Back in July I visited Tuscan Kitchen in Salem NH after meeting them at the Top Desserts event at the Mandarin.  I was absolutely in love with their Lobster Ravioli but there was so much more to it than the food that had me talking about this restaurant over and over again to anyone who would listen.  I knew I wanted to go back.

I feel incredibly lucky to have recently been invited, along with a guest, to the opening of their new Tuscan Market, which showcases aisle upon aisle of traditional Italian foods from canned tomatoes direct from Italy to honey infused truffle oil to every type of pasta you can name to the freshest and most colorful of fruits and vegetables.

Tuscan Market, which will be open in October is a huge space geared towards making customers happy; happy with food.  In addition to all of the foods they have in aisles they also have a bakery with crusty bread baked fresh and hourly.  A pasta kitchen where you can watch the master pasta chef hand make his own pasta.  A patisserie with fruit tarts and mini tiramisu and fruit pies and cannoli so crisp and scrumptious with choices of filling that would make the most righteous give in to them.  Not forgetting the gelato bar and barista station.  I was in awe of this wondrous place that made my eyes bulge and my tummy hurt like a kid in a candy store.

After walking around the new market and enjoying olives, specialty meats and cheeses and crusty bread, we joined about 50 other guests in order to enjoy the most indulgent and wonderful dinner I have had in quite some time. 

Tables were set with a lovely center piece of perfumed spices of basil and rosemary.  As we sat and watched the many chef’s in action, I was eager to see what was going to be served.  Head Chef’s Ed Payne and Gary Mitchell, spoke with such excitement about the Tuscan Kitchen and Market experience, it was hard not to get as excited as them.  The way they described what was on offer to us and how they made each course was incredible.

We started with sweet heirloom tomatoes and decadently creamy burrata salad with hints of purple basil that had the most amazing fragrance.  For our “primi” we enjoyed perfectly made ravioli filled with butternut squash and shredded duck in a mouthwatering sage sauce with black truffle and parmigiano reggiano.  I wasn’t sure I could handle more, but yet more was to come. 

We moved on to a type of bouillabaisse of grilled head of prawn with grilled branzino, mussels, fennel shellfish and toasted ciabatta to mop up the lightly spiced and aromatic broth.  The last of our entrées was to be a skillet filled with slow braised veal shank with saffron risotto Milanese.  You could smell the beckoning scents of the saffron even before the skillets hit the table.  To be served family style our table of guests eagerly dug into this fall off the bone delicate and succulent meat.  The Risotto was almost a rice pudding texture that was both subtle in Saffron flavor but also substantial enough to be meal on its own. 

Our early evening ended with being offered any dessert your heart and tummy desired.  I was so full, I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage, but manage I did.  Both Kathryn and I shared some bites of coffee and a four berry fruit gelato that was to die for.  Or, at least we thought it was until we enjoyed the orange cream filled cannoli, which was a taste of heaven in every bite.

This was truly a dinner to be remembered.  I would highly recommend a short trip, just 25 minutes from Boston to anyone wanting to experience something a little different and quite wonderful.  Shop and dine or dine and then shop, either way you have to make it to Tuscan Kitchen and Market.