Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nespresso Winner!

And announcing the winner of the Nespresso Pixie Steel Prize Pack:
Screen Name Drucker in NYC it is!  Thank you all for entering!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Foxy Foxwoods at the James Beard House (Preview Dinner)

James Beard.  Within the food world his name is synonymous with excellence.  He is often regarded as the father of the American food revolution taking his culinary prowess to the television airwaves in 1946.  The landscape of dining in America was never the same.  A cookbook author himself, and then after taking to the airwaves, he opened the James Beard Cooking School and henceforth taught young cooks all over this country, nurturing their minds and helping shape our spot in culinary history.  His legacy has lived on long past his person, and in 1990 the James Beard awards were established awarding excellence in US culinary feats.  These awards look to every corner of our country to recognize and acknowledge chefs, restaurants, writers, wine programs and all other aspects of the industry who are putting their very best foot forward day after day.

Every week, the James Beard House hosts dinners for public guests featuring chefs from all over the country.  These chefs concentrate their meal, their stage at the Beard House, on their best dishes.  This week, a collaborative effort of the chefs from Foxwoods Resort and Casino located in Connecticut will prepare dinner at the James Beard House.  Of course, this wasn't a task that they took
lightly, and so, just a week ago I had the opportunity to travel to Foxwoods and enjoy a preview of the dishes they will be serving.  A practice run, if you will.

Our evening began with a selection of passed Hors d’Oeuvres.  First was a Sepe Farm Lamb Tartare, the delicate meat tossed with a bit of Noritamago, a blend of sesame seed, seaweed, sugar, salt and bonito, as well as a bit of white Harissa.  The blend of these two different cuisines, Japanese and Hindu, created a salty and slightly spice mix on the palate which very pleasantly permeated the rich meat.  This was a wonderful first bite, awakening my senses and preparing them for what followed.  My next bite was a Corn Madeleine, piled high with a fresh vegetable ratatouille and a bit of creme fraiche.  Conceptually I loved this. I loved the rustic feel behind the corn madeleine that was escalated into elegance by its shape.  I loved the addition of the peasant dish ratatouille and how it was cut with the lush, tart creme fraiche.  This dish screamed beauty in opposites to me and seemed perfect to
serve at such space of history and beauty.  The last bite that I tried here was the the Raw Stonington Summer Flounder dredged in a chili and citrus combination and then tossed with green apple and radish.  The apple and the radish together provided a wonderful crispness to the dish, but separately added sweetness and a hint of bitter, where the flounder itself was tender and the dredge brought in brightness and a bit of heat.

We began our seated dinner with a Bomster Fleet Scallop Crudo served with a
drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Kabosu (a tart citrus fruit) and Aji Amarillo sauce (a paste made from a hot yellow chili pepper).  Here again the chefs showed off their ability to balance. The Crudo itself had been tossed with thin slivers of red onion and red pepper, as well, I noted a bit of raw sugar which added an incredible pop of crunch and acted as a reversal to the spicy sauce.  The oil provided some richness and together the flavors melded well and allowed each to stand on their own.  This was a great dish.

Our second seated course were Confit Rillettes, shredded duck confit served atop crostini and served with Arethusa Farm Camembert, pickled onions and Mache greens.  Conceptually I loved this dish.  The Camembert, in its soft, salty and a tad smoky way was perfect.  The pickled onions paired well with the duck and the cheese, cutting the richness of both.  However, the duck was bit overdone creating a feel of stringy, rather than the decadence I had been anticipating.  Flavor wise, this was a spot on creation however.

If I was missing decadence in the last course, the next more than made up for it.  We were served a New England Grass Fed Veal Meatball accompanied by veal bacon.  The meatball was incredible.  Moist and succulent, slightly salty and flavored with herbs and spices, the veal flavor was light but perfect.  Every bite packed a flavor punch from its crisp exterior to its tender interior.  I gladly could have had many more of these and stopped the meal right there.  It was absolutely delicious.  Likewise the house cured veal made bacon was delicious.  Crisp and smoky, its flavor varied just enough from its pork based brother and added a feel of comfort and home to what could have been an outlandish dish.

Our final savory course was a Sunomono marinated sliced Wagyu Ribeye, with a Maitake demi glace and served with a Connecticut summer harvest vegetable medley.  Sunomono refers to a Japanese vinegar and soy sauce based marinade, which imparted the beef with a slightly sweet, greatly umami flavor. 
The flavor of the steak was spot on- a little sweetness, a little salt, and full on beef that you want from such a cut. Sadly, my pieces were a bit overdone so I felt as though my experience could have been slightly elevated, but others at my table looked to be spot on.  The vegetables here though were spot on.  Not a forgotten side by any means, this mix of carrots, summer squash, pearl onion and a tomato jam paired well with the steak and showed off the bounty of the summer harvest.

We had a brief interlude of a Lemongrass and Mint Granita that combined
refreshing lemon grass with the perfect palate cleanser of mint in a light and pleasing way.  

Final course was, of course, dessert.  Bringing in a wonderful homage to the end of meal cheese course we were presented with a Goat Cheese Feta Brulee, paired with peach sorbet, a summer couscous and olive oil sponge.  This was a dessert like no
other.  The brulee was truly fantastic.  Its slight tang was wonderfully offset by the caramelized sugar topper and the fresh graham cracker crust.  The peach sorbet was sweet where the brulee was not, and light where the brulee was decadent.  The star here though was the olive oil sponge.  We surmised that it was olive oil, whipped into submission with air and then molded in some way to look like coral.  It was thick and spongy, light in flavor and heavenly to eat.

Chefs Edward Allen, Robb Brunelle, Franck Iglesias, David Brai and Scott Mickelson have created a truly incredible menu for their time at the James Beard House.  They are showcasing their pride in New England the beauty of our harvests here, as well as playing carefully between our rustic history and the elegance of the occasion.  Though my own meal had some concerns with overly done proteins, I have no doubt that they will knock this dinner and their time in the Beard House, out of the park.   



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Apothic Winemaker Dinner at Tavern Road, South Boston

So I have a secret for you all.  Sometimes what attracts me to a bottle of wine is it's label.  Sometimes a pretty label gets my attention and call it wine lust- I'm immediately drawn in for a better look.  Then I read about it, I read the cards the store provides, I stealthily look up the wine on my phone...think a teenage girl with a crush doing reconnaissance work about that dreamy guy in her trig class...yeah that's me with some wine labels.  That is how I was first introduced to Apothic Wines.  I saw it as I was scanning wines that I thought my mom might enjoy.  I saw its pretty label, read through the information, scanned the interwebs and purchased.  I had a hit, so when I received an invitation to dine with the wine maker Boyd Morrison at the recent Boston food scene splash maker Tavern Road, I don't think I even considered my reply before saying yes.  

Apothic Wines hails from Modesto California, and what I like a lot about their company is that they center their offering around blends.  They offer three varieties, a red, a white and just over the last few years, a rose.  As much as I respect a single grape wine, and the austerity that it provides, blends are able to do quite a bit.  A skilled wine maker, like Morrison, is able to taste where one grape will compliment the others and create a harmonious blend.  I often find blends to be exceedingly drinkable and easy to pair.  Apothic's red combines Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Their white brings together Chardonnay, Riesling and Moscato.  And their newly introduced rose, currently offered in a limited release, has the grapes of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

We began our evening sipping the light and refreshing Rose.  Now the beauty of
rose, in its gorgeous color, comes from how the grapes are treated, deriving its juice from the skin.  Here the result was a light and fresh wine, acidity nicely complemented with sweetness and a perfect sipping wine for a warm evening.  I elected to pair this with a grilled octopus salad enhanced with focaccia croutons, baby tomatoes, soft larossa lettuce and a cured meat vinaigrette for my first course.  I loved this salad.  Octopus is so often overcooked and end up tough and chewy, here though the octopus was incredibly tender and flavorful.  It's meaty quality fully present in the plump pieces that were served.  The meat cured meat vinaigrette added a wonderfully salty pairing that was nicely offset with the bright fresh vegetables.  Together with the rose it was a wonderful start to my meal.

Our main course was up next and served with the Apothic Red.  Now here was a perfect example of how wonderful these wines are to pair. Our options for the entrees were either a Harissa rubbed lamb leg served with romesco, ramps and hazelnuts, or an olive oil poached bluefish served with fava beans, english peas and clams.  These were entirely opposite dishes via flavor profile, but yet the Apothic Red with its nose and flavors of black cherries and rhubarb mixed with the deepness of chocolate, mocha and vanilla.  As I sipped my wine and it mingled with my perfectly cooked spicy lamb, they worked in harmony.  Our entrees were served with sides for the table, a dish of bok choy served
with green beans, shallots and almonds; baby beets paired with dates, cauliflower and horseradish, and potato gnocchi with dandelion and aged balsamic.  Two things of note beyond the lamb being amazing.  First, pillowy soft, decadent gnocchi combined with bitter greens and sweet balsamic is a food match made in heaven.  Chef Louis DiBiccari is a genius.  Its simple. Also- if Chef DiBiccari is catching onto a trend of throwing nuts into dishes to add contrasting textures - I applaud.  They are a very welcome and up until recently under utilized ingredient.  

We finished off dinner with a dessert that no one could resist, cookies and ice cream which will always find perfection in its simplicity and paired it with the Apothic White. Now the Apothic White is on the sweeter side of white, but the flavors it marries makes it a celebration of summer.  Peach, pineapple...a touch of honey...these are the flavors that are so wonderful to sip chilled and sweet.  Here it was paired with a spicy cinnamon ice cream and warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie.  The flavors harmonized and the cookie was basically heaven.  

Tavern Road has been on my list to visit for some time now, and it definitely didn't disappoint.  Located in the uber trendy Fort Point area, its front wall is windows that slide open to create a outside inside feel that's perfect in these summer months.  Chef DiBiccari is preparing clean, interesting food with bright flavor and well executed methods.  My crush on Apothic Wines has only grown.  They are reasonably priced and I've found them in a number of wine stores around the area- go, check them out, and check out Tavern Road. 


Friday, July 12, 2013

Win a Nespresso Pixie Steel Prize Pack!

There is something about starting the morning with a piping hot espresso that just sets me right.  Taking a sip, breaking through the crema to the bitter brew below offers me the jolt that I need to start my day the right way. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to team up with Nespresso USA and, as you might have gathered from my posts, the beauty of my U machine and its incredible ease of use has allowed me to start every morning, no matter how bleary eyed, with my perfect cup.  Now those generous folks over at Nespresso want to hook up one lucky reader of A Boston Food Diary with their own sweet set up!

That's right, one lucky reader will receive the ultimate package from Nespresso- including their
own Pixie Steel machine, and their state of the art Aeroccino Plus machine! So let's talk about these items.  The Pixie Steel is a gorgeous piece to own, sleek in design and with its stainless steel facade its beautiful to look at.  I think though that the real greatness however lies in two of its other features- first is it's size, and the second, of course, is the espresso!  I have a tiny kitchen...let's be frank- I barely have a kitchen- I have a wall with a fridge, an oven and a sink.  However, my U, which is sized very similarly to the Pixie, machine fits right in, taking up only the smallest space on my limited counter space
making it a very welcome addition.  Of course, that wouldn't matter if it never got used- but let me tell you- my machine sees a lot of action.  Nespresso technology doesn't vary- this little house is home to the same engineering that has created cup after cup of perfectly heated, perfectly pressed espresso that we have all come to count on.  Even better though, the Pixie gives its user options.  A simple press of the button allows you to choose between an Espresso- a short pour with a strong flavor, or a Lungo, which will feed more hot water through the capsule allowing for a smoother flavor.  The options are amazing and make it perfect for all day use.

Now, as awesome as the Pixie is on its own, it
becomes infinitely better with the addition of the Aeroccino Plus.  This bad boy froths milk (regular, soy, almond- you name it) into fluffy perfection for hot or cold cappuccinos or lattes!  A little whisk inside determines the tightness of the foam and the button on the outside helps you choose whether your treat will be hot or cold.  Using this with the Pixie basically kills any need to head to that local coffee shop- it's all right in your own kitchen!

I can't lie to you- this is a pretty phenomenal package to received.  To enter please leave me a comment here, on this post telling me why you would love to win the Nespresso Pixie Steel and Aeroccino Plus (and please be a US resident 18 years and older) by July 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm EST, Ill assign each comment a number and have my computer program randomly pick one, then we'll get one shipped out to you!  Please be sure that when you comment you leave a way to get in touch with you as well!

Good luck! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gennaro's 5 North Square, North End, Boston

Several years ago I headed to Gennaro's 5 North Square for dinner and walked away feeling rather "meh" about it.  It was serving typical Italian American food- not bad per-say, but nothing remarkable.  Nothing like what I knew my grandmother served to her family each night.  About a year ago though, I heard that they had replaced their chef, and people started to rave.  All of a sudden Gennaro's 5 North Square became a spot that was high on the dining card in the North End, and so when I was invited in to have dinner and check out the culinary prowess of Marissa Iocco.  

Chef Iocco emigrated here to America from Italy years ago, and fell in love with the North Square.  She has worked in other incredible spots around the North End and is now bringing her knowledge of Italy, and her unique twist on what she calls MANGIAmerica.  For clarification sake- MANGIAmerica refers to the melding of Italian cuisine and American tastes.  The example Iocco uses is Chicken Parmesan.  A delicious dish, but not one that hails from Italy.  This
combination of breaded chicken, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese is an American adaptation.  Basically, the way I think about it is, if the dish is smothered in sauce and cheese- it's probably more American than it is Italian.

Gennaro's 5 North Square, under the watchful eye of Chef Iocco is marrying Italian to MANGIAmerica and creating approachable food with strong, true Italian influences.

Our meal began with a trio of appetizers.  Mushrooms Rosemary Torta, Burratina Caprese and Shrimp Scampi Scotatti.  The Mushrooms Rosemary Torta was, at its most basic level, a bread pudding.  However think of the most wonderful bread pudding, soft in the center, slightly crispy outsides, the richness of butter throughout....Now throw in that wonderfully savory rosemary and earthy mushrooms.  The combination was phenomenal. I then moved over to the Scampi. Now traditionally scampi tends to be shrimp in butter and garlic and perhaps a little Parmesan cheese.  Iocco twists it slightly and brings out the sweetness with a touch of Madeira wine and and a heavy hand of fresh breadcrumbs.  The shrimp were plump and their natural sweetness was only enhanced by the splash of sweet wine.  The breadcrumbs added a crunchy contrast and that wonderful flavor of garlic we seek.  I definitely enjoyed this before I turned my attention to my favorite- the Burratina.  I adore Burrata cheese, and this was made locally by a friend of Ioccos which to me made it even better because you just knew that love was
involved.  and sure enough as as I brought my fork to the oozing center of the mozzarella ball I was rewarded with a perfect bite of salty, creamy cheese.  Paired with acidic tomato, a hint of black pepper and fresh basil, this was a perfect tribute to summer.

Next up was our pasta course. Chef Iocco presented us with three different representations of her pastas- Chitarrine Bolognese, Manicotti Italo- Americani, and Bombolotti di Carciofi.  I loved the Bolognese.  I often look to Bolognese to
show the authenticity of an Italian restaurant.  Too often it ends up being marinara with some ground beef mixed in.  Real Bolognese is made by slow cooking a variety of meats, and then adding stock and milk or cream and maybe just a touch of tomato for its acidic qualities.  Iocco kept true to her roots and her Bolognese was bright, yet creamy and full of flavor.  Paired with fresh pasta- I could have eaten a huge bowl of this.  Next up was the Manicotti, Crespelli pasta filled with ricotta and spinach and topped with a simple tomato
and basil ragu.  Manicotti can often be a heavy dish and the filling is often to blame - Iocco's however was still light in feeling, despite its decadence, and the thin pasta made it addictive.  It was a perfect rendition.  Finally it was time for the Bombolotti di Carciofi- a ravioli filled with ricotta and artichokes, swimming in a saffron rich sauce and topped with more artichokes and green peas.  The saffron sauce was rich and decadent, a beautiful, natural yellow color and bursting with the herbaceous flavor of the saffron.  I loved the addition of the spring sweet peas and the artichokes gave a wonderful slightly acidic contrast.  

We then were treated to a beautiful piece of cod which had been cooked in parchment paper with little white potatoes and black olives.  This was the perfect summer dish, light with the flaky white fish but filling with potatoes.  The olives added a wonderfully salty component and together the flavors bounced off of each other.

And then, after all of that- we began our Meatball Extravaganza!  In front of
each of us was placed a plate full of meatballs- the Classico, beef with Parmesan, garlic and herbs; the Maiale Cacciatore, made of pork loin with pancetta, peppers and a Marinara dipping sauce; Vitello Saltimbocca  which combined veal with proscuitto and provolone cheese with an au jus type sauce; the Pollo Marsala where chicken was blended with mushrooms and mozzarella and served with a Marsala wine sauce and finally a Melanzana Parmigiana which brought together roasted eggplant with mozzarella, basil and marinara sauce.  

Each meatball had its own unique flavor and twist, but my personal favorites were the Pork which was spicy and rich with pancetta, and the the veal which was so tender and full of flavor, it melted in ones mouth. These were meatballs to write home about.  

Now, when I heard that Gennaro's had gotten in a new chef some time ago, the first thing that I was told to try was their bread pudding for dessert.  It sounded like an odd thing for an Italian restaurant, but loving bread pudding, I was delighted to see that it was on our menu for dessert, in two different varieties.  First up was Vanilla Bread Pudding served
with a salty caramel sauce, followed by Chocolate Bread Pudding served with chocolate ganache.  The chocolate was deep and dark, decadent to the max, but oddly enough was showed up by the incredible Vanilla.  The combination of clean vanilla with salty caramel harboring that slightly burned flavor that makes it so delicious.  I could absolutely go back just for the bread pudding.

Gennaro's 5 North Square is leaps and bounds above where it was those years back.  Chef Iocco has brought an incredibly authentic vibe while still incorporating the favorites we Americans love so much.  Gennaro's is definitely a must go to, believe me- it makes for a perfect date spot.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Woodman's, Essex, Ma

The final stop on my clam tour was Woodman's.  Now Woodman's is legend among fried clams.  Their founder was Chubbie Woodman, he who first started frying up the bivalves and serving them up all the way back in 1916.  The family of Woodman still runs the restaurant, which is now an institution that sits mid way between Farnham's and Village.  Of course it has grown over the years and now the restaurant offers far more than just fried clams.

Walking up to Woodman's front door is an experience.  As you round the corner from the expansive parking lot, the smell of sweet lobster wafts towards you and there you find, just outside the front door, a friendly group steaming up fresh lobsters to order.  Then, as you venture inside, that is if you can resist those bright red lobsters calling out, then you survey the expansive menu.  Fried clams kick it off, but their fryers handle a whole lot more than just clams.  Shrimp, scallops, fish and even lobster hit the hot oil and all are fried gluten free using just corn flour.  They also serve up a variety of sandwiches, including their famous packed lobster roll, and accompaniments like onion rings.  

I had the opportunity to chow down on their clams, and their onion rings.  The
clams were fantastic.  Hot out of the fryer, crispy, and a great mix of the sweet corn and the natural sea flavor of the clams.  Woodman's uses big belly clams, sourced from long time Essex based clam diggers and they are the freshest they could be.  I can say this much- by the time I had gotten to Woodman's last in my day, and after two other plates of fried clams - I couldn't stop eating these they were so delicious.

Of course the other side of my plate held their onion rings.  The onion rings are are one of the only things on the menu that are not made gluten free automatically.  They are made with a wet batter, which, when fried, puffs up and coats the thin onion circles in a wonderfully light, airy and crispy crust.  These were, hands down, some of the best onion rings I've had.

Woodman's is a time honored tradition for a reason- their dedication is clear, their ingredients are quality and their processes are spot on.  Woodman's is worth the trip.    

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Village Restaurant, Essex, MA

Stop #2 on my personal Clam Quest took me to the Village Restaurant located just a couple of miles down the road from JT Farnhams.  Founded in 1956, with just 15 seats, the Village was originally a hamburger spot known as Wimps and was then purchased by the Carters and transformed, over the years, to feature classic New England food and now houses over 200 seats.  The Village still sits with the family, and tales of the days past, of late night discussions about menus and plans are very much alive and well.  This is a family spot and they are keeping the traditions of their forefathers alive and well.  

The Village really surprised me as I drove up.  I had been anticipating a spot similar Farnham's, casual in style, however the Village presents it self as a much more diverse restaurant, serving the beach favorites we all crave, as well as a host of other items all created and made with family recipes like Haddock LuAnne which tops fresh caught haddock with bread crumbs, tomatoes, onions and olive oil.  The other true point of note with Village are their prices- think a 14 oz Sirloin for just $18.00.   

I wasn't there for the steak however, I was there for their clams.  Now I have to
note.  As I was going through my day in Essex I was asking all of the owners where they sourced their clams from, and while all listed off a group of local businesses, none did it with the passion as Kevin at Village.  When I asked he listed friends, not businesses.  People that he knows personally, and trusts implicitly.  It was awesome to see the true love of the industry shine through.

The clams arrived and I dug in.  Village uses large belly clams and a mix of both white flour and corn flour in their breading.  They had a great crunch and a softer flavor from the coating, allowing the full flavor of the clams to shine through.  The clams were fresh and fully flavored with the ocean.  They were perfect on their own for true clam lovers, and a quick spritz of lemon heightened their flavor even more.  

I couldn't resist trying out their clam chowder as well, as it gets some pretty great reviews.  This was the cleanest tasting clam chowder I've had.  Made very simply in the style of the family's old recipes,   it includes just half & half, onion rendered in salt pork (NOT bacon), potatoes and clams.  I loved this.  Too often clam chowder is a thick mess of ingredients, and overwhelmingly tastes like bacon.   True clam chowder should taste of clams, cut with cream.  This was truly delicious.

I had the opportunity to try out a couple of desserts as well.  All are made in house and each that I sampled was fantastic.  The key lime pie was the perfect combination of tart and sweet with gentle acid.  The baked Indian Pudding was a New England classic combining molasses and spices in wonderful harmony.  It's warm and comforting- just what you want on a snowy night.  The best however was the Coconut Cream Pie which screamed fresh coconut in every bite, exactly as it should.

Village Restaurant is obviously dedicated to the craft.  Their food is simple, uncomplicated by too much fanfare and everything is made in house with love.  It is definitely worth a stop for true New England fare, and located in the heart of town, its a wonderful place to "meet" Essex, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

JT Farnhams, Essex MA

I kicked off my personal clam fest with a stop at JT Farnham's.  Opened in 1956, it began as a simple seaside shack with a view of the marsh and outdoor plumbing. Over the years and after a few changes at the helm, JT Farnhams expanded their indoor facilities, but even in doing so they have maintained the feel of their establishment as casual with utmost importance on the ocean.  Every seat in the house has a view of the marsh, and can watch the tides ebb and flow.  Even better?  Farnham's is located so close to the water that they actually encourage arrival by boat, especially as their parking lot can be a bit small as patrons arrive.  

Of course, I was there for the food, and I was excited to jump into their menu. Now, of course,  they serve the fried clams I was there to try, but their menu goes far beyond just the fried bivalves.  Fried scallops, shrimp and oysters populate the menu, along side their grilled seafood counterparts and then a few salads and non seafood items for those so inclined.  Beyond their clams however, Farnhams is also well known for their seafood chowder.  

Created by a happy mistake one evening of a cook mixing together the
remnants of the days fish chowder and the clam chowder, what has been born since is a wonderful mixture of clam, shrimp, lobster meat, haddock and scallops all in a cream base chowder.  I able to try a cup of it and wow, I understood the acclaim immediately.  Made without thickeners, the chowder had wonderful smooth consistency, and taste purely of cream, a touch of salt, pepper and had the sweetness of grated onion.  This simple backdrop allowed the seafood to shine here, and even just viewing the cup I could see that that was the right decision.  Whole, plump shrimp were found immediately and then in digging in my spoon found whole scallops, large pieces of lobster meat, wonderful flakes of haddock and those whole clams.  This is what I'm looking for in a seafood chowder.  It was bold in its use of full sized pieces and fantastic for playing down the flavor of the broth and letting the natural, fresh seafood shine.  This was a great chowder.

It was then time to turn my attention to the main attraction- the clams.  Farnham's works closely with their local suppliers to concentrate on getting smaller bellied clams which give a lighter flavor and a thinner mouth feel.  They do usually have some bigger bellied clams around though- for those who prefer them -just ask!  Farnhams coats their clams in just corn flour, and then deep fries them giving them a wonderfully crisp and chewy texture.  They had a great flavor- a good mix of the sweet clam and the lovely corn flour.  I found these to be a great clam for all.  There are definitely a portion of the public that aren't in love with big bellied clams and find their flavor too strong.  Farnham's concentrate on a subtler, clean flavor.

JT Farnham's is a great spot to get your clam fix.  Its low key decor, concentration on the water, and commitment to quality creates exactly the right type of place to roll into after a great day in the water. 



Monday, July 1, 2013

Essex, MA- the Land of Antiques, Shores and Clams

I realize that I talk about my love for Boston, and the rest of Massachusetts, on a pretty regular basis.  I have to say though- my love isn't unfounded.  This state has so many wonderful attributes, so many nooks and crannies full of amazing things that it's next to impossible to get bored.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of cruising up just 45 minutes outside of Boston to its North Shore and exploring the little town of Essex.  First settled in in 1634, it became incorporated as its own town in 1819.  Sitting directly on the Atlantic Ocean, it's no surprise that Essex is often the destination of beach goers, those who love seafood, and, perhaps surprisingly, antique seekers.  Essex is often referred to as the antique capital of the world and as you meander through its main streets you find shop after shop offering unique artifacts from days gone by. 

Essex, of course, in relation to this little piece of the web, is also known for it's fried clams.  Harvested locally from their own shores, the fried clam is known to have been invented right in the heart of town by resident Chubby Woodman.  These were first served at a 4th of July parade, garnering a healthy profit for the local man and today, his ancestors are still serving up the deep fried treats of the ocean in the same spot as his original stand, Woodsman's.  Of course, Woodman's isn't the only spot in town digging up these bivalves and frying them.  And checking out the other great spots in town was exactly what I was in Essex to do!  I had the opportunity to check out the original Woodman's, The Village, and Farnhams, all recognized nationally for their offerings in the fried clam world.

My thoughts to follow...

Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

Last December I declared 2023 the year I would return to food writing.  It was a bold statement (even now as I look at my last published dat...