Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently.
1) The American Lamb Board is partnering with to unite dozens of local chefs for the second annual American Lamb Jam on Sunday, February 20, from 3pm-6pm at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge. Hosted by TV Diner’s Billy Costa, participating chefs will create lamb dishes paired with local beers from seven area breweries and wine from Paso Robles Wines and Washington Wines, to compete for bragging rights and the opportunity to battle other top lamb loving chefs at a Master Lamb Jam in New York City in September. Honored chefs will take home awards for Best in Show, Most Creative and First Place for each of four lamb cuts, including leg, loin, shank and shoulder.

Lamb Lovers Month is the perfect time of year to celebrate your love of flavorful, American Lamb,” said Megan Wortman, Executive Director of the American Lamb Board. “We’re excited to bring this popular event back to Boston and showcase lamb’s versatility with the help of our local partners and Boston’s talented culinary community.”

A portion of the proceeds from this year's Lamb Jam will go to benefit Lovin' Spoonfuls, a Boston-based non-profit organization that facilitates the recovery and distribution of perishable and unserved foods by delivering them to local crisis centers, soup kitchens and other social assistance entities.

Participating restaurants include: 606 Congress, Bistro du Midi, Bondir, Citizen, Garden at the Cellar, Gargoyles on the Square, Gourmet Caterers, Henrietta’s Table, Oleana, Pain D' Avignon, Red Lion Inn, Rialto, Russell House Tavern, Sel de la Terre, The Fireplace and Tomasso Trattoria. Participating breweries include: Berkshire Brewing Company, Blue Hills Brewery, Cape Ann Brewing Company, Harpoon Brewery, Ipswich Ale, Mayflower Brewing Company and Rapscallion.

For more information about local events or to purchase tickets for the American Lamb Jam, please visit  I will be at this event and hopefully I will see you there.

2) Join M Bar & Lounge as they kick off American Heart Month with an exclusive wine tasting party led by Armen Khachaturian of Ehlers Estate Winery. Throughout the entire month of February, enjoy a variety of wines from Ehlers Estate Winery at Mandarin Oriental, Boston. A gift will be donated to the Leducq Foundation for cardiovascular research from each glass or bottle purchased of Ehlers Estate’s Sauvignon Blanc and “One Twenty Over Eighty” Cabernet Sauvignon sold at the hotel. Support heart health with Mandarin Oriental, Boston.

When: Monday, February 7 from 6PM to 8PM
Cost: $30 per person
For reservations, please contact (617) 535-8800.

3) Here are some more Valentine’s Day options:

At Meritage, on February 14, Chef Daniel Bruce will prepare a menu of five courses, each paired with a unique wine. Guests will enjoy dishes such as Pan Seared Atlantic Halibut with Gingered Jasmine Rice and Lobster, Mint Roasted Rack of Baby Lamb with Creamy Golden Potatoes and Wild Mushrooms, and Smokey Pommes d’Amour Soup with Fennel Pollen Laced Sautéed Shrimp. Each dish will be accompanied by a fine wine thoughtfully selected to complement the unique flavors of the dish.  Cost is $145 per person.

From Friday, February 11 to Monday, February 14, Co-owner and Executive Chef Dante de Magistris of Restaurant dante will of a four-course tasting menu for $75, with wine pairings for $100.  The regular a la carte menu will also be.  At il Casale, Chef de Magistris will also prepare a four course prix-fixe menu, including such items as hand-crafted gnocchi with basil pistachio pesto and shaved Pecorino. For dessert, enjoy Chocolate Almond Mousse Cake with passion fruit coulis. An abridged prix-fixe menu alongside il Casale’s a la carte menu will be offered on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday preceding Valentine’s Day for those lovers who celebrate all weekend long.  The four course prix-fixe menu is $59 per person.

The MET restaurants present a number of Valentine's Day specials.  At the MET Back Bay, Chef Todd Winer will prepared dishes such as Sashimi Pizza, Prime New York Club Cut Sirloin and Chocolate Caramel Tart. The special menu items will run from Saturday, February 12, through Monday, February 14. The regular menu is also available alongside the specials.  At both locations of MET Bar & Grill, you'll find specials including Jumbo Grilled Artichokes ($16), Garlic Basil Shrimp ($29), Grilled New York Sirloin ($31) and Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake ($9) at both locations. The special menu items will run from Saturday, February 12, through Monday, February 14. The regular menu is also available alongside the specials. The Metropolitan Club is offering dishes like “Heart of Gold” comprised of beet & goat cheese terrine, gold leaf love and sweet & sour walnuts; “Naughty Love” made of seared duck breast, dirty duck rice, fried egg and red swiss chard; and a sweet Chocolate Caramel Tart. The special menu items will run from Saturday, February 12, through Monday, February 14. The regular menu is also available alongside the specials.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Gargoyles on The Square on Monday, February 14, with a special three course meal for $50 per person. Dishes include appetizers such as Gold Crusted Foie Gras, Louisiana Grilled Oysters and Braided Veal with Black Truffles followed by entrees such as Pork Tenderloin Wellington and Mushroom Crusted Lamb Loin for 2. Dinner ends on a sweet note with the choice of a Turtle Cream Pie or Passionfruit Cheesecake.

4) For novice wine lovers, you can learn the basics of the world of wine from Tina Messina of the Wine Connextion on Wednesday, February 9th, from 7pm-9pm, at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE).  "This unpretentious one-session class is perfect for wine lovers or wine beginners who want to hone their skills. Important to many facets of everyday life, from ordering off a menu to discovering your own wine tastes, a simple understanding of wine will be enough to get you through any wining and dining experience!"

Instructor: Tina Messina has been in the family business for over 20 years. Her vision to transform the family-owned business, Messina's Liquors, into a “fine wine store selling wine at discount prices” came from visits to vineyards in California and the desire to bring her experience to the local East Coast marketplace. The closing of Messina's Liquors allowed Tina's vision to come to fruition in the form of this innovative store concept, The Wine ConneXtion. Tina's marketing and knowledge of retail has allowed her to develop this unique shopping environment which balances just enough customer service with self-service to reduce operating costs and pass on those savings for great buys to all types of wine consumers. Her unique idea for selling and marketing wine means consumers still receive great service but at significant cost savings than traditional wine stores. Tina also is a principal for NA Realty Group which owns and operates First & Main Marketplace, home of The Wine ConneXtion.

Cost: $45/$40 Members; $15 Materials
RSVP: Registration is necessary. Please visit or call the BCAE at 617-267-4430 to sign up.

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