Dish Tidbits: Two Restaurant Weeks, Three Halloween Parties, and a Slew of Tastings

Posted: October 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

There are so many food-related events going on in the next few weeks it’s enough to make our heads spin (sorry, couldn’t resist).

For starters, Sunday marks the start of Cape Ann Restaurant Week, and it only runs until Thursday, so start planning your night out now. Three-course dinners for $25.11 are available at numerous restaurants—the list is here.

There are several events of note next weekend, starting with Shubie’s Fall Food and Wine Festival on Saturday. This free event runs from 1:00 to 5:00 and includes tastings of more than 50 wines and 15 cheeses, plus discounts on featured products. Jasper Hill Farms will be on hand with their cheese, along with many other cheese makers and vintners. A list of the wines being offered is here.

Also on Saturday, this time from 12:00 to 5:00, is a tasting of American blended wines known as meritage. It’s at Wine ConneXtion in North Andover, and more information is available here.

There are too many Halloween events for us to list them all, but we’ll mention a few that crossed our desks this week. The Bridget Bishop Costume Ball is taking place at Salem’s new 43 Church from 8:00 to midnight. There will be music by DJ Emilita, tasty treats, ghoulish cocktails, and prizes for most creative and outrageous costumes ($75 per person). Hawthorne Hotel’s annual costume ball is also Saturday night. Tickets are $90 per person, and information is here. Up in Gloucester at Lat43, a $5 cover will get you into the second annual Nightmare Circus with music by DJ Vito and prizes for best, sexiest, and scariest costume.

If you’re sufficiently recovered from Saturday night to venture out on Sunday, the fourth annual North Shore Bazaar is being held from 1:00 to 4:00 at the Community Covenant Church in Peabody. More than 25 vendors will be offering organic, fair trade, or locally sourced gifts and services, including Touchstone Honey, Mercury Brewing, Galbraith Gourmet Catering, Fellows Farm, and Vegan Girl Next Door. More information is here.

The beginning of November is also shaping up nicely in terms of events. Mark your calendars for a tasting of the industry’s highest rated wines (90 points and above) at Wine ConneXtion on November 12 from 12:00 to 5:00 and for Salem Restaurant Week, which runs from November 6 to 10 and November 13 to 15. The list of restaurants with click-throughs to their menus is here.

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Corks and Forks and the Best Cheese Ever

Posted: May 12th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Marblehead, Marketplace | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

corks2Saturday we took some time to check out Shubie’s First Annual Corks and Forks event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We got there just before 2 p.m., and the place was packed. There were seven distributor tables in a relatively small space, with each pouring six to eight wines and so many people milling around it was almost sensory overload.

While we are far from being true oenophiles, we love wine and really enjoy learning about and tasting new vintages. Most of the wines were in the $11 to $25 range, and discounts were offered when purchasing six or more bottles. A few of the whites we liked were the Siblings Sauvignon Blanc, which was full of super sassy citrus; the Domain de Huards Cheverny, which was grassy and crisp; and the Zenato Pino Grigio, which was light and summery.

Reds we enjoyed included the Carpe Diem Pinot Noir, which was rich and fruity; the Casa Castillio Monastrell, which was savory and a bit peppery; and the Jiminez Landi Tinto, which was strong and direct but quite beguiling. Andrew Crookes, who poured the Jimenez and other Eric Solomon Selections, was by far the most engaging of the reps. Young, chatty, and enthusiastic, he knew his stuff and seemed to genuinely love his job.

cheeseThere were also several tables of cheese vendors set up, various chips and dips and sweets set out throughout the store, and servers circulating with appetizer sized tastes from Chef Lynn Aronson’s kitchen.

Our favorite cheeses were the Springbrook Farm Tarentaise, a Vermont Alpine cheese similar to a gruyere; the Vermont Butter and Cheese Coupole, another of their “age in your fridge” offerings; and several selections from Jasper Hill Farms.

While their Constant Bliss and Bayley Hazen Blue were both excellent, the knock-your-socks off star of the day was the Jasper Hill Farms Winnemere, which is only produced November to April. This was simply the most amazing cheese I have tasted. It is an aromatic raw milk cheese that has had its rind washed in lambic beer and wrapped in a strip of spruce. Everything from the cow’s milk to the wild yeast for the lambic and the spruce bark is harvested from Jasper Hill’s Vermont farmland. The result is complex: a smooth and creamy yet bright tangy flavor with an earthy, almost woody, note that is truly addictive. We brought some home, and it is only through sheer force of will we haven’t inhaled it all and licked the package clean. Yet.

Another discovery of note was the Fra’Mani handcrafted salumi which was tasty in the extreme. We tried the salametto, the soppressata, and a rosemary ham, all of which had us snitching extra samples.

While the event really only offered bargain prices if you were interested in buying larger quantities, Corks and Forks was  a terrific opportunity to widen our taste horizons and take home a few new favorites. Certainly worth checking out the next time Shubie’s hosts it.

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