Thursday, October 6, 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.
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1)  On Thursday, October 6, at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods in Park Square will host the Santa Rita Wine Dinner to celebrate Chilean vineyards. Hosted by Cecilia Torres, Head Winemaker at Santa Rita, this event will offer a special four-plus-course dinner with wine pairings.

The menu will be presented as follows:

Hors D’ Oeuvres
Maryland Crabmeat Tartlet, Lemon Aioli
Ostras a la Parmesana
Wild Mushroom Crostini, Lemon Thyme Sauce
Paired with Santa Rita “Reserva” Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, 2010
First Course
Seafood Salad Al Aji Amarillo with citrus marinade and crispy yuca
Paired with Santa Rita “Medalla Real” Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, 2009
Second Course
Empanadas Two Ways with grilled corn poblano sauce
Paired with Santa Rita “Medalla Real” Chardonnay, Limari, 2008
Third Course
Seared Yellowfin Tuna Steak with spanish olive tapenade, lentil salad and cabrales blue cheese
Paired with Santa Rita “Medalla Real” Carménère, Leyda Valley, 2008 & Santa Rita “Pehuén” Carménère, Apalta, 2004
Cheese Course
Vermont Dandy, Smith’s Aged Gouda, Two-Year Aged California Cheddar with brioche toast points, mission fig compote
Paired with Santa Rita “Casa Real” Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, 2005

COST: $75 per person (excludes tax and gratuity)
Reservations required by calling: 617-530-9397

2)  Towne Stove and Spirits is ready to welcome the autumn season with a new menu, as created by Culinary Director Lydia Shire and Executive Chef Mario Capone.

For the “start” portion of the menu, Towne Stove will offer the following new options: Sweet Cape Scallop with sugar pumpkin bisque and black truffled froth ($12); Lobster & Hand Smoked Haddock on crisp Rhode Island Johnny Cakes ($17); Dungeness & Peekytoe Crab vinaigrette chilled with avocado mousse and a spoon of liquid ripe melon ($18); Fettucini Spinosi with cracklings, crisp curly parsley crumbs and crustacean oil ($16); Foie Gras Terrine with Concord grape gelee, fresh fig roast and grilled toast ($24); and, Spinach Ravioli bruleed in fragrant garlicky escargot butter ($17). For “pizza – wood grilled” selections, check out: Butternut Squash with smoked bacon, Stracchino cheese, pear mostarda and crushed amaretti ($18); and, Lobster with corn and honeyed ricotta ($27). For “salad” options, highlights include: Our Towne Waldorf (frisee, pork belly sous vide with crackling, apple cider glaze and xtreme walnuts ($13); Roasted Beet Carpaccio with goat cheese panna cotta, peppercress and a crush of hazelnuts with its own fresh oil ($12); and, Arugula Salad with burrata, colatura, tender buckwheat rags and ripe late summer tomato ($11).

Moving onto the “sea + crustacea” section of the menu, check: Branzino Whole wrapped in fig leaf and wood grilled served with melting polenta with raw honeyed crème fraiche ($34); Swordfish with charred squid and golden garlic vinaigrette ($32); Chilean Sea Bass roasted red mustard seed miso, lime radish and pea tendrils ($38); #1 Tuna pepper-seared with parsnip chips, puree, quince and beurre rouge ($33); and, Lobster / 2 lb. Grilled with corral truffle butter and sage crisps (market price).

Towne Stove and Spirits is also featuring new “steaks, chops + birds” options, including: Duck Crisp with vanilla and spice and roast rutabaga flan ($33); Giannone Chicken brick-style grilled over vine cuttings with charred lemon and sherried hazelnut oil ($24); Autumn’s Vermont Partridge gently spit-roasted with crisp pasty of Belgium witoof and red currants ($31); Kurobuta Pork Chop slowed roasted and basted in calvados with apple charlotte and chestnut puree ($33); Tomahawk Veal Chop grilled over oak branches with porcini or chanterelles with marrow baked in parchment ($52); and, Prime Tomahawk Rib Steak 46 oz. for-two with Szechuan pepper rub, Worcestershire sauce and cultured butter (market price).

For “side dishes,” Towne Stove and Spirits will now serve up the following: Basmati Rice with fresh coriander and green onion ($6) or also available with oven roasted baby Vermont lamb shoulder in a casserole with green curry to share ($21); Tadiq Rice, the emperor’s crisped with saffron and carrot threads ($9); and, Broccoli Head with crisped pancetta and parmesan fonduta ($12).

3)  Ashmont Grill & Tavolo chef-owner Chris Douglass and his team are full steam ahead for fall.

Sunday, October 16:  Two Restaurants. Four Courses. One City Block in Between.
Ashmont Grill and its Italian sibling, Tavolo, are located one block away from each other. Dorchester’s first-ever progressive dinner lets diners discover both places in one fun-filled evening, beginning at 6pm.
RSVP'd diners will receive an email 24 hours in advance with instructions on which of the two restaurants is to be be their starting point. Two courses of seasonal food and wine will be served. Then, led by chefs de cuisine John Rush (Ashmont Grill) and Nuno Alves (Tavolo), the two sets of dining groups will get up, take a quick stretch, and be escorted along Dorchester Avenue to their next destination, where they will will sit down to two more courses of food and wine.

Reservations are required for this limited-seating event. Call 617-825-4300 for tickets and details, or RSVP to: tara@ashmontgrill.com.

Saturday, October 29: Annual Halloween Dance Party
Each year, the bar is raised higher for Ashmont Grill’s raucous Halloween celebration. A local DJ will spin all night long, with no cover charge, and outrageous costumes on both staff and patrons and strongly encouraged. Dorchester is the place to be this year on All Saints Eve.

4)  49 Social has just introduced a new menu of bar snacks available on weekdays, Monday through Friday from 4pm-6pm. Executive Chef Michael Lishchynsky will cater to Downtown Crossing’s after-work crowd, locals and area shoppers in need of a break by preparing a series of six bites available for $5 each.

The options include:
Garlic Shrimp (Shaved Garlic, Chorizo, Shrimp)
Local Cheese With Accompaniments
Fish & Chips (Salmon, Hand Cut Fries, Remoulade Sauce)
Fried Cheese (Manchego Cheese, Chipotle Honey)
Arancini (Shrimp, Cheese, Pomodoro Sauce)
Olives (Marinated Olives, Grilled Baguette)

5)  Make plans to attend the Flavors of Fall event on Monday, November 14, from 5:30pm-8:30pm. This fine event is organized each year by BostonChefs.com, and is being cosponsored this year by City Square Associates, Inc. and The Charles Hotel. The event will be held at Regattabar in The Charles Hotel, offering food, wine, beer and live music.

Every penny from each $65 ticket (available for purchase online) will be donated to Tutoring Plus. Established in 1964, Tutoring Plus supports and encourages the academic, personal, and social growth of Cambridge youth with the help of volunteers and community partners. Teaming up with area schools, community organizations, universities and local companies, they provide safe, trusted, structured and highly personalized programs. Proceeds from this year's Flavors of Fall specifically support Tutoring Plus's Girls, Media & You, a joint project with Lesley University that brings under-served and at-risk middle school girls together with Lesley undergraduates to focus on the influences of society, culture, and media on girlhood in the contemporary U.S.

Top chefs from in and around Cambridge--including newcomers like Bondir and Area Four and perennial favorites like Bergamot, Russell TavernHenrietta's Table and The Blue Room--will be serving up savory and sweet small plates to be enjoyed with an assortment of beverages courtesy of Brooklyn Brewery and Dreyfus, Ashby & Company. While you stroll around enjoying tastes from each station, the Rollo Tomasi quartet will entertain with their trademark blend of funky jazz.

I have been to this event before and have enjoyed it, and I will very likely be attending again this year.

6)  Ristorante Molise, located in Wakefield, is now open for lunch from Tuesdays through Fridays, 11:30am-3pm. Besides their lunch menu, they also offer an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet for only $8.95. I stopped there the other day to check it out and was pleased with what I found. Now, the buffet is still very new so may change over the next month or so, but it has potential. The buffet included salad, bruschetta, mussels in a tomato based sauce, vodka penne and chicken rolled with prosciutto & cheese.

Though the options are limited, all of the food was tasty, albeit the chicken dish could have been warmer, though that is a common problem with all buffets. I really enjoyed the mussels and left a large pile of shells in my wake. The vodka sauce on the penne was creamy and delicious, and the chicken was fairly moist and tender, with plenty of slightly salty prosciutto. You certainly get your money's worth and I looked forward to how the buffet develops over time. So for now, it gets my recommendation, and I will update matters if they change.

Ristorante Molise on Urbanspoon

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