Thursday, February 22, 2018

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) Boston chef and restaurateur Jay Hajj and TV journalist Hank Phillippi Ryan join forces on Sunday, February 25 for the Champagne & Snowflakes Charity Brunch to raise money for the Chefs Table Foundation, a registered 501(c)3 that supports homeless veterans seeking careers in the culinary arts.

Guests will get a chance to meet both Hajj and Ryan while sipping champagne and enjoying an exclusive “mansion-style” brunch prepared by Endicott House executive chef Eddie Cerrato. The decadent brunch begins at 11 a.m. and takes place at the MIT Endicott House (80 Haven St., Dedham). Ryan will interview Hajj about his culinary journey and from boy in war-torn Lebanon to American chef, entrepreneur and Food Network regular today, as told in his recently published "Beirut to Boston" cookbook.

Hajj is best known as the chef-owner of South End casual dining landmark Mike’s City Diner. He’s also one of the partners and landlords behind Yvonne’s, the “supper club” in Downtown Crossing’s landmark Locke-Ober building, and other marquee restaurants around Boston.

Ryan’s is a familiar face to countless Bostonians as an investigative journalist for WHDH Channel 7. She’s also the award-winning author of 10 mystery novels. Guests will get the opportunity to learn more about those books, including her upcoming 2018 release, “Trust Me

Tickets for this culinary-forward fundraiser cost just $50 and can be purchased here on the Chef’s Table Foundation website.

2) CHOPPS American Bar and Grill is hosting a special fiesta in celebration of National Margarita Day today, February 22. In honor of the holiday, the CHOPPS teams welcome guests to sip on a variety of margaritas, enjoy special bites like tequila-infused doughnuts and taco specials, and enjoy live music starting at 6:30PM.

Guests can sample custom margaritas featuring Maestro Dobel Tequila, with a special lineup designed just for National Margarita Day. Margarita specials include the suave Black Diamond Margarita, made with fresh lime and agave served up in a black lava salt rimmed glass, and the spicy Smoked Pineapple Chipotle Margarita with Smoked Silver tequila and Bols Pineapple Chipotle Liqueur. Fruitier options are also available for those with a sweet tooth such as the Strawberry Fields and Mango Mania Margaritas, each including a sweet Bols Liqueur.

Executive Chef Steve Zimei will be offering taco specials to keep you fueled, including: Braised Short Rib (pickled red cabbage, jack cheese, tomatillo aioli), Tempura Fried Fish (shredded cabbage, carrot, pico de gallo, and lime), and Marinated Chicken (corn and black bean salsa, chili-lime, and chimichurri). Snack on complimentary Tequila-infused Doughnut Holes like the margarita glazed doughnut, the tequila lime doughnut, and tequila shot doughnut. Enjoy live music from David Corson starting at 6:30PM in the Great Room at CHOPPS.

3) Long known in this region for creative, farm-to-table American cuisine, The Old Inn On The Green will operate a pop-up restaurant under a classic summer tent at Jacob’s Pillow, the internationally acclaimed dance venue located in Becket, Massachusetts. The partnership with the restaurant was recently announced by Pamela Tatge, Director of Jacob’s Pillow.

The Old Inn On The Green is an 11-room inn built in the 1760s, which served as a stop on the Boston-to-Albany stagecoach route. Today, under the ownership of Peter Platt and Meredith Kennard, it boasts modern amenities for its overnight guests, and an open-to-the-public restaurant, with a deep vintage wine list and candlelit ambiance.

The Old Inn On The Green at The Pillow, as the pop-up will be called, will provide dinner and full bar service for up to 100 diners, during a 10-week season that runs from June 20 through August 26. Dinner will be served Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 9 PM. Sunday Brunch will be served from 11 AM to 2 PM. Executive Chef is Peter Platt of The Old Inn On The Green and the Chef de Cuisine is Matthew Sweitzer.

Typical plates:
* Duck Confit Baos (steamed buns) with Pickled Lemon-Blueberry Relish
* Lettuce Wrap with Shrimp, Carrots and Corn in mint-green pea pesto
* Falafel Salad with Grilled Summer Vegetables
* Kale & Ricotta Dumplings with Corn Ragu
* Grilled Rib Eye with Onion Bordelais
* Mushroom Chicken Ballantine

Typical brunch items:
* Eggs Benedicts: Seafood, Beef, Vegetable, Smoked Salmon
* French Rolled Omelets: Ham/Artichoke, Asparagus/Chevre
* Crispy Trout Caesar
* Banana Bread Sandwich
* Baklava French Toast with honeyed apples
* Crepe Gateau with roasted fruit

Reservations are strongly suggested, and are available exclusively via

4) On Wednesday, March 14, at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods in Park Square will present an evening with their very own Master of Wine, Sandy Block, as he moonlights in hosting a four-course pairings dinner that showcases a variety of matured wines and his personal favorites dating back to 1990.

A jack of all trades, in addition to serving as Legals’ Vice President of Beverage Operations Block also shares his 30+ years of knowledge within the wine industry as a contributing editor for media outlets and an instructor at Boston University. Block will put his acclaimed Master of Wine title to the test for this exclusive dining experience for guests to enjoy a selection of grapes carefully paired with a delectable four-plus-course dinner menu.

The menu will be presented as follows:
Smoked Salmon* Napoleon, Brioche
Curry Chicken Skewer, Masala-Orange Marmalade
Spicy Lobster Arancini
Schloss Schönborn Hochheimer Domdechaney Riesling Spätlese, Rheingau,1997
Sole Piccata (Garlic Ghee, Fragrant Jasmine Rice)
Domaine Gaston Huët “Clos du Bourg” Vouvray Demi-Sec, Loire Valley, 2007
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht “Gueberschwihr” Riesling, Alsace, 2001
Spinach-Wrapped Salmon (Mushroom Duxelles, Lemon Beurre Blanc)
Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Burgundy, 1999
Braised Venison Medallions (Herbed Fingerling Potatoes, Rainbow Chard)
Beringer “Private Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 1990
Château La Dominique, Grand Cru Classé Saint-Émilion, 2000
Triple Chocolate Mousse Parfait (Marshmallow, Chocolate Shavings)
Graham’s Vintage Port, 1994

COST: $135 per person, excludes tax & gratuity
Reservation required by calling 617-530-9397

5) Vialé in Central Square, Cambridge is enthused to announce the next event in their new, seasonal dinner series in collaboration with Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (CSCA). The next CSCA Takeover at Vialé will be held on Monday, February 26, from 5pm-10pm. As with all of the dinners in the series, this dinner will pair Vialé chef/co-owner, Greg Reeves (CSCA graduate) and the Vialé team with a different CSCA student/chef. For this event, Chef Reeves will team with Rasul Ussaev, from the Professional Chef's Program, and Michael Nichols, from the Professional Pastry program, serving their own unique plates alongside Vialé's usual dinner menu.

Rasul Ussaev is currently pursuing the Professional Chef’s Program. Interestingly, cooking began as a childhood chore in which he would help prepare family dinners but has since evolved into real gastronomic passion. Rasul is highly inspired by Italian, American, and Fusion culinary influences. Travelling across the globe and visiting more than 20 countries exposed Rasul to many ideas of how to serve up more than just food, but also how to create true satisfaction in every bite. In parallel to the chef’s program, he is also a senior at UMASS Boston pursuing Bachelors in Supply Chain Management.

Michael Nichols is currently pursuing the Professional Pastry Program. Michael was born and raised in Houston, Texas, at the crossroads of BBQ, Tex-Mex, Southern, and Cajun cuisines. Growing up on a steady diet of smoked briskets, tacos al carbon, chicken fried steaks, gumbos, pecan pies, pralines, and chocolates, he nevertheless trained as an engineer like his dad. Mike moved up to the northeast to work in biotech, but was always happier cooking and baking for his family. One summer on a family vacation to Peru, amidst the mountain farms and open air markets, he decided that he should do what he loved for a living. He returned home and enrolled at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Mike lives in Newburyport, and plans to open a chocolate shop after graduation.

Make reservations for this fascinating CSCA Takeover at Vialé.

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