In Which We Dress All in White

Posted: August 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Would you like to have a gourmet picnic with 650 like-minded people in an undisclosed location? This was the offer extended to us a few months ago as the highly secretive Diner en Blanc prepared for its first Boston event. This was definitely worth leaving the north shore to experience.

Started in Paris in 1988, Diner en Blanc is a chic mass picnic in a public space. It’s by invitation only and involves some preparation on the part of the attendees, but the Boston event last night came together beautifully on the lawn in front of the Moakley Courthouse. After dressing all in white, putting together a gourmet picnic, and gathering a portable table and chairs, we met our leader at our designated location on Seaport Blvd. We were soon surrounded by elegantly dressed picnickers, and when our group was complete, we were instructed to walk toward the courthouse.

It was a large crowd, but the tables were set up quickly, and a bar and band awaited the group. Between the view of Boston Harbor and the skyline, the white-clothed tables and party-goers, and some strategic lighting, it was a magical sight. We thoroughly enjoyed talking and sharing bites with our tablemates, who included North Shore residents Deborah of Melu Tasty Treats, one of the amazing volunteers, and Cathyann of Cygnet Confections, who wowed everyone with her lucious cake.  We also enjoyed smoked salmon pate, a creamy quiche with an herbed crust, and a terrific peach blueberry tart with almond paste (recipe from Annie Copps via the lovely Heather Atwood).

If you’re intrigued by our report, keep your eye on the Diner en Blanc website, where information on future events will be posted. The idea is to grow the event each time it’s held, so there’s plenty of opportunity to snag an invite for next year, which organizers are already discussing given last night’s resounding success.


Alchemy Tasting Menu Takes North Shore Dining to New Heights

Posted: January 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Alchemy Bistro, Bistro, Event, Gloucester | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Wild boar chopstick rolls. Tatsoi with goat cheese emulsion. Black tea smoked Long Island duck with winter squash gratinette. Not the usual suspects, that’s for sure. These were just a few of the items on an over-the-top tasting menu last week at Alchemy Bistro in Gloucester.

We were invited to the event along with other North Shore food bloggers, and to say that Chef Jeff Cala (shown above, giving diners a tour of the board) and his team went all out would be an understatement. The appetizer, cheese, and entreé courses were served family style on huge boards custom made for the restaurant by Essex’s Walker Creek. It was a study in food still life, incredible taste combinations, and new experiences.

There were wine and beer pairings, too, including one from the restaurant’s exclusive cellar: Corte Rugalin Monte Danieli Amarone Classico from Italy with the pasta course. The chef’s outstanding black pepper pappardelle carbonara was brought to new levels by the wine.

The papardelle was voted the favorite of the evening, but the wild boar, black bass, and smoked duck were all outstanding, and the warm chocolate souffle paired with Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island Brewing Co. made a lush, satisfying ending to the meal.

But the best news is not how good the food was. It’s that the dinner we attended was a preview of a regular series being planned by Cala and Mark McDonough, who own numerous North Shore restaurants, including Alchemy, 15 Walnut, and Latitude 43.

McDonough is passionate about helping to strengthen bonds between food enthusiasts on the North Shore and spreading the word about what a unique food community we have.

It was an epic meal, and while the dinner series being offered to the public will be a slightly toned down version, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for. The dates and prices for these upcoming events are not set, but we’ll let you know as soon as they are, as they’ll initially be limited to 20 people. We’re told that the prix fixe dinners will likely be held once a month and will include both a standard and a cellar wine pairing option.

We were lucky to have a terrific group of people attending, so the conversation and company were the perfect compliment to the meal. You can read additional accounts on the following blogs:

Montmartre or Gloucester? by Heather Atwood of Food for Thought

North Shore Bloggers Dinner at Alchemy by Kimmy Bingham of Lighter and Local

You’re Going the Wrong Way! by Brian Knowles of The Gringo Chapin

Alchemy Bistro
3 Duncan Street, Gloucester
(978) 281-3997