Monday, March 31, 2014

Stuff I Ate - The Barrel House American Bar in Beverly, MA

If you haven't yet tried The Barrel House American Bar in Beverly, you don't know what you're missing. Envision house cured meats from free range farms, local produce and an appetizer menu that leaves you without room to take on the entree course. If you consider yourself a foodie, DO get to Barrel House soon. 

This weekend we made our second trip in a mere four weeks and I suspect this will become a sort of addiction.  Note: this is no place for dieters or seafood seekers. The Barrel House is for gourmet carnivores and their friends. Your husband will love it.

From the high backed leather banquets to the exposed brick and cavernous lighting, The Barrel House in Beverly, MA is both sexy and cozy. 

The cuisine is a foodie adventure with an ever changing Charcuterie board offering a surprise every time. The honey almond fondue is another highlight and the poutine...mmm the poutine.  Add a creamy lush beef tartar topped with quail egg and we had so much food for our hungry party of 4 - we couldn't even finish. 

The vast wine and craft beer list offered pleasing potables for any enthusiast and our server, Stephanie was knowledgeable, friendly, cheerful and attentive.  We will definitely be back -often.

A little about The Barrel House American Bar from their website:
Barrel House American Bar, located in historic Ellis Square, in the heart of downtown Beverly, is a neighborhood bistro specializing in American and French regional cuisine. Our Depression era building features a bustling dining room, with an authentic tin ceiling, reclaimed wood floor, period lighting, and tufted banquette, providing a warm and comfortable space for an evening out. Casual diners and larger parties may enjoy our spacious family table and the friendly shared experience it provides. Or if you prefer, cozy up to our beautiful cast pewter bar for a classic cocktail or craft beer. At Barrel House American Bar, we believe in serving an outstanding home-made product in a sustainable and responsible way, while helping the local economy by buying from local producers.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Post Valentine Event For BBQ "lovers"

Wine Dinner Wednesday, February 19th

Barbecue Across the Globe

Are you missing the summer months and barbecue?  Well Chef Hunt is joining forces with the North Shore's illustrious and notorious wine Guru Matt Rose to take you on a global tour of barbecue and wine.  Dinner will include 4 courses paired with wines from different regions of the world.  There's no better way than to shake the winter blues taking a culinary journey featuring our unique wood fired grill paired with some great wine.  

This is a foodie "Can't Miss" event.  

Make your reservations soon before space runs out at www.wildhorsecafe.com or 978-922-6868

Monday, February 3, 2014

Valentine's Stuff for Planners, Partiers, Procrastinators and Everyone in Between

OPEN TABLE MAKES GETTING A VALENTINE'S RESERVATION SO EASY, 
EVEN YOUR HUSBAND CAN DO IT
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Friday, February 14 is around the corner – we're here to help you plan.
Read on to find restaurants with specials, set-menus and other Valentine's Day treats for the occasion.

GLOUCESTER CHOCOLATE TOUR
SWEET STROLLING FOR LOVERS AND OTHERS
Downtown Gloucester, MA
February 9, 2014 12-4PM



DOES THIS QUALIFY AS WICKED SWEET?

12th Annual Salem's So Sweet 
Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival 



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February 7 - 16, 2014 
Presented by Salem Main Streets & the Salem Chamber of Commerce
Salem Main Streets, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and local retailers, restaurants and businesses invite you to attend the 11th annual Salem’s So Sweet, Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival. A decadent tradition of delectable chocolate, sparkling ice sculptures and Valentine’s Day shopping…don't miss Salem's sweetest event of the year!



FOR THOSE OF YOU WITH CLASS
VALENTINE’S DAY DINNER & A MOVIE — 
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT
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Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA
Friday, February 14

Dinner: 5:30 or 5:45 PM
Movie: 7:30 PM

This year for Valentine’s Day, enjoy a romantic dinner in the intimate, seaside view of the Shalin Liu Performance Center followed by the timeless classic—It Happened One Night. Widely considered one of the first-ever romantic comedies, 1934’s It Happened One Night stars screen legends Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, and was directed by Frank Capra. It was also the first film to sweep all five major awards (picture, director, actor, actress, screenplay) at the Oscars.
The dinner is a three-course pre-fixe menu catered by Beach Gourmet


BOSTON WINE EXPO 2014 
BECAUSE WINE IS LOVE
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Seaport World Trade Center Boston, MA

February 14 - 16, 2014 
Boston is a foodie’s paradise—and the seventh largest wine market in the nation. To honor this historic region’s passion for food and drink, we’ve transformed the Boston Wine Expo into an entire week of festivities celebrating wine, food and culture from the greatest wine-growing regions of the world.

The Boston Wine Expo makes a significant impact on the non-profit community in New England by donating a portion of its proceeds to charity. To date, over $1,000,000 has been distributed by the Boston Guild of Oenophilists, Inc. to over 27 charitable entities since the event's inception.

A week ong series of events
Outstanding cuisine from more than 40 restaurants
Expanded education series
Nightly vintner dinners at top restaurants
Grand Cru Wine Lounge, barrel samplings and vertical tastings
More serious wine buyers

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE MANAGED TO GO FROM CHILD STAR TO HOTTIE WITHOUT GETTING DEPORTED OR ARRESTED - LET'S CELEBRATE
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22-24 Clinton Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Februay 15, 2014 8PM
Come help two of Boston's BEST tribute bands BRING SEXY BACK for Hard Rock Cafe Boston's annual Post-Valentines Day dance party. The Timberfakes (the one and only Justin Timberlake tribute band) and LoVeSeXy ..."Tribute to the music of PRINCE" are teaming up for a night of sultry dance tunes and sing-along jams.



THIS MIGHT BE ON SOMEBODY'S BUCKET LIST
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Watson Adventures’ Naked at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunt for Valentine’s Day
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
February 14, 2014 6:30PM
Join Watson Adventures on a unique scavenger hunt and take an unblushing look at nudity in art at the Museum of Fine Arts. You’ll scrutinize paintings, sculptures, randy Romans, a “stag” party drinking game, Gauguin’s island girls, Father Time's hot time, and a god with Venus envy. No knowledge of art, or nudity, is required. This hunt is rated PG-13.
Price includes museum admission. Advance purchase is required Questions? Call 877-9GO-HUNT.


FOR THOSE WHO'D LIKE TO DROWN OUT THE ROMANTIC DRIVEL
4th ANNUAL VALENTINE'S LOVE CRAWL

Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM  Fanuel Hall, Boston, MA
21+ event
Join us February 15th as once again we take over downtown Boston, with our 4th annual crawl.. Last year Valentines Love Crawl was voted Boston's #1 Pub Crawl of the year from Boston Magazine 

Your ticket will include : A valentines T shirt (red-guys pink-girls), a VIP wristband gaining you access to every bar, food specials and fantastic drinks. A ticket will be given to all participants upon registration (12-3)... At 3 we will have a drawing of every ticket at Wild Rover, where we will be giving out 3 pairs of tickets to (celtics,red sox, bruins games)-At 4:00 a $100 cash prize will be awarded at Barney Fannings for the best Valentines Day Costume ( pubcrawl participants only)
-At 5:00 The Dating Game will take place at Hong Kong, where 1 female and 1male guest celebrity will choose a date between 3 opposite sex pubcrawl attendees and the winners will share a free scorpion bowl and a dinner for 2 at Strega in the north end!!!!
At 7:00 The Stadium will host a free water cup beirut tournament, where we will award $100 to the winning team ( 1st 50 teams to sign up are in)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spice Up Your Drive through Experience - a little holiday matching game


The other day, on a particularly silly high from a great week together, my husband, Ryan and I were at the Dunkin' Donuts drive through grabbing a coffee en route to the woods. After ordering my coffee, the server asked, "anything else?", to which I replied, "and a puppet show". 
Ry and I burst out laughing and launched into this goofy game. I encourage additions by way of comments. I'm sure a little harmless fun will brighten the day of stressed takeout food service workers in a season of hostile, busy shoppers barking orders with no regard for civility or kindness.

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Rules: Ask, politely, for one legitimate food or beverage item the establishment actually sells. Then add, "and a (non-food non-related) item. Say it smoothly, so it flows like a legit request. Wait for confusion and laughter.

Some examples:
1. I'd like a medium regular and a puppet show.
2. Could I have a cheeseburger and a Barry White Album?
3. May I have a burrito and some bunny slippers?
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5. We would like a chicken sandwich and a chipped china cup
6. May I have a large ice tea and a light saber?

You get the point. Keep it kind. Alliteration is a bonus. Smiling, laughing and explaining will make it fun for the server as well. Remember, this is about spreading laughter, not harassing the staff. I recommend tipping the server after you do this. It's a small price to pay to add a little cheer and good will to the day of someone who could probably really use both.

A Little PSA for the Holiday Season - food service workers rarely make a livable wage. In fact, food servers in restaurants make as little as $2.17 per hour plus tips which gives the owners a HUGE break but rely on customers to bring that number up to an actual wage.Waitstaff checks are typically $0 after tax on tips claimed, so those tips are THE ONLY REASON THEY WORK THERE. No matter the cost of your plate, the server still gets $2.17 per hour. So tip according to what you spend and how the server performs his or her job. And, if you are using a Groupon or a Restaurant.com or some other discount card, tip on the total cost before the deal, because servers work just as hard to get a half price plate onto your table as a full priced one. And they have presents to buy, too.





Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A little delayed, but I always finish a project, even if I am swamped with client work.  Here's a link to my first 25 things I'm grateful for in November: My Thankful List.

And to wrap up a very gracious month, I give you 26-30.

26. I am grateful for Camp Spindrift and all the North Shore YMCA's youth programming. My "only" lives in a house that is full of support and art and music and learning and that is totally lacking in those essential skill-building battles and scuffles, the moments of collaboration and compromise that you get when you have to share a room, a remote or a bathroom with a sibling. Our neighborhood is quiet and full of old family homes and old family elders which means the vibe is great for parents and lonely for kiddos. Spindrift and the rest of the kids' programs through our Y allow Julz the chance to be part of a community of her peers, absent the pressures of who has what and who lives where. Kids at Spindrift come equipped with towels and swimsuits and lunches and NOTHING ELSE. They participate in arts and sports and boating and group council and weekly themes as a unified group of unique little people who are free to be who they are, whoever they are. My nephews were Y teen leaders, the younger of the two went to New Orleans on a Y service mission and my hope is that Julz will do all that and more. I thank Rick Doucette and his staff daily for helping Julz to become the confident, capable, community-centered, tolerant, helpful child she is. This should actually be closer to #1 if I'd worked in order of most gratefulness.

27. I am grateful for my kick ass hair. Shallow? Not really. I am terrible about primping, both because I'd rather work on my body and mind than my face or hair and because I spend so much time alone at the computer that I rarely bother to do "all that stuff". For this reason, I feel like I should be grateful for the crazy mop of curls I was blessed with (and also for Joey at En Vogue Salon who makes it fabulous even though I don't deserve it) because it mostly just looks pretty rad even though it only gets brushed once in awhile.

28. I am thankful for ribbon and fabric. I love to make things pretty. I'm feeling especially grateful for ribbon because I just decorated for Christmas and I bought new ribbon to make giant, shiny, sparkly bows to match with the new living room color and they are AWESOME. Also, I am grateful that someone (my aunt, I think) taught me how to make giant bows with ribbon and where to get great ribbon cheap. Here's a picture of my tree, so you can see what I mean.

29. I am grateful for holiday traditions. Cutting down our tree, watching The Grinch and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, driving around to look at the lights, making cookies like we are feeding an army, decorating pine


cone ornaments, these are the traditions of my childhood and of my child's and I am pleased to pieces when we share them.

30. I am grateful for this project and for the blog readers who have followed along as I saw it through in it's own staccato kind of way. Sorry for the ill fitting chunks of prose worked around my "life". But that's part of the beauty of it, I think. It's the committing to it and returning to it and finishing it that has been the pleasure of the thing. Thanks for YOU, my readers, for helping me to stay the course and for giving me the extra motivation to get this done. It was awesome.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Thankful List Continues - 20-25



For those of you just catching up, I've been working on a list of things I'm grateful for to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday and to remind myself and my readers about what is truly important in the holiday season. The original Thankful List that grows through the month can be found here: My Thankful List
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This has been a task, making time to write down what I'm grateful for. And it shouldn't be. And that makes me feel bad. And that brings me to my next "grateful item".


20.  I am grateful that I expect so much from myself. The words, "good enough" have never passed from my lips, not in reference to school or work or parenting or cooking or being a good person or being a good community member. In the words of my yoga teacher, Hayley, "there's always somewhere to go". I live life this way - always looking for the next step, the next challenge, the way to do better. It keeps me humble and hungry and happy because I never just settle


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21. I am thankful for fringe benefits. My job and this blog result in free tickets to shows and tours, VIP invites to the openings of stores and restaurants, and lots of free sample clothing, skincare, gourmet food stuffs and spirits. And I get to WRITE about them. What's cooler is that my husband's job which has him traveling the nation results in TONS of hotel points (because Marriott Rewards is the BEST loyalty program ever) and so we stay and play for free, often. I have sipped cocktails with the crew of Hot Tuna with the marketing and film crews from National Geographic and Wicked Tuna, watched Cavalia from the VIP seats and eaten dinner with Chef Jose Duarte of Taranta and his family. I've toured Fenway Park as a guest of F.W. Webb, been invited to the openings of Opus in Salem and O in Cambridge and  John Varvatos's Boston boutique ribbon cutting, toured land and sea with Sweet Shots Secret Spots and seen every show that the North Shore Music Theater since it reopened five years ago. There is nothing more exciting than getting an invite to review an event or a restaurant, and checking in to a free platinum level hotel room to prep for a night of elbow rubbing. This is my favorite, favorite, favorite thing to do ever (PS here are links to a few articles on some of my fun review escapades here:
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Tap Dancing Drag Queens and Lessons on Love - La Cage Aux Folles at NSMT

Boats and Bevies and Film Crews Oh My!

I Hung Out with Chef Jose Duarte By Accident

A Bathroom Tale - My Fenway Family Tour By Way of Toilet


Touring With Violet - My FAM Tour with Sweet Shots Secret Spots



22. I am thankful for the four seasons. Living in New England, this could be a one day deal with icy winds in the predawn turning quickly into sunny lunch-hours spent unencumbered by a coat or mittens only to give way to autumn light and breezy evenings and possible snow flakes at dinnertime. I admit I prefer my seasons to take their time, stretching languidly across the calendar year, but the existence of change in the air, the experience of shifting light and blooming trees, of winter sunsets and fall colors keep me loving where I live and always anxious to get outside, with my camera.
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23. I am grateful for the smell of fresh baked bread. Living in the west end of Gloucester, surrounded by Italian neighbors and Italian bakers, my sense of place includes a heavy aromatic dose of semolina and scali bread in ovens throughout the neighborhood. Semolina and asiago with fresh tomato and basil is the most delicious meal ever, always, any time of the day. Simple, salty, nutty, chewy, sweet and acidic perfection.
24. I am grateful for my girlfriends. My gaggle of girls mean the world to me. Smart, strong,and successful they are my support system when Ryan is on the road, which is about 1/3 of the year. Whether we are sharing a potluck during the kids' basketball practice, a laugh over a drink, a work war story on a rough day or a kvetch sess over somebody's newest failed romance, I need and love these ladies and I am so thankful for the paths that led us all together. All from different parts of my life - childhood, college, kid activities we shared as parental onlookers and cheerleaders, past jobs and past clubs, the women in my life that aren't the ones I was born with are like a second set of sisters and I believe each one was meant to find me and to stay here for a lifetime.
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25. I am grateful for the spam filter on my inbox. I get 1000000000 job leads from AFLAC (my husband works for Liberty Mutual), or worse, from China Steel Corporation (which also requests money laundering). I also get requests to join Black Christian singles (I'm a married, white pagan/Christian/Shinto gal) and lots of chances to win, inherit or help fraudulent entities. Thank goodness my spam box is smarter than their keyword search programs.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Holidays are Happening. Soooo Much to do This Weekend



I love this time of year. Fairs, food festivals and lots of fun family activities fill our weekends with community and crafts and reasons to shop local and reconnect with our neighbors. Here's the first week of holiday happenings on Cape Ann

Taste of Magnolia

Friday, November 22, 2013 7:00 – 9:00 pm
19th Annual Wine & Food Tasting Event
Games & Silent Auction
Taste Select Fine Wines & Craft Beers
Sample Great Food by Local Restaurants
Must be at least 21 years of age
All proceeds support the Magnolia Library & Community Center
Please call Donna Kecyk at 978-290-3734 or email – donnakecyk74@hotmail
Tickets $30 all food & Drinks included

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November 23rd we will be celebrating Middle Street. The day will begin with a Pancake Breakfast at Trinity. Other activities of the day include St. John's "Country Cupboard Fair", Farmer's Market at the U.U. Church, Children's Activities at the YMCA, Sargent House Tours, Art Haven, The Firehouse, and the Library. At 2:00 p.m. The Annual Grace Center Concert at the U.U. Church will conclude the Harvest Festival. Come one, Come all to help celebrate our history.

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On Saturday, November 23rd
9 am to 12 p.m.
The Cape Ann Farmers Market will host a Thanksgiving Harvest Market at the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church on 10 Church Street (on the corner of Middle and Church). Over 20 vendors, including Alprilla Farm, Trupiano Sausage, Herrick Farm, Seaview Farm Meats, & Craquelins Crackers, will be selling fresh produce, soups, baked goods, crafts, meats, cheese, herbs, smoked fish, pasta, and guacamole. All fresh, all local, in time for Thanksgiving dinner. 

An all-natural turkey, donated by Common Crow, will be raffled off to benefit the Farmers Market.
The market is held in conjunction with other activities during the Middle Street Harvest Festival. Events, including concerts and a cupboard fair, will take place throughout the day at venues along Middle Street. For more information go to www.CapeAnnFarmersMarket.org, or call Nicole Bogin at 978-290-2717.
Holy Family Parish Annual Christmas Fair
Saturday, November 23rd.
MONSIGNOR SULLIVAN HALL
St Ann Church
9 AM TIL 2 PM.!

Essex Pride Week and Holiday Fairs
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November 23, 2013
Downtown Essex
9 am-2 pm
The warmth of an old country church fair enlivens the town on a cold, winter’s day when all three of Essex’s downtown churches hold their annual Holiday Fairs. All three churches are within walking distance with free on street parking.

Essex Turkey Trot
Sunday, November 24, 2013
8K Race and 8K Fun Walk
1:00 p.m.
Registration is at Woodman’s Restaurant (upstairs), 121 Main Street, Essex, from 10:30 to 12:00. This race is sanctioned by U.S. Track and Field and timed by Granite State Race Services.
Online runner's registration fee is $20*. Walker's registration fee is $15*. Registration on the day of the event will be runner's $25 and walker's $20.
Contact Lions Club for information on the Turkey Trot by email: info@essexmalions.com Telephone: 978-768-7338 or Fax: 978-768-3648.