Thursday, July 19, 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) All kids want to have fun. But for millions of sick children currently cared for at local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals® (CMNH), fun is on hold. The Dairy Queen®system wants to help those kids get out of the hospital sooner and back to having fun again.

DQ® will once again bring communities together to support CMNH during the 13th Annual Miracle Treat Day on Thursday, August 2. On Miracle Treat Day, $1 or more from every Blizzard® Treat sold at participating DQ Grill & Chill® and Dairy Queen locations throughout the U.S. will be donated to the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Funds raised during Miracle Treat Day support critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care to help save and improve the lives of local children.

"We want to make Miracle Treat Day the most fun, most meaningful day of summer. The kids at children's hospitals across America are depending on us," said Maria Hokanson, executive vice president of marketing for American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ). "Miracle Treat Day is a celebration of how our communities come together to help the kids treated by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals so that they can be at home with their family, having fun and playing with their friends as soon as possible."

Every minute, 62 children are admitted to a Children's Miracle Network Hospital. One in 10 children in North America are treated at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals each year.

Last year, DQ® operators across the U.S. and Canada contributed more than $4 million on Miracle Treat Day alone in support of local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Since 1984, the Dairy Queen system has raised more than $135 million for the charity through fundraising efforts including Miracle Treat Day, the Miracle Balloon campaign and other local initiatives.

The featured Miracle Treat Day Blizzard Treat of the Day is Oreo®, the most popular Blizzard Treat to date. The Blizzard Treat of the Month for August in the U.S. is the new TWIX® Blizzard Treat. All other Blizzard Treats, including those on the new Summer Blizzard Menu, are also available that day.

2) As French Bistro Les Zygomates enters the quarter century mark, owner Mark Tosi combines the old with the new to create an exciting atmosphere of wine tastings, small plate dining and live entertainment.

Starting on Monday, July 23, newly appointed executive chef Guara Pimenta (formerly of Ambrosia, Restaurant L, & Blue Ox) will feature a small plates menu of globally inspired dishes. Complementing the new menu will be live entertainment from a variety of Americana artists.

Les Zyg will continue to celebrate its 25th year with a soon to be announced series of complimentary wine tastings hosted by former owner and celebrated sommelier Lorenzo Savona highlighting wines from the Loire Valley, Beaujolais, Burgundy among other Parisian favorites.

The New Small Plates Menu:
Lamb Lollipops (Herb Marinated, Zyg’s Chimichurri 2/$5)
Mediterranean Olives (Citrus, Chili Flake, Rosemary, Garlic $7)
Crispy Mini Crab Cakes (Jonah Crabmeat, Pequillo Pepper Couli $5ea)
Blistered Shishito Peppers (Lime $7)
Chicken Meatballs (House Made Breadcrumbs, Coconut Curry 3/$3.50)
Hot Dates (Medjool Dates, Bacon, Gorgonzola Dolce, Balsamic Glaze $2ea)
Honey Spiced Carrots (with Bleu Cheese $7)
Fried Polenta (Crispy Polenta Lardons, Putanesca Sauce $9)
Roasted Cauliflower Almondine ($7)
Chicken Souvlaki (Yogurt Marinade, Sumac Spice $3.50ea)
Grilled Asparagus ($7)
Zyg’s Stuffed Sliders (Gorgonzola Dolce, Brioche Bun, Bacon–Tomato Jam $4.50ea)
Roasted Mixed Mushrooms ($7)
Parmesan Truffle Frites (Hand-cut Aged Idaho Potatoes, Parmesan Cheese, Truffle Oil $7)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cheers To The Quinta Santa Eufemia 20 Year Old White Port

Many Americans are familiar with Ruby and Tawny Ports but they have much less familiarity with White Port, known in Portuguese as Porto Branco. White Port is made with a wide variety of white grapes, such as Arinto, Cercial, Codega, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, and Viosinho. It is generally produced in the same manner as Red Ports but, they are usually fermented without any skin contact and commonly aged, for two to three years, in 550 liter oak pipes. White Ports range from dry to sweet, and the sweetest versions are sometimes known as Lagrima. There is also a special category called Leve Seco ("light dry") which has a lower alcohol content, about 16.5%.

White Port is usually consumed slightly chilled and it's very common to mix young White Ports with tonic to make a Port Tonic cocktail. With the heat of the Douro, a Port Tonic is a very refreshing libation and would make for an excellent drink this summer.

A much smaller and unique category of White Ports are those specifically aged for 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years, similar to Tawny aging categories. They are difficult to find locally though at least some are available in Massachusetts. For example, the aged White Ports of Quinta Santa Eufemia (including their 10, 20 & 30 year olds) are available at Julio's Liquors, which is where I purchased a few bottles. And I highly recommend you buy those aged White Ports.

Quinta Santa Eufemia was essentially founded in 1864 by Bernardo Rodrigues de Carvalho and it is now managed by the 4th generation. Located on the left side of the Douro River, the vineyards occupy more than 50 hectares, planted with field blends of 20+ grapes. They produce both table wines and Ports, including a 10, 20 and 30 year old White Port. At this time, they do not produce a 40 year old White Port. I've previously reviewed their 10 Year Old White Port ($25), noting "With a beautiful amber color, it possessed an alluring nose of floral and herbal notes, and on the palate the taste was complex and intriguing, a bit of an oxidative style. It had a tough of honeyed sweetness though it finished dry, and that finish lingers long in your mouth. It is surely a Port to slowly savor, enjoying the multitude of flavors that pass over your palate."noting

For one of my birthday celebrations, I opened a bottle of the Quinta Santa Eufemia 20 Year Old White Port ($25). It too is a blend of at least Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Moscatel Galego, and Rabigato. It is fermented in traditional lagares, granite treading tanks where the grapes are trod on by foot. It was aged for about 9 months in stainless steel and then for at least more 20 years in wooden casks. Only about 60 cases of this wine are produced each year, so supplies are very limited.

Sniffing your glass, you'll be seduced by an alluring blend of honey, floral and herbal scents, with wisps of citrus. On the palate, the complexity of the aromas is still evident, with each sip bringing something new to your mouth. There is a mild sweetness, well balanced by its acidity, with bright honey notes, citrus flavors, and touches of herbs. It is more full bodied and rich, with a long, lingering finish that soothes and satisfies. It would work well with a variety of desserts, though you could also sit and savor it on its own. An amazing Port, I highly recommend this to all wine lovers. It is well worth the effort to seek it out, especially due to its complexity and superb taste.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Crémant D'Alsace Rosé: Domaine Camille Braun & Alsace-Willm

For any celebration, it's great to open some bubbly, and there's a wide choice of sparkling wines you can select. For my birthday celebrations this year, I enjoyed three different sparkling wines. One of these was a Grower Champagne, the excellent Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru, which I drank at Island Creek Oyster Bar in Burlington. I've visited that winery before and love their Champagnes, all which are made from 100% Chardonnay. It was a great way to begin my birthday dinner at ICOB.

The other two sparkling wines were similar, both Crémant D'Alsace Rosé though from different producers. As I've said multiple times people, Americans need to drink more Crémant d'Alsace, and in fact, they need to drink more wines, of all types, from Alsace. They often provide excellent value and taste. They are enjoyable while young but can also age well. They can provide a sense of history, as well as showcase state of the art wine making. They pair well with a diverse variety of foods and cuisines. And at their most basic, they are absolutely delicious.

For more background on Crémant d'Alsace, check out some of my previous articles where I share my passion for this tasty bubbly, including: Crémant d'Alsace & The Spartans At ThermopylaeSchoenheitz Winery: A Taste Of BeautyPuritan & Co.: Alsatian Wine AdviceGustave Lorentz: More Alsatian Wine TreasuresAlsatian Wines & Pheasant at Craigie On Main, Crémant d'Alsace: A New Year's Eve Recommendation, and Starting the New Year With Crémant d'Alsace & Lobster.

The history of the Domaine Camille Braun extends back to 1523 in Alsace, and they have been producing wine in the village of Orschwihr since 1902. Currently, the owners, Christophe and Chantal Braun, own about 13 hectares of vineyards in or near Orschwihr, including the famed Grand Cru site Pfingstberg, which has been documented since 1299. The vineyards are now certified organic and Biodynamic, and their total production is only about 8,000 cases annually.

The NV Domaine Camille Braun Crémant D'Alsace Rosé ($25) is made from 100% Pinot Noir, the vines averaging about 30 years, as it is the only grape permitted in Alsace Rosé. Made in the méthode champenoise, the wine remains on the lees for about 18-24 months and only about 10,000 bottles are produced. The Rosé had a pleasing nose of red fruits and on the palate, the red fruits were more subtle and delicious, with hints of spice. It was dry and creamy, with a nice crispness to it as well. The fine bubbles helped to cleanse the palate and cut through the richness while I enjoyed this bubbly with a lobster dinner. An excellent choice for this pairing.

Maison Willm's fame began before it ever started making wine, and it centered on a compelling recipe, Escargots à l’Alsacienne, in which the snails were cooked in a broth of spices and white wine. Around 1896, the Willm family established a wine estate in the town of Barr, located at the base of the Grand Cru Kirchberg ("hills of the church") de Barr. This is a prime area in Alsace for vineyards. In the 1930s, they were one of the first wineries in Alsace to export to the U.S., allegedly becoming a favorite of the gangster Al Capone! I've previously enjoyed a couple other of their crémants, including the NV Willm Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Blancs Brut and the NV Willm Cremant d'Alsace Blanc de Noirs Brut. 

The NV Willm Crémant d’Alsace Rosé ($18), made from 100% Pinot Noir, is produced by the méthode champenoise and remains on the lees for about 12 months. With an appealing nose of red fruits and a touch of spice, this was a delicious and lush Crémant with ripe flavors of strawberry, cherry and raspberry. Dry, crisp, and clean, with a fine effervescence, this was a true crowd pleaser. At this price, it is an excellent value for the taste and complexity found within the bottle. Highly recommended!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Born Tokusen Junmai Daiginjo: A Sake Worthy Of Celebration

As I've been celebrating my birthday for the last several days, I've opened a number of special bottles to commemorate the occasion. Of course, there had to be a Sake in that mix and it ended up being incredibly special and amazing. That shouldn't have surprised me as I know the brand and they produce superb Sake, including one of my favorite Sakes ever, the Born Muroka Nama Genshu Junmai Daiginjo. They produce Sake which will appeal to most wine lovers.

The Born brand is produced by the Kato Kichibee Shoten brewery,which is located in the Fukui Prefecture and was established in 1860. The company originally was involved in money exchange, but eventually the village headman chose to enter the Sake business. They use the term "Born" as in Sanskrit, it is roughly translated as "purity/striking truth, and represents the brewery's strong belief in second changes and karmic rewards for hard work." During the early Showa era, which began in 1926, the Born brand was drank at imperial ceremonies, festivals, and presented to special guests.

The Born Tokusen ("Special Selection") Junmai Daiginjo ($57) is produced from the highest quality Yamada Nishiki rice from Special Region “A” in Hyogo Prefecture. The rice was polished down to 38%, a significant amount less than the 50% minimum required for a Daiginjo. It also possesses a Sake Meter Value of +5, Acidity 1.3, and a 16% ABV. What helps to make this Sake more unique is that it was aged for at least two years at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the freezing point of water. Very little Sake is aged like that, but I've found such aging can add more complexity to the Sake.

The aroma of this Sake was alluring and seductive, with rich fruit smells, floral accents and hints of spice. And on the palate, the complexity of its taste thoroughly impressed. There was a rich mouthfeel, an intense depth of flavor including tastes of citrus, melon, grapefruit, pear, vanilla, and licorice. It was silky smooth and elegant, with a lengthy, pleasing finish. Every sip brought something new to my mouth and made me crave the next sip. This Sake paired great with seafood though I could easily see it pairing well with other dishes as well, from cheese to chicken. A superb Sake at a very reasonable price considering its high quality and taste. Highly recommended!

Thursday, July 12, 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) 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 Wednesday, July 18, 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 Samantha Loos and Chris Miller, from the Professional Chef's Program, serving their own unique plates alongside Vialé's usual dinner menu.

Make reservations for this fascinating CSCA Takeover at Vialé.

2) Bin Ends is proud to announce the summer celebration of the 10-year anniversary of their Braintree store, and the 5-year anniversary of their sister store in Needham. The concurrent anniversaries are being celebrated with the launch of a new website for expedited online purchases, a community dinner, and special events in both stores.

Bin Ends is a local, independent retailer of fine wine, craft beer, and artisan spirits founded in 2008. Managing Partner, John Hafferty, with nearly 30 years of experience in the fine wine trade, has dedicated his career to the idea that a bottle shared can quickly turn strangers into lifelong friends. Before opening Bin Ends, John worked for nearly a decade as fine wine portfolio manager and buyer for M.S. Walker, one of New England's largest and most respected fine wine wholesalers.

I've been going to Bin Ends since its beginnings, and it remains one of my favorite wine stores. John is a great guy, personable, knowledgeable and down-to-earth. You'll find plenty of bargains at Bin Ends, as well as a nice diversity of wines, spirits, ciders, and beers, from all over the world. You really need to shop at Bin Ends!

A couple of their upcoming events include:

Bin Ends Fine Wine Estate Sale 
Bin Ends in Needham: Saturday, July 14th from 2-5 PM: Featuring an eclectic selection of wines from all across California. Try before you buy & save 20% or more. This is a Complimentary event and No Reservations are required. You must be 21 to attend.

Bin Ends Fine Wine Flea Market 
Bin Ends in Braintree: Sunday, July 29, from 1-5 PM. Try-before-you-buy a great selection of wine from around the world - all at a savings of 20-50%! Join upwards of six of Bin Ends fine wine vendors along who will be sampling alongside our own Bin Ends Selections table. This is a complimentary event and no reservations are required.  You must be 21 to attend.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

All Greek, All Natural: New Wine Program At Committee

"Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was every granted by the gods to man."

Why aren't you drinking more Greek wines?

I've previously given you Ten Reasons To Drink Greek Wine and I've also highly recommended that you drink and dine at Committee Ouzeri + Bar, a killer Greek restaurant which had a primarily Greek wine list. I've enjoyed plenty of delicious and diverse Greek wines at this restaurant (along with lots of excellent food). Well, Committee has taken a bold step forward, further honing their wine list until now it is 100% Greek Wine and 100% Natural Wine. Get there now to check out their new wine list!

Wine Director Lauren Friel created this new wine list, one of her latest endeavors in a very busy vinous career. She consults for other restaurants (such as the acclaimed Dirt Candy in NYC where she created a wine list of all female owned wineries), is a freelance writer, and will soon be opening Rebel Rebel (an all natural wine bar) at Bow Market in Somerville. Lauren was generous enough to take a little time to answer some questions about the new wine list at Committee.

1. Why have you moved to a 100% Greek wine list?
Lauren: "I believe in writing wine programs with a point of view. An all-Greek wine list aligns with Committee’s concept and menu, and it showcases what I believe to be some of the most exciting wines being made in the world today. "

2. What challenges do you foresee with your guests because of a 100% Greek wine list?
Lauren: "Certainly, there’s an initial hurdle to overcome when guests take a look at the list and don’t immediately recognize regions or varieties, but the wines speak for themselves. Once guests have a glass in front of them, that all falls away."

3. What are the advantages to a 100% Greek wine list?
Lauren: "The wines are natural pairings with our cuisine, so the challenges of pairing internationally styled wines with traditional cuisine goes out the window. Greek wines also haven’t caught up to other regions in terms of market cost, so we’re able to offer extremely well-made, rare and unique wines for a fraction of what they would cost coming from, say, France or California."

4. Why have you moved to 100% natural wines?
Lauren: "I’ve worked exclusively with natural wines for every other wine program I’ve written. For a while, we didn’t have access to naturally made Greek wines in Massachusetts. That’s changed in the past year or so, as I’ve worked hard to get these natural Greek portfolios into distribution. Now that they’re available, it makes sense to showcase them - they’re pure expressions of Greek terroir, they’re low-impact from an environmental perspective, and they don’t contain the additives of industrial wines."

5. What challenges do you foresee with your guests because of a 100% natural wine list?
Lauren: "None. DRC is technically natural, and nobody talks about that. People have this idea that all natural wines are weird or funky, and that’s simply not true. Well-made natural wines are as clean and expressive as conventionally made wines."

6. What are the advantages to a 100% natural wine list?
Lauren: "I know I’m providing guests with the best wines I have access to."

In addition to the new wine list, Committee is also holding a Natural Wine Bar Pop Up on their patio every Wednesday night, through August 29, starting at 5pm. A modest list of Greek wines will be served each week, offered at a much lower mark up than usual. There will also be rare selections that are hard to find and will change monthly. The pop up will offer wine flights and accompanying meze. This will be on a first come, first serve basis on the patio only.

With the great diversity of Greek wines, every wine lover will be able to find a wine that appeals to their preferences. And they also will be able to explore such a wide variety of intriguing and exciting wines. Go to Committee, delve into Lauren's new wine list, and expand your palate's horizons.

"Where there is no wine there is no love."

Monday, July 9, 2018

Birthday Fundraiser for Alzheimer's Association

No Rants today. Rather, I come seeking assistance from my readers.

Though Facebook has its issues, maybe one of its most compelling features is that you can turn your birthday into a request for donations for one of a myriad of charities. There is no charge for the donations and all of the money goes to the charity. Facebook makes it very simple to set up as well.

My birthday is later this week and I have chosen a Birthday Fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association. All you have to do is go to that link and you can donate to this cause. I set a modest goal of $200 and have already received donations of $270. But, I encourage others to donate as well, to raise more money for this worthy cause. I hope you'll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me. Every little bit helps.

Alzheimer's is an insidious disease that robs people of their minds. It can be a slow deterioration, losing bits and parts of your memory every day. And for the caretakers, it can be a tough experience, watching your loved one fall deeper into the illness's grasp. As our population lives longer and longer, it seems that more and more people fall victim to this terrible disease.

I currently live with a family member who has Alzheimer's and I see its effect every day, on everyone  in the family. And this is not the first family member who has had this terrible disease either. As this disease may be, in at least some part, hereditary, it is scary to see family members succumb to it as you worry that you too might get it one day.  

Please donate, if you can, to help fight this disease, so that maybe we can eliminate it one day.

Thursday, July 5, 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) Chef/Owner Will Gilson and the Puritan and Company team is excited to announce a very special upcoming wine dinner with COS winery of Sicily. Join them on Thursday, July 19, from 6:30pm-9:30pm, for the rare opportunity of tasting four vintages of COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria followed by a memorable roasted lamb dinner prepared by chef/owner Will Gilson.

COS is Sicily's only DOCG, the highest level of quality following the strictest rules of Italian wine. Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to taste four consecutive vintages of their noble wine along with an exquisite dinner featuring 2016 Frappato, 2013 Pithos Rosso, fermented and aged in amphorae, then bottled without sulphur, and two vintages of the singular Ramí, a skin-contact white. The event will also feature Tiziana Forni of Domaine Select, the importer in attendance for discussion about these particular wines, and much more!

Space is limited for this dinner, don't wait. Tickets are inclusive of dinner, wine, and gratuity and are available at EventBrite. Please email if you have any allergy or dietary restrictions that chef should be aware of.

Puritan & Company's Azienda Agricola COS Wine Dinner includes:
Antipasti/Degustazione Verticale
2011-2014 Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico
Antipasto platter & shared small bites (selection of marinated and grilled vegetables, olives, cured meats, fresh cheese, and breads, caponata bruschetta, arancini, sardines or anchovy or mackerel)
Piatto primo
2013 Pithos Rosso
Grilled tomato and smoked swordfish fusilli with charred octopus and fried capers
Piatto Principale
2016 Frappato
Whole roasted lamb (fennel confit with bay and saffron, salsa verde with parsley and basil, panelle (chickpea or polenta squares), tomato jam with lemon and orange)
2013 & 2015 Ramí
selection of hard, semi hard and soft Sicilian cheeses

2) TAMO Bistro + Bar is offering three Fishbowl Cocktails this summer, Panther Bowl, Raffi Bowl and Coconut Bowl. Each 51-ounce, made-for-two cocktail costs $35. Enjoy them on the TAMO terrace all summer.

Inspired by Marvel's “Black Panther”, TAMO Panther Bowl is made with Cruxland Gin – a unique gin from South Africa made with the Kalahari truffle. This rare and exotic truffle can only be found at certain times of the year, when rain causes it to swell, creating cross-shaped cracks in the ground surrounding it – a tell-tale sign to experts only. This small batch gin is distinctly South African, grape-based and cold filtered for an extra smooth taste. Mixed with Bacardi Rum and Viniq Fusion Vodka, the Cruxland Gin gives the Panther Bowl a savory hint of earthiness. It also includes hyperlocal honey from The Seaport Hotel's very own bee colony. Nearly one million bees live in seven hives and thrive under the loving care of Chief Beekeeper Edwin Medrano. The sweet honey produced by his bees is masterfully incorporated into the hotel's unique cocktails, including the Panther Bowl.

The Raffi Bowl, made with Bacardi Banana Rum, Pillar Blonde Rum, pineapple, pomegranate and lime juice and Pillar Dark Rum Floater will surely satisfy your taste buds. Those with a sweet tooth should indulge in the Coconut Bowl – a masterful creation of Bacardi Coconut Rum, Amaretto, grenadine, prosecco, pineapple and orange juice.

3) Bella Luna Restaurant & Milky Way Loungea neighborhood restaurant in Jamaica Plain,  is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, an exceptional achievement. It is a female-owned restaurant that was established in 1993 by Kathie Mainzer and Carol Downs in response to area gang activity and gun violence. As Jamaica Plain residents and non-profit professionals, the restaurant’s founders were concerned about the growing crime in the community and sought a solution that could simultaneously bring together the neighborhood and support its charitable causes. A boarded-up space on Hyde Park’s Centre Street was the answer, and, thus, Bella Luna Restaurant was born.

25 years later, Bella Luna Restaurant & Milky Way Lounge has experienced significant growth and change, but remains steadfastly committed to its founding principles. Having outgrown its 19-seat Centre Street space in Hyde Park, Bella Luna & Milky Way Lounge relocated to a larger space better suited for accommodating its guests in 2009. Currently located at 284 Amory Street in Jamaica Plain, Bella Luna Restaurant & Milky Way Lounge is a full-service restaurant and event venue with 175 seats, 45 employees, entertainment space, and outdoor patio.

Bella Luna Restaurant believes strongly in the democracy of food- that delicious, gourmet cuisine can be offered at affordable prices, and offers a menu that reflects this philosophy. Bella Luna offers its guests a wide variety of affordable fare including “cosmic pizzas,” “supernova sandwiches,” “celestial salads,” and “interplanetary entrées.” Bella Luna is open for dinner seven nights a week and lunch on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant also offers nightly takeout and delivery to Jamaica Plain residents.

In addition to its restaurant offerings, Bella Luna’s adjoining Milky Way Lounge plays host to a variety of private functions, fundraisers, community-building events, poetry slams, live music, theme nights, and entertainment seven nights a week.

Continuing to build upon the community-focused mission it was founded on, Bella Luna strives to “build a better Boston” by supporting work of neighborhood groups and non-profits. Bella Luna and Milky Way restaurant’s event space and accommodating team have been, and continue to be, valuable resources for local charities and organizations in need of event space or fundraising partnerships- regularly offering food and use of its space to charities at ZERO cost. Additionally, Bella Luna donates 1% of its total sales to local non-profit organizations every year.

Weekly Events include:
--Every Sunday: Live Irish Sessions and Kids Eat Free
Enjoy live Irish music in the lounge with Eamon Sefton and Friends from 5 to 8 p.m. while kids eat free all night from 5 to 9 p.m.
--Every Monday: Off-the-Wall Mondays
Off-the-Wall Mondays at Bella Luna featuring tunes by DJ J-Wall from 6 to 8 p.m. with $8 sliders and fries, followed by Stump Trivia at 8. All free, all ages.
--Every Tuesday: Teacher Tuesdays and Dirty Water Saloon Line Dancing for Queer Folks, Friends, and Allies
     As a thank you to educators, teachers can enjoy ½-off appetizers at Bella Luna every Tuesday. Valid teacher identification required.
     Did you love the Electric Slide as a kid? Are you always the one teaching Aunt Sherry Cotton Eyed Joe at family weddings? Well, put on your best dancing shoes and head to Bella Luna’s Dirty Water Saloon Dancing. Learn country-western two-step, west coast swing and line dancing to Lady Gaga, Pussy Cat Dolls, Marvin Gaye every Tuesday night from 7 to 10 p.m. for only $10 cover charge.
--Every Wednesday: Tropical Lounge on the Patio
Take a mini-vacation on Bella Luna’s patio every Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. featuring live Latin, Reggae, Jazz and more!
--Every first Thursday of the month: The A-Beez at Bella Luna
Bella Luna & The Milky Way present a brand new residency, every first Thursday of the month with one of Boston’s best, The A-beez…Amy (Bowles) and Aaron Bellamy (The A-Beez) began their musical collaboration in 2003 as core members of the Sam Kininger Band. In addition to successful careers as sidemen, the Bellamy’s have co-led a ten year residency at Boston’s renown Wally’s jazz cafe, developing their unique blend of hip-hop, jazz and soul. The A.B.’s have performed with artists such as Chaka Khan, Cody Chesnutt, Martin Luther, Cee Lo Green, Akrobatic, Elan Trotman and many more.
--Every first Friday of the month: La Boum Queer Dance Party
Come on down to La Boum where dreams are a reality and get into the groove with DJ Stella every first Friday at 10 p.m.! Pop from the 80s / 90s freestyle / 00s / dance jams / house-inspired stuff / a lil disco / maybe sisqo / madonna / missy / yoncé / prince / whitney / robyn / throwbacks / and more!

Upcoming Special Events
--FistFulla Hits Presents: A Benefit For the People of Flint, Michigan (July 13th at 10 p.m.)
FistFulla HITS presents its fourth multi-band showcase, this time to benefit the people of Flint, Michigan. FistFulla HITS (FFH) returns to Bella Luna/The Milky Way in Jamaica Plain, welcoming a powerful nine-band lineup with live performances by: Mystikal Misfits, Thoughts & Prayers, Los Gallos Locos w/Krista Page, Mara Bel, Ray Liriano, Woza Moya, Roger Nicholson, Ordinario, and Steven Lawrence. But wait, there’s more! Guests can purchase original small artworks generously donated by area artists at our “8X8 VISUALS” gallery during the evening, as well as buy CDs, T-shirts, and other merchandise. All event proceeds go to the Flint Water Fund via the United Way of Genesee County.
--El Yunque, a fundraiser for Puerto Rico, featuring Ramirez (Roots & Spirits / Beats Manuever, Washington DC) (July 27th from 10 p.m; to 1 a.m.)
Roots & Spirits and DashRock, in association with Bella Luna & The Milky Way, present El Yunque, a fundraiser for Puerto Rico, featuring Ramirez (Roots & Spirits / Beats Manuever, Washington DC). Join Bella Luna oas Ramirez takes you on a musical journey through the finest deep, soulful, and underground house music. ($10)
--Hear Me Roar Women’s Pop-Up Market (July 28th from 12 to 4 p.m.)
Bella Luna & The Milky Way is proud to host a brand-new pop-up art market, Hear Me Roar. Hear Me Roar is a community of local female creatives whose objective is to support and encourage one another, provide opportunities, network, inspire, celebrate, and help each other grow. The show aims to provide locals with an introduction to some noteworthy women enriching their communities: women who are business owners, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and others. Art will be available from several artists who bring a variety of styles and mediums while they themselves are women of different ages and backgrounds.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Rant: Snickerdoodle, The Best Cookie In The World!

What is the Best Cookie in the world? It has to be the Snickerdoodle. And no matter what contender you wish to put forth, it will lose. Snickerdoodles reign supreme!

Well, that is all actually hyperbole. I couldn't say what was the Best Cookie unless I had tasted all of the possible options. And in this matter, "Best" is really a subjective term. How do you compare different cookies to determine which is better? There are no objective guidelines and it all comes down to personal preference. The same applies to all foods, so I'm not a huge fan of "Best" compilations because they don't really judge what they say they do. Such lists are based on the personal preferences and biases of those who compose the lists.

However, I am a big fan of Snickerdoodles. The origins of this cookie are ambiguous, with some believing it has a German or Dutch origin, and others believing it originated in New England. It is alleged that the oldest known recipes date back to New England in 1889. In The Home-Maker, Vol.2, April to September 1889, an illustrated monthly magazine edited by Marion Harland, there is a section labeled "Choice Recipes" and you'll find a Snickerdoodles recipe. The ingredients include 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of milk, 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoonfuls cream tartar, 1 teaspoonful soda, and 1/2 teaspoonful of salt.

I also found a 1891 reference in the Morning Journal and Courier (Connecticut), August 28, 1891It provided a recipe for Snickerdoodles that included the following ingredients: 1/2 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, 3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 level teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 3 teaspoons powdered sugar. Note that this recipe didn't include cream of tartar. The Plymouth Tribune (Indiana), November 28, 1901 provided another recipe, but it did include cream of tartar. The article also stated, "Snickerdoodles is the somewhat fantastic name of quickly made little cakes especially dear to the children's heart."

The use of cream of tartar helps to differentiate the Snickerdoodle from a basic Sugar cookie. This ingredient helps make the Snickerdoodle more chewy, rather than crunchy like most Sugar cookies. In addition, it provides a certain tangy flavor to the Snickerdoodle.

Locally, my favorite Snickerdoodles are made by the Quebrada Baking Co., with locations in Arlington, Belmont and Wellesley. I've tasted them from all three locations and they have been of equal quality. Their Snickerdoodles have a slightly crunchy perimeter with a soft and chewy interior., and just a perfect dusting of sugar and cinnamon on top. Each bite of such a cookie is pure bliss to me. I enjoyed some last week as my travels took me to Belmont.

So, Snickerdoodles might not be the Best cookie in the world, but they are certainly one of the best. And I highly recommend you check out the Snickerdoodles at Quebrada to sample what I think are the best I've ever tasted. Have you tasted their Snickerdoodles? If so, what do you think?