Weekend Picks Sept 30-Oct 2: Beer, Chili, and Chowder. And More Beer.

Posted: September 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Ipswich, Lynn, Newburyport, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

We haven’t been keeping up with events the past month or so, but we’re back in action and so are the events this weekend. Fall starts off with a bang (and lots of beer) this weekend.

Start things off right with the Lynn Museum’s Oktoberfest Celebration tonight from 7:00 to 10:00. They’ll have brews from local faves Cape Ann Brewing and Ipswich Ale and others, along with treats from Karl’s Sausage Kitchen and live music. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

Speaking of beer, we are smack dab in the middle of North Shore Beer Week. You may recall last year we interviewed the 2 Beer Guys about the development of NSBW. They are back again this year with even more events. Check out the schedule here for craft beer tasting all over the North Shore.

In Salem, Beer Week means the second annual Witchtoberfest , which this year includes a run to benefit the Boys and Girls Club as well as a beer garden featuring local brews and live music.

If you’re looking for something hearty and warm as the weather starts to cool off, on Saturday you can choose between chili and chowder. If spice is your thing, head up to Newburyport where the Grog will be holding its fourth annual Chili Con Carnival, a chili cook-off to benefit three area food pantries. The entry fee is $10 to sample the chilis and delectable cider doughnuts from Cider Hill Farm. Ipswich Ales will be on hand selling beer.

If chowder is more your style, then Ipswich is your Saturday destination, where the Lion’s Club hosts its annual Chowderfest. For $10 you’ll get to try chowder by various local restaurants, including Windward Grille, which won the people’s choice award for chowder at last year’s Essex Clamfest. We are also pleased to see 5 Corners Kitchen will be on hand. North Shore denizens have been missing Chef Barry Edelman’s tasty fare as his Marblehead restaurant is undergoing repair from a fire earlier this year.

Both events run from noon to 3:00, so if you’re really hungry and want to take a scenic afternoon drive, you could have your fill of each. If the weather holds, a stop at Cider Hill for apples or DownRiver for ice cream would complete the day. Autumn on the North Shore just doesn’t get any better.

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Salem’s 43 Church Opens in Grand Style

Posted: September 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 43 Church, Event, Salem | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

The crowd was clearly having fun at 43 Church's Grand Opening last week.

One of Salem’s venerable restaurants has undergone a makeover, turning The Lyceum into 43 Church, a steakhouse and wine bar. Long-time owner George Harrington retired in June, and the new establishment is owned by George Harrington, Jr. and his wife, Mary.

Owners George and Mary chatting with TV Diner's Billy Costa.

The couple believed the historic space was a good fit for a creative steakhouse with, as George put it, “no attitude.” Richard Lambiase, who worked at the Back Bay Restaurant Group’s Abe & Louie’s, is the general manager. Executive chef Lee Fannon and sous chef Thomas Garfield, who worked together at Swampscott’s Red Rock Bistro, round out the team.

The menu includes classic appetizers like crab cake, french onion soup, and shrimp cocktail; entrees like tuna steak, free-range chicken with mashed potatoes, and salmon with lemon-caper sauce; and sides such as beer-battered onion rings, baked mac and cheese, and roasted asparagus with bearnaise. Steaks range from New York sirloin and filet mignon to ribeye and porterhouse, with a veal chop and t-bone lamb chop as non-beef options. Prices range from $23 to $43 for entrees, and Mary said she envisions many diners sharing an entree and sampling several side dishes.

The prime rib sliders were the hit of the night.

We were invited to an opening night event where we sampled gigantic shrimp from the raw bar, tender crab cake appetizers, and truly delicious prime rib sliced thin and served on sliders. We’re saving up our calories for a return visit and a proper review.

43 Church
43 Church St, Salem
(978) 745-7665
www.43church.com

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Are We Crazy to Try Sushi on Route 1?

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Fuji Sushi, Peabody, Seafood | Tags: , | 5 Comments »

Fuji Sushi, located in a small strip mall on Route 1, does not look impressive from the outside. But we had heard good things, and their website proclaims they serve the best sushi on the North Shore, so we headed in to see for ourselves.

Ironically, it was the sushi that disappointed. There is a large selection of cooked and special maki rolls, and we sampled two that were quite good. The money brain roll featured spicy tuna and avocado and was deep fried ($8.25); the mango salsa shrimp roll was a great, fresh-tasting combination, with wafer thin slices of mango curved around the outside ($9.95). But the two traditional items we ordered from the sushi bar were very poor quality. The tuna sushi (two pieces for $5.25) was almost inedible, with large veins of sinew running though it, and the eel avocado roll was far too mushy ($5.25).

We fared better with our entrees. The vegetable don (rice bowl) was piping hot and full of wonderful flavors. At $10.95, it is also a terrific value. The shrimp yakisoba was also very good, with plentiful shrimp and smoky noodles ($11.95). We also sampled the house salad with delicious ginger dressing ($2.95) and the steamed shumai, which were small and not very flavorful ($4.25),

If you are looking for inexpensive Japanese food and prefer “crazy” maki rolls over traditional sushi, you can do well at Fuji. Other sushi lovers will want to look elsewhere.

Fuji Sushi
136 Newbury Street, Peabody
(978) 535-1182
www.myfujisushi.com

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North Shore Favorites to Take Part in Saturday’s Boston Local Market

Posted: September 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Boston Local Market, Chococoa Baking Company, Event, Lark Fine Foods | Tags: , | No Comments »

There’s an interesting event happening this Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 in Boston. Since there are a bunch of North Shore connections, and it’s all about local food, we thought you’d want to know about it.

Maggie Battista, a fabulous local writer and photographer, is one of the minds behind Eat Boutique. The event is the company’s first Boston Local Market, featuring food purveyors and cookbook authors.

Newburyport’s Chococoa Baking (gourmet whoopie pies) and Essex’s Lark Fine Foods (cookies for grownups) are among the participants. Ipswich’s Didi Davis Artisan Foods will be displaying their inventive condiments. Not from the North Shore, but certainly of interest to foodies, are Arlington’s Quinn’s Popcorn, Somerville’s E.H. Chocolatier, Vermont’s Fat Toad Farm (goat milk caramel sauce), The Stand (drink syrups and preserves), The Wine Bottega, and The Cupcakory.

Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery will be signing her cookbook from 1:00 to 1:45. Amy Traverso, senior lifestyle editor at Yankee Magazine and author of the just-released The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, will be signing her book from 2:00 to 3:00. And Amy McCoy, author of Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare Bones Budget, will be at the market all afternoon sharing sample items from her cookbook.

The market will be located at Twelve Chairs, a design shop and studio at 319 A Street in Boston. Attendance is free, but please let Eat Boutique know you’ll be there by signing up here.

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Celebrating the End of Summer With Mad Martha

Posted: September 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Breakfast, brunch, Cafe, Mad Martha’s Beach Café, Newbury | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Just before Labor Day weekend, we took a day trip to Plum Island to eke out the last of the summer. After a long walk on the gorgeous beach at the Parker River Reserve, we were ready for lunch at Mad Martha’s Beach Café.

We were warmly greeted and immediately felt at home among the bright flowers and hand-painted artwork. The menu is extensive, with breakfast and lunch offerings, plus a number of daily specials.

I was in a savory mood, so I passed up the delicious-sounding blueberry coconut pancakes (next time, for sure) and went with Old Man omelet ($8.75). It did not disappoint: a huge portion of eggs stuffed with onions, mushrooms, large chunks of salty ham, and gooey cheese. The accompanying red potatoes were tender but could have used more crisping on the grill.

My dining companion ordered the portabella burger, which was topped with spinach and roasted red peppers ($8.25). The bread was fresh and slightly sweet, but the sandwich lacked punch.

Given the beauty of the area and the attentive, friendly service we received, we’ll be returning to this funky cafe. We suspect breakfast is the way to go here and that the portuguese french toast is in our future.

Mad Martha’s Beach Café
51 Northern Blvd, Plum Island (Newbury)
(978) 462-7707
www.madmarthasbeachcafe.com

Mad Martha's Beach Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Scratch Kitchen: Regional, Seasonal, and Delicious

Posted: September 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: American, Scratch Kitchen | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

We’re not sure exactly what happened, but our inner carnivores went wild last week at Scratch Kitchen. With house-smoked pulled pork and thick-cut bacon on the menu, it just seemed like the thing to do. It all started with the house-cured wings, which were smoky, sweet, and crispy ($9). We’re already planning a return trip for more.

We had to try the pulled pork sandwich, seeing how it’s a specialty of the house and made from pasture-raised hogs sourced from Northeast Family Farms. A huge amount of tender meat mixed with vinegary sauce was piled on a toasted bun with not-too-sweet coleslaw. A delicious combination that was nicely offset by freshly pickled vegetables on the side ($8). The BLT was also a great mixture: crisp bacon and bread contrasted with creamy tomato slices and herb-garlic mayo ($7.75).

Happily for those more in control of their meat cravings, there are plenty of options, including a fish taco featuring Gloucester haddock and a vegetable and goat cheese panini (Valley View Farm cheese, of course). And that’s without even mentioning the house-cut fries made with Maine potatoes and served with a Great Hill Blue cheese fondue.

We’re always happy to see an emphasis on seasonal, local ingredients, and Chef Bill Fogarty obviously walks the walk, offering daily specials based on what’s fresh from the farm or farmer’s market. We’re also happy to see that Scratch Kitchen has dinner options like bacon mac and cheese and roasted chicken tossed with pesto and orecchietti, along with wine by the bottle or glass and a strong roster of New England beers.

Scratch Kitchen
245 Derby St
(978) 741-2442
www.scratchkitchensalem.com

Scratch Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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