Thursday, April 12, 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)  Thirteen years ago, Chef/Owner Michael Leviton opened Lumière in West Newton and through the years, Leviton’s philosophy that great food begins with great ingredients led him to forge close relationships with farmers, seafood purveyors and artisanal producers throughout New England and beyond. He believes locally raised and harvested products not only taste better, but are better for the environment, the local economy and our health. This belief, coupled with his ties to local producers, allows Leviton to cook in harmony with the seasons, a defining characteristic that led to his appointment as Board Chair of the Chefs Collaborative in 2010.

To celebrate Earth Day and Lumière’s enduring mission to support local farmers and producers, Leviton hosts a 13th anniversary dinner made exclusively from local ingredients. Though a few exceptions will be made (coffee roasted locally and chocolate made locally, rather than locally-grown beans, for example), the menu features 100% New England ingredients, including:
· Goat from Frizzell Hill Farm in Lydon, Massachusetts
· Jersey veal from Vermont
· Grain from central Massachusetts
· Sea salt, kelp, canola and mustard oil from Maine
· Cheese and dairy from Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, Massachusetts
· Fish and shellfish from Ingrid Bengis of Stonington, Maine
· Spring produce (spring dug parsnips and roots from the cellar) from farms all around Massachusetts
· Yogurt from Sophia's Greek Pantry in Belmont, Massachusetts (made from local sheep and goat's milk, of course)
· Wine from Sakonnet (Little Compton, Rhode Island), Westport Rivers (Westport, Massachusetts) and Turtle Creek Winery (Lincoln, Massachusetts)
· Local apple ice wine and craft beer

WHEN: Sunday, April 22 at 6pm
COST: $125/person; $175/person with local beer/wine/cocktail pairings. $25 from each seat sold will go directly to the Chefs Collaborative with Organic Valley matching the total money raised up to $10,000 in celebration of Earth Day.

2)  Italian chef Marisa Iocco,– famed for culinary expertise at Galleria Italiana, South End Galleria, La Bettola, Bricco, Umbria and Mare– has been utilizing her talent as a consultant for a handful of restaurants in greater Boston. Chef Iocco is now launching a new concept, unlike anything she’s done before, at Gennaro’s 5 North Square in the North End (a restaurant I previously gave a very positive review).

MangiAmerica takes the Italian-American menu, familiar to all for classics like spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parm, and dramatically raises the bar on their taste, quality and presentation. It’s food that is pieno d'amore -- full of love.

Italian-American cooking, often derided as a lesser spinoff of true cucina Italiana, has been receiving some long overdue respect in recent years. Books like John Mariani’s Italian-American Cooking, and Lidia Bastianich’s Italian-American Kitchen are focusing attention on the roots of Italian-American culinary culture, roots that have grown deep into the soil and soul of American dining.

For Chef Iocco, MangiAmerica is both a declaration of affection for the United States, and a journey of personal discovery. It is an homage to the soulful hominess and evocative flavors of Italian-American cooking. Because this is food that often conjures up memories, she has recreated these dishes with great reverence.

Iocco’s grandfather Vincenzo built railroads in Boston and New York for decades, to support his family back in Italy. Immigrants like this, coming to America and unable to find the ingredients of home, developed a new cuisine that utilized ingredients that were often in short supply in Italy, yet abundant here: meat, dried pasta and dried herbs, canned tomatoes. In immigrant enclaves across the country, Italian families transformed such products into economical yet plentiful dishes. Thus evolved a uniquely Italian-American gastronomy, passed down through generations, and served both at home and at neighborhood restaurants that were soon discovered (and adored) by the general public.

Highlights of the MangiAmerica Menu:

Meatball Medley: One order = three meatballs, with Marisa’s Marinara for dipping. Or, mix and match as desired: classic beef, pork & pancetta cacciatore, veal saltimbocca, chicken & mushroom marsala, roasted eggplant with Romano and mozzarella.
Mozzarella Bar: Locally made cheese in a quintet of dishes: burratina with tomatoes & basil, braided over green salad, knotted over garlicky broccoli rabe, in carrozza with anchovies, and a fresh ricotta bruschetta.
Macaroni: Made without eggs to produce lighter-than-air classics like Chitarra Amatriciana, Rigatoni Bolognese, Linguini & Scampi, Fettucini Alfredo

--Gnocchi with Whole Clams in Pizzaiola Sauce
--Vegan Ravioloni with Seasonal Vegetables
--Mushroom Risotto Arancini with Red Peppers & Sharp Provolone
--1 lb. Porterhouse Veal Chop with mushroom piccante sauce
--Lamb Chops Cacciatore

Served Family-Style Only
--Sausages and Polenta
--Pasta with Sunday Gravy and Pork Ribs
--Giambotta (Vegetable Stew)

Standards We Cannot Live Without
--Fish Stew
--Lobster Fra Diavolo
--Veal Marsala
--Chicken Parmigiana

And there will be her famous bread pudding! It is almost worth starting your meal with her bread pudding so you don't end up too full after dinner to eat dessert.

3)  On Wednesday, May 2, The Beehive is going south of the border early in celebration of Cinco de Mayo with its annual event featuring live music and amazing food & cocktail specials! Guests will be able to indulge in Mexican-inspired food specials from Chef Rebecca Newell while getting in the spirit with tequila cocktails made from Ilegal-Mezcal, small batch, artisanal mescal. A special performance by nine piece Mariachi band, will keep the night going as Mariachi International takes over The Beehive’s stage from 8pm-12am. Mexican appetizers, entrées, desserts and tequila specials will be served all night long.

--Fresh Guacamole, Charred Tomatillos, Corn Chips $11
--Shrimp & Chorizo Quesadilla, Salsa Verde $12
--Mexican “Fall Off the Bone” Roast Pork, Warm Tortillas, Rice & Beans $20
--Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos, Slaw, Salsa, Mexican Corn on the Cob $20
--Mexican Chocolate Coconut Flan $8

Classic Ilegal Mezcal Margarita $10.50
Ilegal Mezcal Strawberry Margarita $10.50
Ilegal Mezcal Red Sangria Mexicana $10.50

No cover charge and a cash bar. Dinner reservations are highly recommended by calling 617-423-0069. Sombreros welcome!

4)  The Taste of the North End is turning 18 this year, and with this rite of passage, is asking guests to vote for the best taste for the first time. Guests can sample from more than 35 popular North End eateries showcasing a wide array of  appetizers, cheeses, entrees and desserts, and sip on libations from area wine and beer distributors. There will also be a high-end silent auction with hotel and restaurant packages, Boston sporting tickets, memorabilia, and more, along with a special ceremony honoring Dennis Seidenberg of the Boston Bruins for his charitable work with North End organizations.

All proceeds from the event are split between multiple non-profit organizations in the North End including elderly, education and health programs to help better then entire community; last year over nearly $100,000 was raised. This is the third year that North End Waterfront Health has partnered with the Frattaroli family to put on and host the event.

This year’s event co-chairs are event founder Donato Frattaroli, owner of Lucia Ristorante, and James Luisi, CEO of North End Waterfront Health. The Master of Ceremonies for the 15th year is KISS-108 and NECN’s Billy Costa, who will receive a special honor for his commitment to the event. Also being honored this year will be Boston Bruins Player Dennis Seidenberg.

In celebration of the event turning legal, more restaurants than ever are participating, including but not limited to: Accardi & Son, Al Dente, Albert A. Russo Imports, Inc., Antico Forno, Aragosta, Artu, Bricco, Cantina Italiana, Carmelina, Dante, Ducali, Espresso Plus, Filippo, Fiore, Il Panino, J. Pace, La Summa, Lucca, Lucia Ristorante, Mamma Maria, Massimino, Mercato del Mare, Mike's Pastry, Modern Pastry, Neptune, Pagliuca, Paul W. Marks, Pellino, Perkins, Piantedosi Baking, Sysco, Taranta, Terra Mia, The Living Room, Tresca, and Vito’s.

Where: DCR Steriti Memorial Ice Rink, 561 Commercial Street, Boston
When: Friday, May 4, from 7pm--11pm.
Tickets are $79 until April 20, and $99 from then until time of event. Tickets can be purchased in advance by logging onto their website. Tickets are $75 with military identification.

5)  The Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® (Komen MA) is proud to present the 4th annual “Chefs for the Cure” event on Saturday, April 28, at the Viking Center in Westwood. “Chefs for the Cure” is an exclusive culinary tasting-style event which gives guests the opportunity to sample gourmet cuisine from some of the finest local chefs. This year’s featured chefs and menu item include:

Ø Jose Duarte, Taranta: surprise fish dish
Ø Joanne Chang, Myers+Chang: Mama Chang’s pork & chive dumplings
Ø Peter Dexter, ONE Bistro: lemon risotto w/gulf shrimp
Ø Weldon Fizell, The Regatta of Cotuit: ginger cured salmon on sesame crostini with miso aoli
Ø Keenan Langlois, Union Bar and Grille: frankfurter on brioche w/house cured sourkraut
Ø Christopher Robins, Gaslight: beef tartare
Ø Brian Reyelt, Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar: cured duck pastrami on rye w/grain mustard
Ø Richard Garcia, 606 Congress: smoked New England bluefish rillettes
Ø Ben Lacy, Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro: pork pate de campagne, blackberry mustardo, T’s greens, champagne vanilla vinaigrette
Ø Charlie Redd, Redd’s in Rozzie: vegetarian hush puppies with onion ragout
Ø Nicole Coady, Finale: whoopie pies
Ø Johnson & Wales students: fig cracker with prosciutto and mini doughnuts

To wash it down, wine pairings will be presented by Calina, a wine produced in the foothills of the Maule Valley, Chile. The evening will also include a silent auction and live raffle giveaways featuring coveted culinary and experiential prizes, including a 15" wine cellar with six wire shelves to store up to 24 wine bottles horizontally, keeping corks moist, courtesy of the Viking Center (valued at $2,200).

The event takes place on Saturday, April 28 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Viking Center (400 Blue Hill Drive, Westwood, MA 02090), a state of the art culinary showroom. General admission tickets are available for $100 and provide admission to the grand tasting. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Komen MA to help fund educational, screening and treatment programs, offer grant money to community-based organizations that support its mission, and to help better the lives of those facing breast cancer locally.

“Chefs for the Cure” is sponsored in part by Sous Chef Level sponsor Cancer Treatment Centers of America, X-Rated Fusion Liquor, Calina, Belmont Springs, and Saga Blue Cheese. Komen MA partners making this event possible are CBS Radio, Wicked Local, and Qwicket Design.

This is a very cool event, for an excellent cause, and I do recommend it.

6)  Let’s Talk About Food Presents: Sustainable Seafood Teach-In which will address important topics such as: assessing fish stocks, what fish varieties should we be eating? How do we maintain the livelihood of fishing fleets but still safeguard our environment and our fish? Where does aquaculture fit in? Seafood experts will educate attendees on policies, nutrition, the environment and the fishing business as a whole.

Let’s Talk About Food is presented in collaboration with the Museum of Science, the Chefs Collaborative, the New England Aquarium, the Cambridge Science Festival, and the Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Environment.  Keynoters for this event include: Author of Four Fish, Paul Greenberg; National Marine Fisheries Service Scientist Gary Shepherd; Northeast Seafood Coalition Policy Director Vito Giacalone; Boston Globe Business Writer Jenn Abelson; Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz; Island Creek Oyster owner Skip Bennett; Hamersley’s Bistro owner Gordon Hamersley; Author of For Cod and Country Barton Seaver; and Let’s Talk About Food Founder Louisa Kasdon.

When: Sunday, April 29,
1:00p-5:00p (Fishing for Sustainability Forum)
7:00p-9:00p (Let’s Talk About Food Sustainable Seafood Forum)
Where: Fishing for Sustainability Forum is taking place at the Harvard Science Centre: 1 Oxford Street in Cambridge. Let’s Talk About Food Sustainable Seafood Forum is taking place at the Museum of Science: 1 Science Park, Boston.

The cost of the event is $10 for the public and is free for Harvard students for the first event. The second event at the Museum of Science is free to the public. For more information or to secure tickets, please log onto

7)  Ladies, don the largest and most elaborate hats to be found, and gentlemen, break out the sport coats, khakis and flashy ties because Blue on Highland is bringing the 138th Kentucky Derby to Needham. On Saturday, May 5th, guests of all ages are invited to celebrate the annual running of the roses with a southern-inspired viewing event from 5pm-7pm featuring food and cocktail specials, giveaways and more.

Guests will be able watch everything from the pre-race red carpet to the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” in the bar and lounge as they indulge in specials such as Kentucky Fried Chicken Wings with a Kentucky Bourbon BBQ sauce, and “Shrimp Dip Devine” served with crackers, both $10, while sipping on traditional Mint Juleps, Stone Sours and Pimm’s Cup cocktail all available for $11.

From 5pm-7pm, Derby Diners will have a chance to test their own luck with a chance to win prizes from Blue on Highland including free appetizers, dinner for two, and more. The event will be held in the bar and lounge area, but food and drink specials will be available for dine-in and takeout. Guests are encourage to dress in traditional derby attire.  Post time for the Kentucky Derby is approximately 6:24pm.

Reservations are recommended. Please RSVP at 781-444-7001.

I won't be at Blue on Highland because I will be in Louisville at the actual Kentucky Derby. Look carefully on your TV and there is a tiny possibility you will see me there.

No comments: