the best booksellers in the world displaying their beautiful books. Hope to see many of your familiar faces.

Raleigh in the loft

In our last missive we announced our new plans for Rabelais.  We are very excited about the move and all the potential for our work with rare and Antiquarian books, as well as select new titles and imports. We are including some photos here of the space for you to see where we will land.  To clarify, we will be open at 86 Middle street through the Holidays. The official move to the Mills won’t happen until late January.  So please keep us in mind for your holiday gifts.  Cookbooks, in book form, make great gifts!  We will be participating in the East End Holiday Stroll again, and there will be another Cookie Swap!  Stay tuned for details.

light in the loft


new digs for Rabelais

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Rob Evans on Chopped

Rob Evans
Our good friend and neighbor, James Beard award-winning chef Rob Evans of Hugo’s, won his episode of Chopped last Tuesday  10/11 at 10:00 on the Food Network. We are bursting our buttons with hometown pride!

Rabelais heads to Toronto!
Tales cover
We will be exhibiting at the Toronto International Book Fair from October 28 thorough the 30th.  If you or anyone you know will be in the area during those dates please come out and see us.  You can get more information here.   If anyone’s got eating recommendations

we’re looking for ideas.

We plan, we toil, we suffer-in the hope of what? A camel-load of idol’s eyes?  The title deeds to Radio City?  The Empire of Asia?  A trip to the moon?  No, no, no, no. Simply to wake just in time to smell coffee and bacon and eggs.  And, again I cry, how rarely it happens!  But when it does happen-then what a moment, what a morning, what a delight?.

J.B. Priestley

Chicken eaten squash

Here in the Northeast we had a little hurricane, Irene, this Fall. Maybe you heard about it?  Apparently all that water wreaked havoc on our trees. Our Fall foliage display is not what it could be. Many of our Maples have already dropped the majority of their leaves in a muddy brown color.  Driving to the store yesterday was the first time I saw color on the side of the road. Consequently, I have not felt like it is really fall.  Then when the temperature dropped below thirty degrees last week I was jarred out of my Indian Summer reverie.  I rely on my seasonal indicators.  It’s already early October and I wouldn’t know it except for the appearance of Halloween decorations on some of my neighbor’s houses.  Well, I guess all the apples I have been eating are some indication…

Thirteen chicks have turned into a dozen pullets.  We are proud to have lost only one along the way.  Mother Hen has abdicated all responsibility for them.  After just a couple of nervous days they have found their footing and are now roaming the property fearlessly.  We wait to see how many present as roosters.   Likely there will be some Coq au Vin this winter.  Raleigh keeps an eye on them, as do the older flock members.  Young and old are now integrated and there is some semblance of order on the farm.


Change is afoot. If you’ve been in the store any time in the last year or two you have noticed all the boxes cluttering the store.  Rabelais’ collection of Antiquarian Books has increased at a pace that has outgrown our current space. So in the New Year Rabelais will be moving to a larger space.  We are so excited about our new location. It has been all we can do to keep it a secret this long.  Rabelais’ new home will be a loft in the North Dam Mills in Biddeford.  Our new digs will accompany a slight change in the ways of Rabelais.  The focus of the business will shift predominantly to rare books,  imports, and really special American releases.  We’ll finally have enough shelf space for most of our books, and we will be building a test kitchen in which to cook from the tens of thousands of recipes in our collection.  As soon as we have made some progress on the new space, pictures will go up on the blog/website.  Fear not! We will be at 86 Middle Street through the holidays and a bit beyond, so we hope to be your source for holiday gifts again this year.


naturalist at the table

Strange Food, Old Books. Our friend Andrew Zimmern remains the king of weird food, and his show Bizarre Food has brought oddball ingredients and strange techniques into American living rooms, if not its kitchens. But before Andrew, and even before Calvin Schwabe, author of Unmentionable Cuisine, there was E.G. Boulenger, Director of the London Zoological Society’s Aquarium. In 1927 he published  A Naturalist at the Dinner Table. The book encouraged acquiring only the best ingredients for fine dining, and emphasized the adventure involved in pursuing these ingredients. Four of the book’s eight chapters are given over to fare of the sea, and the final chapter devotes itself to what we might today call “bizarre food”: insects, baby mice, bats, salamanders and more.  We currently have a review copy, with a signed letter from the author excusing himself from an evening’s engagement because of, what else, a bit of stomach trouble.

naturalist letter


Spring feasts

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

“The carp was dead, killed, assassinated, murdered in the first, second and third degree. Limp, I fell into a chair, with my hands still unwashed reached for a cigarette, lighted it, and waited for the police to come and take me into custody.”

Alice B. Toklas

EastoverIt is most certainly Spring here in Maine.  Cold wet days, punctuated with flashes of gorgeous sunshine, harbingers of what’s to come.  But first we have to get through this cold dank stuff.  I did not plants my peas on Patriot’s Day last week.  I just planned the garden beds yesterday so I had no idea where I was going to plant those peas a week ago last Monday. I am choosing to be smug that my peas are not languishing in the cold wet soil.  Maybe, since it seems not to be raining, I will plant them today.

We had a delightful Spring feast on Sunday in the barn at Broadturn Farm.  Long tables filled with smiling faces, happy to be out of the house and communing with friends. I love Winter in Maine, really I do.  But by the time we get to April I am jonesing for the company of others, and fresh air.

Next weekend is the MARIAB fair in Wilmington, MA.  Don will be manning the booth solo (I’ve got to go to DC for a family party). But we hope to see many of you Massachusetts folks there.  Don will tell you a little about what he is bringing down, and there are VIP passes for those who click through.

The sky is lightening, time to plant the peas.



Saturday, May 7th, we’ll be loading up the wagon to exhibit at the Boston Book and Paper Expo , in Wilmington, MA. It’s an easy drive, closer than Boston. This rare book fair is one of the last big shows of the year, and will feature more than 85 dealers from all over the East Coast, as well as presentations, exhibits and talks on topics of books and book collecting.

Rabelais be bringing an assortment of American, English and Continental cookbooks from three centuries, along with cocktail, beer and wine books from our large collection. Many of the books have not been shown before, and haven’t even made it to the store, so come see what’s new (or old, really).  Some highlights include a beautiful copy of Mary Harris Frazer’s Kentucky Receipt Book, which includes the first recipe for banana pudding; an original 1931 Joy of Cooking in the ultrarare dust jacket, featuring St. Martha slaying the dragon of cooking drudgery; and a collection of European and American manuscript cookbooks.   Some of our recent purchases from the library of Alan Davidson will be there as well.

Just how much will this cost me, you ask? Well, nothing! The show’s promoter, Marvin Getman, has provided us with special VIP passes for our customers. Just click here to download and print out the special pass.

Sale boxes
In case you forgot, we will be having a store-wide sale May 14-16th.  That’s a Saturday through a Monday for those of you in the industry.  And there will be new material put out every day.  The Antiquarian books are the only things not on sale.  There will be tables of $1, $3 and $5 books and then the balance will be 40% off.  Help us make some room!

We’re going to have a sale…

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

The Alan Davidson books arrived the beginning of last week and Don has been enthusiastically unpacking and cataloging them.  In addition to the individual items we knew were coming, there were a couple of box lots that yielded some delightful surprises.  Kinda like Christmas in April.  Some of the books are now on our shelves, if you’d like to come in and see them.  If they don’t have the bookplate shown here, they have his initials next to the price.

We have received a flyer here in the store from a gas company.  They tell us that Middle Street will be torn up from Hampshire on down to Union until about Memorial Day.  Seems appropriate timing.  It’s been pretty quiet around here lately, and in our experience it will be until about July.  So we got to thinking about things and came up with a clever idea.  With all the antiquarian material we have bought lately we are stretched to the limit in this space.  What this means to you is that we are going to have a big sale.  We have had sales around this time for the past two years.  This one will be different.  We will still have tables with $1, $3 and $5 books, but we will also have most of our inventory priced at 40% off.  You would be doing us a great service if you would please come and help us make more room.

Along with the sale we are going to reduce our hours for the Spring.  Four years of business has shown us that people are otherwise engaged this time of year, in the garden most likely.  So we’re going to take this time to plot some new ideas for Rabelais, and work on our garden.  We will be open Saturday through Monday, and by appointment if there is something you cannot live without.  Then in July we will go back to seven days a week.

In the meantime, please come to the sale and take home lots of books.  The sale dates are Saturday, Sunday and Monday, May 14th through 16th. The hours will be 11-5:30 all three days.  There will be books from all sections (except the rare material) and if they aren’t $1, $3, or $5, they will be 40% off.  We really need to pare down, and we need you to help us do it.  So think of it as your civic duty alleviating our inventory issues.