Thursday, May 24, 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)  The 5th Annual Strawberry Dessert Festival will be held from June 1 – July 1 at 40+ area restaurants around Boston, and will feature special strawberry desserts, a portion of the proceeds for which will benefit Mass Farmers Markets. Desserts being offered range from strawberry shortcake to a strawberry rhubarb float at Upstairs on the Square to a roasted homemade strawberry ice cream sandwich at Ashmont Grill.

The Mass Farmers Markets Strawberry Dessert Festival was established in 2008 to highlight the local strawberry season and to raise much-needed funds for the mission of Mass Farmers Markets as the only state-wide non-profit dedicated to sustaining and strengthening our farmers market system.

Some of the participating restaurants include: Armsby Abbey (Worcester), The Beehive (Boston), Bistro 5 (Medford), Blue on Highland (Needham), Flora (Arlington), Haley House Bakery Café (Dudley Sq, Boston), Henrietta's Table (Cambridge), Highland Kitchen (Somerville), Oleana (Cambridge), Sofra Bakery & Café (Cambridge), Tomasso Trattoria (Southborough), Watch City Brewing Co. (Waltham), Vicki Lee’s (Belmont), Upstairs on the Square (Cambridge), Deuxave (Boston) and Ashmont Grill (Dorchester).

2)  Join Chef Erwin Ramos of the Ole Restaurant Group (Olé Mexican Grill, Zócalo Cocina Mexicana, Olecito and andalé) as he takes you on a journey through the various regional cuisines of Mexico with some of Mexico’s best chefs. “I’m so excited to be hosting these truly talented chefs in our restaurants,” said Ramos, who has arranged to fly and host chefs Fany Gerson, Ana Elena Martinez and Pilar Cabrero to the Boston area this summer. The series will be held on the last Sunday of each month at 6pm from May through July.  2012.

May 27, 6pm: Chef Series featuring Chef Fany Gerson at Zócalo Cocina Mexicana
Gerson and Ramos will present a 4-course dinner highlighting the cuisine of Mexico City where Gerson was born and raised. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Gerson has worked in kitchens worldwide, including Michelin-three-star Akelare in Spain, Eleven Madison Park, and Rosa Mexicano in New York, and is the author of My Sweet Mexico and Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Aguas Frescas & Shaved Ice. While the savory will be served, be ready for some sweet treats at meals end. Gerson now runs La Newyorkina, that focuses on Mexican sweets.

June 24, 6pm: Chef Ramos will co-host a very special dinner with Chef Ana Elena Martinez of Culinary Adventures from Puebla, Mexico with the focus being on Poblano cuisine.
Poblano cuisine is the evolutionary combination of the traditional indigenous fare and the influence of the 16th century Spanish nuns, who created such items as chiles en nogada, mole poblano, and numerous sweets. Guests of this dinner can expect to see things such as fresh ground tortillas and vibrant, fresh salsas and moles integrated into these various dishes. This dinner will be held at Olé Mexican Grill in Cambridge.

July 29, 6pm: Chef Ramos will co-host Chef Pilar Cabrero from La Olla Restaurant in Oaxaca, Chef Pilar Cabrero is the gold standard when it comes to true Oaxacan cusine. It’s been said that Oaxaca is to Mexican food lovers and cooks perhaps what Florence is to art aficionados. Those interested in taking a true culinary journey that will span the vibrant rich and spicy, to the rich smokey and often complex flavors of Oaxaca will love this dinner. This dinner will be held at Olé Mexican Grill in Cambridge, MA.

Chef Ramos and all guest chefs will be making table visits and will address the groups to discuss what is on menu and will be more than happy to meet and greet as well as answer questions guests might have. Donations will be accepted the evening of the event for our sponsored charity, the Corazon de Vida Foundation. The Corazon de Vida Foundation (CDV) founded in 1994, provides life-sustaining support to children living in 15 orphanages in Baja, Mexico.

For Reservations, please call (617) 492-4495.
Cost: $40 per person, + tax and gratuity. Drinks additional. Prix fixe menu. (1) Seating only.

3)  For Father's Day, on Sunday, June 17, head to The Beehive for a day of food, libations and live music. Father’s Day Brunch will be served from 10am-3pm, and Dads can indulge in an array of dishes like Skirt Steak & Eggs with Frites and Salad ($25), The Beehive Prime Burger with Frites & Slaw ($15) and Short Rib, Farmhouse Cheddar & Fontina Grilled Cheese ($15). Or, for those that prefer to celebrate with a night on the town, dinner will be served from 5pm-10pm, featuring options like “Fall-Off-The-Bone” Baby Back Ribs ($13) and Blackened NY Strip Steak Frites with Peppercorn Jus ($29). Dad can wash it all down with The Beehive Honey Brew ($5 12. oz/ $7.75 16 oz.), a light pilsner with a local honey-infused finish, brewed only for The Beehive by the Cape Ann Brewing Company.

Please call 617-423-0069 to make your reservation; both brunch and dinner reservations are highly recommended.

4)  Chef Brian Poe (Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake), will soon bring the city another eatery: the Tip Tap Room. It is set to open in mid-June on Cambridge Street in Beacon Hill and – true to its namesake – will dish out a variety of inventive “tips” accompanied by an immense selection of beers on “tap” in an upscale pub setting.

Culinary Concept: With its kitchen helmed by Chef Poe, the Tip Tap Room will be home to cuisine where the traditional meets the not-so-traditional. On the traditional side, Chef Poe will offer guests protein “tips” such as: Steak (house marinated, horseradish potatoes, cherry pepper & watercress slaw, bordelaise); Turkey (sage peppercorn marinated, cranberry fennel slaw, cornbread stuffing, creamed corn potatoes); Chicken (lemon, lime, orange, yuzu & herb marinated, rice, vegetables); and, Lamb (mint and shallot marinated, mint lamb glaze, chèvre mashed potatoes, sautee of greens, tzatziki). For those looking to take a walk on the wild side, Chef Poe will offer rotating, seasonal wild game “tips” such as: Elk (herb & shallot cedar plank elk, BBQ glaze, wild boar bacon & chive mashed potatoes); Yak (garlic & red pepper rubbed with fresh horseradish, shaved fennel, watercress & Meyer lemon slaw, parsnip & potato smash); Emu (beer & ginger marinated, summer peach & basil slaw); and, Goat (pistachio & ras el hanout dusted with pearl barley tabbouleh). Other non-traditional “tip” options will include: Swordfish (artichoke, olive tomato, bell pepper & parsley salsa, tapenade mashed potatoes, haricot vert, citrus & herb cream); Tofu (garlic roasted portobellos, roasted red pepper & seared avocado, upon spinach quinoa); Buffalo Top Round (peppercorn & coriander marinated, Great Hill blue mashers, bone marrow bordelaise); and, Dueling Beer Bellies (wild boar & pork belly braised in beer with candied boar bacon bits). Chef Poe’s signature tips are priced between $12 and $17.

On the side, Chef Poe will offer a selection of fresh local produce and innovative starch options such as wild boar bacon & chive mashed potatoes. Priced between $9 and $13, appetizers include items such as: Cheese & Cracklins (fried goat cheese balls, duck fat fried prosciutto “cracklins,” grilled asparagus tips, carrot ginger dipping sauce); Rock Shrimp (katafi & nori fried shrimp, cucumber salad, chili ginger sauce; Fig (pancetta & blue cheese stuffed with burnt balsamic butter); and, Potato (seven bacon tips, beer cheese sauce, fried oysters, pickled Serrano pico). Gourmet salads (priced between $6 and $10 with the option to add a choice of tips for an additional charge) will also grace Chef Poe’s menu including: Grilled Baby Bok Choy (sautee of snap peas, Thai chilies, caramelized shiitakes, grilled tofu with sesame soy vinaigrette); and, Watermelon (arugula, shaved red onion, watermelon, black sesame seeds with toasted cumin cayenne vinaigrette). To end with something sweet, seasonal dessert options will be available including: Peach Tip Cobbler; and, Blackberry & White Chocolate Bread Pudding (with whiskey caramel). The Tip Tap Room will also open up its doors for brunch service each weekend.

Justin Dalton-Ameen (Parish Café) will serve as the Director of Beverage Operations at the Tip Tap Room. With a beverage program heavily rooted in craft bourbons and 36 selections of beers on tap, Dalton-Ameen will closely manage products to ensure sophisticated yet approachable pairings with Chef Poe’s dishes. Dalton-Ameen has carefully researched beers with local ties, ones that possess domestic popularity, and others that are strong international imports to fill the coveted 36 taps at the Tip Tap Room. Local beers will account for 12-15 spots while domestic and import selections will line the others. The Tip Tap Room has a full liquor license and will boast 10-15 signature craft cocktails. At brunch service, the Tip Tap Room will also serve up specialty cocktails including twists on traditional mimosas and Bloody Marys.

The Tip Tap Room will have a dining room seating 100 and an expansive bar and lounge area. The state-of-the-art open kitchen overlooks an expansive, black ash-stained “L” shaped bar with 17 individual seats.

The Tip Tap Room is located at 138 Cambridge Street in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The Tip Tap Room will be open daily from 11:30am through 1:30am and for brunch service on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am through 1:30pm. Follow the Tip Tap Room’s latest developments on Twitter: @PoesTipTapRoom.

5)  On June 7, frpm 6:30pm-9pm, Avila Modern Mediterranean Restaurant, located in Park Square in Boston’s Theatre District, will host an opulent four-course scotch tasting dinner featuring select malted scotch whiskeys from Glenmorangie of Scotland. This is the perfect opportunity for both whiskey connoisseurs and novices alike to sample a wide selection of fine malted scotch while learning about the vast history and the process of creating these hand-crafted barrels. To accompany the selected tastings, Avila’s Executive Chef, Rodney Murillo, will prepare a special menu to be served as follows:

Passed Appetizers:
Creamy Corn Soup & Goat Cheese Croquettes
Paired with Glenmorangie, Nectar D’Or
First Course 
Brown Butter Seared Sea Scallop (red beet juice risotto, frisee)
Paired with Glenmorangie, The Original
Second Course 
Chicken Liver Ravioli (dried cherry red onion compote, chianti, balsamic reduction)
Paired with Glenmorangie, Quinta Ruban
Third Course
Braised Waygu Beef Cheeks (brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes)
Paired with Glenmorangie, 18 Year Old
Manjhari Chocolate Mousse Cake (hazelnut crème)
Paired with Glenmorangie, Signet

Cost: $70 per person (excludes tax and gratuity)
To make reservations, please call 617-267-4810

6)  While every culture celebrates the coming of the summer solstice in their own way, in countries such as Sweden, Finland and Estonia, “Midsummer's Eve” is considered one of the greatest festivals of the year rivaling Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The celebration of the summer solstice predates Christianity and is celebrated with food, libations, activities and games including the traditional dance around the maypole.

Join in the festivities at the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro as they commemorate the holiday through food & drink with their traditional “Midsommarmiddag” or “Midsummer Dinner” beginning Monday, June 18 and continuing until Sunday, June 24. Available 5:30pm-11pm (10pm on Sunday) for $47 per person, the traditional dinner will be a prix fixe menu and served in conjunction with the Bistro’s regular menu and dinner service. Reservations are recommended by calling 617-723-7575.

Midsommarmiddag Menu
--Faroe Islands Gravlax on Pumpernickel with Horseradish Cream and Fennel Froth
--Pickled Herring with Baby Potatoes, Dill and Knäckebröd
--Västerbottenpaj with Foraged Greens, Radish and Green Garlic Vinaigrette
--Berkshire Pork Loin with Wheatberry Salad, Chantrelles, Lingonberry and Beach Rose Jus
--Strawberry Pavlova with Passionfruit and Meyer Lemon Cream

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