Weekend Picks, April 1-3

Posted: April 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Marblehead, News, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

After a few quiet weeks, there are a slew of interesting food events this weekend.

First up is Salem’s Spring Fling on Saturday from 6:00 to 9:00 in Salem Old Town Hall. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door and include craft beer from Magic Hat, Ipswich, Stone Cat, Cape Ann Brewing, Clown Shoes, and more. There will also be wine from Pamplemousse and Market Wine & Spirits and food and desserts from several Salem favorites, including 62 Restaurant, Lobster Shanty, Victoria Station, Café Polonia, Gulu-Gulu Café, and Greenland Café. This is an over-21 event featuring music from Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket. Tickets are available at several Salem locations and online here.

Also that night is the Art Auction to benefit the Marblehead Festival of Arts. The silent auction begins at 5:00 at Abbot Hall, followed by a live auction at 7:30. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door; they include hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting during the first part of the evening, and dessert and coffee later on. More information is here.

This weekend is the beginning of an epic Salem Restaurant Week, which runs Sunday through Thursday and has been extended to run the following Sunday through Thursday as well (April 10 to 14). Meals are $15 for two courses and $25 for three courses. A complete list of restaurants is here.

Last but not least, this weekend marks the end of prohibition in Salem. Well, the winter kind, anyway. All the restaurants with partial and seasonal liquor licenses can begin serving again on April 1, and they are celebrating. The Lobster Shanty is throwing an opening day open mic shindig and rolling out a new menu, and 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar is unveiling their spring cocktail list. 62 will be serving complimentary hors d’oeuvres from 5:00 to 7:00 in the lounge. After 7:00, they’ll serve a complimentary signature spuntino with each drink purchased from the new cocktail menu in the lounge.

From 8:30 to 11:00 over at Howling Wolf, there will be free Mexican wings and buffalo wings. Lee Hawkins will be singing the blues, and there’s a raffle for Red Sox and Revolution tickets. And starting at 8:00, there’ll be live music by Clay Ventre and the Bond Girls and complimentary passed hors d’oeuvres at Café Polonia.

So ignore any white stuff that happens to be falling from the sky today and get out there and enjoy!

We’ve also got some great things to do from our pals in the  North Shore Bloggers Consortium:

Seth is all over Lynn at Lynn Happens.

Jane Ward has some great ideas for  this weekend.

Kimmy has her weekend picks in addition to another great recipe over at Lighter and Local.

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First Look: Marblehead’s Hungry Betty’s

Posted: March 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: American, Casual/Pub Food, Hungry Betty's, Marblehead | 2 Comments »

Owner Patty Johnson and Chef Billy Glidden

Could it be that the economy is on its way back to health at the same time winter releases us from its clutches? Actually, we’re not sure, but we were encouraged when we heard about a large new restaurant opening in Marblehead and stopped in to check it out.

Hungry Betty’s is a casual dining restaurant located on the second level of the Village Plaza on Pleasant Street. Owner Patty Johnson, who took a few minutes out of her busy opening weekend to talk with us, has worked in restaurants for more than 20 years. The past 10 of those years she’s provided food and beverage to the members of Marblehead’s Dolphin Yacht Club. The menu she developed for the new restaurant with Chef Billy Glidden is highly accessible, with casual comfort food at reasonable prices.

One of Johnson’s main goals is to provide a place for families to come on a regular basis—whenever parents don’t feel like cooking. In addition to entrees like burgers, haddock, meatloaf, stir fries, and chicken with fig/onion sauce ($9 to $17), there is a $5.25 kids menu that includes grilled chicken, pizza, chicken fingers, and a cheese quesadilla. All of the food is made from scratch on site.

There’s an 18-table dining room, a bar that seats 16, and a lounge area with another 15 tables. The décor is fresh and soothing, with neutral tones, black furniture, and plenty of light. Johnson noted that she wanted to stay away from the typical nautical theme.

Although many of the restaurant’s crew are people Johnson knows from the Dolphin and other previous jobs, she held back a bit on the opening menu. There are plenty of choices, but Johnson said she has more offerings planned once the kitchen and front-of-house staff gets its sea legs, so to speak. For example, the salmon salad entree comes in a large chilled bowl and is a popular choice; Johnson plans to add several variations.

Johnson, who has lived in Marblehead since 1989 and whose nickname was the inspiration for the restaurant name, believes the time is right for this type of establishment and for the Village Plaza to be revived as a destination for Marbleheaders. We applaud her seemingly boundless energy and once she and her crew have settle in, we’ll return to try the food—we’ve got our eye on the steak bomb egg rolls.

Hungry Betty’s
161 Pleasant St, Marblehead
(781) 990-3165
www.hungrybettys.com

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Weekend Picks, January 28–30

Posted: January 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Marblehead, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

There are three great North Shore food events this weekend, one each evening. First up is Drink for the Cure at Pamplemousse in Salem tonight. Starting at 7:00, there will be great wine, craft beer, and appetizers from local restaurants, all to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for blood cancers. There’s a $25 suggested donation at the door, and there will be raffle tickets for a 50/50 drawing, Bruins tickets, great outdoor gear, and gift certificates to local shops.

On Saturday night starting at 6:30, Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead hosts its annual Taste of the North Shore ($60). The event includes an all-you-can-eat buffet with specialties from North Shore restaurants and caterers, a silent auction, and a live auction. For more information, call (781) 631-9300 or e-mail taste@emanu-el.org.

On Sunday afternoon at 4:00, Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia is visiting 62 Restaurant &Wine Bar. For $75, attendees will enjoy a cooking demonstration by Chef Antonio Bettencourt and Ms. Esposito, a multi-course dinner, and a signed copy of her latest book Ciao Italia: Five-Ingredient Favorites. Call (978) 744-0062 for a reservation.

And here are the weekend picks from our pals in the North Shore Bloggers Consortium:

Let’s start with the newest addition to the crew, Kimmy Bingham of the food blog Lighter and Local.

The wonderful Jane Ward tells us what’s up in Newburyport and Amesbury in Food and Fiction.

Choices from all over New England from The Two Palaverers.

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

Joey’s got all that’s going on in Gloucester over at Good Morning Gloucester.

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Beat the Winter Blues With Local Food Events

Posted: January 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Blue Ox, Event, Finz, Lynn, Marblehead, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The holidays are over and that means it’s time for food events to kick into high gear here on the North Shore. Our heads are swimming just looking what’s going on in January and February. And that’s without considering Valentine’s Day specials, which we’ll cover separately.

On Tuesday January 18 at 7:00, Chef Matt O’Neil will be doing a cooking demo and three-course tasting at The Blue Ox in Lynn ($39). There will be a mache salad with braised beets, walnuts, parmesan, blood oranges, and blood orange vinaigrette followed by butter-poached lobster and porcini/saffron quinoa. For dessert, a honey cake with chocolate, raspberry puree, and whipped cream. We’re salivating already. Call (781) 780-5722 to reserve a space.

The next Tuesday, January 25, Finz in Salem is putting on a vodka dinner hosted by Pinnacle Vodka at 6:30 ($59). It begins with oysters accompanied by a mango vodka-blood orange puree cocktail. Next is an Asian scallop ceviche with a lychee martini, mojito grilled swordfish with a berry vodka mojito, and espresso rubbed tenderloin with a caliente café martini. Dessert is a Pinnacle and strawberry sorbet with strawberry Pop Rocks. Sounds like a taxi may be in order after this one.

Vodka is also the star of Red Rock’s Tuesday Tasting on the 25th at 7:00 ($25 including tax and gratuity). Russian Standard Original, Platinum and Imperial vodkas will be featured in six cocktails. Russian-influenced appetizers like smoked trout, oysters, salmon roe caviar, dark pastrami, gravlox, pickled beets, and herring will accompany the drinks. Break out your (faux) fur hat and head on over to Swampscott.

On Saturday January 29 at 6:30, Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead hosts its annual Taste of the North Shore ($60). The event includes an all-you-can-eat buffet with specialties from North Shore restaurants and caterers, a silent auction, and a live auction. For more information, call (781) 631-9300 or e-mail taste@emanu-el.org.

Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia visits 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar in Salem on Sunday January 30 at 6:30. For $75, attendees will enjoy a cooking demonstration by Chef Antonio Bettencourt and Ms. Esposito, a multi-course dinner, and a signed copy of her latest book Ciao Italia: Five-Ingredient Favorites. Call (978) 744-0062 for a reservation. Sounds like a true Italian extravaganza.

Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival begins on Friday February 4th with a chocolate and wine tasting at Hamilton Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 ($25). Tickets are on sale at the Salem Chamber of Commerce office, 265 Essex Street Mon-Fri from 9:00 to 5:00 and will be on sale the night of the event based on availability (the event sold out last year). Sugar rush, here we come.

On Tuesday February 8 Red Rock’s Tuesday Tastings is USA Craft Beers ($25 including tax and gratuity. At 7:00, Local beer master Kyle Sartanowicz will offer expert commentary while attendees taste six outstanding made-in-the-USA beers with foods to match.

Last but not least, on Thursday February 10 at 6:00, Caffe Graziani in Salem is hosting an international wine  dinner featuring a five-course meal and an abundance of French, Italian, and Argentinean wines. The full menu is posted here. The cost is $75, and space is limited. Call (978) 741-4282 for information and reservations.

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More Than Just Lobsters on Marblehead’s Little Harbor

Posted: January 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Marblehead, Marblehead Lobster Company, Seafood | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

We’ve been taking some time off over the holidays, so you haven’t heard much from us here at the Dish. The new year is upon us and we are back in action, hoping everyone enjoyed their holidays, vacations, families, and friends. We certainly did!

Due to a crazy few weeks, we decided to stay in on New Year’s Eve to relax and re-charge. While we love all the deals and hoopla offered by area venues, home-cooked food, cheap booze, and sleep are also things we’re quite fond of.

To usher in 2011, we decided to throw a couple of lobsters in the pot, and we clearly weren’t the only ones with that idea. Things were hopping when we arrived at Marblehead Lobster Co. A small, family-owned place that’s been around for years, Marblehead Lobster sits right on Little Harbor, affording terrific views as you park. (If you’re not familiar with the area, be careful not to overshoot it. The drive is at the curve in the road where Orne Street leads into Beacon Street, and it’s easy to miss that right turn.)

In fact, you can see the view here in a video by Katy Elliott, who must have arrived there minutes after we left. Sorry we missed her!

We picked up a couple of healthy looking medium-sized crustaceans at $8 per pound (chickens were $6/lb and selects $10/lb), and instead of heading out the door, lingered to ogle the other food stuffs available in the tiny shop. We had no idea they offered prepared foods, and on special that day were lobster quiche and a lobster bisque that was described as being “a lighter version, but still containing all of the good stuff.” The gentleman in front of us in line had called to order a couple of baked stuffed lobsters. The 1½ lb lobsters were stuffed and ready to be heated, a bargain at $10 each.

Of course, we ended up leaving with more than we came in for. The man of the house opted for some gorgeous Wellfleet oysters (.95 ea.), which they kindly shucked for a mere additional dollar and offered to us in a tray full of ice. When asked about the plastic container, we were told, “Just bring it back when you’re done.”

We also brought home some seafood-stuffed mushrooms to pop in the oven. Nine white mushroom caps generously topped with a stuffing containing crab, shrimp, and scallops as well as plenty of buttery crumbs were a deal for just under $5. And man, were they tasty–we plan to serve them the next time we have dinner guests.

Although we’ve been buying lobsters at this spot for years, we’d never really taken the time to see what else was available or to chat with the staff. Having discovered their tasty non-lobster offerings and been reminded of the great service, we’ll make it a point to return to Marblehead Lobster more often.

Marblehead Lobster Co.
Beacon & Orne Streets, Marblehead
(781) 631-0787

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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:

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

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

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

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

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Great pick for North Shore Families from North Shore Kid.

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Tastings and Fests: Our Weekend Picks

Posted: October 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Danvers, Event, Marblehead, Rockport, Salem, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

There are some terrific tasting events coming up this weekend, and even a few tonight. Shubie’s Marketplace in Marblehead has a special Graham Port and cheese tasting from 4:00 to 7:00 this evening.

If you’d rather check out offerings from local restaurants for a good cause, head on over to the Danversport Yacht Club where the Danvers Educational Enrichment Partnership holds its 12th annual Wine & Food Tasting from 6:00 to 9:30.

For more offerings from local eateries, Marblehead Chamber of Commerce hosts its Octoberfest on Friday evening, with a food and spirit tasting at the Corinthian Yacht Club from 7:00 to 9:00.

Saturday is a day of dueling festivals. First, Rockport will hold its HarvestFest which features a full day of activities, staring around 11:00 am. There will be a Local Fare Fair with all sorts of local foods, a cooking demonstration, a harvest lunch from Market Restaurant, and a seafood throwdown. Cape Ann Brewing company will be on hand offering tastes of some of their unique brews from 12:00 to 5:00. Sarah Kelly gives more insights into the festival in this video.

If you’d rather spend the afternoon navigating craft brews and fine wines, Salem HarvestFest is the place for you. Sponsored by Magic Hat and held at the Knights of Columbus in Salem, you can taste samples from participants like Cody Brewing, Classic Wine Imports, M.S. Walker, Mayflower Brewing, Turtle Creek Winery, Select Beverages, Still River Winery, Bay State Wines, Charles River Winery, Cape Ann Brewing, Wachusett Brewing Company, Ipswich/Mercury Brewing, Harpoon, Berkshire Brewing, Oskar Blues, Naragansett and Arborway, and Clown Shoes. There will be two sessions, the first from 2:00 to 4:30 and the second from 5:30 to 8:00.

Last but not least, don’t forget that Sunday marks the beginning of Cape Ann Restaurant Week. For six days, participating Cape Ann restaurants will offer a three-course dinner for $25.00 per person (not including beverage, tax, or gratuity). It’s a great opportunity to get out and try places that you’ve been meaning to or visit old favorites. Follow the link to their website for a list of participating eateries.

Up next, as usual, are additional weekend picks from some of our pals in the North Shore Bloggers Consortium.

Good Morning Gloucester brings you the best of Gloucester MA and surrounding communities. From the docks to the restaurants, the sporting fields to the art scene and anything in between, if it’s happening in Gloucester it’s generally covered on GMG.

Click here for Joey’s weekend picks

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Jane Ward writes fiction and is the author of Hunger (Forge, 2001) and The Mosaic Artist (to be released).  She is currently at work on her third novel, The Welcome Home.  She also writes about food – in a weekly blog called Food and Fiction, and as a contributing writer to the online regional food magazine, Local In Season – because she loves to cook and eat.  And so does everyone she knows.

Click Here for Author Jane Ward’s Weekend Picks

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5thjoy is a blog about the things that make life shimmer: Food, Fashion, Feathering the Nest and whatever glinting Flotsam floats our way.

Click Here For Abby Cahill O’Brien’s Fifth Joy Weekend Picks

The Two Palaverers are the husband and wife team of Rob and Laura Ciampa, two passionate New Englanders who have spent decades exploring the highways and byways of New England in search of regional character, culture and cuisine. Their goal is to recognize the people, places and things that exemplify the character of New England. Join them as they palaver about New England.

Click Here For The Weekend Picks From The Two Palaverers

At its core, LynnHappens.com is a place to find out what’s happening in Lynn. It features an events calendar, local weather, arts and events coverage, photo galleries, complete City Council videos, letters to the editor and more.

Click here are for LynnHappens.com editor Seth Albaum’s picks for the weekend

Food For Thought- Heather Atwood

As a painter and writer, Heather Atwood spent a lot of time waiting on tables in great restaurants. While struggling with color and line, she was also learning how to roast a great chicken, and what it means to balance textures in a dish. She’s been interested in good food ever since. Married, the mother of two daughters, Heather now lives in Rockport, Mass. and is the food columnist for the Gloucester Daily Times. She is featured regularly in Taste of the Times videos and her writing can also be seen in the Wednesday food section of the Times.

Click here for Heather Atwood’s Weekend Picks

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Summer in a Bottle

Posted: September 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Ellie's Going Green, Marblehead, Marblehead Farmer's Market, Marketplace, Salem Farmer's Market | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

One of the things we miss most about summer is fresh basil from the garden. Yes, we made pesto and put it in the freezer in anticipation of the January blues, but we wish we could somehow bottle that wonderful flavor. And that’s exactly what four enterprising women did just over a year ago, creating Ellie’s Basil Vinaigrette.

Actually, Ellie Monnin, a chef, had been making the vinaigrette for many years, but last July, she got together with Darnell Vipperman, Barbara Bane, and Heidi Jarcho to turn it into a business. All four partners are Marblehead residents, and the product is currently made in the town’s St. Andrew’s Church kitchen.

The dressing is not only delicious, it’s sugar free, cholesterol free (it’s made with extra virgin olive oil), and gluten free. It’s also highly versatile—it can be used to dip bread or artichokes, as a dressing for potato salad, or a marinade for fish, chicken, or beef. It’s also good with hot pasta, as dressing for pasta salad, and drizzled over vegetables. We had it last night over chopped tomatoes and cubed fresh mozzarella for an easy, extremely tasty side dish.

Thus far, the vinaigrette has only been available at the Salem and Marblehead farmer’s markets. But Monnin and her partners are looking for a commercial kitchen where they can produce larger quantities and hope to have it in local stores this winter. Once that’s accomplished, they plan to expand into other products (they mentioned cookies), so stay tuned.

Ellie’s Going Green
www.elliesgoinggreen.com

Photo: Darnell Vipperman (left), Barbara Bane (middle), Ellie Monnin (right), and Heidi Jarcho (missing).

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Lowdown on the Throwdown: 5 Corners Kitchen Wins Lobster Challenge

Posted: July 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 5 Corners Kitchen, Ataraxis Tavern, Event, Marblehead | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

It’s not every day you get to attend a live event that rivals popular reality TV. Today we had a chance to check out the Seafood Throwdown at the Marblehead Farmers’ Market and enjoyed every minute of it.

For those unfamiliar with this type of contest, two chefs are given limited time and a secret ingredient to battle it out for the winning title. The event is sponsored by the farmers’ market in partnership with Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and Cape Ann Fresh Catch in an effort to support local fishermen and educate about sustainable fishing practices. The throwdown is a relatively new idea, and although there have been several at the Cape Ann Farmers’ Market, this was the first in Marblehead.

The chefs competing in the event were Paul Riccardi from Ataraxis Tavern and Barry Edelman of 5 Corners Kitchen. Sean Sullivan and Niaz Dorry from NAMA were there to oversee the proceedings, and guest judges were Rosalie Harrington, chef and former owner of the legendary Marblehead restaurant Rosalie’s; Leigh Vincola, director of marketing at Edible Boston Magazine; and Rosalie’s husband, Todd Feinberg, morning talk show host on WRKO, who also emceed.

The morning got off to an exciting start when Sullivan announced that the mystery seafood would be lobster, courtesy of Marblehead’s own Paul Crowell. The chefs were then given $25 each and 15 minutes to shop the market for ingredients. When time was up, the horn sounded, and the chefs were allotted one hour to create a meal using the lobsters, their purchases, provided staple ingredients, and up to three unannounced items they were allowed to bring with them.

As the cooking proceeded, Feinberg gave a play-by-play, cracking jokes and asking the chefs questions, even breaking into his best Gordon Ramsey impression at one point. The crowd grew, and everyone, including the kids watching, felt the excitement. It was a treat to see.

Interestingly, both Riccardi and Edelman had chosen some of the same produce from the market, including small potatoes and corn. Riccardi boiled his lobsters while Edelman cut them up, boiling the claws and sautéing the bodies.

The end results were gorgeous. Edelman plated a vegetable mélange first, which included the sautéed corn and potatoes as well as grilled zucchini and fresh carrot, then added the claw meat in roe butter, the lobster half, and beautiful greens that included fresh squash blossoms.

Riccardi plated his “deconstructed” lobster with sautéed potatoes and corn and grilled spicy sausage on a bed of greens that had been sautéed with toasted garlic oil, which he playfully garnished with the lobster body.

The scoring was based on five categories that included originality and use of whole animal. The judges had a difficult job because, as Sullivan opined, “both dishes are unbelievably good.” Harrington noted that Edelman’s combination of flavors were so fresh that all together they “tasted like summer.” Feinberg was surprised by Riccardi’s sweet and sour sauce. “Mango sauce is great with lobster,” he said, “I never would have guessed.”

After tallying up the votes, 5 Corners Kitchen was announced the winner, and both participants were soundly applauded. There is no prize for winning except bragging rights, and, truly, both contenders should be proud of what they accomplished. Can you imagine creating a meal off the cuff in a hot tent in front of a crowd of milling strangers, on a deadline?

Our hearty congratulations to Chef Edelman, and we hope he and Chef Riccardi continue to be involved in this sort of event. Not only does it spotlight local seafood and produce, it is also a great way to get the public more involved in their town’s food scene. And as Martha would say, that’s a good thing.

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A First Look at Hooked, Marblehead’s Newest Seafood Eatery

Posted: July 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Hooked, Marblehead, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

When I visited Ben Rhodes and Rafe Hershfield back in May to find out about their new venture, Hooked Seafood and Grill, they explained their theory for the new eatery.

Similar to the fast-casual concept that’s all the rage, Hooked is a combination of restaurant and take-out, where the quality is better than fast food and less expensive than a sit-down restaurant. Like a standard clam shack, diners order at a counter and bus their own tables, but the meals are served on china by waitstaff, and beer and wine is available.

This Sunday it was too hot to cook, so we headed over to test the theory and the food. Apparently we weren’t the only ones with that idea. The restaurant, which opened last weekend, was packed. All the tables were filled, and people were waiting in line for takeout. Luckily, we were able to snag a spot after a minute or two.

The space has been totally renovated and looks terrific, especially if you remember the erstwhile Super Sub. Hooked’s menu offers quite bit to choose from, including both grilled and fried seafood entrees. We placed our order at the counter, paid, and were given a number, and when our food was up, a waitress brought it to the table.

The daily special, a Long Island striped bass roasted with lemon and herbs, was terrific—moist and delicious ($11). The fried haddock plate offered quite a generous portion of both fish and onion rings that tasted fresh and weren’t greasy ($11). The grilled swordfish kabob was tasty, if a bit overcooked ($10); the breading on the fried shrimp was just a tad heavier than I generally like, but shrimp were large and flavorful ($15). The junior member of our party ordered a cheeseburger from the 1st Mate menu ($4.50 with a drink and fries), which received a double thumbs up.

Of the sides we ordered, the onion rings were the best; savory, thin and crunchy. The cole slaw tasted freshly made and although a bit heavy on the mayo had a nice zing from caraway seeds. The fries seemed to be lightly coated, but were tasty and crisp and disappeared from the table in a flash.

It’s clear Hooked is still refining it’s work flow, but it’s early days, and the staff were all friendly and helpful, so no doubt they’ll find their groove. The take-out business seemed to be booming, and in the small space customers waiting for their orders blocked the door and counter area. We found ourselves wondering if they could install a take-out window on the driveway side to alleviate the congestion.

We plan to return once the crowds abate a bit and look forward to trying their rendition of two of the most hotly debated summer foods on the North Shore: lobster rolls and fried clams.

Hooked Seafood & Grill
114 Pleasant St., Marblehead
781-631-8200
www.hookedmarblehead.com

Hooked Seafood & Grill on Urbanspoon

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