Topsfield’s Main Street Market Features Local Favorites

Posted: May 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Main Street Market, Marketplace, Topsfield | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

For a while, Main Street Market in Topsfield had residents wondering if it would ever open, but it finally opened its doors last October, and we think it was worth the wait.

Owner Terry Lee Carabillo closed the previous incarnation, New Meadows Market, in the fall of 2008 to develop the property and construct a new building for the market. The process took much longer than anticipated due to construction frustrations and setbacks, but that’s now ancient history.

Main Street Market has an welcoming layout reminiscent of an old-fashioned general store, piled high with fresh local goods that read like a list of Dish favorites; milk and ice cream from Richardson’s Dairy, bread from A&J King, Taza chocolate, cookies from Lark Fine Foods, Grillo’s Pickles, Boxford Bakehouse granola, and Topsfield’s own Valley View goat cheese. Select meats, including grass-fed beef, and produce are also on hand in the cold cases.

Toward the back is a counter that offers fresh brewed coffee drinks and teas, salads, and sandwiches made to order from 11:00 to 3:00 daily and ice cream by the scoop. Cookies, muffins, and other house made treats are available as well.

Adjacent to the counter are beautiful stainless vats containing Ariston Select olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can fill your own stoppered glass bottles and return for refills, which lightens the load on both your wallet and your recycling bin.

The market also offers a terrific array of wine and craft beers. Thoughtful selections in a range of prices as well as beers from local brewers such as Ipswich, Cody, and Clown Shoes fill the shelves. Next to the beer and wine, a fun aisle filled with funky gift items lends a festive feeling and rounds out the store.

With inventory like this and genuinely helpful staff, Main Street Market is the sort of place we wish was our local corner market. Their website is minimal, but they do list daily specials and keep current information on their Facebook page.

Main Street Market
17 Main Street, Topsfield
(978) 887-2005


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


Mixing It Up Mayan Style at the PEM

Posted: July 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Salem | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

There was a serious party in our mouths last night as we sampled spicy Mexican hors d’oeuvres, Taza chocolate, and a variety of specialty beers. Another part of our bodies was stimulated, too—our brains.

We had a great time at the Peabody Essex Museum where about 150 people gathered to learn about chocolate’s importance to the Mayan culture and why it was considered the food of the gods. The event, Beer + Chocolate = Food of the Gods, was held in conjunction with the museum’s Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea exhibit, which runs through July 18.

We sampled a variety of treats like flatbreads with cinnamon chile butter, mini beef burritos, vegetable empanadas, and chicken morditas with chipotle crème fraiche. While we sipped the various beers and enjoyed the food, we learned a great deal about Mayan chocolate culture from PEM assistant curator George Schwartz. For example, chocolate’s rarity and association with the maize god and the sea made it so valuable it was sometimes treated as currency.

The other speaker was Taza Chocolate founder Alex Whitmore, who told us an enormous amount about the chocolate-making process, from fermentation to grinding and finishing. We had never tasted Taza’s products and were completely blown away—the cacao nibs are processed in a stone grinder, producing an amazing texture. The chocolate feels grainy for a moment, then melts in the most wonderful way, allowing you to taste all the flavors of the bean. (For those interested in seeing the action, chocolate tours at the company’s new Somerville facility begin in August.)

Seven chocolate-influenced beer samples were delivered during the presentation, with Schwartz describing each one’s origins. There were four chocolate stouts, an American stout, a craft brew from Dogfish Head designed to re-create one of the earliest chocolate beverages in the New World, and a saison that was a favorite with all—a rare beer crafted by Brasserie Fantome in Belgium.

After the presentation, we had the chance to create our own chocolate beverages. Each table was given two plates of chocolate to combine with hot water in a large pitcher. We aerated the mixture using a molinillo (wooden whisk) and added our choice of ingredients like allspice, chili powder, vanilla, and honey. The resulting mixture was incredibly rich and full flavored—about as far from Swiss Miss packets as you can get. The chocolate froth created with a molinillo or by pouring from one ceramic pot to another evokes its original connection to the sea, in the form of foam.

If you’re a chocolate lover, we highly recommend trying Taza chocolate, which is available at Whole Foods and gourmet markets like Shubie’s. We tasted plain, vanilla, cinnamon, chile, yerba mate, and salted almond (my favorite). We also tasted two unusual treats from North Shore chocolatier Turtle Alley: chile bark and a luscious chocolate stout truffle.

We also recommend the PEM’s food-related events. Although not inexpensive, this unique event in the museum’s gorgeous atrium featured a satisfying abundance of beer, chocolate, Mexican treats, camaraderie, and intellectual stimulation.