Friday, April 3, 2015

Harbor Cafe is a Detour Worth Taking

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer amero

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroMy new agency gig has a totally different focus and client base than the B2C luxury and hospitality work I've been into for most of my career. My days are spent working some very cool clients with much bigger marketing budgets, but with no focus on sustenance, at least not yet.  I love, love, love my job but I do miss setting up wine dinners and blogger nights and designing menus and creating loyalty programs just a little bit. 

So  I was particularly interested in the opportunity to do some promotion and design work for this amazing local breakfast and lunch spot that suffered a devastating blow exactly one day before opening. This one is totally my kind of project.

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroHere's the unfortunate situation, and the motivation for this article (that and some of the best food I have ever eaten, seriously).  Harbor Cafe in Danvers, MA opened on December 5.  On December 4 the bridge that passes by the venue's door, under repair when the property was being prepared to open, was deemed dangerous and abruptly and completely closed for months with a promise to be partially open in  6 months, with another 4
years to be fully functioning. The closure has erased all drive-by traffic to the tune of 40,000 cars weekly for a projected four years. Harbor Cafe's customer base vanished with the road, before their doors had even opened.  

Now, that may have crushed many owners and caused them to cut and run, but what's unique about Harbor Cafe, aside from incredible scratch cooking and baking, is it's owner and her ability to overcome difficulties again and again. 
harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer amero

You see, owner Ariana Musabelli's story is a colorful one, one that always lands her on her feet, in the kitchen, making bread, and cannolli.

Originally from Albania, Ariana was an optician in Europe. Arriving in America 22 years ago, she first needed to learn the language in order to practice in her field of optometry. Upon mastering the language, another road block appeared. Medical law required that she go back to school for optometry before practicing in the United States. So back to college she went, for a repeat degree in optometry, which she completed. Ariana isn't intimidated by obstacles.
harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer amero

And speaking of obstacles, and the fruits of a good personal challenge, one of Ariana's biggest disappointments upon arriving in the US, aside from the language and the obstacles of re-entering the work force was the processed cuisine. "Everything tasted different. I couldn't find food that tasted real. So I started making my own yogurt and my own bread".

A need to recreate the flavors of home inspired Ariana's culinary education and planted the seed for her path to today. "I'm self taught. It's just me and the books."

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroAnd after moving back and forth in and out of optics and a brief stint in real estate, opening and selling 2 other successful north shore eateries, Ariana has
given in to her love of cooking and found her home at the Harbor Cafe in Danvers, MA. 

Harbor Cafe is a once-and-regular situation. You eat here once, you become a regular. The food is so flavorful, the dishes just so meticulously balanced that the same items served elsewhere will be a let down. And so, you'll be back.  

Ariana spends endless hours baking homemade breads and sweets to compliment her
harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroscrumptious breakfast and lunch offerings all made with the freshest ingredients. Her love of food and of serving her regulars is infectious and her warmth as palpable in her greeting as in her culinary creations, "I love my regulars. And once they come in they become regulars. Harbor Cafe is like coming home"

From comfort food to healthy choices, you can't miss when you eat here. My favorites are the veggie panini and the panini Genovese, there's just something about the homemade pesto and the melty buffalo mozzarella that tastes like happiness. The Chicken Parmesan is another go-to dish and serves enough to guarantee leftovers which is always a win in my book.
harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer amero

And speaking of size, be sure to ask for a box if you DO get full, because Harbor  Cafe also offers gelato, cannolli, homemade donuts and all sorts of other scratch baked sweet treats, and you definitely want to save room for dessert.

So I'd like to introduce my readers to Harbor Cafe, a culinary gem in the world of lunch counter simplicity. It's a bit of a circuitous trip, with the Liberty Street Bridge under construction, but I assure you, it is worth making your way. We manage to incorporate it into somebody's errands almost weekly to have a reason to run from Saugus to Danvers to grab lunch for the team. Ariana loves making beautiful food. We love eating it. The drive is just an extra 10 minutes to get hungry.

The Yelp reviews are some of the most consistently exuberantly positive I've ever seen. Even the coffee is the best around according to commuters who felt strongly enough about good java to yelp that. Everything at Harbor Cafe is THAT GOOD.

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroAriana sums it up best, that undeniably special taste that comes from food made with soul and heart, "Making good food takes time. But it is worth it. I love it. I love making people happy. That's my pleasure."

Harbor Cafe is located at 
125 Liberty St, Danvers, MA 01923 
Hours: Mon-Sat 6-3PM and Sunday 6-2PM
Website by Jake Haynes at Maximum Media

Their brand new website
(by Jake Haynes at Maximum Media)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thinking about summer and music festivals and anything EXCEPT winter dancing to Wii

Ok, sorta random but anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to dance and there's no place better to dance than at a show, to live music. Endless rounds of Just Dance 3, 4, 24, and a boatload of pre-dawn Zumba have kept me adequately endorphin-even and moderately groove-satisfied through the winter, but there's nothing like shaking what I got at some fun live show.

Done, done, done with the never-ending winter, I'm lining up my concert tickets now so I have a musical long-view of hope and beats right into the summer. 

90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015Here's what I've got locked in so far. Big and little, funk and blues and reggae and hippy rock. It's all over the place but it's shaping up to be a very musical spring and summer. If there's anything I missed, do give me a shout. I hate to miss out on anything cool.

90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015

90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015Big 'Ol Dirty Bucket at Spotlight Tavern, Salem
Friday, April 3rd
BODB at Spotlight Tavern

90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015Little Feat and New Orleans Suspects at Larcom Theater, Beverly, MA
Saturday, April 11th

Little Feat at Larcom Theater

Crosby,  Stills and Nash at the Wang Theater, Boston, MA
Tuesday, May 19th
CSN at the Wang

Boston Calling Music Festival (with Beck and Tenacious D), City Hall Plaza, Boston
May 22nd - May 24th

The Wailers & Rusted Root at Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH
Thursday, June 11th
90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015Wailers and Rusted Root at Casino Ballroom

Byfield Music Festival, Byfield, MA
Saturday, June 27
Byfield Music Festival

Leonard Skynard at Meadowbrook, NH
Saturday, June 27th

Leonard Synard at Meadowbrook

311 at Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH
Monday, July 20th
311 at Casino Ballroom

Gathering of the Vibes 2015, Bridgeport, CT
Thursday, July 31st -Sunday, August  2nd
Gathering of the Vibes at Seaside Park

Sunday, March 29, 2015

This One is for my Funky Hippy Friends - You Can Have it All

Seth Mcnally of M.E. Productions shares the info on the April 11th Little Feat/New Orleans Suspects Show in Beverly, MA 
Get Your Dixie Funk Boogie On

Beverly, MA. M.E. Productions is excited to present The New Orleans Suspects with Little Feat’s Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett at the Larcom Theatre on Saturday, April 11th at 8pm. The Suspects are known as a NOLA supergroup, and Barrere & Tackett as multi instrumental jam pioneers. The night will culminate with a full set of the music of Little Feat. Tickets for this concert start at $35.

Music of the Big Easy. It’s as American as apple pie--and rock ‘n roll itself. It transcends boundaries, a freewheeling fusion of California rock, Dixie-inflected roots, and country-fried funk and boogie. For one night only, New Orleans Suspects will join forces with Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat. Don't miss a rare and intimate show with the men who continue to bring you Little Feat(on an ‘ indefinite hiatus’), and a NOLA superband. Yep, we said it…superband.

The New Orleans Suspects formed in summer of 2011 in the wake of the breakup of The Radiators after 34 years. The band comprises some of the best, most highly respected players in New Orleans.

The night will begin with a set from Barrere & Tackett, then The New Orleans Suspects will perform a full set of their own material. If that wasn't enough, the two groups will join forces at the end of the night for a crowd pleasing set of Little Feat tunes.

“We have so many great shows on the North Shore…but we’re pretty excited about this one. It’s going to be FUN,” say Seth McNally of M.E. Productions. “If you like New Orleans music, or Little Feat, mark your calendar.”

Tickets to see NOLA Suspects with Barrere and Tackett are $30, $35, and $40 for premier seating.

For tickets and more information visit or call 978-525-9093.

**Artist Interviews Available. Media Coverage requested. RSVP necessary**

Friday, March 27, 2015

Can Your Kid Cook, Like REALLY Cook? Rachel Ray may need an introduction

One of the things I like most about writing this little blog is all the super cool stuff that PR agents and casting agents and restaurateurs and music promoters and designers share with me to share with you. I have wanted to be in the thick of the new, hot and hip since I was a little kid. That's why I do this.

This recent message from Danielle at Jen's Casting (a sweet group that handles so many of my favorite shows on HGTV and Food Network and such) is particularly cool and if you think you might be raising a future James Beard award winner, I'd get in on this. Read on:

Rachael Ray is in search of the most talented kid chefs in the country for Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off, Food Network’s exciting culinary reality series. 
jennifer amero foodie events for kids

We are looking for kids with captivating personalities who believe they’re at the top of their culinary game and want to inspire a Food Network audience through their passion for food and cooking. The winner will receive a grand prize that will help to kick-start their culinary career!

For more information and how to apply, please visit our website at If you have any questions or require further information, please email us at

Like us on Facebook at JS Casting to stay up to date on our most current projects!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Costume Shopping is Free Family Fun, well, mostly free

Julia has March Madness this weekend at her middle school. Each day has a different theme, a costumed theme, in addition to class spirit activities and competitions. It's a super fun positive vibrations part of the school year and a perfectly timed respite from test prepping, as standardized tests start very soon.

Naturally, costumed socialization was right in my 11yo's wheelhouse, and she was busy sketching out her plans as soon as the info dropped. I will never be justified in complaining about her eagerness to engage in theatrical pursuits. It's an apple/tree situation. Proof here Zombies, Prom Queens and One Eyed Sword Throwers

Her last minute follow through is another story. Actually, it's not the follow through but the 11th hour lacking sense of urgency that creates actual urgency on my part, but that's another story, isn't it?

Anyway, she opted to be some sort of anime character, again, for character day. I don't follow anime, but I do know the character is from the show, "Homestuck Trolls", though I am not exactly sure WHAT a Homestuck Troll is. Here's the Wiki Link in case you are just dying to know: Also these are them, right up above. Lots of horns and fangs and gray makeup.

I also knew that it would require a wig which we promptly ordered for only 6.29 on Amazon with free shipping on Amazon Prime, due in 3 days. I flatly rejected the plea for colored contacts. Julia is as enthusiastic as I am, and as thoroughly unrealistic. She is also broke.

The wig never came. A week went by, no wig. I worried if it had been stolen off my steps (we have a nasty issue with UPS thievery these days). Julia inquired, daily and grew more frustrated. Understand that to her, this is the most important thing to ever happen. Whatever she is excited about always is.

Finally and email announcing the item has shipped and will arrive --- 3 weeks after spirit week has come and gone.

Not one to let her down, we rearranged the weekend plan to hunt down the missing piece. An emergency trip to Party City and then to Joker's Wild not only solved our problem, it made for a super hilarious family outing. And it didn't cost us anything, except what we paid for the wig. And lunch. Always find a way to include lunch.

Just thought I'd share in case you were out of ideas for things to do with the funwreckers after a very long winter. Fun, cheap and easy works for me and costume shop people don't get all freaky about kids and about touching the merch. So that's also cool.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My new digs

Hello, is anyone still reading? I wouldn't blame you if you had forgotten about little ole me.

I've been pretty much AWOL since fall.

I've been busy.

I've been wrapping up my freelance business to go in-house at an agency.

I have been moving back to the 9-5.

Find me these days in the Marketing Communications Manager seat at Maximum Media in Saugus. I write content for websites and print ads, radio and television. We are a boutique shop of super creative tech junkies who build hip ad campaigns based on serious data analysis.

We are geeks.

I fit in.

It is so awesome.

I have held on to a few of my clients, those that don't currently compete with our client base, which is heavily automotive and home improvement but as we move into more diversified markets, including, I think/hope with the addition of me, hospitality,

Meantime you can still find me behind the wizard's curtain for M.E.Productions, EnVogue Salon and Treetop Yoga and a few others now and again. But this is the bread and butter these days. It's nice to get out of yoga pants. Now to wear them to yoga.

So now that I'm settled, I'll catch up on all the fun food and travel shenanigans I have been up to a midst the change.

And when we do finally complete the agency's website overhaul (my project for March), I'll share the link so you can see what we do and, perhaps, share it to multi-concept or multi-venue businesses in need of comprehensive advertising services. In the meantime, check us out on Facebook: Maximum Media Facebook and Twitter: Maximum Media Twitter

So thanks, if you can hear me, for listening. I have so much to talk about - eating duck poutine at Duck Fat in Portland, ME,  my new addiction to Bollywood fitness (legit) several new restaurant reviews and a couple more up and coming. Just gotta get back into the blogging swing now that I'm settled, here with my desk full of snacks and 3 sets of readers within arms reach for hours of editing with old old eyes.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Music, Music, Music

I'm SOOOOOOOOOO behind posting anything fun or cool or clever or delicious here because I have been CRAZY busy with new client work and the whole work search deal. 

But the stuff I'm working on is AWESOME. Music. Lots of music. And promoting music is NOT LOUSY. Not at all.

I'll stop cheering now. Can you tell who got a good night sleep? 

So here are a bunch of wicked cool music festivals and shows I'm working on. Funk, Folk, Blues, Jazz. If you have ears, there's something you'll like, legit. And they are all under $40, some under $20. Sometimes for several bad ass musicians for hours of bad ass music. 

I know, pinch me.

The Beverly Rhythm, Funk and Blues Festival
Beverly, MA
About the musicians:
Henley Douglas, master sax-man co-fronts HDRnB (Henley-Douglas Rhythm and Blues) with soulful vocalist Douglas Gimbel , an original R&B/soul/groove band that performs nationwide and always delivers the mega-funk.  This 6 piece ensemble blows the doors off any venue with sax and trombone, backed with some fine percussion and strings. Big sound and funky grooves that keep you dancing all night. That’s HDRnB.

Delta Generators, Henley Douglas, Sarah Seminski, Big Ol' Dirty Bucke,t Yahuba Torres, Ryan Montbleau Band,Garret Savluk, The Boston Horns
The Delta Generators are deeply rooted in Delta and North Mississippi blues. Their sound ranges from roots rock to slow blues, Americana to funky soul. “Get on the Horse” has already been nominated for 2014 Blues Album of the Year by the Independent Music Awards. “The Delta Generators provide…the big blast of fresh air the blues-and-roots scene in the Greater Boston metropolitan area has needed for years.” - Frank-John Hadley, DownBeat columnist

Puerto Rican conga king Yahuba Torres, known best for his talents in The Ryan Montbleau Band heats things up with some jammy Latin rhythms while Sarah "Lil Shrimp" Seminski of Boston based funk outfit Big Ol' Dirty Bucket, belts out some classic funk/Soul and modern Hip Hop/R&B with her powerful pipes. Garret Savluk of The Boston Horns, and formerly of Heavy Metal Horns, bands which he founded with Henley Douglas, Jr. brings his bad-action trumpet sound, rounding out what will definitely be a funk and blues festival that music lovers will be talking about well after the last tune is played.

The show will culminate with a stage jam of all the evening’s performers bringing together the biggest sound in funk, blues and soul you’ll hear this far north of the bayou. Tickets range from $19-$35 each in this intimate venue, so ordering ahead is advised. They definitely won’t last.

Sister Hazel
Plymouth, NH
Friday, December 5
Tickets and information
Hear it yourself
Originating from Gainesville, FL, Sister Hazel is comprised of five gifted, seasoned musicians whose well-spring of natural talent has been called “one of the Top 100 Most Influential Independent Performers of the last 15 years” by Performing Songwriter Magazine.
From a musical perspective, the band has always had the same approach to the creative process. The engine that drives them is based on the fundamental principles that attracted the attention of a major label, garnered hit singles on the radio and endeared them to a legion of avid fans: well-crafted, hook-infused songs complimented by solid instrumentation and lush harmony vocals.

John Hammond
Rockport Music's Shalin Liu
Friday, December 12, 8 PM
Tickets and more information

Here it for yourself
He is one of the most award-winning musicians working today, with a Grammy for his performance on Blues Explosion (1985) and eight Grammy nominations, most recently for Album of the Year for his 2010 release Rough & Tough. At the 2011 Blues Music Awards, Hammond won “Acoustic Artist of the Year,” giving him a total of eight Blues Music Awards and another ten nominations. He has performed or recorded with rock and blues icons like Jimi Hendrix (who was discovered while playing in Hammond’s band), Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Duane Allman, Mike Bloomfield, JJ Cale, Tom Waits, The Band, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John and many more. The word “legend” is overused on performers that come and go, but Mr. Hammond is gracefully entering into this stature at the height of a stellar career.

“John’s sound is so compelling, complete, symmetrical and soulful with just his voice, guitar and harmonica, it is at first impossible to imagine improving it… He’s a great force of nature. John sounds like a big train coming. He chops them all down.” – Tom Waits

Chuck Ragan and The Camaraderie
Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center
Plymouth, NH
Friday, December 12, 8 PM
Tickets and information
Hear it yourself
He's been called "punk-rock's favorite folk hero." Chuck will bring along his band, The Camaraderie, with members Joe Ginsberg (bass), Todd Beene (pedal steel) and Jon Gaunt (fiddle) for his 2014 Winter Haul Tour.

In a musical life that spans close to three decades, Chuck Ragan has consistently worn his heart on his sleeve, and carved out a musical niche in the process. First with post-hardcore trailblazers Hot Water Music and subsequently on his own, he's built a large and singularly powerful body of work whose honesty, immediacy and warmth have won the loyalty of a fiercely devoted international fan base that's supported him through his various musical incarnations. 

rockport music, shalin liu, john hammond, rock, blues, jennifer amero, Henley-Douglas, Big Ole Dirty Bucket, Delta Generators, John Hammond, Chuck Ragan, Sister Hazel, me productions, seth mcnallyAll Shows Presented by M.E. Productions