Thursday, August 30, 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) "Tiki culture is all about living the good life; listening to music, enjoying exotic drinks and taking it easy." China Blossom Restaurant & Lounge, located in North Andover, may be thousands of miles away from the nearest tropical escape, but on Saturday, September 8, its outdoor space will transform into a tropical oasis complete with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the islands at the first annual Tiki Time Festival. This free event, sponsored by WXRV 92.5 The River, Kona Brewing Co. and WAITIKI, a Boston-based collective that promotes the revitalization of mid-century tiki pop culture, will be an afternoon of fun for all ages.

From 1pm-5pm, guests will be met with a traditional Hawaiian lei greeting as they are transported to a Polynesian paradise. The afternoon’s emcee, 92.5 The River’s on-air personality Carolyn Morrell, will get the party started with performers from Polynesian Dance Arts performing authentic Hula and Tahitian dances before they invite guests to try the moves themselves. Afterwards, the Kahiki Serenaders quartet will bring island sounds to the stage, playing live vintage Hawaiian music on the drums, double bass, piano and vibraphone. Things will really heat up with a gripping fire performance from the circus group A Different Spin featuring torch juggling, fire eating, a fire hoop, fire swords and other daring feats. All afternoon a face painter will transform faces with tiki-inspired designs and a balloon artist will create tropical balloon animals to set the scene and keep kids entertained.

All afternoon China Blossom Restaurant & Lounge will serve Polynesian-inspired food including a whole pig roast, beef teriyaki skewers, shrimp skewers, corn on the cob and pork fried rice all for only $1 per serving. Tropical slush and exotic sorbet will also be available for purchase along with assorted juices, non-alcoholic Pina Coladas and beer and wine served from an outdoor cash bar. Kona Brewing Co. will bring the aloha spirit to China Blossom all day with special giveaways and complimentary samples of its Big Wave Golden Ale, which will be hitting mainland stores for the first time this fall. Kona is a Hawaiian brewery with six ales and lagers available in select states, as well as Japan.

Schedule of Events:
Food & Drinks available all day.
1pm: Lei Greeting
1pm-3:30pm: Face Painting & Balloon Artist
1:30pm-2:30pm: Hula Dance Performance from Polynesian Dance Arts
3pm-4pm: Live music from the Kahiki Serenaders
4pm-5pm: Ambient Fire Performance

Attendance is free with RSVP. Food, soft drinks, beer and wine available for purchase at outdoor cash bar. Please visit to RSVP and for more information.

2) Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate will take over The Langham, Boston when the iconic hotel launches its renowned Chocolate Bar in Café Fleuri Saturday, September 8. The 24th year of the legendary “All-You-Can-Enjoy” dessert paradise will bring more than 120 chocolate combinations to New England. Also re-joining the hotel’s culinary weekend line-up is the Sunday City Brunch buffet.

Just like the changing of the foliage, the Chocolate Bar and City Brunch at The Langham’s Café Fleuri have become New England traditions and diners anxiously await their return each year,” said Mark Sapienza, Executive Chef at The Langham, Boston. “We strive to create an unforgettable experience for our guests and the two delectable culinary events evoke all the senses to accomplish this.”

The decadent Chocolate Bar features stations with varying levels of chocolate intensity and flavors – from white to dark and everything in between. A DJ plays hit music to set the tone where families indulge in close to 200 pounds of premium chocolate each Saturday. A never-ending supply of cupcakes, truffles, brulees, bread pudding, crepes, whoopee pies and more take center stage while Executive Pastry Chef Jed Hackney creates rotating items with fresh, seasonal ingredients such as September’s lemon madeline with ivoire cremeax and strawberries, and a caramelized white chocolate torte with banana and sesame.

Every year, we work to create a flavorful, fun culinary haven for guests of all ages,” said Chef Hackney. “To keep things fresh this year, we are introducing a number of seasonally changing desserts and new chocolate cocktails so diners will never have the same experience twice.”

The chocolate cocktail menu features cocoa-infused martinis like the “Chocolate Decadence” with raspberry vodka, dark chocolate Godiva liqueur and Frangelico and the “White Coco” with vanilla vodka, dark chocolate Godiva and white crème de cacao with cream.

Café Fleuri’s City Brunch marks its return Sunday, September 9. While live jazz music fills the air, Chef Sapienza takes diners on a culinary journey with flavors across New England and beyond at one of the city's most elaborate Sunday buffets. City Brunch features a wide array of culinary options including traditional breakfast items, made-to-order omelets, carving stations, a raw bar, sushi prepared by our in-house sushi masters and more. Instead of the usual bread basket, Café Fleuri offers diners its complimentary signature beignets, a popular fried French pastry. A children’s station sits lower to the ground and offers kid-friendly classics such as brick oven pizza, miniature hot dogs, chicken fingers, mac and cheese balls and fresh fruit skewers. To complete the experience, diners can sip on a morning cocktail from the Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar and finish their meal with a dessert sampling from the Chocolate Bar.

Hours and Pricing:
Chocolate Bar
Saturdays; September 8, 2012 through June 22, 2013, from 11am–3pm.
Adults: $40 or $55 with 2 chocolate cocktails
Children ages 5-12: $28

City Brunch
Sundays; September 9, 2012 through June 23, 2013, from 11am-3pm
Adults: $58 or $75 with 2 Bloody Maries or Mimosas
Children ages 5-12: $30

3) Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is unveiling their newest wine collection and celebrating a “Month of Discovery,” featuring a series of unique wine events and food offerings that will appeal to both wine novice and true connoisseur.

The New Fleming’s 100, Fleming's proprietary collection of 100 wines by the glass is a unique approach to discovering and celebrating wine without having to order an entire bottle. "Wine is an intensely personal choice, and wine by the glass is the perfect way to celebrate it," says Maeve Pesquera, Fleming's Director of Wine. The new collection for 2012/2013 features many iconic wineries from California as well as top-rated European wineries. The international roster also includes a number of remarkable wines from Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Bottle Wars” Wine Tastings – Featuring Rival Wines from the New Fleming's 100 "Bottle Wars" is a series of four wine tastings to be held on successive Friday evenings in September (7, 14, 21 and 28). Guests will taste premium wines from rival regions and wineries around the world in a spirit of friendly competition. Each event will offer 8 to 10 well-matched wines for just $25 and Fleming's wine managers will guide guests through the experience:

"Pinot Smackdown" (September 7) -- Pinot Noirs from California’s Central Coast compete against Pinot Noirs from Sonoma, Oregon and the Anderson Valley.
"Battle of the Hemispheres" (September 14) -- California takes on South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
"Old World vs. New World" (September 21) -- European masters from France, Italy, Germany and Spain go against the best and brightest winemakers from California.
"Glass Warfare" (September 28) -- Premium wines and value-priced wines made from similar grapes are put to the taste test.

Fleming's New Memorable Meal for Two: Fleming's celebrates its new wine collection with a prix-fixe menu for two, available from September 1-30. Each guest will enjoy a triple entrée of broiled filet mignon, herb baked shrimp and braised short rib, with shrimp bisque and a dessert of frozen almond soufflé. The 3-course menu is priced at $99 for two, and $49.50 for one. For an additional $25, each guest may order a specially priced flight of three wines -- The Prisoner, Primus Cabernet and Quintessa 2006 -- all from the Huneeus Vintners Portfolio.

4) On Thursday, September 27, at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods will team up with Matt Chivian, Portfolio Manager at Carolina Fine Wine & Spirits, to host a five-plus-course single malt scotch dinner at the Park Square location. Each delicious course will feature Legal Sea Foods’ signature cuisine complemented by eight premiere scotch selections. Guests will indulge in the following at Legal Sea Foods’ 10,000 bottle Park Square wine cellar:

Benromach Traditional, Speyside, 40%
First Course
Veracruz Vanilla-Lemon Poached Diver Scallops (Jumbo Lump Crab Mousseline, Field Greens & Roasted Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette)
Scapa 10 Year, Orkney, 43%
Second Course
Nutty Local Haddock (Oven Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Braised Greens, Citrus Butter)
Sauce Bladnoch 17 Year, Lowland, 43%
Third Course
Bourbon Braised King Crab Casserole (Poblano Cinnamon Scented Corn Bread, Swiss Chard)
Glenburgie 21 Year, Speyside, 43%
Glenburgie 15 Year, Speyside, 43%
Fourth Course
Molasses-Brined Grilled Pork Chop (Fragrant Greens, Roasted Walnuts, Oven Roasted McIntosh Apples)
Linkwood 20 Year, Cote Rotie Finish, Speyside, 45%
Benromach 10 Year, Speyside, 43%
Dessert Course
Maple Orange Crème Brûlée
Atholl Brose Scotch Liqueur, 35%

Cost: $85 per person (excludes tax and gratuity)
Reservations required by calling: 617-530-9397

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