Thursday, December 6, 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) Chef Matt Louis, owner of Moxy in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, introduces the new Fab Five, a new five course tasting menu highlighting the restaurant's most popular dishes to date. It is designed to help a guest visiting Moxy for the first time, and quite possibly, experiencing true tapas for the first time. Louis has found "it can be intimidating for guests to order multiple dishes, so we are bridging the gap for them and making some choices that we think they will find delicious and make the whole experience relaxing and fun." Louis observes "most diners are still finding their comfort zone with tapas dining. They worry did I order too much, too little, what is just right?"

Louis is taking away any intimidation factor by selecting the restaurant's favorite dishes, sometimes combining a few into one, so that guests don't miss out on a few favorites. For example, "instead of a clam course, pork belly course and short rib course, we have created one course bringing those ingredients together in a tapas tasting of local land and sea."

The Fab Five is available 7 nights a week and costs $29.95 per person with an optional cocktail & wine pairing for $20.

Sample Fab Five Menu
grilled apples & pears
vermont chèvre, caramelized onion, crispy kale, sunflower-pumpkin seed granola
nv farnum hill extra dry cider, lebanon, nh
tapas tasting of local land & sea
fried clams, apple cider lacquered pork belly, beef short rib marmalade
nv gruet blanc de noir brut, new mexico
roasted cauliflower & brussel sprout leaves, sugar pumpkin puree,crispy sunchokes
throwback brewery "dippity do" american brown ale, north hampton, nh
roasted monkfish, sunflower-arugula "pesto", tempura red onion, seared maine cherry tomatoes
2011 adelsheim pinot gris, willamette valley, or
johnny cake community, cornmeal pancakes, brown sugared pork shoulder, house sauces, crispy onion, pickled cucumbers
2009 artesa elements, napa valley, ca
misty knoll farms pan-seared chicken thighs, crème fraiche, pickled ginger, cilantro, lettuce for wraps
2010 cortijo rioja, spain
new england dessert sampler, whoopie pie slider with chocolate dipping sauce & indian pudding with sweetened cream
broadbent madeira, 10 year malmsey, portugal

Check out my previous review of Moxy. It is an excellent restaurant and this Fab Five is a great way to experience the diversity and quality of the restaurant.

2) What if the Mayans were right? What if the world really does end on Dec. 21st? The Painted Burro is throwing an “End of Times” party on December 21, from 5pm-1am, where guests can enjoy the last luxuries on the Earth’s final day with Chef/Owner Joe Cassinelli and Executive Chef Danny Bua, Jr.’s Latin flavor menu and cocktails. The menu will be jam packed with the Painted Burro’s playful twists on classic dishes where local and seasonal ingredients take center stage as well as some traditional Mayan dishes and Mayan drinks. Mayans are known as the first people to eat chocolate and they also incorporated it into traditional drinks so it will play prominently on the menu.

There will also be games like Mexican Bingo as well as a “confession” box where guests can write their last sins on paper and place them into a box that will exonerate them before the end of the world. There will be a communal countdown to midnight with the entire restaurant and a toast if we make it to December 22nd.

In addition to their Mayan food and cocktails, the Painted Burro will also have their handcrafted margaritas (100% agave tequila, combier & lime to showcase the pure flavors of tequila), wide variety of Mexican beers, and other themed cocktails.

Reservations are welcome by calling 617-776-0005 or booking on OpenTable. There is no cover charge for this party.

3) Legal Harborside is gearing up for the holiday season at Liberty Wharf. From December 2nd through Christmas Day, the second floor at Legal Harborside will serve a “Feast of the Seven Fishes” tasting menu featuring seven courses from the best of the sea.

Legal Harborside’s menu will be presented as follows:
--Merry Oysters (smoked foam, pickled quince mignonette)
--Stone Crab Claws (aleppo pepper kaffir lime romesco)
--Pan Seared Scallop (jasmine-wild mushroom consommé, drunken maitake, bonito flake)
--Butter Poached Lobster (ramen noodle, black miso broth, fresno, cilantro)
--Sautéed Sablefish (burnt flour gnocchi, pickled radish, brussels sprout leaves, celeriac-sherry emulsion)
--Prosciutto Wrapped Monkfish (porcini, savoy cabbage, lobster coral)
--Slow Roasted Arctic Char (leek spätzle, heirloom root vegetable, truffle-parsnip nag)

Cost: $75 per person

4) Olé Mexican Grill is bringing a Mexican holiday tradition to its Cambridge location with the Hot Ponche Cocktail, a traditional punch packed with fruit and served with rum or brandy. The base of the cocktail is piloncillo, a dark brown unrefined cane sugar, mixed with water and cinnamon sticks, and finished with winter fruits like apples, pears, prunes and guavas, which round out the flavors of the punch with tangy, citrus notes.

During the holidays in Mexico, a pot of ponche is always kept hot on the stove and ready for guests, and at Olé it’s no exception. For $8.00, guests can warm up and relax with a hot cup of the delicious and fruity concoction. For those who want to brew their own at home, Ole has shared its original recipe below.

Recipe (Serves 4)
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

15 guavas
1 cup raisins
2 cups prunes
300 grams of tamarind
6 pieces of sugar cane
4 apples
4 pears
6 pieces of Mexican cinnamon (15 cm)
Piloncillo (Mexican cane sugar)
30 cups of water

Directions: Chop the fruit and let it boil with all the ingredients (except alcohol) for around 30 minutes or until the fruit is cooked. Serve with rum or brandy.

5) Chefs Brian Poe and Shawn Russell are getting ready to heat things up in the kitchen at Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake. This winter, take a trip south of the border with new offerings and they have also refreshed their beverage program to bring forth some winter time mixing and shaking.

New appetizers include: Hoppy Beef Empanadas (flaky empanadas stuffed with cinnamon, jalapeño, Tettnang Hop braised beef, Centennial Hop cheese sauce, purple cabbage - $12.95); Taquitos (Fresno chili and beer-braised beef short rib, pepperjack cheese, cilantro slaw, spicy mole, sofrito ranch - $12.95); and, Chipotle Wings (smoked jalapeño rubbed, celery poblano and blue cheese sauce - $10.95). There are eight taco offerings with newcomers like: Antelope Tacos (duck fat infused ground antelope, jalapeño bacon ranch, Chihuahua cheese, smoked Fresno chilies, fried corn tortillas, salsa fresca, dressed greens - $13.95); Spicy Shrimp Tacos (Latin rubbed jumbo shrimp, lime cilantro slaw, spiced roasted pepitas, mango moho, orange jalapeño salsa - $14.95); and, Grilled Lamb Tip Tacos (rubbed with cilantro, chilies and Poe-co Loco seasoning, cucumber, tomatillo and red onion salsa, lamb chopper cheese, corn tortillas - $14.75).

For soups, sandwiches and entrees, winter preparations include: a bowl of Baked Potato Soup (roasted Yukon Golds, Applewood bacon, jalapeños, Chihuahua cheese, cilantro, chive sour cream - $10.95); Latin Catfish Sandwich (Latin spiced Delta catfish, lime cilantro aioli, lettuce, tomato, ciabatta - $14.50); Grilled Portobello Pita (jalapeño marinated Portobello mushrooms, dressed Romaine salsa fresca, roasted garlic and shallot aioli - $11.95); Citrus Grilled Chicken Sandwich (peppercorn, lemon and jalapeño chicken, arugula, chickpea and jalapeño mayo, salsa fresca, ciabatta - $14.25); Chef Shawn’s Enchiladas (chili garlic braised chicken, corn tortillas, spicy tomato chili sauce, melted Oaxaca cheese, shrimp, chorizo, black beans and basmati rice - $17.95); and, Sweet & Spicy Beef Rib (one pound stout braised beef rib, Anaheim chili grit cakes, red pepper roasted asparagus - $24.95).

Rotating seasonal drafts include selections such as: Avery Joe’s Pils ($6.50); Brooklyn Octoberfest ($6.50); Blatant Session Ale ($6.50); Northcoast Redseal Ale ($6.50); and, a half-liter Weihenstephaner Heffe ($7.00). The mixologists will now shake up the following: Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita (Patrón Anejo, muddle jalapeños and cranberries, Drambuie, homemade mix - $12); Harvest Margarita (Cuervo Gold, Dr. McGillicuddy’s Apple Schnapps, fresh apple, champagne, cider mix - $8); Texas Toddy (Deep Eddy Tea Vodka, Peach Schnapps, mint, lemon, cloves, hot water - $7); Royal Sour (Crown Royal, Goji Berry Liqueur, fresh made sour mix, brandied cherries - $11); and, The Bostonian (Espolon Silver, Citronage, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, prosecco float - $10).

For those really looking to take in some heat, Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake will continue with their waiver-required Ghost Chili Challenge (Espolon Reposado infused with ghost chilies, blood orange juice, homemade mix - $16).

6) Now you can do good and eat well by dining at some of the Boston area’s most celebrated restaurants during the 31st annual Super Hunger Brunch. With a growing list of more than fifteen restaurants, diners can choose sweet and savory dishes from menus designed especially for the Super Hunger Brunch. Prices are set at $25, $35 and $50 per person. This holiday season, give the gift of brunch to the foodies on your list while helping to end hunger in eastern Massachusetts. For more information and to purchase gift certificates visit To view menus and make reservations visit the websites of participating restaurants beginning January 2.

According to Catherine D’Amato, President and CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank, chefs, restaurateurs and purveyors are among her organization’s most compassionate and consistent benefactors. “The food community has always supported our efforts to feed those in need in eastern Massachusetts. We are so grateful for their time, their talents and their generosity.”  In 2012, over 1,600 people took part in this important fundraising effort that raised more than $67,000.

The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. GBFB distributes nearly 41 million pounds of food and grocery products annually to 550 member hunger-relief agencies and more than 30 direct service programs throughout eastern Massachusetts in a dedicated partnership to end hunger in our region. This provides meals for as many as 545,000 people a year. GBFB is a member of Feeding America, the nation's food bank network.

Participating restaurants include:

·         Blue Ginger
·         Chez Henri
·         Craigie on Main
·         Darryl’s Corner Bar
·         Grill 23 & Bar
·         Hamersley’s Bistro
·         Harvest Restaurant
·         La Morra
·         L’Espalier
·         North 26
·         Rialto
·         Sel de la Terre
·         The Elephant Walk
·         The Fireplace
·         Tomasso Trattoria  

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