Thursday, February 28, 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) Boston prepares to host its 4th annual Icelandic invasion this spring with A Taste of Iceland. The multi-day festival of entertainment offers Bostonians a chance to discover the wonders of Icelandic culture and lifestyle through a series of uniquely Icelandic events in Boston from March 8-12, 2013.

A Taste of Iceland is presented by Iceland Naturally, in cooperation with Icelandair, Reyka Vodka, 66° North, Blue Lagoon, Icelandic Glacial Water, Promote Iceland, Icelandic Group, Islandsbanki, , City of Reykjavik, Keflavik International Airport (KEF), Landsvirkjun, Fjardarlax, the Government of Iceland, Legal Sea Foods, Revere Hotel, Paradise Rock Club, WERS 88.9 FM, Arctic Salmon and Icelandic Brand Seafood.

One of the events is a special Icelandic Menu at Legal Sea Foods from March 8-12. Guest Chef Fannar Vernarðsson, first place winner of Icelandic Dessert of the Year in 2012, and Chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfusson, Executive Chef at the renowned VOX restaurant in Reykjavík, have created a special Icelandic tasting menu to be offered exclusively at Legal Sea Foods. Sourcing the freshest ingredients straight from Iceland, the two chefs will collaborate to offer a unique four course menu that will showcase the best of Nordic cuisine to Boston-area diners. In addition, the restaurant will feature a custom-made Reyka Vodka cocktail.

The three course Icelandic Menu will be offered at three Boston Legal Sea Foods locations; Copley Place, Prudential Center, Park Square, and the four course offering will be served at Legal Harborside, Floor 2. The 3-course Icelandic Menu will be offered for $32.95 (Copley, Park and Prudential), and the 4-course menu will be offered for $55 (Legal Harborside) and will include:

Marinated Icelandic salmon with fennel, rutabaga, artic char roe in spruce oil and horseradish dressing.
Pan fried Icelandic cod with potatoes dressed with Icelandic dulse, watercress salad and mussel sauce.
Main (only served at Legal Harborside, Floor 2)
Roasted shoulder of Icelandic lamb with sunchokes, onions, preserved lemons and lamb jus.
Skyr Tiramisu style: Skyr mousse and spice cake served with coffee ice cream.

Reservations can be made by visiting

Chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfusson, is one of Iceland’s most brilliant young chefs. In 2011 he took seventh place in the Bocuse d’Or, one of the world’s most prestigious international cooking competitions. In 2009 he was awarded the Silver Medal in the Scandinavian Chef of the Year Competition. In 2007 he was named the Icelandic Chef of the Year. Vigfusson if the head Chef of Kolabrautin, one of the latest additions to Reykjavik’s burgeoning food scene. Chef Vigfusson attended the Hotel and Catering School in Kopavogi, Iceland, graduating in 2005, and the Valrhona Grand School of Chocolate in 2007.

Chef Fannar Vernarðsson graduated on top of his class from The Icelandic Culinary School in 2007. He has worked at a number of fine dining restaurants in Reykjavík, including chef de cuisine at Einar Ben and VOX restaurant. Fannar is currently Executive chef at the renowned VOX restaurant at The Reykjavík Hilton. Fannar comes from Siglufjörður, a small town in Northern Iceland. In his kitchen, he focuses on the New Nordic Cuisine. He regularly takes his team of chefs with him to the countryside gathering local wild herbs, mushrooms and berries which they serve with a wild yet elegant style. Fannar has won awards for third place in chef of the year 2011 and first place in desert of the year 2012. One of his sous chefs at VOX restaurant, Sigurður Kristinn Laufdal, is competing for Iceland in Bocuse d´or in Lyon this year.

2) Chef de Cuisine Armand Toutaint focuses on classic New England inspired cuisine, executed with a modern and elegant touch. Chef Toutaint's philosophy is to provide generous portions of the freshest, local sustainable seafood available.

Turner Fisheries continues its Ocean to Table Tuesday Night Dinner Series this March, with Chef Toutaint’s chosen theme of Fin Fish. Each week, Chef Toutaint will prepare a three course meal based around a chosen Fin Fish, including: salmon, grilled wreakfish, haddock and tuna.

Each prix fixe menu includes an appetizer, entrée and dessert. The fresh from the ocean meal will cost $45 per person with additional wine pairings optional.

WHEN: Every Tuesday in March, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
March 5 - Salmon
March 12 - Grilled Wreakfish
March 19 - Haddock
March 26 - Tuna

3) On Tuesday, March 12, from 6pm-8pm, The Beehive's co-owner and resident curator Jennifer Epstein and special guest curator Emily Lombardo will co-host the 14th installment in The Beehive's continuing art series entitled, Sting! 14: Future Futurist. The work on view for Future Futurist offers a new approach to seeing how reality shifts as perspectives warp with time. Realities explored in these works range from chemical to cultural identity, extinction married to rebirth, and evolution offering the possibility of progress. These works are not what they seem, challenging the notion that the image of the future is fixed in the world of science fiction and dystopic narratives. Each artist included in this exhibit approaches this subject with poetic individualism allowing for multiple entrances into an alternative world scape.

The ongoing Sting! series always signifies the launch of a new art installation at The Beehive and highlights an evening of live entertainment, food & libations specials along with amazing art. For this 14th installment, Jennifer Epstein joined forces with Emily Lombardo to bring together a group of artists (most of whom are working here in Boston or who otherwise have connections to the city). Emily Lombardo received her BFA in Glass from Massachusetts College of Art in 2002 and is currently pursuing her MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Lombardo divided her studies between the glass and printmaking departments where she developed her unique glass printing techniques. Lombardo also started the kiln forming studio at Diablo Glass School in Boston, where she piloted a unique range of classes for adult artists and community youth programs.

There will also be a special live musical performance, starting at 6pm, by Karen Kocharyn, an Armenian born drummer, who brings together an all-star band featuring the amazing Phil Grenadier and George Garzone.

No cover charge, cash bar. Dinner reservations recommended.

4) Chef Presceia Cooper and the gang at Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen invite Bostonians to enjoy a taste of Southern inspired American comfort with Glorified Chicken &Waffle Wednesdays. They are celebrating their deep rooted history in Boston by introducing Glorified Chicken Waffle Wednesdays, offering guests a special deal on its signature dish. Guests can enjoy Darryl’s signature Fried Chicken & Waffles for just $12 every Wednesday.

Darryl’s is the latest restaurant at the site of owner Darryl Settle’s first, Bob the Chef’s, which was the original restaurant to bring Chicken & Waffles to Boston. To celebrate the movement Bob’s began, Darryl’s is offering its homemade buttermilk waffle topped with country fried chicken breast and served with butter and maple syrup for a special price on

Fried Chicken & Waffles is regularly $16, now $12 on Wednesdays. Chicken Martini is not included in the promotion, and is an additional $12.

5) Get ready for a little getaway voyage to Italy with 51 Lincoln. On Wednesday, March 20, 51 Lincoln presents its Italian Wine Dinner with amazing wines from all over Italy paired with a menu by Chef de Cuisine Fernada Tapia.

Lobster Agnolotti (White Wine & Grape Sauce, Shaved Black Truffles)
Paitin Arneis
Venison Carpaccio with Wild Mushrooms & Pickled Beets
Li Veli Salice Salentino Passamante
Roasted Wild Boar Loin (Fagioli al Fiasco, Crispy Sweetbreads, Stewed Cherries)
Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riserva Bucherchiali
Dry Aged Ribeye (Bagna Cauda, Sauteed Greens Beans & Turnips)
Revello Barolo Cru Giachini
Aged Taleggio with Orange-Infused Honey, Toasted Hazelnuts, Crostinis
Salavalai Monile

Tickets for the wine dinner are $151, including tax and gratuity. Tickets may be purchased here.

6) The Concord Cheese Shop sells goat cheeses from New England and Europe year-round, but proprietor Peter Lovis admits to being a little bit crazy for fresh, spring goat cheese. “Female goats’ milk is especially rich and flavorful in March, after the February birth of their kids, and because of the addition of new grass and whey to their diets. Within hours of its being made into cheese on the farm, it is delivered to the shop,” he says.

Two local goat farms Peter especially likes are Crystal Brook Farm in Sterling, Massachusetts … and York Hill Farm in New Sharon, Maine. Both are family-owned operations where production is small, and every step of the process is a labor of love.

Concord Cheese Shop recommends: Crystal Brook Farm Herbes de Provence Chevre Buttons, 72 hours from goat to store. Since 1738, this bucolic property northwest of Boston has been run as a farm and orchard; current farmer Ann Starbard purchased a small goat herd in 1998 and initiated the production of goat cheese.

On February 19, Ann reported that almost 80 new kids had been born to 33 mares. Goat cheese made from those mares’ milk will be ready to consume by early March, so cheesemaking is in high gear. Day One, the milk is pasteurized at low temperature; once it cools rennet and cultures are added and the mixture ripens overnight. Day Two, the mixture is hung in cloth bags to extract the liquids, a nutritious and palatable byproduct called whey, that is fed back to the animals. Day Three, the cheese is ready. Logs are formed, packaging vacuum-sealed, labels applied, and shop deliveries made.

Concord Cheese Shop recommends: York Hill Farm Capriano, a hard, medium-sharp cheese aged 5-12 months, notes of salt and caramel. John and Penny Duncan left behind careers in health care to buy a farm near Brunswick, Maine in 1981. Six years later, they’d amassed a herd of 40 Alpine and Sanaan goats, and a new business was born.

The herd is fed grain, pasture grass and hay, with the occasional treat of whey, a byproduct of cheesemaking, which they adore. Once birthing begins in March or April, the mother goats are milked twice daily. Milk is vat pasteurized and made into cheese three times a week. Farm visits are encouraged from April til fall, and York Hill Farm cheese can be found at select cheese shops, and at farmer’s markets near Brunswick.

7) Pinot Noir’s storied reputation originated in Burgundy, France, but the grape is cultivated for wine around the world. Although it is a fickle vine to tend, the payoff is tremendous with the end result being a fruit-forward, silky-smooth wine that leaves a lasting impression on the palate. On Saturday, March 23, from 12pm-5pm, The Wine ConneXtion, located in North Andover, will offer a complimentary wine tasting featuring some of the best Pinot Noirs on the market. In addition to the tasting, guests will get a firsthand experience of the variance between Pinot Noirs grown in different regions.

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