MoCA: Made on Cape Ann

If you think Cape Ann is all beaches and boating, think again. We make stuff here. In fact, there’s a thriving community of makers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, and they’re inventing and reinventing all the time. Here, we present a showcase of the fruits of their labors.


Food: Brothers Brew Donuts

The Plain donut from Brothers Brew in Rockport. (Photograph by Katie Noble)

The Plain donut from Brothers Brew in Rockport. (Photograph by Katie Noble)


Brothers Brew donuts, paired with a black American cup of coffee, is Rockport’s Breakfast of Champions.

With a second-generation of the Brackett family now in charge, the place formerly known as The Coffee Shop, has become a Rockport institution. In the old days, the tight space had just one long, slender counter fronted by a handful of green, vinyl-covered chrome stools. The counter is still there, but Ross Brackett broke down the wall to the restaurant next door and remodeled, making it possible to enjoy your donut and coffee at an assortment of cute little painted tables.

He has expanded the donut repertoire, too. But the gold standard is still the “Plain”: crispy-brown and quilted on the outside with a yellow, cakey-crumb inside, and just a hint of mace. It’s like an old-fashioned piece of bundt cake, but fried and warm. Be sure to get there early — they go fast!

Brothers Brew Coffee Shop, 27 Main Street, Rockport (978) 546 3775. Open from 7am – 4pm daily.


Film: Manchester by the Sea


Those bright yellow signs with large black letters, strapped to telephone poles and street signs, have become ubiquitous around Cape Ann lately. They’re everywhere, and pretty much year-round. But who knew, back in 2015, when those signs in Manchester, Gloucester, and Beverly shouted “MBTS CREW,” that the work they were doing was bound for Golden Globe and Oscar glory? 

One of the saddest movies ever made — good company for anther locally-produced, award-winning downer, The Perfect Storm — took its name from our own Manchester by the Sea, and launched actor Casey Affleck out of the shadow of his famous brother, Ben, when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

It never gets old seeing this beautiful place on the big screen. Hollywood seems to agree.

Manchester by the Sea, Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. Released January, 2017.


Sweets: Turtle Alley Chocolates


“Chocolate is a highly-satisfying medium to work with,” says Turtle Alley Chocolates owner Hallie Baker. “People who come in your store are happy, and then you make them happier. It’s an extremely rewarding way to live. I still eat chocolate everyday — and I’ve been making it for 23 years!”
Baker, a painter by education, fell in love with the chemistry of chocolate working in restaurants (And candy shops. And ice cream shops) to make money for canvases, paints and brushes. And after working in a Prides Crossing, Mass., chocolate shop for eight years, she opened Turtle Alley in 2000.
There is nothing quite as perfect a gift as a pound of Turtle Alley chocolates, handmade in Gloucester and Salem, designed by the owner’s extra-sensory intelligence for flavors and textures. Turtles, truffles, bark — you choose.

Turtle Alley Chocolates, 42 Rogers Street, Gloucester. (978) 281 4000. Open Monday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm, Sunday, 12 – 6pm.


Tech: Vivaldi Browser


Okay, truth be told, there’s not a factory on Cape Ann churning out web browsers. But when the founder and CEO (and his family) moved to Magnolia, so, technically, did Vivaldi Technologies. Like so many other tech companies, Vivaldi is largely virtual — it has offices in Oslo, Norway, and Reykjavík, Iceland — but the brains of the company, Jón von Tetzchner, took up residence here in 2013, and hasn’t looked back.

The company’s browser is a darling of serious technophiles, and in a review in New York magazine, Jake Swearingen, an avowed Google Chrome user, says “whenever I jump into actually digging into a subject for work, or do something like plan out a trip, Vivaldi has quickly become my browser of choice.”

Maybe it’s time to try out the hometown browser?

Vivaldi Technologies, Innovation House, 18 Norman Avenue, Gloucester. 


Snacks: That Nutty Redhead


That Nutty Redhead was born at the Rockport Farmers’ Market. Owner Lisa Griffiths bought a pop-up tent and began trying her great-grandmother’s steamed nut confection out on Rockport’s Saturday shoppers.
Her uniquely processed almonds and cashews — which are gluten-free, have no artificial anything, and are made from the highest-quality nuts — come in flavors like “Breakfast in New England” and “New England Praline.”
After finding success in Rockport, Griffiths expanded the the larger Cape Ann Farmers’ Market, where she was quickly discovered by a scout from Whole Foods. And the rest is history.

That Nutty Redhead, Available at Cape Ann Fresh Catch and Market Basket in Gloucester, and Whole Foods in Lynnfield. Also available online.


Music: Fisk Organs

Opus 136, Fisk’s organ in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, was completed in 2010. (Photograph courtesy of C.B. Fisk)

Opus 136, Fisk’s organ in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, was completed in 2010. (Photograph courtesy of C.B. Fisk)


As a World War II draftee, Charles Brenton Fisk’s first assignment was the Manhattan Project, working for Robert Oppenheimer at the age of 18. But that’s not even the most amazing part of his life story.

Since founding his namesake company in 1961, Fisk’s instruments have left an indelible mark on American organ building. The company has completed over 90 instruments in 23 US states, as well as Switzerland, Japan, and South Korea. It’s hard to imagine that these incredibly engineered, perfectly pitched, room-sized organs are built in a state-of-the-art facility in the woods of West Gloucester. (But they are).

C.B. Fisk, Inc., 21 Kondelin Road, Gloucester. (978) 283 1909. Check out this fascinating video about their process.