Thursday, November 15, 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 City of Boston and Boston Common welcome Earl of Sandwich, created by the direct descendant of John Montagu, the Earl who invented the sandwich in 1762. Earl of Sandwich had a grand opening earlier this week on November 12.

We are looking forward to the grand opening of our newest location on the historic Boston Common. As we celebrate 250 years of the sandwich, there is no better location for us than inside the country's oldest city park. It is an honor to be here,” said Robert Earl, chairman of Earl of Sandwich. “The success we’ve experienced at our other 22 locations has proven that the quality of our food and dining experience will bring guests back time and time again.”

In 1762, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, came up with the ingenious idea of putting meat between two slices of bread. Now, 250 years later, the current 11th Earl and the rest of the Sandwich family remain passionate about the world’s most popular quick food that carries their name. Joining forces with entrepreneur Robert Earl, the first Earl of Sandwich restaurant opened in Orlando, FL at Downtown Disney in 2004.

All Earl of Sandwich locations bake fresh artisan bread with every hot sandwich order and meats are roasted daily using traditional family recipes. The new location will feature signature hot sandwiches including The Original 1762, a sandwich of freshly roasted beef, sharp cheddar and creamy horseradish sauce all on freshly baked artisan bread. Earl of Sandwich will also serve a line of wraps, fresh, hand-tossed salads, high-quality soups, a kid’s menu, and other side items. The restaurant will feature fresh, premise-baked treats – cookies, brownies, muffins, and bites, and Earl of Sandwich will offer a full array of cold beverages, including the delicious Earl’s Lemonade.

Beginning spring 2013, Earl of Sandwich’s breakfast menu, serving a choice of five made-to-order hot breakfast sandwiches, will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant will immediately offer take-away service.

Earl of Sandwich will be open from 11AM to 4PM, seven days a week (normal hours will resume in spring 2013). There are 14 hot sandwiches available, all priced at $6.99:

2) Owner & Chef Brian Poe is bringing his fall bounty to The Tip Tap Room in Beacon Hill. Poe’s new autumnal infusions take his signature “tips” and “taps” concept to new seasonal heights.

For appetizers, Poe will now offer the following: Baked Brie (St. André brie, coriander-citrus roasted beets, warm mushroom vinaigrette - $11.75); Wild Mushrooms (sautéed with soy-chive vinaigrette, charred tomato tips - $9.75); Boar Meatballs (spicy ginger-cilantro-garlic broth - $13.95); and, a Mashed Sampler (a shareable tasting of horseradish, goat cheese, creamed corn, olive tapenade mashed potatoes - $5). These will add to Poe’s starter mainstays including the Rock Shrimp ($11.75), Potato with 7 Bacon Tips ($10.95) and Cheese & Cracklins ($10.75). Chef Poe also is now offering an Autumn Salad (maple-roasted pecans, roasted pumpkin, blue cheese crumbles, cranberry-sage vinaigrette - $9.95) and Grilled Baby Bok Choy (sauté of snap peas, Thai chilies, caramelized shiitakes, grilled tofu, sesame-soy vinaigrette - $10.95) in addition to the Romaine ($9.95) and Endive, Radicchio & Arugula ($9.95) salads. All salads come with option to add the “tips” of your choice ($6.50; swordfish –$7.50; wild game – $10).

The Tip Tap Room’s “tips” selections features five refreshed proteins and a vegetarian option. In adding to serving up daily wild game creations (including elk, kangaroo, yak, ostrich, pheasant and venison), Poe’s standard “tips” include the following: Turkey (sage-peppercorn marinade, cranberry fennel slaw, creamed corn potatoes - $11.95); Steak (house marinade, horseradish potatoes, cherry pepper, bordelaise - $14.75); Lamb (mint-shallot marinade, minted lamb glaze, goat cheese potatoes, watercress, tzatziki - $15.95); Chicken (lemon-lime-yuzu-herb marinade, rice, cucumber corn slaw - $12.95); Swordfish (artichoke, olive tomato, bell pepper-parsley salsa, tapenade potatoes, haricots verts, citrus-herb cream - $16.95); and, Tofu (grilled vegetables, tomato-basil salad, avocado, spinach - $12.75). Poe also griddles up three burgers available in Steak, Lamb and Turkey preparations.

For some seasonal “taps,” The Tip Tap Room’s kegs are brimming with selections like Harpoon Cider, Ipswich Oatmeal Stout and Sam Adams Octoberfest. Poe is also sure to bring in a rotating selection of seasonal specialty brews that rotate regularly from local breweries.

3) The Mandarin Oriental has recently launched The Parlor, a pop-up afternoon tea lounge. Located fireside in the Lobby Lounge, The Parlor will feature daily visits from the Holiday Treat Trolley, adorned with gingerbread man decoration kits for children, tea sandwiches, sweet confections, old-fashioned hot cocoa from Pastry Chef Oralia Perez, warm apple cider and signature hot toddies. The Parlor will be open from 2pm-6pm daily throughout the holiday season.

Some of the menu items include:
Rum Toddy: Bacardi oakheart rum, lemon juice, clove honey
Apple Toddy: Calvados v.s.o.p., lemon juice, cinnamon, clove honey
Scotch Toddy: Johnny Walker black scotch, domaine de canton
Bourbon Toddy: Makers Mark bourbon, lemon juice, clove honey
Tea Sandwiches 
--Foie gras mousse with spiced pear
--Turkey and cranberry
--Smoked duck with apple compote
--Scottish salmon, brown bread, cucumber
Oralia's Pastries 
--Eggnog creampuff
--Spiced pear tart
--Grasshopper verrine
--Homemade marshmallows
--Duo of macaroons

4) For the third consecutive year, hundreds of residents of Concord will line Walden Street here to welcome the Largest Wheel of Italian Cheese in the Western Hemisphere. A 400 lb. Crucolo cheese, from a tiny hamlet in the Trentino region of northern Italy, is expected to be at The Cheese Shop of Concord at 29 Walden Street, at 3:30pm on Thursday, December 6. Crucolo is a mild, rindless cow's milk cheese and I find it to be quite a delicious cheese.

The Crucolo will arrive in town via old fashioned horse drawn cart and The Crucolo Dancers, a high-spirited troupe of students from Concord Academy, will prance alongside the horse cart while brandishing large chunks of cheese … and generous free samples of canederli, an authentic northern Italian recipe made with crucolo.

Canederli are bread dumplings which often accompany meat stews and roasts. The word 'canederli', in fact, derives from the German or Austrian 'knödel.' Canederli are 'cucina povera' (cuisine of the poor), as they are made of inexpensive ingredients: stale bread moistened with milk and bound with eggs and a small amount of flour. However, the mixture is often enriched with cheese and speck or prosciutto. There are several variations of this regional dish, but the most common is with cheese. Once the dumpling are cooked, they’re either served "dry" with butter, or in a bowl of broth.

A proclamation will be presented, officially naming it Crucolo Day in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The public is invited to attend Crucolo Day and the event will occur rain or shine. You will also be able to have photos taken with the cheese. The crucolo sells for $19.99/lb and last year sold out in less than 14 days.

5) Piperi (pronounced pip-AIR’-ee) is the Greek word for peppercorns, but it's also a new, Mediterranean-inspired, fresh food concept from chef/co-owner Thomas John (former executive chef of Au Bon Pain and Mantra) opening Monday, December 3, on street level at One Beacon Street, in Government Center. Piperi's unique flatbread sandwiches, bountiful salads and mezze plates -- each bursting with nutrition and flavor -- will be made to order, served fast to take out or eat in.

You will find Piperi's find affordable choices listed on on a blackboard menu. First, choose from an array of grilled meats, vegetables or falafel. Next, choose one of several Mediterranean toppings and sauces. Ingredients are then heaped atop one's choice of signature Gozi™ flatbread or crisp greens, or served as a mezze plate with rice pilaf.

Gozi™, baked hourly on the premises, is a modern interpretation of gozleme, a traditional hand-rolled pastry from Turkey. The baking process creates circles in the dough that resemble eyes, or "göz" in Turkish. Gozi is similar to pita, but thinner and bolder flavored.

Piperi is committed to making socially responsible purchasing decisions; its produce is sourced from local grows whenever possible. They use only fresh, carefully chosen and complementary ingredients and spices. Antibiotic-free and humanely-raised chicken and sirloin, never frozen, will be marinated and grilled in small batches to retain their tenderness. Vegetables are roasted a la minute, to preserve color and flavor. Sauces and dressings will be made from scratch on the premises. Cooking is done with virgin olive oil, and with fresh herbs and spices.

Prices generally range from $6.50-$8.00, and they also serve breakfast sandwiches, priced $4.00-$4.50.

6) Chef Deborah Hansen of Taberna de Haro in Brookline has recently expanded her restaurant. I was there recently and the additional space is very cool with a nice bar. The restaurant now stocks even more Spanish wines, over 300, and has expanded their Sherry list to 27, with more to be added. That means they probably have the largest Sherry selection of any other local restaurant. Big kudos to Chef Hansen for her Sherry passion and promotion.

In addition, Taberna de Haro now offers a special Roasted Suckling Pig dinner on Tuesdays. They obtain the pigs, a Yorkshire-Hampshire cross breed, from a co-operative farm in upstate New York. The pigs weigh only about 16 lbs. and the roasting process takes over 4 hours, creating a crackling crispy skin. The dish costs only $25 per person and comes with potatoes and carrots roasted in the pan drippings. As there are only about 16 portions per pig, you should get there early to ensure you get a portion. If you have ever had roasted suckling pig in Spain, you know how delicious that dish can be. I will visit Taberna de Haro soon to check out this dish.

7) On December 11, at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods will prepare to welcome the New Year with their final Legal Holiday of the season: Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013. Legal Sea Foods will dish and pour a three-course pairing menu filled with holiday cheer in Park Square’s 10,000 bottle wine cellar.

Fried Oyster Fritter (ancho-tamarind aioli)
Simmonet-Fevbre Cremant de Bourgogne, NV
Wood Grilled Swordfish (roasted quinoa salad, black mission fig compote) DeMorgenzon "DMZ" Shiraz, Stellenbosch, 2009
Crispy Cinnamon Bunuelos (dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream)
Fonseca 10 Year Tawny Port

Cost: $40 per person (does not includes tax and gratuity)
Reservations required by calling 617-530-9397

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