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 Dorchester Community Food Cooperative cuts the ribbon on its much-anticipated Winter Farmer’s Market in Codman Square Great Hall on January 8. Simultaneously, Ashmont Grill's Give Back @ The Grill program enters its second year by supporting the Dorchester Community Food Coop throughout the month of January.
Proceeds of its Monday Night Wine Club will be donated directly to the Food Coop. That’s $5 out of every $38 three-course wine tasting sold on Monday nights during January. If Wine Club sells out on those five consecutive Mondays, the Food Coop stands to benefit by close to $2,000. That’s a significant windfall for a fledging organization whose goal is to serve the civic and nutritional needs of the neighborhood.
“General Manager Tara O’Riordan has lined up the Give Back @ The Grill program’s beneficiaries for most of the year ahead. Proceeds for February and March will be donated to Elizabeth Seton Academy and to Codman Academy, respectively. Monday Night Wine Club events will feature small plates of seasonal fare paired with: New World wines (Jan. 2), Jean Bousquet of Argentina (Jan. 9), Italian Reds vs. Whites (Jan. 16), Viva La France (Jan. 23) and the Pacific Northwest (Jan. 30).
2) Before Clio temporarily closes its doors for renovations in mid-January to mark its 15th anniversary, Ken Oringer celebrates his flagship restaurant’s storied history with a retrospective menu that pays homage to the exotic ingredients, cutting-edge techniques and dramatic presentations that have earned him raves from Food & Wine, Gourmet, Esquire and more since opening the doors in 1997.
The nine-course menu features:
Tomato Water Martini (Basil Oil, Caperberry and Tomato “Popsicle”)
· This non-alcoholic, crystal-clear cocktail has been offered as an amuse bouche since Clio’s opening in 1997.
Island Creek Oysters (Cranberry Verjus, Osetra Caviar, Lily White)
· As one of the first restaurants to open its doors to the local Duxbury oyster farm that now supplies oysters to some of the country’s best restaurants, Clio celebrates its 10-year friendship with Island Creek Oysters by showcasing the local product through this humble, yet elegant dish.
Cassolette of Sea Urchin and Lobster (Parsnip Milk, Crispy Shallots, Candied Lemon)
· Considered by Chef Ken Oringer to be the best dish ever created at Clio, this cassolette led to Oringer’s victory against Iron Chef Cat Cora on The Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.”
60° Poached Egg (White Asparagus, Crunchy Maple, Jamon Foam)
· Though the immersion circulator is a universal kitchen tool today, Clio started using it 12 years ago to create a slow-poached egg that playfully combines salty, sweet and earthy flavors
Celery Root Mousseline (Truffle Fondue, Bitter Cocoa)
· The result of Oringer’s time working alongside Ferran Adrià in the laboratory at El Bulli, this is the first foam preparation to have ever been served at Clio 14 years ago.
Lacquered Foie Gras (Sweet and Sour Lemon, Wild Ginger, Bee Pollen)
· Another dish inspired by Oringer’s friendship with an artisan producer, this dish features local Cape Cod bee pollen and Hudson Valley foie gras made by Oringer’s former college roommate.
Venison Cooked In Espresso Oil (Smoked Celery Root, Persimmon, Mugolio Jus)
· A variation on a dish that Oringer prepared for Iron Chef America, this new menu item has never been served at Clio before and provides a unique sneak peek into what the menu will look like post-renovation.
“Textures” of Winter Citrus (L’orange Sanguine, Aloe Ice, Hibiscus Sorbet)
· An updated version of a signature dessert created by former Clio Pastry Chef Alex Stupak (WD-50, Alinea, Empellón).
Milk Chocolate Geode (Hazelnut Sorbet, Milk Powder, Chicory Crumble)
· An updated version of a signature dessert created by former Clio Pastry Chef Rick Billings (L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, China Poblano by José Andrés).
WHEN: January 9-14, 2012
RESERVATIONS: Recommended; please call 617-536-7200.
3) Tryst, in Arlington, is launching its new Retro Brunch on Sunday, January 8th, 2012. Highlighting breakfasts of the past and throwback desserts like their house-made Twinkies and Devil Dogs, guests can look forward to stick-to-your-ribs, retro- fueled fare with culinary whim. Enjoy deep-caloric indulgences such as Annie's French Toast ($10) made with warm Portuguese sweet bread and cinnamon cider apples, or for something more hearty, try the Tryst Steak & Eggs ($17) featuring grilled steak, two eggs, crispy potatoes & hollandaise. You can also find dishes like the from-scratch Lemon & Ricotta Pancakes ($10) or Hand Cut Tagliatelle Carbonara ($12 half order/ $19 full) with poached farm egg, crispy prosciutto, pecorino romano & cracked pepper.
It's not all about the food though. Guests can kick back and enjoy classic ‘50’s and ‘60’s music all morning and afternoon. And what would brunch be without handcrafted cocktails. Enjoy the “Father Knows Best Headache Powders” made with Ovaltine for those recovering from an evening of too much time travel, and the “Leave it to Beaver,” a blend of Bluecoat Gin, Cointreau, citrus, cream, and soda, both available for $12.
The Tryst Retro Brunch is only available on Sundays from 11AM to 2:30PM, and reservations are recommended so please call 781-641-2227.
4) On Sunday, January 29, 2012 from 4pm-7pm, China Blossom, located in North Andover, and the Andover Chinese Cultural Exchange (ACCE) will celebrate the Chinese New Year with a festival sponsored by Yang’s Martial Arts. The Chinese New Year is a time to bring family together for feasting and celebration, and China Blossom will highlight this with authentic cuisine as well as various Asian traditions.
Guests will indulge in a dim sum buffet while they enjoy butt-kicking gong fu (kung fu) and lion dance demonstrations, as well as traditional Chinese dances and live cultural music. World-renowned player Zhan-tao Lin will wow the crowd with the Er-hu, which is similar to a violin with an exception of two strings. Lin is a professional musician from China who has won many competitions and performs broadly in the New England area, including at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Ma. In addition, celebrated musician Shin-Yi Yang is sure to please with the Gu-zheng, an ancient Chinese instrument that has strings that are plucked like a guitar’s. Yang is the founder of the Boston Guzheng Ensemble and the two-time winner of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship given by the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Folk Arts and Heritage Program. After you’ve had your fill of live entertainment, get the whole family involved with calligraphy and children’s crafts and don’t go home empty handed! There will be giveaways all evening!
Tickets are $25 per person (Senior and children pricing is available: Seniors, $20, Under 11, $15, Under 5, $9). Proceeds will benefit the ACCE, a non-profit community group dedicated to introducing Chinese culture. ACCE provides educational opportunities and support for charitable causes in the Merrimack Valley.
Seating is limited. To reserve early call Richard SooHoo, President of the ACCE at 978-470-2293 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.