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) LONGWOOD Events will host a “time travel” dinner at their modern vintage venue, Alden Castle. Inspired by the upcoming blockbuster, Looper (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis), the four-course pre fixe dinner will send guests traveling through time in more ways than one. Not only will each course feature dueling takes on dishes popular both today and 30 years ago, but the meal will also be served in abstract order throughout the castle. This is the first ever event at Alden Castle open to the public.
Chef David Blessing, LONGWOOD’s Culinary Arts Director and former Executive Chef of Boston’s nationally acclaimed Aujourd'hui will be presenting the dinner. The time travel menu will be served in this now versus then style, and consist of:
Hors D'oeuvres in the Modern Club
A selection of modern and throwback favorites:
Traditional Deviled Eggs, Paprika, Chive
“Haute” Dog, Mini Beef Frank, Spicy Mustard, Onion
Mini “BLT” Sandwich, Lemon Mayo
Lamb Chop Lollipops, Herb Mustard Crust, Mint Jelly
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, Sherry
Dessert in the Mezzanine
Nutella Smore’s Tartlet, Caramel Sauce
Red Velvet Whoopie Pie, Cream Cheese Filling
Mini Coconut Cream Cake, Marachino Cherries
Starters in the Courtyard
The Modern Wedge; Baby Romaine, Great Hill Blue, Smoked Pancetta, Cured Tomatoes, Buttermilk Tarragon Dressing
The Classic Steakhouse Wedge Salad; Blue Cheese, Bacon, Tomato, Ranch Dressing
Dinner in the Modern Club
Seared Filet Mignon; Deconstructed “Wellington” Pastry, Heirloom Carrots, Truffle Reduction
Steak and Mushrooms; Peppercorn Sauce
The event will be held on Monday, September 24, at 6pm. Throughout the evening, guests will enjoy music from the Looper soundtrack and view sneak peeks from the film as they travel throughout the castle on a tasting journey. Additionally, all attendees will receive a complimentary ticket to the advanced Boston screening of Looper taking place on Thursday, September 27 at the Boston Common Theatre, as well as other Looper promotional materials.
Cost: Tickets to the event are $50 and include: four-course dinner, beer and wine, and a movie ticket to the pre-screening of Looper at the Boston Common Theatre.
Tickets: Tickets are limited and required for entry. Please visit http://aldenlooper.eventbrite.com to purchase a ticket.
2) Every September, when the moon is at its fullest and roundest, families throughout China gather to celebrate the mid-autumn harvest with Moon Festival, one of the country’s three most important holidays. Red, which represents good luck, joy and happiness in China, is prevalent throughout the celebration.
Bringing a little of China stateside, Foumami Asian Sandwich Bar celebrates Moon Festival from September 24-28 with a sandwich special that prominently features the color red and a range of boba teas, all tying back to traditions associated with the holiday. Authentic Chinese Mooncakes (“yuè bĭng” in Chinese), a chewy pastry with fillings like black bean, jujube date and other seeds and nuts, are also available throughout the week.
Join the Moon Festival celebration at Fóumami and enjoy the following red specialty items:
Spicy Char Siu Pulled Pork
Moon Festival is marked by barbecues with family and friends. This pulled pork sandwich offers a Chinese twist on a barbecue classic with fork-tender meat rubbed and braised in a house-made red spicy Chinese barbecue sauce, topped with shredded cabbage, scallions and drizzled with house-made spicy jalapeno hot sauce.
At Moon Festival celebrations throughout the US and Asia, vendors sell bubble tea to thirsty passersby. Foumami offers a range of freshly brewed boba teas in flavors like avocado, taro, strawberry, watermelon, honeydew, mango and mocha.
3) This fall the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro (BHHB) is making the best of it with its new Monday Market Specials, a weekly special dish prepared with farm fresh ingredients from the Central Square Farmers’ Market hand-selected by Executive Chef Josh Lewin himself.
Every Monday, Executive Chef Josh Lewin arrives at his first stop of the day, the Central Square Farmers' Market in Cambridge, where he picks up the freshest dish-inspiring produce he can find. After visiting the local farm stands, Josh heads back to BHHB, where he uses the produce to create new menu items that will cure any case of the Mondays. Recent dishes with the seasonal findings include, Poached Pete & Jen's Egg using Peagreens, New Potato, Lamb's Bacon and Elderflower, Serrano Ham & Three Melon Salad with Purslane, Blueberries and Elderflower, as well as Olive Oil Poached Sunflower "Heart" with New Potato, Purslane, Sunflower Seed Aioli.
These dishes are offered at dinner service as specials beginning in September. But, just like the BHHB at the farmer's markets, the early bird catches the worm because they are only available until the ingredients run out. Menu and price will always be influx based on availability and local sourcing. Reservations are recommended by calling the Beacon Hill Bistro at 617-723-7575.
4) Belly, a new wine bar from the owners of The Blue Room and Central Bottle, has now opened in Kendall Square. Located directly next to sibling restaurant The Blue Room, Belly draws inspiration from owners Nick Zappia and Liz Vilardi’s travels to the Alto Adige region of Italy. It is in this region that they toured a wine estate and discovered a series of contemporary spaces formed within the structures of an ancient hamlet. Belly is evocative of that experience – a crisp, modern space inserted into an historical context. In this case, a 19th century American mill building.
“The name, Belly, is associated with the creation of life and this new concept was created from two existing ones – local, seasonal and inspired food from The Blue Room combined with carefully curated cheese and wine from Central Bottle,” says Liz Vilardi, Owner & Wine Director, Belly, The Blue Room, Central Bottle Wine + Provisions. “We like to think of Belly as the baby in our growing food and wine family – mischievous, quirky and definitely the most fun to be around.”
Belly’s wine program is a bit of a personal extension of Liz; her sense of humor, feelings about how wine does not need to intimidate or be about social status, and most importantly putting forth wines that are full of love and expression. The wine list of both by-the-glass and bottle offerings encompasses off-beat, geeky and classic selections broken into playful categories like oysters I love you, rocks in your mouth, a wee bit sparkling and size matters (half bottle, magnum and jeroboam offerings).
The Blue Room’s Executive Chef Robert Grant heads up the kitchen at Belly, where he lets his love of all things butchery shine. Offerings include charcuterie, salumi, oysters, snacks of crudo, marrow bones and steak tartare. For those who would prefer larger portions, the Rhinestone Cowboy, a 24-oz. house dry-aged, grass-fed, wood grilled rib eye for two is available. Groups of 4-14 people can plan ahead and reserve an Arm + A Leg, a family style option which takes whole animal cookery to another level with four courses of carnivorous delight featuring various parts of a whole animal with seasonal accompaniments.
Cheese is also prominently featured at Belly with a dedicated section of the menu featuring ten cheeses curated weekly by Central Bottle’s Cheesemonger Stephanie Santos. The cheese categories include fresh, butter, earth, salt, funk, whole, home grown, the blues and Parmigiano-Reggiano – all are served with house-made confiture.