Taking Advantage of October’s Harvest

Posted: October 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Along with cooler weather and strangely dressed children, there are a slew of food and drink events coming up in October, including two restaurant weeks and fests of every description.

October is always the biggest month of the year for activities in Salem, and this year is no exception. For a full schedule of Halloween related events, check out their Haunted Happenings site.

This Saturday, October 6th, Salem will see two tasty events to benefit great causes. At the 2nd Annual Salem Chowderfest you can sample some of the city’s best clam chowder while listening to live bands from 11:00 to 2:00.  The $5 tasting fee benefits the Avon Foundation, which raises breast cancer awareness and education. At 5:00  head on over to the Boys & Girls Club for Witchtoberfest. There’s a Beer Run beforehand, or you can just spend the evening sampling beer and food and listening to live music. A portion of the proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem.

Also on the 6th the Essex Shipbuilding Museum hosts Ales over ALS from noon to 5:00. Not only will it be an afternoon full of great local brews and food, but the event also features an amateur homebrewing competition, to be judged by special guests. The coolest part is that the winning beer will then be be produced by Haverhill Brewery and proceeds from the sales of the one-time release will go towards helping to develop a cure for ALS.

Then it’s the start of the very first Beverly Restaurant Week, on Sunday October 7. Purchase a two-course, prix-fixe dinner for $15 or a three-course dinner for $25. Participating restaurants include American BBQ, BellaMia Trattoria, Bertucci’s, Chianti, Cielito Lindo, Cygnet, Beverly Depot, EJ Cabots, Hale Street Tavern, Happy Clam Seafood Cafe, Kame, Kitty O’Sheas, Mikado, Not Your Average Joe’s, Organic Garden Cafe, and Prides Bar & Grille.

Next up is a Harvest Dinner at Gloucester’s Alchemy on Thursday October 11 starting at 7:00. Co-owner Jeff Cala and head chef Scott Jensen will execute a five-course menu based on the new crop of goodies from the fall harvest, and general manager Matt Rose will test the limits of his drink repertoire to provide pairings with each course. Tickets are $100 per person and seats are limited. Call (978) 281-3997 to reserve.

On Friday October 12 from 6:30 to 9:00, join fellow foodies for Tales and Ales at Newbury’s Swett-Ilsley House, which served the town as Swett’s Tavern in the late 17th century. The huge fireplace and massive beams make a great backdrop for enjoying traditional local brews from Ipswich Ale Brewery and a hearty tavern dinner while listening to true tales of sword fights, scandalous romances, and bloody brawls from Newbury’s storied past. Tickets are $35 for Historic New England Members and $55 for non-members. Call (978) 462-2634 for information or purchase tickets here.

There’s a Bootleg Bash Prohibition Party on Saturday October 13 from 7:00 to 10:00 at the Lynn Museum to celebrate its 115th anniversary. Enjoy an evening of Roaring ’20s entertainment with live music by the Salem Jazz Fest, cash bar and signature cocktail, raffle roulette and live auction, costume contest, photo booth, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and birthday cake, festival food to purchase, and speakeasy surprises.

The Rockport HarvestFest is also on the 13th, from 10:00 to 6:00. Along with live music and kids activities, there’s an 11:00 cooking demonstration and a 3:00 seafood throwdown hosted by the lovely Heather Atwood. You can sample fare from local restaurants and shops, including seafood, sweets, pastries, soups, and beer.

Alfalfa Farm Winery in Topsfield will be hosting their Harvest Fest on both Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14, which includes tours of the winery and vineyards, wine tastings and live music.

A Taste of Swampscott on Sunday October 14 from 1:00 to 3:30 is shaping up to be quite an event at Swampscott High School. Tickets are only $15 in advance ($20 at the door) and restaurants include The Blue Ox, Caffé Paolina, Cupcakes by NeeNee, Five Guys, Marblehead’s new Joey D’s, Red Rock Bistro, Sweet Life Confections, Terry’s Ice Cream, and many more.

The ever-popular Essex Clam Fest takes place on Saturday October 20 from 11:00 to 4:00 this year at Shepard Memorial Park. The free event includes entertainment, Ipswich Ale samples, an arts and crafts area, and kid’s games. For $5, you can eat more chowder than you ever wanted and vote for your favorite.

Also on the 20th is Salem Harvest Fest, from 4:30 to 8:00 at the Knights of Columbus. It features a grand tasting of wine, mead, and craft beer, including Magic Hat, Cape Ann Brewing, Cody Brewing, Harpoon, Mayflower, Narrangansett, Notch Session Beer, White Birch, Clown Shoes, Element Brewing, Ipswich/Mercury, Berkshire Brewing, Isaaks of Salem, and Sap House Meadery. Mitch Alden from Now Is Now will provide live entertainment. Tickets are $25 in advance at Pamplemousse or online, and $30 the day of the event.

Cape Ann Restaurant Week starts on October 21, with three-course meals for either $33.12 or $25.12. Participating restaurants include Lobsta Land, The Grand Café at Emerson Inn, Alchemy, Latitude 43, Cala’s, The Landing at 7 Central, and Mile Marker One.

Also that Sunday, Castle Hill on the Crane Estate is throwing a Chef’s Octoberfest. the $75 ticket promises to bring you Chef Robert Grant from The Blue Room in Cambridge creating a lush, multi-course meal using fresh local produce, accompanied by plenty of ale and music. The feast is slated to be served alfresco, though will move to the barn in the event of rain.

Finally, on the Saturday the 27th, The Wine ConneXtion in North Andover will be hosting its Third Annual Fall Grand Tasting, where they will be pouring over 50 wines, which attendees can taste free of charge from 12:00 to 5:00 along with food bites from Chama Grill.

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Windward Grille Chowder Wins People’s Choice Award at Essex Clam Fest

Posted: October 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Essex, Event, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The gals from Ipswich Clambake dish out samples of chowder

If you’re tired of watching those judges on TV taste all that delicious food prepared by chefs, Essex Clam Fest is the place for you. We had a great time on Saturday sampling eight chowders prepared by local restaurants and voting on our favorite.

The lines were long, but the weather was great, and there was plenty to evaluate as we waited for our next sample. Although there was no chowder we didn’t like at all, there were definitely standouts. The ones that didn’t wow us included Lobsta Land (too watery, too much herb flavor) and J.T. Farnham’s (too thin, too buttery, too much pepper).

In the middle were Shea’s Riverside (large clams but a bit too heavy and perhaps too much nutmeg), Emerson Inn (made with salt pork for great flavor, but it overwhelmed the seafood a bit), and Woodmans (good consistency, good flavor, but mushy pototoes).

Our favorites were Ipswich Clambake (creamy but not thick, large clams, lots of perfectly-cooked potatoes, very good flavor) and Windward Grille (great seafood taste, perfect consistency, large chunks of potatoes and clams).

Windward Grille was also the winner of the people’s choice award. Speaking of awards, Periwinkles won the judges award, and it was one of our least favorite samples, so we’re going to disqualify ourselves on that one. Our sample was very thick and tasted burned, so we’re guessing we got a bad batch.

The tasting cost $5 and began at 12:00. We got there just about that time to be sure we’d be able to participate, but the tasting was still going strong until it ended at 2:00. Several of the restaurants brought 40 gallons of chowder!

With our bellies full, we walked the rest of the event, which included pony rides and other children’s activities, a variety of craft booths, and live music.

We were glad to see the Ipswich Ale Tapmobile, which carries eight taps ($4 per pint). Although their Pumpkin Ale sounded festive, we opted for the Stonecat Hefeweizen, which was bright and refreshing. Both Captain Dusty’s and Down River had ice cream stands set up. Along with the usual flavors, Dusty’s was serving samples of “cold clam chowder,” a truly unique eating experience. By the way, they’re opening for one day in December with holiday flavors like pumpkin pie and egg nog: 12/4 from noon to 4:00 at the Manchester location only.

We love Dusty’s, but Down River is our absolute favorite, and they did not let us down. They were serving large portions in their delicious waffle cups for $3, and their caramel apple flavor is to die for.

So if you have a secret desire to be a food judge, mark your calendars for next year’s festival, and in the meantime, get yourself to Windward Grille for a bowl of outstanding chowder.

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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!

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