Thursday, March 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)Give Back @ The Grill” is a new pro-gram initiated at Ashmont Grill that puts its money where its heart is. Chef-owner Chris Douglass helps fund urban assistance programs in Dorchester by allowing local organizations to “host” his Monday Night Wine Club for a month. The club is the restaurant’s, 4-year-old, weekly tasting and dining event.

For each $35 three-course meal sold on Monday nights, Ashmont Grill gives back $5 to the host organization. Regular patrons and walk-ins are of course welcome on Mondays, and their meal proceeds get donated, too. If the restaurant sells out every Monday night, the hosting organization stands to gain $1,600 in four weeks.

In March, the Grill’s charitable partner is Boston Partners in Education, who “enhance academic achievement and nurtures the personal growth of Boston’s pubic school students by providing them with focused, individualized, in-school volunteer support.”

In April, it’s College Bound Dorchester, whose mission is to equip Dorchester students with the attitude, skills and experience to graduate from college. It focuses on critical developmental periods in the lives of more than 900 students annually through five program areas – Early Ed, Out of School Time, Adolescent Development, Alternative and Adult Ed.

I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 25 years, and I know how hard it is for these organizations to keep funded and operating. The “Give Back” program gives these groups a chance to help themselves, while having fun here at the restaurant, and it assures that the people of this neighborhood will continue to benefit from their good works,” says Douglass.

Monday Night Wine Club themes vary from week to week:
March 7: Au Bon Climat Winery
March 14: Yellow & Blue (an eco-friendly packaged CA wine)
March 21: California Dreamin'
March 28: France’s Greatest Hits

2) Chef Brian Poe of Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake is debuting his first Poe’s Unleashed menu of the New Year. Available day and night, the menu includes the following options:

--Roasted Garlic Soup (Apricot & Onion Salsa with Roasted Garlic Toast Point & Chile Oil)
Cup: $6.25 Bowl: $10.75
--Welsh Rabbit (Horseradish, Rosemary, Truffle & Red Onion Braised Rabbit with Humboldt Fog & Old Speckled Hen Beer Cheese Sauce and Rosemary & Onion Slaw)  $11
--Duck Quesadilla (Orange & Chipotle Roasted Duck with Queso Fresco & San Andreas Cheese, Orange & Basil Salsa and Chipotle Orange Jus)  $10
--Adobo Chicken K~bobs (Grilled with Lime Vinaigrette, Chipotle Butter and Adobo Glaze)  $9
--Spicy Shrimp & Clams (In Chile, Coconut & Lobster Broth with Cilantro, Habanero & Soba Noodles)  $16
--Chocolate Pyramid (With raspberry-jalapeño puree)  $6.25
--Pecan Tart (With black lava sea salt caramel & cinnamon-dusted ice cream)  $6.25

3) Lala Rokh, offering Persian cuisine in New England for the last 16 years, honors Nowruz (Persian New Year) with a traditional celebratory dinner, Sofreh-ye Haft Sinn. Translated literally to mean “Cloth of Seven Dishes,” the meal represents rejuvenation and is celebrated around the Vernal Equinox (March 19) through March 31.

Nowruz, meaning “New Day,” is celebrated on the first day of the Vernal Equinox and marks the start of spring. Stemming from Cyrus the Great’s religious tolerance, the 3,000 year-old holiday unites people of different faiths and countries. A common thread among all Nowruz celebrations -- from the Persian Gulf to Western China -- is the symbolic ingredients and decorations that make up the meal and dinner table. Menu items include a cleansing herb and noodle soup to wash away troubles of the past year as well as a main course of whitefish, which symbolizes life. The table is decorated with eight items (all starting with the letter "S" in Farsi), including live goldfish as centerpieces and other symbolic items, such as hyacinths, tulips, lentils, and grasses. For the Binas, the celebration would not be complete without reading the work of one of the greatest Persian poets, Hafez (1325/26-1389/90)."

Designed to commemorate her family’s Persian heritage, Executive Chef and Co-owner Azita Bina-Seibel delivers a celebratory meal rich in symbolism. With spices sourced directly from Iran by her mother, Chef Bina-Seibel prepares traditional Persian dishes using generations-old family recipes. In addition to the slow-cooked meats and vegetables, dried fruits and native spices that make up Lala Rokh’s repertoire, the Persian New Year feast includes an array of symbolic ingredients and dishes in keeping with the theme of rebirth.

Lala Rokh’s special Persian New Year menu will include Ash Reshteh, a thickened soup of herbs, chick peas, lentils and noodles garnished with mint oil and goat’s milk yogurt, as well as Sabzi Pollo Mahi, lightly battered white fish with herb-infused basmati rice. The restaurant’s regular dinner menu will also be available during this time.

WHEN: March 19 – 31, 2011, from 5:30pm-10pm
RESERVATIONS: Recommended. Please call (617) 720-5511.

4) The Bristol Lounge will kick off National Pancake Week (March 6 - 12, 2011) with the "Batter Up" breakfast on March 5th, followed by Red Velvet pancakes featured all week long.  The "Batter Up" Breakfast: will be held on Saturday, March 5, from 9am-11am, featuring all-you-can-at pancakes and an array of fun toppings for $20 per person.  You will get to taste standards such as buttermilk as well as more unique pancakes such as Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes and Red Velvet. Reservations are required, please contact Dining Reservations at (617) 351-2037.

5) Cuffs – An Irish Bar in The Back Bay Hotel soon will be celebrating its favorite holiday: St. Patrick’s Day. From March 14th through 20th, the culinary team at Cuffs will serve up specially created dishes giving patrons a taste of good old fashioned Irish tradition.

--Toastie (With Irish bacon and hard cheddar cheese)  $6
--Cocktail Baby Sausages (A dozen sausages dipped in Guinness beer batter, flashed fried, served with mustard mayo)  $11

--Doyle’s Dublin Coddle (Grilled Irish pork sausage with potato puree and bacon vegetable stew) $12
--Beef and Oxtail Irish Stew (New England beef, made the Irish way)  $16

6) The 2nd annual A Taste of Iceland, a multi-day festival celebrating Icelandic cuisine, music, nightlife and film, is coming to Boston from March 18-22. Rialto Restaurant will be offering a special menu of Icelandic cuisine.
Chef Jóhannes Jóhannesson, otherwise known as “Chef Jói,” co-owner and head Chef at Reykjavik’s esteemed Seafood Cellar Restaurant, is coming to Boston to treat customers to unique Icelandic dishes featuring fresh seafood, lamb and skyr straight from Iceland. Working closely with Chef Jody Adams, Chef Jói will be serving a four-course menu, costing $85 per person, from Friday, March 18 through Tuesday, March 22.

The menu includes:
First Course:
Salted cod from Elvar Reykjalín with apples, celeriac and red currant
Second Course:
Fried Icelandic langoustine lobster with cauliflower in variations, winter truffle and brown butter
Main Course:
Filet of Icelandic mountain lamb with beetroot, goat’s cheese, onion and lamb jus
Dessert Course:
Icelandic skyr with raspberries, mascarpone ice cream, dried white chocolate and dill

Reservations can be made by calling 617-661-5050.

7) It’s a St. Patrick’s Day celebration for the senses at TAMO at the Seaport Hotel.  Let Geese in the Bog bring the Irish to your ears with their live performances March 15th & March 17th from 6-9pm. Chef Rachel Klein serves up traditional Irish fare including a boiled dinner of Corned Beef & Cabbage, and hearty Shepherd’s Pie. Chef Klein is also serving up some other Irish favorites with a special Seaport twist – such as Guinness Oyster Shooters and Corned Beef & Cabbage Rolls.

Geese in the Bog” features four talented musicians, all experienced singers who play a variety of instruments. Their repertoire is comprised of Irish and Maritime ballads, as well as Irish based instrumental compositions.

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