Autumn Events: Food and Brews to Cure the End of Summer Blues

Posted: September 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Amesbury, Beverly, Essex, Event, Gloucester, Ipswich, Peabody, Rockport, Salem | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Labor Day weekend has come and gone, the kids are back to school, and everyone else is back to the grind. If the end of summer is getting you down, we’re here with good news. This fall is so full of terrific events, you’ll be too busy making merry to notice the shorter days and cooler temps.

If you’re interested in dining diversity, you’ll want to head over to Peabody Square on Sunday: the 27th Annual International Festival begins at 11:30 a.m. This popular event offers a variety of live entertainment and kids’ activities, but the real draw is the food, with more than 60 booths serving up traditional fare from Greece, Brazil, China, Poland, Italy, the Caribbean, and many others.

And the feast doesn’t stop when the festival is over. Peabody Restaurant Week starts September 12th and runs until the 15th.  Participating restaurants will offer a three-course prix fixe meal at the bargain price of $15 per person (tax and gratuity not included). So far, the list of participants includes Firebull, Paddy Kelly’s, Sugar Cane, Tokyo Steakhouse, Trackside, Wardhurst, and Willowtree. As with any restaurant week, it’s wise to make reservations.

September 16 brings the Taste of Cape Ann to Cruiseport in Gloucester. This is a great opportunity to try offerings from some of the area’s best restaurants and caterers and to sample beer, wine, and more. All proceeds benefit YMCA youth programs in Gloucester and Rockport. Tickets are $35 per person and available at the Gloucester Y or at the door.

On the 18th, head out to the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm in Newbury for the annual Ipswich Ale Fall Fest. There will be food from Ipswich Clambake and Tennessee’s BBQ alongside Ipswich and Stone Cat Ales. Entertainment includes live music and vintage baseball games. Admission is free; food and beer are extra.

The folks at Henry’s Market are getting a jump on things by celebrating Oktoberfest in September, and they’re looking to throw quite a shindig on the 25th. They’ll have tents set up for a huge beer tasting, including samples from both local and national brewers. They promise plenty of grilled sausages and other taste treats, and the highlight of the event will be the judging of the Home Brew Competition.

Also on the the 25th is the 4th Annual Brew Fest  at the Amesbury Sports Park from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. which promises “Beers Bands and BBQ” and tickets are $10.00 per person. The event kicks off North Shore Beer Week, which we’ll be talking more about in an upcoming post, so stay tuned.

And if you’re looking for something to do with younger kids that day, you might want to check out the Ipswich Chowder Fest, which takes place from 12:00 to 3:00 on the Ipswich River Walk and features family-friendly activities as well as chowder tastings from area restaurants.

Did you know that Salem’s Lobster Shanty is being featured on an episode of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives? The segment airs September 27th at 10:00 p.m., and to celebrate, the folks at Cinema Salem are hosting a free viewing party starting at 9:00 p.m. The action will be starting at the Shanty at 7:oo pm and Mayflower Brewing will be on hand with samples of their IPA, Porter and new seasonal Autumn Wheat. They’ll also have it available on tap if you want to purchase a pint.

On the 28th, Green Land Café will be hosting a beer dinner featuring some unusual beers. They will have Tilburg’s Brown Ale, Hitachino Red Rice, Schlenkerla Marzen, Tripel Karmeliet, Saison Dupont, and Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout paired with dishes like kobe beef, pumpkin lobster bisque with chanterelles, roasted local quail, New England cheeses, and more. Tickets are $65 per person. Call (978) 744-7766 for information and reservations.

The Lyceum will be presenting an Introduction to Wine Varietals at 6:00 p.m. on the 30th, and they promise a fun tasting and discussion of six wines along with appetizers for $30 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. If interested, they ask that you RSVP to (978) 745-7665 to reserve a spot.

Speaking of local dinners, don’t forget 62 Restaurant and Winebar is running its Passports promotion throughout September, October, and November. Not only is it an opportunity to sample terrific food at a great price and widen your wine horizons, it’s also a chance to win a free trip to Europe.

Caffe Graziani is hosting an International Wine Dinner on October 14 at 6:00. They’ll be serving five courses, each with a different wine, including a spiedino of scallops and shrimp in curry ginger sauce with Rioja Blanca Cortijo from Spain, gorgonzola and walnut gnocchi in cherry tomato cream sauce with Gamekeeper’s Reserve Cabernet Graham Beck from South Africa, and beef braciolettine in sauce of fresh roman tomatoes, black olives, and capers with Salice Salentino Rivera from Italy. Tickets are $75 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. Reservations and prepayment are required. For more information, e-mail paulag@caffegraziani.com or call Giovanni or Paula at (978) 741-4282.

October 16 brings the Salem Harvest Fest at the Knights of Columbus at 94 Washington Square. The party features live music, food, more than 50 wines to sample, and tastes of brews from Magic Hat, Cape Ann Brewing, Harpoon, Cody Brewing, Mayflower Brewing, Dogfish Head, Berkshire Brewing, Wachusett, Narragansett, Ipswich, and Stone Cat. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and are available at Salemharvestfest.com or Pamplemousse, 185 Essex St. (The Harvest Fest website hasn’t been updated as of this post.)

October 17 marks the start of Cape Ann Restaurant Week, which runs through the 22nd. Area restaurants will offer a three-course prix fixe dinner for $25 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Many local favorites including Gloucester’s Lobsta Land and Rockport’s Emerson Inn By The Sea will be participating. The Cape Ann website will be updated as the list is confirmed, and we’ll keep you posted as the week nears.

The 28th Annual Essex ClamFest, a North Shore favorite, takes place on October 23. It starts at 11:00 a.m. Memorial Park in Essex and features lots of fried clams, food and fun, but the main event is the Clam Chowder Tasting. Ten local restaurants will serve up their favorite chowder recipe starting at 12:00, and the contest judges will include Jeff Jones, Senator Bruce Tarr, Ann-Margaret Ferrante and
Legal Seafoods CEO Roger Berkowitz among others. The public will have the opportunity to sample and vote on their favorite chowder.

And if that isn’t enough to fill your fall, don’t forget that many of the local orchards and farms feature hayrides, cider donuts, and live music on weekends to accompany apple picking and pumpkin purchasing. So stop moping over summer; get out there and enjoy the tastes of autumn on the North Shore.

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Gloucester Goes Gourmet at Duckworth’s Market

Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Deli, Duckworth's Beach Gourmet, Gloucester, Marketplace | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Need a night off from cooking? A gourmet picnic to impress a date? How about a great sandwich to take to the beach? Duckworth’s Beach Gourmet could be the answer to all these desires if you’re in the Gloucester area.

There’s a lot packed into this store’s fairly small space, owned by the folks at Duckworth’s Bistro, including wine, prepared foods, gourmet cheese and charcuterie, and gift items. Indeed, we were impressed with the store’s selection of red wines, supplemented by a cold case with white wine, champagne, Ipswich Ale, several other high-end beers, Reed’s ginger ale, and Harney & Sons bottled juices and teas.

Put a bottle of wine with a loaf of Iggy’s bread, a jar of jam, a gourmet mustard (black current dijon sounds good), some wine vinegar, or a bottle of hazelnut or truffle oil, and you’re all set for a hostess gift. If your friend has a sweet tooth, try gourmet tea accompanied by lavender or provence-flower honey, a pretty canister of flavored sugar from local purveyor Didi Davis, a bag of Lark cookies, or a box of Marich candy.

For beachgoers, Duckworth’s has hot and cold sandwiches, containers of potato salad (no mayo) and cole slaw, Deep River Snacks chips, individual desserts, and hand-made sandwich cookies with Captain Dusty’s ice cream (also available by the half-gallon).

Those looking for help with dinner will find containers of roasted tomato soup and marinara and alfredo pasta sauce, fresh uncooked pasta, house-cured salmon, and prepared foods such as flank steak, haricots vert, chickpea burgers, roasted fingerlings, and pasta salad. Hand-made pies are available most days; go early for the best selection.

The deli case is filled with a charcuterie-lover’s dream: serrano ham, prosciutto, and speck from La Quercia alongside pancetta, sopressata, and salameto from Fra’Mani. The cheese selection is extensive, ranging from chevre from Topsfield’s Valley View Farm to New England-sourced Cabot clothbound cheddar, Champlain Valley Creamery triple creme and Seal Cove chevre. Imported selections include raclette, morbier, robiola, and Delice de Borgone.

We stopped in last weekend after brunch at Sugar Mags just to see what was on offer, but we plan to return for sandwiches and treats the next time we head for Good Harbor Beach—seagulls, stay away, please.

Duckwoth’s Beach Gourmet
24 Washington Street, Gloucester
(978) 282-1414
www.duckworthbeachgourmet.com

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Morning Decadence: Gloucester’s Sugar Mags

Posted: August 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Breakfast, brunch, Cafe, Gloucester, Sugar Magnolias | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Carrot cake for breakfast? We came pretty close at Sugar Magnolia’s last weekend—and loved every bite. Along with several savory dishes, we ordered the full stack of carrot cake pancakes with maple cream cheese butter (3 for $6). The pancakes were huge and full of flavor, and the cream cheese was a delicious, frosting-like spread.

It’s hard to beat that level of indulgence, but our other meals came close. We tried the Western Ave and the East Main omelettes. The former contained linguica, onion, pepper, and American cheese; the latter had spinach, tomatoes, bacon, and swiss cheese. Both were large, perfectly cooked, and accompanied by hash browns and toast for $7.50.

The veggie scramble was an abundance of tender-but-not-mushy broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and (our choice) goat cheese, a marvelous combination. With toast and home fries, it was $8 and more food than one person could eat. The crab cake “bene” ($10) was superior to most we’ve had, with two very crisp yet light crab cakes, perfectly poached eggs, and a light, flavorful sauce.

We also tried the pineapple fritters, which came with a delicious brown sugar dipping sauce. They were crisp outside but a bit soggy inside, due to the pineapple. Next time, we’ll go right for the carrot cake pancakes to satisfy our sweet tooth.

The service was attentive, relaxed, and friendly, with as many refills as we desired on our bottomless cups of coffee ($1.50). Note that with food and service this good, there tends to be a wait on weekend mornings. Our wait was 15 minutes on Sunday just before noon—and well worth it.

Sugar Magnolia’s
112 Main Street, Gloucester
(978) 281-5310
www.sugarmags.com

Sugar Magnolias on Urbanspoon

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Enthusiasm is Brewing on Cape Ann

Posted: July 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cape Ann Brewing Company, Drinks, Gloucester | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Finding ourselves in Gloucester on a recent sultry summer day, we needed to quench our thirst, and where better to find a frosty quaff than Cape Ann Brewing Company? A small craft brewing company, CABC has gained not just a loyal following but a popularity that reaches far beyond local.

In 2002, owner Jeremy Goldberg and a handful of friends decided to travel the country, experiencing 38 craft breweries in 40 days. The result was a documentary film entitled “American Beer, a Bockumentary.” Goldberg then moved to Gloucester to start his own operation, and in 2004, Cape Ann Brewing Company was born.

The sheer enthusiasm of everyone who works there is a joy, and they all seem to be home-brew fanatics. T.J. Peckham and Tom Ryan, who cover sales and distribution, have gone so far as to produce a series of videos featuring home-brewing how-to tips, called “The Deadliest Batch,” which can be found archived here at the Gloucester Times website.

Brewer Dylan L’abbe-Lindquist was originally hired to help manage the pub due to his restaurant experience, but his vast knowledge of home-brewing has made him valuable in all aspects of the operation.

It was Dylan who gave us a terrific tour of the facility, discussing ingredients and methods and what makes an ale different from a lager. One member of our party is considering home brewing, and the time and detail Dylan used answering our questions was much appreciated. Tours are available to anyone who stops in, as long as they have the staff to spare. If you’re unsure of your timing or have a large party, you may want to call ahead.

The pub part of the operation opened almost a year and a half ago and has been going like gangbusters. The open wood-paneled room with a boat-shaped bar and long tables is friendly and welcoming. Parents with young children take note: there are rocking chairs and shelves of books and games to accommodate those who enjoy meeting friends for a pint but don’t want to call a babysitter.

The pub offers a small but interesting menu of munchies and local pizza, but the focus is the beer. And, oh, what beer. We tried the entire spectrum of what was on tap, from the lighter IPA and Bavarian Wheat to the Fisherman’s Navigator, a German-style doppel-bock, and the Fisherman’s Eclipse, a schwarzbier (also known as “black” beer). One of our party enjoyed the Bavarian Wheat, but it was too fruity (bananas!) for me.

My favorite was the Fisherman’s Tea Party which, it turns out, isn’t really a beer at all. It’s a barley wine that includes three types of tea that were among those dumped during the Boston Tea Party. It had a wonderfully complex and rich taste, dark yet smooth, that I would definitely return for. You can see a video of Jeremy talking about the teas here on Good Morning Gloucester.

If you are into beer, Cape Ann Brewing Company is a must-visit, and even if you’re not a fanatic, the beautiful brews are certainly worth checking out. These guys are passionate about what they do, and you can taste it. If you can’t get to Gloucester, take a look at their website for the closest retail distributor of Cape Ann’s bottled offerings. CABC just got approval to fit up a new space and likely won’t be moving until next year, but be sure to check hours and directions if you’re coming from out of town. The pub also has weekly special events and food offerings so sign up for their email updates to get the latest from Jeremy.

Cape Ann Brewing Company
27 Commercial St, Gloucester
(978) 281-4782
www.capeannbrewing.com

Cape Ann Brewing Company & Brewpub on Urbanspoon

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Summer Bounty, Coming Up!

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Gloucester, Ipswich, Lynn, Marblehead, Marblehead Farmer's Market, Marketplace, Newburyport, Newburyport Farmer's Market, Peabody, Revere, Rowley, Salem, Salem Farmer's Market | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Sure, this gorgeous spring has been wonderful for walking and biking, enjoying the flowers, and getting a head start on our tans. But let’s face it: the best thing about the recent weather is the bounty we’ll soon find at the various North Shore farmers markets. To that end, we’ve got a list of the markets, their opening dates, their locations, and their hours, plus links to our FM posts from last year. Enjoy!

Revere Beach, Thursdays 12:00-6:00
Revere Beach by the William G. Reinstein Bandstand
Opening day: July 23

Lynn, Thursdays 11:00-3:00
Union St and Exchange St
Opening day: July 2

Marblehead, Saturdays 9:00-12:00
28 Vine St, behind Veteran’s Middle School
Opening day: June 12
Summer At Last: Marblehead Farmer’s Market

Salem, Thursdays 4:00-7:00
32 Derby Square
Opening day: June 17
Greens Galore at Salem Farmer’s Market

Beverly, Mondays 3:30-6:45
Veteran’s Park, Rantoul St and Railroad Ave
Opening day: June 28

Peabody, Tuesdays 1:00-6:00
Central St and Railroad Ave
Opening day: July 1

Gloucester / Cape Ann, Thursdays 3:00-6:30
Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center
Opening day: June 24

Rowley, Sundays 8:00-1:00
Rowley Town Common, Rte 1A
Opening day: July 11

Saugus / Cliftondale, Tuesdays 10:00 – 3:00
Cliftondale Square off Rte. 1 at Jackson Street
Opening day: July 6

Ipswich, Saturdays 9:00-1:00
Ebsco Parking Lot on Estie’s Street
Opening day: July 10

Topsfield, Saturdays 7:00-12:00
207 Boston St, Topsfield Fairgrounds
Opening day: July 10

Newburyport, Sundays 9:00-1:00
The Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water Street
Opening day: May 2
Eating Our Way Through the Newburyport Farmers Market

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Local Takes on New Meaning at The Market in Annisquam

Posted: June 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Breakfast, Gloucester, Steakhouse, The Market | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

You couldn’t get much farther apart than Berkeley, California and Annisquam, Mass, but these two towns do have something important in common—a love of fresh, local food. And now, they have something else tying them together: The Market Restaurant, owned by Annisquam native Amelia O’Reilly and Berkeley’s Nico Monday.

Both recently moved back to the North Shore after more than five years cooking at Northern California’s famous Chez Panisse. They brought Monday’s brother, Oliver, with them to oversee the purchase of local produce and seafood.

It’s no coincidence that O’Reilly and the Mondays arrived in May to set up their new restaurant. For one thing, the idea is to take advantage of the abundance of the New England summer—lobster and other seafood, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and people not wanting to turn on their stoves. For another, their restaurant license is seasonal (until October 15), although O’Reilly says they may hold cooking classes or offer catering out of the space during the winter.

The restaurant’s space is small and casual but charming, with eight indoor tables and six outdoors, overlooking picturesque Lobster Cove. Starting June 4, dinner will be served nightly except Wednesdays; the menu will feature three entrees, three salads, and one or two desserts. For now, dinner service is BYOB, but a beer and wine license is in the works.

The menu will change nightly depending on what seafood and produce are freshest and will include options like fish stew, fried scallops with homemade onion rings, and a vegetarian option. O’Reilly says they plan to serve meat only if it comes from a local, organic source.

Starting June 5, breakfast will be served, starting with fritter-like sour cream donuts at 7:00 and full entrees at 7:30. Expect to see hearty fisherman’s fare like fishcakes, beans, and anadama bread (a local favorite flavored with molasses and cornmeal). On June 21, a picnic-style lunch service will begin with items like lobster rolls and fried fish sandwiches, perfect for taking to an outside table, the beach, or a boat.

We were invited to attend the restaurant’s grand opening this weekend, where we sampled crispy brandade, lobster paella with aioli, and rocket salad with shaved fennel. Everything we ate was delicious—perfectly cooked and seasoned—a successful tying together of the traditional (brandade are fritters made with salt cod), the local, and the gourmet. The paella looked marvelous and tasted even better, with large chunks of lobster, mussels, clams, saffron flavored risotto, and the addictive aioli.

It’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of these three food lovers and their passion for local products. Seafood comes from Cape Ann Fresh Catch and other local purveyors and may, one day, simply arrive at the restaurant’s dock. Bread baskets will be filled by Salem’s A&J King, hot dog rolls are from Virgilio’s in Gloucester, and Oliver has posted a Google map showing North Shore farms that will supply the restaurant’s produce.

Some greens won’t have to travel even that far—lettuce and herbs are already growing at O’Reilly’s mother’s house in nearby Lanesville. We can’t help but think that Alice Waters would approve.

The Market Restaurant
33 River Rd, Lobster Cove, Gloucester
(978) 282-0700
www.themarketrestaurant.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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Fish Tales: Does Cape Ann Fresh Catch Measure Up?

Posted: March 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cape Ann Fresh Catch, Gloucester, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Cape Ann Fresh Catch, the Gloucester-based community supported fishery program, has certainly made a big splash since it debuted last year. Lauded by the likes of Boston.com and Saveur, the program has been popular among those with a desire to eat fresh, locally produced foods.

Caught fresh daily by Gloucester fishermen, approximately five pounds of seafood per customer is delivered to seven Boston area communities; Cambridge (two locations), Jamaica Plain, Acton, Lincoln, Marblehead, Gloucester, Newburyport, and Ipswich. There is a two-hour window for shareholders to pick up. Consumers get local, seasonal, super-fresh fish, and the money goes directly to the fishermen, supporting the local economy and encouraging sustainable practices.

We subscribed to the winter season, which started in the middle of December. It was supposed to run eight weeks, but due to understandable delays caused by stormy weather, we just picked up our last share. Winter shares included an option for local or “Maine” shrimp, as they are in season. We opted for a half fish/half shrimp share, which meant receiving five pounds of shrimp alternating weeks with five pounds of fish.

3152010cSign up was easy and pick up relatively convenient. The CAFC people were great with keeping everyone informed about schedule and expectations via Web, Twitter and e-mail. Our delivery guy Steve (pictured here) was helpful and even emailed out a fish cake recipe after chatting about it. The fish itself was incredibly fresh and delicious. If you are used to buying fish at the supermarket, I can’t stress this enough—the difference in taste is phenomenal.

Something I didn’t anticipate was the “facing your food” sensation. Unlike the bland fillets from a glass case, here was a whole damned fish (thankfully gutted) taking up my kitchen counter and staring at me with his big eyes. Truth be told, I was fascinated. During the season we ended up Googling all manner of fishy facts and watching YouTube videos on everything from filleting techniques to shrimp recipes. We contracted for fresh seafood and got an education in the bargain.

So, what’s the catch? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Although we liked the program so much we’ll sign up for another season, it’s not without issues. The biggest complaint I’ve heard is the lack of variety. Along with the shrimp, we ended up with cod, pollock, and haddock during the season. This was change enough for me, but we also had several missed weeks due to inclement weather. I can see how one could easily end up with a freezer full of pollock.

The shrimp were also a surprise. Despite having grown up on the North Shore, I was unfamiliar with the local variety. Used to big gulf shrimp, these wee pink ones were a mystery to me. The flavor was wonderful: sweet, delicate, and almost lobster-like. But shelling them was extremely time consuming and seemed hardly worth it for the amount of meat harvested. I think next time I’ll skip the shrimp and buy the shelled meat at a local fish monger.

That brings us to the question of cost, which figures in at $4/lb for fish and $3.50/lb for fish and shrimp. Sounds like a bargain until you realize that you are receiving whole fish or shrimp that needs to be processed. Even if you’re an expert with a fillet knife, how many edible pounds are you actually buying? Is it worth the effort?

Unless you live in a coastal town with a reasonably priced fish market selling dayboat fish you can patronize at whim, the answer is a definite yes. That’s what Cape Ann Fresh Catch delivers—incredibly fresh, great quality fish that helps food lovers support the local economy.

Cape Ann Fresh Catch
Gloucester, MA
(978) 283-2504
http://namanet.org/csf/cape-ann-fresh-catch

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Gloucester’s Fort Square: Familiar Faces at Breakfast

Posted: February 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Breakfast, Cafe, Fort Square Café, Fort Square Cafe, Gloucester | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The ever-so-charming Joey C. of Good Morning Gloucester steered us to Fort Square Café last weekend when we were looking for a casual place for breakfast. Not surprisingly, he was right on the money. With great food, local specialties, and counter staff that greets you like a long-lost sibling, this place is right up our alley.

2262010bThe breakfast menu at tiny Fort Square is extensive and served all day. It includes eggs, omelets, and pancakes served with various breakfast meats and choice of hash browns or home fries. We tried two specials that day and loved them both. Crispy french toast ($5.50) was coated in crushed Honey Bunches of Oats and perfectly cooked. A side of bacon was crispy and flavorful. The tasty Portugese scramble with peppers, onions, and chorizo, home fries, and toast is $8.50, but we guarantee you won’t need another meal that day.

We also sampled mudiga steak, a local favorite consisting of thin slices of beef that have been breaded and fried. For fisherman, or those who like to eat breakfast like one, the steak is served with eggs, hash browns, and a toasted roll. Those not quite as adventurous might enjoy it more for lunch. We saw a steak sandwich with roasted peppers and melted provolone go by that looked delicious. Many other sandwiches are available for lunch ($4.50 to $6), and we’re hoping to return to check out the chowder.

Fort Square Café
29 Commercial St, Gloucester
(978) 281-3100
No Web site, open Mon-Sat 7:00 to 3:00, Sun 7:00 to 1:00
Fort Square Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Ryan & Wood Releases Folly Cove Rum

Posted: February 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Drinks, Gloucester | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The North Shore’s own small batch craft distiller, Ryan and Wood, today announces the premiere bottling of their newest spirit, Folly Cove Rum.

When we visited the distillery in August, Bob Ryan was carefully developing the new rum, experimenting with various batches, and using the finest quality molasses to create the perfect balance of smoothness and taste. We sniffed and tasted a few and were incredibly impressed with the science behind such rich flavor. Now his final recipe has had it’s chance to age in charred American white oak barrels and today will be bottled by hand and released to the public.

Folly Cove is a small cove on the northeast tip of Gloucester, known for its shipwrecks and for the smugglers who landed there back in the day, and thus the name evokes both the sea coast and an air of mystery. The quality produced by this local gem is no mystery, though, and if rum is your spirit of choice, today is a day to celebrate.

Ryan & Wood distribute to many local liquor stores, and they can help you find the source closest to you. They also keep a Facebook page where you can find out about upcoming events or tastings.

Joey from Good Morning Gloucester interviewed Bob Ryan on what makes his rum so special, and you can check it out here.

Ryan & Wood Distilleries
15 Great Republic Dr., Gloucester
(978) 281-2282
www.ryanandwood.com

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