by Talita Elizeu ‘17
After years of entertaining the idea of a career as a chef, many episodes of Chopped, and the encouragement of my friends, I’ve decided to do it – write a food column.
To me, food has always been a symbol of relationship, culture, and the transitory nature of life. It reflects our financial state, the state of our relationship to our families or our physical location. Food is meaningful to us as individuals, families, and societies, a direct implication of diversity of circumstance and identities present across time and space.
Am I reading into this too deeply? Potentially. But at least you know that when I talk about food, I’m committed.
I come from a family that had dinner together nearly every night. This often meant that dinner was served at ten or eleven o’clock at night, as that was the earliest time we were all available. Amidst commentary on politics and religion alongside boisterous laughter, these shared moments were where I first learned to love food. My mother would produce steaming steaks from the oven, my brother, restaurant-worthy pastas, and my sister-in-law, warm chocolate cakes. Now that I’m at Gordon, we often find ourselves at restaurants for dinner. That being said, in honor of homecoming, celebration and family, here is some great food near Gordon College’s campus.
Village Restaurant – Essex, MA
A Cape Ann classic that has been around for over 60 years, Village Restaurant is the place to go if you are looking for classic New England seafood. Tourists and locals visit this place for its wide variety of seafood dinners (although they do have other meat options), all of them delicious and hardly forgettable.
First and foremost – the clam chowder. As someone who would formerly pledge by a thick chowder, I was converted by Village Restaurant’s flavorful take. Free of thickeners, the stock is thin and rich, and the clams themselves are perfectly cooked, matched in amount by potatoes.
The clam-potato-stock ration is just right, and the sprinkle of paprika is the finishing touch on an excellent appetizer afternoon.
While you are there, make sure to try the baked haddock – seasoned with the savory Village crumbs. The fish is served steaming hot, perfectly flaking at every forkful. If you are looking for a traditional and reliable seafood dinner, Village Restaurant is the place to go.
CK Pearl – Essex, MA (an Elizeu Family favorite)
Facing a beautiful marsh and marina dotted with small boats, CK Pearl’s outdoor seating is a great option if it is not too chilly. Regardless of where you sit, prepare for an excellent dining experience. Just down the street from Village Restaurant, CK Pearl pulls from different cuisines and serves a wider variety of tastes.
When my family and I go, we share appetizers and always begin with the pork belly. The pork belly is cooked so that it is crispy on the outside and soft and pulls apart easily on the inside. Layered over it, you will find an over easy egg, a fresh arugula salad, and some thinly sliced apple. This is complemented by a honey sriracha sauce spread around the plate. The fattiness of the pork and egg combine perfectly with the fresh and bitter bite of the arugula, crispiness of the apple, and sweetness of the sauce. Every time we go, we debate whether we should order a second.
The brie fondue is another one of those up for a seconds debate – the creamy inside of the brie is heated in a skillet , topped with honey and almonds. Served with a crunchy baguette, fresh apple slices, roasted potatoes and some chunks of pork. The dish is everything you want it to be: creamy and rich cheese paired with freshness, without sacrificing crunchy textures.
My serving suggestion: scoop up some of that cheesy honey mixture on a slice of your baguette and place an apple slice on it–you won’t regret it.
Finally, get their buffalo chicken wings. They are smoked first and then coated in a buffalo sauce, hitting you with that one-two punch of flavor: crunchy and saucy, smoky and spicy.
Pro-tip: make a reservation the night before you go, or at latest the morning of. These places can get packed. I hope you enjoy eating this food as much as you enjoyed reading my column!