Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mangia,The Taste of the North End is HERE.

This just in from my friend, Chris Haynes at CBH Communications in Boston. I love food news. I love Italian. I love the North End. And I especially love feasts for a cause. Do this. Tomorrow.


This year, the Taste of the North End will benefit the North End Waterfront Health, continuing the tradition of the North End restaurant community supporting North End charities. Proceeds will support the variety of programs and services offered by the health center, as well as other neighborhood charities for children and elders.

The Taste of the North End was founded by Donato and Nancy Frattaroli in 1993 as a benefit for Casa Monte Cassino. The Frattarolis became aware of Casa Monte Cassino when a family from Italy came into their North End restaurant. The family was staying at the CMC while their four daughters received medical attention at Boston's Children's Hospital Boston. The Frattarolis were touched by their story and inspired by the mission of the Casa; to provide a place to stay for impoverished families from around the world while their children receive serious medical attention in Boston. Over the next few weeks, as the Frattarolis developed the idea for the Taste of the North End to raise funds to help Casa Monte Cassino provide its invaluable services.

The Frattarolis, with the support of the North End restaurant community, held the First Annual Taste of the North End in the basement of St. John's School. That first year, guests were able to try dishes from fifteen North End eateries. The success of the event has been incredible. What started in St. John's moved to the local Coast Guard Base, the New England Aquarium, and finally to the DCR's Steriti Rink on Commercial Street. The Taste of the North End currently features over fourty five restaurants, bakeries and distributors. Since its inception, the Taste of the North End has raised over $450,000 for Casa Monte Cassino and other local North End charities.

for tickets please click the following link...

for more information please contact ...

Billy Costa Master of Ceremonies
Vanessa Salvucci Vocalist
Nick Scenna DJ
Recipients of the 2016 Awards

Recipients of the 2016 Awards
To Be Announced

Event Organizers
Donato Frattaroli  Founder, Taste of the North End
James Luisi CEO, North End / Waterfront Health Center
Zach Goodale  Event Coordinator
Donato Frattaroli, Jr Event Committee
Gianni Frattaroli Event Committee
Daniel Leonard Event Committee

Il Molo
326 Commercial Street  Boston, MA 02109
Coming Spring 2016.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My sweet new project - Sweet Reebs Heavenly Dessert Company

dessert deep dish chocolate bacon cookieI write automotive commercials every day. Also, I create copy for a flooring retailer and an inpatient residential detox center, an alternative wellness center and a mixed bag of other non-food advertising clients.

It's good work, but it lacks a certain, um, flavor.

So when my dear friend, Rebecca Doyon approached me to help her with a freelance branding project for her craft dessert company, I was positively hungry to get started.

Rebecca and I met when we both worked in a local high school, she as the business teacher and myself as an aide in the Language Arts department. We had both just gotten married and were buying our first homes, planning families and otherwise bumbling through our mid twenties as new brides and future moms.

Then we both got laid off due to budget cuts.

sweet reebs heavenly dessert company white chocolate cranberry bread puddingOur paths drifted over the years with kids, new jobs, a couple of relocations and a series of other non-academic jobs around our young families. I landed in marketing, Rebecca in hospitality.

Recently, our paths crossed again while eating dinner after meet the teacher night at our shared favorite eatery, The Franklin Cape Ann. Catching up on my newest gig in advertising and her newest spot on the bar at C.K. Pearl in Essex, MA, she mentioned her desire to fully launch her fledgling dessert business. We set up a meeting and it's been full speed ahead since.

Rebecca, or "Reba" as industry folks have come to know her, started making her ridiculous Key Lime Pie with Coconut Crust for two terrific seasonal restaurants on Gloucester's Rocky Neck, The Studio and The Rudder. The success of this offering led to more of her sweets on their dessert menu and a pretty solid following around her memorable baked goods. She has since added Jaime's Restaurant in North Andover, MA to her client list, and JUST THIS WEEK, before the official launch of the newly branded Sweet Reeb's Heavenly Dessert Company, and in time for Valentine's Day, Sweet Reeb's Heavenly Desserts can be found on the menus at The Franklin Cape Ann and Katrina's Bar and Grille in Gloucester.

sweet reebs heavenly dessert company mexican hot chocolate lava cakeThe website is still in the works and a sales kit with up-sell tools, a suggested pairing list and all the bells and whistles a restaurant owner needs to ensure that adding Sweet Reeb's to their menus will add a whole lot of new money to ticket sales and server tips,  are nearly finished. The price point for these craft-made, quality dessert which include weekly delivery is surprisingly affordable, meaning Sweet Reeb's is likely to show up on lots of local North Shore menus. Plans to do tastings at several Boston venues are also already underway. This is all happening now and it's very exciting.  In fact, this post was supposed to wait until we were ready to "go live" but with the recent additions to her client list, I needed to leak this now, so you can ask for her goodies at an ever-growing list of clients.

The sugar superstars in Reba's repertoire include:

Reba is currently accepting new restaurant clients and can be reached at:  Email Sweet Reebs

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Franklin Cape Ann Just Can't Miss

I know I'm guilty of RAVING about this place more than once, but it's never, ever let me down. You should go and when you do, you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Since it's opening in 2000, the Franklin Cape Ann has never failed to delight my palette. The service is top notch. The menu changes quarterly, encompassing new twists and old favorites and always balanced and inventive. Like a visit from old friends, I am always thrilled to see a dish from seasons past make an appearance for a spell. Last visit it was the Butternut Squash Ravioli with toasted pine nuts that surprised me on the new menu. I've missed this dish. In fact, I was so excited to cut into it that I didn't take a picture and you know I NEVER don't take a picture. Yep, like that.

Here are some shots of the tasty treats we had before I broke into the ravioli. AMAZING Tuna Tartar (a major go-to), Mushroom Mac and Cheese and the BEST Eggplant Stack you'll ever eat (I HATE eggplant and I love this dish - oh, the basil and the cauliflower).

I washed it all down with a lovely, rich Truchard Cabernet, another Franklin go-to. 

And speaking of the dressing around the dishes, Franklin Cape Ann has some upcoming sweet news that you should be looking out for. I'm a super savory girl, so I tend to go hard on the apps and entrees and drink my dessert. For those who save room for some sugar, stay tuned for some very cool changes to the Franklin dessert menu that will give you even more reason to go often.

Ok, now call and make a reservation.  


FAT Tuesday is upon us, and looks like Boston is all about the beef

Funny how many burger stories I've gotten this week. Apparently, we are OVER Christmas guilt. I'm finally in enough of a gym groove to be able to open the food files without feeling deprived. I exercise in the name of eats and drinks. But with Lent on it's way, or, more accurately, that fast and furious grind toward a swim suit vacation, I'm planning an occasional blast out on the Fat Tuesday indulgence before putting the nutritional nose to the proverbial piyo pavement. 
This is what's on my radar for when I take a break from clean eats:

The Beast at Wahlburgers

As detox January winds down and with Fat Tuesday upon us, it’s time to get back to enjoying REAL food. In celebration of Fat Tuesday (or for some, the last feast!), Wahlburgers introduces a burger you can truly sink your teeth into - The Beast. Comfort food at its best, this beast of a burger starts with two 5oz. burger patties topped with pulled pork, house made blue cheese sauce, lettuce, tomato and finished with house made pickles and BBQ sauce served on a fresh baked potato bun. 

For those looking to truly indulge in the Fat Tuesday spirit, Wahlburgers offers a variety of boozy frappes such as the Funky Monkey - a creamy blend of Strawberry ice cream, vanilla vodka, Creme de Banana and Creme de Cocoa, and the Lemon Meringue Pie - vanilla ice cream, lemon vodka, coconut vodka and lemon juice. 

Fuddruckers Reading Fat Tuesday Burger CHALLENGE

Love burgers? Enough to eat a 3-pound burger in one sitting?!

Fuddruckers Reading is hosting a special event for Fat Tuesday (2/9), 3-Pound Burger Challenge. 

For only $19.99 you get a 3-pound burger, 1-pound of Fudd fries and a bottomless Coca Cola beverage! 

If you finish the 3-pound burger and fries in one hour, you will receive the following:
  • 2 free meals toward a future visit
  • 1 free t-shirt stating your victory 
  • Undeniable respect from friends, family and colleagues 

24 hour notice required. Call to make a reservation, (781) 942-4891.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Loving Alchemy Again

Ryan and I hit up Alchemy Bistro in Gloucester the other night, meeting my darling foodie nephew Zachary for some midweek nosh at his place of employment. 

For those who are new followers, I was once the AGM at Alchemy and later the DOM of the company that owns Alchemy, Serenitee Restaurant Group before moving on to the agency scene. It was a delicious time in my life and Alchemy, the group's flagship, eatery has always held a special place in my heart. 

In fact, my connection to the space dates to long before it was Alchemy. In the days of my youth, it was the Glass Sailboat, a natural foods cafe and grocery (*opened in 1977, it was one of the first in the state because Gloucester has always been just a tad bit hipper than most) where I worked in college during summer and winter breaks. This happy, hippie little spot on 3 Duncan Street has a magical connection to my life, and now my godchild works there. Perfect.

Our visit was the first in quite some time, as the restaurant has for several years been going through something of an identity crisis. Alchemy has been reworked too many times to count, both as the 100 faces of Alchemy and for a very brief stint (2 weeks?) as Pignoli following a 6 month closure to create this new concept and then, like a freaky flash, back to Alchemy it went.  During this series of reincarnations, it was very difficult to get attached. Items we tried and loved one week would be gone the next. I suspect I'm not the only Alchemy enthusiast who waited with frustration and anticipation for her to settle back into who she was, a quirky little eatery with locally sourced outside-the-box dishes that you quickly learn to love and could trust to be there for you. I think it's finally happening.
We had sampled the Farmer's Picnic Board at the recent Taste of Cape Ann, so we had it firmly on our radar and it did not disappoint. Loaded to the edges of this gorgeous recovered wood serving platter, the quantity and quality of the contents of this sharing appetizer make it a culinary home run - and something we will certainly return for often. Pork rillette, chicken liver mousse, mortadella, and a glorious pork terrine represented on the charcuterie side. Mounds of  Jasper Hill Farms Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese, Grafton Village's  5 Year Cheddar and Old Chatham Brie filled the cheese lover's portion. All of these protein perfections were nestled among piles of house made orange marmalade, pickled carrots and peppers and coarse ground mustard providing endless flavor possibilities and enthusiastic sharing of suggested combinations. 

Sharing platters, well envisioned and executed, naturally evoke that beautiful, purposeful breaking of bread - and the best kind of dining experience - the sharing of a meal, the camaraderie of the cafe. Add wine pairing, here we sampled solid selections of Chateau Ste Michelle Merlot, The Show Pinot Noir, Saumur Chenin Blanc  and you have a sensory safari, highlighting in their own unique and powerful way, the flavors of the board, and offering even more opportunity to talk gastronomy. 

For an entree we split -  for the number that farm board had done on our appetites - the Long Island Duck Breast with roasted mushrooms risotto, Brussels sprout leaves & pomegranate gastrique. It was magnificent. So much rich flavor in the duck, brightness in the sauce and nutty bitterness of the Brussels made for a plate best described as simply symphonic.

Zachary indulged in the house ground burger with bacon and bleu, worth mentioning for two reasons. First, free range beef tastes like nothing else and Alchemy has been rocking the best burger in town for the longest time because they were early adopters of this food phenom. Try it, you'll never look as factory farm beef again. Secondly, the burger has heavenly slices of that Bayley Hazen Bleu which is one of the most delicious things you can put in your mouth. Plus add bacon and this is THE BURGER you want.

We didn't leave room for dessert, though our server assured us that the Semifreddo is a treat we must come back for and we will. We did indulge in one of the restaurant's very creative cocktails (they're name says it all - Alchemy is sorta famous for their mixology). The Hemingway Daiquiri was a luscious and potent potable comprised of locally made Privateer rum, Luxardo maraschino liquor, fresh lime and red grapefruit. It took my breath away in the best possible way.

This midweek visit was no ordinary date night, it was food as an experience, and my favorite way to eat. Satiated with sustenance and hydration, we left happy and hopeful that Alchemy has finally gotten it's groove back. Serenitee decision-makers , if you are listening, please don't change anything.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holiday Family Theater at The Larcom - so much good, clean fun

Quick shout out from the folks at GimmeLive about some fun, family shows happening this weekend at the lovely Larcom Theater in Beverly, MA. My daughter and her fellow YMCA Teen Leaders will be volunteering as elves at Saturday's show.  A portion of the proceeds goes to the YMCA of the North Shore. Tickets are still available for both shows, so click away for some good clean fun for the whole family.

TIME7:00PM(Doors 6:00PM)
Larcom Theatre
13 Wallis Street
Beverly, MA 01915
Venue Details
OPENERBrian King &
Nathan Cohen

$19, $29, $39

TIME11:00AM (Doors 10:30AM)
Larcom Theatre
13 Wallis Street
Beverly, MA 01915
Venue Details
$20, $25

Monday, November 23, 2015

Funk Fest is Back - Beverly Music Bonanza is Bigger and Better!

Sharing this press release from Seth McNally at M.E. Productions about the hottest, hippest night of music this year. Get your tickets to the 2nd Annual Beverly Funk and Blues Festival and dance off that Thanksgiving Turkey with some groovy music guaranteed to make you "shake everything you got".  The lineup includes some of my very favorite people, both on
and off stage, folks like John Iltis, Brandon Tarricone, Henley Douglas, Jr.,and Dennis Monagle who are some of the coolest cats I know. Most of these guys play in several bands, so even if you don't know them by name, you have probably heard them rock out nasty good music in local bands like Krewe de Groove, Safe Ty, GrooveTherapy,The Peter Fedele Trio and so many more. The event is sponsored by Salem Jazz and Soul Festival .

The show is on Saturday, November 28th at the Historic Cabot Theater in Beverly,MA formerly the home of Le Grand David Magic Show, and now reborn as a nonprofit entertainment complex.  DUDE - if it's anything like last year, which was JAM PACKED with tunes, I'd HIT THIS LINK NOW for tickets. 

Here's the 411, plus some video links to some of the musicians. Give a look and listen, and then get your seat. This is big...

Last year's Funk Fest was off the hook, so we decided to make it an annual show!  We brought together the best musicians & coolest cats in Boston's Funk scene for a Monster show; Barrence Whitfield, HDRnB w/ Phunky guests, & Qwill...

Beverly's own local hero and international icon, BARRENCE WHITFIELD is putting together a rockin' set with The Grits & Groceries Orchestra. Winner of seven Boston music awards, Barrence is a full-throttle soul screamer in the spirit of Little Richard, Wilson Pickett and Solomon Burke.  He has been described as the owner of one incredible pair of lungs, with limitless energy and unmatched enthusiasm for his music and his audience. For the better part of two decades, Whitfield has sustained that energy, bringing his yowling brand of classic and roots rock ’n’ roll from New England’s working-class stages to the summer festivals of Europe and Japan with a rotating cast of backing musicians.

Barrence also performs regularly with local greats the Grits & Groceries Orchestra who recently performed a New England tour with George Thorogood and the Destroyers. The Grits and Groceries Orchestra consists of Robert Lyons (Tenor sax), Charlie O’neal (guitar), John Anthony (Bass) and Kemp Dunn (Drums).
HENLEY DOUGLAS RnB returns this year with very phunky guests Sarah Seminski (of The Nephrok! All Stars & Sarah and the Wild Versatile), Garret Savluk (Boston Horns), & Yahuba Torres (formerly Ryan Montbleau band). They blew the roof off the house last year with a super high energy set, and we expect nothing less this year.

QWILL aka Jesse Ciarmataro: Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer currently based in Salem. He is putting together a live band that will open the night with music that fuses a wide spectrum of influences from Soul, Modern Jazz, Hip Hop, Roots, and Rock.