One Week in August

Posted: August 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Drinks, Event, News | Tags: | No Comments »

We’re excited about this weekend, which marks the start of the first annual North Shore Wine Week. The kickoff party is Saturday at Wine ConneXtion; information on the event is here. Andover’s Brasserie 28 will be serving up food samples that day, and Chef Matt Morello is the culinary chair of the entire event.

Morello said he’s slightly surprised by how well the concept has been received. “We have more than 30 restaurants, which is a great showing for the first year. I think when you offer a good product, it’s exciting to be able to partner with others who feel the same way.”

Morello said the theme behind his offerings at the kickoff party is smoke. One non-traditional element of each dish will be lightly smoked, including bourbon and tomatoes. At the restaurant, which Morello owns with his wife, there will be four flights of wine from its Napa wine station, which keeps wine temperature controlled and under pressure with argon gas, rather than in bottles. “This lets us offer amazing wines that most people can only buy by the bottle. It’s the freshest glass of wine—like opening a new bottle every time,” said Morello.

The Serenitee Restaurant Group is varying its Wine Week offerings by restaurant. At Alchemy in Gloucester, Sommelier Matt Rose has created a tapas pairing menu and is offering wines by the glass from the cellar list that are only available by the bottle during the rest of the year. At Latitude 43, you’ll find a raw bar pairing menu featuring oysters and sushi. And at Hamilton’s 15 Walnut just before the event (Thursday night), there’s a $50 five-course farm dinner with half glass wine and beer pairings for every course for $3 each.

At 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar (which will also be serving up samples on Saturday), Chef Tony Bettencourt is focusing on the relationship between food and wine. “Old world wines, or European wines, tend to pair better with food, but I wanted heighten the awareness of the lesser known varietals that people may not see as often,” said Bettencourt. “By pairing the dishes with these wines, diners can experience firsthand how pairing the right wine with food can make each better.”

The complete schedule of events is here, and if you make it to the kickoff party on Saturday, please make it a point to say hello–we love to meet readers and talk about our favorite restaurants.

Share

Dish Scoop: Fried Clams Now Available on Your iPhone

Posted: August 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: News, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The North Shore has always been known for its seafood. From Gloucester’s docks to Marblehead’s lobster boats, people have historically headed up the coast for the freshest fish, crispiest fried clams, and most luscious lobster. In fact, there are so many options, it can sometimes be difficult navigating them all. Until now.

The North of Boston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (NBCVB) has just launched a free iPhone app to “Help ‘Lobsta’ lovers and clambake connoisseurs to find their fill North of Boston.”  Funded by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, the app is based on the Seafood Trail originally listed on the cultural tourism website Escapes North.

“People are hungry for instant info in the palm of their hands. We are thrilled to provide an easy way to learn about all that Essex County has to offer in terms of food and fun,” said NBCVB Executive Director Sue Ann Pearson. “It not only helps promote Massachusetts as a premiere travel destination, but also highlights the many wonderful culinary options to explore in the North of Boston area. Visitors and locals can download the Seafood Trail app to discover where to eat, what to do, and other tasty tidbits.”

And did we mention they provide an easy link to a certain local food blog? All kidding aside, we are very excited to be a part of the project because it fits so well with our mission—to promote the food scene on the North Shore.

One of our most frequently asked questions is where to find good seafood. And to answer that question we always need ask a few of our own. Where do you want to eat? What kind of seafood are you looking for? What kind of atmosphere? Now you can peruse all the options right there on your phone.

What’s cool is that the app not only lists restaurants by town, but also has mapping, GPS locations, direct links to the restaurant websites, and an easy click-to-call function. The eateries listed run the gamut from clam shacks to more upscale options, and it notes nearly beaches and parks to round out your coastal day trip. NVCVB plans to continue developing the app and adding more information, so if you’re looking for seafood North of Boston, download before you hit the road!

You can find the app here at Escapes North.

Share

Farm to Table, Vermont Style

Posted: August 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Farm, Smolak Farms | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

The setting at Wednesday’s  Whim dinner could not have been more perfect for a visit from some of Vermont’s finest culinarians. Chef Tom Bivins of The New England Culinary Institute brought teachers, students, and expert gatherers with him to help put together a terrific meal at Smolak Farms. The apple trees were heavy with fruit, the pond was calm, the music was carefully chosen, and the food showcased the best Vermont has to offer.

We sipped a Rosenblum Cuvee zinfandel supplied by North Andover’s Wine ConneXtion while enjoying incredibly fresh butter from Vermont Butter & Cheese on slices of freshly baked baguette. We were then served hot corn consommé with mushroom glace, pan-fried daylily corms, and toasted wild onions. The sweet broth contrasted wonderfully with the earthy glace and the pungent onions, a great start to the meal. It was followed by a savory and comforting entree of grilled grass-fed beef strip steak, lobster mushrooms, madeira demi sauce, mashed potatoes, and sauteed summer squashes.

The daylily corms, wild onions, and lobster mushrooms were gathered by Nova Kim and Leslie Hook of Wild Gourmet Food. Kim said she and others in the Wild Food Gatherers Guild are pleased with the recent movement toward local food and eager to pass their years of knowledge onto the next generation.

The guild helps members market their wares and promote sustainable gathering (they prefer this term to foraging, which had a negative connotation in past times). “We don’t take everything in a given spot; we harvest it so it comes back again,” said Kim. Bivins said his interest began in grade school when his class read Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus. “At first when Nova and Kim brought me some of their finds, I thought ‘What am I going to do with this?’ but then I just went with it,” Bivins said.

A generous cheese plate featuring three award-winning Vermont cheeses was up next. We greatly enjoyed the Cabot clothbound cheddar, Bayley Hazen blue cheese, and Vermont Butter & Cheese Bonne Bouche (Bivins favorite).

The cheese plate included plums from Smolak, and the dessert included the farm’s plump blueberries. The berries were paired with tiny sweet Vermont blackberries and an outstanding shortcake moistened with milkweed blossom syrup and topped with elderberry flower cream.

The Whim series continues for the next couple of weeks. Chef Evan Mallett of Black Trumpet Bistro will prepare the meal on Wednesday the 17th, followed by Chef Paul Turano of Tryst Restaurant on the 24th. Dinners are $60 plus beverages and gratuity; tickets can be purchased through the Smolak website.

Smolak Farms
315 South Bradford Street, North Andover
(978) 682-6332
www.smolakfarms.com

Share

Without Restraint: North Shore Wine Week

Posted: August 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Drinks, Event, Grand Trunk Imports, Turbine Wine Bar, Wine Connextion | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

“Pour out the wine without restraint or stay
pour not by cups, but by the bellyful
pour out to all that wull.”

So said Edumund Spenser in Epithalamion, and that’s precisely what’s happening during the fourth week of August on the North Shore.

The first annual North Shore Wine Week is taking place from August 21 to 27, and we’re excited to be part of the event. The kickoff party is being held on August 20 from 12:00 to 5:00 at Wine ConnecXtion in North Andover. It’s a free event, but you need to email vip@northshorewineweek.com to request an electronic ticket. There will be wine tastings all afternoon, paired with food from Brasserie 28, Oregano, 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar, Tuscan Kitchen, and Burtons Grill.

During the week, there are wine tastings and wine specials at restaurants and wine vendors all over the North Shore. For example, on Sunday from 5:00 to 9:00, you can sample a flight of four summer whites and sultry reds for $12 at 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar in Salem. On Wednesday from 6:00 to 9:00, Urban Wine Project is hosting wine and jazz night at Turbine Wine Bar in Lynn featuring the project’s 2009 Central Square Chardonnay and 2009 Oxford Street Pinot Noir. Everyone who purchases a glass of either wine will receive a complimentary appetizer with their first glass. Friday afternoon at Grand Trunk in Newburyport, there will be a free tasting of Spanish wines and 15% off all bottles during the tasting.

A schedule of events is here, and more are being added daily. We’ll post again with further details about events as the date nears.

Share