Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events.. **********************************************************
1) Chef/restaurateur Michael Schlow is setting his sights on opening a new Greek inspired restaurant called Doretta Tavern at the 79 Park Plaza location. The restaurant is set to open in the Fall in what has been Schlow’s ode to rustic Italian cooking, Via Matta. After 13 years, he plans to close the restaurant at the end of May.

This is a bittersweet time” says Schlow. “While it’s with great sadness that after so many years we are closing Via Matta, we are really excited for this new chapter. Boston has so many talented chefs and we’ve become one of the best food cities in the country; the time is right to take this great opportunity and create a restaurant that showcases the beauty and simplicity of Greek cuisine.”

Doretta Tavern will be designed by Michael Nadeau and Andrea Morton. The two have teamed up to take Schlow’s vision and turn it into reality. The space will take on a completely new look and feel with an emphasis on reclaimed woods, beamed ceilings, stone, and worn leather; highlights of the new design include a new center bar, action food stations, a new entrance, and a raw bar.

In true Mediterranean spirit, the cooking will rely on the best quality olive oils, fresh vegetables, ripe fruits, and locally sourced fish and meats. Guests can expect a vast array of raw bar selections, Mediterranean spreads, homemade warm flatbread, interesting small plates, grilled seafood, and slow roasted meats. Schlow will be paying homage to his wife Adrienne’s Greek heritage and will be offering some of the recipes passed down to her from generation to generation. The beverage program will be an interesting mix of traditional and craft cocktails, local beers, and an international, well-chosen wine list.

I'm hoping to see plenty of delicious Greek wines on their list.

2) This May, Anna’s Taqueria continues its commitment to charitable organizations in the Boston community by partnering with Red Sox Pitcher Craig Breslow’s Strike 3 Foundation. Baseball season has arrived and now Anna’s guests can take a swing at childhood cancer when they order the special “Breslow Burrito.”

During the month of May, $3 from every Breslow Burrito purchase will be donated to Craig’s Strike 3 Foundation, which heightens awareness, mobilizes support and raises funding for childhood cancer research. The Breslow Burrito was created by Craig and features Grilled Steak, Cheese, Rice, Black Beans, Salsa, Guacamole and Crumbled Tortilla Chips (no substitutions).

COST: Standard burrito pricing: Regular $5.45 & Super $6.25

3) On Saturday, May 23, from 12pm-4pm, the Cheese Shop of Concord will hold the Battle of the Butters, a free sampling of 8 fresh butters and attendees get to vote for their favorite. Who will prevail as the Top Butter?

The contestants include:
European Style Cultured Butter with Sea Salt Crystals (Cow’s Milk)
Vermont Creamery – Websterville, VT
Inspired by traditional French butter making, VC cultures the freshest, high quality cream from St. Albans Cooperative, a coop of 500 family farms in Northeast Vermont. Churned in small batches, the cream becomes a rich European-style butter with 86% butterfat content and a unique farm-fresh taste. Taking perfection one step further, it’s then topped with Celtic sea salt.

Cultured Butter, Unsalted (Cow’s Milk)
Ploughgate Creamery – Fayston, VT
Marisa Mauro, who’s been in involved with dairying since she was 15, makes this cultured butter at Bragg Farm, which she purchased from the Vermont Land Trust in 2012. Marisa makes both salted and unsalted butters, from St. Albans Cooperative milk. By autumn 2015, she expects to have a herd of 10 cows at the farm, so butter will be produced solely from her own proprietary milk.

Beurre de Baratte, Unsalted (Cow’s Milk)
Isigny Ste Mère - Normandy, France
Isigny butter has been renowned since the 16th century. By the 19th century, the population of Paris alone consumed 800 tons of butter annually. Isigny’s terroir has the advantage of a mild, moist climate near the ocean and enjoys the benefits of nearby marshes. Cows that graze there feed on grass rich in iodine, beta carotene and trace elements. The quality of buttercup yellow Isigny butter is amazing; it is rich in vitamin A and has a faint taste of hazelnuts.

Parmigiano Reggiano Butter, Unsalted (Cow’s Milk)
Delitia, Parma, Italy
This butter, with its fragrant and delicate flavor, is called "Burro di Parma." It is produced with pasteurized creams from the milk collected from family-owned farms in Parma and Reggio Emilia. Its quality is without equal because of extraordinarily rigorous production discipline in those regions. The burro is dense but smooth and spreadable, tastes “clean,” has a uniform color, and melts readily on the tongue.

Buffalo Milk Butter, Unsalted (Buffalo Milk)
Delitia, Parma, Italy
Like its widely known sibling, Mozzarella Di Bufala, the making of this high quality butter is very traditional. Basically, it is made from the cream left behind from the production of cheese. It tastes best when consumed plain, on rustic bread or melted over vegetables, but is also ideal for making cakes or custards. It is pale porcelain in color and intense in flavor.

Les Prés Salés Camargue, Salted (Cow’s Milk)
After churning fresh cream from cows that grazed on the plateau of the Ardennes mountains in Belgium, this butter is blended with large salt crystals from Camargue, a region of the Rhone delta in France, known for its exceptional, hand-harvested sea salt, long prized by gourmet cooks. The crystals remain intact within the butter, allowing for savory bites as they dissolve on the tongue. Perfect for accompanying seafood, meat, fish and cheese.

Lenker Butter (Cow’s Milk)
There is no way to compare commercial butter to the taste of artisanal "kaeserei” (dairy butter). This butter comes from a dairy in Lenk, in the Bernese Alps. The milk is from cows that spend the winter in the valley, which of course, is still in a mountain zone. In the summer, they graze in the alp meadows at even higher altitude. As a result, the quality of the milk is very high, and the butter changes in color and taste according to the seasons.

Goat Butter (Salted)
St. Helen’s Farm – Yorkshire, England
At this farm, a delicious goat butter is made by churning goat cream inside a large stainless steel vessel, which drains off the buttermilk and thickens it. A small amount of carotene color is added for appearance (0therwise it would be snow white), and salt is added for improved shelf life. The butter is then carved into distinctive D-shaped rolls and wrapped in foil prior to shipping.

4) On Tuesday, May 19,  at 6:30pm, Legal Oysteria will host a wine dinner with the Maculan winery. For over three generations, the Maculan family has been selecting and vinifying the best grapes in Breganze, an enchanting village at the foot of the Alps in Italy’s Veneto region. The winery provides the theatre for a marvelous combination of antique traditions and modern techniques using the latest winemaking technology. The fusion of tradition and innovation results in a selection of fresh and fruity whites, well-structured reds and delicious dessert wines.

Legal Oysteria will team up with Owner, Angela Maculan, to host a four-plus-course dinner and the menu will be presented as follows:

Spring Pea & Fava Bean Crostini
Grilled Pizza with Panna, Smoked Salmon, Scallion
Sausage-Stuffed Peppadew Peppers
Maculan Pino & Toi, Veneto, 2013
Sautéed Sole (Ramps, Asparagus, Roasted Potatoes)
Maculan Chardonnay, Breganze, 2013
Herbed Grilled Tuna (Fresh Shell Beans, Dandelion Greens, Coppa)
Maculan “Brentino” Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Veneto, 2011
Grilled Beef Tagliata (Arugula, Roasted Tomatoes, Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Maculan Fratta, Veneto, 2010
Bônet alla Piemontese (Mocha-Cinnamon Custard, Pine Nut Brittle)
Maculan Dindarello Moscato, Veneto, 2012
Maculan Torcolato, Breganze, 2008

COST: $85 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
Reservations required by calling (617) 530-9392

5) Puritan & Co. Chef/Owner Will Gilson, Chef de Cuisine Alex Saenz, Sommelier Peter Nelson and the restaurant’s talented team pay homage to France’s sustainable and organic wines in the next installation of “Wine Wednesdays”. Puritan offers guests a taste of France’s finest wines which includes a multi-course dinner prepared by Chefs Will Gilson, Alex Saenz and their talented culinary team.

Sommelier Peter Nelson has selected five chemical-conscious old vine vintages to accompany five courses of Puritan’s signature seasonal New England fare.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 6,. Arrival is 6:45pm and Wine Dinner starts at 7:00pm
COST: The Au Naturel wine dinner is $95 per guest
Reservations are required so please call (617)-615-6195

6) The beverage team at Foundry on Elm is rolling out an eclectic new cocktail menu comprised of signature sparkling, aromatic and sour concoctions. Known as “Cocktails & Angels,” Foundry on Elm’s menu is developed by a unique process that challenges their bartenders to create thoughtful, well-made cocktails each season.

Under the direction of Beverage Director Manny Gonzales, the bartenders’ names are entered into a tin and fourteen key ingredients are added to another such as a spirit, smoked lager or wine. In a third tin, Gonzales adds in styles of cocktails from their three signature categories: sparkling, aromatics and sours. Each bartender crafts two cocktails based on their draws, ensuring that the base alcohol is greater or equal to any other ingredient used and that no additive ingredient is used more than once on the menu. From there, the best cocktails make it onto the menu ($10 each):

--The Dizzy Dame
DSP CA 162 vodka, GrandTen Distillers Angelica liqueur, Lillet Rouge, honey, cava
Barr Hill gin, Alloro liqueur, Bärenjäger, dry vermouth
--American Beauty
Mezcal Amarás, Cocchi Americano, Meletti 1870
--Summer in Algiers
Camus VSOP, Combier, Imbue Bittersweet vermouth, Bittermen’s Citron Sauvage
--Lost in Translation
Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 12 Year Old, Arancione liqueur, Cynar, Orleans bitters, salt
--Oaxacan on Sunshine
Glendalough Single Grain Irish whisky, mezcal, Galliano, agave
--Calculated Risk
Ken Kelly 14 Year Tennessee whiskey, BroVo #4, Aperol
--Jim’s House Sangria
--Carson Punch
Bully Boy vodka, Meletti 1870, Cherry Heering, lemon
--Crazy Legs
Legs Diamond white whiskey, Vermouth del Professore, Aperol, strawberry, lemon
--On Fleek
Tequila Ocho Plata, St-Germain, Averna, grapefruit, lime, mint
--Fuzzy Bunny
Wigle Ginever, Green Chartreuse, carrot juice, cucumber
Ford’s gin, FRUITLAB Jasmine liqueur, sweet vermouth, lemon, honey
--Voodoo Doctor
house rhum blend, Yellow Chartreuse, pineapple juice, lime juice
--Thyme Out
Novo Fogo Cachaça, Lillet Blanc, thyme-infused vermouth, lemon
--The Neck
Downeast cider, Catoctin rye, Gran Classico, BroVo #14, ginger beer, pickled apple

7) From May 13 through June 11, MET Restaurant Group will host its Tenth Annual Soft Shell Crab Festival serving the delicious crustacean 30 ways in 30 days at MET Back Bay. Hailing from Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, soft shell crabs have tantalized the taste buds of seafood lovers across the globe. The MET has explored a variety of flavors and techniques that reveal the best of this culinary creature and will offer a special soft shell crab dish each night from mid-May to mid-June.

Guests will enjoy some very unique dishes including Soft Shell Monte Cristo, Corn meal Crusted Crab with corn silk, favas and pea tendrils, Tempura Fried Crab with soy peanut sauce and cucumber noodles, and Chili Crab Pizza topped with fried crab, sweet chili and arugula. For the purist, soft shell crabs will also be available meuniére style daily.

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