Much More Than a Fish Market

Posted: April 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Ipswich, Ipswich Shellfish Fish Market, Marketplace, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s no secret that we love exploring gourmet food markets, and when they carry lots of local and store-made products, we really get excited. At Ipswich Shellfish Fish Market, it seems like every time you turn around, you discover something wonderful.

For starters, there’s the gorgeous display of fresh fish, clams, and Maine crab—lobsters swim in a custom-built pool nearby. Then there are prepared foods like stuffed peppers, grilled cajun scallops, lobster-stuffed clams, and salmon cakes, plus taramosalta and fresh Greek yogurt. If you’re in the store near lunchtime, you can feast on a variety of soups, sandwiches, a great-looking salad bar, and individually packaged desserts.

And that’s just the beginning. There are store-made sauces, seasonings, and vinegars (blood orange and black fig sound particularly good). There’s an Asian-food section that includes nori, bonito flakes, short-grain rice, and rice paper wrappers for summer rolls, saving area residents a trip to a specialty market. A rack of bread holds a number of selections from Annarosa’s in Newburyport and Alexandra’s in Gloucester.

The freezer contains a wealth of treasures like salt cod, octopus, fish stock, and lobster stock, along with a selection of prepared entrées. If you have a sweet tooth, we highly recommend a package of whoopie pies from Newburyport’s Chococoa ($5 for three and worth every penny).

Treasures for those eating gluten free are also abundant, including a hot prepared entrée each day, frozen entrées, and packaged goods like bread crumbs, crackers, rice pasta, and granola.

But perhaps the most surprising thing you’ll find in this fish market is grass-fed beef from Appleton Farms, a Trustees of Reservations property located a few miles from the store.

The beef is not only fresh and local, it’s considerably healthier than beef from cows fed a grain diet. Store manager Zina Smith says she tried the ground beef and a few steaks from last year’s supply (it’s available from late spring to early winter), and it was terrific. She added a warning not to overcook it, as it’s much leaner than supermarket beef.

Smith suggests calling the store in advance if you’re looking to purchase beef, as the farm’s CSA members get their shares first, with the remainder going to Ipswich Shellfish and Bruni’s Market.

Tucked away on a side street a few blocks from the main drag, this beautiful, well-stocked market is a hidden gem worth seeking out.

Ipswich Shellfish Fish Market
8 Hayward St, Ipswich
(978) 356-6941


Serious Sandwiches in Ipswich

Posted: April 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cafe, Ipswich, Stone Soup Café | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

We had heard good things about Stone Soup Café in Ipswich, so when we found ourselves in the area and in need of nourishment last week, we stopped in. Good thing we were hungry—this place serves up a serious lunch.

The menu is large and includes salads, burgers, dogs, roll ups, specialty sandwiches like grilled cheese and avocado, fried chicken and fish, plus pizzas with gourmet toppings and a selection of house-made soups.

Breakfast items for lunch are a favorite of ours, so we were thrilled to see not only pancakes ($4 for one, $6 for two—and they’re huge) and eggs benedict ($8), but a monster egg sandwich ($7). It lived up to its name: after a cup of excellent spicy lentil soup with sausage ($3), we had to take half of this delicious grilled sandwich home. It featured fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, cheese and sautéed onions.

We also sampled a cup of clam chowder (creamy and full flavored, $3.50) and a reuben filled with pastrami and sauerkraut on grilled bread with melted cheese ($8). And yes, we took half of that home as well.

The service was attentive and friendly, even going so far as to bring us a sample of the lentil soup so we could judge the spice level. The décor is less pleasing; it looks like not much has been done since the restaurant moved from its downtown Ipswich location last spring into what had been Marco Polo, an Italian restaurant.

Stone Soup serves breakfast and lunch every day as well as dinner Thursday to Sunday, with entrees ranging from $9 to $17. A full bar is available for lunch and dinner, including beer from Wachusett Brewing Company in Westminster.

Stone Soup Café
141 High St, Ipswich
(978) 356-4222

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Gyros From Heaven

Posted: December 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Greek, Ipswich, Ithaki | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

We never know how to pronounce gyro, but that doesn’t stop us from ordering it at every opportunity. Warm bread, spiced lamb, and tzatziki are a remarkable combo, so we were delighted to find it taken to a new level on a recent visit to the much-touted Ithaki.

Yes, Ipswich seems an odd place for an upscale Greek restaurant, and like us, you may have wondered if it’s worth the trip. We’re happy to report it is.

At a recent weekend lunch, we started out with a half portion of Greek salad for three people ($6). A large stack of thick tomato slices was perched on a bed of micro greens. Supporting players included cucumber slices, yellow pepper, green and black olives, and a chunk of what we’ll call “real” feta (to distinguish from the kind in our local supermarket). We didn’t see a nearby greenhouse, but the chefs have got some trick up their sleeves, as the tomatoes tasted more like August than December. The dressing was gossamer light and delicious, just olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs.

The gyro ($11) consisted of a large piece of fried flatbread slathered with tangy sauce and topped with tomato and perfectly cooked lamb chunks, with roasted potatoes alongside. It was impossible to eat like a sandwich, but we’re not complaining; it’s certainly one of the best lunch entrees on the North Shore.

Which is not to say the moussaka and the pastitsio don’t pass muster; they do. Both feature an ultra creamy bechamel and flavorful meat sauce. The moussaka ($11) adds tender slices of potatoes; the pastitsio ($9) has thin pasta tubes.

One block north of Ipswich’s main drag, Ithaki has parking in front, a large dining room, and a good sized bar and café area. We’ve heard the main dining room is packed and pretty noisy on weekends, so you may want to try a weeknight for a more relaxed meal. Dinner starters run about $12, and entrees range from $20 to $37 (for rib eye). There is also Sunday brunch with an interesting sounding asparagus and kasseri cheese omelette.

The service at our lunch was impeccable, and there were plenty of tables—but you may want to request one away from the windows on a cold day. Also, the Web site features some funky animation involving food—check it out!

25 Hammatt St, Ipswich
(978) 356-0099

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