Friday, September 21, 2012

Tuscan Market: Up Close

As a follow-up to our recent video preview of Tuscan Market in Salem, NH we are giving a more detailed tour today.  As previously mentioned, this reminded us of our strolls through the markets in Italy and there is really nothing quite like it in New England.  An adjunct to the very popular restaurant Tuscan Kitchen the space boasts 10,000 square feet of artisinal products and foods all made on premises.  In addition to the 65 seat cafe there is patio seating for an additional 50 visitors who wish to dine alfresco.

This exclusive press preview allowed us to roam the market and sample the freshly baked breads, view the facilities and see all of the gorgeous food set out for us like the fresh pastas pictured above.  We tasted amazing flatbreads, antipasto plates, artisinal cheeses and more.  There is also plenty of wine in the wine shop, meats, seafood, cheeses and condiments including an incredible truffle honey we tried.  Much of the produce on hand is from local Smolak farms as well as from the farm of owner Joe Faro's own Father, in close proximity to the market.

We were curious as to what those ovens were high above the open kitchen.  Obviously they could not be used for anything that required constant access.  You'd need a ladder to reach them!  The answer:  these will be used to cure and dry meats on site.  Nice!

We loved the fact that they are using authentic equipment imported from Italy.  When was the last time that you saw a hand cranked meat slicer.  Classic.

Before long it was time to sit down for a glass of wine and a four course feast.  We started off with this dish of Smolak Farms Heirloom Tomatoes, Caramelized Figs, House-made Burrata, Honey and Purple Basil.  In season and as fresh as possible, it was a perfectly blended dish of traditional Italian fare.

My favorite dish was this Cappellaci With Roasted Butternut Squash, Duck Brasato, Shaved Black Truffle and Parmigiano Reggiano.  A supreme taste of Autumn, the little hats of pasta filled with the squash and duck meat just melted in our mouths.  Delicious.
Next up was a Cacciucco Di Pesce:  Italian Shellfish Stew with Grilled Head On Prawn, Pan Seared Branzino and P. E. I. Mussels in a Fennel/Shellfish Brodo served with Grilled Ciabatta.  Beautiful seafood flavors with that fresh ciabatta sopping up the excellent broth.

Our last course was Osso Buco:  Braised Veal Shank Crusted with Fresh Herb Gremolata, Vin Cotto Reduction and served with a Saffron Risotto Alla Milanese.  The veal shank was excellent, an Italian folklore on the plate.  The risotto, however, was not the standout that we expected.

All of the guests at this very special event had the opportunity to speak with the Chefs including Executive Chef Edward Payne who will also be teaching classes when the Market opens to the public in mid October.

It was then onto the desserts and what a plethora of sweets there were to regale us!  Cannoli, cakes, tiramisu, cookies and fresh fruit tarts were in abundance, all baked in their kitchens just a few feet away.

I opted for this Hazelnut Torte while my dining companion sampled a few of the many gelatos and sorbets, again, all made on premises.  The full coffee bar served up espresso and cappuccino to all to finish off the feast.

The brand new modern gelato making machine was cranking out the most amazing flavors.  My favorite was the pistachio but there was clearly something for every palate.  If you have always wanted to visit Italy for an authentic market cuisine experience you now can and it's only 30 minutes north of Boston.  We can't wait to get back with friends and family for a year-round indoor picnic.

Tuscan Market
7 Willow Street
Salem, New Hampshire 03079
Telephone: 603.952.4875

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