Thursday, May 30, 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 crew at Farmstead, Inc. is shaking up your typical takeout routine with family-style suppers and monthly brunches, complete with all the house-cured meaty, artisan cheesy fare you dig from Farmstead. Weekend happenings include:

Sunday Suppers:
Every Sunday night, excluding May 26 and June 2, from 5pm-10pm
Cost: $29 per person; $39 per person with beverage pairing
Beginning this spring, Matt & Kate Jennings and the Farmstead team share age-old family recipes in a weekly Sunday Supper series. Diners are welcomed for three-course family-style feasts of homespun classics with a Farmstead twist, served communally with an optional beverage pairing (two hand-selected wines from the restaurant’s cellar, one cocktail or a beer-and-shot combo, depending on the menu). The full bistro menu will also be available during Sunday-night dinner starting June 9. Reservations accepted but not required.

Inspired by mom’s greatest hits, upcoming menus include (subject to adjustments):
June 9: Melville Rangoon and "Duck Sauce"
Orange Beef and Broccoli with Steamed Rice
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Maraschino Cherry Ice Cream
Singapore Slings
June 16: Fried Pickles with Garlic Ranch
BBQ Ribs, Coleslaw and Mom's Buttermilk Biscuits
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
Bourbon Slush Punch
June 23rd: Antipasto All'Italiana
Nanny's Spaghetti and Meatballs
Affogato with Biscotti
Nero D'Avola

Monthly Brunches
First Sunday of every month; from 10am-2pm
Round off your weekends Jennings-style with once-a-month Sunday-morning brunches done up the Farmstead way. Midday meals include playful takes on brunch standards featuring monthly changing options like Sweet Pea Waffles with Smoked Salmon, Fried Mortadella & Pancake Sandwiches, Papas Gordas and House-Made Cider Doughnuts. Reservations suggested but not required.

2) It’s the mother of all pop-up dinners this June when Matt Jennings of Providence bistro/artisanal shop Farmstead, Inc. gathers ten of his closest friends – who also happen to be dynamite chefs from Boston, New York and Canada – for the first-ever Northern Alliance Dinner at jm Curley in Boston.

Celebrating the camaraderie, creative collaboration and shared inspiration between US and Canadian chefs, the dinner features a multi-course meal of neo-traditional North American cuisine from ten culinary all-stars. The evening begins with a reception of chef favorites Fernet Branca and Bols Genever soaked up with passed apps, followed by five collaborative courses with beverage pairings.

Proceeds from the Northern Alliance dinner support a favorite charity of the US chefs – the American Farmland Trust – in its mission to support and protect small family farms. A second event later this summer in Montreal will support an organization close to the Canadian chefs’ hearts.

Participating Chefs
Matt Jennings – Farmstead, Inc. (Providence)
April Bloomfield – Spotted Pig, The Breslin, The John Dory Oyster House, Salvation Taco (NYC)
Ken Oringer – Clio, Uni, Toro, Coppa, La Verdad, Earth (Boston)
Jamie Bissonnette – Toro, Coppa (Boston)
Zak Pelaccio – Fish & Game (NYC)
Derek Dammann – Maison Publique (Montreal)
Lee Cooper – L’Abbattoir (Vancouver)
Rob Gentile – Buca, Bar Buca (Toronto)
Matty Matheson – Parts & Labour (Toronto)
Jeremy Charles – Raymonds Restaurant (Newfoundland)

When: Sunday, June 23, 6pm-10pm
Cost: Tickets are $250/person and available at

3) Lucia Ristorante Owner Donato Frattaroli and Executive Chef Pino Maffeo introduce the next class in the Lucia Winchester cooking series: Pasta. Guests will learn how to make Mama Lucia's Traditional Italian Lasagna, Pasta al Forno and Maccheroni Chittara. Attendees will learn the secrets of perfect pasta, sauce and pairings. Class will conclude with a family-style dinner.

When: Wednesday, June 5, from 6:30p.m.-9 p.m.
Where: Lucia Ristorante, Winchester, 13 Mt. Vernon St.   Winchester
Cost: The cost is $50 plus $15 materials fee. Classes are held in downstairs kitchen. Students can sign up and pay at host station before class date or pay by credit card by phone. For more information or to book a spot, please call (781) 729-0515.

4) 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar in Salem is launching a new Tuesday Tasting wine series beginning Tuesday, May 28, featuring wine, food and a chance to mingle with friends new and old for only $25 per person. Guests can look forward to (4) unique wines and (4) creations presented by chef Antonio Bettencourt while learning about each wine. “We have a really robust wine program here and many times people are intimidated by a restaurant’s wine list. We wanted to create a unique series so that our guests can experience all that we have to offer in a relaxed, comfortable and most importantly, fun setting,” said Chef Bettencourt.

A great deal for diners, the restaurant has added a fun twist to the series. Unlike typical wine dinners, each Tuesday night tasting has a unique theme meant to overcome some of the pretention associated with wine tastings. In addition to the wine pairings, guests will get a taste of true Italian authenticity as Chef Bettencourt serves up some of his paired spuntini and small plates.

May 28: What’s the 411? This tasting will cover the wine tasting basics- highlighting grape varietals, their characteristics and where they are grown around the world. Terroir- What is it and why should I care?
June 11: Pretty in Pink. At this wine tasting 62 is breaking the stigma of pink wine and setting the new rules for rose. Real men drink pink, too.
July 16: Summertime wines- Grilling reds-wines with low tannin and bright acidity/Picnic whites-keeping it light and bright/Sangria, ole! -using seasonal fruit to spice up your wine
August 20: ABC-- Anything But California – There’s more to U.S. wine than what’s grown in the Golden State. At this tasting guests will explore the other wine U.S. regions including Washington, Oregon, New York and even Massachusetts.
September 17: Italian All-stars - From Piedmont to Tuscany. Exploring some of the most sought after wines from Italy. Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello & Super Tuscan
October 15: American Heavy Hitters Big-boy Cabs and Zins that make you pay attention.

Registration is necessary and can be done by calling 62 at (978) 744-0062

5) The Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival will return to the shores of Lake Champlain this summer to celebrate Vermont cheeses, artisan foods, craft beers, local wines—and the people who make them. The 5th Annual Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival will be held on Sunday, July 21 at the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, VT from 10am-4pm.

This year’s festival will feature over 200 cheeses from more than 40 cheesemakers, as well as dozens of artisan food producers, and local beer, wine and spirits producers. Tasting, pairing and sampling opportunities will be interspersed with cheesemaking and cooking demonstrations, and workshops throughout the day.

“This year’s “Meet the Cheesemakers” workshop series will be free with the price of admission, and offered on a first come, first serve basis. Murray’s Cheese will share their “Counter Intelligence” with a workshop on affinage and the cave-aging process. The cheesemakers behind Vermont’s well-loved cheddars will present “Cheddar is a Verb,” a workshop devoted to understanding what makes a great cheddar. “Cheese Through the Seasons” will delve into cheese seasonality and the subtle variations that result from the changing Vermont landscape.

Two cooking demonstrations will also be offered free with admission-- “Creative Cheese Boards” with Chef Sean Buchanan of Black River Produce and “Beyond Fondue: Cooking with Cheese” with Chef David Hugo of Shelburne Farms.

Tickets are $50 per person and include full access to all festival events, including workshops, demonstrations, and beer and wine tastings. Tickets are available online at or by calling 802-86-FLYNN. The Festival typically sells out well in advance, so early ticket reservations are encouraged.

This cheese fest is always a great time and I highly recommend you check it out. And make sure to get your tickets early as they only sell a limited amount and sell out every year.

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