Thursday, April 11, 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) The Taste of the North End is turning 20 this year. The Taste of the North End was founded by Donato and Nancy Frattaroli in 1993 as a benefit for Casa Monte Cassino. The Frattarolis became aware of Casa Monte Cassino when a family from Italy came into their North End restaurant. The family was staying at the CMC while their four daughters received medical attention at Boston's Children's Hospital Boston. The Frattarolis were touched by their story and inspired by the mission of the Casa; to provide a place to stay for impoverished families from around the world while their children receive serious medical attention in Boston. Over the next few weeks, as the Frattarolis developed the idea for the Taste of the North End to raise funds to help Casa Monte Cassino provide its invaluable services.

The Frattarolis, with the support of the North End restaurant community, held the First Annual Taste of the North End in the basement of St. John's School. That first year, guests were able to try dishes from fifteen North End eateries. The success of the event has been incredible. What started in St. John's moved to the local Coast Guard Base, the New England Aquarium, and finally to the DCR's Steriti Rink on Commercial Street. The Taste of the North End currently features over 30 restaurants, bakeries and distributors. Since its inception, the Taste of the North End has raised over $500,000 for Casa Monte Cassino and other local North End charities.

This year, guests can sample from more than 35 popular North End eateries showcasing a wide array of delectable appetizers, cheeses, entrees and desserts, and sip on refreshing libations from area wine and beer distributors. There will also be a high-end silent auction with hotel and restaurant packages, Boston sporting tickets, memorabilia, and more.

All proceeds from the event are split between multiple non-profit organizations in the North End including elderly, education and health programs to help better then entire community; last year over $100,000 was raised. This is the fourth year that North End Waterfront Health has partnered with the Frattaroli family to put on and host the event.

This year’s event co-chairs are event founder Donato Frattaroli, owner of Lucia Ristorante, and James Luisi, CEO of North End Waterfront Health. The Master of Ceremonies for the 16th year is KISS-108 and NECN personality Billy Costa. This ceremony will also honor Matt Conti, a local North End Community Journalist for his charitable work with North End organizations and North End restaurant owner, Barbara Summa of La Summa Restaurant.

This year’s participating restaurants include: Al Dente, Antico Forno, Aragosta, Artu, Bricco, Cantina Italiana, Carmelina, Ducali, Filippo, Fiore, Gennaro’s 5 North Square, Il Panino, J. Pace, La Summa, Lucca, Lucia Ristorante, Mamma Maria, Massimino, Mercato del Mare, Mike's Pastry, Modern Pastry, Neptune, Pagliuca, Paul W. Marks, Pellino, Perkins, Piantedosi Baking, Quattro, Taranta, Terra Mia, Tresca, and Vito’s Tavern.

The event will be held on Friday, May 10, from 6pm-11pm, at the DCR Steriti Memorial Ice Rink,                                  561 Commercial Street, Boston.

Tickets are $79 and can be purchased in advance at or by calling 617-643-8105. Tickets are $99 after April 26th.

2) Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer is celebrating their 14th year of success in the city. This year, from May 6-12, some of the area’s premiere restaurants and bakeries will be joining forces to help raise money to benefit breast cancer research and care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Establishments will choose one dessert to feature for a week where 100% of the proceeds from sales will go directly to the Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer organization.

This year, top area restaurants have kindly pledged to donate all of their selected dessert’s proceeds to join in the battle against breast cancer including:

Avila Modern Mediterranean and Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse’s Warm Chocolate Cake ($9)
BOKX 109 American Prime’s Local Strawberry, Tarragon & Balsamic Shortcake (basil, peach gelato, rhubarb lattice - $10)
Haru’s Banana Spring Rolls (chocolate dipping sauce - $9)
Legal Harborside’s Savarin Aux Fruit (yeast cake soaked in passion fruit and Bärenjäger with whipped cream, fresh fruit - $7.95 on the second level)
The Tip Tap Room’s Blackberry & White Chocolate Bread Pudding (caramel and brioche - $6.95)
The Varano Group’s Fresh Berry Chocolate Tart ($9 at Strega Waterfront, Strega North End and Nico).

3) On Monday, April 15, at 6:30pm, Tryst Restaurant located in Arlington and Berman’s Wine & Spirits, located in Lexington combine forces to host a four course, prix fixe wine dinner in celebration of international winemaker and the evening’s special guest, Guillaume Gonnet, the co-owner of Font de Michelle located in the Rhone Valley of France.

Font de Michelle has been run by the Gonnet family for over three generations, and offers some of the fairest prices throughout Chateauneuf du Pape sector. Quoting Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate, "One of the top estates in the eastern sector of Chateauneuf du Pape, with cellars located adjacent to Vieux Telegraphe, Font de Michelle has been impeccably run by the Gonnet brothers for a number of years. Moreover, they have kept their egos in check, offering some of the fairest pricing of the appellation."

Hosted at Tryst, guests will indulge in Chef Turano’s four course menu:

P.E.I Mussels (Coconut & red curry)
(2011 Cotes du Rhone Blanc “La Julia”)
Comte & Caramelized Onion Tart (Field greens & lardon’s)
(Cotes du Rhone Rouge “Font du Vent”)
Slow Braised American Lamb (Spring dug parsnip & roasted vegetables)
(2010 Chateauneuf du Pape “Font de Michelle”)
Almond Financier (Orange anglaise & rhubarb)
(Muscat Beaume de Vinise-La Pigeade)

Cost: $75 per person (tax & gratuity not included)
Reservations are required by calling Tryst at 781-641-2227

4) Mâitre d' hotel and Fromager Louis Risoli teams up with Sommelier Erich Schliebe to bring an exquisite Cheese & Champagne sampling to this month’s Salon Session at L’Espalier. On Thursday, April 11, at 6pm, Risoli and Schliebe present an entertaining evening for an intimate and interactive sampling. For $55 per person, guests can indulge in a selection from L’Espalier’s award-winning cheese cart paired with fine champagne. Hosted in L’Espalier’s striking salon overlooking Boylston Street, guests can toast to great cuisine, conversation, and a one of a kind view of the city.

For more information or reservations, please call (617) 262-3023

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