Blue Heron Local Cuisine

Cooking, Eating, and Drinking on the North Shore (and beyond)

Living on the Water July 22, 2009

Filed under: Regional food,Terroir — blueheronlocal @ 4:31 pm
Tags: , , ,
(photo from Trustees of the Reservation)

(photo from Trustees of the Reservation)

Community supported fisheries have been getting a lot of attention in the national news. It’s a revolution, first Boston, then the world (now where have I heard that before?).

But the thing is, you don’t live in New England because you like eating farm-raised shrimp from China stuffed with antibiotics.


In Boston, it can be easy to forget that you live on the water. Sure, you can see seagulls harassing each other for leftovers in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot, but how often do you see water other than the Frog Pond and dodgy puddles—the Jamaica Pond, if you are lucky?  


Here on the North Shore, the water is harder to ignore. We have to stop in our cars and wait for boats to go through the drawbridge, our roads go by the water, there are beaches we can go to whenever we want, we pass the tourists waiting outside Woodman’s. They came here to see something. But even on the North Shore, you cannot find local strawberries at the grocery store. In season.


One of the very basic things we can do to live less-ridiculous lives is to remember where we live.  This is very basic terroir. Up here, there is no reason to eat strawberries from Chile in February (or California strawberries in June), when you can freeze your overabundance of berries in June. Why would you eat Washington State apples in October, when, in Massachusetts at least, you are never more than an hour’s drive from an orchard? And the seafood.


 Eat like you live on the water. Support the local fishing boats that you see coming in when you are at the beach. The folks on board are your neighbors, not part of some foreign-owned corporation that has no interest in what makes New England different than Timbuktu, except for how they can make money from it.


Anyway, I hear Timbuktu is pretty hot this time of year.



What are you drinking? October 20, 2008

Filed under: Drinking Locally — blueheronlocal @ 1:25 pm
Tags: , ,

Local Ginger Beer



Think ginger beer is a sweet, faintly tart drink that you drink at your grandma’s or when your stomach hurts? The difference between ginger ale and a real ginger beer is like the difference between instant coffee and fresh-brewed espresso. Ginger beer lulls you in with sweetness, but its mid-palate (to use my brother-in-law’s wine vocabulary) taste is strong and spicy, with a gentler finish of cloves or cinnamon.


Ginger beer (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic) has been brewed in New England since colonial days. It was drunk by the men working the harvest. Both the copious amounts of sugar and the revitalizing ginger helped give them the energy to finish the job. No egrets and I were only harvesting groceries when we picked up a bottle of AJ Stephans’ ginger beer at Crosby’s: official independent chain grocery store of the North Shore. It was nice and strong, and produced in Fall River (previously brewed even closer to home, in Stoneham). Some official tasters thought that it contained too much ginger “flavoring” along with actual ginger, but other tasters were so impressed by the layered flavors that they didn’t notice.


All this talk of ginger put us in mind to make some ginger and molasses cookies. Anyone know a source of fair trade molasses?




Macoun Apples October 6, 2008

Filed under: In Season,Regional food — blueheronlocal @ 5:50 pm
Tags: , ,


I bought a big bag of Macoun apples at Connors Farm in Danvers. No egrets and I did not go into the corn maze. We did, however, sample the hot cider donuts, which were way more flavorful than, but not as light as, the ones at Russell Orchard.


Macouns are delicious—firm flesh with a tart/sweet flavor—a northern-climate-friendly cross between the McIntosh and the Jersey Black. It is named after W. T. Macoun, who was a Canadian apple breeder and botanist who named 105 apple varieties in the beginning of the twentieth century. He is credited with helping the popularity of McIntosh apples in Canada, and was a strong proponent of home gardening and gardening in vacant city lots. The Macoun was developed in Geneva, New York, a year before W. T. Macoun’s death in 1933.




Local Food in the Salem News June 27, 2008

Filed under: Farmers market — blueheronlocal @ 6:25 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

weeding potatoes (thanks, tinyfarmblog!)I learned some great things about local cuisine in the North Shore from this article from Salem News. There’s a new farmers’ market in Newburyport and look for one is Salem next summer. The article covers the usual ground: how farmers’ markets build community and are a great way to move beyond the near-interchangable tastes of supermarket tomatoes and strawberries. It also discusses how customers in Marblehead may not mind paying a lot of money for exotic vegetables, but customers in Peabody may be more interested in the savings and quality achieved by buying directly from the farmers. I find farmers’s markets are often cheaper than the grocery store, especially if I’m looking for organic produce. Many farmers’ markets accept WIC too.


The farm facts were the most interesting to me. Did you know that 5% of farmland in Massachusetts is located in Essex County? Essex County also ranks thirty-fifth in the country for the value of agriculture sold directly to consumers. Long live the farm stand and the co-op!

Expect some new links to show up on the blogroll as I explore more places and ways to eat locally in the North Shore.


(thanks, tinyfarmblog, for the photo, and cara for the heads up!)