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…

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Exploring Cambodian Flavors at Floating Rock

Posted: May 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Asian, Floating Rock, Revere | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

float1Edited: May 1, 2010

Floating Rock in Revere has closed, and opened at a new location at 485 Mass Ave in Cambridge. Their website isn’t up at this time, but you can find them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambridge-MA/The-Floating-Rock-Restaurant/137014088221

The next time you’re up for a little food adventure, we’ve got the perfect place. On the recommendation of folks from the Boston Chowhound board, we recently had lunch at Floating Rock in Revere, which serves Cambodian food. From the outside, it looks like a hole in the wall, but the interior is nicer than that, the service is friendly, and the food is both delicious and a bit exotic.

We started with tiger’s tears, a spicy beef salad that was raved about on Chow, and we can see why. Marinated thin slices of beef, sliced red and green bell peppers, onion, basil, red pepper flakes, and lime juice—a party in your mouth. There were crunchy bits we couldn’t identify, but our server told us they were ground up roasted rice. We also tried the squid salad: tender chunks, not quite as spicy, a wonderful citrus punch, and also delicious.

For main courses, we had a Cambodian pad thai, white rice, and a chicken stir fry. The latter was listed only as Spicy Chicken on the menu, but our waitress told us it was a curry stir fry and thought it was a good choice. She was right. The right amount of heat, wonderful curry flavor, tender meat, and crisp-tender bell peppers. My favorite dish of the visit.

squidsalad1She also recommended the Cambodian pad thai, which is nothing like the traditional but has interesting flavors. The noodles were pasta rather than rice, and they were served on top of bean sprouts, surrounded by hard-boiled egg wedges, and topped with dried bonito flakes (looks like sawdust, tastes like salty shrimp). The sauce was salty and sweet at the same time, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

For those who like to cook Asian dishes at home, there is an Asian market across the street (and another next door that was closed the day we were there) with everything from 15 types of rice noodles and shrimp paste to fresh produce and strange-sounding Thai candy.

Floating Rock is a few blocks from the Revere Beach stop on the Blue Line. If you commute to Boston on 1A, when you’re at the Wonderland rotary, you’re less than five minutes away. Their closing time reportedly varies though, so if you’re looking to take home dinner make sure to call ahead. If you go or have already been, please recommend your favorite dishes in the comments—we definitely plan to return.

Floating Rock
144 Shirley Avenue, Revere
(781) 286-2554

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