All the News from the Salem Inn and In Salem

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Coming Home to Roost

Urban Country Design
40 Front Street
Salem, MA

Kate Leavy's creative and outgoing personality has come home to Roost in Salem.  Her nest  at 40 Front Street is lined with carefully chosen design books, candles, pillows, and other home goods, and demonstrates her and husband Jamie Metsch's flair for combining, among other new and retro styles, "old farmhouse" with "repurposed industrial" to created a warm,  funky, and nostalgic environment.  For a very modest price, she and Jamie will share these treasures with you.  They are also not just interested in sharing these items, however.  They want to invite you to  share their space whether it's to shop or just visit and relax on the comfy couch and read a magazine.

 Kate Leavy, co-owner of roOst
"We specifically waited until after October to open," Kate told me regarding the opening of their shop, Roost, Urban Country Design, last fall. "We wanted the people of Salem to know we were here for them."  For those of you not in the know, this refers to the calm after the Halloween madness when the residents of Salem dare to take to the downtown streets again.  "For us, success is creating an environment where community is important," Kate added.

And successful they have been.  Part of this success is due to Kate's presence at the shop, which is her home away from home.  After working for years in restaurant management, and then as a spa manager in Beverly, Kate was searching for something new.  Not only that, after a summer of reading, thinking, and creating jewelry, her husband told her to get a job.  She was on her way to a job interview at Pottery Barn for which she would have been a shoe-in, had a change of heart, and canceled the appointment.  She came home and told Jamie that she was going to open Roost.  Thirty days later, Roost, with its warm colors, chalk-graffitied walls, and charming tchotchkes  was ready to open.

Most of the wares, letterpress to hand-screened cards, organic soaps and body products, bath linens, jewelry, indoor gardening supplies, are under $20, making this a wonderful place to pick up a last-minute gift.  They occasionally have funky old furniture for sale too, again reflecting their urban country chic.  Kate has reined in her willingness to sell all of the furniture however.  "I used to sell the display furniture.  Then everything ended up on the floor."

Stay tuned for part two - Kate and Jamie are opening a second shop next door called The Beehive.  For now all I'll tell you is that the Beehive should prove to be Roost's sassy younger sibling.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea Weekend Festival

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, grab the family (or not!) and check out the special events at the Peabody Essex Museum. The PEM is hosting a weekend festival that celebrates their current epic exhibit, Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea, May 22-23. And don't forget if you're a Salem resident, the Peabody Essex Museum is always free!

Maya Dugouts
Boat builder Wade Smith reconstructs a large-scale, speculative model of a dugout canoe based on ancient Maya designs.

Guatemala Maya Sawdust Carpet
Master artist Ubaldo Sanchez creates an alfombra from hand-dyed sawdust, rice, dried beans and flowers on the Atrium floor. Help make the border!

Grupo Awal Noon and 3 pm
Young troupe members represent the Maya culture of Guatemala through folk dances, dress and cultural traditions.

Puppet Theater 1:15 and 4 pm
Gustavo Boada and members of the dance troupe Grupo Awal perform the Maya creation story - El Popol Vuh - with life-size puppets.

Story Time
Rain Player 2 pm
A boy named Pik challenges the Maya god of rain to a game of pok-a-tok - a cross between soccer and basketball - to avert a drought.

Breaking the Maya Code 4:45-6:45 pm  
 Based on the best-selling book by Michael Coe, Breaking the Maya Code traces the epic quest to unlock the secrets of the script across 200 years, nine countries and three continents.

Art activities, docent-led gallery tours, presentations are included with museum admission.  For reservations and a full schedule of events visit

Thanks to Kate Fox of Destination Salem for this blog post.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

North Shore Dish is a great website.  A lot of care and honesty has gone into researching and writing reviews of many of the North Shore's restaurants, markets, cafes, and, yes, farms.  If you are visiting Salem, this is one-stop shopping to decide where you want to eat.  I highly recommend it and kudos to North Shore Dish for a job well done.

Do you know your dish?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Upcoming Theatre Events in Salem, MA


      Sunday, May 16, 1 PM- 2 PM

The Salem Theatre Company, 90 Lafayette St., Salem

Members of the Salem Writer’s Group present readings from this original collection of memories, recollections, and reminiscences about Salem, its history, and the road before ahead. Reading from 1:00 PM-2 PM, tickets are $10.

“Personal Perspectives” is a product of the Writers’ Group that meets twice a month at the Council on Aging, and it’s also the product of decades of memories and reflection from local senior citizens. As writer Regina Ruscio Camarda says in the foreword, “This book contains 111 pages of never-to-be-forgotten true stories that we, mostly octogenarians, have lived through and recorded for posterity.”   

Books will be for sale at the event.

5 PM, May 23rd
Salem Theatre Company, 90 Lafayette Street
Two-time Tony Award winning actress Frances Sternhagen will come to the downtown Salem on May 23rd to give a special performance to benefit the Salem Theatre Company.  Ms. Sternhagen and the Salem Theatre Company's artistic director, John Fogle will present an adapeted performance of Tennessee by Romulus Linney.  The show is at 5 PM and tickets can be purchased online for $75.00 each at
Ms. Sternhagen, a well-known presence on stage, television and film, has received two Tony Awards (nominated for five), two Obies, two Drama Desks, has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and received the Helen Hayes Tribute in 2007.  Aside from the stage, she is most familiar to some audiences for her television roles as Bunny McDougal (Trey's mother) on HBO's Sex and the City, Kyra Sedgwick's mother Willa Mae Johnson on The Closer, and as Cliff Claven’s mother on Cheers.

Sternhagen made her Broadway debut in 1955 as Miss T. Muse in The Skin of Our Teeth, and has appeared in more than 400 plays including on Broadway: The Good Doctor (Tony), The Heiress (Tony), Equus, On Golden Pond (Drama League Medal), Seascape, Steel Magnolias, Mornings at Seven, The Foreigner, Grownups, Angel; Off-Broadway: Driving Miss Daisy, The Admirable Bashville (Obie and Clarence Derwent Award), The Pinter Plays (Obie), The Old Lady Shows Her Medals, Talking Heads, The Exact Center of the Universe, and Long Day's Journey Into Night.
In 1967, Sternhagen made her film debut in Up the Down Staircase, and was featured in The Mist, Raising Cain, Doc Hollywood, Misery, Outland, Starting Over, and Hospital. In addition to her recurring television roles on Sex and the City, The Closer and Cheers, Sternhagen has also appeared as Millicent Carter on ER, as well as Law & Order, Tales from the Crypt, among others.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to experience Broadway right here in Salem, and to support and celebrate one of our community’s most dynamic artistic and cultural organizations,” said LaParl.

A new play written by and featuring Harlan Baker 
 Directed by Christopher Price
Saturday May 22nd at 7:30p.m and Sunday May 23rd at 4 p.m. 
 The Griffen Theatre 
7 Lynde Street

Set on the eve of the 1960 presidential race, Jimmy Higgins is being interviewed by a college student about his life. Higgins recounts his days as a newspaper boy in Sandusky Ohio during the First World War, his meeting with Eugene Debs and other radicals opposed to American participation in the war, his experiences in the LaFollette campaign for president in 1924 and his experiences a labor reporter covering the union organizing drives of tenant farmers and auto workers in the 1930s.
Baker is an adjunct lecturer for the theatre department for the University of Southern Maine where he has been teaching for the past 24 years. He is a former member of the Maine legislature, where he served on the Joint Standing committee on Labor.

"Jimmy Higgins" has long stood for the name of the rank-and-file union and socialist activist.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the box office or by calling 978-825-0222.
For more information go to

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Ropes Mansion and Garden, 318 Essex Street, Salem, MA

The Ropes Mansion was filmed as Alison's house in the movie Hocus Pocus

This is another little-known jewel in Salem, right across the street from the Curwen House of the Salem Inn.  The Ropes Mansion, a stark white beauty, was built in 1727 in the Georgian style.  The Georgian Style, named for the four King Georges of England, was based on classical Roman architecture that was sparked by the discoveries of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Nero's Dome. The house was renovated in 1894 in the Colonial Revival style, a nationalistic response to the centennial of the Revolution.  The house was also moved back from the street.  It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is owned and maintained by the Peabody Essex Museum.  The house is closed to the public but the gardens are open year-round.

The Ropes Mansion once housed three generations of Salem's Ropes family. The house was built for Samuel Barnard, a merchant. In 1768, Judge Nathaniel Ropes, Jr., purchased the house from Barnard's nephew. The Ropes family then inhabited the house until 1907, when the house was given to the Trustees of the Ropes Memorial for public benefit.

The house is considered to be one of the most haunted in Salem.  Nathaniel Ropes was an unpopular Loyalist judge and died of smallpox whilst his house was being stoned by a rabble outside in 1774. His wife Abigail burnt to death after her dress caught fire from the fireplace in 1839.  Both are said to haunt the house.

  The Ropes Mansion, seen from the garden 

The garden was designed and laid out in 1912 by John Robinson, in a style that would have been an appropriate match to the Colonial Revival style of the house.  It is a formal garden, with a symmetrical layout of curving paths that ring a central sundial.  There is a full-time gardener who maintains the impeccable grounds and grows an astounding array of flowers.  Roses, dahlias, delphinium, and hydrangea, to name a few.

There are benches throughout the garden, and a giant beech tree to sit under.  It is the ideal place to sit and contemplate, read, or walk with a loved one.  Kids are welcome here and they love the stocked koi pond.  The garden is open year-round and is free.

One of the many pathways.  The stone edifice is the First Church of Salem, a  Universalist Unitarian church built in 1836

Monday, May 3, 2010

Upcoming Music in Salem

A quick reminder of some of the upcoming musical events coming up in Salem:

SJSF/Berklee Summer Series
 May 8, 2010, 5-7 PM

Derby Square, FREE, rain location inside Museum Place Mall
ANNETTE PHILIP (jazz, fun, experimental)

Annette Philip is an Indian vocalist, composer/arranger, recording artist and choir conductor who thrives on experimenting with the human voice. In 2003, she co-founded Artistes Unlimited (AU) in New Delhi, India, a performing arts ensemble, promoting collaboration among musicians in the city. With a vast repertoire spanning genres such as jazz, rock, R&B, funk, acappella, Gospel, Indian and Western Classical, Sufi and folk music, AU is now India’s largest and most diverse youth platform for musicians, with a rotating line up of over 250 artistes.

Annette is currently recording and performing with her own jazz fusion ensemble, “The Annette Philip Quintet”, now gearing up for the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival in May 2010. She is also touring with the Boston-based vocal group “Women of the World,” as well as working with a big band called "The Makanda Project."


This year Salem’s Historic Old Town Hall will host the festival on Saturday May 15th, 2010
from 11AM until 9PM.
Tickets are $10/$14 at the door. Ticket orders within 5-7 days of the event will be held at the door.
Children under 10 yrs get in for free!

There will be 17 acts of up-and-coming new musicians as well as old favorites.

The Old:
Poor Howard Stith

and The New:

Erik Hartley
Have a listen at this link: just gorgeous!!
Do not miss this!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cafe Valverde, Not Your Average Joe

 Owner Eleni Valverdi flanked by assistant caffeine suppliers

Cafe Valverde is not where you find your average joe.  Cup of joe, that is.  Eleni and Nelson Valverde, the owners of Salem's newest coffee shop, are coffee experts.  The shop has been open a few weeks now and hopefully will give Starbucks (which I occasionally refer to as Charbucks) a run for their money.

Nelson is from Bolivia, where the coffee grows sweet and mellow.  This is a flavor profile regarding Bolivian coffee that I borrowed from the Roaster's Club website:

Aroma: melon
Brightness: bright and clean
Flavor: sweet, with hazelnut and chocolate
Body: silky and well-balanced
Notes: Higher Ground’s Bolivian Caranavi is a complex and flavorful coffee, grown high up in the De MontaƱa Co-op. Light and refreshing on the palate, the cup features caramel and milk chocolate undertones, a fruity aroma, and a smooth, nutty finish. 

Hazelnut?  Chocolate?  Smelling like a melon?  This sounds like my idea of heaven.  I enviously think that people who hail from coffee-growing countries have coffee flowing in their veins.

Eleni and Nelson began their coffee adventures in 2004 as self-taught artisan roasters, with a wholesale coffee importing company called Invalsa Coffee.  They have worked hard to develop relationships with small coffee farmers in Bolivia, where the coffee is grown on small farms high in the tropical Yungas region.  They regularly travel to Bolivia where they taste coffees, buy them, and ship them back to West Newbury, MA, where Invalsa Coffee is located.  The coffee is sold online to restaurants, catering companies, and to places as far away as Australia and Antarctica.  (It makes sense that penguins like a hot cup of coffee; I would too if I lived there).  To be delivered as fresh as possible, the beans are roasted in small batches right before being shipped.  They are lightly roasted, as Bolivian coffees' delicate nuances can be lost by over-roasting.

Nelson Valverde "cupping" in Colombia at the Olympics of coffee, the Cup of Excellence contest

Nelson travels regularly to Bolivia, where his brother Jorge lives and handles the exporting end.  Nelson is also an international judge in the "Cup of Excellence" contests that occur throughout the coffee-growing world.  The Cup of Excellence is a strict competition that selects the best coffee produced in that country for that particular year . These winning coffees are chosen by a select group of national and international "cuppers". The final winners are awarded the prestigious Cup of Excellence and sold to the highest bidder during an internet auction.  Nelson will soon be going to Guatemala to participate, and travels to Cup of Excellence contests about 6 times a year.

 Bolivia's Cup of Excellence

Eleni is now running Cafe Valverde here in Salem.  When I asked, why Salem?  She told me that she and Nelson had conducted an exhaustive search over two years to find just the right location, and that Salem had the right combination of elements.  A busy, bustling city with enough people who have a  palate sophisticated enough to appreciate what Cafe Valverde has to offer.

The cafe is warm and inviting and they sell all manner of coffee drinks, teas, smoothies, and baked goods.  The staff is very friendly.  They have free Wi-Fi.  They will be roasting their coffee beans right on the premises soon, and the aroma will be wafting down the Essex Street mall where you can sit outside at the bistro tables in front and in the cool alley next door.  Any ingredients they can buy locally, such as milk and chocolate, they do.  Having tried their coffee several times, I can definitely attest to how delicious it is, and how it would be tough to go back to...what's that place called?  I can't remember.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Love Your Momma!!
(Bold lettering, largest typeface available, exclamation points, get the idea?)

For Mother's Day, treat your Mom to a wonderful package at the Salem Inn.  She and a guest will stay two nights in a jacuzzi room and receive one of the fabulous spa treatments from LivingWell,  the best spa in Salem.  She'll wake up to the smell of a dozen gorgeous roses, and a $50 gift certificate to the acclaimed Gioia Italian Ristorante or the jazzy Rockafella's Restaurant will guarantee a wonderful night out on the town.  If you are a mom, treat yourself!  What mom doesn't deserve some pampering?

(If anyone wants to babysit my kids while I take advantage of this one, let me know).

$399 plus tax for Monday-Thursday;  $425 + tax for Friday-Sunday.