Your Go To Guide for all things local!

Category: Food

Get Out of the House! 6 Fun Things For March

Myles Standish State Forest

In these days before spring really arrives, it’s so easy to stay on the couch and binge-watch TV episodes. We’re trying to resist that temptation (although This Is Us is very good.) Here we give you 6 fun reasons to get out of the house.

Photo courtesy of Buzzards Bay Coalition

Photo courtesy of Buzzards Bay Coalition

1. Get Fit, and Smart (at the same time)

The Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Wareham Land Trust have partnered to bring us fresh air and history with Wednesday Walkabouts: Historical Tour Series. Take a stroll through four conservation properties and learn about their previous lives as cranberry bogs, iron works and mills. Thanks to Southcoast Health,  these events are free. But you should register online. See how to do that here.

 

 

Photo courtesy Ray Drueke

2. Jazzin’ Around

We know we’ve mentioned the South Coast Jazz Orchestra before. More than once. That’s because they’re that good. Get out and listen to this tremendous group of musicians on either March 13 or March 27 (or both!), hosted by the incomparable Gilda. You will be blown away by their talent. You will also need reservations because the place fills up. Gilda’s Stone Rooster, 27 Marion Road, Wareham, 508-748-9700.

 

Photo courtesy of East Wind Lobster & Grille

Photo courtesy of East Wind Lobster & Grille

3. Turn Up the Gas

Jean Lanahan, owner of the East Wind Lobster & Grille, gives us hands-on cooking lessons. On March 8, she offers Fish 101. She’ll teach you Pan Seared Scallops, Rolled Flounder, Poached Salmon and Fried Calamari & Banana Pepper. On March 15, she invites you to play with quahogs. You’ll work with ‘hogs, ‘necks, and cherrystones  to create Stuffed Quahogs, Quahog Stew, and Littlenecks with pasta. Then on March 22, she’ll be teaching easy pasta dishes and wine pairings. Just $30 per class, participants will learn how to cook, eat dinner together and take home the leftovers. You can’t beat that.

You must reserve your space in advance — check out East Wind’s Facebook page here for more info. March 8, 15 or 22 from 6:30 to 8:30. 2 Main Street, Buzzards Bay, 508-759-1857.

Fremantle prisoner Michael Harrington4. Irish Adventures

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, go check out the current exhibit at the New Bedford Whaling Museum: Famine, Friends & Fenians. It’s a fascinating tale of New Bedford/Irish history just waiting for a Hollywood screenwriter to create a swashbuckling movie. We wrote about the Fenians last year on our blog so if you want to get up to speed before going to the exhibit, check that out here. New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, whalingmuseum.org

Photo courtesy of Ella's Woodburning Oven Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Ella’s Woodburning Oven Restaurant

5. Farm-to-Table Party

The spring equinox is March 20. Two days later, Ella’s Woodburning Oven Restaurant celebrates with a farm-to-table dinner, featuring meat from Weatherlow Farms and greens from Eva’s Garden (see more about Eva here). Chef Marc Swierkowski of Ella’s teams up with Chef Ed Rosazck from Mattapoisett’s How on Earth to create a delicious celebration of our local bounty. Bog Iron Brewery of Norton rounds out the dinner with local craft beer pairings for the dinner. Contact Ella’s Woodburning Stove Restaurant for more information at 508.759.3600 or [email protected]

 

 

 

6. Page to Stage

Page to Stage at the Z (Photo courtesy of Zeiterion Theater)

Page to Stage at the Z (Photo courtesy of Zeiterion Theater)

For a different kind of pairing, the Z is offering three stage performances with a twist this month. To deepen the theater experience, the Z will offer community book clubs to accompany each performance, delving into the themes of the books before the topics come alive on stage.

A March 1 book club will discuss  Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Suskind, which is linked to Spencers: Theatre of Illusion performance on March 4.  Life, Animated is a twisting, 20-year journey that follows the author’s autistic son Owen, and inspired the Oscar nominated documentary of the same name.

On March 2, the book club discusses The Giver by Lois Lowry before seeing American Place Theatre’s superb adaptation the same night. A Newberry Award-winning book, The Giver has become a staple of young adult reading lists but it’s engaging for adults as well, with a story that will have you thinking about big concepts like ethics and individuality long after you put the book down,

On March 30, prior to the arrival of Argentine company Che Malambo later that night, the Z’s book club will discuss Evita: The Real Life of Eva Peron by Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro.

The book groups are free and open to the public but please RSVP here. To purchase tickets to the shows, go here. The Zeiterion Theater,  684 Purchase Street, New Bedford.

 

If you have any other suggestions to tear us away from Hulu and Netflix, leave them in the comment section. And if you want to stay in the know about cool and eclectic South Coast events, sign up for our free emails right here.

 

Continue Reading

The Beet Goes On! CSA Season Is Just Around the Corner

Photo courtesy of Bay End Farm

There’s a national day for everything and February 24 is “CSA Day.” It’s been feeling like spring all week so it makes sense to think about the growing season ahead. And to dramatically declare that CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) changed my family’s life.

For over 15 years, we’ve been getting a big weekly bag from Bay End Farm in Buzzards Bay from June through October. We pay upfront in April for a season’s worth of produce. And then we wait for the bounty to arrive. Each week, it’s like getting the mystery bag of penny candy at the candy store. You don’t necessarily know what will be in it. But you know you’re going to enjoy it.  All of a sudden, you have a stake in the weather and the growing season. You are grateful for rain. And sunshine.


All of a sudden, you have a stake in the weather and the growing season. You are grateful for rain. And sunshine.


Having a bag full of vegetables delivered each week taught me how to cook. I had a refrigerator filled with fresh produce – and more was coming in seven days. I had to do something with it. I couldn’t procrastinate. So I hauled out my Joy of Cooking, received as a wedding gift, and figured out how to cook beets and kale and soups. And now I can cook. That’s the first life-changing thing our CSA bags brought us.

CSA Day

Erin & Kofi, our favorite farmers

People ask if we sometimes get sick of some vegetables. Occasionally, maybe. I still don’t quite know what to do with escarole, for example. But that is more than made up for by the vegetables that we’ve been introduced to.  As young kids, my daughters were willing to try unconventional things like kohlrabi and bok choi because it came from Kofi and Erin’s farm. And, guess what? Nine times out of ten, they loved the new vegetables. I’ve also enjoyed the introduction in my kitchen to old favorites that I would never buy otherwise. Beets, for instance. I love ’em. But outside of my farm share, I never buy them because cooking beets seems like too much of a commitment.

So that’s the other life changing thing for us: we eat better. We eat better because we must eat better – those vegetables aren’t going to eat themselves.

A few years ago, we added to our CSA lifestyle by signing up for chicken and pork at Copicut Farms. Once you’ve eaten their meat, you’ll never want supermarket meat again.

We’re so lucky to be on the South Coast where it’s easy to support local farms and eat wonderfully.

We’re also lucky to have the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) which helps direct us to local food and sustainable farming. They have a website that you can easily lose yourself in to find local beef, duck, lamb, cut flowers, fruit, and more. To find a CSA near you, click here. (I’ve plugged in a New Bedford address because that’s central for the South Coast but feel free to enter a town closer to you. Just click on the “change town” link on the right hand side). Then, celebrate CSA Day by calling or emailing a farmer to sign up for your food this summer.

Years into this CSA experience, we all look forward to the harvest of favorite vegetables like they are old friends: “I think it should be time soon for lemon cucumbers.” “Oh, look! The sugar snap peas are back!” “Tomatoes soon…” We now have a healthy appreciation for seasonal eating. We also have a healthy appreciation for the passage of seasons and time. There is something bittersweet about wondering if you’re eating the last heirloom tomato of the year from the place you’ve come to think of as your farm.

Do you want to be kept in the loop? Our email list is the first to learn about special events, offers, and giveaways…..Keep up with us by signing up for our free emails here.

Continue Reading

Five Great Valentine Dates on the South Coast

Valentine’s Day is coming up and we asked Rebecca of the Almanac team to give us some suggestions for celebrating. We’re not surprised she came up with a great list! Read on….

Chocolate and Wine. What Else Do You Need?

Stop by Portugalia Marketplace for its Annual Chocolate Festival this Saturday  from 11 – 2 p.m. and enjoy tastings from chocolatiers and vintners, with live music by Birdtalk jazz trio to get you in the mood. February 11. See more here.

Maybe Some Music…

While you’re in the neighborhood on Saturday, the Narrows Center for the Arts welcomes singer-songwriter Paula Cole to the stage. With an extraordinary voice, she has opened for Peter Gabriel, Melissa Etheridge and Sarah McLachlan.  Book reservations for dinner beforehand at The Abbey Grill, a restored former monastery with an open kitchen and sprawling bar.

Or A Romantic Walk?

Break out your wellies and head to Destruction Brook Woods for a short or long walk exploring the rolling woodlands and the old mill and farmstead. Grab a map, or just get lost here. Make sure you find the footbridges and bubbling waterways.

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s with the kids or with some canine friends, bring them to walk at the Bogs in the Mattapoisett River Reserve. With four miles of dog-friendly woods, wetlands and cranberry bog trails to wander through, there’s plenty to stimulate conversation pondering who and what was there before.

A Nightcap (or two)…

New Bedford is bursting with plenty of new spots and established favorites where you can enjoy good drinks and food.  Check out Cultivator Shoals, a chic new bar serving up craft cocktails. A Rose By Any Other Name is their ode to Valentine’s Day, designed by Devon McGrath and featuring rose petal infused Tito’s vodka, fresh lemon juice & strawberry puree. She gave me the recipe but it takes three days from start to finish. Trust me, let them do the work!

Or try The Bitter End Lounge on Route 6 in Fairhaven. Intrigued by its name and sign, I made this a launching spot for a date night recently. It’s a self-proclaimed dive bar where you can sidle up to the bar or shoot some pool. Wrap up the evening at Gilda’s Stone Rooster a little further east on 6 in Marion where you’ll find local legend Gilda tending bar (Secret tip: Gilda opens the house to the fabulous South Coast Jazz Symphony Orchestra periodically on Monday nights. The upcoming dates are February 27, March 13 and 27, April 10 and 24, May 8 and 22, June 5 and 19. Always from 8 -10 pm.)

The Morning After…

Great pancakes. That’s love. The Barn in Little Compton, RI is the perfect spot to indulge in a romantic breakfast. They’re serving up a Valentine’s special of fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh strawberries, chocolate kisses (yes, chocolate kisses!) and whipped cream. Afterwards you might want to walk it off at South Shore Beach, a true gem no matter the time of year.

We hope we’ve inspired you to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Be sure to check in with all of these locales before you go to make sure nothing’s changed since we posted. All of us at South Coast Almanac wish you and your sweethearts another day filled with love and adventure!

 

Keep up with South Coast Almanac updates, news and events, by signing up for our free emails here.

Special shout out to AJ Marks Jewelers in Wareham and Hyannis for sponsoring our Valentine blog posts.  Thanks, guys!

Continue Reading

Oh, Right! It’s January…Time To Get Healthy

(Or, How To Make Delicious Food with South Coast Tricks)

We’re pleased to introduce a special guest blogger this month to help us restore our healthy equilibrium after all those Bloody Marys. Margaret Bane is an avid health and wellness guru, and the founder of the blog www.bareboston.com where she curates plant-based recipes and an overall guide to holistic health. Margaret lives in Boston but spends a good chunk of time in Marion golfing during the summer.

Welcome Margaret as she shows us how to incorporate a little South Coast magic into our healthy New Year’s routines. 

Food is one of those rare topics that elicits an emotional response regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. I should’ve gotten the salad. How many calories is in this? I’m starting my diet tomorrow. No one is immune to a relationship with food, not even your favorite athlete or celebrity. We all have some type of daily interaction with our plates, and quite frankly a perfect relationship with food doesn’t exist (don’t let the Tom and Gisele’s of the world fool you, they too think heavily about every bite).

Being thrown into emotional turmoil after a meal, even if only once a week, can actually be more detrimental than that bowl of white pasta and meat sauce. If we’re programmed to evaluate our decisions post-indulgence, why not tweak the end result?

Luckily preparing for the inevitable is actually quite simple. One first step I always recommend is to become more aware of menu and grocery items that are seasonal and locally grown. More often than not, seasonal produce will lead to a more well-rounded fulfilling meal.

Consuming seasonally often means eating locally grown foods which leads to the bigger picture here: the environment. So, in an attempt to reduce your carbon footprint, skip the nutrition facts and remember to first check food labels for where its traveled from.  As an ode to the South Coast of Massachusetts, I’ve curated recipes highlighting the natural flavor of locally grown and produced, Paradise Meadow organic cranberries. Enjoy!


“…don’t let the Tom and Gisele’s of the world fool you, they too think heavily about every bite”


Healthy Overnight Oats

Overnight Oats (all photos in this post by Margaret Bane)

Healthy Overnight Oats

Who has time to slave over a hot stove in the morning before work? Not I! Overnight oats is my go-to breakfast for a kick of nutrients first thing in the morning, without the time consuming cooking. This recipe takes a whopping 7 minutes to throw together at night, and is ready to eat on the go in the morning.

There is a major difference between regular old water-based oats, and gooey-ooey, sticky overnight oats. The secret to achieving a perfectly thick consistency is all about the liquid base. I add dried fruit to my cashew milk to create a touch of sweetness and added nutritional boost, while adding a more thick sticky consistency.

Ingredients:
½ cup Cashews (soaked overnight)
¼ cup Dried organic cranberries
2 Dates (pitted and soaked for a few minutes)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
½ cup Organic rolled oats
1 Heaping Tbsp. chia seeds

Recipe:

      1. Rinse and drain the soaked cashews, and add to a blender (I use a bullet) with cranberries, dates, and cinnamon.
      2. Blend until milk-consistency has formed. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
      3. In a tupperware, combine the oats and chia seeds. Pour cashew milk over the dry mixture until well covered, but still bumpy at the top (see photo below). Mix well, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
      4. The next morning, add your choice of fun healthy toppings. Photographed here is melted almond butter, a mix of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries.

*You will have extra cashew milk, use in your coffee or with cereal!

Soaking the cashews

Blended cashew mixdscf3128

dscf3126

dscf3132

overnight oats

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Balsamic Glaze

Healthy and Delicious Brussel SproutsThere’s nothing quite like crispy caramelized veggies on a cold winter night. You’ve probably seen this on the Thanksgiving table with traditional fall root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and turnips. But when winter finally rolls around, I love to incorporate brussel sprouts into my recipes! In many cases you’ll notice sugar added as the ingredient that achieves the caramelized glaze, but not this one! These crispy caramelized brussel sprouts are a dish you can feel good about!

dscf3147Ingredients:

3 lbs. Brussel sprouts (trimmed and halved)
½ cup Coconut oil (melted)
½ cup Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Raw honey
1 cup Dried cranberries
Himalayan sea salt & black pepper to taste

Recipe:

      1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
      2. On a lined baking skeet, toss brussel sprouts with coconut oil and salt/pepper and roast until crispy (~30 minutes).
      3. In a saucepan, boil balsamic vinegar and honey, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until thick reduction consistency.
      4. Drizzle the glaze over the sprouts and toss with cranberries.

dscf3139

dscf3140dscf3153

 

Stay tuned. Margaret will be back later this month with a South Coast skin care discovery.  And, remember, you can keep up with South Coast Almanac updates, news and events, by signing up for our free emails here.  Then, wander over and check out Margaret’s home at bareboston.com.

Continue Reading

Hold the Resolutions! Bloody Marys to Soothe Your New Year’s Hangover

Bloody Marys in Fall River

Put all your resolutions on hold and head to Fall River. Our Director of Advertising and Marketing Rebecca Hemsley researched the best places for Bloody Marys so that you can extend the holiday just a little bit longer (and soothe any overindulgences):

Maybe you rang in 2017 toasting with close friends and family around a roaring fire. Maybe you were out and about on the town. Either way, you may have indulged in just a bit too much bubbly. We’re here for you!

New Year’s Day is a day to drag out the holiday, to take advantage of a lazy decadent morning and to embrace our old friend Bloody Mary to repair last night’s damage. She debuted in the 1890’s as a non-alcoholic health elixir. Tomato juice boasts high levels of simple sugars which provide our brain with the glucose it needs to help get back in action after a late night of popping corks. Lycopene doesn’t hurt either by providing anti-inflammatory benefits you’ll need after a week of celebrating.

Depending on your mood we’ve found a few spots in Fall River for you to spend the first day of 2017 to tackle the hair of the dog.

Al Macs Diner will be serving Bloody Marys until they close at 2. They have a tangy recipe, the perfect complement to their cookie dough pancakes. Yes, that’s right…I said cookie dough pancakes! They’re surprisingly delicious. But if it’s savory you’re after, try their Portuguese omelet with chourico and pepper jack cheese. 35 President Avenue, Fall River.

Pop in at the Tipsy Toboggan Fireside Pub to warm up by the fire and enjoy the sweetness of their Bloody Marys. It’s just next to the Borden Marina where you can see the Borden Flats Lighthouse in Mount Hope Bay (featured as a “Surprising Stay” in our 2016 inaugural edition).  Maybe you’ll be inspired to book at night there in 2017. 75 Ferry Street, Fall River.

At Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill, you’ll find a real kicker Bloody Mary.  It’s a thick, hearty recipe that rolls satisfyingly over the palette. Remy’s Manager Ashley Dusoe tells us that it’s entirely made from scratch. It’s a secret recipe but I did manage to get a few key ingredients out of her (lime juice, celery salt, horseradish and ground mustard seeds). They’ve nailed the perfect blend. It’s everything you’ve ever hoped for in a Bloody Mary. As an added treat, you can choose vodka that’s been infused with wasabi or garlic and basil.  Match it with the Remy Burger on Portuguese sweet bread and it’s a sure fix for a New Year’s hangover. 1082 Davol Street, Fall River.

Keep up with South Coast Almanac updates, news and events, by signing up for our free emails here.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2017 from all of us at South Coast Almanac!

Continue Reading

South Coast Day-tripping

Daytripping in Mattapoisett

This is the first in an occasional series called South Coast Day-tripping. If you’d like to play tourist for a day in a South Coast town you’re unfamiliar with, email us and pitch us an itinerary. If we choose yours, we’ll ask you to jump right in and Feriss Bueller it. We’ll reimburse you for the day’s expenses (up to $150). Let us introduce you to our first day-trippers, Mike and Michelle Long from Canton, MA, who chose to visit a place they had never been on a mid-August weekday. Here’s how their day in Mattapoisett went down (as told by Mike)….

We started off the day at Shipyard Park, where we had a simple picnic lunch from home. The waterfront area was beyond peaceful; combined with a beautiful day, the moment was an instant contender to be the highlight of the trip. From there, Michelle and I made our way up to the Town Wharf General Store, where we perused a few wares, day-dreaming of a future family beach house along the way. Across the street at The Inn at Shipyard Park, we discovered watermelon sangria that was a perfect ‘drink of the day’. We sat on the porch, and let the New England seaside breeze charm us.

Day-tripping in Mattapoisett

Ned’s Point. Photo by Mike Long.

Next, we headed over to Ned’s Point to check out the lighthouse. The theme of seaside tranquility continued here, as we sat along the rocks and took in the bay for what felt like hours. Surrounding us was a mix of fellow tourists and locals just relaxing, not letting the moment pass them by.

Taking a look at the map, we decided to hop back in the car and take a drive along Point Connett. Beautiful houses in a shaded, relaxed neighborhood. Reminiscent of the best of New England shoreline, sprinkled with a slight Carolina flavor. All in all, the quintessential beachside neighborhood.

Our next stops, or our next attempts at stops, didn’t work out for scheduling reasons. We had been looking forward to hitting up the Mattapoisett Museum & Carriage House but missed it as it had closed at 4pm (note to always check the time – Google is your friend!). After that, looking for something to do before dinner, we had decided to hit up the bowling alley we had driven by – sadly, Bowlmor Lanes was not open on the day we were there. Poor planning on our part, but we ended up passing time before dinner at The Stowaway, a nice little hole in the wall bar across the street from Bowlmor. The bartender and clientele were super sociable, with bonus points for being Red Sox- friendly, complete with large flat screens visible from any seat in the bar. As a side note – the restrooms at the Stowaway were a surprise! (Michelle was expecting a typical dive bar bathroom but she found something much better.)

Our last stop was Turks Seafood Market for an early dinner. We had heard great things about Turks. Our dinner not only met but exceeded already lofty expectations. Bacon wrapped scallops with brown sugar glaze starter was our perfect kickoff to further deliciousness. I had grilled local swordfish, blackened, served over warm tomato and arugula salad with a balsamic reduction. Absolutely delicious. Hyperbole aside, the best swordfish ever in the history of things. Michelle was wowed by the seared tuna with wasabi vinaigrette served with ponzu veggies.

Day-tripping in Mattapoisett

Michelle at Ned’s Point. Photo by Mike Long.

Mattapoisett is a great South Coast town that packed a lot of memories into a short window of time for us – we certainly look forward to the chance to get back there! (Michael Long)

Town Wharf General Store, 10 Water Street (508) 758-4615
The Inn on Shipyard Park, 13 Water Street (508) 758-4922
Mattapoissett Historical Society Museum, 5 Church Street (508) 758-2844
Bowlmor Lanes, 22 County Road (508) 758-6783
The Stowaway, 35 County Road (774) 582-1188
Turks Seafood Market, 83 Marion Road (508) 758-3117

Continue Reading

The Magic Number is 5 — 5 Ways to Celebrate the South Coast this January

Hey! The calendar will soon turn to 2016. That means just 5 more months until our magazine launches and you can hold our lovely print (or digital) edition in your hands as you sit on the porch, or at the beach, or on your boat, engrossing yourself in all that makes the South Coast special.
 
In the meantime, how to fill your time to help May come quicker? Here are 5 things to enjoy on the South Coast in January:
 
Polar Plunges
On January 1, more than a few brave souls will be plunging into winter waters (water temperatures hover around 40 degrees this time of year).  Maybe it’s time you tried it.
 
In Fairhaven at 10 am, the annual Polar Plunge will surprise you with its crowd. Last year, they came from all over the state and some from well outside the state, representing over 40 towns. (See Fairhaven Polar Plunge.)

 

Don’t worry if you decide to sleep in and you miss the Fairhaven festivities. At noon, Mattapoisett’s Freezin’ for A Reason Polar Plunge takes place at the Town Beach. (See Mattapoisett Polar Plunge.) 

And between 11 and 2, you can jump from The Back Eddy’s dock as part of its Polar Plunge Brunch (though you can simply just choose the brunch option). Reservations are strongly recommended because this is pretty popular. The Back Eddy, 1 Bridge Road, Westport. 508-636-6500.
 
Onset is taking this year off for its Polar Plunge but will return again in 2017.  
 
The Moby Dick Marathon 20th Anniversary
Stop by for five minutes or for an hour or two. I had to read Moby Dick twice in college and hated it each time. I went to the Marathon last year at 5:00 in the morning just to see what it was all about (and whether there was anyone there at 5 a.m. – there are!). Here’s my quick report: Moby Dick is far better enjoyed when you’re sitting under the skeleton of whales, surrounded by quirky and interesting people who have braved the cold to do something as whimsical as participate (whether as a reader or simply as a listener) in this annual literary marathon.  
The reading takes place from Saturday, January 9 at 10 a.m. through Sunday January 10 at 1 p.m. New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA.
 
Embrace Winter
Rent some snowshoes (see Ski House in Somerset) and find a favorite summer trail and snowshoe through it. Or find a new place. The Trustees of Reservations website allows you to search for local places for good snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. For example, Allen Haskell Public Gardens in New Bedford is a great place to cross-country ski, snowshoe, or pull a child on a sled. Cornell Farm in Dartmouth also offers space for skiing, showshoeing and winter hiking.  See Trustees’ Search by Activity.
 
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Have you heard of hygge? It’s a Danish word (pronounced kind of like HYU-gah). While it can’t be translated easily into English, I gather it generally means a sense of coziness and well-being. Good company, food and drink are required elements. Those Danes are onto something. Even though they have 17 hours of darkness in deep winter with temperatures hovering at freezing, they are among the happiest in the world (The World Happiness Report — it really exists). So, don’t stop with the holiday merriment. Keep meeting up with friends and family for good meals and company. If you don’t want to entertain at home, check out your favorite local spots. You might even find some crazy specials out there. Combine lunch and dinner (lunner?) at Ella’s in Wareham on Saturday afternoons between 3 and 4 and you’ll get 25% off your meal.  New Bedford’s Cork has a “5 at 5” menu. You get $5 glasses of wine and $5 appetizers between 5 and 6 pm on weekdays (this really plays nicely into our theme of 5).  Ella’s Wood Burning Oven Restaurant, 3136 Cranberry Highway, Wareham, www.ellaswoodoven.com; Cork Wine and Tapas, 90 Front Street, New Bedford, www.corkwineandtapas.com.
 
Get Out and Listen to Music
Another way to find some hygge is at the Narrows Center for the Arts, a world class performance space overlooking Mount Hope Bay and Battleship Cove. It has some great shows lined up for January. Ten years ago, I listened to Anna Nalick’s Breathe (2 a.m.) on my ipod every single time I ran (back when there were ipods and when I ran). She’s coming to the Fall River venue. So is Marshall Crenshaw, Entrain, Cheryl Wheeler, The Winter Blues Festival, and many other great acts. See Narrows Center for a complete list of the upcoming shows.  Narrows Center, 16 Anawan Street, Fall River. 
 
Go out and enjoy January. And remember, five more months until South Coast Almanac launches!
Continue Reading

Doves & Figs Jam: The Best Way to Dress Toast

screenshotMy toast looked bereft this morning.

Some would say naked.

Actually, Robin Cohen would say that. She’s the jam lady. Every week, the owner of Doves & Figs arrives at the Dartmouth Grange with her minivan packed to the gills with boxes of fruit and equipment. “Like a gypsy caravan,” she says. She unloads the fruits she’s purchased from local farmers and gets to work in the Grange’s commercial kitchen turning it into jam.

Last July, I spend a lovely morning with Robin and her assistant (and family friend) Michelle Hurwitz, a student from UMass Dartmouth with perhaps the sweetest job among her friends. The day I visited, a huge 40-gallon steam kettle with figs, apples and dried cranberries was bubbling away. Michelle patiently stirred smaller pots filled with simmering strawberries. Boxes of fruit were strewn about on the stainless steel tables.

Doves & Figs business model is based on seasonality because seasonal cooking is what led to jams in the first place, Robin says. She lets the just picked fruit shine in her jam. No pectin, no preservatives. These cool weather days are devoted to apples, pears and cranberries.

All of the jams’ names are delightful – Falling Leaves, Bramble Tea, Merry Berry, Winter Carnival, Chocolate Fig Sunshine. And their contents can be a bit quirky — Peachy Mean features “sweet summer peaches with a kick of black pepper and hot red pepper flakes” while Peachy Keen features “caramelized peaches with pecans and a bit of Southern Comfort.”

Robin’s thing for sauces, jams and compotes hearkens back to happy childhood memories in her grandmother’s kitchen, surrounded by a family who loved to cook. At the end of each summer, her dad took Robin and her brothers foraging for grapes and made gallons of grape jam. When her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he and Robin battled the sadness of his decline by discussing recipes and taking on the challenge of recreating the recipe of her Aunt Jenny’s apricot and pineapple jam. In 2011, Robin left her corporate job and followed her passion for jam.

Standing at my counter this morning, in front of the barren toast, I was remembering the 500 jars that Robin and Michelle prepared that July day and the many cauldrons of their bubbling jam. It was lovely to revisit the nice memory. But the jarring reality is that I still have naked toast.

My advice: pick up some Doves & Fig jam at Alderbrook Farm in Dartmouth. Or online. Or at the dozens of shops and farmers’ markets around Massachusetts which are listed on the Doves & Figs website (dovesandfigs.com). (MB)

 

Continue Reading

Saturday Night at The Back Eddy with Macomber Turnips

IMG_0118

My attempt at the turnip hash

Who knew I’d develop a crush on turnips this weekend?

We went to The Back Eddy in Westport last night where I ordered giant bacon-wrapped scallops. I have a thing for bacon and scallops so the ordering was an easy call. My entrée arrived atop a bed of turnip and carrot hash. The bright orange and white cubes looked so cheerfully enticing that I tried them first. And I kept eating them.

Turnip hash? I couldn’t think of anything less likely to tear me away from bacon and scallops.

I had always thought of turnips as a humble, maybe even a pathetic, vegetable. In fact, as I ate my Back Eddy turnip hash, I got to thinking about the large turnip sitting in my refrigerator that very moment. I’d received the turnip as part of my farm share several weeks ago and it hadn’t moved since. It was well on its way to being found next spring in the back of the refrigerator, shriveled and soft.

When the hostess Michelle came over to see how our meal was, I asked her if she knew how the hash was prepared. “When you’re finished, I’ll take you over to Soda, our sauté chef,” she said. “He’ll be happy to tell you.”

After dessert, our server Danielle led me to Michelle who was standing by the kitchen. She told the chefs how much I enjoyed the hash. I told the story of my turnip sitting in my refrigerator at home and how I hoped they could tell me how to make it into delicious hash.

Soda was lovely and friendly but, in the way of most chefs who instinctively know how to make things taste delicious, he gave me some pretty vague instructions. Basically, he told me he used some butter and savory herbs. I tried to ask some illuminating questions: how long to cook it for? How to get the browning? I learned that he likes to use oregano, a nonstick pan and it takes about 5 minutes.

“What kind of turnip do you have?” asked Nigel, another chef who was standing by Soda.

I didn’t know. “It’s purple,” I said, hoping that would help.

“It’s not going to work,” he said definitively. “You need a macomber turnip.”

“Macomber turnips have a sweetness to them,” said another man, standing nearby, who I later learned was one of the owners, Sal Liotta.

And they started raving about macomber turnips, indigenous to Westport, sweeter and better than any other turnips. Sal told me that the Back Eddy has hosted special dinners, showcasing macombers in all three courses. Nigel told me about the plaque honoring the macomber turnip on Westport’s Main Street. “It’s not even like other turnips,” said Nigel. “It’s totally its own thing.”

All of a sudden, turnips seemed pretty exciting. “I’m sure your turnip is a good one,” said Nigel who clearly didn’t want to offend me on behalf of my turnip. “But it’s going to be bitter. What makes the hash so good is the sweet macomber.”

“You want to take one home?” he offered. He told me he had plenty, having recently bought five cases of macomber turnips packed in old banana boxes from a local farmer at the Back Eddy’s door. “I’ve got 250 pounds of them out back.”

I hesitated for just a moment. It seemed a little odd to leave a restaurant with a whole turnip. Plus I already had that huge lonely purple turnip that was being ignored at home. Was it really fair to bring another turnip into that kind of a home? But I was overcome with giddiness that I was being asked if I wanted to take home a singular root vegetable.

“Yes!” I said.

Nigel came back with a turnip the size of a basketball. I must have looked scared. Or maybe I uttered an involuntary demurral. “No, this one isn’t for you,” he said, “I just brought it out to show you. I brought a more retail one for you.” He pulled out another the size of a softball.

So this morning I spent fifteen minutes chopping up the turnip and half a dozen carrots. I melted some butter and added the vegetables to the pan. We didn’t have any oregano, not even dried oregano, but I found some thyme in the refrigerator

I mostly ignored it as it cooked for five minutes as I worked on removing the thyme from the stalks. I added the thyme to the pan with some salt and pepper. I tasted it and decided it needed a little more time. I threw in more butter and gave it a few more minutes.

It was delicious. Turns out that Soda’s instructions were pretty spot on. You do just add some butter and herbs and cook for 5 minutes. There’s nothing to be afraid of with macomber turnips. I understand the reverence for this turnip. I understand the enthusiasm. I understand the need for a memorial plaque.

The only problem? I still need to know what to do with this….

IMG_0123

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Ain’t No Blues at the Airport Grille

 

Long-Edge-300pixels-72dpiOn the first Monday of every month, the Airport Grille at New Bedford’s regional airport hosts the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra.

It’s been on our To Do list for a while and this seemed like the right week for it. These short days after daylight saving time are always sobering. And they are especially jarring this week with mild sunny days that abruptly end in the afternoon. The temperature outside just doesn’t seem to reflect the hunkering down aspect of the season.

The Airport Grille was the perfect place to spend last night to banish the darkness with style. Small groups, large groups, couples all added to a cheerful atmosphere. “Is it always this crowded?” I asked our waitress.

“Not usually on a Monday,” she said, “It’s the jazz.”

Ah, right. We had come for the food (because we’re working on the restaurant guide for the first issue…it’s heavy lifting but we’re serious workers) but also to see the monthly jazz sessions that we’d heard about.

7083We arrived before the band and ordered the seared scallops and lobster mac and cheese. The mac and cheese arrived in the most impressive display we’d ever seen.

Then the band began to assemble. It wasn’t simply a jazz trio or quartet. This was a 17-piece orchestra. Even writing “17” doesn’t seem to adequately reflect how big this band is. And when they began to play? Everything else that was important (the perfectly cooked scallops, the large chunks of lobster floating in the creamy mac and cheese) was a footnote. What a treat to listen to this band. Don’t go to this dinner with an old friend who you haven’t seen in years. Once the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra begins, you couldn’t care less what your old friend has been up to — you’ll just want to pay attention to the music.

It’s great theater to watch a band this big: all of the different personalities melding together and sometimes splitting apart to create their music; the gleaming trumpets, trombones, and saxophones all lined up, the audience’s attention focused and rapt. It makes you want to learn how to play an instrument and join in. It makes you think about making a reservation for next month’s session. It makes you wonder about throwing a party for the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra to perform at.

Like, say, a magazine launch party? Like, say, in May?

Stay tuned….

 

Continue Reading