Thursday, March 10, 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 Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure will present the Third Annual Chefs for the Cure event on April 7 at 7:30pm at the Viking Center in Westwood.  At this event, you will be able to sample culinary delights from some top notch local chefs, including: Jose Duarte of Taranta, Peter Dexter of ONEBistro, Jarrod Moiles of BOKX109 American Prime, Joanne Chang of Myers & Chang, Keenan Langlois of Union, Christopher Robins of Gaslight, Denise Baron of Burton’s Grill, Derek Barragan of Del Frisco’s, and Nicole Coady of Finale Desserts. There will be wine to drink, a raffle and a silent auction, all which will benefit breast cancer research.

General Admission is $100 per guest and includes admission to the tasting of featured Chefs and one complimentary entry for the raffle. VIP Admission is $150 per guest and includes VIP Cooking Demo at 6:30pm by Chef Annie Copps, admission to the tasting at 7:30pm and two complimentary entries for the raffle. Space is limited to 50 guests.

I attended last year's event and it was my 2010 Favorite Charitable Food Event.  I stated that it was a "Overall, a top notch event for a great cause."  I will be attending again this year and hope to see some of my readers there too.

2) Held May 18-22, the Nantucket Wine Festival (NWF) celebrates its 15th anniversary.  Presented by Nantucket Combined Charities, this festival will once again celebrate world-renowned wines paired with top notch cuisine against the backdrop of some of the island’s most beautiful and historic locations, including the White Elephant Hotel. The White Elephant is the beautiful waterfront headquarters of the Festival, provides an elegant setting for many of the events.

Part of the reason for the Festival’s success is Nantucket’s reputation in the industry as home to a large concentration of fine restaurants, so it is a very important market for wine,” said Denis Toner, NWF Founder. “Over the past 15 years, I have spent considerable time seeking out quality wineries from around the globe—the entire point of the NWF is to emphasize quality over quantity. We’re not the biggest, but I think we’ve proven over the years we are among the most selective, offering our guests the kinds of one-on-one winemaker opportunities that simply aren’t possible at other food and wine events.

Highlights of the 2011 Festival include the Luncheon Symposium program, featuring an hour-long tasting and discussion, followed by a four-course luncheon of exquisite food paired with the wines of the participating vignerons. The symposia include: Burgundy Roundtable (hosted by The Nantucket Golf Club), California Classics (hosted by the Brick House Bistro), American Beauties (hosted by American Seasons). Also, the pièce de resistance at this year’s Festival, the Saint-Emilion First Growths Tasting and Luncheon (hosted by the Great Harbor Yacht Club), gives attendees an unparalleled opportunity to sample 12 premier grand cru Saint-Emilion wines, all handcrafted in Bordeaux and presented by the featured vintners.

This year, the festival has named Tim Mondavi of Continuum Estate as “Luminary of the Year.” First presented three years ago, the Luminary of the Year award recognizes an individual whose work has had a profound effect upon the landscape of wine and food.

The Harbor Gala (May 19), held at the White Elephant Hotel, will feature over 30 stations, each with a winemaker or winery representative and a restaurant chef whose cuisine is chosen to match the wines. Some of the notables who will be in attendance: George Sandeman of Sandeman Port, Tim Mondavi of Continuum Estate, the ubiquitous Todd English, Ray Coursen of Elyse Winery, one-star chefs Cyril Renaud of Bar Breton in Manhattan and Cesare Casella of Salumeria Rosi in Manhattan, the prince of pork—Matt Jennings of La Laiterie in Providence, Raimund Prum of SA Prum, Dominique Demarville, Cellar Master of Veuve Clicquot, and many others.

The Celebrity Chef & Winemaker Auction Dinner (May 21), held at the White Elephant, will benefit the Nantucket Historical Association. Featuring the culinary skill of Brooke Vosika of Four Seasons Hotel Boston and the wines of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin and Newton Vineyards, the auction will include one-of-a-kind wine and lifestyle items such as trips to California and Burgundy, as well as unique collections of large-format bottles, many signed by the winemaker.

The Grand Tasting (May 21 & 22) will offer more than 200 wineries with samplings of hors d’oeuvres, including artisan breads and cheeses, smoked meats and seafood, Nantucket shellfish, and tapas and delicacies, will emphasize the important relationship between food and wine. Other highlights include wine-related art and glasswork, and fascinating exhibits.

The Ticket Package available this year is the Grand Cru Package (a $825-$905 value for $750)
Includes: Access to all three Grand Tasting sessions
Access to Saturday morning Early-Admission VIP Reception at the Grand Tasting (available to package purchasers only)
Ticket to the Opening Night Reception
Ticket to the Harbor Gala
Tickets to two Wine and Food Seminars (based on availability)
Laminated personalized NWF entry pass
2011 NWF poster signed by artist Kerry Hallam
NWF hat

Tickets to the Grand Tasting are sold by session, starting at $85. There are three sessions: Saturday, May 21, from noon-2pm and 3-5pm, and Sunday, May 22, from noon-3pm. You may combine sessions for a discounted price. Ticket prices increase as of April 1, 2011. No one under 21 admitted; proper ID required. For a complete listing and price information for all events please call the Nantucket Wine Festival at (508) 228-1128 or visit us on-line at for constant updates.

3) To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, from March 14th through 20th, Chef Poe of Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake will be serving special Irish dishes, including the following:

--Irish Onion Soup (Grilled Onions in Guinness and Veal Broth with an Irish Cream Crouton & Dubliner Cheese) Cup: $6 Bowl: $10
--Shepherd’s Carpaccio  (Seared with Cayenne, Garlic, Mustard and Peppercorn with Roasted Root Vegetable & Spring Pea Salsa in cauliflower & parsley vinaigrette and a dollop of fluffy colcannon) $9
--Corned Duck & Cabbage and Corned Beef Tacos (One Corned Duck Taco and One Corned Beef Taco – both with Potato & Parsley, Braised Cabbage, in Crisp Spinach Tortillas and Cahill’s Irish Porter Cheese Sauce) $11
--Gaelic Mixed Grill (Skillet Seared Dry Aged Petit Tenderloin of Beef with a Shot of Bushmills, Irish Butter Creamed Spinach, with Corned Beef & Cabbage Infused Potato Dumplings) $22
--Steel Cut Oatmeal & Irish Coffee Crème Brulee (Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with an Oatmeal Cookie Crisp)  $6

4) Chef Antonio Bettencourt, of 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar in Salem, offers up some creative and delicious Italian cuisine but his culinary roots actually began in regional French cuisine. Working with Chef Amanda Lydon, first at Metro Brasserie and then at Upstairs on the Square, where he served as the executive sous chef to both Lydon and Chef Susan Regis.  

On Sunday, March 27, from 6:30PM-8:30PM, Chef Bettencourt will return to his culinary roots as he presents “Bienvenue au 62” a special Burgundy wine dinner in partnership with the French Cultural Center of Boston and Destination Salem. The three course food & wine pairing will take guests on a virtual gastronomical journey to the French culinary hub. Guests can learn more about French culture with information provided by the French Cultural Center, and for those new to Salem, MA, Destination Salem will be providing information to guests about what’s on tap this spring and summer for the seaside town.

This 3-course dinner includes all paired wines and is $75 per person + tax and gratuity. Reservations are required by calling (978) 744-0062.

First Course:
Seared sea scallops, haricots verts, warm hazelnut vinaigrette and lamb’s lettuce
Domaine William Fevre 2009 Chablis Champs Royaux Chardonnay
Second course:
Crispy pork trotters avec persillade, toasted baguette et moutarde
Domaine Heritiers Comte Lafon 2008 Macon Villages Chardonnay
Third Course:
Cote de Boeuf, sauce marchande au vin, wild mushrooms
Domaine Philippe Roty 2007 Cotes de Nuits Villages Pinot Noir
Assortment of cheese and accoutrements
Domaine Bouchard 2006 Savigny Les Beaune Pinot Noir

5) The Beehive presents their 4th annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities on Thursday, March 17th, from 5pm-2am.  The claim from inside the ‘hive’ is that while there will be plenty of surprises, this will not be your typical Irish fest. “No green beer…but what we are planning is a sophisticated evening of amazing Irish comfort food and authentic, world-class, Irish entertainment for a mature audience,” said Co-Owner, Jack Bardy. And “authentic” is the key word! The Beehive has landed the stamp of approval again for this year’s event from the Boston Irish Tourism Association. “We’ve been more than happy to get involved with The Beehive and their annual St. Patrick’s day festivities, and we’re looking forward to the amazing food and festivities planned!” said Michael Quinlin, President and Founder of the Boston Irish Tourism Association.

One of the many St. Patrick’s Day surprises at The Beehive will be a special performance by Matt and Shannon Heaton Celtic Review. Both have an Irish folk pedigree that started with sessions in Chicago pubs and was refined by the masters in Dublin. Voted “Female Musician of the Year” by the Irish American News, Shannon is one of the strongest fiddle players in the USA. Together, they will turn this Irish city upside down!  Opening the show will be the sweet voice of Sheila (The Plummer) Linnehan, straight from Ireland.
In addition to serving the regular menu, Chef Rebecca Newell has created several à la carte specials including: Corned Beef & "Cabbage" Flatbread with Sauerkraut & Cheese, Finaan Haddie Smoked Fish & Chips with Malt Vinegar Aioli & Slaw and Grilled Lamb Chops with Colcannon Mashed Potatoes just to name a few.  Dinner reservations recommended, no cover charge, both the upstairs and downstairs bars will be open for service.

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