Thursday, January 24, 2013

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) For Valentine's Day, consider Tavolo where Chef Nuno Alves will be have a special ala carte Valentine's Day menu from Thursday, February 14 through Sunday, February 17. .

In addition, they are offering a Couples Cooking Class on Saturday, February 16 at 12pm. Come to Tavolo, strap on an apron, and learn together how to make beet (think pink) raviolis, roast rack of lamb, and seasonal sides. All this togetherness, plus a post-class luncheon with wine, is $120 per couple. Call to reserve your space at 617-822-1918.

Also on Saturday, February 16, at 6pm, there will be Live Acoustic Guitar from their own Ryan Beke. Ryan is a local musician who attended Berklee, teaches several instruments to kids, records, and brings a funky energy. Beke has become a regular at the infamous Wally's in Boston, but you can skip the crowds and see him here, and you never know who he'll bring along to jam with.

2) For Valentine's Day, Thursday, February 14, the four restaurants of the Grafton Group, including PARK, Russell House Tavern, Temple Bar and Grafton Street, will have special menus.

Valentine’s Day Dining à la Carte

First Course
Chilled Crab & Melon Salad (Avocado, Roasted Lime Vinaigrette)
French Onion Soup (Bone Marrow Toast) Seared Foie Gras (Armagnac-Soaked Prunes, Brioche)
Seared Scallops (Truffled Cauliflower Purée, Crispy Kale)
Grilled 12-oz. Ribeye (Potato Gratin, Roasted Asparagus, Red Wine Sauce)
Red Velvet Cupcake (Mascarpone Frosting)

Russell House Tavern
Three-Course Prix Fixe
$59 per person ($10 discount for reservations before 6:30 PM)
$18 per person optional beer or wine pairing

First Course
Potato & Pernod Soup (Smoked Moosabec Mussels, Watercress)
Parsley & Ricotta Cavatelli (Braised Goat, Raisins, Pine Nuts, Mint)
60-Degree Egg (Parsnip Honey, House-Smoked & Cured Speck, Arugula)
Smoked Duck Rillettes (Fernet, Cherries, Toast)
Roasted Half-Pheasant (Toasted Sunflower Butter, Wild Mushroom Pancake, Pea Greens)
Salt Cod & Roasted Tomato Stew (Crispy Oysters, Sea Urchin Rouille)
Moscato & Fennel-Braised Veal Shank (Anson Mills Polenta, Black Fig Gravy)
Crispy Cider-Glazed Heritage Pork Belly (Apple, Celery Root & Guanciale Hash, Soft-Poached Egg, Vinegar Greens)
Chocolate Strawberry “Snowball” (Chocolate Truffle Cake, Strawberry Mousse, Coconut, Marshmallow)
Olive Oil Cake (Lemon Gelato, Pine Nut Cookie, Mint Simple Syrup)
The New England Cheese Board (Three Local Cheeses, Traditional Accompaniments (add $9)

Temple Bar
Three-Course Prix Fixe
$49 per person ($10 discount for reservations before 6:30 PM)
$18 per person optional beer or wine pairing

First Course
Thai Coconut-Lemongrass Soup (Poached Shrimp, Thai Basil, Frizzled Leeks)
Panko-Crusted Scallop Cakes (Beluga Lentils, Candied Bacon Jam, Crispy Beet Root)
Foie Gras Terrine (Kumquat Marmalade, Fennel Pollen, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Brioche)
Teriyaki-Braised Short Rib (Green Tea Rice, Pickled Veggies)
Warm Eggplant Casserole (Fennel-Parmesan Gratin, Wild Mushroom “Meatballs,” Cured Black Olives, Capers, Grilled Baguette)
Rosemary Honey-Glazed Rohan Duck Breast (Sweet Potato Pavé, Broccoli Rabe, Black Mission Fig Jus)
Pan-Seared Mahi-Mahi (Israeli Couscous, Sliced Almonds, Grapes, Cilantro, Pineapple Curry Sauce, Crispy Plantains)
Grilled Ribeye Steak (Creamed Spinach, Truffled Duchess Potato, Gorgonzola Butter, Bordelaise)
Chocolate & Peanut Butter Mousse Cake (Dark Chocolate Ganache, Caramelized Banana)
Passion Fruit & Strawberry Napoleon (Filo Dough, Coconut Mochi, Ginger Caramel)

Grafton Street
Valentine’s Day Dining à la Carte. Suggested wine pairings available

First Course 
Chestnut Rangoon (Oxtail Marmalade, Young Celery Leaves, Pine Nuts, Truffle Oil)
Parmigiano Reggiano Tartlet (Tuscan Kale Salad, Toasted Almonds, Plump Golden Raisins)
Pan-Seared Atlantic Halibut (Red Curry Sweet Potato Purée, Radish, Edamame, Tarragon, Green Apple)
Grilled Brandt Farms Ribeye (Aligot Potatoes, Rapini, Smoked Bone Marrow Butter, Bordelaise)
Dark Chocolate Decadence Cake (Brandied Amarena Cherries, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream)

3) Lucia Ristorante & Bar has teamed up with United Liquors, a Massachusetts-based distributor focusing on wine and spirits, to present a four course wine dinner. Guest speakers from the beverage industry will kick off the evening, introducing each course which will be paired with Italian wines from Zyme, a wine company founded by Celestino Gasperi, son-in-law of Giuseppe Quinterelli, one of Valpolicella’s most legendary winemakers.

The four course menu with wine pairings is as follows:

Antipasto / Salmon Carpaccio
2011 Zyme “il Bianco from black to white
Parpardelle with Wild Mushrooms, black truffles
2008 Valpolicella Classico Superiore
Braised Leg of Lamb
2007 Zyme 60/20/20 grape varietal Cabernet, Merlot, and Cabfranc
Parmesan Reggiano
2004 Zyme Amarone

When: Monday, January 28, 6 p.m.
Cost: Tickets are $50 per person.
For reservations and more information, please call 617-367-2353.

4) Chef Paul Turano, chef/owner of Tryst restaurant in Arlington, has taken it upon himself to bring authenticity to his special prix fixe Mardi Gras dinner being held on Tuesday, February 12, from 5pm-10pm. Served in addition to Tryst’s regular menu, Mardi Gras diners can look forward to experiencing a three-course prix fixe menu available for $38 per person (tax and gratuity not included).

The menu will feature items such as oysters with chorizo mignonette, crawfish and chicken etouffee and Southern comfort bread pudding with pecans, apples & vanilla bean ice cream. Guests will also be able to enjoy authentic cocktails and Hurricanes galore.

Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 781-641-2227.

5) On Saturday, February 9, from 12pm-5pm, check out the Wine ConneXtion’s fourth annual “Battle of the Big Cabs,” a complimentary in-store wine tasting featuring high-end, luxury wines that are rarely uncorked. The Wine ConneXtion, located in North Andover, will be bringing out the big guns and opening some of the world's most distinct and exclusive Cabernets names such as Silver Oaks and Faust. Guests will have the opportunity to sip and swirl the featured wines before voting on their favorite Cab while munching on complimentary cuisine from Sultan Mediterranean Cafe located in North Andover.

Regardless of the winner, all of the featured wines will be available to purchase for a special price throughout the day. Walk-ins welcome all day. Free to the public. *Please note: Must be 21 or older.

6)Laissez les bons temps rouler!" is a Cajun expression meaning "Let the good times roll!" and it strongly conveys the joie de vivre ("joy of living") attitude of The Beehive’s 6th Annual Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday, February 12. The South End hot spot has spared no expense in making this year’s festivities as authentic as possible. Diners and party goers alike can look forward to the traditional jazz style of BT New Orleans 2nd Line Brass Band which will keep the crowd singing and swinging all night long.

Further indulge with Chef Rebecca Newell's Cajun inspired à la carte specials featuring authentic NOLA-style dishes. Finish off your meal with a big old Hurricane, put on your complimentary Mardi Gras beads, and you’ll be ready to hit the dance floor.

Come for dinner, come for the music and cocktails…come to see what “New Orleans Style” is all about. There is no cover charge for this event. Regular menu served in addition to all special items. Reservations recommended so please call 617-423-0069.

7) Special for Mardi Gras, Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen will be welcoming New Orleans’ own jazz musician, Henri Smith, this Fat Tuesday. Henri Smith made his mark on the music industry in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, where he polished his talent for many years. As a radio personality for New Orleans’ premier jazz station for 14 years, Smith was a household name even before he began thrilling audiences with his jazz, blues, creole, and Cajun flavored music. Finding himself in Boston after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Smith has established his groove in New England. Engaging audiences all over the area, he has become the go-to for traditional jazz entertainment.

Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen's menu for Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras will transport guests straight to Canal Street. Full of authentic New Orleans cuisine, dinner choices include: gumbo with okra; fried catfish strips; Jambalaya with shrimp, sausage, chicken, mussels, and rice; and more.

The special New Orleans themed cocktails are the other piece of the equation, equaling a “big fat” time. Specials include: DCBK Hurricane – Darryl’s take on the New Orleans original, built with dark rum, light rum, amaretto, fresh orange and pineapple juice, grapefruit bitters, and topped with grenadine; The Sazerac – Named after the coffeehouse where it appeared for the first time in 1859, this New Orleans signature cocktail features rye whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters, and homemade simple syrup, served to preference, chilled neat or on the rocks; Dirty Cajun Martini – Southern style dirty martini served shaken and up with premium vodka and hot sauce; Dirty Oyster Martini- Literally, a dirty martini with a fresh oyster in lieu of an olive.

DCBK is encouraging guests to wear masks, collect beads, and march into Boston’s best corner bar dressed for the celebration, as the “best dressed” will win the choice of a DCBK $100 gift card or a Sunday Jazz Buffet Brunch for four. There is a $5 cover charge for live entertainment. For more information and reservations, please call 617-536-1100.

8) This Valentine’s Day wine, dine and seduce your significant other at Tryst, located in Arlington. Guests enjoy a special 3-course prix fixe menu created by Executive Chef Paul Turano. This exclusive menu features specials such as Tagliatelle Bolognese, Berkshire Pork Porterhouse Chop, Grilled Flat Iron Steak and Miso Glazed Sea Scallops. After dinner, guests can relax, reminisce and indulge in Tryst’s house-made Valentine’s Day desserts such as Vanilla Bean Cheesecake and Flourless Chocolate Torte, while sipping on after dinner cocktails with a twist.

Tryst’s Valentine’s Day dinner menu is $45 per person (tax, gratuity and beverages not included), and will be offered exclusively on Thursday, February 14 from 5pm-10pm. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 781-641-2227.

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