Dish Giveaway: Gift Certificate to Nine Elm

Posted: June 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Danvers, Nine Elm American Bistro | Tags: , , | 111 Comments »

North Shore Dish is excited to announce our first-ever giveaway! And believe us, this is a contest worth entering.

We are giving away a gift certificate worth $100 from Nine Elm American Bistro in Danvers.  The Boston Globe said Nine Elm “deserves to be a regional draw,” and we agree. We’ve enjoyed dinner there on several occasions, and you can find our post about the bistro here.

How to enter

To enter, leave a comment on this post answering the following question: What North Shore restaurant is your favorite hidden gem?

That’s all there is to it! Your answer has no bearing on who wins—we’d just love to hear your feedback.

Contest rules

Deadline for entries is midnight on Thursday, July 1, 2010. A winner will be chosen Friday, July 2 by a random number generator and notified by e-mail. You must enter a valid e-mail address with your comment. US residents only, one entry per person. Good Luck!

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Turbine’s Bar Food is Beyond the Ordinary

Posted: June 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Drinks, Lynn, Turbine Wine Bar | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Blue Ox, which opened just over a year ago and has met with great success, injected a new vibrancy into the Lynn dining scene. Young, enthusiastic Lynners like Corey Jackson and Seth Albaum who are working to rejuvenate the downtown hope that Turbine Wine Bar, which opened in March at 56 Central Square, will follow in its footsteps.

Last Saturday, we hit Turbine for dinner to see what all the buzz was about. Situated in a renovated historic building, the feel is relaxed city chic with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, a generous bar, and optic metallic tabletops.

True to the name, Turbine offers more than 30 different wines from $6 a glass and up, including some interesting varietals, a few sparklers, port, and sake. The beer list provides quite a range as well, including Bard’s Tale, a gluten-free option for the celiacs in the crowd.

We ordered a glass each and checked out the menu, which consists of all small plates, many of them quite reasonable. We started with the cheese plate and the hummus. We chose four cheeses from eight varieties, and the plate included fruit, candied pecans, some fig jam, and a baguette toasts ($12). The cheeses weren’t terribly exotic, but they were good quality and served at room temperature, which is always appreciated. The hummus is house-made, fresh and lemony, served with olives and warm pita ($7.50).

Tapas-sized portions are fun because they allow you to taste a variety of dishes without overindulging. We went on to try three more: mushroom ravioli, a chicken tostada, and the black and blue filet. The house-made pasta filled with criminis and ricotta in a white wine cream sauce was delicious, tender and tasty and not overwhelmed by the sauce ($11). The chicken tostada featured slow-cooked chicken with fresh salsa, jack cheese, and avocado slices ($9). It was well made and tasted good but we felt it was overpriced and had the least wow factor of everything we tried.

And speaking of wow factor, the black and blue filet was incredible ($12). Tender slices of seared filet mignon drizzled with an herb oil salsa and served over warm radicchio was the definite favorite of the night. The portion is six smallish slices, which our party of four made quick work of.

We couldn’t leave without sampling a couple of desserts. The rich dark flourless chocolate cake was lovely, and the combination of flavors in the grilled banana bread with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce was a real treat. ($6 each.)

One thing to keep in mind is that while individual items are relatively inexpensive, if you are a big eater, these small plates can add up. They are ideal for a light dinner or a snacks with your drink.

Thus far, Turbine remains a hidden gem. With excellent food and enthusiastic service, we’re surprised that they’re not packed every night. Maybe they cater to a later crowd, but at 8:30, the dining room was only half filled. Of course, that could be a good thing for those looking to try something new—this is a place definitely worth discovering.

Turbine Wine Bar
56 Central Square, Lynn
(781) 780-7301
www.turbinewinebar.com

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Where the Wild Foods Are

Posted: June 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Marblehead | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Ready for the hottest food experience around? Try your backyard, followed by your kitchen. We’re talking about foraging, and we learned more than we ever thought possible about what’s edible in this neck of the woods when we attended Russ Cohen’s lively Wild Edibles class on Saturday in Marblehead.

Cohen is an expert in foraging and has been learning and teaching about wild food for more than 35 years. He’s the author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, available on the Essex County Greenbelt Association Web site (all proceeds go to the association). We met on Norman Street where Cohen fed us June berries he had picked in Cambridge the day before, shagbark hickory nuts (they taste like walnuts soaked in maple syrup), and fruit leather made from autumn olives.

Before we began our hike into the woods, we were given some valuable information on where to forage (wildlife management areas and organic farms are two possibilities in addition to ECGB areas), what to avoid (mushrooms, unless you’ve been trained), and how to determine how much of a plant you should take from the wild. Cohen gave us a list of edible plants in New England ranked by rarity. For example, garlic mustard is an invasive plant that you cannot harvest too much of as far as ecologists are concerned while wild leeks (ramps) should be picked more judiciously.

We spent about two hours in Steer Swamp, on the east side of Beacon Street, followed by a short walk across the tidal flats to Crowninshield Island (also known as Brown’s Island) to learn about coastal foraging opportunities.

We were astonished at the number of edible plants there are right under our noses, so to speak, and Cohen is so knowledgeable it’s impossible not to be caught up in his enthusiasm. We learned that highly invasive knotweed can be boiled like rhubarb and made into pie and that burdock root tastes a lot like artichokes. We can now identify elderberry flowers, making a mental note of the trees that will later have berries to make into juice or combine with apples into sauce or pie.

We saw just-forming grapes with leaves ready to be stuffed and rolled, sassafras (the bark makes a root-beer-like drink), Juneberry trees, jewelweed, and much, much more. On Crowninshield, we learned how to use Irish moss seaweed to make blancmange, tasted sea rocket (it has a strong horseradish flavor) and beach peas, identified a black cherry tree, and sorted out several types of edible seaweed.

If you love to learn new things about food, we highly recommend Cohen’s class. A schedule is here. If you prefer to learn on your own, the book is the best place to start, containing a huge amount of information and many recipes, some of which are here. We don’t know if we’re ready to start grinding our own flour from acorns, but those fall harvest muffins sound awfully good.

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A Collection of Confections at Cassis

Posted: June 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Beverly, Cassis Bakery, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

June is a busy multi-birthday month for us, so when we needed a couple of birthday cakes we thought of Cassis Bakery in Beverly. Since its inception 10 years ago, Cassis has won many accolades and become well known on the North Shore for its pastries and wedding cakes.

We stopped in last week to peruse the refrigerated cases and order our confections. The bakery offers a wide range of cakes and tortes to choose from, including a new gluten-free menu. Our first request was a Sacher torte, but we were told that due to time and complexity, the baker no longer makes them for small orders, and even when ordering a large one, it must be done further in advance. So we decided to go with a fruit flan and a standard chocolate mousse birthday cake.

The beautiful display in the pastry case was so alluring that after we placed the order, we couldn’t leave without taking a few treats along. The porcupines ($2.85) were so damned cute that you almost don’t want to eat them—but we did. A butter cookie tart shell filled with chocolate cream, almonds, and a coat of dark chocolate, they tasted as wonderful as they looked. The cinnamon twist ($2.20) was also quite good; like an elongated cinnamon bun with plenty of icing, it was lovely with coffee.

When we picked up the cakes on Sunday morning, everyone was wowed by how gorgeous they were. The fruit flan ($37.50 for 9″) was spectacular. Completely unlike supermarket tarts, the fruit was sliced thinly to make an intricate pattern and included fresh peaches, kiwi, strawberries, and raspberries. The tart shell was buttery, the flan itself rich and creamy.

Although the chocolate cake ($30 for 8″ plus $3 for the purple frosted decorations) was beautiful, flavor-wise it was unsuccessful. The sponge cake was a dry and not chocolate-y enough, though the layers of mousse in the middle helped it, and the buttercream frosting was heavy and bland.

With the chefs’ obvious care and attention to detail, one can see how Cassis has gained its reputation, and it’s definitely worth frequenting for pastries and specialty items. And you didn’t hear it from us, but fruit flan leftovers are especially good for breakfast…

Cassis Bakery
263 Cabot St., Beverly
(978) 922-2053
www.cassisbakery.com

Cassis Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Dish Tidbits: Strawberry Festivals, Cooking Classes, New Restaurants, and More

Posted: June 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

There’s quite a lot going on the next couple of weeks, including strawberry festivals and farmers market openings, plus some new restaurants on the horizon. Without further ado:

Both days this weekend at Russell Orchards in Ipswich there will be strawberry picking, hayrides, strawberry shortcake, facepainting, music, balloons at their annual strawberry festival.

At Connors Farm in Danvers, the festival is on Saturday only and features live music, food from Champions Barbeque, strawberries dipped in chocolate, Homemade strawberry shortcake, costume characters, strawberry picking, pony rides
face painting, and hay rides.

The following weekend, the Swampscott Strawberry Festival is being held on Sunday the 27th from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Town Hall lawn.

If you’re looking for a farmers market to visit or more information about your local market, there is information at the Federation of Mass Farmers Markets and a list of Northeast farmer’s markets here. You can find our list of North Shore farmer’s markets is here, with links on several that we’ve reviewed.

Mary Reilly of The Savory Kitchen has a great idea for those pea tendrils in your CSA box. She’s cooking her way through her CSA share each week and sharing her recipes and non-recipe recipes. Mary also teaches cooking classes at the gorgeous Jewett Farms Studio, and there are slots left in the July 23 class on Indian cooking at home (6:00 pm to 9:00 pm), the July 31 canning class (1:00 pm to 4:00 pm), and the August 13 cooking from the farmers’ market class (6:00 pm to 9:00 pm). For descriptions, go here; classes are $90.

If you’ve got a youngster that likes to cook, you may want to take a look at Shubie’s Tweens and Teens summer classes. They’re for ages 11 to 15 with Chef Laura Tyrrell. Pies and tarts is July 6, fresh pasta is July 13, cakes and frostings is July 20, and garlic bread, monkey bread, and bagels is July 27. All classes are $50 and run from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm. If you sign up for all four classes, you get $30 off. Call (781) 631-0149 for more information.

The PEM is hosting a beer and chocolate tasting in conjunction with its Mayan exhibit on July 8 from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Maya inspired cuisine will be served, and attendees will sample seven unique beers and Taza’s stone ground organic chocolate. More information is here, and the cost is $75 for members and $85 for nonmembers.

Euphoria Lifestyle has opened in the 100 building in Cummings Center, Beverly, serving smoothies and wraps and promising Pinkberry-style fro-yo in about two weeks. We’ll check it out and let you know how it is (tough job, but someone’s got to do it). For future reference, it’s right near Danvers Bank and does not have an outside sign.

In Peabody, we’ve spotted a few restaurant happenings. On June 1, Top Steakhouse opened in the former O’Fado space at 72 Walnut St. Since this Brazillian style steakhouse will be competition for the popular Fire Bull, we’re wondering if the area can support two churrascarias just a few blocks from each other.

We also saw a banner up for Maki Sushi Bar, going in next to Peabody Estate Buyers on Main St. They are in the midst of fitting up the interior, no word on when they will open. Also on Main (toward the Salem line), we saw a banner for Peabody Bread and Baking Co. where Rosie’s Bakery was. We’ll stop in the next chance we get.

And last but not least, a recent Guy Fieri trip (he’s a Food Network celebrity chef) included visits to our own Lobster Shanty in Salem, Rino’s Place in East Boston, Greek Corner Restaurant in Cambridge, plus a few Maine locations. Pictures are here. Can’t wait to see the Shanty episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, air date and time still to be determined.

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Updating a Wenham Classic

Posted: June 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bakery, Breakfast, Tea, The Exchange at Wenham Tea House, Wenham | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

As we suspect is the case with many of you, we hadn’t been to the Wenham Tea House in years and years. While we weren’t paying attention, manager Emma Roberts completely revamped the place, so when they recently became a Dish sponsor, we drove over to experience The Exchange at Wenham Tea House for ourselves.

They still serve tea, of course (Thursday through Saturday from 2:30 to 4:15), but the restaurant has a new chef and now serves gourmet breakfasts and lunches. All of the food is made from scratch, including the raspberry jam served with terrific scones and the decadent Crescent City French Toast you see here, which features cream cheese filling, pecans, sautéed bananas, and brandy syrup ($8.75).

Roberts, owner of Capers Catering, is a Wenham resident and is clearly enjoying bringing this town landmark back to life. She told us how residents often donate their old china to the restaurant and about her plans to update the gardens and put in a patio for spring/summer use. She has already updated the shop next door to the restaurant, which now features jewelry from local artists alongside appealing cookbooks, whimsical dishes, candles, and hand-made quilts. Right next to the gift shop is Irresistibles, featuring upscale women’s casual wear.

There is also a small take-out operation where you can buy the housemade jam, baked goods, and frozen gourmet casseroles. Many of the recipes from the restaurant and shop can be found on Emma’s blog. Also on the website is information on holding an event at The Exchange, which has become a popular spot for children’s birthday parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, and charity events.

The Exchange at Wenham Tea House
4 Monument St, Wenham
(978) 468-1398
www.wenhamteahouse.com

Wenham Tea House & Shops on Urbanspoon

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Summer Bounty, Coming Up!

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Gloucester, Ipswich, Lynn, Marblehead, Marblehead Farmer's Market, Marketplace, Newburyport, Newburyport Farmer's Market, Peabody, Revere, Rowley, Salem, Salem Farmer's Market | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Sure, this gorgeous spring has been wonderful for walking and biking, enjoying the flowers, and getting a head start on our tans. But let’s face it: the best thing about the recent weather is the bounty we’ll soon find at the various North Shore farmers markets. To that end, we’ve got a list of the markets, their opening dates, their locations, and their hours, plus links to our FM posts from last year. Enjoy!

Revere Beach, Thursdays 12:00-6:00
Revere Beach by the William G. Reinstein Bandstand
Opening day: July 23

Lynn, Thursdays 11:00-3:00
Union St and Exchange St
Opening day: July 2

Marblehead, Saturdays 9:00-12:00
28 Vine St, behind Veteran’s Middle School
Opening day: June 12
Summer At Last: Marblehead Farmer’s Market

Salem, Thursdays 4:00-7:00
32 Derby Square
Opening day: June 17
Greens Galore at Salem Farmer’s Market

Beverly, Mondays 3:30-6:45
Veteran’s Park, Rantoul St and Railroad Ave
Opening day: June 28

Peabody, Tuesdays 1:00-6:00
Central St and Railroad Ave
Opening day: July 1

Gloucester / Cape Ann, Thursdays 3:00-6:30
Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center
Opening day: June 24

Rowley, Sundays 8:00-1:00
Rowley Town Common, Rte 1A
Opening day: July 11

Saugus / Cliftondale, Tuesdays 10:00 – 3:00
Cliftondale Square off Rte. 1 at Jackson Street
Opening day: July 6

Ipswich, Saturdays 9:00-1:00
Ebsco Parking Lot on Estie’s Street
Opening day: July 10

Topsfield, Saturdays 7:00-12:00
207 Boston St, Topsfield Fairgrounds
Opening day: July 10

Newburyport, Sundays 9:00-1:00
The Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water Street
Opening day: May 2
Eating Our Way Through the Newburyport Farmers Market

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Local Takes on New Meaning at The Market in Annisquam

Posted: June 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Breakfast, Gloucester, Steakhouse, The Market | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

You couldn’t get much farther apart than Berkeley, California and Annisquam, Mass, but these two towns do have something important in common—a love of fresh, local food. And now, they have something else tying them together: The Market Restaurant, owned by Annisquam native Amelia O’Reilly and Berkeley’s Nico Monday.

Both recently moved back to the North Shore after more than five years cooking at Northern California’s famous Chez Panisse. They brought Monday’s brother, Oliver, with them to oversee the purchase of local produce and seafood.

It’s no coincidence that O’Reilly and the Mondays arrived in May to set up their new restaurant. For one thing, the idea is to take advantage of the abundance of the New England summer—lobster and other seafood, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and people not wanting to turn on their stoves. For another, their restaurant license is seasonal (until October 15), although O’Reilly says they may hold cooking classes or offer catering out of the space during the winter.

The restaurant’s space is small and casual but charming, with eight indoor tables and six outdoors, overlooking picturesque Lobster Cove. Starting June 4, dinner will be served nightly except Wednesdays; the menu will feature three entrees, three salads, and one or two desserts. For now, dinner service is BYOB, but a beer and wine license is in the works.

The menu will change nightly depending on what seafood and produce are freshest and will include options like fish stew, fried scallops with homemade onion rings, and a vegetarian option. O’Reilly says they plan to serve meat only if it comes from a local, organic source.

Starting June 5, breakfast will be served, starting with fritter-like sour cream donuts at 7:00 and full entrees at 7:30. Expect to see hearty fisherman’s fare like fishcakes, beans, and anadama bread (a local favorite flavored with molasses and cornmeal). On June 21, a picnic-style lunch service will begin with items like lobster rolls and fried fish sandwiches, perfect for taking to an outside table, the beach, or a boat.

We were invited to attend the restaurant’s grand opening this weekend, where we sampled crispy brandade, lobster paella with aioli, and rocket salad with shaved fennel. Everything we ate was delicious—perfectly cooked and seasoned—a successful tying together of the traditional (brandade are fritters made with salt cod), the local, and the gourmet. The paella looked marvelous and tasted even better, with large chunks of lobster, mussels, clams, saffron flavored risotto, and the addictive aioli.

It’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of these three food lovers and their passion for local products. Seafood comes from Cape Ann Fresh Catch and other local purveyors and may, one day, simply arrive at the restaurant’s dock. Bread baskets will be filled by Salem’s A&J King, hot dog rolls are from Virgilio’s in Gloucester, and Oliver has posted a Google map showing North Shore farms that will supply the restaurant’s produce.

Some greens won’t have to travel even that far—lettuce and herbs are already growing at O’Reilly’s mother’s house in nearby Lanesville. We can’t help but think that Alice Waters would approve.

The Market Restaurant
33 River Rd, Lobster Cove, Gloucester
(978) 282-0700
www.themarketrestaurant.com

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