From Lunch to Brunch to Gourmet Dinners, We’ve Got Plenty of Ways to Celebrate Mom

Posted: May 7th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Blue Ox, brunch, Event, Finz, Nathaniel's at the Hawthorne Hotel, Victoria Station | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Forgot Mother’s Day is this Sunday and scrambling to make plans? We’ve got a quick round-up of brunch ideas as well as some less traditional options.

If delighting in a little taste of everything is mom’s style, there are several buffet options. Salem’s Victoria Station is featuring breakfast favorites as well as a carving station and plenty of seafood. And cocktails, of course. Perhaps a “Mom’osa” is in order? ($30 per person, $15 for kids,children under five eat free.)

Is mom a fan of oysters? Next door at Finz, the offerings include a raw bar along with a full buffet and the tasty-sounding waffles with blueberry whipped cream or banana encrusted salmon over coconut jasmine rice. ($39.99 per person, $15.99 for children 12 and under.)

A few blocks away, the Hawthorne Hotel will make mom feel like royalty. Their spread is available all day, with a change in focus at 3:00 from breakfast items to dinner. The veggie options look plentiful, including non-traditional salads like red-white-and-green salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, edamame, and fresh basil and a sweet-and-spicy cucumber salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, and red onion. The make-your-own strawberry shortcake will appeal to the kids in the group. ($42.95 adults; $2 per year of age for children.)

Newburyport’s 10 Center wants to ensure mom enjoys herself, too. In addition to an extensive buffet with dishes like stuffed french toast and lobster mac and cheese, they are offering a complimentary mimosa to each mother. ($40 per person, 10:00 to 3:00.)

A reliable favorite of many moms is the Emerson Inn by the Sea in Rockport for their always-beautiful grand buffet. Live piano music and ocean views accompany offerings like a smoked salmon, trout and mackerel display; chilled salad of shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari; and roasted garlic and gorgonzola encrusted black angus sirloin. ($49 per adult; $24.50 for children ages 3-10; 10:00 to 2:30.)

For those who would rather forgo brunch and treat mom to a luscious lunch or dinner, several terrific restaurants have special menu items on offer.

62 Restaurant and Wine Bar in Salem has a special menu just for mom from 11:00 to 9:00. In addition to regular menu items, Chef Tony Bettencourt will tempt you with crostini topped with whipped ricotta, roasted black mission figs, and aged balsamic vinegar and grilled lamb chops with zucchini, black olives, roasted tomato, crumbled feta, Sardinian couscous, and basil.

Lynn’s Blue Ox has put together a three-course meal for mom that has us salivating.
The pan-roasted cod with spring pea risotto, oven dried tomatoes, fava beans, pea tendril salad, and truffle vinaigrette and the strawberry rhubarb tart with strawberry and mint champagne sauce and whipped cream are calling our names. The special meal is $44 per person, available from 12:00 to 6:00.

Ceia in Newburyport will feature special selections such as a luxe steak and lobster benedict; spaghetti with black garlic, mint, and serrano chili; and shrimp with linguica, fingerling potatoes, kale, and a farm egg.

Last but not least, if the celebrated lady in your life loves eating out, our friends at Dinner Dealer have the perfect gift: a deck of restaurant-discount cards costs $25 and provides more than $300 in savings to North Shore restaurants ($1 from each sale is donated to a local food pantry). And if you contact them in the next few days, Dinner Dealer will throw in a free mini pampering kit with treats like chocolates and skincare products from local, women-owned companies.

Looks like there are plenty of options for treating your mom, grandmom, stepmom, godmom or anybody else to a great meal this weekend. Remember to call ahead for availability and that tax, tip and drinks aren’t generally included in the price, and enjoy!

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Charm for Breakfast: A Diner Tour of the North Shore

Posted: April 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Agawam Diner, American, Breakfast, Diner, Little Depot Diner | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In our latest piece for the Boston Globe North section, we had a fun time focusing on classic diners north of Boston. The article came out yesterday, and you can read it here: Here’s The Dish on Diners

During our diner-ing, we ended up with many more photos than will ever be published, and we wanted to share some of them with you. We haven’t made it to every diner in every town (yet), but here is a pictorial tour of a handful of fun places to try for your next road trip or weekend breakfast.

 

The Capitol Diner in Lynn has been serving up specialties since the late 1920s, but we’re betting the Mickey-shaped pancakes are a newer addition.

New owners Ross and Alicia Scanlon have made the Little Depot Diner a hit by bringing in new energy and maintaining old favorites.

Lowell’s Four Sisters Owl Diner sports a newly renovated entrance and a cheery vintage interior. The Eggs Benedict is amazing.

The summer beach crowd is familiar with Pat’s Diner in Salisbury, but it was quiet on a winter afternoon. We enjoyed the unusual pork pie.

Pie is the thing at the Agawam Diner, and they always have an array of beautiful desserts on offer. Crowds convene at all hours for hearty meals and a cup o’ joe along with their favorite slice.

And lastly, a special photo of the Salem Diner, which was taken in 2008. This is our favorite shot as it shows the old neon as it was, before the diner suffered damage in a fire. The diner has been renovated, and George and Zoe Elefteriadis serve up great breakfasts, but we do miss the neon.

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Weekend Picks: Special Valentine Edition

Posted: February 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Blue Ox in Lynn is not revealing much about their menu on the big night, but there will be dinner specials, and women receive a rose upon arrival. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal there last year. By the way, the next cooking demo at Blue Ox is March 22 at 7:00 and features carrot soup, hand-rolled gnocchi, and banana caramel cake ($39 per person).

Ceia Kitchen & Bar in Newburyport is offering a three-course Valentine’s dinner every night in February. The cost is $45 and includes items like smoked paprika pappardelle, warm fingerling and tomato salad with poached egg, and banana brulee. The menu changes weekly and is on Ceia’s website.

The Emerson Inn in Rockport is serving their Valentine’s menu Saturday the 12th and Monday the 14th. It’s a study in decadence, with items like duck and truffle paté with pomegranate gastrique, butter-poached lobster salad, grilled half-rack of lamb or pepper-crusted filet, and raspberry napoleon or molten lava cake. The cost is $49 per person.

Green Land’s prix fixe menu is $65 and includes an amuse bouche, choice of appetizer such as crispy duck wings, a salad or soup, an entrée, and a dessert (caramel turtle cheesecake sounds good). Larry Young will be playing violin tableside at the Salem restaurant from 7:00 to 9:00 on the 14th.

Nathaniel’s at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem is serving up a lovely traditional menu with baked brie for two; rack of lamb, chateaubriand, or cod with lobster and vegetable nage; and chocolate fondue for two. Entrée prices are $28 to $30.

Friday through Monday of Valentine’s weekend, Finz Salem is cooking up romantic plates such as oysters topped with bacon vodka, tuna carpaccio with asparagus, and lemon-thyme glazed chilean seabass. The crispy whole striped bass sounds good, too, marinated in sesame, ginger, and miso and accompanied by avocado ocean salad and truffle butter.

Heavy on seafood, The Lyceum’s romantic menu features oysters and shrimp to start, appetizers like crab cakes and calamari, and entrees from salmon and fried haddock to veal pot roast and angus sirloin. The Lyceum is in Salem, and entrée prices range from $18 to $34.

In addition to their regular menu, a $65 prix fixe menu will be served at Salem’s 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar, with a paired wine option for $20. Pork belly or frisee with wild mushrooms are the first course, cannelloni or garganelli are the second. Entrees include scallops with beluga lentils or slow roasted pork with milk-braised fennel, and dessert choices include 62’s famous warm toffee pudding and hot brioche donuts.

For $35, Valentine’s Day lovers have some delicious-sounding choices at Victoria Station in Salem. Appetizers like carmelized pancetta and shaved fennel salad, entrees like baby bok choy and teriyaki salmon en papillote, and desserts like cherries flambé are all on offer.

The Wine Connextion in Andover has put together some interesting gift packages that combine wine, pastry, and flowers. For $50, you can send your Valentine Segura Viudas Brut Reserva or Rose, an assortment of cake truffles, and a red rose in a bud vase. For $125, your sweetie will receive Mumm Napa Brut Prestige or Rose, a heart-shaped chocolate cake, and six red roses. A dozen roses, a chocolate/strawberry cake, and Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose go into the $300 package, and those going all out this year can send diamonds, Louis Roedere Cristal Brut, two chocolate heart-shaped cakes flaked with 24-carat gold, and 30 red roses ($10,000). The packages are on sale through Saturday the 12th, and delivery service is available.

One last thing: For those looking to buy chocolate or other sweets locally, our post from last year with many suggestions is here.

We’ve also got some North Shore Bloggers Consortium pick for you this weekend:

Seth is all over Lynn at Lynn Happens.

Jane Ward has some great ideas for entertainment this weekend.

Kimmy has her weekend picks in addition to tasty treat over at Lighter and Local.

And once again the Two Palaverers have a range of idea all over MA and NH.

North Shore Kid has some awesome suggestions for family activities.

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Celebrating Thanksgiving on the North Shore

Posted: November 18th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Marketplace | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

It’s coming down to the wire for Thanksgiving, and sometimes the pressure of making everything come together for a holiday can be overwhelming. Hoping to ease your angst, we’ve put together a list of useful North Shore resources.

Tendercrop Farm in Newbury is offering fresh local hormone- and antibiotic-free turkeys, and their Web site even offers cooking advice. Vermont free-range turkeys are available through New Meadows Market in Topsfield, which also offers prepared birds, side dishes, and desserts. If you’re not familiar with it, Northeast Harvest is a terrific resource for locating local farms selling fresh vegetables and poultry. And if you’re looking for quick and easy recipes, check out this fantastic list from the New York Times.

For beautifully prepared gourmet sides and desserts, Ipswich Shellfish Fish Market in Ipswich, Henry’s Market in Beverly, and Foodie’s Feast in Marblehead all have special holiday menus. Ordering deadlines vary, so call as soon as possible if you are interested. Shubie’s Market Place also has a special catering menu, and if you’re worried about pleasing the different wine drinkers at your table, they have a great solution: a six-pack containing carefully selected wines of uniquely different styles. That way, you’ll be sure to have something for everyone, and it’s offered at 20% off the regular price.

If you’re not in the mood to cook, there are plenty of local options still available for tucking into holiday fare. Both the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem and 10 Center Street in Newburyport are serving buffet-style meals. The Hawthorne’s is offered from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and runs $41 for adults and $17 for kids. 10 Center is offering seatings at 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00. Their feast is $55 for adults, $15 for kids, and children under six are free.

Both Mission Oak Grill and David’s Tavern in Newburyport have special offers. Along with their regular menu, Mission Oak will feature a four-course Thanksgiving meal at $21 per adult and $10 per child. David’s is serving a three course meal for $32 per adult and $12 for kids.

Victoria Station in Salem is running list of holiday specials as well as an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving feast for $30 per adult and $12 per child (children under five eat free). For those in search of alternative ideas, Rawberts Organic Garden in Beverly offers a full holiday menu available for eating in or taking out.

If you’re looking for a more casual atmosphere where you can relax and sip a brew with your turkey and fixin’s, Sweeney’s Retreat in Marblehead will be open, offering their Irish Pub style Thanksgiving meal, and the Lobster Shanty in Salem promises a tasty looking family-style communal table meal at $25 for the all-you-can-eat extravaganza.

Finally, we’d like to give a big shout-out to Tavern on the Square in Salem, which is serving a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11:30 to 2:00. It is open to all but focuses on the elderly, the homeless, and families that are struggling in these difficult times. Talk about the holiday spirit!

We hope this list helps to alleviate some of your impending holiday stress and that your Thanksgiving is full of family, friends, and great food.

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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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Gone to the Dogs

Posted: August 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Boston Hot Dog Co., Fred's Franks, Gloucester, Kell's Kreme, Popo's Hot Dogs, Rockport, Rondogs, Salem, Swampscott, Top Dog, Wakefield | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

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This time of year, the media is full of summery stories on the best fried clams, lobster rolls, and ice cream, and we at the Dish are no exception. Last weekend, we set out to find the tastiest hot dogs on the North Shore, risking our arteries and our families’ patience by visiting six vendors in two days.

Given the variety of available products and everyone’s personal taste, it would be folly to attempt to declare a single “best” dog, but we found some tubular treats definitely worth working into your summer itinerary.

All the dogs we tasted were well above average quality, and all but one was served on a buttered, grilled New-England-style frankfurter bun. A few bare-bones dogs ran $2.50; the rest averaged $3.50 to $3.95. Also, we appreciated that several vendors offered the Ipswich Ale Mustard made by local Mercury Brewing Company.

First, we needed to solve the Popo’s (pronounced POP-oh’s) mystery. Having occupied a storefront in Swampscott for several years, we assumed they’d left when the space was taken over by Kell’s Kreme. A quick search revealed they had moved to a location in Gloucester. But it turns out that Kell’s negotiated a licensing deal and still sells Popo’s hot dogs out of this location.

Kell’s has an ice-cream-parlor ambiance: super clean, well lit, and staffed with friendly college kids who were helpful and attentive. On offer were kosher beef, natural casing, and veggie dogs with a plethora of toppings, some complimentary, some at an extra $.50. Our favorite was the Boston Dog, served with baked beans, caramelized onions, and diced real bacon bits. Rich and savory, it was a meal on a bun.

Still curious about the “original” Popo’s, we headed to Gloucester where we met founder Mark Scaglione, a terrifically nice guy who told us his story while prepping our dogs. A lobsterman from Nahant, Scaglione opened the Swampscott location in 2004, and it quickly became known for delicious dogs. With an eye toward the future, he partnered with his friend, Ed Williams from New England Restaurant Brokers and Brighams Ice Cream, to create a new venture: licensing (not franchising) Popo’s hot dogs. The Gloucester location isn’t just a great place to grab a dog, it’s a model for potential investors.

One thing that sets Popo’s dogs apart is attention to detail. We ordered the slaw dog, and Scaglione mixed the cole slaw on order, so it was light and fresh rather than swimming in day-old mayo. We have to admit that although on a quest for dogs, we ordered one of Popo’s famed lobster rolls, which was again mixed to order. This is the first time we have ever been asked how we wanted the lobster salad prepared! The small size was plenty big, chock full of fresh meat, and quite delectable.

Kell’s Kreme
168 Humphrey Street, Swampscott
(617) 599-9900

Popo’s Olde Fashioned Gourmet Hot Dogs
6 Rogers Street, Gloucester
(978) 239-9994
www.poposhotdogs.com/Home_Page.html



Boston Hot Dog Company (a bit of a misnomer as it exists only in Salem), is a unique experience, due in large part to owner Frangoulis, a grinning, energetic man with a boundless personality. He chats, he eats, he addresses everyone rapid-fire and tosses off jokes like a borscht-belt comedian. It’s like low-rent dinner and a show.

Boston offers both beef kosher and natural casing dogs, as well as Italian sausage, three flavors of chicken sausage, and a whopping five flavors of veggie sausage. But the clear favorite here is the quarter pound black angus beef dog. (shown at the top of this post) Whoa, baby, that is one big meaty meal with flavor to spare.

Like Popo’s, Boston offers a Frank Sinatra dog (have it your way) with a long list of available condiments. The best one we tasted was the sweet-but-tart homemade onion relish; we regretted not picking up a jar to bring home ($6).

Boston Hot Dog isn’t the largest or tidiest place we visited, but it’s got a loyal following among Yelpers and Chowhounders, along with the rest of the world. Behind the counter are a US map and world map studded with pins. Downtown Salem is a tourist magnet in the summer, and Frangoulis, who’s been in business five years, makes it a point to mark visitor’s hometowns—people from Alaska to Zimbabwe have chowed on these dogs.

Boston Hot Dog Company
60 Washington Street, Salem
(978) 744-2320



(Editor’s Note 7.21.11: Rondogs has been replaced by The Scotty Dog)

Rondogs, a two-year-old Beverly drive-up made local news this summer when multimillionaire Red Sox owner John Henry made a highly publicized pit stop there on the way to his impending nuptials. We arrived with much less fanfare, but were treated with prompt and perky service just the same.

Although not as charming as a drive-in restaurant from the ’50s, Rondogs’ carhop service is fun and unique. (There are picnic tables if you don’t want to eat in your car.) Like the others, Rondogs serves a variety of dogs, and it’s the only place we visited that offers rippers (that’s deep fried dogs to you and me).

We were disappointed that they were all out of grilled mushrooms and settled for the sauerkraut, which was quite respectable. The dogs were tasty, but the gourmet dogs seemed pricey. The ¼ lb. Rondog is $3.50, and the toppings are mostly .50 each, so at $5.95 for four or five toppings, it’s definitely pricier than the other loaded dogs we tried. It makes the ¼ lb. cheeseburger with four toppings look like a bargain at $3.95.

With a location on busy Rantoul Street at a traffic light, some may not enjoy the view and noise, but the kids will love the served-in-your-car experience, and Rondogs is open until 1:30 a.m. on weekends, making it a good destination for late-night snacking.

Rondogs
437 Rantoul Street, Beverly
(978) 922-3647
www.udine4less.com/rondogs



Top Dog, a Rockport favorite, has also seen its share of famous visitors of late. We heard that Adam Sandler and company, filming in various North Shore locations this summer, have stopped in several times for a hot dog fix.

It’s a fun and funky spot out on Bearskin Neck catering to families and tourists with self-serve condiments, free drink refills, and even free Top Dog tattoos for the kids. There is more indoor seating than most of the places we visited and chalk boards to doodle on while you wait.

The dogs are basic, but there are plenty of toppings to choose from. We couldn’t resist the Golden Retriever, a mac-and-cheese dog, just for the fun of it. It was surprisingly good and drew longing gazes from several five-year-olds as we sat eating it outside. The German Shepherd was also worthy; the sauerkraut was fresher and more flavorful than at Rondogs, if a bit skimpy. Top Dog is known for their fried clams as well, but we’re waiting for another visit to try them.

Bearskin Neck is always packed with tourists in the summer, so expect a line around meal times, but it moves at a good pace, and the friendly wait staff is dedicated to service.

Top Dog
2 Doyle’s Cove Road
Bearskin Neck, Rockport
(978) 546-0006
www.topdogrockport.com



Last but far from least, we couldn’t complete this epic journey without a stop at Fred’s Franks. Wakefield doesn’t fall into our usual definition of North Shore (being north but not shore), but so many people had recommended Fred that we felt compelled to pay him a visit, and he did not disappoint.

Fred is located right on the rotary at exit 40 off Rt. 128, with a beautiful view of the lake. Here Fred hangs out with his cart and his big green egg, a fabulous giant charcoal grill. Yes, these were the only dogs we tasted that were grilled to order over a charcoal flame, and they were awesome.

Fred uses Pearl all-beef natural-casing franks in three sizes; regular (1/8 lb.), jumbo (¼ lb), and a ½ lb. monster the likes of which we’d never seen. He also offers kielbasa, chorizo, and linguica and works that grill like a maestro, snapping it open with a custom pully system he devised.

The condiments are self serve, though Fred will happily make suggestions, and he offers a few of his own creations, like habanera mayo and habanera barbeque sauce. Our favorite was the homemade sweet-and-sour chopped cabbage, which added a tangy crunch. Fred doesn’t grill his buns, but they are fresh baked and generous, in various sizes for the different meats. With such incredible dogs, this spot is destined to become a favorite stop on any road trip, long or short, from now on.

Fred’s Franks
Exit 40 off of Route 128, Wakefield
www.fredsfranks.com

Rather than the heartburn we expected from this weekend, we found wonderful people, stories, and an unexpected local passion for this American classic. Not to mention some darn fine franks. One note of caution: several of these vendors close for the winter, and their hours vary greatly, so check out their Web sites or call ahead to avoid disappointment. Now, go eat some hot dogs. And let us know who serves up your favorite!

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North Shore Farmer’s Markets

Posted: June 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Marketplace, North Shore Farmers Markets | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

For your produce perusing pleasure, here’s a round-up of times and locations for nearby farmer’s markets. These are up and running unless otherwise noted. Please let us know of any we’ve missed and feel free to recommend your favorite vendors in the comments.

Gloucester
www.capeannfarmersmarket.org/
Thursdays 1:00 to 7:00
Harbor Loop of Roger Street, Rte 127
(Begins July 9)

Ipswich
Saturdays 9:00 to 1:00
Ebsco Parking Lot on Estie’s Street
(Begins July 11)

Lynn
Thursdays 11:00 to 3:00
Exchange and Washington Streets, Central Square
(Begins July 2)

Peabody
Tuesdays 1:00 to 6:00
Railroad Ave., behind courthouse
(Begins in July)

Topsfield
Saturdays 7:00 to noon
Topsfield Fair Grounds, Rte 1
(Begins July 11)

Newburyport
www.thenewburyportfarmersmarket.org
Sundays 10:00 to 2:00
Parking lot of the Tannery Market Place

Our highlights of the Newburyport market are here

Marblehead
www.marbleheadfm.com
Saturdays 9:00 to 12:00
Marblehead Veterans Middle School
217 Pleasant St (enter from Vine St)

Our highlights of the Marblehead market are here

Salem
www.salemfarmersmarket.org
Thursdays 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Derby Square, Front St

Our highlights of the Salem market are here

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Summer At Last: Marblehead Farmer’s Market

Posted: June 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Marblehead, Marblehead Farmer's Market, Marketplace | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

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Saturday was opening day for the Marblehead Farmer’s market, and we were thrilled to see a good turnout, especially since produce is not exactly abundant at this time of year. Fortunately, the Marblehead market has plenty to see and buy other than produce, including Thai food from Sticky Rice, baked goods from A&J King (almost sold out at 11:00, so go early), meat from Stillman’s Farmssalsa from Pam, lobsters courtesy of our favorite lobsterman, Paul Crowell, and interesting craft and community vendors as well.

The Marblehead market is located behind the Veteran’s Middle School (the old high school for us old-timers). It runs from 9:00 to 12:00 every Saturday, and there is plenty of parking.

There were lovely looking strawberries, of course, along with herbs, fresh eggs, honey, lettuce, and flowers. Having just been to the grocery store on Friday, we kept our purchases to a head of butter lettuce from Cider Hill Farm and a log of goat cheese from Crystal Brook Farm. The lettuce was fine but more bitter than we’re used to (not sure if this is due to the variety or the time of year); the cheese was wonderfully creamy and tangy.

Throughout the summer, we’ll be visiting many North Shore markets and reporting on our food finds. If you frequent your local market, please let us know of stands or edibles you recommend by leaving information in the comments or e-mailing us at email@northshoredish.com.

For more information on the Marblehead market and a complete list of vendors, go here.

And don’t forget your sun hat!

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Summer Lovin’: Outdoor Dining Season Begins

Posted: May 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Bistro, Cafe, Casual/Pub Food, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

outdoor

The weather may not be cooperating just yet, but we’ve pulled out our tank tops and beach cover-ups and officially declared the start of the no-socks season.

To that end, we’ve got a round-up of the best al fresco dining we’ve found on the North Shore, followed by a list of several more we’re hoping to get to before Labor Day.

We’ve just begun compiling this list, so feel free to vote for your favorites from below or add any we might have overlooked. Please note that we’ve purposely left out clam shacks and beach-food places like Lime Rickey’s in Marblehead (we’ll have more coverage of lobster rolls, fried clams, and ice cream as the temperature rises) and a few places that have outdoor seating but may not meet our criteria for good food.

The Barnacle, Marblehead
It’s lunchtime on a sunny day, you’re sipping a bloody mary on the deck of the Barnacle and waiting for your fried clams—you’ve officially hit the seaside dining jackpot. The food at this unassuming pub is good, not great (stick with the chowder, the fried seafood, and the bloodys), but you’d be hard pressed to find a nicer view than Marblehead harbor in the summer, and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.

Jack-Tar, Marblehead
The patio outside one of our favorite pubs is small but charming, and the food is both comforting and reasonably priced. We’re fond of the generous drinks, the $3 to $5 tapas, and the pizza with pancetta and blue cheese (a selection of pizzas is $5 from 5:00 to 7:00 every night).

The Landing at 7 Central, Manchester
The pubby front rooms at the Landing are great for cozying up in cold weather, but make your way all the way to the back, and you’ll be seated on the comfortable second-story porch. The menu is large and varied, featuring everything from burgers and caesar salad with salmon or steak tips to pepper encrusted duck. We recommend the lobster omelet for brunch.

The Landing, Marblehead
This Marblehead institution is right in the thick of the summer action at the town landing on Front Street. Sitting out on the deck overlooking the harbor you’re likely to see anything from lobster boats unloading their catch to campers returning on the ferry from Children’s Island. As you’d expect the menu offers many summer seafood favorites; ours are the lobster roll and the baked scrod.

Rockafellas, Salem
The place to see and be seen in Salem in the summer, Rockafellas’ entrees are reasonable (honey glazed salmon is $16, bourbon turkey tips are $15), and there are plenty of tapas for those just needing a little something with their cocktails, including quesadillas and catfish fingers. If the wait at Rockafellas is long, there are several options for outdoor dining nearby, including Gulu Gulu Café, Fresh Taste of Asia (best dumplings on the North Shore), and the Lobster Shanty.

The Farm, Essex
Whether you are heading back from the beach hungry or just looking to savor a cold brew on a summer night, a brand new patio with live music and weekly specials like their 35-cent wing night make this new addition to the Essex restaurant scene fun central.

Grapevine, Salem
Sumptuous food is the attraction at this Italian gem, starting with tuna carpaccio over crispy flatbread and proceeding to rigatoni with braised veal or perhaps oven roasted swordfish with lemon-caper sauce. With only eight tables in the outside garden, the atmosphere is romantic and the service is top-notch.

Can’t Wait to Try:

The Lobster Pool, Rockport
This seems to the favorite among foodies for casual outside dining in Rockport. The straightforward menu of seafood (and homemade pie) implies a no-fuss-no-muss attitude, and we’re looking forward to trying the lobster roll this summer.

My Place By the Sea, Rockport
We’ve been hearing good things about the food at this upscale restaurant for years. From the pictures we’ve seen of the outside deck, this is the place to be on a summer night with your sweetheart.

Madfish Grille, Gloucester
Rocky Neck is one of those places that always makes us feel happy, and the Madfish Grille looks like just what we’re in the mood for when eating outside in the summer. Margarita shrimp, crab BLT, panzanella salad, grilled lamb, scampi pizza—need we say more? (Ed. Our review 9/3/09)

Plum Island Grille, Newbury
Creative cuisine and a fabulous sunset: sign us up. This island retreat is at the top of our list to try—if anyone has been recently, please leave your menu recommendations in the comments. (Ed. Our review 11/13/09)

Michael’s Harborside, Newburyport
The Newburyport waterfront is always hopping in the summer, and Michael’s is right in the thick of things. The menu says their lobster roll is famous, we hear good things about their burgers, and the balsamic brown sugar short ribs sound intriguing.

Danversport Grille and Bistro, Danvers
Quite a few North Shore residents have pointed us toward this restaurant, part of the Danversport Yacht Club but open to the public. The menu tends to classic dishes like chicken oscar and prime rib, and the view overlooking the inlet’s docked boats looks spectacular.

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Tastings: Upcoming Events

Posted: April 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

wine

Wine, cheese, chocolate, and pasta: those are the four food groups, right? Actually, they are the focus of a handful of upcoming food events on the North Shore that we’re excited about, so read on and mark your calendars for a tasty spring!

First off, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., on May 9th, Shubie’s in Marblehead is hosting what they are calling Corks and Forks; their first annual food and wine festival. The event will feature a variety of more than 50 wines, with samples being poured from France, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, Chile, Italy and California. Also on hand will be an array of cheeses and charcuterie from local and national artisans, as well as Tapas tastes from Chef Lynne Aronson. Admission is free, and on Saturday only many of the wines featured will be heavily discounted.

Shubie’s Market Place
16 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead
781-631-0149
www.shubies.com

If relaxing with cold wine and cool jazz is more up your alley, head on over to Salem Wine Imports at 32 Church St. in Salem. Also on the 9th, from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., North Shore local Ed Barker will be there to present vintages from the New Zealand winery Barkers Marque, which he co-owns with his brother Simon.

As an added draw, they will have a representative from Verve Records on hand, who will be spinning Diana Krall’s new release, “Quiet Nights” and a hosting a drawing to give away copies of the CD.

Salem Wine Imports
32 Church St., Salem
978.741.9463
http://salemwineimports.com/

If you are like us, always looking for a good excuse to indulge in chocolate, have we got an event for you! On Saturday May 16th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Newburyport will once again be hosting the Chocolate Tour of Newburyport.

This event is win-win; visitors stroll around checking out the shops in Newburyport while sampling a chocolate taste treat at each location, and all the proceeds go to benefit the Red Cross Foundation of the North Shore.

More than 20 stores will be participating, including Ballotin Chocolate Boutique and Café, Greta’s Great Grains, Life is Good, Ruby Slipper, Talbots and Valentines. A wide range of goodies will be served, including chocolates from Lake Champlain, New England Chocolate Company and Willy’s Candy Shop in Salisbury as well as treats like Barefoot Contessa brownies, chocolate martinis, and gourmet hot chocolate with a splash of your choice of liqueur.

Visitors can pre-purchase tickets ($15, cash or check only) at Valentine’s at 27 Water Street, The Ruby Slipper at 50 Water Street, Ballotin Chocolates at 16 Unicorn Street, or First National Bank of Ipswich at 155 State Street. On the day of the event, the tickets can be picked up at the Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street, where there will be a booth in the Market Square Plaza.

Shopping, chocolate, helping the Red Cross; what’s not to love?

The Chocolate Tour of Newburyport
http://northeastmassredcross.org/index.php?pr=2009_Chocolate_Tour

Everyone is abuzz over the new restaurant on the scene, The Blue Ox in Lynn. Not only are we excited to check it out, we’re also thrilled that they are hosting cool events. On June 8 at 7:00, Chef Matt O’Neil will be doing a demonstration on everyone’s favorite Italian treat: gnocchi. The demonstration, followed by a dinner-sized tasting of the pasta, is $29. Call the restaurant at (781) 780-5722 to reserve a spot. Who knows—we may see you there…

The Blue Ox Restaurant and Bar
191 Oxford St., Lynn
(781) 780-5722
www.theblueoxlynn.com

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