Let Us Eat Cake

Posted: May 14th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Buttermilk Baking Company, Newburyport | Tags: , , , | 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
(978) 499-8278
www.buttermilkbaking.com

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Need a Holiday Sugar Fix? Head to Danvers.

Posted: December 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Cakes for Occasions, Danvers | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Whether you’re in need of treats for a holiday gathering or looking for a wow-them hostess gift, Cakes for Occasions is the place to go.

The Danvers bakery has been featured on “TV Diner,” “The Today Show,” and even “Home Shopping Network,” so we were eager to see what all the fuss was about.

Walking through the door is like stepping into a sugar-fueled fantasy. Rows of gorgeous cakes, pastries, and cupcakes await your ogling pleasure, as well as shelves full of cookies, candies, and all manner of treats. We love the fact that you can see into the decorating kitchen to watch cakes being created.

Owner Kelly Delaney had a few minutes to chat with us and told us about the store’s recent renovations, which doubled the space this summer. Delaney is smart, funny, and clearly knows her business.

Overwhelmed by the array of treats, we opted to try a few varieties of cupcakes. The cupcakes range from traditional chocolate and vanilla to gourmet flavors like Death by Chocolate, Mocha Bliss, 24Karrot, and Strawberry Grand Marnier. ($1.25 to $2.95).

There’s nothing worse than a cupcake that’s all décor and no flavor, but these beauties weren’t just pretty to look at. The chocolate cupcake topped with coconut frosting was lush and moist, and the frosting had rich coconut flavor. The snowman-topped holiday cupcake we brought home for our junior tasted garnered raves as well. She was delighted that the frosting was “light and creamy, not heavy and gross.”

We also tried a few of cocktail-inspired mini-cakes dubbed Cupcakes After 5 ($2.25). Both the Champagne & Strawberries and the Kahlua Mudslide were delicious, but we didn’t find them particularly boozy. And because they are smaller, the topping-to-cake ratio gives a sweeter overall experience. For the price, we’d go with the larger specialty flavors.

Those with special dietary needs will be glad to know that bakery is not only 100% nut-free, but also offers options for gluten free and sugar-free treats, so don’t be afraid to inquire.

Cakes for Occasions has a .pdf Holiday menu and online ordering at their website, but we suggest stopping by the bakery for the full sensory experience.

Cakes for Occasions
57 Maple Street, Danvers
(978) 774-4545
www.cakes4occasions.com

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Fresh, Fast, and Fabulous

Posted: December 3rd, 2012 | Author: | 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
(978) 777-4123
www.dailyharvestcafe

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Food, Friends, Wine, Repeat

Posted: September 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Cafe, Casual/Pub Food, Christopher's Table, Drinks, Ipswich | Tags: , , | No Comments »

There’s something very hard to resist about a glass of good wine and food that pairs perfectly with it. That’s the idea behind the newly launched wine bar at Christopher’s Table in Ipswich. By day, the space is a bakery café featuring gourmet sandwiches like turkey with caramelized onions, bacon, tomato, and fresh greens and a treats like cupcakes, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and apple turnovers.

At night, white tablecloths and thoughtful lighting transform this spot into an intimate wine bar. Diminutive sofas, red and gray décor to bring out the space’s tin ceiling, and comfortable bar stools are part of the charm created by North Shore designer Lisa Kawski of LMK Interiors. Behind the bar is an idea we love: a chalkboard encouraging friends to buy drinks for each other.

The drink special the night we visited was a peach bellini, but we went with the flavorful pinot noir ($10). The crispy fried chickpeas are just about the perfect bar snack ($6), and the arancini were a lusciously cheesy ($10). We didn’t try the cheese or charcutrie plates, but we saw them nearby, and they looked delicious. Chef/owner Christopher DeStefano says he is planning to add comfort food items to the bar menu for fall.

Chef Christopher is also looking to tap into foodies interested in classes. Upcoming events include a four-course dinner of local foods paired with four wines (Oct 15). His next class is on cooking with fall ingredients like pumpkin, apples, dried fruits, sage, and squash (Oct 24). Check the website for more information, and let us know what you think about the wine bar if you stop in.

Christopher’s Table
5 Depot Square Ipswich
www.christopherstable.com
(978) 356-6166

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Lynn, Lynn, the City of…Donuts

Posted: July 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Donut City, Lynn, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Even unintentionally, Corey Jackson inspires me to eat in Lynn. This morning I was planning to take Route 1A through Lynn when Corey posted a picture of the awful  Lynnway traffic on Facebook. Having no desire to experience it for myself, I decided to take Route 107, conveniently passing directly by Donut City, which sits at the intersection of Western Ave. and Chestnut Street.

A small, independent, family-owned shop that’s been open about a year and a half, Donut City makes donuts fresh each morning. I had been meaning to check them out, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Everything looked so good, I ended up leaving with a variety of treats to share with my colleagues. Both the raised and cake donuts (.75 each) were terrific. My all-time favorite, the chocolate frosted old-fashioned cake donut was excellent. The crunchy fried outside encased moist cake and was topped with chocolate icing that didn’t overwhelm. The raised doughnuts were heavenly—even the glazed was feather light, and the raised cinnamon was a revelation. That’s the one I’ll go back for.

Donut City offers muffins in two sizes, (.79 for small and $1.65 for large) and produces a variety of unusual flavors along with the old standbys. Who could resist a Boston Cream Pie muffin? I certainly couldn’t, and I threw in a pineapple coconut one for good measure. My colleagues were quite happy with the decision. The muffins were moist, lightly sweet, and had a nice springy crumb—the Boston Cream Pie drew raves.

I was interested to discover that aside from a myriad of sweet treats, croissants and breakfast sandwiches, the shop also offers fresh, hot, savory meat pies. The chicken and beef pastelitos (.80 each) looked so good, I opted to try the chicken then and there. A crisp pastry filled with chopped meat, onions, and sweet peppers, it was delicious. A couple of those and a coffee and you’ve got yourself a bargain lunch.

Speaking of coffee, I was excited to see that Donut City carries locally roasted fair trade coffee from Beverly’s Atomic Café.

The quality and freshness of this unassuming corner bakery blows chain store donuts out of the water, so don’t wait until the next traffic jam to stop by.

Donut City
515 Chestnut Street, Lynn
(781) 477-0766

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Pączki Day at Coffee Time Bake Shop

Posted: March 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Coffee Time Bake Shop, Salem, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Whether you are of Polish heritage or just want to indulge in deep fried taste treats, Fat Tuesday offers a great excuse to ditch your diet, as it’s the traditional day for Polish Americans to partake of pączki.

For the uninitiated, pączki (pronounced pooch-key or poonch-key) are balls of fried dough, similar to jelly doughnuts but denser and more eggy. They can be served plain with sugar, glazed, or filled with fruit or cream. Traditionally, making pączki just before Lent was a way to use up items like eggs and lard, which would be abstained from during the pre-Easter season.

Salem’s Coffee Time Bake Shop has a reputation for making the rich pastries, and this morning while suffering the hell that is the Bridge Street construction, we spotted their sign reminding us that today is pączki day. Seizing the chance to duck the traffic, we popped in and purchased a few.

The coffee shop produces plain and several stuffed varieties, priced from $1.89 to $3.50 each. The decadent cream- and strawberry-filled option was tasty, and the whipped cream was fresh, but it was overwhelming. A bite and a half was plenty. The raspberry fruit-filled was very good, but our favorite was the unfilled glazed. The glaze provided just enough sweetness, and the flavor of the dough was still discernible.

Coffee Time makes fresh, hand-rolled pączki daily at this time of year and will have them available now through Easter Sunday. The pastries are more of a bread dough than a doughnut, so we advise purchasing them early in the morning. The ones we tried were terrific, but I can imagine they dry out pretty quickly.

They offer a huge array of baked goods, doughnuts, and cookies and has other seasonal baked goods, including king cake for Mardi Gras and Irish soda bread. So if you find yourself waiting to be waved on by one of the endless police details lining the street, a pastry break might just be in order.

Coffee Time Bake Shop
96 Bridge Street, Salem
(978) 744-0995
www.coffeetimebakeshop.net

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The Unsung Tastes of Summer

Posted: August 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bakery, Boston Hot Dog Co., Cafe, Cider Hill Farm, Coven, Green Land Cafe, Jack Tar, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

While it may seem we write about every single thing we eat, that’s obviously not the case. And trust us, you really don’t want to know about all the cold leftovers or bowls of cereal in our lives. However, there have been some unsung tid-bits we’ve enjoyed this summer that deserve mention.

Jack Tar is an unassuming restaurant and pub tucked in behind the storefronts on Washington Street in Marblehead, and on a couple of occasions this summer we have found ourselves enjoying their little patio in the early evening. Our drink of choice? The refreshing Lemon Jack, which is similar to a lemon drop, made with citrus vodka and limoncello. Icy and tart, it’s just the thing to cool you off after a sultry day. Their house-made warm potato chips with bleu cheese, smoked bacon, and scallions are extremely tasty and just the right accompaniment to cocktails.

When a friend requested a stop at Boston Hot Dog in Salem recently, we heartily agreed, fully expecting to order one of their stellar dogs. Upon entering, we noticed the hot pastrami special and decided it warranted further investigation. Man, was that one excellent sandwich. If tender, savory pastrami slow-cooked all day, loaded into a French bread bun with Dijon mustard and a bit of swiss cheese sounds like heaven to you, check this baby out.

Autumn may be when thoughts typically turn to cider doughnuts, but we’ve been obsessing about them this summer, and those from Cider Hill Farm are the objects of our affection. Fresh, light, and cake-y, these old-fashioned doughnuts are coated in cinnamon sugar and simply melt in your mouth. Cider Hill sells them at several farmers markets across the North Shore, but we love them still warm from the bakery at the farm itself.

Another dessert worth seeking out is the dark chocolate bread pudding from Coven. It is dense, not too sweet, and the deep chocolate reminiscent of my grandmother’s homemade hot fudge sauce. This insanely lush treat is so rich we couldn’t finish it all, but it’s the sort of left over that won’t languish long in the fridge.

We have yet to get to the newly opened Green Land Café in Salem for dinner, but we did stop in for lunch last week and were quite impressed by the grilled avocado and crab salad with ginger-lime gastrique. Both the avocado and the crab were super fresh tasting, and the dressing was bright and tangy. This lovely entrée was light yet filling, just right for a summer afternoon.

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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

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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

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Celebrating Mom on the North Shore

Posted: April 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Beverly, brunch, Danvers, Event, Gloucester, Marblehead, Newburyport, Peabody, Rockport, Salem, Wenham | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Mother’s Day, May 9, is fast approaching, and if you still haven’t made any plans to honor mom, don’t panic, we’ve got a few ideas for you.

If you’ve got brunch in mind, it looks like Salem is the place. As usual, the Hawthorne Hotel will pull out all the stops to impress, with a huge buffet including both breakfast items and heartier fare, from 10:30 to 7:00 at $40 per adult and $15 per child.

The Salem Waterfront Hotel is offering two different options. From 8:00 to 9:00, it’s $26 per adult and $11 for children 12 and under. From 9:00 to 1:30, it’s $30 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. If you want to make a weekend of it, stay at the hotel Saturday night and receive one free brunch for Mom per room (based on availability). Things that caught our eye on the menu were the mascarpone and lobster scrambled eggs in toasted brioche and the Viennese dessert station.

Another deal that might tickle mom’s fancy is being offered by the Peabody Essex Museum. Enjoy a sumptuous brunch prepared by Hawthorne Catering and served in the Garden Restaurant overlooking PEM’s Asian Garden. After your meal, visit the Museum Shop, where you can exchange your brunch voucher for a complimentary gift for Mom!

Pickering Wharf also offers plenty of options. Finz will be serving brunch buffet from 11:00 to 3:00; it will include a raw bar and several seafood choices for $35 per person, $16 for kids under 12.

Sixty2 on Wharf will also be dishing up brunch. They haven’t published a full menu, but Chef Tony Bettencourt promises pecan sticky buns, brioche french toast, and all sorts of other goodies. Reservations recommended.

If you’re looking for something more casual, Victoria Station will be offering a brunch buffet from 11:00 to 3:00 and a dinner buffet from 3:00 to 7:00, at $30 per person. There will be live entertainment with Joe Mcdonald from 1:00 to 5:00.

Of course, Salem’s not the only place you’ll find a meal to impress mom. Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport serves up a gorgeous buffet with treats like truffle honey glazed salmon over a bed of maple roasted squash and Kahlua Bavarian chocolate trifle, for $45 per person, $22.50 for children ages 3 to 10.

Ten Center in Newburyport will host a buffet in their private dining room, where mom will enjoy a complimentary mimosa. They will offer two seatings: 11:00 to 1:00 and  3:00 to 5:00 at $45 per person and $15 per child.

If your mom is a traditional sort, she might enjoy a beautiful afternoon tea. The Exchange at the Wenham Tea House will be presenting their annual Mother’s Day Brunch featuring a la carte specials, along with an afternoon tea. For more details and reservations, call them (978) 468-1398.

Lastly, there are those of us who find Mother’s Day bittersweet, because while we can celebrate with our children, our mothers are no longer with us. My own mother fell victim to breast cancer almost 20 years ago, and so the Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer yearly event really hits home.

During the week up to and including Mother’s Day, local restaurants and bakeries will be selling special treats and desserts, with 100% of proceeds from the sales of the specific dessert going to breast cancer research and care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Here on the North Shore, the chocolate buchon from A & J King Artisan Bakers, one of our all-time favorites, is on the list. Cakes for Occasions in Danvers will be offering a traditional whoopie pie with pink cream filling, and Cassis Bakery in Beverly will have Boston crème pies on offer. Participating restaurants include Duckworth’s Bistrot in Gloucester, Mission Oak Grill in Newburyport, Pellana Prime Steak House in Peabody, and Pellino’s Ristorante in Marblehead.

So whether it’s an indulgence for mom or in honor of her, there’s no better excuse to go in search of these sweet treats in the upcoming week.

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