Category Archives: Foodie Fun

Chowder Greatness: River House

Portsmouth NH’s River House Restaurant should be on your must-try list if you would like to enjoy some of the best seafood chowder in the region. I have had the pleasure of dining at this quaint establishment a few times over the past few years and was always met with consistent chowder greatness, no matter the season ~ an impressive feat for any restaurant.

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I remember the first time I walked into the River House. It was a late-winter afternoon peppered with light, feathery snow showers that showcased giant tongue-catching flakes. Downtown Portsmouth is beautiful any time of year, but that day, a coating of glimmering white kisses made it feel electric.  My husband and I wandered up Bow Street under a giant umbrella, looking for a warm spot and cold beer. We chose the River House, a new place in the neighborhood at 53 Bow.

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We ordered the seafood chowder with a cold beer after briefing the menu and chatting with the warm staff. What a delight we found! I consider myself a bit of a chowder snob, since I make a damn great one myself, not to mention that I try the house chowder (if it is on the menu), almost everywhere I go. But this creamy, dreamy bowl of succulent sweetness was downright delicious.

It was so good, in fact, that we went back by the River House the next day to get a quart-to-go to enjoy at home. I had to prove to myself that it wasn’t the magical atmosphere of a snowy afternoon in Portsmouth that made the chowder taste so good. Nope. It wasn’t magic, it was simply great. Ever since that day, every time I am in Portsmouth, I visit the River House for their fantastic chowder.

RIVERHOUSE CHOWDER

My last visit, on a quiet Monday night, cemented my affection for the place and prompted this review.

The A-frame chalkboard standing guard outside the front door announced that the deck was opening in 4, no – cross that out, 3 more days! I love deck dining and I liked the enthusiasm the tiny sign shouted, especially after a long winter.

Inside, I sat at the bar and ordered the seafood chowder and a cold Sam Adams Summer Ale. The girls working the bar I chatted with were funny, engaging and genuine. The seafood chowder…delicious, as always, served with Westminster Oyster Crackers. Another hit for me.

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Portsmouth, NH has a lot to offer in the way of restaurants, shopping, entertainment and fun. For those who wish to enjoy a warm, creamy, seafood-filled bowl of heaven, accompanied by an ice-cold beer while visiting this beautiful port-city, the River House is the place for you. Come meet the friendly staff, eat some great food and peer out over the handsome Piscataqua River. I have never regretted my visits there and you won’t either.

Dole & Bailey: Seafood Masters with a Cause

On March 2, 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a very special event at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) in beautiful Boston, MA for Fish & Men, a Feature Documentary. This film explores the changing fishing industry while attempting to help the consumer, the environment and most importantly, the fishermen, according to filmmakers Adam Richard Jones and Darby Duffin.

BCAE

Roger Berkowitz, President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods moderated the event and highlighted the main topic: “A Conversation about Spawning a Sustainable Future”. Delicious, sustainable seafood was provided by Northeast Oceans and prepared by the outstanding chefs at Dole & Bailey, which was served after the 1 ½ hour long informative discussion and viewing of the Fish & Men film trailer.

Fish & Men

The purpose of the event was to have a discussion about the sustainability of the American Fishing Industry and how we all can stand with Fish & Men to preserve the oceans, fish, our fishermen and fishing communities, together spawning a movement to create a sustainable future for all! ~ (See review of the event here).

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Ed Brylczyk, Corporate Chef for Dole & Bailey, and his team put together a wonderful assortment of sustainable seafood apps to drive home the point that under-utilized, locally caught, sustainable seafood can indeed be delicious, nutritious and desired by American consumers. Served with local drinks provided by Polar Beverages and Peak Organic Brewing Company, it was a successful evening:

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Smoked Bluefish Deviled Eggs: Slight smoky with a smooth texture on a perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg. Great starter.

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Oysters 2-Ways: Pumpkin Seed Pesto Encrusted and Raw on the half-shell with a tart and sweet Oniony sauce for dipping.

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Rhode Island Squid stuffed with Chorizo: Expertly cooked Squid that was an al-dente two-bite piece of heaven with slightly spicy chorizo stuffing.

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Boston Blue Pollock (caught in Gloucester that morning) Casserole with Butternut Squash Risotto: Sweet, buttery and flaky…the star of the night (I want more, Ed!)

Beverages were supplied by Polar Beverages with assorted flavors available and Peak Organic Brewing Company providing full-bottle samples of their Nut Brown Ale, IPA, and Pale Ales. Delish!

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What hit hard with me was that the food presented to the attendees was made with locally caught, sustainable and under-utilized seafood, not imported seafood like 91% of the seafood Americans consume.

Spreading the word about what is available, nutritious and desirable in the consumer’s minds can change the current broken supply chain into an ideal supply chain that works better.

Fish-Supply-Chain

One person who believes in this mission is Spencer C. Montgomery who through the Slow Food Network has brought under-utilized seafood into 8 schools in NH. He caught the ear of local chef Gary Weiss, Executive Chef at Cooley-Dickinson Hospital who thinks the program would do well in hospitals. I not only agree, but to see this mindset expanded into Retirement Homes, prisons, Universities or other public arenas (like sporting events or food festivals) would help the movement greatly.

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The Seafood Masters at Dole & Bailey have proven that they can prepare appetizing and flavorsome food using locally caught, under-utilized and sustainable seafood that can affordably feed America without using imported seafood (which is partly to blame for slowly killing the American Fishing Industry), supporting a great cause.

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The event was a complete triumph, and so was the food. Call Dole & Bailey and try some today!

~Photos courtesy of Dole & Bailey Instagram account

~To Donate to the Fish & Men‘s mission, please click here.

~To partake in the many culinary and educational classes and events at the BCAE, please click here.

Fish & Men: A Feature Documentary for Us All

On March 2, 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a very special event at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) in beautiful Boston, MA for Fish & Men: A Feature Documentary. This film explores the changing fishing industry while attempting to help the consumer, the environment and most importantly, the fishermen, according to filmmakers Adam Richard Jones and Darby Duffin.

Roger Berkowitz, President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods moderated the event and highlighted the main topic: “A Conversation about Spawning a Sustainable Future”. Delicious, sustainable seafood was provided by Northeast Oceans and prepared by the outstanding chefs at Dole & Bailey, which was served after the 1 ½ hour long informative discussion and viewing of the Fish & Men film trailer.

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The giant takeaway from the event for me was the statistic that 91% of all the seafood Americans eat is imported, with only 1% of that seafood inspected by the FDA. Incredible! Especially considering I live in New England and I eat a lot of seafood.

Through their research and posted on the Fish & Men website, Jones and Duffin found that even in coastal towns, fish consumed in most restaurants and in schools is imported from foreign countries thousands of miles away after being frozen, processed, refrozen and thawed. Meanwhile, healthy fish that might be sustainably fished from thousands of miles of pristine US coastlines are being suppressed.

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The most important issue, as Fish & Men points out, is that while scientists are struggling to count fish and conservationists are trying to save them, America’s oldest fishing community ~ Gloucester, is dying! And with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) imposing a 78% reduction in cod quotas last year and the Federal Government closing the Gulf of Maine in November of 2014, reversing the trend of suppressing American fishing looks daunting.

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Jones pointed out during the event’s conversation that the “great American fish-swap is a determent to our own fishing industry”, with Duffin adding that the current American fishing industry is a “Tale of Two Tunas”, referring to the facts that what is allowed to be caught in the US is mostly exported for processing and then imported back. This must change to keep the American Fishing Industry alive, perhaps using aquaculture, other preservation and sustainability methods and fixing the broken supply chain.

Infographic of “current” supply chain and the “ideal” supply chain:

Fish-Supply-Chain

The focus of the conversation then turned to how sustainable seafood  and under-utilized species of fish can be sourced locally for consumption. The Fish & Men film depicts how American consumer choices impacts markets and how change in attitudes toward sustainable can drive change, while saving jobs and protecting the marine environment.

The food presented to attendees after the moderated discussion was proof that it could be done.

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Ed Brylczyk, Corporate Chef for Dole & Bailey, and his team put together a wonderful assortment of sustainable seafood apps to drive home the point that under-utilized seafood can indeed be delicious, served with local drinks provided by Polar Beverages and Peak Organic Brewing Company (see food review here).

In the end, my eyes were opened up wide concerning the plight of the American Fishing Industry, what and how seafood is brought to my table and how things can, and must, change.

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The Fish & Men: A Feature Documentary film is due out this October, hoping to be presented at National film festivals held throughout America. Please take a moment to learn about the current crisis with the American Fishing Industry and how we all can stand with Fish & Men to preserve the oceans, fish, our fishermen and fishing communities. As Fish & Men demonstrates, together we can spawn a movement to create a sustainable future for all!

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Donations to support this film and its mission can be made here: https://squareup.com/market/fishandmen (please click “donate”).

Thank you for your support!

 

Jaime’s Restaurant: A Hidden Gem

Hunting for a hidden gem, I went to Jaime’s Restaurant located in the beautiful and historic Davis & Furber Mills at 25 High Street in North Andover, Mass. On my  visit there, I had the pleasure of talking with one of the owners, Jaime Faria, who has tirelessly run the restaurant with business partner Wally Santos since November 2010. Along with its collaborative and fresh menu, dedicated staff, cool-vibe atmosphere and great beers on tap, Jaime’s Restaurant is well worth seeking out.

Jaime's Blackboards

As you work your way inside the refurbished machine shop mill to Jaime’s, you are met with high, industrial ceilings and brick and mortar walls, evidence of the wool industry in North Andover that lasted from the late-1800s until the 1980s. Sprinkled throughout the restaurant hang giant blackboards with colorful chalk displays of the menu and specials offered. An inviting atmosphere.

Jaime's Deck

The main dining room has casual seating with a semi-private area for special events or parties, but the bar is the star! As you walk past the open kitchen, the bar wraps around the large  room with seating for dozens of customers. Rock music plays at a conversational level and there are several TV’s to catch the game of the day. There’s even outdoor seating for warmer weather dining, which is nestled in between brick buildings.

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Although the restrooms are in a common area, the view of the original machine shop gears and flywheels painted bright red adds to the appeal of the building and the restaurant’s ambiance.

        nbt aleJaime's Potatoes

 When I sat down at the bar, I was met with a bowl of handmade potato chips served with a tangy and addictive chipotle-ranch dressing. I munched on the kettle-style chips as I cruised the menu, which is changed seasonally.

Jaime's Rolls My choice for food included Sesame Crusted Tuna Ahi, Vegetable Spring Rolls and Chicken Tinga Quesadillas, served with a cold and delicious Newburyport Pale Ale. The Tuna Ahi was thickly cut with generous slices cooked perfectly, served with an Asian slaw and wasabi. A liberal portion of spring rolls was crispy with snappy veggies inside, along with a tasty ginger dipping sauce. The quesadilla was grilled and large enough for three with succulent chicken, spinach and blended cheeses melted together in harmony, dotted with a cilantro crema. Delightful.

Jaime's Beer

North Andover has many dining establishments to choose from, as well as a few good hang-outs for locals, but none compares to the coolness of this well-loved place. The deck will be open in the spring, and I am looking forward to going back to dine outside under the stars and to converse with the regulars. I suggest the next time you are looking for a hidden gem, no matter what season, think of Jaime’s Restaurant. You will not be disappointed.

Bravo Avocado!

 I love avocados. They are my favorite fruit. Creamy and buttery with a subtle but complex earthy flavor. Delicious. When I was younger, I used get so excited when the dark, ripe fruits were available in my local market, after waiting months during the winter absence. Oh the joy of those first few fabulous fruits of the season. That was twenty years ago and a lot has changed since then. Today, thanks to the year-round growing season in Mexico and the creation of the Haas Avocado Board in 2002, these tasty little darlings are available to the average shopper any time of year.

Although I am a big fan of the succulent fruit, not everyone enjoys eating them.  It has been a challenge creating new ways of incorporating the wonderful avocado into my weekly meal plans that are appealing and tasty. Usually avocados are relegated to the role of guacamole side-kick or chip-dip. The new animated commercial from the AvocadosFromMexico.com created a cute dancing avocado TV commercial to show that avocados can be eaten for BREAKFAST:

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7fte/avocados-from-mexico-rise-and-shine

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Now, I have been eating avocados for breakfast for many years, like millions of people world-wide. But for those who never thought of eating avocados in anything else but guacamole, this sticks-in-your-mind, pretty ditty sends home the message to try something simple like avocados on wheat toast with a little salt for breakfast. It is just wonderful marketing.

At the end of the 15 second spot, the call to action is to visit avocadosfrommexico.com website, which I did to check out their other marketing efforts. They have nutritional information, extensive recipe listing, prep tips and delicious celebrity guest shots (read: Mario Lopez), all promoting the greatness that is the avocado.

If this short but sweet TV spot can change one person’s mind to try an avocado, either for breakfast or by itself, then it has done its job. I personally think that this type of marketing will broaden the reach and awareness of the amazing avocado, and sharpen focus on the Avocados from Mexico brand. Bravo avocado!

I was motivated to write about the effective ad and post my favorite breakfast recipe in solidarity with other avocado lovers everywhere. These easy to make Popeyes are delicious and good for you. ..give them a try!

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Scrumptious Avo Popeyes

  • Per person:
  • 3 slices fresh, ripe avocado
  • 2 slices cooked bacon (preferably maple flavor
  • 1 slice of your favorite bread
  • 1 large egg, 1 slice ripe tomato (preferably plum)
  • A few baby spinach leaves
  • Butter spray
  • ———————-
  • With each piece of bread, remove a half-dollar size hole (set aside holes for another use).
  • Put some spray in a skillet and turn up to medium heat.
  • Put the bread (with a hole in it) in the skillet to toast.
  • While the bread is toasting, crack open an egg and gently drop it into the hole in the bread.
  • Once bread is toasted, gently flip over to cook the egg on the other side.
  • Remove from the skillet when the egg is done and place on a plate, egg side up.
  • On top of the egg, put a few baby spinach leaves.
  • On top of the spinach, place a slice of tomato.
  • On top of the tomato, put 2 slices of bacon.
  • And the best part…place 3 slices of avocado on top of the whole Popeye.
  • Eat and Enjoy!

 

KFC Chicken Corsage…Why Stop There?

As I prepared for my son’s Senior Prom, I started looking on the internet for a corsage for his date. I came across one of the funniest and most intriguing corsages I have ever seen: The KFC Chicken Corsage.

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Yes, that’s right! A corsage that is made with a chicken drumstick as the centerpiece. The two-minute advertisement that promotes this new item is purposely awkward as the pretty date receives an “Original Recipe” drumstick, surrounded by baby’s breath on a wristlet. The girl replies that the corsage “smells so good”.  Oh my!  Too funny.  At the prom, when the boy closes in on the girl for a kiss, she leans over and takes a bite out of the drumstick corsage instead. It is a quirky, but very creative marketing stunt!

The Kentucky based KFC joined forces with local florist Nanz and Kraft to create the Limited Edition KFC Chicken Corsage for a mere $20.00, which is less than what the smallest wristlet corsage cost in my neighborhood. Don’t fret…if your date prefers Extra Crispy or Grilled Chicken, it can be made! How is it possible that the chicken will be fresh? When you order the corsage, it comes as a kit. According to the florist’s website:

“Chicken not included (duh.). Each corsage kit includes a $5 KFC gift check, so you can customize your corsage with Original Recipe, Extra Crispy or Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Whichever best matches her dress. Local corsages will have fresh baby’s breath and out-of-town corsages will have silk baby’s breath.”

 Choosing chicken that “best matches her dress” is a riot! The language is consistent between the florist’s website and KFC’s, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. As of today, the first 100 Limited Edition KFC Chicken Corsages were SOLD OUT. A second batch of 100 is now available “due to the popularity of poultry”.  Whew! I was worried for a moment.

 

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This effective marketing campaign got me thinking about how KFC can expand on the edible prom accessories theme. Maybe next year they can offer a KFC French Fry Boutonniere, the KFC Chicken Tenders Necklace with Dipping-Sauce Locket, cool KFC Hot Wings Earrings, or perhaps the KFC Biscuit Bowtie.  This way both boys AND girls can eat their accoutrements.

KFC

Why stop there? KFC can propose a KFC-Wrapper Prom Dress Contest. You know…the best dress made with KFC food wrappers will get an all-expenses paid prom night. People who are talented enough to make a dress out of KFC wrappers would go crazy for a contest like that. Talk about exposure.

Or KFC can expand into edible arrangements for proms, weddings and special events. Can you imagine a giant edible chicken finger arrangement, dotted with other KFC products on a stick, as the centerpiece? If a chicken corsage sells out, then why not expand on the idea to include other ways to sell KFC products. It is way-out concepts like this that made the KFC Chicken Corsage a success.

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If KFC would like to hear some more of my possible marketing ideas, I am open and willing to work with KFC’s Marketing Agency: Quantum Communications (QtheAgency), or with KFC themselves. I like their Wilder way of thinking!

Dine Out Boston! Restaurant Week Continues

In Boston and surrounding suburbs, 200-ish restaurants take part in the Restaurant Week promotion run by the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Twice a year, for two weeks of weekdays in March and August, participating restaurants offer fixed-priced meals. For the last 13 years, this promotion has run successfully. According to the sponsored website for Boston’s Restaurant Week, after a much-needed makeover, the name changed to Dine Out Boston.

Boston

This year, a new feature was added to the promotion. Three pricing tiers are offered: Lunch $15/$20/$25 and Dinner $28/$33/$38. This expands the promotion’s reach into a larger consumer market with more affordable choices at Greater Boston top restaurants. That is good news for participating restaurants to get greater exposure, and good news for foodies that can now afford to sample some of Boston’s finest cuisines.

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Dine Out Boston has also joined with the Freedom Trail Foundation as a charitable partner. All participating restaurants donate $100 gift certificates that are auctioned off through DOBauction.com to benefit programs run by the Foundation which creates the “most successful ideas for how to experience American history”. A copacetic arrangement.

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One other benefit for diners is the American Express bonus offer. Each enrolled card receives a $5 credit on any purchase over $21. An easy task with a lunch for two at one of the many choice restaurants participating. Offerings include many different cuisines in Boston and surrounding towns, all of which are sure to delight.

Getting word out about the promotion is spread through the Restaurant Week Boston website, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, a  very funny YouTube video, Google +  and Instagram accounts, Pinterest interest and a huba-huba blog.

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This blog links readers to frequently updated content and encourages comments and interaction. Since the promotion is currently ongoing (March 16-21 & 23-28), the social media penetration is deep and engaging.

For all those who always wanted to get a taste of spectacular cooking from some of the finest chefs in Boston at can’t-pass-up prices, give Restaurant Week a try. Dine Out Boston!