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: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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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Local Chefs to Compete at Swampscott Farmers Market

Posted: September 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

If you’re a fan of reality shows like “Chopped” on Food Network, we suggest you get yourselves to the Swampscott Farmers Market this Sunday for their Chef Throwdown, which promises to be quite entertaining.

The competition will feature three local chefs: Joe Guarino of Red Rock Bistro, G Bar & Kitchen’s Gregg Brackman, and Craig Hawley of the Bar-B-Que Bistro and Fish and Fowl Supper Club.

Each contestant will be given $35 and 15 minutes to peruse the market for ingredients; they must purchase items from at least four vendors. John Crow Farms will provide a still-to-be-confirmed protein.

The chefs will have one hour to prepare their meal in a very limited space. Extras provided by the market are limited to salt, pepper, olive oil, butter, water, and plates. Contestants are allowed to bring one ingredient from their own kitchens, but that item may not constitute more than 25% of the dish.

Judging will be based on taste, use of workspace, and creativity and presentation. We are very excited to have been asked to participate in the judging and yours truly will be joining Julie Pottier-Brown, Manager of Farm Direct Coop, and Swampscott’s Matt Strauss, former selectman and hospitality executive for over 20 years, to do the honors.

The market is open rain or shine Sundays from 10:00 to 1:00 at the Swampscott High School, 200 Essex Street. The Chef Throwdown will start at 10:30 when the bell rings for the chefs to begin shopping. Cooking will take place from 11:00 to 12:00, then the tasting and judging will begin.

If you’re in the area, stop by to say hello, cheer on your favorite kitchen wizard and pick up some fresh produce at the same time!

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Beat the Winter Blues With Local Food Events

Posted: January 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 62 Restaurant & Winebar, Blue Ox, Event, Finz, Lynn, Marblehead, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The holidays are over and that means it’s time for food events to kick into high gear here on the North Shore. Our heads are swimming just looking what’s going on in January and February. And that’s without considering Valentine’s Day specials, which we’ll cover separately.

On Tuesday January 18 at 7:00, Chef Matt O’Neil will be doing a cooking demo and three-course tasting at The Blue Ox in Lynn ($39). There will be a mache salad with braised beets, walnuts, parmesan, blood oranges, and blood orange vinaigrette followed by butter-poached lobster and porcini/saffron quinoa. For dessert, a honey cake with chocolate, raspberry puree, and whipped cream. We’re salivating already. Call (781) 780-5722 to reserve a space.

The next Tuesday, January 25, Finz in Salem is putting on a vodka dinner hosted by Pinnacle Vodka at 6:30 ($59). It begins with oysters accompanied by a mango vodka-blood orange puree cocktail. Next is an Asian scallop ceviche with a lychee martini, mojito grilled swordfish with a berry vodka mojito, and espresso rubbed tenderloin with a caliente café martini. Dessert is a Pinnacle and strawberry sorbet with strawberry Pop Rocks. Sounds like a taxi may be in order after this one.

Vodka is also the star of Red Rock’s Tuesday Tasting on the 25th at 7:00 ($25 including tax and gratuity). Russian Standard Original, Platinum and Imperial vodkas will be featured in six cocktails. Russian-influenced appetizers like smoked trout, oysters, salmon roe caviar, dark pastrami, gravlox, pickled beets, and herring will accompany the drinks. Break out your (faux) fur hat and head on over to Swampscott.

On Saturday January 29 at 6:30, Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead hosts its annual Taste of the North Shore ($60). The event includes an all-you-can-eat buffet with specialties from North Shore restaurants and caterers, a silent auction, and a live auction. For more information, call (781) 631-9300 or e-mail taste@emanu-el.org.

Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia visits 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar in Salem on Sunday January 30 at 6:30. For $75, attendees will enjoy a cooking demonstration by Chef Antonio Bettencourt and Ms. Esposito, a multi-course dinner, and a signed copy of her latest book Ciao Italia: Five-Ingredient Favorites. Call (978) 744-0062 for a reservation. Sounds like a true Italian extravaganza.

Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival begins on Friday February 4th with a chocolate and wine tasting at Hamilton Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 ($25). Tickets are on sale at the Salem Chamber of Commerce office, 265 Essex Street Mon-Fri from 9:00 to 5:00 and will be on sale the night of the event based on availability (the event sold out last year). Sugar rush, here we come.

On Tuesday February 8 Red Rock’s Tuesday Tastings is USA Craft Beers ($25 including tax and gratuity. At 7:00, Local beer master Kyle Sartanowicz will offer expert commentary while attendees taste six outstanding made-in-the-USA beers with foods to match.

Last but not least, on Thursday February 10 at 6:00, Caffe Graziani in Salem is hosting an international wine  dinner featuring a five-course meal and an abundance of French, Italian, and Argentinean wines. The full menu is posted here. The cost is $75, and space is limited. Call (978) 741-4282 for information and reservations.

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