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!

Share

Everyone in the Pool

Posted: August 31st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Rockport, Seafood, The Lobster Pool | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Please don’t ask us why we didn’t visit the The Lobster Pool in Rockport before now—we have absolutely no excuse. Having lived on the North Shore for so many years, we’re kicking ourselves for having neglected this gem. We had a magical evening there last weekend, and we plan to return soon.

There was a real party atmosphere when we arrived, with people eagerly queuing up to order and many guests already enjoying their food and the sunset over the water at the picnic tables just outside. The menu is large, with favorites like fried clams and scallops next to lobster rolls and swordfish specials. We found everything reasonably priced, fresh, well made, and delicious.

The fisherman’s platter is enormous—enough to feed three people. We went with the mini version ($19), which was more than enough for one. The seafood had a light, slightly sweet batter and tasted fresh. The haddock got the same treatment and was flaky and delicious ($15). The lobster roll was full of meat, not too heavily dressed, and the roll was properly grilled ($17 with fries). The fish cake dinner was a great deal at $8: two large cakes very crisp outside and tender inside, a generous serving of beans that weren’t overly sweet, and freshly made cole slaw. The thin, crisp onion rings (you must get these, $7) and the blueberry pie ($4) disappeared quickly as well.

As though the food and the incredible view weren’t enough, The Lobster Pool is BYOB with no corkage fee, so you can drink just what you want at liquor-store prices. There’s an interesting outside raw bar that’s worth visiting, complete with lobster tails ($8 each and cooked to perfection). To further gild the lily, on weekends, there is a campfire and free s’mores. You cook your own marshmallow over an ingenious pipe sticking out of the fire (no engulfing your treat in flames, no worries about burns) and place it right onto a waiting chocolate/graham cracker sandwich.

One thing to keep in mind, especially on a weekend night, is that the restaurant’s kitchen is fairly small, everything is cooked to order, and demand is high. With waits up to 45 minutes for food, it’s best not to arrive starving. You could also call ahead for a take-out order to transport to the outside tables. Also keep in mind that the restaurant is not in downtown Rockport; you’ll need a car to reach its Folly Cove location, about halfway between Rockport and Lanesville.

The Lobster Pool
329 Granite St, Rockport
(978) 546-7808
www.lobsterpoolrestaurant.com

The Lobster Pool - Seasonal on Urbanspoon

Share

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

header

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

fifthjoyweb_500

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

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

Brunch Bunch

Posted: March 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Breakfast, brunch, Lynn, Manchester, Newburyport, Rockport, Salem | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Marge: “What’s brunch?”
Jacques: “You’ll love it. It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end.”

It’s that time of year again, when the spring bulbs start blooming and the people start brunching. Sure, eating breakfast out is always popular, but when the weather improves, a leisurely brunch and a long seaside walk to work off that eggs benedict is an excellent way to spend your Sunday. Spring also brings the two biggest brunch days of the year: Easter and Mother’s Day.

So while we adore local diners and feature breakfast joints all year long, we’ve got a list of places worth considering if you’re looking for something a little more upscale.

Nathaniel’s at Hawthorne Hotel in Salem is well known for its gorgeous Sunday Jazz Brunch, which has been consistently voted Best of the North Shore by North Shore Magazine. They offer seatings at 11:15 am, 11:30 am 1:30 pm, and 1:45 pm, and while reservations are not required, they are strongly recommended.

The Hawthorne will be offering an Easter Brunch Buffet from 10:30 to 7:00 for $40 per adult and $15 per child. Menus for the Jazz Brunch and the Easter Buffet are available in .pdf form on the Web site. A similar brunch will be offered on Mother’s Day, but the menu is not yet available.

Newburyport’s Ten Center offers their Bloody Good Brunch on Sundays from 11:00 to 3:00 with some interesting twists on the traditional and a Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar. They are hosting a special buffet for Easter in the private dining room featuring a separate children’s buffet and a dessert buffet. Seatings will be at 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00; reservations are required. The buffet is $55 per adult and $15 per child.

A couple of places that don’t usually do breakfast are serving up specials for Easter brunch as well. The Blue Ox in Lynn is offering a mouth-watering three-course menu for $29 per person that includes things like baked Duxbury oysters with mascarpone cheese, diced apples, scallions, apple brandy and grilled local applewood-smoked ham with roasted fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, sherry wine and shallot sauce. They will be open from 11:00 to 4:00 on Easter.

Finz in Salem also has an Easter special, a buffet that will include a raw bar and items like swordfish oscar and banana-encrusted salmon. The buffet is $35 per person and $16 for kids under 12.

If you’re looking for a pretty Sunday drive, head to Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport for their extensive Easter Grand Buffet from 11:30 to 3:30. The lobster deviled eggs and mascarpone stuffed french toast with wild-berry compote are calling our names. The buffet runs $45 per person, $22.50 for children ages 3 to 10. There is limited seating available, so they’re encouraging people to call early for reservations. The Emerson Inn will be serving a similar brunch on Mother’s Day but haven’t yet announced the menu.

And although we haven’t seen any published holiday specials, the following restaurants serve up Sunday brunch on a regular basis:

Cala’s in Manchester hosts a brunch from 11:30 to 2:00 that includes breakfast standards, bistro fare, and a build-your-own pizza menu. Reservations are available but not required, and the menu is available here.

Tryst in Beverly offers breakfast from 10:00 to 1:00, and we’ve heard good things about it, though the menu isn’t available online. It is also first-come, first-served, as they don’t take reservations.

Salem’s Lyceum, which recently underwent a metamorphosis, is open for brunch 11:00 to 3:00, and the menu has some intriguing-sounding dishes at a range of prices. Edit: They have since published an Easter menu, which can be found here.

So whether you’re treating the family, your mom, or just yourself, there are so many tasty options on the North Shore, you’ll wish you had a month of Sundays to enjoy them.

Share

A North Shore New Year’s Eve

Posted: December 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Essex, Event, Gloucester, Lynn, Newburyport, Rockport, Salem | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

This year’s holiday season got a bit crazy and we haven’t had time to even think about what to do on New Year’s Eve till this very moment. Luckily, whether it’s a romantic dinner to woo your honey or a hopping party, the North Shore has a myriad of options to help you ring in the new year.

In Lynn, Matt O’Neil and the crew at the Blue Ox will extend their hours and are offering their regular menu as well as upscale specials, so there will be a tasty offerings for every budget, and all include a champagne toast at midnight.

Pickering Wharf in Salem will be abuzz with the party atmosphere;  Capt.’s and Finz will both feature live music and special menu items, Victoria Station will have a dj and dancing with free party favors and champagne toast, and 62 on Wharf is offering a special New Year’s Eve five course tasting menu ($55 per person, $75 with wine pairings) as well as their regular menu.

If you’re in the mood to dress up, we’ve got two masquerade balls worth considering. First, the Gulu Gulu Café in Salem will be hosting a masquerade ball with music by Big Blue Octopus, appetizers and champagne, ($8 in advance, $10 at the door) Farther north, Latitude 43 in Gloucester will be hosting a Black & White Masquerade Ball with live entertainment, champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight. ($10 in advance or $15 at the door)

If a more formal sit-down dinner is what you’re looking for,  Lat 43 will also be offering a gorgeous three course dinner with amuse-bouche, intermezzo, champagne toast and live entertainment. (check out the menu here) Reservations are required for a 5:00 seating ($65 a person) and a 7:30 seating at ($75 a person)

Other formal dining options include a lovely five course menu ($75 per person) with live entertainment at Nathaniel’s at the Hawthorn Hotel in Salem and a five course dinner with amuse-bouche, champagne toast and live music at Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport. And if you’re out that way, don’t forget to check out New Year’s Rockport Eve.

In Newburyport, 10 Center Street has three ways to celebrate: a 6pm seating three course pre-fixe menu with champagne toast ($45 per person), an 8pm seating of the same, but at $55 per person includes entry to late night cocktail party and the cocktail party itself, which starts at 10pm ($55 per person) Also in Newburyport, the Mission Oak Grill has your whole evening planned out for you. For $80 per person, not only do you get a hors d’oeuvres reception and dinner, but also an hour long comedy show, dancing and a champagne toast at midnight.

If you happen to be out and about for Beverly’s New Year, check out the shindig at Soma, a three course dinner ($55 per person, $75 paired with wine) with live music till 2am and a champagne toast at midnight.

And if you’re in the mood for casual, inexpensive fun, The Farm in Essex is offering this special; one appetizer, two entrees, and a bottle of wine for $40, and after dinner you can hang out to hear live music. Even more casual is the Lobster Shanty’s New Year’s Eve Pajama Party. Wear your most comfy p.j.’s to the party, and don’t forget to bring a non-perishable food item for donation to a local food pantry.

With so much going on, it’s going to be hard to choose where to go, but who says you have to limit yourself to one venue? Though if you’re going to party like it’s 2009, you might think about swapping out your car keys for cab fare, or check out the MBTA schedule, both the Newburyport and Rockport lines will be running extra trains.

Cheers!

Share

North Shore Food Finds

Posted: October 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Asian, Bakery, Beverly, Bistro, Deli, Gloucester, Marblehead, Marketplace, Peabody, Revere, Rockport, Salem, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Everyone has their favorite restaurants, from the one you look forward to visiting on special occasions to the one you turn to when you can’t even think about cooking. But what about those favorite dishes and treats you’ve discovered in your neighborhood or on your travels? We’ve put together a list of ours in the hopes that readers will be inspired to respond in kind. If you’ve got a North Shore food find to add to the list, let us know in the comments, and we’ll be sure to check it out.

Bouchon, A&J King
Talk about addictive. This little cake looks simple, but it’s not. It’s rich and not too sweet with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a wonderful hint of almond. One of the best chocolate experiences on the North Shore. Oh, and they have great bread, too. ($2.25)

House Dumplings, Sugar Cane
We love dumplings of all sizes and shapes, but these are our favorite. The dough is thin and wonderfully crispy, the inside is flavorful, and the accompanying ginger soy sauce puts these little gems over the top. ($6)

Tiger’s Tears, Floating Rock
This dish has it all: spice, citrus, and crunch. Thin slices of marinated beef are served cold and paired with sliced red and green bell peppers, onion, basil, red pepper flakes, and ground roasted rice. If you like spicy food, you will love this—but don’t be scared off, we found the balance of heat and citrus just right.

Chicken Salad, Henry’s Market
We’re picky when it comes to chicken salad—no large chunks or odd ingredients, thanks. Henry’s makes it just the way we like it: finely ground, super fresh, and perfectly seasoned. We like it made into mini-sandwiches on the top-knot rolls baked fresh in the store daily.

Guacamole, Cielito Lindo
Made fresh and served in a molcajete (a stone bowl for grinding), this guac is the perfect antidote to a long day and just one of the things we love about this often-overlooked Mexican restaurant in Beverly. Grab a tortilla chip and dive in—you’ll be amazed at how quickly the generous serving will disappear. ($8)

Fresh-Baked Cookies, Shubie’s
These are the kind of cookies you could easily pass off as homemade (not that we would ever do that, of course). They’re baked fresh in the store every day, and while the peanut butter and oatmeal raisin ($8/pound) are terrific, the larger kitchen-sink cookies are the stuff of dreams, packed with dark and white chocolate and cranberries ($1.75 each).

While you’re in the store, be sure to check out the cheese counter, which has one of the largest selections of New England cheeses we’ve seen. Selections include several from Vermont Butter & Cheese, Cabot clothbound cheddar, Jasper Hill blue, Blue Ledge Farm crottini, Ploughgate Creamery willoughby, Spring Brook Farm tarentaise, Maplebrook Farm mozzarella, Shy Brothers Farm Hannabells, and cheddars from Shelburne and Grafton Farms.

Strudel, Helmut’s Strudel
What is it about apples and pastry that makes us swoon? We don’t know, but this place is the gold standard for the combination. Sweet, gooey apple filling and a crunchy, flaky not-too-sweet shell come together for the perfect mouthful. Folks, there’s a reason this tiny Bearskin Neck shop stays in business selling nothing but strudel and croissants. ($4 per slice)

Hot Cookie Dough Topping, Terry’s Ice Cream
If you like your cookies just barely cooked and hot from the oven, you get the idea here. Even better than hot fudge on top of ice cream, this is decadence in a cup. Go ahead, indulge; we’ll never tell.

Toasted Iggy’s Bagel, Foodie’s Feast
If you’re a fan of Montreal-style bagels (thinner and more flavorful than New York style), you’ve got to try Iggy’s, which are very similar. Our favorite way to enjoy them is to let the nice counter folks at Foodie’s toast one up and serve it alongside a steaming mug of joe. They’re also available at Whole Foods in Swampscott.

Truffle Paté, Crosby’s
This mousse-like spread is the perfect addition to your holiday cheese platter. We like to serve it on lightly toasted baguette slices or water crackers. It’s so good, you may want to buy two for your next cocktail party and forget to put the second one out.

Ribs, Smokin’ Jims
If you’ve never heard of Smokin’ Jim, you might be tempted to drive right by his parking-lot location on East Main in Gloucester. But these ribs are the real deal: smoked on oil-drum cooker until they just about fall off the bone. Side dishes like cole slaw, beans, and corn bread are available, too. There are picnic tables nearby, or you may want to drive over to Stage Fort Park. Hours vary seasonally, so check the Web site before visiting.

Marissa’s Salsa, Whole Foods
You’ll never want to go back to that stuff in the jar once you try this fresh version, packed in ice in the produce section and featuring a heavenly balance of heat and cilantro. Even better, it’s made in small batches by Nahant resident Marissa Salomon.

Potato Chips, Mandrake
We like the well-built drinks, reasonably priced food, and friendly bartenders at this downtown Beverly spot. Add the freshly made potato chips served as bar snacks, and you’ve got the start of a beautiful relationship.

We had a lot of fun putting this post together, and we look forward to hearing from readers who try one of our “finds” and those with a special treat to contribute…

Share

Autumn Events: Farms, Clams, and Celebrity Chefs

Posted: September 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Essex, Event, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Newburyport, Rockport, Salem | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

91709Sadly, Salem restaurant week ends today. But fear not, intrepid foodies—there’s no shortage of taste-bud-tempting events on tap to keep you busy, including yet another restaurant week and not one but two clam festivals.

Tonight brings two terrific opportunities. The first is The Taste of Cape Ann, at Cruiseport in Gloucester, which features tastings from many of the area’s top restaurants and vintners, as well as Gloucester Brewery and Ryan and Wood Distilleries. Tickets are $35 per person, and all the proceeds go to fund children’s programs at the Cape Ann YMCA.

Also this evening is the first of the Celebrity Chefs Best Local Food Series, which takes place at the Inn at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate. This series of four dinners invites area chefs to be as creative as possible with fresh local produce, seafood, and meats. The four-course menu, with two wine pairings, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres, including tips and taxes, is $135 per person.

The series features the following chefs:
9/17  Chef Robert Grant and Cheese Director Stephanie Santos of The Butcher Shop
10/1  Chef Paul Callahan from High St. Grill in North Andover
10/22  Chef Richard Morin, executive sous chef at Eastern Standard
11/12  Barbara Lynch, the force behind No. 9 Park, B&G Oyster, The Butcher Shop, and Sportello

On September 22, Sixty2 on Wharf will host a Farewell to Summer wine dinner that has us salivating already. The evening promises “a seafood-centric menu paired with wines from the prestigious Alois Legeder vineyards in Alto Adige, Italy.” Tickets are $85 per person; reservations are required. Click the link above to check out the terrific menu.

Friday September 25 brings a unique multi-farm-to-table dinner experience with the Farmer’s Market Dinner at historic Spencer Pierce Little Farm. Newburyport area restaurants will be paired with various local farms to create a wide range of inspired tastes. There will be live music, tours of the farmhouse, hayrides for the family, and free admittance (pay per dish and drink).

IpswichIf you haven’t filled up at the farm the night before, head over to Ipswich on Saturday the  26th from 12:00 to 3:00 for the annual Ipswich Clam Festival. For $10, you can taste chowders from many local restaurants and vote for your favorite. Plenty of family activities will be on hand, along with Mercury Brewing Company with their popular sodas.

And speaking of Mercury Brewing Company, they will be hosting the Ipswich Ale Harvest Fest at Green Meadow Farms on October 3. They will have a wide selection of Ipswich ales, Stone Cat ales and lagers, as well as Mercury soda pop and bubbly waters available, alongside food by Ipswich Clambake and live music.

CARWOctober 18 to 23 marks the return of  Cape Ann Restaurant Week, which features three-course meals for only $22.09 per person. (Drinks, tax and tip not included.) Restaurants from Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Manchester are participating, so what better excuse to take a scenic drive, ogle the foliage, and explore the coast? Click the link above for a list of the participating restaurants.

No one will argue that the lowly bivalve is one of the biggest draws in bringing people to Essex, and where best to experience it than the Essex Clam Fest? Now in its 27th year, this local festival takes place in Memorial Park in downtown Essex on October 24 and boasts 40 to 50 food, craft, and local product vendors and a clam chowder competition.

So even though the days are getting shorter and the air cooler, take heart—the eating season is just heating up!

Share

Gone to the Dogs

Posted: August 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Boston Hot Dog Co., Fred's Franks, Gloucester, Kell's Kreme, Popo's Hot Dogs, Rockport, Rondogs, Salem, Swampscott, Top Dog, Wakefield | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

81809add

This time of year, the media is full of summery stories on the best fried clams, lobster rolls, and ice cream, and we at the Dish are no exception. Last weekend, we set out to find the tastiest hot dogs on the North Shore, risking our arteries and our families’ patience by visiting six vendors in two days.

Given the variety of available products and everyone’s personal taste, it would be folly to attempt to declare a single “best” dog, but we found some tubular treats definitely worth working into your summer itinerary.

All the dogs we tasted were well above average quality, and all but one was served on a buttered, grilled New-England-style frankfurter bun. A few bare-bones dogs ran $2.50; the rest averaged $3.50 to $3.95. Also, we appreciated that several vendors offered the Ipswich Ale Mustard made by local Mercury Brewing Company.

First, we needed to solve the Popo’s (pronounced POP-oh’s) mystery. Having occupied a storefront in Swampscott for several years, we assumed they’d left when the space was taken over by Kell’s Kreme. A quick search revealed they had moved to a location in Gloucester. But it turns out that Kell’s negotiated a licensing deal and still sells Popo’s hot dogs out of this location.

Kell’s has an ice-cream-parlor ambiance: super clean, well lit, and staffed with friendly college kids who were helpful and attentive. On offer were kosher beef, natural casing, and veggie dogs with a plethora of toppings, some complimentary, some at an extra $.50. Our favorite was the Boston Dog, served with baked beans, caramelized onions, and diced real bacon bits. Rich and savory, it was a meal on a bun.

Still curious about the “original” Popo’s, we headed to Gloucester where we met founder Mark Scaglione, a terrifically nice guy who told us his story while prepping our dogs. A lobsterman from Nahant, Scaglione opened the Swampscott location in 2004, and it quickly became known for delicious dogs. With an eye toward the future, he partnered with his friend, Ed Williams from New England Restaurant Brokers and Brighams Ice Cream, to create a new venture: licensing (not franchising) Popo’s hot dogs. The Gloucester location isn’t just a great place to grab a dog, it’s a model for potential investors.

One thing that sets Popo’s dogs apart is attention to detail. We ordered the slaw dog, and Scaglione mixed the cole slaw on order, so it was light and fresh rather than swimming in day-old mayo. We have to admit that although on a quest for dogs, we ordered one of Popo’s famed lobster rolls, which was again mixed to order. This is the first time we have ever been asked how we wanted the lobster salad prepared! The small size was plenty big, chock full of fresh meat, and quite delectable.

Kell’s Kreme
168 Humphrey Street, Swampscott
(617) 599-9900

Popo’s Olde Fashioned Gourmet Hot Dogs
6 Rogers Street, Gloucester
(978) 239-9994
www.poposhotdogs.com/Home_Page.html



Boston Hot Dog Company (a bit of a misnomer as it exists only in Salem), is a unique experience, due in large part to owner Frangoulis, a grinning, energetic man with a boundless personality. He chats, he eats, he addresses everyone rapid-fire and tosses off jokes like a borscht-belt comedian. It’s like low-rent dinner and a show.

Boston offers both beef kosher and natural casing dogs, as well as Italian sausage, three flavors of chicken sausage, and a whopping five flavors of veggie sausage. But the clear favorite here is the quarter pound black angus beef dog. (shown at the top of this post) Whoa, baby, that is one big meaty meal with flavor to spare.

Like Popo’s, Boston offers a Frank Sinatra dog (have it your way) with a long list of available condiments. The best one we tasted was the sweet-but-tart homemade onion relish; we regretted not picking up a jar to bring home ($6).

Boston Hot Dog isn’t the largest or tidiest place we visited, but it’s got a loyal following among Yelpers and Chowhounders, along with the rest of the world. Behind the counter are a US map and world map studded with pins. Downtown Salem is a tourist magnet in the summer, and Frangoulis, who’s been in business five years, makes it a point to mark visitor’s hometowns—people from Alaska to Zimbabwe have chowed on these dogs.

Boston Hot Dog Company
60 Washington Street, Salem
(978) 744-2320



(Editor’s Note 7.21.11: Rondogs has been replaced by The Scotty Dog)

Rondogs, a two-year-old Beverly drive-up made local news this summer when multimillionaire Red Sox owner John Henry made a highly publicized pit stop there on the way to his impending nuptials. We arrived with much less fanfare, but were treated with prompt and perky service just the same.

Although not as charming as a drive-in restaurant from the ’50s, Rondogs’ carhop service is fun and unique. (There are picnic tables if you don’t want to eat in your car.) Like the others, Rondogs serves a variety of dogs, and it’s the only place we visited that offers rippers (that’s deep fried dogs to you and me).

We were disappointed that they were all out of grilled mushrooms and settled for the sauerkraut, which was quite respectable. The dogs were tasty, but the gourmet dogs seemed pricey. The ¼ lb. Rondog is $3.50, and the toppings are mostly .50 each, so at $5.95 for four or five toppings, it’s definitely pricier than the other loaded dogs we tried. It makes the ¼ lb. cheeseburger with four toppings look like a bargain at $3.95.

With a location on busy Rantoul Street at a traffic light, some may not enjoy the view and noise, but the kids will love the served-in-your-car experience, and Rondogs is open until 1:30 a.m. on weekends, making it a good destination for late-night snacking.

Rondogs
437 Rantoul Street, Beverly
(978) 922-3647
www.udine4less.com/rondogs



Top Dog, a Rockport favorite, has also seen its share of famous visitors of late. We heard that Adam Sandler and company, filming in various North Shore locations this summer, have stopped in several times for a hot dog fix.

It’s a fun and funky spot out on Bearskin Neck catering to families and tourists with self-serve condiments, free drink refills, and even free Top Dog tattoos for the kids. There is more indoor seating than most of the places we visited and chalk boards to doodle on while you wait.

The dogs are basic, but there are plenty of toppings to choose from. We couldn’t resist the Golden Retriever, a mac-and-cheese dog, just for the fun of it. It was surprisingly good and drew longing gazes from several five-year-olds as we sat eating it outside. The German Shepherd was also worthy; the sauerkraut was fresher and more flavorful than at Rondogs, if a bit skimpy. Top Dog is known for their fried clams as well, but we’re waiting for another visit to try them.

Bearskin Neck is always packed with tourists in the summer, so expect a line around meal times, but it moves at a good pace, and the friendly wait staff is dedicated to service.

Top Dog
2 Doyle’s Cove Road
Bearskin Neck, Rockport
(978) 546-0006
www.topdogrockport.com



Last but far from least, we couldn’t complete this epic journey without a stop at Fred’s Franks. Wakefield doesn’t fall into our usual definition of North Shore (being north but not shore), but so many people had recommended Fred that we felt compelled to pay him a visit, and he did not disappoint.

Fred is located right on the rotary at exit 40 off Rt. 128, with a beautiful view of the lake. Here Fred hangs out with his cart and his big green egg, a fabulous giant charcoal grill. Yes, these were the only dogs we tasted that were grilled to order over a charcoal flame, and they were awesome.

Fred uses Pearl all-beef natural-casing franks in three sizes; regular (1/8 lb.), jumbo (¼ lb), and a ½ lb. monster the likes of which we’d never seen. He also offers kielbasa, chorizo, and linguica and works that grill like a maestro, snapping it open with a custom pully system he devised.

The condiments are self serve, though Fred will happily make suggestions, and he offers a few of his own creations, like habanera mayo and habanera barbeque sauce. Our favorite was the homemade sweet-and-sour chopped cabbage, which added a tangy crunch. Fred doesn’t grill his buns, but they are fresh baked and generous, in various sizes for the different meats. With such incredible dogs, this spot is destined to become a favorite stop on any road trip, long or short, from now on.

Fred’s Franks
Exit 40 off of Route 128, Wakefield
www.fredsfranks.com

Rather than the heartburn we expected from this weekend, we found wonderful people, stories, and an unexpected local passion for this American classic. Not to mention some darn fine franks. One note of caution: several of these vendors close for the winter, and their hours vary greatly, so check out their Web sites or call ahead to avoid disappointment. Now, go eat some hot dogs. And let us know who serves up your favorite!

Share