Wine and Chocolate Tasting Kicks Off Salem’s So Sweet Festival

Posted: February 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Coven, Drinks, Event, Milk & Honey, Salem, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

We threw all caution and calorie counting to the wind upon entering historic Hamilton Hall on Friday night. The reason? The 9th Annual Chocolate and Wine Tasting, the kick-off event for Salem’s yearly Chocolate and Ice Sculpture Festival, running through the 14th.

We had a terrific time at the tasting, getting to see old friends and make a few new ones while sipping and nibbling our way across the room. The participating restaurants went all out with beautiful displays and an insane amount of sweets.

We can’t even begin to mention everything we tasted. Coven had an impressive table stacked with huge, beautiful chocolate cupcakes. Coffee Time Bake Shop offered vast array of luscious baked goods, presided over by a fabulous Barbie cake that induced pangs of nostalgia. (My mother used to make them!) Those that stopped by Ye Olde Pepper Company‘s table were urged to choose chocolates from the largest heart-shaped box we’ve ever seen.

We got a kick out Chef John Andrews of Victoria Station playing with fire as he expertly flambeed cherries for a tasty dessert, and we chatted with Chef Steve from the Regatta Pub at Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites (one of the event sponsors) about his hand-made truffles. They were all rich and decadent, but our favorites were the ginger and cayenne,both set off nicely by the bubbly being poured at their table.

Speaking of cayenne, we really enjoyed the Caliente Cafe cocktail the ladies of Finz were serving. Made with pablano-infused espresso, vanilla vodka, and creme de cacao and then rimmed with white chocolate and cayenne, it had a spicy zing but wasn’t too sweet.

Some of the wines that stood out were a vegan Malbec being poured by the Gulu-Gulu Cafe and the fun Apothic Red on sample from both Victoria Station and Busa Wines. It was lush and spicy yet smooth, a perfect companion to the chocolate we were consuming. Ian from Isaak’s of Salem was on hand pouring his Popp Road Raspberry, which paired nicely with the chocolate cake being served by Green Land Cafe.

We also caught up with Sharon Driscoll, owner of Milk and Honey, who was scooping ice cream. She reminded us that as part of the festival, the green grocer is running a great special—20% off all products with chocolate listed in the ingredients.

In fact, that’s just one example of the tasty specials available throughout the festival. For a full listing of events and savings, pick up a brochure or check out the Salem Chamber of Commerce website. Even if you missed Friday night’s event, there are still plenty of opportunities to savor Salem. With fabulous ice sculptures and sweet deals, it’s the perfect date destination for Valentine’s Day.

Share

Weekend Picks, December 9-12

Posted: December 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Coven, Event, Green Land Cafe, Ipswich, Marblehead, Milk & Honey, Salem, Shubie's Market Place, Wenham | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

It’s been a while since we talked about weekend picks, but this weekend there’s so much going on we can barely scratch the surface.

Tonight is a great night to get some shopping done in Salem. Many of the stores are open late and are offering deals and treats to shoppers. Salem Wine Imports will have a free tasting and special discounts; Milk and Honey Green Grocer will offer cheese and crackers, food samples, and 15% off your purchases; and Pamplemousse holds their annual open house from 6:00 to 9:00 with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and free gift wrapping.

Also open late tonight are the shops in Hamilton and Wenham. Stop into the Wenham Museum from 4:00 to 8:00 to check out their terrific gift shop as well as the Gingerbread Express model train layout and the Gingerbread Contest Judging.

From 6:00 to 9:00 tonight, the Mansion at Turner Hill hosts the 13th Annual Taste of Ipswich Wine & Food Gala. You can taste local fare prepared by Ipswich’s finest restaurants, sip wine, and sample Ipswich and Stone Cat brews, as well as Mercury Soda Pop. This year, the proceeds will benefit the Ipswich Family YMCA. For more information, call the Ipswich YMCA at (978) 356-9622.

The Salem fun continues on Saturday, when Santa will make a visit to Coven. Your small person can check out the big guy while you warm up with a coffee and tasty treat. Also on Saturday, Green Land Café will be holding a Toys for Tots drive. Children eat free when they bring a toy to donate.

Marblehead continues its annual Christmas Walk this weekend with music, street entertainment, and shopping deals on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, you’ll find two wine tastings. From noon to 5:00, Haley’s will be sampling Y & B organic wines with Neil Deininger. (Even though it looks like a juice box, we like the Sauvignon Blanc) From noon to 4:00, the fun loving BZ Zohn will be back at Shubies with for a tasting of French, Italian, and California wines. Joining BZ will be Demaris Cahoon, owner of Landmark Winery in California, and Helen Gallo of Winebow Imports.

If you’re looking for a tree this weekend, stop by Marini Farm in Ipswich. Not only do they offer the kids cookies and crafts with Santa and tractor rides around the farm, but they’re also ladling out free bowls of hot chowder from the Clam Box to help fend off the falling temps.

Now here are some picks from our pals in the North Shore Bloggers Consortium:

header

The wonderful Jane Ward has some great ideas, over at Food and Fiction.

foodforthought

Heather Atwood from the Gloucester Times has her picks at Food For Thought

towerlogo500px

Media giant Seth gives up the best of Lynn at Lynn Happens.

GMG

Joey at GMG has the scoop on all that’s going on in Cape Ann at Good Morning Gloucester.

image

Great pick for North Shore Families from North Shore Kid.

Share

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.

Share

Coven Promises Fine Foods and Funky Fun in Downtown Salem

Posted: May 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cafe, Coven, Salem, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

What would happen if your playful, sugary-cereal-and-Saturday-morning-cartoon-loving childhood self collided head on with your older, fine-food-loving self? You’d wake up at Coven.

I stopped in yesterday to chat with Jen Vourlos, who created this brainchild along with partner Rob Trezza and is busy training staff and setting up, with plans to have a soft opening tomorrow morning. Not all of the foods and services will be available immediately, said Vourlos, but everything should be in order by the grand opening at the end of the month.

What exactly is Coven–bakery, café, artisanal market? Take all of the above, add vintage toys, games, and a dash of retro rockabilly décor, and you’ve got the idea. This storefront on Essex Street in Salem is a little bit of everything and unlike anything else.

Whether you are looking for gourmet foods, local artisanal cheeses, and fresh produce; indulgent and whimsical baked goods; or a casual place to eat, drink and hang with friends, Coven has got you covered.

Recent transplants from NYC where they owned a small dessert shop, Jen and Rob moved to Salem to be closer to family and create their vision of making “a change to the everyday cafe experience by providing a place where people can unwind while enjoying unprocessed and freshly prepared foods and whimsical desserts.” The treats will range from cakes, bars, and tarts to things like Nutella cannoli and all-natural, homemade versions of Twinkies and Poptarts.

Your inner child will delight in the cereal bar, where you can pour yourself a bowl of anything from Special K to Count Chocula, and the top-your-own-cupcakes with retro favorites like pop rocks. Your date-night self will appreciate a quiet corner to have a glass of wine with a cheese plate and play a favorite board game. Vourlos said she even plans to offer wine and beer dessert pairings. (They have acquired a seasonal beer and wine license and hope to eventually have it year-round.) The gourmet in you will love having a place to buy Richardson’s dairy products, cage free eggs, Voges curry coconut ice cream, or locally made cheese.

Coven will be open from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm, serving baked goods, daily specials, sandwiches, salads, deli items, and prepared foods. Everything is available to take out or eat in, and you may find yourself staying just to check out the vintage Smurf collection. Me? I’m looking forward to trying out some to those homemade Twinkies.

Coven
281 Essex Street, Salem
(978) 741-0500
http://www.facebook.com/CovenSalem
(final website is under construction)

Share