Thursday, April 19, 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)  Towne Stove and Spirits will be revamping their brunch menu to welcome the spring and summer seasons. Culinary Director Lydia Shire and Executive Chef Mario Capone are expanding their scope to include more savory options.

To start your brunch experience, try one of the new Bloody Mary options: The Classic Bloody (unchanged with celery - $8); Bonsai Bloody (Japanese-inspired with wasabi, soy and ginger - $8); or, Towne Jumbo Bloody Mary (22 oz. with celery, shrimp and pepperoncini - $11). To begin the meal, Towne will now offer four starter courses: Fruit & Berry Plate (with yogurt smoothie - $8); House Made Rum Smoked Salmon (potato pancakes, hot horseradish crema, beet chips - $12); Blackberry Biscuits (scones with English Devonshire cream - $8); and, New England Clam Chowder (with cocktails and quahogs - $10).

In the “Eggs & Other Options” portion of the menu, highlights include: Soft Omelettes (cheddar - $11; sherried chanterelles - $12; crab or lobster with chives - $14); Deep Fried Poach Egg (on ‘minute’ skirt steak with creamed spinach and curried croutons - $18); Lemon Chiffon Pancakes (whipped maple butter - $10); Crisp Malted Waffle (maple syrup and butter); Chicken & Waffles (grits, bacon and Tabasco - $14); and, Roast Beef Skillet Hash (crisped with organic eggs poached or over easy - $16).

Towne also will now offer dedicated “Lunch Options” during brunch service with options such as: Crunchy Peanut Butter Sandwich (Schaller & Weber bacon on toasted buttered brioche - $8); Spaghetti Carbonara (rapini leaves and soft cooked egg - $15); ‘Kitchen Sink’ Bacon Sandwich (ripe tomato and xtreme French fries - $10); Ale Battered Fish & Chips (with green goddess tartare sauce - $15); Grilled Ham & Cheese (sweet potato fries - $11); and, French Dip Sandwich (brie and caramelized onions - $14). On the side, the culinary duo will dish out items like: Towne’s Tater Tots ($4); Hot Cheddar Grits ($4); and, Daisy Ham ($4).

The new brunch menu at Towne will launch on Saturday, April 21, and is open for brunch on weekends from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

2)  On May 9, at 6:30pm, Legal Harborside will team up with Ted Lemon, owner of Littorai Wines, for an exclusive four-course wine dinner. A vineyard known for producing world class chardonnay and pinot noir, Littorai Wines was founded in 1993 on the north coast of California between Sebastopol and Freestone in western Sonoma County.

This menu will be presented as follows on Legal Harborside’s scenic second level overlooking Boston Harbor:

Hors D'Oeuvres
Gnocchi with Lobster, English Peas and Maitake Mushrooms
Littorai “Charles Heintz Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2008
First Course
Pan-Seared Loch Duart Salmon (lavender-scented honey, preserved lemon and fennel)
Littorai “Les Larmes” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2007
Second Course
Braised Veal Cheek (grilled asparagus and spring onion)
Littorai “Cerise Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2007
Cheese Course
Saint-Marcellin (cardamom preserved cherries)
Littorai “Savoy Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2007

Cost: $125 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
Reservations may be made by contacting 617-530-9470

3)  Food Truck Festivals of New England is holding 11 festivals, spanning from June through October, each festival taking place from Noon to 4 pm, with a special VIP Preview hour from 11am – Noon. Tickets can be purchased onlineOver 50 trucks from all over New England will be participating on a rotating basis; some will be at all, others in select communities. A complete list of up-to-date participating trucks can be found online.

Ticket Prices:
VIP Tickets $40/each (limited quantity)
General Admission $30/each ($35 day-of)
Foodie Four Pack $25/each with the purchase of four tickets ($100 for four pack)
Children 6 -12 $10/each
Children 5 and under FREE

Each ticket allows one serving from each of the 20-30 participating food trucks and does not include beverages. NOTE: There are a limited number of tickets for each festival, based on the capacity of the venue. The festival site will note the availability of tickets up to the day of the festival.

2012 Planned Festival Schedule
June 10 – The Boston Food Truck Festival at the UMass Boston Campus Center, Boston, MA
(Please Note: This date has been changed from May 26th, all original tickets will be honored)
June 16 – The Charlestown Food Truck Festival at Pier 4, Charlestown, MA
June 30 – The New Hampshire Food Truck Festival at Rockingham Park, Salem, NH
July 14 – The Worcester Food Truck Festival at Elm Park, Worcester, MA
July 28 – The Charles River Food Truck Festival at DCR’s Artesani Herter Park, Brighton, MA
August 25 – The Cape Cod Food Truck Festival at Barnstable Fairgrounds, Falmouth, MA
September 8 – The Lowell Food Truck Festival at the Tsongas Center, Lowell, MA
September 22 – The Suffolk Downs Food Truck Festival, East Boston, MA
September 29 – The Shipyard Food Truck Festival, Hingham (Shipyard), MA
October 6 – The Framingham Food Truck Festival at Shoppers World, Framingham, MA
October 20 – The Newport Food Truck Festival at the Newport Yachting Center, Newport, RI

4)  Local artisan micro-distiller Turkey Shore Distilleries, makers of Old Ipswich Rum, garnered three medals at the American Distilling Institute's 9th Annual Craft Distilling Conference & Vendor Expo, held in early April, 2012 in Louisville, KY. Old Ipswich Tavern-Style Rum won a Gold Medal for Best of Class Rum category, the Gold Medal for Amber Rum, and the Old Ipswich White Cap Rum won a Bronze Medal in the Clear Rum category.

"It was the surprise of the show," said Mathew Perry, President and Founder of Turkey Shore Distilleries. "It's humbling to get this kind of recognition from our peers so early in our career. Our first product, White Cap, is a smooth white rum, with vanilla notes. With our Tavern-Style Rum, we set out to re-create a refined version of oak barrel-aged rum that was so popular in Colonial Days. We're proud to be part of the quality, hand-crafted spirits trend that is growing so fast locally in Massachusetts and across the nation."

On May 5, the public is invited to attend Turkey Shore Distilleries' one-year Anniversary Celebration and Rum Release party from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. at its headquarters at 23 Hayward Street in Ipswich.

According to Turkey Shore Master Distiller Evan Parker, "We plan to add new flavors and limited special edition spirits as we grow. The May 5th event will be the debut of our Greenhead Spiced Rum, which is steeped with green tea, lemongrass and spearmint. It has a clean, refreshing bite for springtime cocktails."

5)  This Mother’s Day, take your Mom out for a prix-fixe brunch at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. For $34.95 per person, families can enjoy three courses of classic brunch dishes and Fleming’s favorites. In addition, a brunch cocktail, Blood Orange Fizz, will be available, as well as Fleming’s traditional à la carte menu. As thanks for their hard work, mothers will receive a complimentary $25 Dining Card** to enjoy on a future occasion.

Guests will start brunch with Fleming’s signature Wedge Salad or a Fresh Fruit Medley, followed by one of five entrée choices. The tender Filet Mignon Benedict is cooked to order, topped with poached eggs and buttery béarnaise sauce with fresh lemon, shallots and tarragon. Fleming’s New Orleans-Style French Toast is made from thick slices of rich brioche bread soaked in Grand Marnier-flavored cinnamon batter, and topped with a generous dollop of housemade chantilly cream and fresh berries. A Sunday favorite at Fleming’s, Prime Rib, is slow roasted and served with a trio of sauces. Shrimp or Filet Frittata and a Steakhouse Filet Mignon Cobb Salad round out the main course offerings. All entrees are served with a choice of Potatoes O’Brien or Sautéed Green Beans.

To bring the meal to a sweet conclusion, guests can enjoy their choice of White Chocolate Bread Pudding with bourbon crème anglaise, Crème Brûlée made with creamy Tahitian vanilla bean custard and served with fresh seasonal berries, or Walnut Turtle Pie featuring housemade caramel, walnuts and chocolate in a chocolate pie crust.

A prix-fixe children’s brunch is available for $16.95* for each child under 12 years old, and includes a fresh fruit salad followed by four kid-pleasing entrées, and a sundae or sorbet for dessert, plus a beverage.

Blood Orange Fizz, a brunch cocktail bright with citrus flavors, is offered at a special price of $6.95. Maeve Pesquera, Fleming’s Director of Wine, created the brunch cocktail with Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Stoli Vodka, fresh lemon juice and a splash of club soda served on the rocks.

Brunch hours on Sunday, May 13, are 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended.

6)  Or this Mother’s Day, treat her to a special meal at Tryst in Arlington. Tryst will be serving Mother’s Day brunch from 10am-2:30pm on Sunday, May 13, featuring a special two course, prix fixe brunch menu.

Executive Chef Paul Turano’s Mother’s Day menu features special items such as Lemon & Ricotta Pancakes, Breakfast Pizza with eggs, house-cured ham, cheddar asparagus & caramelized onions and Slow Roasted Pork & Apple Hash with 2 eggs sunny side up, or opt for more lunch-like fare with Tryst's Blackened Chicken Sandwich on a ciabatta roll with fresh mozzarella, pickled peppers, smoked tomato & arugula, all for only $22 per person.

Toast the celebration with Tryst’s classic brunch cocktails including the Mimosa ($9), Peach Bellini ($9) and Trysted Bloody Mary ($9). Make this Sunday a family affair! If Mom would rather sleep in, Tryst will be serving Mother’s Day dinner from 4:30PM to 9:00PM featuring seasonal favorites such as Miso Glazed Faroe Salmon with ginger & garlic stir fried greens, crispy rice cake & miso broth ($23), or Eggplant Norma, house made cavatelli, fresh ricotta, basil & roasted tomato ($9/$17).

Reservations are strongly recommended. Please call 781-641-2227.

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