I am here, because of the Thanksgiving holiday, with a special Wednesday edition of my usual Sips & Nibbles column, where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently.
1) Each holiday season from November 1st through New Year’s Eve, the Legal Sea Foods family of restaurants (Legal Sea Foods, Legal Test Kitchen, Legal C Bar and Legal Harborside) makes waves in assisting Children’s Hospital Boston. For the past sixteen years, a portion of the proceeds from every gift card sold has been contributed to innovative research that will benefit families with sick children. As an added incentive for gift givers this holiday season, Legal Sea Foods will grant a “Lobster Dinner Reward” voucher* (redeemable for a 1-1.25lb steamed lobster with a choice of two sides) for every $200 worth of gift cards purchased from the restaurants.
To date, Legal Sea Foods has raised over $1 million through its holiday gift card program making it the longest running annual cause marketing program to support Children’s Hospital Boston. The funds raised through the gift card program benefit Children’s Hospital scientist Dr. Leonard Zon’s revolutionary zebrafish research. Zon is a world-renowned stem cell researcher who pioneered the field of zebrafish genomic research. The hope is that discoveries in the fish, whose genetic structure is similar to humans, will translate into cures for millions of people worldwide with malignant, degenerative and genetic diseases such as leukemia, cancer, anemia and immune deficiency disorders.
According to Roger Berkowitz, President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, “We take great pride in contributing to the cutting-edge research performed at Children’s Hospital Boston. Corporate philanthropy is part of Legal’s DNA and, as a company known for having family-friendly restaurants, it’s our privilege to support an institution that has been so meaningful to families in our community.”
All 19 Legal Sea Foods restaurants in Massachusetts are involved in the program. Gift cards are available for purchase in-store, online at www.legalseafoods.com, or by calling 1-800-EAT-FISH.
*“Lobster Dinner Reward” voucher valid from January 1 through March 31, 2012.
2) To celebrate the winter season, Hotel Indigo’s BOKX 109 American Prime will host an evening of Cigars and Scotch on Friday, December 2, at 6:30pm.. At the event, guests will have the opportunity to sip on Glenfiddich Scotch while enjoying a fine cigar outside by the fire pits. The night will also include a meet-and-greet with the Glenfiddich Scotch Master himself. To accompany the fine whisky and cigars, Executive Chef Jarrod Moiles will prepare a selection of hors d'oeuvres for guests to sample. Enjoy a glass of one of the world’s most famous single malts and a stogie, with BOKX’s guest whisky aficionado.
COST: $50 per person (includes: scotch tasting, hors d'oeuvres, and cigars)
3) When your child is sick, it’s hard to keep up a normal routine, let alone during the holiday season. This is something that executive chef/owner of Tryst, Paul Turano, knows all too well, having spent time with his son on the 6th Floor of Children’s Hospital Boston at Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant Units over the past few years. This holiday season, Turano is giving back to the hospital that was there for his family by holding a holiday gift card drive for The Resource Room, a center that helps provide services to over 45 families whose children are being treated at the Children’s Hospital Boston Oncology and Hematology Center.
From December 1st, 2011 through December 20th, 2011 Tryst will match every $5, $10 or $20 gift card that diners bring in to the restaurant with a gift certificate of their own to Tryst. Whether the donated card can be used for a morning coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts, or is a generic American Express donation that can be used towards gas, or parking, each donation will help parents regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. Funded through donations from area businesses and families, the Resource Room floor 6 is staffed by a patient and family educator who can help patients and families learn about their medical treatment. The Resource Room also offers a space for patients and families to relax and connect with others going through a similar experience. With the extra help of these gift cards, Tryst will be putting Christmas back in the hands of these parents who will be able to utilize them for anything they wish. For a full list of accepted gift cards, please see below.
WHEN: Tryst’s holiday gift card fundraiser will be offered December 1, 2011 through December 20, 2011.
HOW: Bring a $5, $10 or $20 gift card to a store from the selected list below when you dine at Tryst and receive a Tryst gift certificate of equal value!
ADDITIONAL: Gift card donations are not limited to a $20 value, but Tryst will only match donations up to $20. Limited to one Tryst gift certificate per person per visit. Gift certificates cannot be combined. Cannot be combined with any other offer.
RSVP: Dine-in is not required. Walk-in’s welcome. Please call 781-641-2227 for more information.
ACCEPTED DONATIONS: American Express, Visa, Dining-In, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Roche bros, CVS, Toys R’Us, Itunes, Amazon
4) The 2012 Boston Wine Expo is expanding this year, as well as lowering the price of Grand Tasting tickets, and the celebration will extend from Monday, January 16 to Sunday, January 22, 2012.
Ticket prices for this year’s Grand Tasting are offered on a tiered scale. Saturday tickets begin at $85 and Sunday tickets begin at $70. On December 12th and again on January 13th, prices for each day increase $5 - $10. Two-day tasting tickets start at $130 and follow the same increase system at the same rate. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.wineexpoboston.com or calling 877-946-3976. Area liquor merchants also sell tickets in advance of the Expo. A list of these locations can be found on the website. Note that they will be selling less tickets than year than last year.
Beginning January 16th, wineries will host exclusive Vintner Dinners at some of the city’s most enticing restaurants. Local favorites will provide the opportunity for guests to taste creative pairings of food and wine as they learn about each.
Consumers and trade can attend this year’s seminar series Friday thru Sunday and listen, as winemakers and industry experts speak to everything from wine and health, to wine and food pairings. Seminars include topics such as" “The One Hour Wine Expert” with Kevin Zraly, “O Ya, Sake & Sushi", "Ribera del Duero, a Region on the Rise," and "Argentina Beyond Malbec - Celebrating the Diversity of Argentina
At the Grand Tastings you can enjoy food and wine pairings from 40 restaurants daily and take in chef demonstrations by chefs including Christopher Coombs of Deuxave, Antonio Bettencourt of 62 on Wharf, Vittorio Ettore of Bistro 5 and Patricia Yeo of Om Restaurant & Lounge.
At the Grand Cru Wine Lounge on Saturday and Sunday, you can taste rare and expensive vintages (poured from $75 and up) as well as food from some of Boston’s restaurants. Grand Cru tickets are $175 and include admission to the Grand Tasting.
Saturday evening marks the Boston Wine Expo’s Signature Event, held in the Lighthouse at the Seaport Hotel. The evening will showcase premium wines, feature celebrity chef appearances and allow the trade and consumer guests to brush elbows with wine industry dignitaries.
New to the Boston Wine Expo this year will be a Mobile Application exclusively made for the event. The app will link wines directly to consumers to teach while they taste. Additionally, the app will list local retailers that carry the sampled wines. Attendees can save wine favorites to the app to access throughout the year.
5) The Ashmont Grill , in Dorchester, is going to be busy in the next couple months with plenty of dining specials, including:
Holiday Shopper’s Lunch
Served on Fridays only, during December; runs through January 6.
Blackboard Specials, Early Winter
* Nantucket Bay Scallop Crudo
* Molasses-Braised Short Ribs, candied macadamia nuts
* Black Back Flounder a la Meuniere with almond spaetzle
* Pumpkin Ravioli with brown butter, sage and pecans
* Roasted Apple Bread Pudding with caramel sauce
* Valrhona Chocolate Pot de Crème, dulce de leche shortbread
Saturday-Sunday Brunch Standouts, $12 or less:
* Apple Pie Brioche French Toast, candied walnuts
* Turkey Burger with cranberry relish and watercress
* Chilequiles: Latin egg scramble with tomatillos, avocado, corn tortillas
* Trainwreck Omelette: our famous trainwreck fries (jack cheese, bacon, pickled jalapenos, scallions, sour cream) over an omelette
Progressive Dinner Sunday, December 11 @ 6 PM
In conjunction with the Grill's sister restaurant, Tavolo. Diners enjoy two courses @ one restaurant, head outdoors for an amuse bouche, then trot down the block to the next restaurant for another two courses. A sell-out in November, this is a fun-filled way to kick start the holidays with friends, and is likely to become a monthly affair. $60 p.p. includes 4 ½ courses plus wine.
Give Back @ The Grill
Donates 5% of the proceeds of its weekly Monday Night Wine Club to worthy local organizations that range from early education programs to the Boston Bicyclists Union. Beneficiaries for 2012 are now being sought. Call the restaurant for more details. Upcoming Wine Club themes:
* Puglia November 21
* Beaujolais November 28
* Argentina December 5
* Wine for the Holidays December 12
* Cabernet December 19
* Sparkling Wines December 26
Ashmont Grill Bake Shop Now Open – Order Holiday Pies
As always, we’re selling our top-selling pies to astound your family and holiday guests. Order ahead, then swing by to pick up: Pumpkin Cheesecake ($38) …Sweet Potato-Pecan ($20) …Nanny Sheila’s Ole’ Fashioned Carrot Cake ($38) …Apple Crumb ($18) …Sticky Toffee Pudding ($21)
New Year’s Eve
Ala carte specials like lobster, oysters, and beef tenderloin, followed by the neighborhood’s swingin'-est dance party, with DJ Mary Alice of Provincetown from 10 PM to 2 AM. No cover.