Newburyport

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Other than the occasional snowstorm and too-cold winter days, we love living in New England so much. I’m partial to warm weather day trips from Boston (Hello, coastal living at its best.), but wintry getaways like my visit to Amherst this year can also be beautiful. This past weekend for my birthday we took advantage of blue skies and sunshine despite the cold and visited some favorite coastal Massachusetts towns, Newburyport and Essex.

The Poynt Newburyport

After a traffic-free drive, we kicked our day off with brunch at The Poynt, which is  beautiful, must-visit Newburyport spot. Seriously, I love it. It’s spacious and bright and friendly, with excellent food.

The Poyntchilaquiles

We couldn’t decide what to order and ended up sharing two of the best looking dishes, the Roasted Chicken Chilaquiles, which was smothered in the most amazing smoky red sauce, and the Cajun Bennie, another smoky, slightly spicy dish topped with blackened shrimp.

All washed down with Piper Heidseck Champagne because it was my birthday weekend, after all.

 

eggs benedict

 

Heidseck Monopole Champagne

We left brunch absolutely stuffed, and I needed a long walk. We tried our best at a few seaside locations, but the whipping winds were freezing our faces off, so we turned into Newburyport and enjoyed sunny sidewalks sheltered from the coastal winds by stone buildings.

Newburyport

And then we went in search of beer. We discovered two great breweries with tasting rooms and delicious, free beer tastings. RiverWalk Brewing Co. was our first stop, a delightful little tasting room with some killer beer, including a sour I loved. The only downside was that our arrival coincided with a brewery bus tour full of REALLY loud drunk women. As in, my ears actually, physically hurt. We left with a half growler of Gnomad, an American farmhouse ale we both loved.

Riverwalk Brewing Co Newburyport Brew Co

At Newburyport Brewing Co. our favorites were the two stouts we tried, especially the Joppa Stout.

We couldn’t believe tasting flights were free, and we plan to return to hang out and order pints (and growlers!) again soon. We’re going away again soon and didn’t want to have the fresh beer go bad.

beer tasting in Newburyport

Post-beer-tasting led to more wandering, including checking out some of the great shops in Newburyport, waking ourselves up with a giant coffee, and then hitting the road for Essex for an early light dinner at CK Pearl.

CK Pearl scallop sabayon fish tacosOysters and rosé led into fish tacos and an almost bowl-lickingly amazing scallop sabayon, a slightly sweet, creamy soup. We couldn’t get enough of the views, and stayed until the sky turned as pink as the wine in my glass before heading home, not wanting the day to end.

Essex River

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Tags: brewery, Essex, Massachusetts, Newburyport, oysters, Travel, wine

Our visit to Enzo Restaurant & Bar in Newburyport on Friday night makes me wish I lived in town so I could become a regular. I have had few dining experiences that were so perfect from start to finish in every way, and we literally have been talking about the food ever since.

As I have mentioned in past posts, we typically make the journey to Newburyport every few months. We love the seaside town year-round; if we ever left the city it’s a place we could see ourselves living. Our last visit was very recent, but when I found myself having to go to Newburyport for a meeting related to potential Social Media work, my husband decided to meet me there after work.

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My meeting was actually in the same complex of buildings as Enzo, so I arrived first, just as it was starting to lightly snow. Newburyport is colder than Boston, and I was happy to get inside and take a seat at the then-quiet bar. I initially thought that, being that Enzo’s focus is on Italian cuisine, I would want a glass of wine. That is until I saw their creative cocktail menu. I had a difficult time deciding, but since I always like something sparkly, I went with the Zenzero Frizzante: Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, maple bitters and Prosecco, spiced up with a square of candied ginger.

Bubbly and with a warm, spicy ginger kick, this drink was absolutely delicious. The bartender was very sweet and hospitable, and I felt relaxed and at home while I waited for my husband. He’s often the one late to arrive due to his commute, and sometimes I feel pressured to order food or more drinks while waiting; not here. It was nice to quietly enjoy my drink while catching up on emails I missed during my meeting.

One my husband arrived, we were seated at a cozy window table for two, and we started going over the menu. While we did so, we each ordered a cocktail. This time I opted for the  Cranberry Old Fashioned: A seasonal take on the classic Old Fashioned: local, organic cranberries muddled with orange and Old Overholt rye. I loved the tart cranberries in this very New England-y drink. We can’t wait to return to Enzo just to try more of their cocktails.

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We had a really hard time deciding on what to order; Enzo would be a great place for a group because there are so many appealing options. We wanted to share every appetizer, but we finally agreed on two.

Gamberi fritti / Fried Maine shrimp – fresh Maine shrimp (caught for us by the F/V Sweet Carolyn), flash-fried and served shell on with fingerling potato chips and tartar sauce

These shrimp were super fresh, and, as the menu suggested, tasted really great with the flash fried shells ON. The fingerling potato chips acted as more than just a garnish; they were really great dipped into the tartar sauce as well.

prawns

I also had to have the olives.

Olive all’ascolana / Fried olives – crispy morsels stuffed with herbed cheese

Eric’s brother and his beautiful wife and our two adorable nephews live in Marche, very near Ascoli Piceno where Olive all’ascolana originate. My sister-in-law, who is native to the region, makes the most amazing olives stuffed with a meat mixture, fried, and topped with fresh lemon juice and salt. These olives were vegetarian, and the creamy, warm cheese went perfectly with the briny olives. With any luck, this June, I will be eating olives in Ascoli, but Enzo’s will definitely do for now.

olives

After a week of several tough marathon training workouts, my body wanted comfort food, and I found it in  the Mandilli con salsa marinara e ricotta / Free form lasagna – house-made pasta handkerchiefs layered with house-made ricotta & roasted tomato sauce. I added in the optional Kellie Brook Farm hot Italian sausage for a flavorful, satisfying meal. The house-made pasta was light, silky, and fresh, absolutely perfect. And being that it was a deconstructed lasagna made it fun to grab a bite of this and that together.

deconstructed lasagna

And despite being quite full, we saved room to share dessert and cappuccino. What you see here is called Bicherin: a traditional sipping dessert from Turin: a layer of dark, rich chocolate sauce, espresso (regular or decaf, your choice) and lightly sweetened whipped cream; spoon it or sip it, either way it’s a delicious way to end your meal.

I call it pure heaven. Each spoonful brought a bit of dark, hot chocolate from the bottom of the jar, along with some espresso and cream. Heaven.

To our cappuccino, we added some of the house-made Reilly’s Irish Cream. Don’t tell any of the family back in Ireland, but we liked Reilly’s even better than Bailey’s. Winking smile

Bicherin

There’s a lot to love about Enzo, and it doesn’t just end with the food. The service, from the minute I walked in, was warm, attentive, and welcoming. And the restaurant makes huge efforts to source their food locally from small producers; they even have a farmer’s market dinner every other Sunday. What a great experience!

What was the best dining experience you have had recently?

Enzo Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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Tags: cocktails, Dining out, Food, New England, Newburyport, restaurant, Travel, wine

The past few weekends have been quite busy! First, we were in Ireland for two weekends in a row, then traveled to Stowe, and this past Saturday, we made the short trip to Newburyport, expecting one of our favorite New England towns to be decked out for Christmas.

I love visiting Newburyport year-round. We enjoy drinks at The Black Cow in the summer, overlooking the bustling harbor, and absolutely adore 10 Center any time of year. On this visit we decided to visit Ceia Kitchen + Bar after I received some information about the restaurant from their PR agency.

We arrived in Newburyport pretty hungry and decided to head straight to Ceia to warm up and fill up.

Ceia

I loved the wine bar ambiance. It reminded me of a wine bar in Europe, and I really wish there were more places like this to leisurely sip wine in Boston.

Ceia

Since we were having a date day before the rush of the holidays, I decided to start with a glass of Henriot Champagne while my husband went for the Tempranillo. I absolutely loved Ceia’s stemware.  Check out this pretty glass.

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We were also offered water, tap or bottled, and went for tap as it’s usually just fine.

Here’s where there was a little problem. Our water tasted like it was rainwater collected from a basement floor. You could smell the dank, mildew-like odor from a few inches away. Why we decided to take a sip is beyond me, but I had to spit it back into my glass. It was bad.

We politely asked for another bottle of water, and our server informed us that Newburyport water is just really bad. I’ve had tap water in Newburyport before at four or five other restaurants, and it was never anything like this. I wish she had smelled or tasted it herself because it had to be worse than usual.  If the water is indeed that bad at Ceia, they might want to put a disclaimer on it. We could literally still taste it hours later and did not feel well.

We moved on from the foul water to order lunch, a BLT for him and a salad for me. Served on soft, warm focaccia, the BLT was delicious. I loved the thin sweet potato chips that came alongside the sandwich. It was on the small side but definitely included quality ingredients.

BLT

My salad: Beet- Arugula, Pear Tomato, Cabrales Blue, Truffle Vinaigrette

salad

Where are the beets? Sad smile  It turns out that they were under the arugula, three very thin slices of beet that definitely did not even make up a whole beet. I didn’t taste any truffle vinaigrette either. The Cabrales Blue was salty, nutty, and flavored the arugula and tomatoes well, but overall I was a little disappointed. Beet salads are usually enough to fill me up, and I left lunch hungry.

Ceia has won a ton of awards, and I would give it another shot based on that and the fact that we only had lunch. I would be sure to order more food next time as portions are small, even for a small portion eater like me. I would definitely come back to have a glass of wine from their great wine list at the wine bar.

Souffles Newburyport

Our wanderings around Newburyport brought us to the cute kitchen store and café, Soufflés. Being as chilly as we were, we decided to share a large gingerbread latte for a bit of dessert.

Souffles

It was just the thing as we wandered toward the chilly waterfront. What a gorgeous sky!

Newburyport

We wandered a little more, taking in the holiday decorations in this adorable town before seeking out our final stop.

Newburyport

Though I am not a huge sweets lover, since my marathon training started, I have been craving cupcakes and cookies. I knew Newburyport had quite a few bakeries, but I confirmed with Megan that Eat Cake! was the place to be when it came to cupcakes. My husband initially thought he put the address of Eat Cake! into the GPS. It turns out, the GPS was sending us to the location we were at, so we walked around the same block a few times before realizing the bakery was a few weeks over. Oops.

Eat Cake

Eat Cake

It turned out the website did not have the accurate listing of cupcakes of the day, so there were no cupcakes with lemon curd buttercream as I had hoped. Instead we got a raspberry-filled cupcake with white chocolate buttercream (I think?) and one with a coffee/Bailey’s buttercream. I proclaimed the rest of the day the                   Pop! Marketing Communications holiday party for two.

cupcake

The raspberry-filled cupcake was amazing, soft, moist, with a perfect buttercream. The other cupcake, which we saved to eat second, was sadly VERY dry and dense. The flavors were good, but the texture made it seem a few days old. My cupcake craving lives on. . .

cupcake

Newburyport is always a great place to visit with a number of restaurants, cafes, and bakeries to satisfy just about every taste. We visit about every two months, and it is always nice to be there during the holiday season!

Stay tuned this week for a post on holiday bubbly, a recap of the Pop! Marketing Communications tapas dinner, some Boston restaurant posts, and more.

What did you do this weekend? Eat anything delicious?

Ceia Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

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Tags: Cupcakes, Food, Lunch, New England, Newburyport, Travel, wine

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