Posted: May 14th, 2013 | Author: JR | Filed under: Bakery, Buttermilk Baking Company, Newburyport | Tags: cakes, lemon curd cake, pies, Tarts | No Comments »
One of our readers wrote to us about Buttermilk Baking Company, saying we had to get ourselves to Newburyport to try their pastries (thanks, Laura!). We went a little crazy in the shop and ended up with two tarts, two hand pies, and a mini-cake. We are extremely picky about baked goods and find most look better than they taste. That’s definitely not the case here.
The lemon-curd cake was not only adorable, it was also moist and flavorful ($9.25). The buttercream icing was unbelievably light, tempting us to eat more cake than we really should have. We’re told that the raspberry preserves between each layer are made in the shop to be less sweet than commercial brands.
Both of the hand pies featured toothsome, flaky pastry ($4.65). Although the blueberry was delicious, the sour cherry filling was outstanding and a clear favorite with our tasters. The high-quality ingredients being used make these relatively simple pastries really shine.
Everyone in the group enjoyed the key lime tart, which had a creamy filling and a generous amount of buttery graham crust. But the chocolate caramel tart was the hit of the dessert round-up. Salty caramel and the best chocolate ganache we’ve ever tried are offset by a sugar-cookie crust for an incredible combination ($5.65 for individual sized tarts).
We’ll be back to try the muffins and cookies as soon as we work off some of the last indulgence. In the meantime, if you’re in the area, stop by Buttermilk and let us know what delectables you’ve discovered.
Buttermilk Baking Company
3 Liberty St, Newburyport
Posted: April 28th, 2013 | Author: JR | Filed under: Flying Saucer Pizza Co., Gulu-Gulu Cafe, Pizza | Tags: Face of Boe, Morpheus, Picard, Pizza, Quark | 1 Comment »
Okay, here’s the thing. We’re going to tell you about a wonderful pizza place, but you have to promise not to go too often, or we’ll never be able to get a table. Do we have a deal?
We love pizza, and we’re perfectly happy with a pie that features good dough, tasty sauce, and melty cheese. But Salem’s Flying Saucer Pizza Company reminded us that this humble dish rises to an entirely new level with the right technique and ingredients.
Everything at Flying Saucer is high-quality, fresh, and delicious. There are a large number of creative combinations to choose from, or you can create your own from a long list of ingredients. These New York-style pies with delicious cheese and generous toppings really knocked our socks off.
We were lucky to snag a seat the night we visited, and the restaurant was so busy that we were told right off the bat it would be 40 minutes to get our pizza to the table. Ensuring honest expectations is commendable and we didn’t mind the wait, though we might suggest a few appetizer options aside from the breadsticks to tide over hungry patrons.
We sipped wine and draft beer while munching the very tasty bread sticks. Then we tried the Morpheus (BBQ sauce, cheese, asparagus, roasted red peppers, black olives, green olives, scallions, BBQ chicken), Picard (cheese, potatoes, Canadian bacon, rosemary, chopped garlic, parmesan, olive oil), Quark (red sauce, cheese, hamburger, bacon, red onion, scallions), and Face of Boe (pesto, artichoke hearts, portobello mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, feta cheese, spinach). The latter is from the vegetarian section; there are two vegan pies as well. Prices for each pie ranged from $12 to $14 and easily fed three. The toppings were all fresh and plentiful, especially pleasing on pies like the Picard. We’d be hard pressed to name a favorite, but the no-sauce pizzas were a definite highlight for several in the group.
Given the ownership (the same folks who own the next-door Gulu Gulu Café), it was no surprise to see a huge selection of craft beers and meads. We were pleased to also see a nice wine selection, some good-looking salads, and some dessert offerings we’re looking forward to trying. Nutella, banana, and crushed coconut, anyone? Not to mention the highly amusing sci-fi décor, including the Dr. Who portrait wall and Star Trek’s Captain Picard in full Borg regalia.
We understand you’ll want to check the place out, and soon, but just be sure to leave a table open for us, okay?
Flying Saucer Pizza Company
118 Washington St, Salem
Posted: March 22nd, 2013 | Author: JR | Filed under: Beverly, Italian | Tags: Brian Knowles, Italy Eats, Shelly Green, Tuscany | 3 Comments »
A fabulous meal, fellow food-lovers, and a knowledgeable teacher—that’s what awaited us earlier this week at Shelly Green’s house in Beverly Farms. Oh, and did I mention a roof-top wood-fired oven?
We were invited to attend a pizza-making class at Italy Eats, and it was an incredible experience. There was a lavish spread of cheeses, crackers, salami, olives, fig jam, prosciutto, and more. We nibbled and took pictures while Shelly gave us a tour of her kitchen, which is laid out for teaching and includes both an incredible ocean view and the aforementioned pizza oven. (Full disclosure: our class was complimentary as part of Shelly’s effort to reach out to local bloggers.)
Shelly had already made and proofed the pizza dough. As we sampled the antipasto, Shelly’s husband, Ralph, a native Italian, cooked some fresh bread sticks in the oven to be filled with broccoli rabe and sautéed peppers. Between the wine, the spedini, and the food-related conversations, we were hard pressed to turn our attention to the pizza making.
Still, we managed to turn out some fantastic creations using the array of ingredients provided, including fresh mozzarella, smoked gouda, farmer’s cheese, parmesan, spicy sausage, fontina, leeks, broccoli rabe, and chili flakes. Fellow blogger Brian Knowles came up with my favorite combination: a white pizza with farmer’s cheese, broccoli rabe, and sausage. Definitely one to try at home, it was perfect with Shelly’s lightly-dressed salad of arugula, watercress, and gala apples.
Shelly can accommodate up to eight people for classes, and if you come as a group, she will customize the menu based on food preferences and what the participants want to learn. The class includes a sit-down dinner. If you’re lucky, you’ll be serenaded in Italian after dinner by one of Ralph and Shelly’s guitar-playing friends, as we were. Shelly’s knowledge of Italian food is formidable, and she both encourages you to ask questions and offers recipes.
Shelly also leads small-group trips to Tuscany. There are still a few spaces left on her May trip based in an 11th century castle, which includes five days of cooking, photography, or both, and a “Big Night” medieval banquet.
We’d like to thank Shelly and Ralph for a magical evening—we’re still dreaming of that crispy, chewy, smoky pizza and scheming to somehow build our own wood-fired oven so we can replicate it.
104 West Street Beverly Farms
Posted: March 13th, 2013 | Author: JR | Filed under: Amesbury | Tags: 19 Steps Bake Shop, Alex's Whey, Kitchen Local, Lisa Sutton, Local Foods Initiative, The Enterprise Center at Salem State | No Comments »
Owner Lisa Sutton explains the inspiration behind Kitchen Local.
We recently had the pleasure of touring an exciting new business in Amesbury: a shared-use commercial kitchen called Kitchen Local. Owner Lisa Sutton proudly gave tours of her just-completed space to attendees of the quarterly meeting of The Enterprise Center’s Local Foods Initiative. Sutton said that after seeing the burgeoning local food industry and realizing the shortage of commercial kitchen workspace, she decided to open her own.
The 1,200-foot work space is located in 14 Cedar Street Studios, a historic building a few blocks from downtown. Originally home to a carriage and automotive manufacturer, the building now hosts creative entrepreneurs such as artists, architects, designers, builders, and musicians.
Kitchen Local is available to chefs, small-scale food producers, farmers, and nutrition instructors for food production, catering, baking, cooking classes, menu planning, training, recipe testing, photography, and product development. You can rent the entire space for $40 per hour, which includes both the catering kitchen with a six-burner range as well as a baking kitchen with a 30-quart mixer, double electric convection oven, and proofing oven. You can rent one side or the other for $20 per hour.
The web site has a complete list of included equipment, plus information about becoming a client (including information on required food safety certification).
This is the first certified shared-use kitchen on the North Shore, and the meeting attendees were visibly excited about the possibilities. They also appreciated the protein cookies from Alex’s Whey and cinnamon-sugar popovers from 19 Steps Bake Shop, two of the businesses using the shared space.
The Enterprise Center is looking to support the local food community, specifically with regard to manufacturing, shared commercial kitchen space, distribution, and marketing. We’ll continue to keep you updated on the group’s progress.
14 Cedar Street Studio 106, Amesbury
Posted: March 6th, 2013 | Author: JR | Filed under: Event, News | Tags: Alchemy, Best Chef 2013, Beverly Bootstraps, Chianti Tuscan Restaurant, Christopher DeStefano, Christopher's Table, Danversport Yacht Club, Fibber McGees | No Comments »
Lobster tarts from Timothy S. Hopkins Catering, colorful bites from Tastebuds Gourmet Foods and an array of treats from The Topsfield Bakeshop.
It was a great night for a great cause—we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Monday night’s Best Chef 2013 event to benefit Beverly Bootstraps.
We started by perusing the gorgeous silent auction items, then made our way around to each of the food offerings from various North Shore purveyors, caterers, and restaurants. One of favorite tables, Timothy S. Hopkins Catering, ended up winning the people’s choice award. We loved their tiny lobster pastries and delicious toffee-chocolate mousse cups.
The variety on offer was terrific, including smoked mahi ceviche shooters from Red Lulu, healthy grain dishes from Life Alive, and seared tuna on crispy tortillas from Not Your Average Joe’s. There was plenty of food, too, allowing us to go back for seconds and thirds of our favorites.
The teams hard at work. Clockwise from top left: Alchemy Cafe and Bistro, Fibber McGee’s, Christopher’s Table and Chianti Tuscan Restaurant & Jazz Lounge.
As the four chefs competing for Best Chef title prepared their entrées, the live auction got going, with much fanfare. The entire event was extremely well thought out and ran smoothly from start to finish. The Best Chef contestants were Christopher’s Table (Ipswich), Fibber McGees (Beverly), Alchemy Cafe and Bistro (Gloucester) and Chianti Tuscan Restaurant (Beverly).
Top: The judges taste and compare notes. Bottom: The winning dish from Christopher’s Table.
The contestants used ingredients from the Beverly Bootstraps pantry as 75% of their ingredients, with 25% coming from their own kitchens. They were judged on taste, appearance, and the originality of the use of pantry items by Eliana Hussain of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, Sam Hunt of Wild Horse Café, and Paul Guanci of Super Sub Shop of Beverly.
The chef’s creations were wildly imaginative, including goldfish-encrusted spam cooked sous vide from Alchemy and a chicken pot pie with crust made from pumpkin bread mix and Bisquick. But the beautifully plated pho from Christopher’s Table was the judge’s winner. It featured ramen noodles in a broth flavored with peanuts, cilantro, and lime, plus a spring roll accompanied by a hoisin sauce made with grape jelly.
A good time was had by all. (L) Lindsey Sakonchick, Development/Marketing Coordinator for Beverly Bootstraps had everything under control. (Center) Matt Blanchard, new owner/manager of the Wild Horse Café and Mark McDonough, owner of Serenitee Restaurant Group are old friends. (R) Blanchard’s Wild Horse partner and 2012 Best Chef winner, chef Sam Hunt chats with Christopher DeStephano, this year’s winner, as he preps his meal.
It was such a pleasure to see the North Shore turn out for this sold-out, fun-filled event!
Posted: February 18th, 2013 | Author: JR | Filed under: Event | Tags: Best Chef 2013, Beverly Bootstraps, Danversport Yacht Club | No Comments »
If you’re a fan of Food Network-style cooking competitions, consider checking out a live version on March 4 at the Danversport Yacht Club. Four chefs will compete for the Best Chef title—plus there will be sampling stations from more than 20 local restaurants, a cash bar, and silent and live auctions. Proceeds will benefit Beverly Bootstraps an organization devoted to providing critical resources to Beverly families and individuals so they can achieve self-sufficiency. The evening will benefit the organization’s food assistance, client support, adult education, and youth and family programs.
The event, which beings at 6:00 pm, features Karen Nascembeni, director of communications for North Shore Music Theatre, as the host. Judges include Paul Guanci, owner of Super Sub and City Council President; Sam Hunt, 2012 Best Chef winner and Wild Horse Café’s new chef; and Eliana Hussain, personal chef and instructor at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.
The competitors this year are Christopher DeStefano of Christopher’s Table, Stephen Crato of Fibber McGee’s, Scott Jenson of Alchemy Café and Bistro, and Chianti’s of Beverly. All four will duke it out in the kitchen using mainly food pantry ingredients (only 25% of the dish’s ingredients can come from the chefs’ kitchens).
Tickets are $50 and can be reserved at BeverlyBootstraps.org or by calling (978) 927-1561. Sponsorships are also available.
Posted: January 28th, 2013 | Author: JR | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Italian, Mediterranean, Salem | Tags: Chef Antonio Bettencourt, Fan Favorites Dinner, Happy Anniversary | No Comments »
There are a lot of reasons we were excited to be invited to the first of three dinners to celebrate 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar’s fifth anniversary. First, it promised to be a fun night of reminiscing on five years of success and how it came to be. Second, we have never forgotten how Chef Tony Bettencourt bravely led the way to a local food renaissance when he opened a fine-dining restaurant at a time when the North Shore was known only for pubs and clam shacks.
The third reason, of course, was the food. And it did not disappoint. The theme for the dinner was inspiration—dishes that reflect the journey that Bettencourt took from restaurant work and culinary school to ultimately becoming a chef/owner (with a six-year detour into truck driving, of all things).
The first course was a delightful, varied antipasti with house-cured salumi, roasted beets topped with sea salt, pickled mushrooms, and sweet and sour cippoline onions. While we sampled, Chef Bettencourt told us about the early days of his journey, ending with an unexpected shift to Italian food (he had trained almost exclusively in French cuisine). From a photo he saw of an antipasti table in a trattoria, he began his journey into a cuisine he adores and works every day to master.
Next was the pasta course, harking back to a meal Bettencourt and his wife ate on a culinary tour of Tuscany. Both the tortelli di patate and mushroom tagliatelle were spot on in terms of flavor and texture. We then received an extraordinary seafood dish that Bettencourt described as his twist on fennel citrus salad and reflective of the way he likes to cook now. Shaved fennel was topped with green olive tapenade, crispy prosciutto (house made), a perfectly seared sea scallop, and a spicy pickled grapefruit segment. Not only was the grapefruit a completely new sensation (spicy? grapefruit?), but the various elements came together to create a perfectly balanced dish.
The meat course consisted of house made garlic sausage, hanger steak thinly sliced and topped with salsa verde, and pork ribs over roasted fennel and potatoes. All three elements were extraordinary—so full of flavor and melt-in-your mouth tender, especially the rib. Bettencourt again explained that his style is to bring out the flavors of food rather than overwhelm them with sauces or extraneous components.
We ended the meal with tiramisu, once again with a twist. Rather than a layered dessert served as a rectangular slab, this was house-made ladyfingers completely saturated with espresso and rum topped with a delectable mascarpone cream sauce. Yes, we’ve all had our fill the ubiquitous tiramisu and, no, none of it tasted like this.
The best news about this dinner is that it’s the first of three in a celebratory series. The second dinner takes place on Wednesday, February 20 and will feature dishes from 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar’s very first menu. The final meal is Fan Favorites, on March 20. Diners are voting now for their favorite dish from the past five years on Facebook, and the winning dishes will appear on that evening’s menu. The dinner is $62 per person, not including tax or tip. Learn more about the dinners and information on reservations on their website.
Chef Bettencourt’s five-year anniversary made us realize that we launched North Shore Dish just over four years ago. Boy, has the North Shore restaurant scene blossomed since then! Happily some things haven’t changed: one of our earliest posts described a fantastic dinner we had at 62.
62 Restaurant & Wine Bar
62 Wharf St, Salem
Posted: December 3rd, 2012 | Author: JR | Filed under: Bakery, Breakfast, Cafe, Daily Harvest Cafe, Danvers, Vegitarian/Vegan | No Comments »
We love the idea of fast casual, but we usually find the food sub-par, particularly the freshness of the ingredients. We found just the opposite at a recent lunch in Danvers’ Daily Harvest Café. To be blunt, this place is what we wish Panera Bread was.
We had soup, sandwiches, and a sweet treat, and all exceeded our standards. The roasted vegetable soup ($3.99 for a cup) was hot and full of flavor. It was also full of delicious vegetables.
The turkey melt includes grilled asparagus, caramelized onion, provolone cheese, and honey mustard ($8.49). It’s a good-sized sandwich served on harvest wheatberry bread with all-natural turkey that is not your typical restaurant/deli fare. The Thai wrap is also generously sized, with huge pieces of white-meat chicken; moist Jasmine rice; carrots, cucumber, and peanuts for crunch; and light peanut sauce ($7.99). We appreciated the sandwiches came with a choice of carrots or apple slices in lieu of the ubiquitous chips.
There are a lot of things to like about the menu, including four or five soup specials each day, vegetarian and vegan options, a breakfast menu, a kids selection not full of processed foods, and coffee drinks like chai latte and caramel macchiato. The prices are on the high side for lunch, but you pay almost as much for inferior ingredients served by surly staffers at other fast casual places.
We were tempted by the cheesecake brownies at the counter, as well as the good-looking muffins, but we somehow couldn’t resist trying a frosted cinnamon bun ($3.25), which not surprisingly was fresh, not overly sweet, and delicious.
The next time you need something wholesome and delicious in the Danvers area, definitely head for the Daily Harvest.
Daily Harvest Café
103 High St, Danvers
Posted: October 30th, 2012 | Author: JR | Filed under: American, Barrel House American Bar, Beverly, Bistro, Drinks | Tags: Anesti Lazarides, Nik Paras, Patrick Shea, Sean Maher | No Comments »
The Beverly restaurant scene is shifting rapidly, and we were thrilled to get a sneak peek at the new restaurant going into the space held by Mandrake. We were quite fond of Mandrake, but having seen the interior and the menu for Barrel House American Bar, we’re even more excited by the newcomer.
A barrel house is a room for aging whisky, and American Bar refers to the American bartenders who set up shop in Europe during prohibition. Thus, the new spot is an American bistro with a neighborhood feel and an emphasis on classic and craft cocktails. It’s owned by Nik Paras and Anesti Lazarides (of Soma and Wrapture) and Sean Maher (shown at left), formerly bar manager at Tryst and now managing partner. We loved Sean’s work and are excited to have him back on the local scene after a stint at Eastern Standard. The chef is Patrick Shea (of the Tom Shea family), also recently of Eastern Standard.
We saw the space under construction, but with the windows cleared of curtains, a new tin ceiling, and a beautiful 20-seat cast-pewter bar, it looks cozy yet hip. When you belly up to the bar, you’ll have local beers and interesting wines to choose from, along with the aforementioned cocktails made with craft spirits, fresh purees and juices and the appropriate ice (think crushed or unique cubes).
You may also want to partake of the raw bar, the house-cured charcuterie, a few chef-selected cheeses, or bar snacks like truffled parmesan popcorn and foie gras stuffed cherries marinated in sweet whisky.
At the nearby banquettes and the 22′ family table made from reclaimed boards (from the First Baptist church recently moved in Salem) you can sample small plates or go right for comforting entrees like mac & cheese, baked haddock, steak frites, or mustard seed encrusted Scottish salmon. Entrée prices run from $18 to $32.
With a strong restaurant pedigree and an intriguing menu that’s not special-occasion priced, we have high hopes for this Beverly entry, which will open in late November. Look for us in the bar…
Barrel House American Bar
252 Cabot Street, Beverly
978-998-4627 (active soon)
Posted: October 23rd, 2012 | Author: JR | Filed under: American, Breakfast, brunch, Peabody, Reds Kitchen + Tavern | Tags: pancakes as big as your head, Red's, Red's Sandwich Shop | No Comments »
Having been to Red’s in Salem on many lazy Sunday mornings, we were excited to check out their latest incarnation in Peabody (on Rt. 1). It’s an enormous space but quite welcoming, with diner-style counters up front and family-style tables elsewhere, plus a nice-looking bar.
We arrived around 12:30 and were a bit disappointed to learn that lunch is not served on Sunday; the restaurant moves right from breakfast to dinner (starting at 2:00). Unlike their sister restaurant, this location serves alcohol and is open until 10pm Sunday through Wednesday and 11pm Thursday through Saturday.
Nonetheless, we ordered up some of our breakfast favorites and thoroughly enjoyed them. The pancakes have got to be one of the best deals around, with three platter-sized fluffy cakes for $6.25. We had the chocolate chip, but the blueberry and banana are also delicious. Served with a side of bacon or sausage ($2.50), it’s enough food to last until bedtime.
Two eggs with thick-cut Canadian bacon, home fries, and rye toast also hit the spot ($6.50). The home fries are crispy outside, soft inside, and well seasoned, without being too heavy on the salt or garlic.
Like just about everything on the menu, the omelets are a great value: a huge portion of eggs with generous fillings. We enjoyed the tried-and-true Western with cheese ($6.25) and the more unusual fresh spinach with feta ($6.25). You can create your own concoction from a variety of ingredients and cheeses.
Unfortunately, the breakfast specials that day sounded great and were sold out when we arrived. Guess we’ll have to get up earlier if we want to sample the lobster benedict or one of the other benedict-style offerings. We managed to make do with a respectable waffle ($5.50), bacon, and a tasty Absolute Bloody Mary ($9.00).
The Sunday dinners we saw on the tables as we left looked tempting, so we’ll definitely plan a return trip to try the chicken pot pie ($9.50) and the rib-eye steak ($24).
Reds Kitchen + Tavern
131 Newbury St, Peabody