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.
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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:

First
Marinated Icelandic salmon with fennel, rutabaga, artic char roe in spruce oil and horseradish dressing.
Second
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.
Dessert
Skyr Tiramisu style: Skyr mousse and spice cake served with coffee ice cream.

Reservations can be made by visiting http://www.legalseafoods.com/reservations.

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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boston Wine Expo: From Portuguese Pleasures to Jerky

A couple hundred wineries, from over 15 different countries, presenting over 1000 wines. Yes, the Boston Wine Expo was recently in town, a huge event allowing consumers and the trade to experience both wines on the market and wines which hope to be distributed within Massachusetts. I attended once again, primarily during the trade hours, when it is a bit quieter and I can better taste a variety of wines and speak with the winemakers, distributors and other representatives.

It seemed to me that there were less wines at the Expo this year, or at least it seemed that way as there was more open space. There was certainly a large selection of wines, more than anyone can taste in a single weekend, but the aisles did not seem as crowded, which was a good thing. As usual, there was a good selection of non-wine vendors, with plenty of free food samples, which helped cleanse the palate between tastings.

Though the Expo program guide contains a map of the exhibit hall, so you can better locate the wines you seek, it would have been beneficial if that map was available prior to the Expo. With such a map, attendees could better pre-plan their exploration of the Expo. In addition, I would have liked a bit more diversity in the wine selections, to see more countries represented, or more lesser known regions from countries that did attend. For example, let us see more Sake and Sherry, more Israeli and Lebanese wines. Local wines also seemed underrepresented this year, though they had made a good presence at last year's Expo.

Much of my tasting this year concentrated on Portugal and Italy, with a number of stops at a selected few other areas. Overall, the wines that I tasted were good and some were even excellent. My tastings also provided me more evidence of the great value that is found in Portuguese wines, as well as that Italy has plenty of compelling wines. I spent some of my time tasting with Jason of Ancient Fire Beverage, and we agreed on a number of the wines we tasted. I also recommended some of the wines to others attending the Expo and there was much consensus from them as well.

Let me start by sharing some of my Portuguese finds.

I'll start with one of my top finds of the Expo, an incredible value wine that exemplifies what I love about Portuguese wine. The 2009 Quinta do Penedo Dao Red (about $12-$15) is a blend of Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro, and sees some aging in used French and American oak. From an alluring aroma to a complex and compelling taste, this wine drinks like something at twice the price or more. Delicious black fruit flavors, plenty of spice and a nice exotic taste. A well balanced wine, with good acidity and a lengthy finish will satisfy to the last drop. This wine receives my highest recommendation, especially at this price.

The 2011 DFJ Alvarinho Chardonnay is an interesting and tasty blend of Alvarinho and Chardonnary. It is crisp and clean, with nice flavors of citrus and green apple with mineral notes. The 2010 Casa das Gaeiras Blanco, a blend of Arinto, Chardonnay and Fernão Pires, is very aromatic and has a crisp taste with delicious flavors of citrus and pineapple with floral accents. An excellent summer wine, or an accompaniment to seafood. The 2011 Casa das Gaeiras, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Syrah, is a big wine, with bold spices and blackfruit. However, it is balanced with well integrated tannins and a lengthy, satisfying finish. This wine beckons for beef, or a hearty ragu.

The 2011 Beato Nuno, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Castelão, is a lighter, simpler wine but with an appealing nose and a soft, fruity taste. A nice pizza or burger wine. The 2010 Quinta do Cachao, made from 100% Touriga Nacional, is also a light and pleasant red wine. An easy drinking wine for a casual meal, or to drink on its own.

All of the following wines are from the Adega de Borba winery, a cooperative of 300 wine growers, which is also one of the ten largest wine producers in Portugal.

The 2011 Montes Claros Colheita White, a blend of Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro and Alvarinho, is a tasty and aromatic white, with excellent acidity and citrus, apple, and tropical fruit flavors with a mineral backbone. Good whether alone or paired with food. The 2010 Montes Claros Reserva, a blend of  Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, is bold, with prominent tannins but deep flavors of dark fruits and spices, as well as hints of chocolate and herbs. Nice complexity and a pleasing finish. The 2007 Montes Claros Garrafeira, a blend of Trincadeira, Aragonez and Tinta Caiada, had a fascinating aroma, a melange of intriguing spices and fruit, and the taste fulfilled the promise of the nose. An elegant wine, with complex flavors, restrained tannins and a lengthy finish. An impressive wine that is well worth seeking out.

The basic 2011 Adega de Borba Tinto, a blend of Trincadeira, Aragonez and Alicante Bouschet, was an easy drinking red with a spicy, exotic taste and a light fruitiness. Pizza, burgers, meatloaf or on its own. The 2008 Adega de Borba Reserva is more complex and deep, as well as more tannic. It would be better with food than on its own. The 2002 Adega Borba Garrafeira, a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, reminded me of the previous Garrafeira. From a compelling nose to an intriguing and complex taste, this is another winner of a wine. Well balanced, delicious and eminently satisfying. This wine might be a bit more aromatic than the other Garrafeira. It too is impressive and deserves to be sought out.

I have previously raved about the wines of Esporão and I stopped by their table to taste through some of the newest vintages. The 2011 Monte Velho White, a blend of Antão Vaz, Roupeiro and Perrum, is a crisp and tasty white with delicious citrus flavors and a fresh feel. The 2011 Esporão Verdelho is another delicious white, with nice acidity, good fruit flavors and a clean taste. The 2011 Esporão Reserva White, a blend of Roupeiro, Arinto and Antao Vaz, sees a little oak but it is still fresh and approachable, a more full bodied wine that is an excellent food wine. The 2011 Esporão Defesa Rosé, a blend of Syrah and Aragones, is fresh and bright, with delicious red fruit flavors.

The 2011 Monte Velho Red, a blend of Aragonês, Trincadeira, and Castelão, is full bodied, bold and spicy with nice black fruit flavors. A simple red yet still compelling with its slightly exotic taste. The 2010 Assobio, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Franca, is a bit smoother and lighter, and not as bold. But its taste is compelling with a pleasant blend of dark fruits and spice. The 2009 Esporão Reserva Red, a blend of Trincadeira, Aragonês, Cabernet Sauvvignon, and Alicante Bouschet, is also full bodied, and more complex, with a well balanced blend of flavors and a lengthy, satisfying finish. Over all, the wines of Esporão are very worthy of your attention.

La Face Cachée de la Pomme, based in Quebec, produces Neige Apple Ice Wine, an ice cider, and I have been a fan for over six years. It is sweet but balanced with a good acidity, and has a rich, apple flavor that makes an excellent dessert wine. I find it especially good paired with an apple or fruit dessert, such as an apple pie or fruit tart.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have a new product, Neige Bubble, a sparkling apple wine that sells for around $15.99 for a 750ml bottle. It is produced in the traditional method, from McIntosh apples, and 10% of Neige Apple Ice Wine is added to the bottle. It also has a low alcohol content of 7.5%. The Neige Bubble has a prominent and pleasing apple flavor and it is only lightly sweet. The bubbles make it refreshing and I believe that many people are going to enjoy this wine. I was impressed and will be sure to have a bottle or two at my next holiday party.

I have tasted and enjoyed a couple previous wines from Mallorca but was intrigued to check out another Mallorca producer at the Expo, Son Prim Petit Celler. Their winery was built on 2003 and they produce about 90,000 bottles annually, choosing to create wines in a more modern style. The 2010 Son Prim Cup is a blend of Mantonegro, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I think the addition of the Mantonegro elevated this  wine, giving it a bit of a more unique taste. The wine was complex, with a nice blend of plum, black cherry, blackberry and spice notes. The tannins were moderate and it was a bold wine that wasn't overpowering.

I really need to drink more Franciacorta. It is a sparkling Italian wine made in Lombardy, often an inexpensive alternative to Champagne, and the handful of Franciacorta I have tasted have all been delicious. At the Expo, I experienced the wines of Guido Berlucchi, who was the first to produce this sparkling wine in 1961. I began my tasting with the Berlucchi  Metodo Classico Rose Cuvee '61, a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay. A simple, easy drinking and dry wine with bright red fruit flavors. Refreshing and pleasant.  It was tasty but it was the Franciacorta that thoroughly impressed me.

The Berlucchi Franciacorta '61 Brut is a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, sits for about 24 months on the lees and sees no malolactic fermentation. This is such an elegant wine, smooth, complex and alluring. Delicious and clean flavors of green apple, melon and citrus with a rich mouthfeel. This was a "wow" wine and I wished at the moment that I could sit and drink the entire bottle. The Berlucchi Franciacorta '61 Rose, a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay was equally as impressive, another elegant and complex sparkling wine but this time with delicious red fruit flavors. I would be hard pressed to say which of these two wines I liked better. These wines seem to cost around $30-$35 and I think that makes them both excellent values. Both are highly recommended, and are going to motivate me to seek our more Franciacorta.

A couple more Italian wine highlights include the following:

2011 Curtes Pecorino Falerio: Made of 100% Pecorino, this was an interesting white wine with pleasant citrus flavors and some nutty notes. Crisp, clean and tasty, I could easily enjoy this on its own or with food.

2009 San Joseph Rosso Piceno Superiore: A blend of 50% Montepulciano and 50% Sangiovese, this has a powerful earthy aroma, which might be offputting to some. I liked its rustic nature, with its cherry and plum flavors, vanilla and herbal notes.

I have to give some love to one of the food exhibitors too, Slant Shack Jerky. They use only grass fed beef, from farmers in Vermont and New York, and it comes in a variety of flavors. You can even custom order your own flavors, choosing a marinade, rub and/or glaze. They had four flavors available to taste at the Expo, including: Dried & True, Jerk McGurk's Wild Rubdown, and two Hot & Smoky flavors. I was impressed with the flavors of the jerky, as well as its texture which wasn't too tough or chewy. The Wild Rubdown, which has ginger, garlic, brown sugar, cayenne and paprika was my favorite of the four. It is available online or at Whole Foods and some other specialty shops.

What were some of your favorites from the Boston Wine Expo?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Castello di Selvole: Traditional Chianti Classico?

Guido Busetto, the owner of Castello Di Selvole winery, couldn't tell me whether their Chianti Classico wines were crafted in a traditional or more modern style. Many other writers had asked him that very question but to Guido it was not an important question, or at least a question that he did not consider when producing his wines. His goal is simply to create wines without changing their essential characteristics. To me, his wines reflect a traditional style and that is something I like.

On the Friday before the Boston Wine Expo, I attended a media lunch at Gennaros' 5 North Square, where Chef Marisa Iocco now showcases her culinary skills. Representatives of two Italian wineries were at the lunch, both which would also present their wines at the Wine Expo. Marina Thompson, of Thompson International Marketing, stated that many Europeans view Boston as a city that is very European in style, possessed of elegance and culture. That is why many European wineries like to come to the city and present their wines. It feels much more like home to them than a huge and busy place like New York City.

Castello Di Selvole winery is located in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany, about 12 kilometers from the city of Siena. The winery possesses about 100 acres of vineyards and 23 acres of olive trees, so that they produce both wine and olive oil. They produce four different red wines and I had the opportunity to taste all four of them, three of them with lunch and the other at the Wine Expo. Guido began his wine career in Bordeaux, eventually deciding to purchase a vineyard in Tuscany. Guido was personable and knowledgeable, a passionate advocate for his wines. However, his wines stand well on their own, persuasive through their aromas and taste.

We began our lunch with a dish of Burratina Caprese, a delicious, creamy ball of burrata. With this dish, our first wine was the 2009 Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico (about $20). It is made from 100% Sangiovese, aged in French barriques for about 7-9 months and then aged for an additional three months in the bottle. With a rich, medium red color, it had an enticing aroma, a melange of cherry, spice and earth. On the palate, it was a powerful but elegant wine, with restrained tannins and a rich, deep flavor of black cherries, spice and a certain rusticness. An excellent food wine, this is the style of Chianti Classico which I prefer to drink. Lots of character for the price, I would recommend this wine.

The next course was Manicotti Italo-American, a crespelle filled with ricotta, spinach and nutmeg. Despite the spinach, I actually enjoyed this dish, with its nice blend of flavors and textures. For this course, the wine was the 2009 Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico Riserva, made from 100% Sangiovese, aged for 18 months in French barrique and 6 months in the bottle. This wine is just starting to be imported into the U.S. so it does not have a price yet though likely will be around $30 or so. This possessed everything that the basic Chianti Classico possessed, but with greater depth and complexity as well as a lengthier finish. This was my favorite wine of the lunch, an excellent example of the best of Chianti Classico, and it receives my highest recommendation.

The final entree was a hearty Veal Ossobuco, slow braised with fall vegetables. Tender, flavorful meat that went well with the hearty wines. I was initially concerned about the next wine, a Super Tuscan, the 2003 Castello di Selvole Berullo. It is an equal blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which was vinified in concrete and spent 18 months in French barrique and 6 months in the bottle. I thought that maybe this wine might be more international in style, because of the Merlot and Cabernet France, but that turned out not to be the case. It had an inky dark color and a restrained nose, yet on the palate it was a more powerful and strong wine, yet was not jammy or over the top. There also were not any vegetal/green pepper flavors from the Cabernet Franc. Instead, there were pleasing tastes of plum, black cherry and black fruits, with a spicy backbone, nice acidity and a lengthy and satisfying finish. It too receives my hearty recommendation.

At the Boston Wine Expo, I had the chance to try the 2010 Selvole Sangiovese Toscano, made from 100% Sangiovese and which sees only stainless steel. It was light, fruity, and simple, an easy drinking wine that would be great with pizza or pasta. A very affordable value wine.

Look for the Castello di Selvole wines on your local wine shop shelves, especially if you enjoy more traditional Chianti Classico wines. They are excellent food wines, reasonably priced and should impress most wine lovers.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rant: Save The World, Cook At Home

Stop going to all those fast food restaurants and start cooking at home! Now only will it be better for your health but it will also be better for the environment which will benefit everyone. You will probably shake your head in agreement with me, but will you actually act on it?

The new issue of Lucky Peach, one of my favorite food magazines, is themed around the Apocalypse. The first article in the magazine is "The End of the World as We Know It", an interview with Michael Pollan, the famed food writer and journalist. It is a fascinating and thought provoking article which anyone interested in food, cooking, climate change and the environment should read.

"The way we eat now is having a profound effect on climate change,..." Pollan begins by explaining the  environmental threats related to current food system, how it leads to an increased carbon footprint which contributes to climate change. The huge fast food chains are often significant contributors to this problem and people need to frequent such restaurants far less.

Pollan has a solution, a relatively easy answer, to reduce the environmental impact of our food system. "Home cooking is very important to solving these environmental issues." He notes that after World War 2, when more women began to enter the work place, there arose issues as to who would cook dinner at home. The corporate food industry, which had been seeking an opening for years, moved in like a shark going for the kill. Some started marketing fast food, frozen foods, processed food and other such items as a feminist option. The corporate food industry tried to make it simple, so that there was no need to argue over who would cook. They could instead just grab some friend chicken from KFC.

There is a discussion of food technology, including how much of it doesn't actually create delicious food. He does not believe that meat substitutes taste good. "No one but a vegan can get excited about fake bacon." He also feels that cooking shows on television might actually be counterproductive. "Cooking on TV might be keeping people away from the kitchen." The function of television is not to motivate people to do anything except watch more television.


How do we motivate people to cook more at home? They have many excuses why they think they can't cook more at home. But are they really valid reasons? "I think the best way to get people back into the kitchen is to have more than one person cooking." I think that is an excellent idea. Have spouses or significant others cook together. Bring together friends or family to communally cook. It is more fun that way and seems far less of a chore.

Pollan has a new book due out in April called Cooked. He wants to "make a case for cooking as a valuable way to spend your time." Based on his thoughts in the Lucky Peach interview, this should be an excellent and valuable book. It promotes the importance of cooking at home and that is beneficial on many levels. So don't go to so many fast food restaurants and learn how to use your stove.

Cook together and have fun!

Friday, February 22, 2013

All About Sake

"O what an ugly sight the man who thinks he’s wise and never drinks sake!
--Otomo no Tabito (c. 662-731)

Sake is an important aspect of The Passionate Foodie and I have written numerous posts on the topic. Though you can search my blog to find all sorts of Sake information, I decided that it might be helpful to my readers to compile the most important links into a single place. This post will be that repository, and as such will be constantly updated when I write another article about Sake. I have not linked to every Sake post I have written, as some possess outdated information, such as mentions of upcoming Sake events. I have also created a separate page for links to all of my Sake reviews, which you can find here.

If you have any Sake-related questions, feel free to email me. Please also remember that I am available for hire for a myriad of Sake services, from restaurant consulting to Sake paired dinners, from Sake tastings to educational classes. You should also check out my Sake-related fiction, the Tipsy Sensei series, which features a Boston-based Sake expert who learns that the supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore are real.

Sake Basics
What is Sake?
Is Sake a Wine or Beer?
Legal Status of Sake In the U.S.
How Does Sake Compare to Wine?
Sake Brewing
Types of Sake
What is Junmai?
Nigori: Unfiltered?
Sake: Chilled vs Warmed
Sake Bottle Labels
Secrets of a Sake Label
Sake Bottles & Cups
Sake in Bottles
Holding Your Sake Cup
Tasting Sake
Sake Terminology
Unanswered Sake Questions
Health Benefits of Sake
The 10,001 School of Sake Brewing

More Sake Types
Habu Sake
Bone Sake
Sleety Sake
Bamboo Sake
Fruit Infused Sake
Sake Nog: Cure For a Cold?
O-Toso Sake
Organic Sake

Sake & Food
Sake & Food
Sake, Amino Acids & Food
Sake Does Not Get Into Fights With Food
The Science of Sake & Food Pairings
Sake For Thanksgiving
Slurping Oysters & Sipping Sake
Pairing Cheese & Sake
Top 10 Sakes To Pair With Your Holiday Cheese Platter
Sake, Seafoood and Lobster Anywhere
Tasting Counter: Putting Sake On The Menu

Nuka & Kasu
Sake Scraps: Nuka & Kasu
Kasu & Cooking
More Uses of Kasu

Sake History
An Expanded History of Sake Brewing in the U.S.
Historical Tidbits About Sake In The U.S.
An Early History of Sake Brewing in British Columbia

Sake Customs & Traditions
The Ten Merits of Sake
Sake Customs
Sake Day
Sake Day 2
Sakazuki & Yakuza
Tanuki
Carp Drinking Sake
Shikisankon: Drink Sake, Don't Eat
Shojo & White Sake

Sake Sales & Industry
How Wine Stores Can Sell More Sake
U.S. Sake vs Japan Sake--Context Is Everything
Sake & Shochu: The "National Alcoholic Beverages" of Japan
John Gauntner: Sake Trends & Restaurant Service
Sake Statistics: Ups & Downs
Rant: Drink More Sake Or Godzilla Will Die!
Rant: The Legal Protection of Sake
Protecting Japanese Sake & Rice
Rant: Sake Still Don't Need No Stinkin' Scores!

Sake Miscellany
Sake & Nature
Sake Poetry
A Poetry & Sake Game
Sake Resources
Sake Cocktails
Sake Miscellany
Sake Tasting Competitions
Sake Bath
Sake & Cherry Blossoms
Sake & Women
Sake Squid Cup
Sake Bombs
Drink Sake Not Bombs
Sake & Diplomacy
Wine Spectator: New Sake Articles
Shinkame Brewery: From Holy Turtle to Aged Sake (Part 1)
Shinkame Brewery: From Holy Turtle to Aged Sake (Part 2)
Sake Flavored Kit Kats

Annual Sake Summaries
2014: Favorite Sake Items
2013: Favorite Sake Items
2012: Favorite Sake Items
2011: Favorite Sake Items
2010: Favorite Sake Items
2009: The Sake Experience

Sake Book & Magazine Reviews
Sake's Hidden Stories
Japanese for Sake Lovers
Sake Dictionary
Oishinbo: Sake
The Scent of Sake by Joyce Lebra
Sake: A Modern Guide
The Niigata Sake Book
Japanese Cocktails
Food Sake Tokyo
Brewing Sake: Release the Toji Within
Sake Today
Sake Confidential

U.S. Sake Stores & Breweries
Sakaya & A Return Visit
Sake Nomi
True Sake
Sake One
Blue Kudzu Sake: Artisan Brewering In Asheville
Blue Current Brewery: Making Sake In Maine

Sake Outside the U.S.
Sake in Australia
Sake in Canada
Sake in Vancouver
Growing Rice in Vancouver
Sake in Norway
Sake Brewing in Brazil

Collected Sake Reviews

"O what an ugly sight the man who thinks he’s wise and never drinks sake!
--Otomo no Tabito (c. 662-731)

Sake is an important aspect of The Passionate Foodie and I have written numerous posts on the topic. Though you can search my blog to find all sorts of Sake information, I decided that it might be helpful to my readers to compile the most important links into a single place. This post will be the repository for all of my Sake reviews, whether lengthy, detailed reviews or brief mentions within other posts. You will find over 130 Sake reviews here. I will constantly update this post when I write another Sake review. I have also created a separate page for links to all of my other Sake posts, which you can find here.

If you have any Sake-related questions, feel free to email me. Please also remember that I am available for hire for a myriad of Sake services, from restaurant consulting to Sake paired dinners, from Sake tastings to educational classes. You should also check out my Sake-related fiction, the Tipsy Sensei series, which features a Boston-based Sake expert who learns that the supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore are real.

Sake Reviews
Akitabare Suirakuten Daiginjo
Atago No Matsu "Waiting Love" Honjozo
Bunraku "Nihonjin No Wasuremono" Yamahai Junmai
Chikurin Fukamari Junmai
Chikurin Karoyaka Junmai Ginjo
Chiyomusubi Goriki Junmai Ginjo
Chiyomusubi Tokubetsu Junmai
Dassai Junmai Daiginjo Sparkling Nigori
Daishichi Junmai Kimoto Classic
Dassai Niwari Sambu Junmai Daiginjo
Dassai 50 "Otter Fest" Junmai Ginjo
Denshin "Yuki" Junmai Ginjo
Dewatsuru Habataki Junmai Ginjo
Dewatsuru Hihaku Junmai Daiginjo
Dewatsuru Hiten No Yume Junmai Daiginjo Nigori
Dewatsuru Kimoto Junmai
Doi Kaiun Hana No Ka Junmai Ginjo
Echigo Denemon Junmai Ginjo
Eiko Fuji Ban Ryu
Eiko Fuji Honkara
Eiko Fuji Namazake
Evoluzione Junmai
Evoluzione Junmai Ginjo
Evoluzione Junmai Daiginjo
Fudo Myoo Junmai Ginjo
Gekkeikan Horin Ultra Premium Junmai Daiginjo
Green River Sake Beyond The Sea
Green River Sake Five Seasons
Green River Sake Koide 12
Green River Sake Snow Aged
Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo
Hakurakusei "Legend of Stars" Junmai Daiginjo
Hakushika Junmai Ginjo
Hakutsuru Sho Une "Soaring Clouds" Junami Daiginjo
Hakutsuru Superior Junmai Ginjo
Hatsukame Okabemaru Junmai
Hatsumago Shozui "First Grand Child" Junmai Daiginjo
Hiraizumi Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmai
Hiroki Tokubetsu Junmai Saké
Hitori Musume Sayaka Junmai Saké
Ichishima Honjozo
Ichishima Junmai Genshu
Ichishima Junmai Ginjo
Ichishima Koshu Ginjo
Ichishima Silk Deluxe Junmai
Isojiman Junmai Ginjo
Jokigen "Sweet Dream" Junmai
Jokigen "Happiness" Junmai Ginjo
Kaguyahime Junmai
Kamikokoro Toukagen Shiboritate
Kamoizumi Shusen Junmai "Three Dots"
Kamoshibito Kuheiji Junmai Ginjo
Kamoshibito Kuheiji Daiginjo
Kikusui Funaguchi Honjozo Nama Genshu
Kirin Daiginjo Hizoshu
Kirin Koshihikari Junmai Daiginjo
Kokuryu Junmai Ginjo
Kokuryu Tokusen "Crystal Dragon" Ginjo
Kubota Manjyu Junmai Daiginjo
Kunpai Homarefuji Tokubetsu Junmai
Kuro Kabuto Junmai Daiginjo
Kuro Obi "Black Belt" Do-Do Junmai Yamahai
Kurosawa "Black River" Junmai Daiginjo
Kurosawa Kimoto Junmai
Madoka Honjyozo
Manabito Kimoto Junmai Ginjo
Manabito Junmai Daiginjo
Masumi Okuden Kantsukuri "Mirror of Truth" Junmai
Mikotsuru "Drifting Crane" Junmai Ginjo
Minato "Harbor" Tsuchizaki Yamahai Futsuu-Shu
Mineno Hakubai
Mioya Shuzo Yuho "Rhythm of the Centuries" Yama-oroshi Junmai Kimoto
Miyanoyuki "Snow Shrine" Junmai Ginjo
Mizbasho "Early Bloom" Junmai Ginjo
Mizbasho Junmai Daiginjo
Mizbasho "Pure" Sparkling Saké
Mukune "Root of Innocence"
Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo
Murai Family Daiginjo
Murai Family Nigori Genshu
Murai Family Tanrei Junmai
Mutemuka Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu
Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai
Nanbu Bijin "Southern Beauty" Junmai Ginjo
Naniwa Isake 19 Junmai Daiginjo
Naraman Muroka Bin Hiire Junmai Saké
Nishiyama Kotsuzumi Tokubetsu Junmai
Nøgne Ø Yamahai Muroka Junmai Sake
Nyukon "Into Your Soul" Tokubetsu Honjozo
Obata Manotsuru "Bulzai" Ginjo
Obata Manotsuru "Crane" Junmai
Ohyama Ginsuika Junmai Ginjo Sake
Okunomatsu Ginjo
Okunomatsu Tokubetsu Junmai
Okunomatsu Juhachidai Ihei Daiginjo
Okunomatsu Junmai Daiginjo Sparkling Sake
Oomuraya Takenokaze Junami Ginjo
Otokoyama Yukishibare Namazake
Ozeki Osakaya Chobei “First Boss” Dai Ginjo
Rihaku "Wandering Poet" Junmai Ginjo
Sanwa Garyubai Junmai Ginjo
Sato No Homare "Pride of the Village" Junmai Ginjo
Sawanoi "Kioke-Jikomi Iroha" Junmai Kimoto
Senju Homarefuji Junmai Ginjo
Setsugetsubijin Junmai Ginjo
Shichi Hon Yari Junmai Ginjo Nigori
Shichi Hon Yari Junmai
Shichi Hon Yari Shizuku Junmai Daiginjo
Shichiken "Seven Wise Men" Junmai Ginjo
Shimeharitsuru “Jun” Junmai Ginjo
Shimizu-no-mai Pure Dawn
Shimizu-no-mai Pure Dusk
Shirakabegura "Kimoto" Tokubetsu Junmai
Shirakabegura Tokubetsu Junmai
Shutendouji Oh Oni Sake
Suisen Shuzo Kibo
Taisetsu "Garden of the Divine" Junmai Ginjo
Taisetsu Junmai
Takasago Ginga-Shizuku "Divine Droplets" Junmai Daiginjo
Tamanohikari Junmai Daiginjo
Tedorigawa Yamahai Junmai: Shichimenchou-Zake
Tenranzan Kahori Junmai Ginjo Sake
Toyo Bijin Junmai Ginjo Okarakuchi
Trader Joe's Junmai Ginjo
Trader Joe-san's Sparkling Saké
Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku Tokebetsu Junmai
Tyku White
Umenoyado Moon Rabbit Sparkling Saké
Ume No Yado Hoshi Usagi “Star Rabbit” Blueberry-Infused Sparkling Sake
Urakasumi Junmai
Watari Bune Junmai Daiginjo
Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo, Limited Release
Yuki No Bosha Daiginjo
Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo Nigori
Yuri Masamune

U.S. Produced Sakes
Blue Current Junmai Ginjo
Dovetail Sake
G Joy Junmai Ginjo Genshu
SakeOne Brewery
Sho Chiku Bai Junmai Nama

Flavored Sakes & Other Sake Products
Hana Fuji Apple Flavored Saké
Hana Plum Flavored Saké
Sake2Me Flavored Sake
Wokka Saki

Thursday, February 21, 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) Shake off your funk and revel in the blues with The Beehive’s Blues On Sunday series. The Beehive is bringing you top notch blues complemented by tasty meals and libations compliments of Knob Creek every Sunday night from 8pm-12am. The all-star house blues band is led by 25-year-old musical veteran keyboardist and producer, Bruce Bears and features a core band of legendary players with a revolving door of guests singing, sitting in and getting down.

The Beehive invites guests to share a relaxing Sunday night of great performance with libations from Knob Creek including their Rye Whiskey and Single Barrel Reserve, and dishes from Executive Chef Rebecca Newell such as the Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits ($12), Stuffed Rack of Pork, Bacon, Apple & Brioche Stuffing, Brussels Sprouts, Cider Jus ($24), ‘Fall-Off-The-Bone’ Baby Back Ribs ($13) and the Beehive Prime Burger with Frites, and Slaw ($16).

2) Passion for good food mixed with fun and a dash of education is the inspiration for this spring’s event lineup at Farmstead, Inc. Cheese, wine, whiskey and brunch get the year started off right.

Upcoming events include:

Brunch at Farmstead, Inc.
First Sunday of every month beginning March 3, 10am-2pm
Every month, Farmstead whips up a morning-after spread that’ll knock your bacon-craving socks off. Think boudin noir sausage with biscuits and gravy, fried oysters and poutine, whiskey-brined Rhode Island ham, house-made candied nut granola and corned beef hash, washed down with French-press and Bloody Marys, of course. Reservations are accepted but not required.

Celtic Cheese and Whiskey Class
Sunday, March 10, 4pm-5:30pm
$65 per person
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a blend of the Celtic lands’ best whiskeys and scotches and the cheeses that love them. The Farmstead, Inc. crew talks you through whiskey and cheese pairing basics while you sample Ireland’s finest brown spirits and curds. To reserve a spot, call 401-274-7177 or purchase tickets online at http://www.farmsteadinc.com/shop/classes/31013-whiskey-cheese-class.

Wine + Cheese = Love: A 101 Class
Sunday, April 14, 4pm-5:30pm
$50 per person
To honor the never-fail combination of wine and cheese, Farmstead, Inc. Barman David Magiantine and Cheese Monger Thomas Perry invite friends and fans to sample the pairings that made them fall in love with the worlds of vino and fromage in the first place. Guests are invited to learn the basics of pairings and polish their own palates and preferences. To reserve a spot, call 401-274-7177 or purchase tickets online at http://www.farmsteadinc.com/shop/classes/41413-wine-cheese-love-class.

Can I Eat The Rind? A Cheese 101 Class for the Whole Family
Sunday, May 19, 2pm-3pm
$45.00 per person; $35.00 for those under 21
The world of queso sparks lots of cheesy questions: Why does it stink up the fridge? How long will the cheddar last? Why is this kind orange? Farmstead has the answers to all these and more at their popular Cheese 101 class. The whole family is invited to nibble on a selection of cheeses and sip on some wine (sparkling cider for underage guests), as the mysteries of cheese are demystified. To reserve a spot, call 401-274-7177 or purchase tickets online at http://www.farmsteadinc.com/shop/classes/51913-can-i-eat-rind-cheese-class-whole-family.

3) Cinquecento, a new Roman trattoria, will start serving weekend brunch. Beginning Saturday, February 16, Cinquecento will be open for brunch from 10am-3pm on weekends. Reservations are accepted. Cinquecento is located at 500 Harrison Avenue in Boston's South End. Parking is free.

Cinquecento's inaugural brunch menu will include savory Italian dishes like Uova In Camicia, truffled polenta with poached eggs and Fontina cheese, Bistecca e Uova, grilled steak and eggs with Pecorino biscuits and piquillo pepper marmellata, and Cinquecento's already famous Tagliatelle Bolognese pasta with meat sauce. Indulge your sweet tooth with specialties like Ricotta Crespella, crepes with whipped lemon ricotta and native honey, Ricotta Fritters, Sugar Donuts, and Mela e Taleggio, an apple and Taleggio cheese panino with walnut honey pesto.

Accompany brunch with a selection of craft cocktails such as the Arancia Frizzante, a refreshing blend of blood orange juice, vodka, lime, soda water and mint simple syrup, The Bellini, a classic mix of white peach puree and prosecco and an Italian-inspired Bloody Mary, spiced up with peperoncini chilies.

4) Animal Welfare Approved, Chef’s Collaborative and Let’s Talk About Food will be supporting the Harvard Law School Food Law Society in its second annual food law and policy conference in Cambridge, Mass. on March 8-9. The conference will explore the legal and policy aspects of food labeling and will feature a series of lecturers and panelists who are experts in the field. This is the first law school hosted conference dedicated to examining the issue of food labeling from a legal perspective. Bringing together prominent experts to explore the issue is crucial to students, academics, politicians and thought leaders.

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the misleading food labels commonly found on meat, eggs and dairy. By exploring the issue with industry experts, both students, consumers and professionals will gain an increased understanding of what is really at stake when it comes to the words we put on foods—whether the words are used for informing the public or for marketing the product. “Labeling is about communicating and the words we use matter. This first-ever conference at Harvard Law School is a terrific opportunity help all of the stakeholders come together and think critically and creatively about how to move food system move forward,” says Louisa Kasdon, founder of Let’s Talk About Food.

Melissa Kogut from Chef’s Collaborative adds, “It’s not enough to take labels at face value. This conference will put a much needed spotlight on a confusing topic and show us which labels to trust (and why) and what questions to ask.” AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther says, “When we heard about the opportunity, we immediately knew this was something we wanted to be involved in. Harvard is seen as a leader and is known for hosting dynamic debates and the best way to seek change is through active dialogue and consensus.

Event co-sponsors include Animal Welfare Approved, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, Let's Talk About Food, and the Petrie Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics. Register at http://hlsforumonfoodlabeling.eventbrite.com/#. Admission is free for students with ID, and open to the public for $5 per day of attendance. Visit http://www.hlsforumonfoodlabeling.com/ for more information.

5) Lucia Ristorante Owner Donato Frattaroli introduces exciting additions to Lucia Winchester’s lineup. Together with Executive Chef Pino Maffeo, the two are making Winchester Center a foodie destination this winter. Beginning this February, Lucia Winchester is launching two events: Traditional Lucia Family Dinners and Cooking Classes with Chef Pino and Donato.

With its first installment on Sunday, February 24, the Traditional Lucia Family Dinners are designed to transport guests to Abruzzo, Italy as if they were at the Frattaroli dinner table. For just $20 per person ($15 for children under 12 years old), guests can feast on an authentic Italian dinner composed of century old Frattaroli family recipes. The dinner spread includes: soup or salad, pasta (an option of linguine or penne) with marinara sauce, and a choice of two sides—sausage, meatballs, beef braciolettine, or ribs. The Traditional Lucia Family Dinner menu will be available every Sunday and Monday evening during dinner service throughout the winter.

On Wednesday, February 27, from 6pm-9pm, Lucia is launching its Cooking Classes with Chef Pino and Donato. The first installment of this monthly series is titled, “Mouth-Watering Soups and Stocks: The Building Blocks of World-Class Italian Cooking.” Chef Pino and Donato will give guests hands-on training in the art of mouthwatering soup and stock making. Attendees are encouraged to bring a notebook – during the three-hour cooking course, they will learn the basics of how to make simple stocks (chicken stock and prosciutto broth) and how to incorporate them into world-class tasting soups (pasta fagiole and minestrone soup). They will also discuss bread pairings with Piantedosi breads, including how to choose which breads go best with a variety of meals. The cost of the class is $55 per person.

For more information about these events, please call (781) 729-0515.

6) On March 11, at 7pm, Legal Harborside will team up with Cakebread Cellars’ Director of Sales, Dennis Cakebread, to host a wine dinner at Legal Harborside. This four-plus-course culinary adventure will highlight the best tastes from sea and vine. Cakebread Cellars has vineyard properties located throughout Napa Valley surrounding the production facility in Rutherford where it all began in 1972. Today, the winery owns 13 sites totaling 982 acres.

The menu will be presented as follows:

HORS D’OEUVRES
vol-au-vent, lobster, tarragon, mascarpone
geoduck clam, yuzu marinated melon, virginia ham
pickled sardines, dill crème fraîche, caraway and rye toast
merguez sausage, fennel vinaigrette and apple hash
Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2010
FIRST COURSE
tuna carpaccio* (bosc pear, wakame, serrano chiles, wasabi aioli and cucumber)
Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, 2011
SECOND DOURSE
grilled shrimp (rosemary, smoked and braised chickpeas, chorizo and roast garlic dust) Cakebread Cellars “Reserve” Chardonnay, Carneros, 2010
THIRD COURSE
cast iron skillet-seared duck breast (red rice, golden rutabaga, preserved walnuts and junipers)
Cakebread Cellars “Benchland Select” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2009
CHEESE
mountain cheese and dried fruit
Cakebread Cellars Zinfandel, Lake County, 2010

COST: $125 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
 Reservations can be made by contacting 617-530-9470

7) Maritime Gloucester, a working waterfront museum and marine science education center, will present a series of public lectures in March on the future of fishing and seafood, sustainability, and seafood fraud. Each free lecture takes place at 7pm at Maritime Gloucester, 23 Harbor Loop off Rte. 127 in Gloucester.

Meet the region’s experts on these hot-button topics, and learn how the latest industry changes are affecting both fishermen and consumers. "The public is hungry to better understand these topics, and we are thrilled to bring the conversation to Maritime Gloucester,”" says Executive Director Tom Balf.

Turner’s Seafood is the 2013 sponsor of this unique public information program. Turner’s, a family-owned business, is a partner with Cape Ann Fresh Catch, operates a retail fish market and wholesale fish processing facility in Gloucester, and a restaurant/oyster bar/fish market in Melrose called Turner’s Seafood Grill. Turner’s also sells fish and lobster with overnight delivery.

Schedule of Events:

Thursday, March 7
Fish, Fraud and Forensics
Sheila Jarnes, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Beth Daley, The Boston Globe
The lead reporter on the Globe’s seafood fraud investigative team, and a NOAA inspection/enforcement official, will describe this emerging concern, and what measures are being taken to address it.
Thursday, March 14
Trawl to Table: Understanding Today’s Groundfisheries
Jen Levin, GMRI (Gulf of Maine Research Institute), and a spokesperson TBA from the Northeast Seafood Coalition
An eye-opening discussion of commercial ground fishing methods, gear technologies, seafood transport, and the seafood needs of discerning markets.
Thursday, March 21
Sustainable Seafood Choices
Allison McHale, NOAA Fish Watch, and Heather Tausig, New England Aquarium’s Ocean-Friendly Seafood Program
Sustainable seafood purchases are a lot easier to make, thanks to these two consumer-oriented programs. A must for anyone who cares about our oceans’ renewable resources.
Thursday, March 28
Seafood Restaurant Crawl
various eateries throughout greater Gloucester. See http://www.maritimegloucester.org OR http://www.turners-seafood.com for further information

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rosa Mexicano: Delicioso Desayuno

Breakfast! I love breakfast and can even enjoy it for lunch or dinner. Eggs, waffles, pancakes, donuts, and so much more. It is a comforting meal, a fine way to start the day. In Mexico, breakfast is referred to as el desayuno, and it is supposed to be an important meal. Many business deals are said to be conducted over desayuno. It seems that the Boston area is seeing more and more restaurants serving Mexican breakfast dishes. And that is a good thing.

Recently, I was invited to a media preview of the new Desayuno Mexicano menu at Rosa Mexicano in the Seaport district. Rosa Mexicano is a chain of upscale Mexican restaurants which originated in New York City in 1984. It was founded by Josefina Howard and the name of the restaurant actually refers to a unique color, Mexican pink. The Boston location opened nearly a year ago but this was my first time dining at the spot. I hadn't heard much about the place but their breakfast menu intrigued me. The Desayuno menu includes eight entrees, priced $8.50-$12.50, and we got to sample all of the dishes.

The restaurant has an appealing decor, a modern feel but with some rustic elements, and I liked the look of the bar. During the summer, they have patio seating which nearly doubles their capacity.

There are a number of drink options on the breakfast menu, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. You can order some Cafe de Olla, if you desire coffee, or try the Chocolate Caliente Mexicano, which you can order with churros. The hot chocolate has a mellow chocolate flavor with hints of almonds and has a balanced flavor which I enjoyed. The Chilled Horchata de Coco, made with pressed rice milk infused with coconut, is a milky drink with a pleasant coconut flavor enhanced with cinnamon notes. You can also try one of the
Agua Frescas ("fresh waters"), kind of an alternative to juice. You will find unique flavors like Hibiscus Flower or Beet-Lemon. My favorite was the Cucumber-Tomatillo, a clean, refreshing drink, lacking the sweetness of soda or some juices.

Though there are two cocktails listed on the breakfast menu, you could order other alcoholic drinks as well. They carry about fifty tequilas and a few mezcals, and their signature cocktail is the Frozen Pomegranate Margarita. Though pomegranate is not one of my favorite fruits, I liked the flavor of this margarita, which was not overly sweet. They have a wine list, but their guests overwhelming order cocktails and beers. We were told that they might sell one bottle of wine for every 3000 guests. The Horchata Especial is a cocktail of horchata, anejo tequila, coffee liquor, and topped with espresso. It has a nice coffee flavor with a milky mouthfeel. The Mezcal Bloody Maria was delicious, a spicy and smoky drink that will liven up your morning.

Chef Antonio Perez came out to discuss the kitchen and menu, describing some of the less common Mexican ingredients. They use a number of local ingredients, though some have to be sourced elsewhere as they are not available locally. Most everything in the kitchen is made from scratch though some sauces are allowed to remain around for two days as they taste best then. Nothing is kept for a third day, and will be discarded.

Their Tortillas are made in house though their breads and chips are purchased elsewhere. The breads tend to be dry and heavy, not light and fluffy like some other rolls. Not my preference, and something I would prefer to use for dunking in a sauce.

My favorite breakfast entree was the Desayuno Tamal ($11), a pan filled with grits, topped with chili poached eggs, fried Panela cheese and a chorizo crumble. The creamy grits paired so well with the spicy chorizo, and the fried cheese triangles were excellent. A hearty breakfast and several other people at the breakfast really loved this dish too. Highly recommended.

At first glance, I wasn't sure that I would like the Mexico City Chilaquiles ($12.50), a ham steak topped with scrambled eggs, corn tortillas and a creamy, smoky chile sauce. My concern was that the tortillas would be soggy and limp but I was pleasantly surprised when that turned out not to be the case. The tortillas still possessed much of their crispness, and the intriguing chile sauce was compelling. I would definitely recommend this dish.

The Torrejas de Miel Rellenas ($11.50) is cinnamon-Cascabel chili-crusted brioche bread filled with Marscapone cheese and topped with caramelized plantains. The pile of dark Marscapone atop the bread doesn't look appealing and I think they might want to rework that part of the dish. It might taste good, but presentation is important as well. I like the fact they did not cover the bread with a load of powdered sugar. Though child crusted, it is not overly spicy, and the cinnamon stands out.

The Nopales con Huevo ($9.50) are soft scrambled eggs atop a cactus paddle with fried pasilla chile and roasted peppers. It is served with molletes, a soft roll spread with refried black beans.

The Machacado con Huevo ($12) is a pan of scrambled eggs with dried shredded beef, jalapenos, tomatoes and onions, served with fresh tortillas.

The Tropical Fruit Bowl ($8.50), with low fat yogurt, is sprinkled with granola, piloncillo and chopped fresh dates.

Overall, Rosa Mexicano now provides a good breakfast option in the Seaport area. The prices are reasonable and the options are interesting. Sip a Bloody Maria, with a Cucumber-Tomatillo Agua Fresca chaser, and enjoy a Desayuno Tamal or Chilaquiles.