February: The Sweetest Month?

Posted: February 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Christopher's Table, Event, Finz, Gloucester, Harbor Sweets, Ipswich, News, Red Lulu, Rockport, Salem, Wine Connextion | Tags: , , | No Comments »

We hope you spent January getting all the holiday excess behind you because February promises to be a great month for indulgence, with or without a sweetheart. There’s one contest to win chocolate, two chocolate tours, and several Valentine’s Day dinner menus.

Wake up your creative side and enter Harbor Sweets’ Valentine’s Day Poem contest—the winner receives the gift-basket (pictured above) of chocolate worth $100 sent directly to their sweetheart. Just write a poem (1,000 words or less) about chocolate and submit it by February 11 to Poems@Harborsweets.com. Include your first and last name, phone number, and email. The winner will be notified by February 13 to allow enough time to ship the basket.

Chocolate lovers will want to be in Salem on February 8 for the 11th Annual Chocolate & Wine Tasting. Tickets are on sale now ($25 at the Salem Chamber of Commerce, this event sells out quickly, so don’t wait). From 6:30 to 8:30 at the Colonial Hall, there will be samplings galore from restaurants, stores, and sweet shops. For a taste of what to expect, check out our coverage of the 2011 event. The tasting is part of Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival, which runs from the 8th to the 14th and includes a myriad of offers and tastings.

On February 9, Gloucester hosts its first Downtown Chocolate Tour, marked by retailers with large red hearts on their doors. You can pick up a tour map at Toodeloos, Harbor Goods, or Premier Imprints after February 1. Then simply follow the map to pick up goodies at all the participating stores and bring your completed map to Island Art & Hobby to be entered in a raffle for a Cape Ann gift certificate.

Christopher’s Table in Ipswich is celebrating February 14 with a four-course romance-inspired dinner that includes a wine tasting. They’re following that up with a Crazy Sexy Chocolate party on February 23. This “evening of chocolate decadence with a cash bar” sounds intriguing.

The Valentine’s menu at Finz in Salem has unusual items such as strawberry burratta salad, cocoa-dusted scallops, and duck breast with a ginger/brandied pears/cherry/soy reduction.

Rockport’s Emerson Inn by the Sea always goes all out for Valentine’s Day. This year, the menu features fire-roasted shrimp and corn chowder, beef wellington, duck confit with blackberry reduction, and expresso crème brulée or spiced apple anadama bread pudding.

Red Lulu in Salem promises secret suprises on the 14th, along with a menu that includes spiced lobster bisque grilled endive and frisee salad with spiced candied walnuts and manchego cheese, statler chicken breast with don julio reposado
tequila sauce, and blackened ribeye with creamy polenta and tart cherry sauce

Also in Salem, the Hawthorne Hotel will be serving up Wellfleet oysters, seared tuna with spicy mediterranean-style relish, and Valrhona chocolate torte for two, among other things in a lavish Valentine’s spread.

Last, but certainly not least, Andover’s Wine ConneXtion and China Blossom are collaborating to find help you create a simple, romantic evening with their Take Out to Stay In deal. Place any takeout order from China Blossom before the 14th, and they will contact the Wine ConneXtion to put aside a perfectly paired wine for the order and have it ready for pick up. Or you can peruse the Wine ConneXtion aisles February 10 through February 14 for highlighted wines along with suggestions of the best China Blossom dish for pairing.

So go out and celebrate—we’ll eat healthy in March!

Share

Wine and Chocolate Tasting Kicks Off Salem’s So Sweet Festival

Posted: February 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Coven, Drinks, Event, Milk & Honey, Salem, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

We threw all caution and calorie counting to the wind upon entering historic Hamilton Hall on Friday night. The reason? The 9th Annual Chocolate and Wine Tasting, the kick-off event for Salem’s yearly Chocolate and Ice Sculpture Festival, running through the 14th.

We had a terrific time at the tasting, getting to see old friends and make a few new ones while sipping and nibbling our way across the room. The participating restaurants went all out with beautiful displays and an insane amount of sweets.

We can’t even begin to mention everything we tasted. Coven had an impressive table stacked with huge, beautiful chocolate cupcakes. Coffee Time Bake Shop offered vast array of luscious baked goods, presided over by a fabulous Barbie cake that induced pangs of nostalgia. (My mother used to make them!) Those that stopped by Ye Olde Pepper Company‘s table were urged to choose chocolates from the largest heart-shaped box we’ve ever seen.

We got a kick out Chef John Andrews of Victoria Station playing with fire as he expertly flambeed cherries for a tasty dessert, and we chatted with Chef Steve from the Regatta Pub at Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites (one of the event sponsors) about his hand-made truffles. They were all rich and decadent, but our favorites were the ginger and cayenne,both set off nicely by the bubbly being poured at their table.

Speaking of cayenne, we really enjoyed the Caliente Cafe cocktail the ladies of Finz were serving. Made with pablano-infused espresso, vanilla vodka, and creme de cacao and then rimmed with white chocolate and cayenne, it had a spicy zing but wasn’t too sweet.

Some of the wines that stood out were a vegan Malbec being poured by the Gulu-Gulu Cafe and the fun Apothic Red on sample from both Victoria Station and Busa Wines. It was lush and spicy yet smooth, a perfect companion to the chocolate we were consuming. Ian from Isaak’s of Salem was on hand pouring his Popp Road Raspberry, which paired nicely with the chocolate cake being served by Green Land Cafe.

We also caught up with Sharon Driscoll, owner of Milk and Honey, who was scooping ice cream. She reminded us that as part of the festival, the green grocer is running a great special—20% off all products with chocolate listed in the ingredients.

In fact, that’s just one example of the tasty specials available throughout the festival. For a full listing of events and savings, pick up a brochure or check out the Salem Chamber of Commerce website. Even if you missed Friday night’s event, there are still plenty of opportunities to savor Salem. With fabulous ice sculptures and sweet deals, it’s the perfect date destination for Valentine’s Day.

Share

Isaak’s of Salem Teams up with Taza to Create a Sweet Deal for Valentine’s Day

Posted: January 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Drinks, Event, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

If you’re not familiar with Isaak’s of Salem, don’t worry. Ian Bennett and his wife Brittany started up the micro-winery in October of ’09 and just offered their first bottles for sale this past December.

A tiny operation currently housed Beverly, Isaak’s uses honey from Merrimack Valley Apiaries in Billerica to ferment and create honey wines. (Bennett tells us he prefers the term honey wine over mead, as people are either unfamiliar with mead or think of the beverage as heavy and sweet.)

Isaak’s has several honey wines currently available through local purveyors. The Dry Honey Wine ($22) is a traditional dry mead with no extra honey added. It’s light, refreshing, and has a wonderful floral bouquet that immediately brings to mind the field of flowers the bees were pollinating. The surprise is that it’s not particularly sweet. It’s crisp and light like a pinot grigio and would pair well with most foods.

The Sweet Tooth Honey Wine ($22) has a bit of honey added after fermentation and is steeped with bourbon vanilla beans. Again, this was drier than anticipated; it’s a bit sweeter than a Riesling but not cloying, with the vanilla mellowing the honey.

The newest offering from the winery has been released just in time for Valentine’s day; Popp Road Raspberry ($27), named after the farm in Dresden, Maine that provided the raspberries to be steeped in the honey wine for three weeks. The result is a cheeky, fun, sweet/tart, blush-colored wine that pairs well with dark chocolate.

And lucky for all of us, trying that pairing will be easy. Isaak’s has teamed up with Taza, the local craft chocolate maker that has created so much buzz in the past year with its organic stone-ground chocolate. From now until February 14, when you buy a bottle of Popp Road Raspberry, you’ll receive a free bar of Taza’s 70% dark chocolate. Ian recently toured the Taza facility and shares this video:

We think this deal a great way to impress your date come Valentines day. You’ll be savoring lush wine and chocolate and supporting a small local business to boot.

If you’re curious about Popp Road Raspberry, Ian will be pouring samples at the Salem’s So Sweet 9th Annual Chocolate & Wine Tasting on February 4. You can also grab a taste at Salem Wine Imports on February 11 from 5:00 to 7:00.

A full listing of who carries Isaak’s of Salem is on their website, and below you’ll find local vendors currently featuring the wine and chocolate deal.

Salem Wine Imports, Salem
Pamplemousse, Salem
Wine and Beer at The Andovers, North Andover MA
Waterfront Wine and Spirits, Danvers

Share

Super Saturday

Posted: February 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Drinks, Event, Marblehead, Newburyport, North Andover, Salem, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Never mind the Super Bowl on Sunday—it’s Saturday we’re interested in. Of all the weekends to be out of town, we had to pick this one, but the rest of you have a myriad of taste treats in store. We’ve put together a quick list for your perusal.

Did you know that Shubie’s in Marblehead has been around for 62 years? It’s true! And to celebrate their anniversary on Saturday, they are going all out with food sampling, wine tasting, product demos, and a 20% off sale storewide.

If you haven’t already got tickets to the chocolate and wine tasting that kicks off the Salem’s So Sweet Festival, you’re out of luck, because it’s sold out. However, there is still plenty of fun to be had, with gorgeous ice sculptures and local businesses offering tasty specials. You can download the brochure here.

If you’re looking for other ways to indulge your sweet tooth on Saturday, head over to Cherry Farm Creamery in Danvers where they have proclaimed National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. (Hmmm…why didn’t we think of that?) They will feature special menu items like coffee and donuts ice cream and cereal mix-ins, with all proceeds from 8:00 to 2:00 being donated to the North Shore United way.

Also on Saturday, the Wine ConneXtion in North Andover is hosting a Grand Tasting from 12:00 to 5:00. They will not only have more than 50 wines to sample, they will also feature Tom Grella from the Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star,” who will be on hand to cook up tasty bites for you.

Both Grand Trunk Imports in Newburyport and Foodie’s Feast in Marblehead will also be pouring the wine on Saturday. Grand Trunk will feature new arrivals in the “value department” (excellent wines for under $12 a bottle) and will be opening up bottles from Spain, France, and Italy from 2:00 to 6:00. Foodie’s is spotlighting the Chateau Haut-Sociondo Cote de Blaye, which they are pouring from 12:00 to 5:00 on Saturday and offering at 10% off all weekend.

Share

Upcoming Events: A Winter of Wine and Chocolate

Posted: January 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Lynn, Newburyport, North Andover, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

With the arctic temps and frosty winds that have settled in, many of our friends are suffering from the post-holiday blues and have hunkered down for the winter. Happily, the next few weeks on the North Shore offer some great opportunities to lift your spirits and get out of the house.

First up, on January 14 at 6:30 pm, 10 Center Street in Newburyport will have wine expert Joyce Hulm, the regional manager of WJ Deutsch & Sons importer, and Craig Hanna, cellar master at Topper’s of Nantucket, on hand for the first of four wine dinners, this one focusing on wines of Sonoma. It’s a four-course meal, each course paired with a different wine, for $45 per person.

Sadly, January 15th sees the seasonal closing of Salem’s Lobster Shanty. Stop by to hoist a pint and give Diane and Lee your best. Sport your Shanty logo-wear any time this week and receive a 10% discount on your meal, and if you haven’t got any, shirts and hoodies will be discounted 20% until closing night. Never fear, the Shanty will reopen for business on April 1 (no foolin’).

On January 27, Finz in Salem will partner with Mercury Brewing Company for an Ipswich Beer Dinner. Four courses are paired with different beers for $35 per person. We’re thinking the Winter Ale float with fig ice cream and chocolate covered ginger snap sounds intriguing.

On January 30, though it’s a bit far afield for some, it’s likely worth the drive to Wine ConneXtion in North Andover for their first-ever saké tasting (kikishu) from 1:00-4:00. It will be hosted by local blogger Rich Auffrey of The Passionate Foodie, so we know it’ll be both fun and informative.

If you haven’t heard of Wine ConneXtion, it’s because they’re new on the scene, but we hear their selection is great and their prices extremely competitive. If saké is not your thing, you might want to check out The Grand Tasting on February 6 from 12:00 to 5:00. More than 50 wines to be poured, and food will be served.

Coming up February 4, Caffe Graziani in Salem is hosting an International Wine Dinner at 6:00 pm. A five-course dinner, it will feature their signature Italian cooking paired with five different wines from around the world for $75 per person.

Chocolate enthusiasts will be happy to hear about the next two events on the roster. On Thursday February 4 from 5:00 to 7:00, Whole Foods in Swampscott will be hosting a Chocolate Fest. There will be chocolate demonstrations and many samples available from 16 chocolate experts representing a variety of artisan chocolatiers, including locals like Dan’s and Taza Chocolate. The tasting will feature live jazz music and a chocolate fountain as well.

Salem pulls out all the stops February 5 to 14 with its yearly Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate and Ice Sculpture Festival, which features a fabulous Chocolate and Wine Tasting in Hamilton Hall on February 5 at 6:30 pm. Details on the festival are still unfolding, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

One last note: Sunday dining seems to be a hot topic these days. Corey over at Downtown Lynn tells us that The Blue Ox has announced they will now be open for dinner on Sundays, and there is a lot of buzz about Sixty2 onWharf’s new Jazz Supper Club on Sundays from 6:00 to 9:00.

So cheer up, stay warm, and eat well. Spring is only….well, never mind.

(A follow-up to this post with even more events is here.)

Share