Weekend Picks, June 10-12

Posted: June 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Cider Hill Farm, Event, Lobster Shanty, Marblehead Farmer's Market, Wine Connextion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

If you’ve been running around crazy busy for the past few weeks, you’re not alone. We feel your pain and think you might enjoy kicking back and relaxing at some of the great tastings and fun events going on this weekend.

Start things off right by stopping into Cup ‘n Board in Swampcott from 5:00 to 7:00pm for a beer tasting from Blue Hills Brewery. They’ll have tasty treats on hand as well, and an awesome selection of both beer and wine to take home for the weekend.

This weekend marks the beginning of strawberry season and Smolak Farms in North Andover is throwing a kickoff celebration from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm with strawberry picking, free activities for the kids and complimentary wine and prosecco tastings provided by Wine ConneXtion from 1:00 to 2:00pm.

They’ll also be starting pick-your-own season at one of our favorite farms, Cider Hill in Amesbury. And speaking of Cider Hill, they’ll be participating in the Marblehead Farmer’s Market, which opens on Saturday for the season. In a recent newsletter Glenn Cook, owner of Cider Hill said ” This is one of the best markets in the state!” Check it out from 9:00am to noon.

On Saturday afternoon there are several opportunities to try new tastes you may want to add to your summer drink list. At 2:00pm Busa Wine and Spirits in Salem is hosting an Iberian Wine Fiesta with summer reds from Bodegas San Valero in Carinena, Spain on offer as well as a handcrafted sangria. They will also be raffling off two $50 in -store gift certificates. The raffle tickets are $5 each and proceeds to go to Northeast Animal Shelter.

At 4:00pm Kappy’s Liquors in Danvers hosts a Grand Beer Tasting, which looks to be a terrific way to sample north shore brews with selections from Cody and Cape Ann Brewing, as well as more esoteric quaffs like Stone Brewery’s Arrogant Bastard Ale and Les Brasseurs’ Amadeus Biere Blanche Witbier.

There are also a couple of fundraisers worth attending on our radar. Salem’s Lobster Shanty hosts the 6th BaldBil YMCA Day. The Shanty will donate 5% of the entire day’s house proceeds to the Y’s financial assistance program in support of kids and families. All bartender tips will go to the Y, as well as what the waitstaff give to the bartender at night’s end. There will also be live music and some very cool items raffled off.

On Monday the 13th, head on over to Victoria Station in Salem. At 7:00pm they are hosting a Fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. When executive chef John Andrews discovered that one of his staff had been diagnosed with MS he stepped up to rally support for her and the Society. There will be food tables by Victoria Station, Finz and The Lobster Shanty, Seaport Cafe and more, as well as raffles, auctions, celebrity bartenders and live music. Tickets are $10 at the door and all proceeds go toward the cause.

And as usual, we’ve got the weekend picks from our pals in the North Shore Blogger’s Consortium:

Seth keeps you up on everything going on in Lynn at Lynn Happens, including the debut of the new Arts After Hours production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directed by our awesome pal Corey Jackson.

Kim Bingham talks about meeting the Boston Brunchers along with her weekend picks on Lighter and Local.

Author Jane Ward lists her weekend ideas, but we’re even more entranced by her luscious looking curried chicken salad recipe.

Rob and Laura head all over New England for some great ideas at The Two Palaverers.

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A Night to Remember at Cider Hill Farm

Posted: September 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Amesbury, Cider Hill Farm, Event | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »

The weather did not cooperate this past weekend for the last of this year’s farm-to-table dinners, put on by Sarah Pike of Good Tastes Kitchen. But no one in the large, happy crowd seemed to mind in the least—we were cozy under the well-lit tent and enjoying the freshest, most delicious food and beverages imaginable.

We began the evening with a tour conducted by the farm owners, Glenn and Karen Cook. The Cooks could not have been warmer or more forthcoming, and before the rain began, we learned some astounding facts about the 145-acre Amesbury farm, including that they grow 70 varieties of apples, 20 varieties of peaches, and often have strawberries well into September thanks to an everbearing variety grown in stacked baskets.

When we returned to the dinner tent, the party was in full swing thanks to local vintners Turtle Creek Winery (Lincoln) and Jewel Towne Vineyards (South Hampton, NH), along with Mercury Brewing Company. We sipped the citrusy Turtle Creek Aurora and the Jewel Towne cabernet franc while sampling cheese dip served in pumpkins and vegetable sliders.

After being officially welcomed by Sarah, the meal began with a harvest corn cake topped with lobster salad and accompanied by tomato chili jam. The corn cake was dense and moist, the salad was lightly dressed, and the jam was intensely delicious. Each element was good, but when eaten together, the flavor was incredible.

Next up was a salad with greens and grilled peaches from the farm, goat cheese from Valley View, and a balsamic reduction. It was a perfectly balanced combination of sweet fruit, tangy cheese, and tart vinegar.

The main course was pork shoulder from Kellie Brook Farm braised in local cider and Ipswich Ale served over polenta and topped with sautéed apples, leeks, and carrots. This dish was comfort food at its finest, with the sauce from the pork soaking into the polenta to create wonderful flavor.

Dessert also hit a high note: a rich cake topped with spicy/sweet plums. (Sarah—would you be willing to part with the recipe?)

Between courses, we heard from an American Farmland Trust representative, the beverage suppliers, and the farm owners, each giving insight into their business and expressing their pleasure at being able to participate in such a lovely event. All of the diners we talked to felt the same way, and it was a diverse crowd in terms of age and location. Many of the participants were from the Amesbury area, but we met folks from as far away as Somerville.

At $80 per person with unlimited wine and ale, this meal was well worth the cost. The chance to eat in this setting (a bluegrass band played in a nearby barn in front of Karen’s beloved red hens) and gain a culinary understanding of peak-season produce combined with other local ingredients was priceless.

Glenn and Karen deserve many thanks for sharing their passion and making the evening possible. We hope that Sarah brings this program back next year, and we strongly encourage you to sign up for a dinner (or two) if she does.

Cider Hill Farm
45 Fern Ave, Amesbury
(978) 388-5525
www.ciderhill.com

Good Tastes Kitchen
(978) 518-5300
www.good-tastes.com

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