Weekend Picks, June 10-12

Posted: June 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Cider Hill Farm, Event, Lobster Shanty, Marblehead Farmer's Market, Wine Connextion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

If you’ve been running around crazy busy for the past few weeks, you’re not alone. We feel your pain and think you might enjoy kicking back and relaxing at some of the great tastings and fun events going on this weekend.

Start things off right by stopping into Cup ‘n Board in Swampcott from 5:00 to 7:00pm for a beer tasting from Blue Hills Brewery. They’ll have tasty treats on hand as well, and an awesome selection of both beer and wine to take home for the weekend.

This weekend marks the beginning of strawberry season and Smolak Farms in North Andover is throwing a kickoff celebration from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm with strawberry picking, free activities for the kids and complimentary wine and prosecco tastings provided by Wine ConneXtion from 1:00 to 2:00pm.

They’ll also be starting pick-your-own season at one of our favorite farms, Cider Hill in Amesbury. And speaking of Cider Hill, they’ll be participating in the Marblehead Farmer’s Market, which opens on Saturday for the season. In a recent newsletter Glenn Cook, owner of Cider Hill said ” This is one of the best markets in the state!” Check it out from 9:00am to noon.

On Saturday afternoon there are several opportunities to try new tastes you may want to add to your summer drink list. At 2:00pm Busa Wine and Spirits in Salem is hosting an Iberian Wine Fiesta with summer reds from Bodegas San Valero in Carinena, Spain on offer as well as a handcrafted sangria. They will also be raffling off two $50 in -store gift certificates. The raffle tickets are $5 each and proceeds to go to Northeast Animal Shelter.

At 4:00pm Kappy’s Liquors in Danvers hosts a Grand Beer Tasting, which looks to be a terrific way to sample north shore brews with selections from Cody and Cape Ann Brewing, as well as more esoteric quaffs like Stone Brewery’s Arrogant Bastard Ale and Les Brasseurs’ Amadeus Biere Blanche Witbier.

There are also a couple of fundraisers worth attending on our radar. Salem’s Lobster Shanty hosts the 6th BaldBil YMCA Day. The Shanty will donate 5% of the entire day’s house proceeds to the Y’s financial assistance program in support of kids and families. All bartender tips will go to the Y, as well as what the waitstaff give to the bartender at night’s end. There will also be live music and some very cool items raffled off.

On Monday the 13th, head on over to Victoria Station in Salem. At 7:00pm they are hosting a Fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. When executive chef John Andrews discovered that one of his staff had been diagnosed with MS he stepped up to rally support for her and the Society. There will be food tables by Victoria Station, Finz and The Lobster Shanty, Seaport Cafe and more, as well as raffles, auctions, celebrity bartenders and live music. Tickets are $10 at the door and all proceeds go toward the cause.

And as usual, we’ve got the weekend picks from our pals in the North Shore Blogger’s Consortium:

Seth keeps you up on everything going on in Lynn at Lynn Happens, including the debut of the new Arts After Hours production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directed by our awesome pal Corey Jackson.

Kim Bingham talks about meeting the Boston Brunchers along with her weekend picks on Lighter and Local.

Author Jane Ward lists her weekend ideas, but we’re even more entranced by her luscious looking curried chicken salad recipe.

Rob and Laura head all over New England for some great ideas at The Two Palaverers.

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Weekend Update: Dueling Tastings, Plus More for Mom

Posted: May 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Ipswich, Lynn, Marblehead, North Andover, Salem | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

This Saturday looks to be a rainy one, but maybe that’s a good thing. You won’t feel so guilty about staying inside all afternoon tasting wine, especially when there’s going to be so much to try. There are two terrific events to choose from.

In Marblehead, Shubie’s is hosting another Corks & Forks Wine and Food Festival from 12:00 to 4:00, with more than 40 wines to sample as well as New England artisinal cheeses and other treats from their kitchen. These events are always fun, and you can find our review of one here.

In North Andover, the Wine ConneXtion will be hosting a Grand Tasting from 2:00 to 6:00. They’ll be pouring more than 50 wines with many new arrivals and some old favorites. Tom Grella from the Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star” will be on hand dishing up culinary treats.

Christopher’s Table in Ipswich also has some fun events going on this weekend. Friday night at 7:00, they’ll be hosting a chocolate tasting. Never mind brunch—mom might enjoy this decadent evening even better! They promise a cocktail party-style event with a cash bar, featuring their signature chocolate desserts along with goodies from Prides Crossing Confections in Beverly.

On Saturday, Christopher’s Table will be putting on a Mother’s Day workshop for children ages 6 to 10 to decorate cupcakes as flowers to make mom a Cupcake Flower Pot. Tickets to both events are $20, call (978) 356-6166 for information and reservations.

Also on Saturday, Pamplemousse in Salem is hosting a Think Mom! wine tasting from 2:00 to 4:00. They’ll be pouring Mommy’s Time Out and helping you choose a great gift for mom, whether it’s a Relaxation Basket they’ve put together or any of the myriad fun items they have on hand.

The Blue Ox missed out on our round-up post, but they, too, are doing a Mother’s Day brunch. They’ll serve both brunch and lunch options all afternoon (12:00 to 6:00), and all moms receive a rose with their reservation. Three courses for $29.

Also, if your mom likes to cook (or eat), The Blue Ox’s next cooking class would make a great gift. It’s taking place Tuesday May 25 at 7:00, $35 per person for three courses. Chef Matt O’Neil will be demonstrating healthy and season fish tacos. Dinner includes the tacos, cold corn soup with avocado cream, and honey chocolate bread. Call (781) 780-5722 to reserve a spot.

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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.

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Adventures in Saké at the Wine ConneXtion

Posted: February 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Drinks, Marketplace, North Andover, Wine Connextion | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

North Andover is slightly outside our usual territory, but we heard about a kikishu, or saké tasting, at the newly opened Wine ConneXtion and headed there on Saturday to see what it was about.

The tasting was hosted by local blogger Richard Auffrey of The Passionate Foodie, and it quickly became obvious that one of the things Rich is passionate about is saké. He had eight bottles available for tasting, and he expertly explained the ingredients and processes involved in making each.

We enjoyed exploring the surprising range of tastes provided and learning the differences between the Ginjo, Daiginjo and Honjozo. If your only experience with saké is sipping it warm at a Japanese restaurant, it’s time to take another taste.

The sakés we tried ranged from earthy to crisp and clean, some akin to a very dry white wine that would pair exceptionally well with any seafood. Most of them were subtler on the palate than the nose would lead you to believe. Favorites included the Kurosawa Jun-Mai Kimoto ($16), which was earthy and hinted at mushrooms, and the Ichishima Honjozo ($22) which was bright and crisp.

LaRosa’s in Andover provided quite a spread of finger foods, and the crowd favorite was definitely the wonderful arancini. You might not initially think to serve a Japanese wine with Italian food, but some of the offerings paired quite well.

2110Whether you’re a casual wine drinker or a serious enthusiast, the Wine ConneXtion is definitely worth investigating. Owners (and siblings) Sam and Tina Messina, who have been in the business for more than 20 years, really know their stuff, with Sam finding unbelievable deals and Tina streamlining the operation to make sure those deals get passed along to the customer.

It’s a large, clean, well-lit warehouse-style space with fantastic inventory and unbeatable prices. Unlike many wine stores, where the only information is a simple price tag or a glossy ad provided by the distributor, each and every wine here is informatively labeled. Uniform, well-designed signs listing price, origin, taste, and body of the wine take the mystery out of comparing vintages and make it easy to find new bottles to try.

Sam and Tina are working on getting their inventory online; in the meantime, they will happily take orders over the phone to ensure the bottles you want are waiting for you on arrival. And if the idea of saké has piqued your interest, Sam is carrying a range of bottles, several half-sized, for you to investigate. You can also find a wealth of saké information, and if you scroll down a list of  links, here on Rich’s site.

We’re glad we took the time to venture off the beaten path this weekend, since it led us to discover both the world of saké and a great new place to shop for wine.

Wine ConneXtion
117 Main Street North Andover
(978) 965-8000
www.wineconnextion.com

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Upcoming Events: A Winter of Wine and Chocolate

Posted: January 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Lynn, Newburyport, North Andover, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 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.)

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