Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting wine and food items that are upcoming. **********************************************************
1) Owner & Chef Brian Poe is springing into the season with the launch of new menu items at The Tip Tap Room in Beacon Hill. Chef Poe’s updated menu incorporates the peak flavors of the season and a new twist to his signature “tips” and “taps” concept. To cater to diners with a gluten intolerance, Chef Poe also has created a dedicated menu full of gluten-free selections which are annotated below (GF).

For appetizers, Chef Poe now will serve up a quartet of new options including: Grilled Avocado (with lobster in black pepper lavender crème fraiche - $13.95; GF); Fried Calamari (beef tendon, licorice glacé, spring vegetables, preserved lemon yogurt - $12.95); Grilled Georgia Shrimp (roasted hazelnuts, shaved button mushrooms, broken egg & pine vinaigrette, mustard blossoms - $16.95; GF); and, Burratta (vadouvan crusted, pickled green tomatoes, arugula blossoms, mustard oil, white balsamic vinegar, miner’s lettuce -$12.95).

Moving onto the next course, there are two new gourmet salads and three new entrée options available in addition to many selections of “tips.” Highlights include: Chicken & Arugula Salad (sumac-honey ricotta, muscat grape, grilled radishes, green almond, butermilk-espellette dressing - $12.95; GF); Poached Pear Salad (vanilla & orange poached Bosc pears, stone ground mustard sage vinaigrette, raisins, toasted walnuts, Bardwell Farm Pawlet cheese - $11.95; GF); Cod (miso-marinated with sweet and sour pickled beach mushrooms, daikon & scallions in a coconut and ginger broth - $23.95); Buttermilk Chive Gnocchi (shallot cream, fried bacalao, chickpeas, red jalapeño puree, parmigiano reggiano - $21.95); and, Wagyu Flank Steak (sweet peas & seven bacon risotto, fava bean, mushroom & seven bacon salsa, wild rapini, cabernet lemon reduction - $26.95).

Other soup and side newcomers include: Spring Pea Soup (buttermilk, vanilla infused pearl onions, sorrel, pork belly crouton - $12.95); Applewood Smoked Baby Carrots (cognac, goat butter, grilled blood orange - $6.95; GF); Roasted Potatoes & Spring Onion (sweet onion puree, greens - $6.95; GF); Grilled California Asparagus (parmesan emulsion, 7 bacons, candied lemon - $6.95; GF); and, Wild Mushrooms & Fiddlehead Ferns (soy-honey - $6.95).

Available at lunch and dinner, Chef Poe will continue to serve up his seven signature “tips” selections with refreshed accompaniments, his nightly rotating wild game specials and other Tip Tap classics.

2) Heritage Museums & Gardens unveils this season’s newest exhibit – David Rogers’ Big Bugs on Saturday, May 31, from 10am-6pm.

Sculptor David Rogers creates insects such as 25-foot long ants and dragonflies with 17-foot wingspans, using various combinations of whole trees, cut green saplings, dry branches, and other forest materials. All wood is found dead or harvested sustainably. The inherent uniqueness of these materials, their different shapes, colors and textures provide these sculptures with their character, definition and a sense of motion. The effect is a role reversal of dimension and perception.

The Big Bugs at Heritage will include: three ants, a dragonfly and a damselfly, an assassin bug, a praying mantis, a spider on a web, a ladybug and a Daddy Longlegs, all placed in interesting landscape settings throughout the grounds.

A full day of insect-themed activities planned to celebrate the opening of this eye-popping exhibit, including:
· Bug Tasting with David George Gordon, The Bug Chef: 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm. The nationally acclaimed author of The Eat a Bug Cookbook will offer cooking demonstrations and tastings of his recipes including, of course, bugs! Fee (includes museum admission): $20 Members, $35 Non-Members
· Meet the Artist: 10:30 am, 3 pm, 4 pm. Meet David Rogers, and learn how he created the sculptures in the exhibit.
· Bug Ball: 12 pm-4 pm. Create a bug mask, use costume elements and puppets, mimic insect moves, and join the dance party on the Hidden Hollow stage.
· Crafty Critters: 10 am-2 pm. Make your own interesting insects to take home.
· Insect Exploration: 10 am-6 pm. Learn how insects use camouflage to survive and thrive, see insectivorous plants in action, discover mounted displays of bugs that live at Heritage, and more as you explore an insect theme through various activities in Hidden Hollow.
· Insect Safari: 10 am-6 pm. Visitors will be challenged to visit each of the ten sculptures and will learn fun facts about the insects depicted at each.

David Rogers’ Big Bugs opens on May 31and runs until October 26, 2014.

3) After ten years of delighting diners with their modern, farm-driven cuisine at their restaurant Farmstead, Inc. in Providence, Rhode Island, Chef and Owners Matt and Kate Jennings are returning to their hometown of Boston and planning a new restaurant in the city where they grew up, met and began their culinary careers.

The Jennings have set their homecoming sights on the new Radian building at 120 Kingston Street where they will open Townsman in late 2014. Defined as “native to a place,” Townsman will showcase Matt & Kate’s personal approach to dining and hospitality in their new, but familiar community of Downtown Boston.

Due to the enormity of the undertaking, the Jennings have decided to sell their acclaimed Providence bistro and storefront, closing the doors on June 1st. “When Kate and I moved to Rhode Island and opened Farmstead, we knew that we would one day return home to raise our children near our family and friends in Boston. We are forever indebted to all of our loyal guests who helped us build Farmstead into the beloved destination it has become for so many,” said Matt Jennings. “Based on how deeply involved we have been at Farmstead from the very beginning, we knew that keeping our Providence spot open and spreading ourselves across two states would never work for us, our staff and most importantly our guests. We will certainly cherish the memories at Wayland Square and hope that our many Farmstead friends will visit us often at Townsman.

This is certainly big news, a great win for Boston and a loss for Rhode Island. I eagerly look forward to the debut of Townsman later this years.

4) The Fruit Center in Hingham loves outdoor grilling season, and so do professional cooks. So, beginning next month, some of the region’s most beloved restaurant chefs will strut their stuff with a series of al fresco grilling demonstrations in Fruit Center’s Water Street parking lot every other Saturday, —rain or shine, from 11:30 AM to 1 PM during June and July. These culinary events are open to all shoppers and are free of charge.

“The line-up of Chefs includes:

Saturday, June 7
Stephen Sherman
Executive Chef, Scarlet Oak Tavern, Hingham
Saturday, June 21 
Brett Williams
Chef-Owner, Orta, Pembroke
Saturday, July 12 
Andrea Schnell
Chef, Square Café’, Hingham

5) On June 4, at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods in Framingham will host a wine dinner with Fine Estates from Spain. Importer and merchant, Jorge Ordoñez, imports Spain's largest wine portfolio to America and provides a balanced spectrum of what he believes to be the best Spanish wines available in America. Ordóñez takes great pride in discovering, reintroducing and developing a wide array of varietals. Legal Sea Foods will team up with Ordóñez to host an exclusive four-plus-course dinner fwith his selections from the Fine Estates from Spain vine.

The menu will be presented as follows:

Scallop Ceviche (Apple, Pomegranate Seeds, Sweet Basil)
La Cana Albariño, Rias Baixas, 2012
Sole & Lobster Mousse (Baby Pea Shoots, Saffron-Vanilla Vinaigrette)
Nisia “Old Vines” Verdejo, Rueda, 2012
Avancia “Cuvée de O” Godello, Valdeorras, 2012
Grilled Swordfish (Dried Chorizo, Wild Mushrooms, Pine Nuts, Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette)
Borsao “Tres Picos” Garnacha, Campo de Borja, 2012
Volver “Single Vineyard” Tempranillo, La Mancha, 2011
Pepper Crusted Salmon (Grilled Clams, Ibérico Ham, Spinach, Garlic-Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce)
Zerran, Montsant, 2011
Muga Reserva, Rioja, 2009
Baked Citrus Custard (Salted Almond Praline, Orange-Mint Glaze) Jorge Ordóñez “Victoria No. 2,” Málaga

COST: $75 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
Reservation required by calling 617-530-9397

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