Salem Food Tours an Experience to Savor

Posted: October 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 43 Church, Comida, Event, Life Alive, Milk & Honey, Salem, Scratch Kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

At this time of year, it may be hard to remember that there is more to Salem than the costumed crowds and traffic tangles. The city is, in fact, a terrific destination for food lovers of all sorts. From upscale dining to hole-in-the-wall take out, candy shops, bakeries, funky bars, and ethnic eateries, this historic seaport has it all.

And if you are looking for someone to help navigate you through Salem’s wonderful world of food, there’s no one better than Karen Scalia. Charming, fun, and incredibly knowledgeable, she is a delight. Combining her skills as a Salem tour guide with her background in event planning and passion for food, Scalia created Salem Food Tours, which launched in September.

We were lucky enough to tag along on a tour last week and right off the bat were impressed with the careful thought and organization that goes into creating each tour. With an initial email of helpful instructions, a warm welcome as though you are an old friend, and a well-planned sequence of tastings, Scalia has put together a memorable experience for tourists and locals alike.

With many shops and restaurants as partners, each tour varies, depending on what is going on that day. Thursday tours can include the Salem Farmer’s Market, and vegan tours are available. Scalia will even create a private tour for your special event.

Our tour started off with a bit of Salem history as we headed into Salem Spice/The Picklepot, where the enthusiastic David Bowie (no, not that one) gave us a crash course in Salem’s spice trade and the history of salt and pepper. We compared four peppers and seven salts, and while we enjoyed the pink peppercorns, the Pacific Smoked Sea Salt had us swooning.

The next stop was Scratch Kitchen where Chef Bill Fogarty took time out from the busy lunch crowd to talk to us about his house-smoked meats and locally sourced fare. He treated us to a classic old style New England Clam Chowder with a clean, fresh taste that immediately brought me back to my grandmother’s kitchen. We also sampled incredibly tasty hand-cut, bacon-dusted French fries with house-made ketchup. Yes, I said bacon-dusted. Scratch sells bacon popcorn, too.

We popped into Comida for a quick but appealing tasting of rice and beans with a choice of meat and homemade salsa and pickled red onions. Then it was on to one of our favorite shops, Milk and Honey, to talk cheese and chocolate with Sharon and Bill. Everyone’s favorite seemed to be the Shallot Hannabells from Shy Brothers Farm in Westport—creamy, tart, and savory. And of course Somerville’s Taza Chocolate is always a hit.

We stepped next door to Salem Wine Imports, where we chatted with owner and wine expert Eric Olsen. (Whether you are a wine neophyte or an experienced oenophile, do yourself a favor and sign up for his email newsletters. Thoughtful prose and lovely photos along with the current sales make them an inbox treat.) Eric handed us over to the very capable Chris, who poured three Italian wines and discussed the region and terroir and possible table wines for the upcoming holiday season.

We tore ourselves away with some difficulty but were glad we did when we ended up at Life Alive. A new favorite of the Dish, it was a treat to chat with manager Christina about the workings of the café and the vision behind the food. We sampled the Swami bowl with kale, tamari almonds, raisins, carrots, and broccoli, over brown rice with a curry miso sauce that was truly inspired. Top that off with a taste of locally made vegan truffles, and you’re in heaven.

You would think by this point we would be too full to either move or eat another bite, but the tour was well paced, and we happily moved on to the finale, at 43 Church. This was a lovely end to the tour. We relaxed at a table in the bar, were offered another wine taste and several fabulous small plates.

I have to say that when 43 Church emerged from the Lyceum last year, its upscale surf and turf type menu didn’t really excite us. Since then, Chef Doug Papows has taken over in the kitchen, and if what we tasted during the tour is any indication, his creative vision is worth revisiting this Church Street eatery.

The extremely tender lamb osso buco, tucked inside handkerchief pasta (all the pasta is house-made by sous chef Kirk Vanacore) accompanied by roasted grape tomatoes and spinach with a crumble of feta cheese was a savory, mouthwatering combination. But my favorite was a cassoulet, perfect for the autumn weather. The bean stew was rich and velvety, created with a barnyard’s worth of meat for flavor, including braised lamb and pork, boar and pheasant sausages, duck confit and a fried duck tenderloin.

Pastry chef Saskia Nugent was on duty that afternoon and mystified us with her dessert. How can a moist dense-looking slice of chocolate cake with satiny frosting and rich raspberry ganache be light as a feather? This decadent enigma was the perfect end to our afternoon of gastronomy.

Because every tour varies, your experience won’t match ours exactly, but we can guarantee that Karen Scalia is the gal you want to have show you her town. From her infectious smile and attention to detail to her vast expertise on Salem’s history and food, Karen has made Salem Food Tours an experience food fans from near and far will savor.

Salem Food Tours
Salem, MA
salemfoodtours.com
978-594-8811

Share

Upcoming Events: November Noshing

Posted: November 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Event | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

How crazy is it that we’ve got summer-like weather at the start of November after a snow storm in October? We’re just happy to enjoy a little Indian summer before the holiday craziness sets in, and we’ve got some great food events for you to enjoy before the turkey and gingerbread take over.

First, don’t forget that Salem Restaurant Week started on Sunday and will run for two weeks (through Nov 17, not including Fridays and Saturdays). Participating Salem area restaurants will offer either a two-course prix-fixe dinner menu for $15, a three-course prix-fixe dinner menu for $25, or both (price does not include drinks, taxes or gratuities). The Salem Chamber of Commerce just announced the late addition of Red Lulu to the list, so now’s your chance to check out Salem’s newest eatery.

On Friday the 11th, Salem Wine Imports hosts its Third Annual Grand Tasting. This year it’s being held at Colonial Hall, Rockafella’s new function space, and proceeds will once again benefit Historic New England’s Phillips House; Historic Salem, Inc.; and the Salem Athenaeum. There will be more than 100 wines available for tasting, light appetizers, and live entertainment from a classical trio.  Tickets are $35 for the general public and $25 for members of the beneficiary organizations. Tickets are available at Salem Wine Imports, located at 32 Church St. This event does sell out, so advance tickets are strongly suggested.

 It sounds like Matt O’Neil and company really know how to throw a party. On Monday the 14th, head over to the Blue Ox in Lynn to Shuck, Taste, & Nosh. They’ll have CJ Husk from Island Creek Oysters on hand shucking shellfish,  wine pro Jerry Castleman pairing wines with the oysters, and Chef O’Neil will whip up a variety of hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $40 per person and can be purchased in advance by calling (781) 780-5722.

 On Tuesday the 15th, area chefs, restaurants and business owners once again come together to host Take a Bite Out of Trafficking.  The fundraiser, held at the Ipswich Country Club, features culinary samples, live entertainment, live and silent auctions, and movie screenings. Participating restaurants include 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar, Tryst, 15 Walnut, Adriatic Restaurant & Bar, Ipswich Country Club, Mr. India, Green Land Café, Ipswich Inn, Off the Vine, Bistro 45, and 43 Church.

All proceeds from the event will go to help nonprofits in their fight to end human trafficking. Donations will benefit women and girls from Nepal to India in the form of medical emergency care, wellness visits, vocational training, and basic housing. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door, with a cash bar. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.tabootrafficking.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Weekend Picks, December 9-12

Posted: December 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Coven, Event, Green Land Cafe, Ipswich, Marblehead, Milk & Honey, Salem, Shubie's Market Place, Wenham | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

It’s been a while since we talked about weekend picks, but this weekend there’s so much going on we can barely scratch the surface.

Tonight is a great night to get some shopping done in Salem. Many of the stores are open late and are offering deals and treats to shoppers. Salem Wine Imports will have a free tasting and special discounts; Milk and Honey Green Grocer will offer cheese and crackers, food samples, and 15% off your purchases; and Pamplemousse holds their annual open house from 6:00 to 9:00 with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and free gift wrapping.

Also open late tonight are the shops in Hamilton and Wenham. Stop into the Wenham Museum from 4:00 to 8:00 to check out their terrific gift shop as well as the Gingerbread Express model train layout and the Gingerbread Contest Judging.

From 6:00 to 9:00 tonight, the Mansion at Turner Hill hosts the 13th Annual Taste of Ipswich Wine & Food Gala. You can taste local fare prepared by Ipswich’s finest restaurants, sip wine, and sample Ipswich and Stone Cat brews, as well as Mercury Soda Pop. This year, the proceeds will benefit the Ipswich Family YMCA. For more information, call the Ipswich YMCA at (978) 356-9622.

The Salem fun continues on Saturday, when Santa will make a visit to Coven. Your small person can check out the big guy while you warm up with a coffee and tasty treat. Also on Saturday, Green Land Café will be holding a Toys for Tots drive. Children eat free when they bring a toy to donate.

Marblehead continues its annual Christmas Walk this weekend with music, street entertainment, and shopping deals on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, you’ll find two wine tastings. From noon to 5:00, Haley’s will be sampling Y & B organic wines with Neil Deininger. (Even though it looks like a juice box, we like the Sauvignon Blanc) From noon to 4:00, the fun loving BZ Zohn will be back at Shubies with for a tasting of French, Italian, and California wines. Joining BZ will be Demaris Cahoon, owner of Landmark Winery in California, and Helen Gallo of Winebow Imports.

If you’re looking for a tree this weekend, stop by Marini Farm in Ipswich. Not only do they offer the kids cookies and crafts with Santa and tractor rides around the farm, but they’re also ladling out free bowls of hot chowder from the Clam Box to help fend off the falling temps.

Now here are some picks from our pals in the North Shore Bloggers Consortium:

header

The wonderful Jane Ward has some great ideas, over at Food and Fiction.

foodforthought

Heather Atwood from the Gloucester Times has her picks at Food For Thought

towerlogo500px

Media giant Seth gives up the best of Lynn at Lynn Happens.

GMG

Joey at GMG has the scoop on all that’s going on in Cape Ann at Good Morning Gloucester.

image

Great pick for North Shore Families from North Shore Kid.

Share

A Week to Find Wines for the Holidays

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Drinks, Event, Gloucester, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

There are so many things to worry about when you’re planning your holiday dinners, including what wines to serve. Luckily, there are several wine tastings this week to help you with that task.

Tomorrow evening, Eric Olson and Salem Wine Imports once again host their fabulous Grand Tasting from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Old Town Hall in Salem. There will be approximately 80 wines to sample with light appetizers and live music. This is a terrific event. We attended last year and not only discovered some new favorites but learned a thing or two as well.

The best part is that tickets are $30, and all profits from event go to The Salem Athenaeum, Historic Salem, and Historic New England, so you can support local causes while picking out your holiday wines. Call Salem Wine Imports for ticket information at (978) 741-9463.

If you’re farther north, Duckworth Beach Gourmet will be holding a more intimate tasting tomorrow evening in Gloucester. Hosted by Red White Boston, they will be pouring sparklers including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Crémant de Bourgogne. The shop carries some excellent cheeses and will choose some to pair with the wine. The event is free and runs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

If you can’t make either of these, Henry’s Wine Cellar in Beverly will be holding their Grand Holiday Tasting on November 13 from 2:00 to 5:00. They’ll have both premium and value wines on hand to fit any budget, and the folks from Henry’s Market Catering will be there passing appetizers. They do a great job with prepared foods for the holidays, so you may find inspiration for both wine and food.

Also on Saturday from 4:00 to 7:00, Leary’s Fine Wine and Spirits in Newburyport is hosting their Grand Autumn Tasting, and they’ve got the entertainment angle covered. The folks from The River WXRV 92.5, will be there to host the shindig with giveaways and raffles. Leary’s will offer dozens of bottles to try and feature hors d’oeuvres by Seaglass Ocean Front Restaurant and a turkey carving table from Tendercrop Farms. They’ll also be giving away two $25 gift certificates, one to Capri Seaside Dining and one to Seaglass Restaurant.

Heck, even if you’re not entertaining this holiday season, these events are all worth checking out.

Share

Grand Wine Tasting Coming to Salem in November

Posted: October 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Salem | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Eric Olson of Salem Wine Imports has partnered with Historic Salem, Historic New England, and The Salem Athenaeum to orchestrate what looks to be the event of the season for North Shore wine lovers. He will be hosting a Grand Tasting November 12th from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Old Town Hall in Salem. We were amazed to hear that some 80 wines from around the world will be available for sampling! There will be appetizers to complement the wine and live music.

The event is limited to 200 people, so you may want to get your tickets early to secure admittance. Tickets are $35 per person and can only be purchased at Salem Wine Imports; we’re told they will take ticket orders over the phone. All profits after expenses will be donated to Historic Salem, Historic New England, and The Salem Athenaeum.

Not only is this a terrific bargain, but you get to sample some exceptional wines and support great local organizations at the same time!

Salem Wine Imports
32 Church Street, Salem
(978) 741-9463
salemwineimports.com

Share

Tastings: Upcoming Events

Posted: April 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 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

Share