Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Sips & Nibbles

Welcome to a special Wednesday edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently. As Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I decided to post Sips & Nibbles a day earlier.
1) The ancient Mayans were master astrologers and timekeepers, tracking the stars and planets and developing a cyclical calendar that has proven even more accurate than its modern day predecessors. Thousands of years ago the Mayan’s predicted that the 5,125-year “Great Period” would end specifically on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 11:11PM and the world as we know it would cease to exist.

In preparation, Olé Mexican Grill, located in an extremely thick walled building in Cambridge, will usher in the event with their “Doomsday Dinner & Candle Vigil” on Friday, December 21, from 5:30PM – 11:11PM (Extended Hours). In addition, and for those of us left, Olé will also hold a very special “Survivalists Brunch” on Saturday, December 22 from 10:30AM to 2:30PM.

At the Doomsday Dinner & Candle Vigil, in addition to the regular menu at Olé Mexican Grill, the restaurant will also feature some heart-stopping, extremely rich regional Mexican dinner specials prepared by Executive Chef & Owner Erwin Ramos including:
--Montezuma’s Last Meal – An 18oz Ribeye Steak stuffed with caramelized garlic and jalapeños. Served with three cheese mashed potatoes and spicy fried onion rings ($32).
--Cortez’s Flautas - Crispy rolled corn tortillas filled with lobster and topped with a creamy chipotle sauce ($12)
--Mystic Offering - Lamb shank served with sweet mole manchamanteles, yucca fries and black beans ($26)
--Chocolate del Diablo - Double chocolate bread pudding served with vanilla ice-cream and topped with cajeta (caramel) sauce and churro bites ($8)

Guests can pair their dinner with such libations as: Maya’s Offering Margarita – a Blood orange frozen margarita with rimmed spicy salt ($8), or they can try the “Triple Threat” - a flight of three artisanal Mezcals for ($11).

Guests should spend, eat and drink like it is the end of the world (because it is)! All above will be served as al a carte specials in addition to the regular menu. Reservations are highly recommended by calling (617) 492-4495.

Survivalists Brunch: For those still around the following morning, let’s face it …they’re going to be hungry and need a drink. Celebrate the start of a new era in time with dishes such as: Tortilla de Jaiba con Huervos, crab cakes with poached eggs cilantro hollandaise sauce, caramelized plantains and home fries ($12.95), Huevos con Chorizo, scrambled eggs with Mexican sausage, onions and tomatoes on corn tortillas with pinto beans, home fries and toast ($9) and Mexican Hot Cakes, a baked pancake topped with caramel sauce, fresh seasonal fruit, sugared pecan and fresh whipped cream ($9). Pair it all with a Mexican Bloody Mary (Same as a regular Bloody Mary except you need to show a passport), or discuss your plans for the new rebellion over a fresh squeezed orange juice!

2) This New Year’s Eve, raise a glass to new beginnings with China Blossom Restaurant & Lounge and Lots of Laughs Comedy Lounge, located within China Blossom, in North Andover. On Monday, December 31 from 9:30PM to 1:00AM, give a proper farewell to 2012 with a night of fine dining, live entertainment and laughs.

The 2013 countdown begins at 9:30PM, when guests are invited to feast on their favorite China Blossom dishes at an all-you-can-eat premier buffet with live-action cooking and carving stations, create-your-own noodle soups and a diverse selection of sushi.

After their last supper of 2012, guests can put on their dancing shoes & show off their signature moves to the beat of DJ Barry Mooney! Then a team of the best comics in Boston will take the stage for an all-star comedy show featuring Sal Votano, Christine Hurley and John David.

Guests will toast to the New Year with a complimentary glass of champagne and festive hats & noisemakers. Attendees won’t be starting off the New Year empty handed, as they have a chance to test their luck with raffles, prizes and giveaways all night courtesy of China Blossom and Lots of Laughs.

Please call 978-687-1789, or visit for more information or to purchase tickets. Tickets are $75 per person and include an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet, comedy show, live entertainment, giveaways and a champagne toast at midnight.

Special hotel rates of $110 are available at the Wyndham Boston Andover with transportation to and from the event and a full breakfast included in the room rate. Rooms must be booked online or under the group reservation “Lots of Laughs/ China Blossom New Year’s Eve.”

3) When your child is sick, it’s hard to keep up a normal daily routine, and even harder doing so during the holiday season. This is something that executive chef/owner of Tryst, Paul Turano, knows all too well, having spent time with his son at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant Units over the past few years. Both Turano’s children have a rare auto-immune disease, and when his son was just two months old he had a bone marrow transplant at Boston Children’s Hospital that saved his life. This holiday season, Turano is giving back to the hospital that was there for his family by holding a holiday fundraiser for the Patient and Family Resource Room, a program that helps provide services to over 45 families whose children are being treated at the Boston Children’s Hospital Oncology and Hematology Center.

In cooperation with Boston Children’s Hospital, Tryst has set up a branded donation page online and will be encouraging holiday donations for the family resource program from December 1st through December 31. To donate, guests can visit the donation page online, or can donate at the restaurant where a QR code will be set up which, when scanned, will take guests directly to the page where they can make a donation on their mobile devices. In exchange for donating, Tryst will give donors a gift certificate to Tryst (for up to $20) with proof of donation.

I can’t emphasize how much the Patient and Family Resource Room helped my family and I when we were going through this difficult time. It’s because of their team and services that we were able to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine, and I want to be able to give that back to other families that are going through it,” said Chef Turano, Executive Chef/Owner of Tryst.

Funded through donations from area businesses and families, the 6th floor Patient and Family Resource Room is staffed by a patient and family educator who can help patients and families learn about their medical treatment. The Patient and Family Resource Room also offers a space for patients and families to relax and connect with others going through a similar experience. Whether the donated money be used for a morning coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts, or towards purchasing a generic American Express donation that can be used towards gas, or parking (daily routines that are often overlooked), each donation will help parents regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. With the extra help of these funds, Tryst will be putting the holidays back in the hands of these families.

HOW: Donate on or visit Tryst and scan the QR code (displayed throughout the restaurant). After donation, present your receipt at Tryst to receive your gift certificate (of equal value, up to a $20 value).
ADDITIONAL: Limited to one Tryst gift certificate per person per visit. Gift certificates cannot be combined with any other offer. To receive gift certificate diners must visit Tryst. Cannot be done online.

4) It’s time for The Beehive’s Holiday Brunch on Saturday, December 15, from 10am-3pm. Guests can count on tasty food and drink including specials from sponsor Bulleit Rye, seasonal music from some of Boston’s best, and plenty of holiday cheer.

From 10:30am-2:30pm, The Beehive will be filled with the sounds of the season as local musicians, Patrice Williamson, Sandi Hammond and Emily Broder, take the stage to perform holiday classics. Williamson, known for her soulful, gospel-inspired jazz, and a regular at The Beehive, will be joined by Sandi Hammond whose piano and guitar playing pop-folk blend will add wonderful sensitivity to the performance while Emily Broder, a versatile singer and actress, will bring the group full circle with her dramatic flair.

Couple all this merry music with brunch items like Extra Thick French Toast served with Chantilly cream and real deal maple syrup ($13), or the Beehive Eggs Benedict served with Virginia ham ($13.5) or smoked salmon ($14). Don’t forget about the kids! The Beehive’s “Little Bee’s” menu is perfect for little ones buzzing about. Children can choose from items such as Kiddie French Toast ($5), Scrambled Eggs & Toast ($5), or Free Range Chicken Fingers and Frites ($6).

Guests can toast the holiday season by sipping on cocktails from sponsor Bulleit Rye including the El Chicano, made with Bulleit Rye, Kahlua, Coffee Bitters and a Dash of Illegal Mezcal Joven, $12.50, or The Beehive’s famous Bloody Mary made with a secret house spice and pickled veggies, $11. Or, opt for seasonal sips such as the Cranberry Mojito, made in-house with drunken cranberries (marinated in rum and Cointreau) $12.50, the Kentucky Orchard, butter infused bourbon, fresh apple cider and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, $12, or the Queen Bee, vodka, fresh grapefruit, St. Germaine and champagne, $12.50.

Reservations are highly recommended. Regular brunch pricing and specials offered. No cover charge. Please call 617-423-0069 to make reservations.

5) Starting November 30, 80 Thoreau, located in Concord, will begin The Chef's Tasting Menu. Chef Carolyn Johnson and her team will prepare a one of a kind Five Course Tasting menu at the restaurant's Chef's Counter, which only has four seats! The Chef's Tasting Menu will be offered Thursday-Saturday, two seatings, at 6pm and 8:45pm.

The format will allow Johnson to feature luxury ingredients and those available in only small quantities (think heritage pig lardo or Concord maitakes), in her ever changing Chef's Tasting Menu. "This is the natural next step for our restaurant" shares Johnson. "We are excited because it gives us an outlet to do things beyond the menu. When I find amazing local product, but it's not in enough quantity to include on our daily menu, I can now showcase it here on our Chef's Tasting Menu." Wine pairings from the restaurant's cellar will give guests a chance to try selections otherwise not available by the glass.

The cost for this dinner is $75 per person, not including wine pairings, and Reservations are required by calling 978-318-0008.

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