February: The Sweetest Month?

Posted: February 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Christopher's Table, Event, Finz, Gloucester, Harbor Sweets, Ipswich, News, Red Lulu, Rockport, Salem, Wine Connextion | Tags: , , | No Comments »

We hope you spent January getting all the holiday excess behind you because February promises to be a great month for indulgence, with or without a sweetheart. There’s one contest to win chocolate, two chocolate tours, and several Valentine’s Day dinner menus.

Wake up your creative side and enter Harbor Sweets’ Valentine’s Day Poem contest—the winner receives the gift-basket (pictured above) of chocolate worth $100 sent directly to their sweetheart. Just write a poem (1,000 words or less) about chocolate and submit it by February 11 to Poems@Harborsweets.com. Include your first and last name, phone number, and email. The winner will be notified by February 13 to allow enough time to ship the basket.

Chocolate lovers will want to be in Salem on February 8 for the 11th Annual Chocolate & Wine Tasting. Tickets are on sale now ($25 at the Salem Chamber of Commerce, this event sells out quickly, so don’t wait). From 6:30 to 8:30 at the Colonial Hall, there will be samplings galore from restaurants, stores, and sweet shops. For a taste of what to expect, check out our coverage of the 2011 event. The tasting is part of Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival, which runs from the 8th to the 14th and includes a myriad of offers and tastings.

On February 9, Gloucester hosts its first Downtown Chocolate Tour, marked by retailers with large red hearts on their doors. You can pick up a tour map at Toodeloos, Harbor Goods, or Premier Imprints after February 1. Then simply follow the map to pick up goodies at all the participating stores and bring your completed map to Island Art & Hobby to be entered in a raffle for a Cape Ann gift certificate.

Christopher’s Table in Ipswich is celebrating February 14 with a four-course romance-inspired dinner that includes a wine tasting. They’re following that up with a Crazy Sexy Chocolate party on February 23. This “evening of chocolate decadence with a cash bar” sounds intriguing.

The Valentine’s menu at Finz in Salem has unusual items such as strawberry burratta salad, cocoa-dusted scallops, and duck breast with a ginger/brandied pears/cherry/soy reduction.

Rockport’s Emerson Inn by the Sea always goes all out for Valentine’s Day. This year, the menu features fire-roasted shrimp and corn chowder, beef wellington, duck confit with blackberry reduction, and expresso crème brulée or spiced apple anadama bread pudding.

Red Lulu in Salem promises secret suprises on the 14th, along with a menu that includes spiced lobster bisque grilled endive and frisee salad with spiced candied walnuts and manchego cheese, statler chicken breast with don julio reposado
tequila sauce, and blackened ribeye with creamy polenta and tart cherry sauce

Also in Salem, the Hawthorne Hotel will be serving up Wellfleet oysters, seared tuna with spicy mediterranean-style relish, and Valrhona chocolate torte for two, among other things in a lavish Valentine’s spread.

Last, but certainly not least, Andover’s Wine ConneXtion and China Blossom are collaborating to find help you create a simple, romantic evening with their Take Out to Stay In deal. Place any takeout order from China Blossom before the 14th, and they will contact the Wine ConneXtion to put aside a perfectly paired wine for the order and have it ready for pick up. Or you can peruse the Wine ConneXtion aisles February 10 through February 14 for highlighted wines along with suggestions of the best China Blossom dish for pairing.

So go out and celebrate—we’ll eat healthy in March!

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Pleasing a Crowd at Gloucester’s Latitude 43

Posted: January 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Gloucester, Latitude 43, Seafood | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

We had a diverse group last weekend, with some craving sushi and others leaning toward fried food. Luckily, we thought of Gloucester’s Latitude 43, which perfectly filled the bill. Overall, we had a terrific meal with a welcoming atmosphere, attentive service, and the freshest of seafood.

There were a couple of missteps, including the mussels appetizer ($12), which we found quite bland. Go for the calamari instead; we had them Asian style and quickly finished the generous, crispy portion ($9). The bacon clam chowder was also outstanding: thick and smoky with a perfect amount of clams ($6). With our appetizers we sampled one of the bar’s specialties, an apple old fashioned that was tart and refreshing ($9).

The restaurant’s sushi menu features a huge selection of specialty rolls, and several of us chose these over an entrée. The dragon roll, with shrimp tempura, crab, avocado, and fresh water eel, was an unbeatable combination of textures ($15), and the titanic roll was also well received (spicy tuna, salmon, yellow tail, albacore tuna, escolar, and shishito peppers, $16). The Lat 43 roll was good but didn’t hit the heights of the others (tempura tuna, wasabi goat cheese, avocado, enoki mushrooms, tobiko, and mango wrapped with daikon radish, $18). We also sampled the maguru nigiri (tuna), which was meltingly tender and delicious ($7).

The fish and chips entrée was perfectly cooked and seasoned, with crisp, salty fries and a sweetened tartar sauce that was addictive ($18). The corn and lobster tortelloni was not as successful. The lobster was succulent and plentiful, but the pasta was slightly undercooked, and the filling had an unpleasant mealy texture ($21).

It’s hard to go wrong with a flourless chocolate cake, and this one did not disappoint, with vanilla ice cream, a caramel crunch, and plenty of oozy chocolate to go around ($6).

Whether you’re craving fried food, sushi, a warm bowl of chowder, or just need to please a crowd, Latitude 43 is a great choice.

Latitude 43
25 Rogers St, Gloucester
(978) 281-0223
http://latfortythree.com

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Weekend Picks, July 15-17

Posted: July 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 5 Corners Kitchen, Event, Gloucester, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

I’m sure you’ve noticed a lull in the action around here lately, but these things happen when summer (and numerous family events) hit town.  We’re back in action now and have a few quick  ideas to supplement your summer fun this weekend.

Looking to start the thing off right? Head over to Pamplemousse in Salem this evening from 5 -7 pm to help them celebrate 9 years in business. They’ll have cupcakes, wine and treats as well as Magic Hat’s #9 Not So Pale Ale.

If a bit respite from the sun sounds good on Saturday afternoon, Kappy’s in Peabody will be hosting their Taste of New England, which features locally produced spirits, beer and wine. It’ll be a nice opportunity to taste the wares of one of our favorite distilleries, Gloucester’s Ryan & Wood, as well as the brand new Privateer Rum out of Ipswich, MA.

Saturday evening the place to be is Gloucester, for their 2011 Downtown Block Party. Not only will there be live entertainment, street performers and general carousing, many of the local restaurants will be running deals for the evening.Yyou might want to stop in Cape Ann Brewing, where the guys are throwing a pig roast with live music, starting at 6pm.

Did you know that Hawthorne Hotel Chef de Cuisine Jennifer Normant is a contestant on this season’s Hell’s Kitchen? To celebrate, The hotel will be hosting a viewing party in their Grand Ballroom on Monday night at 7pm. Meet the chef, watch the show, and partake of cocktail and hors d’oeuvres special on offer that night.

On a sad note, we were devastated to see that an electrical fire caused severe smoke damage to both 5 Corners Kitchen and Terry’s Ice Cream in Marblehead Wednesday afternoon. Both eateries are closed until further notice for clean up. We wish them a speedy recovery and hope they’ll be open again as soon as possible. If you’re in Marblehead this weekend, show Terry’s your support by stopping by their brand new ice cream truck, which will be parked across the street from the building. We love the idea of one Facebook poster, who suggested that Chef Barry of 5 Corners open an adjacent “pommes frites” truck so local could get their fix of his addictive fries during the clean up. We’d certainly be in line.

And here are a couple of ideas from our pals in the North Shore Bloggers Consortium

Seth is all about what’s happing in Lynn in Lynn Happens.

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A Tasty Collaboration

Posted: April 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Cape Ann Brewing Company, Drinks, Event, Gloucester, Ryan & Wood Distilleries | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Two of our favorite purveyors of tasty tipple on the north shore have come together in a creative collaboration. This Friday, April 22nd, Cape Ann Brewing Company along with Ryan & Wood Distillery will be tapping their new project; Whiskey Barrel Aged Fisherman’s Rock-Porter. Oak barrels used by Ryan & Wood to age their rye whiskey for 2 years were re-used by Cape Ann Brewing to age our Fisherman’s Rock-Porter for another 2 months.

This event marks the first of many future collaborations between the two companies. Head down to The Pub at Cape Ann Brewing on Friday at 6:00 pm for a chance to taste the new brew and to chat up brewer extraordinaire Dylan Lindquist and the terrific Bob Ryan of Ryan & Wood. We’ve had the opportunity to talk with each of them at length and you’d be hard put to find a couple of guys more passionate about what they do.

And be sure to congratulate Bob on his first bottling of rye whiskey!

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Passports Takes Armchair Travel to New Heights

Posted: February 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Gloucester, Passports | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

It’s another frigid night on the North Shore, and you’re in the depths of the winter doldrums. You’re contemplating grabbing your suitcase and wait listing yourself on the first flight south.

Not a bad idea, but we’ve got an easier solution for you: head for Passports where warm popovers, a convivial atmosphere, and a creative menu will cheer you up in no time.

We had a great meal last weekend at this popular Gloucester spot. There were tons of hot and cold tapas to choose from, followed by entrees that were far from run of the mill, and everything was extremely reasonable.

After sipping some wine (no hard liquor is served) and enjoying the aforementioned popovers, we chose three tapas. The thai duck ($9) was a large breast cooked to our requested medium rare, tender, and flavorful. The grilled curried vegetables ($5) also had great flavor, but the spanish omelet ($4) could have used more seasoning.

Unusual combinations were the theme of the entrees, a welcome sight in the midst of this gray season. They were all successful, too, from the yellowfin tuna stir fry ($17) with bright vegetables to the mandarin scallops with sweet potato casserole ($17). The flame-broiled lamb ($20) has three sauces to choose from, and we were glad we went with the earthy wild mushroom. Short ribs are not usually associated with asian cooking, but the sweet/sour/salty combination offset the rich meat perfectly ($15).

We were plenty full from dinner, but to gird ourselves for the cold trek home, we indulged in a brownie sundae and an apple crisp, both $6. The crisp had good flavor but was more cake-like than crisp. The brownie was the better pick: fudgy and not too sweet with hot fudge and whipped cream.

Passports
110 Main St, Gloucester
(978) 281-3680
http://passportsrestaurant.wordpress.com

Passports on Urbanspoon

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Foodies Flock to Gloucester

Posted: February 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Alchemy Bistro, Gloucester | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

In January, we got a taste of a new type of tasting menu at Gloucester’s Alchemy. The fun and extremely tasty evening was a prototype in development.  As promised, these events are now open to the public. More specifically, the first 16 people to sign up for the March 7 dinner are in, and others will be wait-listed. The cost is $50 for three courses, and the menu is determined by the chef. Mini glasses of wines that pair well with the food will be set out during each course. Each glass is $3 and will be counted using poker chips you pick up when you take a glass.

You can read more about it in Alchemy’s newsletter. Call them to reserve a spot at (978) 281-3997. We suspect these events will fill up quickly with food bloggers and their friends, so don’t wait if this is something that interests you.

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Alchemy Tasting Menu Takes North Shore Dining to New Heights

Posted: January 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Alchemy Bistro, Bistro, Event, Gloucester | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Wild boar chopstick rolls. Tatsoi with goat cheese emulsion. Black tea smoked Long Island duck with winter squash gratinette. Not the usual suspects, that’s for sure. These were just a few of the items on an over-the-top tasting menu last week at Alchemy Bistro in Gloucester.

We were invited to the event along with other North Shore food bloggers, and to say that Chef Jeff Cala (shown above, giving diners a tour of the board) and his team went all out would be an understatement. The appetizer, cheese, and entreé courses were served family style on huge boards custom made for the restaurant by Essex’s Walker Creek. It was a study in food still life, incredible taste combinations, and new experiences.

There were wine and beer pairings, too, including one from the restaurant’s exclusive cellar: Corte Rugalin Monte Danieli Amarone Classico from Italy with the pasta course. The chef’s outstanding black pepper pappardelle carbonara was brought to new levels by the wine.

The papardelle was voted the favorite of the evening, but the wild boar, black bass, and smoked duck were all outstanding, and the warm chocolate souffle paired with Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island Brewing Co. made a lush, satisfying ending to the meal.

But the best news is not how good the food was. It’s that the dinner we attended was a preview of a regular series being planned by Cala and Mark McDonough, who own numerous North Shore restaurants, including Alchemy, 15 Walnut, and Latitude 43.

McDonough is passionate about helping to strengthen bonds between food enthusiasts on the North Shore and spreading the word about what a unique food community we have.

It was an epic meal, and while the dinner series being offered to the public will be a slightly toned down version, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for. The dates and prices for these upcoming events are not set, but we’ll let you know as soon as they are, as they’ll initially be limited to 20 people. We’re told that the prix fixe dinners will likely be held once a month and will include both a standard and a cellar wine pairing option.

We were lucky to have a terrific group of people attending, so the conversation and company were the perfect compliment to the meal. You can read additional accounts on the following blogs:

Montmartre or Gloucester? by Heather Atwood of Food for Thought

North Shore Bloggers Dinner at Alchemy by Kimmy Bingham of Lighter and Local

You’re Going the Wrong Way! by Brian Knowles of The Gringo Chapin

Alchemy Bistro
3 Duncan Street, Gloucester
(978) 281-3997
www.alchemybistro.com

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A Week to Find Wines for the Holidays

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Drinks, Event, Gloucester, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

There are so many things to worry about when you’re planning your holiday dinners, including what wines to serve. Luckily, there are several wine tastings this week to help you with that task.

Tomorrow evening, Eric Olson and Salem Wine Imports once again host their fabulous Grand Tasting from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Old Town Hall in Salem. There will be approximately 80 wines to sample with light appetizers and live music. This is a terrific event. We attended last year and not only discovered some new favorites but learned a thing or two as well.

The best part is that tickets are $30, and all profits from event go to The Salem Athenaeum, Historic Salem, and Historic New England, so you can support local causes while picking out your holiday wines. Call Salem Wine Imports for ticket information at (978) 741-9463.

If you’re farther north, Duckworth Beach Gourmet will be holding a more intimate tasting tomorrow evening in Gloucester. Hosted by Red White Boston, they will be pouring sparklers including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Crémant de Bourgogne. The shop carries some excellent cheeses and will choose some to pair with the wine. The event is free and runs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

If you can’t make either of these, Henry’s Wine Cellar in Beverly will be holding their Grand Holiday Tasting on November 13 from 2:00 to 5:00. They’ll have both premium and value wines on hand to fit any budget, and the folks from Henry’s Market Catering will be there passing appetizers. They do a great job with prepared foods for the holidays, so you may find inspiration for both wine and food.

Also on Saturday from 4:00 to 7:00, Leary’s Fine Wine and Spirits in Newburyport is hosting their Grand Autumn Tasting, and they’ve got the entertainment angle covered. The folks from The River WXRV 92.5, will be there to host the shindig with giveaways and raffles. Leary’s will offer dozens of bottles to try and feature hors d’oeuvres by Seaglass Ocean Front Restaurant and a turkey carving table from Tendercrop Farms. They’ll also be giving away two $25 gift certificates, one to Capri Seaside Dining and one to Seaglass Restaurant.

Heck, even if you’re not entertaining this holiday season, these events are all worth checking out.

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Gloucester’s Latitude 43 Unveils New Sibling: Minglewood Tavern

Posted: November 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Drinks, Gloucester, News | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

We were a bit confused when we started hearing mention of Minglewood Tavern. We knew the bar at Latitude 43 in Gloucester was undergoing renovation, but this sounded like a whole new entity. We decided to investigate and gave Brian Eastman, the bar manager, a call.

It turns out that Minglewood Tavern, which takes it’s name from the Grateful Dead song New Minglewood Blues, is still attached to Lat 43 but has been given a separate identity and a complete makeover. This isn’t surprising given the fact that both establishments are owned by Mark McDonough’s Serenitee Restaurant Group (previously North Shore Restaurant Group). McDonough is well known for his creativity and fearlessness in retooling eateries to better serve local neighborhoods.

Eastman told us the team essentially gutted the entire tavern and outfitted it with features that make it even more funky and comfortable. The centerpiece is a large bar custom built by Walker Creek Furniture of Essex and finished with salvaged 205-year-old barn boards. Another new feature is a beautiful stone hearth built with local granite that serves as inspiration for the new menu, which Eastman describes as creative pub fare. Flatbread pizzas and other oven-baked items like enchiladas and lasagna will be on offer. Other menu items, like the sushi that Lat 43 is known for, will still be available.

There is a full roster of weekly specials and events planned, and Eastman is especially excited about Thursdays, when various brewers will be on hand to meet and talk beer. And speaking of beer, Minglewood is serious about it; they’ll offer twenty brews on tap.

Minglewood opens tomorrow night, and they’ll have a grand opening celebration starting at 6:00 pm with tastes from the new menu and live music from the local band Phat Maxx. We heard a rumour that Good Morning Gloucester’s infamous Joey C will be on hand mixing up his signature drink, the Hop Skip and Go Naked, which is served in a mason jar. How can you pass that up?

Minglewood Tavern
www.minglewoodtavern.com
25 Rogers Street, Gloucester
(978) 281-0223

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Earn a Free Entrée While Discovering New Flavors

Posted: October 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 15 Walnut, American, Beverly, Bistro, Cala's, Gloucester, Hamilton, Manchester | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

You may not have realized it, but several of the terrific restaurants we enjoy here on the North Shore are the result of the hard working folks at Serenitee Restaurant Group. The group (previously known as North Shore Restaurant Group) has just unveiled a fun promotion aimed at encouraging diners to discover restaurants they may not have tried and, of course, to get out to old favorites as well.

At any of the six eateries, all with unique atmospheres and cuisines, you can pick up a “Discovery Card” that gets stamped with the purchase of a meal. Whether from six different restaurants or the same one, after you accumulate six stamps, you are rewarded with a free entrée at any of the locations.

The restaurants included in the promotion are:

15 Walnut, Hamilton (read about our experience here)

Cala’s, Manchester (read about our experience here)

Hale St. Tavern, Sushi and Oyster Bar, Beverly Farms

Latitude 43, Gloucester

Backstage Bistro, at the North Shore Music Theater, Beverly

Alchemy Tapas & Bistro, Gloucester

You know us, we’ll use any excuse to get out and try different restaurants, and a free meal is a great one. The offer expires December 31, so there’s plenty of time to explore these North Shore eateries.

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