Farmers Market and Local Chefs Make a Winning Combination

Posted: October 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Event, G Bar and Kitchen, Swampscott Farmer's market | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Beautiful and savory plates by Chef Brackmann of G Bar and Kitchen earned the Chef Throwdown trophy.

This Sunday will mark the end of the Swampscott Farmers’ Market first season. If you haven’t been this year, you should plan to check it out. In addition to beautiful produce from area farms, they host some terrific locally produced foods. We enjoyed Patty’s Guacamole out of Gloucester, tasty treats from Salem’s Sweet Adeline’s, and lush jams from Marblehead’s Fille de Ferme.

Chef Craig Hawley prepares a fresh lobster for the grill.

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being one of the judges at a Chef Throwdown at the market, but due to technical difficulties haven’t been able to post photos until now. It was an awesome event, with all three chefs stepping up to the plate in spectacular fashion, and the crowd hanging on every move.

Chef Brackmann whipping up butternut zucchini pancakes.

Chef Gregg Brackmann of G Bar and Kitchen may have walked away with the saucepan trophy, but I think the judges were the true winners for the chance to taste some unique and wonderful dishes.

Chef Guarino plates his ceviche.

Brackmann’s plating was gorgeous, and his accompaniments, like acorn squash and corn hash, red and purple pepper puree, and butternut zucchini pancakes were fresh and funky, highlighting seasonal produce. Chef Joe Guarino of Red Rock Bistro wowed the judges with a salmon ceviche that was a taste revelation.

Tangy and tender salmon ceviche by Red Rock Bistro’s Chef Guarino.

We loved Chef Craig Hawley’s Bar-B-Que Bistro (seriously, the coolest BBQ truck I’ve ever seen) which he graciously lent to the proceedings, but we loved his smoked purple pepper stuffed with rich seafood etouffé even more.

Craig hawley’s divine smoked purple peppers stuffed with seafood etouffe.

The Swampscott Farmers Market is a great addition to the local food scene, and we congratulate them on a successful first year and thank them for hosting such a well-organized and entertaining throwdown.

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Beyond the View: Red Rock Bistro’s New Menu

Posted: December 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Seafood, Swampscott | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

While most of us love a gorgeous ocean view, a seaside restaurant doesn’t always mean a great meal. There’s always that nagging question: was the food as good as the view? Joe Guarino, the new head chef at Red Rock Bistro in Swampscott, is taking on that challenge with gusto. Together with owner Paul Petersiel, Guarino has revamped the menu, re-thought the wine list, and lowered prices overall.

The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, along with a Sunday jazz brunch from 10:30 to 3:00. The new menu has a Mediterranean influence but covers a broad range of tastes. The wine list features 40 wines by the glass, with most around $8. We enjoyed the two cocktails we tried: a refreshing Cool as Cuke with Hendricks, St Germain, cucumber, mint, and lime ($11) and a grown-up version of a lime ricky ($9.50).

While we usually visit restaurants anonymously, in this case we were invited to meet Petersiel and Guarino and sample some items on the new menu. Although Guarino took over as head chef in August, the restaurant hasn’t promoted that fact until now to let him get his sea legs, so to speak.

We applaud that approach, which seems to have paid off, as we enjoyed many of the dishes we tried, including the duck confit egg rolls (crispy with a great flavor, $9), the short rib bomb (spicy chipotle mayo, chorizo, and pepperjack, $8), and the bucatini with clams (wonderfully garlicky and spice, with perfectly cooked pasta for $16). We liked the flatbread pizza with shrimp, which was richly flavored and crispy, and a great value at $13. We also recommend the highly addictive peanut butter and banana ice cream cake ($8).

While we ate, we learned that Guarino grew up in East Boston and previously worked in the kitchens of Boston’s Church, The Butcher Shop, and Bonfire and was a sous chef a few years ago at Red Rock. We also heard Petersiel’s tale of buying the restaurant (then called Dale’s) in 1999 on a whim after The Barnacle in Marblehead refused to serve him a lobster roll late one afternoon.

Since the large bar is well lit and welcoming at night, and the restaurant’s views are extraordinary any time, we hope Guarino continues to give the North Shore crowd consistent, quality food at reasonable prices. We look forward to trying brunch, which features standards like omelettes, french toast, and bagels with lox along with more unusual choices like lobster eggs benedict and short rib hash with poached eggs and rosemary aioli.

We may also stop in for bar snacks and live music (Thursday through Saturday nights) or for a Tuesday tasting (December Dec 21 is Piper Heidsieck champagne with oysters and caviar for $35; February 8 is USA craft beers for $25).

Red Rock Bistro
141 Humphrey St, Swampscott
(781) 595-1414
www.redrockbistro.com

Red Rock Bistro on Urbanspoon

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