, Salem, MA


October 16, 2013

A taste of history

Karen Scalia's food tours of Salem emphasize the city's historic links with the spice trade and its current variety of restaurants


Bowie said it also makes sense to have a spice shop in Salem, which was once known all over the world for its trade in imported pepper.

“The maritime industry here in Salem is so dynamic,” Bowie said. “And for 90 years we were the leading aspect of the sailing trade around the world.”

Other Pickering Wharf stops may include 62 Restaurant and Wine Bar for a cooking demonstration with Chef Tony Bettencourt, or a tasting at Finz Seafood and Grill, where owner George Carey has made a commitment to sustainable and fresh seafood. Scalia might pop by Longboards Cafe and Bar, which Matt and Justin Mattera recently opened, which takes pride in its lobster rolls.

Another well-known Salem eatery, The Grapevine Restaurant, is also a possible stop.

“Chef Tim Caldwell’s food is fabulous,” Scalia said. “He’s doing modern Mediterranean, he’s locally sourcing fresh. As a matter of fact, they have a beautiful new deck out back where he’s growing his own fresh herbs, and he is taking those and using them in the kitchen.”

Last Thursday, Scalia visited Scratch Kitchen, where chef Fogarty, a Beverly resident, has been taking cooking from scratch with locally sourced ingredients to a whole new level for the past 21/2 years.

He makes everything from scratch, including breads, pickles, ketchup, mayonnaise and his own bacon. The restaurant even serves up bacon-dusted popcorn. Fogarty shops the Salem Farmers Market, buys produce from Maitland Mountain Farm in Salem and Wenham’s Canaan Farm, and gets his goat cheese from Valley View Farm in Topsfield.

“Probably the reason why we do cook from scratch is we like to know what’s in our foods,” Fogarty said. Locally grown food also tastes better, he added.

On Essex Street, the tour sometimes stops at Comida Mexican Taqueria, where chef Shawn Morrison makes homemade salsa from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Demand for his “build-as-you-go” burritos and tortas (a panini-like sandwich) has him upping his lease for another two years.

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