Thursday, January 5, 2012

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)  Happy National Whipped Cream Day! For more information on this holiday, check out my prior post about this sweet celebration. What is your favorite way to use whipped cream?

2)  Dorchester-Milton Restaurant Week, which began in 2010, is returning Sunday through Thursday nights between January 15 and 30, 2012. Expect three-course dinners for $30.12 at nine restaurants, each located within a few blocks of each other (the prix fixe menus should be online soon). Advance reservations are appreciated, but not required.

Participating restaurants include 224 Boston Street (224 Boston Street, Dorchester), 88 Wharf (88 Wharf Street, Milton), Abby Park (550 Adams Street, Milton), Ashmont Grill (555 Talbot Avenue, Dorchester), Blarney Stone (1505 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester), dbar (1236 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester), Ledge Kitchen & Drinks (2261 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester), Savin Bar & Kitchen (112 Savin Hill Avenue, Dorchester), and Tavolo (1918 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester).

3)  "A popular Mexican legend tells the story of a disobedient young girl, who despite her parents’ wishes sneaks off to dance the night away. The most handsome and charming man at the dance sweeps her off her feet and before she knows it she is lost in his eyes. When she looks down she notices that her dance partner is wearing no shoes, in fact he does not have feet, but cloven hoofs. It is at this point that the young girl realizes that she is actually dancing with the devil. What happens from there varies from town to town in Mexico. Some say upon being discovered the devil vanishes and leaves the poor young girl with a permanent burn in the shape of a handprint. Some say that the girl disappears in a whiff of smoke forever."

On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, from 5pm-10pm, Zócalo Cocina Mexicana invites guests in to dance with the devil themselves as they present “Bailando con el Diablo” an evening featuring some of the world’s hottest food and drink. Guests will be offered a 3-course prix fixe menu for $38 featuring chiles from Mexico and beyond. With dishes such as their Chile en Nogada – (roasted chile poblano stuffed with beef picadillo on almond puree topped with pomegranate seeds and parsley), and their Tinga de Puerco Taco – (shredded pork with roasted tomatoes and chipotle chiles), guests culinary senses will be heightened and put to the test with the added option of adding “Devil Sauce” to any dish comprised of some of the world’s hottest chiles.

The dance continues with a special hot and cool cocktail menu created by Zócalo Cocina Mexicana and sponsored by Jim Beam® Devil's Cut™. From the “Hell’s Manhattan” (Hot!) with Jim Beam® Devil's Cut™, chipotle infused sweet vermouth and hellfire bitters, to the “Cucumber Margarita” (Cool!) featuring Tres generations reposade tequila, muddled cucumber, fresh lime juice and orange liquor, guests will be able to push their dance to the limit or slow it down if it gets too hot to handle.

All dishes and cocktails will also be offered as à la carte specials and Zócalo Cocina Mexicana’s regular menu will also be available for those afraid to “Dance with the Devil!” Reservations recommended by calling (617) 456-7849.

Bailando con el DIABLO Dinner Menu
Tres Tacos
Tinga de Puerco – shredded pork with roasted tomatoes and chipotle chiles
Chilorio de Res – Shredded beef with guajillo chile, vinegar and spices
Chile Poblano con chile Serrano – creamy poblano peppers with chile serrano
Ceviche de Atun (Marinated tuna with salsa habanero)
Chile en Nogada (Roasted chile poblano stuffed with beef picadillo on almond puree topped with pomegranate seeds and parsley)
Filet de Res Con Shiitake en Salsa de chile Morita y Pequin (Beef tenderloin filet with shiitake mushrooms in chile morita-pequin and tomatillo sauce
Salmon con Salsa de Papaya y Tequila (Salmon with papaya-tequila salsa and a mystery chile sauce)
~~All entrees are served with Mexican rice and refried black beans~~
Panecillo de Chocolate (Rich chocolate bread pudding with ancho chiles. Served with vanilla bean ice cream)
Tequilla-Lime Sorbetes (Sorbet with spicy chile jalapeño)

4)  Chinese New Year or “Spring Festival” marks the transition from winter to spring in China and is the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar. For 15 days, starting in January, Fóumami Asian Sandwich Bar will celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

Enjoy these Fóumami Chinese New Year specials:

La Long Sandwich (Spicy Dragon Sandwich)
Pulled pork rubbed and braised in a house-made red spicy Chinese barbecue sauce, topped with shredded cabbage, scallions and drizzled with house-made spicy jalapeno-based hot sauce.
Symbolism: Pork is eaten regularly during Chinese New Year and it represents strength, wealth and abundant blessing. This sandwich exhibits the colors red, green and gold, which are the colors of a Chinese dragon. The pulled pork’s shape and texture resembles the twirling body of the dragon.

Longan Melon Soda
Melon soda drizzled with longan juice and topped with fresh longans.
Symbolism: Melon represents good health and family unity. This drink is green in color, which to the Chinese represents health, prosperity and harmony. The English transliteration for the Chinese word “longan” is "dragon eye".

Customers will also have the opportunity to receive special gifts throughout the celebration. Red envelopes containing cash or other presents are often exchanged during Chinese New Year. Fóumami will be giving one customer a day, throughout the 15-day festival, a traditional red envelope gift with their purchase.

WHEN: January 23 – February 6, 2012

5)  With the holidays past and several months of cold New England weather ahead, the "winter blues" can creep in and take hold of even those with the most optimistic outlook. Blue on Highland, located in Needham, has not only recognized this trend, but has created an entire menu to address the annual issue.

"Who doesn't feel bummed out a little bit when the winter months roll in? We thought it would be a cute way to get people's spirits up," said Catherine Walkey, owner of Blue on Highland, when speaking about their new "It's OK to be Blue" menu that highlights foods that are said to naturally enhance your mood and to alleviate stress. The “It’s OK to be Blue” menu is offered in addition to the regular menu and is available during dinner service beginning Sunday, January 15th, 2012 through the end of March 2012.

And no “feel good” menu would be complete without a cocktail. Blue on Highland will be lifting guest’s spirits with the “Wellbutini,” a liquid pick-me-up consisting of Rain Organics Red Grape Hibiscus Vodka and vitamin-packed fruit juices, available for $11. That’s not all, each guest that orders off of the “It’s OK to be Blue” menu will receive a personalized package of sunflower seeds to plant to remind them that the spring, sun and fun is just around the corner.

--Spinach Salad (blue cheese, walnuts, bacon, golden raisins, balsamic vinaigrette) $10
WHY: Spinach is rich with magnesium, a mineral that helps lower your stress level by keeping you in a calm state, as well as calcium, iron, foliate and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 and folic acid are known to help prevent disorders of the central nervous system, mood disorders and dementias
--Tuna Poke with crispy wontons, $12
WHY: Tuna is naturally loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your adrenaline from rising, and your stress levels under control.

--Grilled Salmon (jasmine rice, asparagus, saffron aioli)  $22
WHY: Loaded with protein which helps stabilize blood sugar, salmon is also a natural source of Tryptophan, the amino acid found to relieve depression. It also contains vitamin D, known to help fight seasonal depression.
--Half Roasted Chicken (roasted garlic jus, mashed potato, green beans) $21
WHY: Among other amino acids and nutrients, chicken contains Vitamin B6 which plays an important role in serotonin production. Low levels of serotonin are directly linked with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

--Cookies & Cream (Susie’s Smart chocolate chip cookies with a scoop of green tea ice cream) $8
WHY: Rich in omega 3’s and whole grains, you can feel good about eating a dessert that makes you actually feel good!

6)  BOKX 109 American Prime and Hotel Indigo are partnering up with Rutherford Wine Company, the California Winery dedicated to crafting 100% sustainable fine wines, to host a special evening in conjunction with the Boston Wine Exposition on Thursday, January 19th.

Guests will indulge in an exclusive menu created by Executive Chef Jarrod Moiles, and paired with wines from Napa Valley and Arroyo Seco. The four-course menu will be served with a selection of Rutherford Ranch wines hand-picked by Tyson Wolf, Rutherford Wine Company’s Associate. Wolf will be on-hand the night of the event to help host an intimate wine reception before the dinner where guests will have the chance to enjoy Rutherford’s own 2010 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The wine reception begins at 6pm followed by the dinner at 6:30 pm

The menu will include the following:

First Course
Cast Iron Scallop with Lobster Saffron Cream, Chorizo and fried Parsnip
Paired with 2010 Rutherford Ranch, Napa Valley, Chardonnay
Second Course
Petite Pizzette of Duck served with house made grilled Dough,
Prosciutto, Black Mission Figs, Asparagus and Brie
Paired with 2010 Scott Family Estate Pinot Noir
Third Course
Double Cut Center Lamb Rack Chop prepared with Lamb Sausage and White Bean Ragout,
Rustic Corn Cake, Rainbow Chard and Black Sour Cherry Gastrique
Paired with 2008, Rutherford Ranch, Napa Valley, Zinfandel
Fourth Course
Braised Brandt Farm Beef Short Rib served with 48-hour Bordelaise,
Crispy Baby Winter Vegetable, steamed Cream and Fried Shallot
Paired with 2007, Rutherford Ranch Reserve, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon

COST: $79 per person (price excludes tax and gratuity)
Please make reservations for this event in advance by calling: 617-454-3399

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