Food Blog

Over the Moonstones



The ancient people believed that a person could read their own future if they put a moonstone gem in their mouths while the moon was full. We didn’t go to Moonstones in Chelmsford, MA for that reason, but let’s call it ‘serendipity’.  With the full Harvest moon about to crescendo, we got our mouths full of the fare at this unique restaurant. We have seen our future and it looks pretty delicious. And we are proud to introduce a new honorary Gertz Girl by the name of Caroline McKinnon, who joined in our lunar gastronomic experience!

Gertz Girl EvaCaroline Sez:

I am a faithful reader of Gertz Girlz and patiently await the new review each month to get my taste buds dancing. I also quite frequently enjoy the benefits of Lisa’s home kitchen so know first-hand what a good cook she is. I hear Dee is even better and has an amazing kitchen to go along with the territory. As I read the blog each month and see the beautiful pictures of what looks to be scrumptious food, my mouth waters. So…I was absolutely delighted when the Girlz invited me to be a guest.

Gertz Girl DeeDee Sez:

Allow me to interrupt and say I’ll cop to the amazing kitchen, thank you! But Lisa is the true gourmet talent of the Gertz Girlz!



Gertz Girl EvaCaroline Sez:

Along with my fellow sistah Lisa, I have become the “Goldilocks” of restaurants. Every place I go it seems to be too loud, too rough a crowd, too hot or too cold (I like it hot, Lisa likes it sub-zero).  As I headed out to Moonstones, I was hoping it would be “just right”!

I couldn’t be more excited as I perused the Moonstones menu.  I was most excited about the Poké. Ever since I read about Poké Bowls in the California Girlz write up, I’ve been dying to try one.  I was also excited about peppadew peppers (with goat cheese and Chelmsford honey) and Korma Meatballs (golden raisins, cashews, basmati rice and mint yogurt) and of course, Poké!!! I often have order envy so thought I might end up trying everyone’s dish and really channel my inner Goldilocks. However, I was very satisfied and completely content with my own order and did not have room to try everyone else’s!

We ordered and shared the peppadews.  They were small, adorable, and bursting with flavor.  I found them to be absolutely delicious.

Scarlet Jewels: Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers with Chelmsford Honey

Gertz Girl DeeDee Sez:

You could stuff a pinecone with goat cheese and I’d gnaw on it! Just sayin’ 🙂 They were a surprising wonder!



Gertz Girl EvaCaroline Sez:

For my main dish, I ordered the Szechuan Eggplant Poké Bowl. It was beautifully plated and I couldn’t wait to dig in. In addition to the eggplant, rice, cucumber, avocado and pickled mango, it also included tofu and red peppers (I opted out of the red peppers). I was happy they were able to oblige. Often times, I ask for even the slightest variations and restaurants can’t (or won’t) accommodate. This dish was listed as “medium spicy”, which was an accurate description.  I do not like things too hot, and it was just the right amount of spice.

Szechuan Eggplant Poké Bowl

The sweet-spicy, perfectly balanced, sauce soaked into the fried tofu and was outstanding.  I guess I’ll have to wait for my next visit to Moonstones to try the Korma Meatballs.

Gertz Girl LisaLisa Sez:

I was thrilled to have my dear friend Goldilocks (I mean Caroline) along with us! We have a regular weekly dinner together but have had palate fatigue lately, and so I was looking for a restaurant that would be a bit different. I checked out the Moonstone menu online and was intrigued. We had planned for a 2pm meal on a Saturday and so we were restricted to their lunch menu, but it was far from average. From the infused non-alcoholic “Refresh” beverages which can be ordered by half carafe or pitcher (Basil Cucumber Spritzer, Ginger Mint Iced Tea to name a couple), the gorgeous raw bar, the lunch bowls, a selection of special cheeses, and very nice dessert offerings, we were in for an interesting late lunch.

Moonstones’ Mixologist Jeff!

We were seated close to the bar and next to a group of women who were already having fun, from a look at their martini-laden table. Hmm…how could we be healthful and have fun too? Well, let’s take that Basil-Cucumber idea and make it into a martini? Our friendly server Hannah agreed that was a splendid idea!

Keith is ready to shuck the oysters!

Dee and I concurred after several sips that it was a delicious combination. And speaking of friendly – Moonstones is oozing it. From Jeff the menu-knowledgable bartender, to Keith who was manning the oyster bar, to the general manager herself, it’s apparent that friendly, great service is a priority here. That vibe is infectious and we had a truly great time, with me basking in the company of two of my favorite girlz!

Gertz Girl EvaCaroline Sez:

OK, let’s talk cocktails!  I am in love with any place that has more than one sangria.  And Moonstones did not disappoint.  There were a few different choices of their ’stones sangria…a sexy Spanish infusion of fresh fruit, wine and spirits. I chose the rosé sangria (pomegranate, raspberry, grapefruit, topped with Prosecco). I do not like too sweet of a sangria and this was crisp, refreshing, and delicious.

Basil-Cucumber Martinis and a Rosé Sangria

Gertz Girl LisaLisa Sez:

I felt the need to order one lonely Wellfleet oyster to start my meal off. It was fresh and briny, and it came well-appointed (on ice with the typical sauces and toppings).



The Lonely Wellfleet Oyster

The Poké Bowl I ordered (Vietnamese-style crispy shrimp, namasu with miso-sriracha aioli) was both pretty and plentiful with the shrimp having just the right sweet, firm bite to them.

Crispy Shrimp Poké Bowl

But I must say it was our Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadews appetizer that most ‘wowed’ me. I had never had these scarlet beauties before, and all I can say is you MUST order these when you go. They come five to the order and are startlingly good! The other standout for me was the Warm Chocolate Paté from the dessert sampler we had at end of meal – it made me moan involuntarily.

Gertz Girl DeeDee Sez:

Sometimes, and at its best, going out for a meal is about meeting new people. That’s certainly the case here. I was thrilled to enjoy a fabulous meal with a lovely new friend and Lisa’s BFF, Caroline. What a pleasure to peruse the eclectic menu at Moonstones over getting-to-know-you conversation!

Despite the eclectic offerings, sometimes you just gotta have a burger. And Moonstones obviously understands that, by offering two great choices. This almost inspired an ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ since both the Joe and the Fat Moon sounded so good. I opted for the Fat Moon because I love the onion/mushroom combo (especially on pizza) and don’t get me started on the wonders of bleu cheese.

The Fat Moon Burger

I ordered the burger medium rare, and it was cooked just right. The caramelized onions were sweet and complimented the earthy mushrooms, and there was just the right amount of tartness from the cheese to balance it out. The shoestring fries were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Totally addictive.

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Fry Me to the Moon!

Gertz Girl EvaCaroline Sez:

At the end of our meal, we simply couldn’t say no to dessert.  There were so many “must haves” that we decided on the sampler.  It included the vanilla crème brûlée, Brazilian coconut pudding, chocolate pâté, and a surprise from the Chef.  The surprise was a chocolate chip cookie bar.  Of the four deserts, it was my favorite.  It was warm, soft, sweet and delicious.  I wish I could have ordered a whole pan of it to take home!

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Sweet Surprise! Chocolate Chip Brownie Bar

Gertz Girl DeeDee Sez:

The Brownie Bar was fantastic, but my favorite was the Crème Brûlée, and it was the first time I ever tried it. DeeLish! Since I have the ramekins and the torch, I will definitely be making this at home to hold me over until I can get back to Moonstones. Hopefully soon!


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Vanilla Crème Brûlée with Fresh Berries

Gertz Girl EvaCaroline Sez:

I really loved Moonstones.  I loved the ambiance, the food, the service and the overall experience.  I hope to go back at some point for dinner or to have cocktails and appetizers at the bar.  We were told the dinner menu offers several tapas choices.  I’m so happy the Gertz Girlz invited me to the is lovely afternoon.


Gertz Girl EvaEva Sez:

I’m in absentia as usual lately due to senior year commitments – but it sounded like a fun time and I’m sorry I missed dining with my two wonderful Auntz!! I promise to be at the next one!

Gertz Girlz Final Dish:

Also unique is the architecture of Moonstones. Situated in a free-standing building on Route 110 in Chelmsford, it’s hard not to notice its contemporary exterior.


Once inside, that look continues with big splashes of citrusy colors, intimate and multilevel dining areas, and strategic patches of daylight offered from atrium ceiling windows. The lighting was just right and the music a soft rock whose volume we didn’t need to fight with to have conversation. Goldilocks was satisfied and you will be too!

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#alfresco, #seasidedining, Food Blog

Mermaidz on The Deck

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We are now well into the lazy, hazy, crazy daze (er, days) of summer, and the Gertz Girlz have heard the siren call of the sea (or in this case, the Merrimack River)! For this dining adventure, we channeled our inner mermaidz and headed to The Deck in Salisbury, MA. The day started overcast, which isn’t a bad thing on a humid day; sitting beside the water under a big umbrella with refreshing beverages makes for a cool, relaxing way to pass the hours. But to make it extra special, we were joined by our very first honorary Gertz Girl–and intrepid mermaid–Cheryl Notartomaso! As the afternoon wore on, the clouds burned away and left us with a perfect day for dining alfresco.

Gertz Girl Cheryl.jpgCheryl Sez:

First I have to thank the Dee, Lisa and Eva for letting me be their first honorary Gertz Girl!

The Deck is always a great place to visit on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon and the company of the girlz made it all that much better.

When you first arrive the valet is ready to open your car door and park your car and reminds you to give your server your ticket when you are paying the check and it will be waiting for you when you are ready to leave. I like that! I was seated right way at a nice table with a view and our server arrived quickly to take a drink order while I waited for the girlz to arrive. Being in the hospitality business my entire career, great customer service is paramount and keeps customers coming back. I felt the service was on par from start to finish.

Caesar Salad with Chopped Kale and Seared Scallops

Our starter of Blue Corn Chips and Guacamole was just enough to hold me over until my ‘go to’ Caesar Salad with chopped Kale and Seared Scallops arrived. The salad, tossed with just enough creamy Caesar dressing and shaved parmesan was abundant and full of flavor. The fresh seared scallops were cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside and sweet and tender on the inside. As an ‘add on’ it was totally worth the $12 price. I have visited the Deck in the past and I have had the Caesar with Grilled Shrimp and it never disappoints.

While the menu is a bit limited there is always something that even the most finicky eater can find, and if not just sit back order a cool beverage and enjoy the beautiful view in the day time or at sunset.

Gertz Girl DeeDee Sez:

More often than not, I have a hard time deciding what to order. I try to study the menu online and narrow it down beforehand so I don’t irritate the wait staff or my dining companions. What can I say? I hate to regret a choice, which is probably why I don’t have tattoos. Anyway, The Deck has a limited menu which helps, but honestly, they could have put a bowl of Alpo in front of me and I would have been happy. Not sure it would have paired well with my Pinot Grigio, but…it’s about the atmosphere! The fragrant breezes! The water views! And of course, and most importantly, the company!

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Cheryl and Dee

I was thrilled to welcome Cheryl as our first honorary Gertz Girl. She and I met through work in 2001, becoming fast friends, but life has since moved us along divergent paths, so it was a real treat to spend this beautiful day with her–along with Lisa and Eva, of course! And it was like a mini staycation for me as well; I haven’t been near the water since 2006. Sad, but true.

Oh yeah, so the food! I was torn between the Seared Scallops starter as an entrée, the Fish Sandwich and the Stuffed Portobello Mushroom. Cheryl kindly offered me one of her scallops. Thank you, Cheryl! It was perfectly seared and sweet, and I will most definitely order it on another visit, but I decided on the Fish Sandwich. I’m not a big fish eater, oddly enough, but since mushrooms grow in the woods, and particularly as I watched the boats bob in the marina, I thought it more fitting to go with seafood. When in Rome…

A table with a view!

It was a generous portion, and the haddock was gleaming white, moist and flaky. The coating was light and not a bit greasy, but it was also a tad bland. I would have liked it more with some salt and pepper–or dare I suggest, a smidge of Old Bay seasoning?–mixed into the batter. The lettuce and tomato brightened the sandwich but the tartar sauce could have been thicker.

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Fish Sandwich

I also could have done with a slice of American cheese to make it a kicked up Filet-O-Fish, didn’t think to ask. These are quibbles; the sandwich was thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying. The brioche bun was nicely toasted. The fries were perfectly salted. I avoided the pickle, figuring it wouldn’t mesh with the wine, which was light, crisp and DeeLish!

Gertz Girl LisaLisa Sez:

Summertime and the living is easy. Whoever wrote that nailed the feeling we all had the afternoon we landed on The Deck! Warm sun, blue skies, and incredible views all taken in under cheerful red umbrellas. I was coming off a tsunami of fried food that weekend – the usual suspects of breaded clams and scallops. I perused the menu at The Deck and went for something light. I ordered the Sesame Salad with the addition of grilled shrimp.

Sesame Salad with Grilled Shrimp

The salad is comprised of Napa cabbage, mixed greens, peanuts, red pepper, bean sprouts, chick peas, and carrots, with cilantro and a light dressing of ginger tahini. Crunch, crunch, and more crunch! I think this would satisfy any herbivore’s craving for a substantial salad by itself. But this mermaid was happy she ordered the grilled shrimp on top. The shrimp were just right, firm to the bite with a tender finish. Altogether very satisfying on a warm day.

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Cheryl and Lisa (before the clouds burned away)

Lest I forget – the Mojito cocktail was pretty much the perfect accompaniment to both the salad and the festive ambiance offered at this seaside restaurant. If people-watching and boat-watching are your thing you will enjoy The Deck, which also has the added bonus of sitting beside a drawbridge which opens and closes regularly to let the taller vessels pass through.

Gertz Girl EvaEva Sez:

Truth be told, I am a REAL mermaid and therefore I don’t eat my fellow sea creatures! I haven’t knowingly eaten seafood ever, although apparently my cruel parents duped me into eating it when I was little by ordering “Chicken Calamari” with a wink at the server. That said, I am most happy near any ocean, and I was content to be with the other mermaidz no matter what they ordered! So I went with the BLT.

World’s Best BLT, according to Eva!

Which is the biggest understatement in the world, because it should really be listed on the menu as World’s Best BLT !  There’s a lotta magic going in that-there sandwich which involved salty, thick bacon and just the right amount of fresh tomato and an amazing aioli mayonnaise to give it a kick. SO delicious! Alas, I also went at the fries pretty hard and so decided to take half the sandwich to go…that was a mistake.

Gertz Girl LisaLisa Sez:

I mean my salad was terrific. But at 10pm that night the World’s Best BLT was calling my name (if you get my mermaid drift). So I owe Eva the other half of that sandwich and it will be a wonderful excuse to go back!


Gertz Girl EvaEva Sez:

(Some mermaidz can’t be trusted with leftoverz).

Gertz Girlz Final Dish:

Newburyport is one of our favorite towns in New England, and some Gertz Girlz may even move there eventually. But if there’s one thing better than eating at a great restaurant in Newburyport – it’s eating at a great restaurant as you gaze adoringly across the river AT Newburyport. There’s a lot of summer left and before it’s gone, we strongly suggest you make your way to The Deck!!

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Food Blog, Uncategorized

Birdz of a Feather



The Gertz Girlz are bird lovers. You might even say extreme bird lovers. One of us is the loving mother of a 29-year-old cockatiel. Another not only finds daily joy in feeding birds, but she even had the nickname “Birdie” at one time. For these, and other more gastronomic reasons, it seems fated that we would eventually pay a visit to The Purple Finch Café in Bedford, New Hampshire.

Gertz Girl DeeDee Sez:

Yes, I’ve been a parrot parent to my cockatiel Arnie since he hatched on April 15, 1989. Tax Day. And he’s been taxing me ever since! But I love him dearly. And now I can say I love the Purple Finch Café!


Arnold Edgar Gertz (aka Arnie) loves himself some Dunkin’ Donuts Everything Bagel.

Gertz Girl LisaLisa Sez:

This café has consistently won the Best Breakfast Place for the last several years (voted via customer polls) in the Manchester area. I kept reading about them in both NH Magazine and The Hippo, two local publications that take food pretty seriously. We took advantage of their “call ahead” service and set off on a beautiful Sunday morning recently. Walking into a busy café, made cheerful with splashes of purple and lime green throughout, we noted stencils of little purple finches which charmingly make appearances  throughout. In addition to tables in the dining area, you can also request a seat at the breakfast counter which has a large tv screen, where on this morning you could watch Ina Garten cook up a storm, while you ate your own delicious meal.

The Purple Finch has garnered a few awards, and rightly so!

One of the highlights of our visit was possibly the friendliest and most pleasant servers we’ve ever encountered – a smiling woman named Linny. She came to our table right away and let us take our time with the menu, answering questions and bringing our beverages to us in seconds. The menu takes a while to peruse as you have your choice of both breakfast and lunch menu items.

At 11am it’s usually a toss up for me. I decided on the Avocado Toast $8 (A slice of wheat toast topped with mashed avocado, sliced tomato, a poached egg, feta crumbles & scallions. Served with a cup of fresh fruit). Except could I make a few changes? Special orders don’t upset them. I swapped out the fresh fruit for a side of their amazing Sweet Potato Dots (think tater tots only healthier) which come with a little cup of real maple syrup for dipping. Also, could you hold the feta crumbles? No problem.

Avocado Toast with Sweet Potato Dots

When our food arrived, I got exactly what I ordered PLUS “would I mind trying a new dish the chef is trying out and telling us which of the two you prefer?” Being the helpful human being that I am, I was happy to oblige. The experimental dish was similar but more interesting: An English muffin topped with mashed avocado, field greens flavored slightly with a light Greek dressing, topped with a perfectly cooked poached egg. Outstanding.

The Arcadian Avo, a brand new dish not yet on the menu! No doubt it will be soon!

I let Linny know it was my favorite of the two and asked what the name of it was. The newborn didn’t have a name yet, so Linny rushed back to the kitchen to ask the Chef and came back triumphant – “The Arcadian Avo”. Pass the cigars, this one is special! So glad we could be there for this proud moment.

Gertz Girl DeeDee Sez:

As I mentioned in our Parker’s Maple Barn entry, when out for brunch I go for Eggs Benedict whenever possible. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Purple Finch has not one, but three types of Eggs Bennie (WOOT! WOOT!) but for this visit I decided to fight the urge and try something different.

How do I love brunch? Let me count the ways! Choices, choices and more choices! Purple Finch doesn’t disappoint with its inventive yet down-to-earth menu and there were so many dishes that attracted me. Among many contenders, the finalists were Breakfast Nachos, the Cowboy Breakfast Burrito (yes, big Mexican food fan), The Breakfast Caprese and the Chicken Corden Bleu Stacker.

And the winner is (insert drumroll)…the Breakfast Caprese!

The Breakfast Caprese

If you’re a fan of the salad, you’ll love the sandwich, unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian. This is an egg sandwich that made me think of what might happen if a BLT and a caprese salad had a baby. Served on a grilled ciabatta roll, the tomatoes were bright red and juicy, the field greens crisp and varied, the bacon thick and spot-on crispy. Instead of fresh mozzarella, they use a basil infused cream cheese, which I think helps make it easier to handle. It’s not super large, but things tend to slide around in a stacked sandwich with a lot going on. This one held it together well; though I did have to ask for extra napkins, I didn’t look undignified getting it into my mouth.

The Caprese Sandwich with Shredded Hash Browns.

The shredded hash browns I ordered from a choice of sides were crispy on the top and tender on the bottom. Potato perfecto! They weren’t seasoned, which I prefer. I like to control my own salt and pepper.

As Lisa mentioned, our waitress was friendly and enthusiastic. I got the feeling that she eats at Purple Finch on her days off! I know I would. I could easily try EVERYTHING on their menu, and that has never happened in all my many, many years of dining out. DeeLish!

Gertz Girl EvaEva Sez:

I really liked this place. It’s clean and bright and they even have a small coloring corner set up to keep the little kids quiet so I can focus on my Instagram scrolling.



Happy Kiddie Koloring Korner!

The menu has some great choices. I ordered the Finch-wich: A breakfast sandwich with fried egg, cheddar cheese, sausage patty and hashbrowns on a grilled bagel. It usually comes served with the house-made Sweet Potato Dots, but I swapped those out for a side of seasoned homefries and bacon. Delish! The sandwich with those crispy hashbrowns is a brilliant combo and the thick bacon was a solid 10.

The Finch-Wich Sandwich

Gertz Girlz Final Dish:

After we left the Purple Finch Café, we took a peek at their Take-Out Menu which we grabbed on the way out. We discovered the genesis of the café – Jeff and Julie, who met in the food industry while they were working their way through college at UNH, and decided to build a breakfast-serving nest together six years ago. Kudos to the Lovebirds!

There are many more items we want to try including a soup special, Scallop & Bacon Chowder, and every one of their unique sandwiches and salads! When the weather gets chilly we’d like to try The Harvest French Toast – Three slices of golden French toast topped with fire roasted cinnamon apples, cranberries, walnuts, powdered sugar and whipped cream!

We will be returning to the Purple Finch Café because of the great experience and, because, you know “Birdz of a Feather?!”

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