Thursday, October 20, 2011

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)  On Thursday, October 27, The Beehive is celebrating the colorful Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with food, libations, skulls, skeletons, alters, dance and live music by Grupo Fantasia.

"Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Mexican holiday dedicated to ancestors and the cycle of life. Neighbors gather to share food, music, and fun with their extended community, both living and departed. The celebration acknowledges that we still have a relationship with our ancestors and loved ones that have passed away. Dia de los Muertos is not at all scary, spooky or somber but fun and festive for adults and children alike."

Latin band, Grupo Fantasia, takes to the stage from 9pm-1am. Headed by master percussionist Angel Wagner, Grupo Fantasia provides traditional Latin entertainment including everything from Cuban, Dominican merengue, Puerto Rican bomba and plena, to Colombian cumbia, Mexican mariachi, calypso, reggae and Salsa, all performed on original, handmade instruments.

In addition to their regular menu, The Beehive will serve several traditional dishes such as Apple-Tequila Guacamole with Tortilla Chips ($11), Chicken with Pumpkin Mole ($22), Braised Short Ribs in Adobe ($23) and Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Green Salsa ($24), and The Beehive’s Pan de Muertos ($8) or “Bread of the Dead." In celebration of Mexico's Day of the Dead, this bread is often shaped into skulls or round loaves with strips of dough rolled out and attached to resemble bones.

WHEN: Thursday, October 27, live music from 6:30pm-1am; food & drink from 5pm-2am
COST: No cover charge, cash bar

2)  Yankee Magazine Lifestyle Editor Amy Traverso has just launched her new cookbook, “The Apple Lover’s Cookbook”. Amy is joining MET Back Bay Culinary Director Todd Winer and ReadBoston to host “The Apple Lovers Cookbook” dinner at MET Back Bay on November 1st. Chef Winer has worked with Amy to create a multi-course dinner featuring Fall sweet and savory dishes. The evening will begin at MET Back Bay Townhouse with a cocktail reception and book signing at 6:30 pm followed by dinner in the Ballroom at 7:30. Proceeds from this event will be donated to ReadBoston.

The menu includes:
--A Selection of Apple Inspired Passed Appetizers
--First Course: Apple, Pistachio, Persimmon & Pomegranate Salad, Shaved Ginger Gold Apples, Wild Arugula & Black Pepper Honey Dressing
--Second Course: Berkshire Pork Belly & Mini Pork Apple Pies; Slowly Braised Belly In Cider, Calvados And Prunes With A Mini Savory Pie Stuffed With Cheddar, Pork And Apples
--Intermezzo: Green Apple Sauvignon Blanc Sorbet
--Third Course: Apple- Pear Cobbler, Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuit, Apple Ginger Snap Ice Cream, Cider Rum Caramel
--Apple Petit Fours

Tickets for the event are $95 and include a meet-and-greet cocktail reception with author Amy Traverso and ReadBoston, a copy of “The Apple Lover’s Cookbook”, and a multi-course seated dinner. Tickets can be purchased by calling 617-267-0451.

3)  October 24th marks Food Day. Modeled on Earth Day, Food Day is a national celebration with an agenda – to promote healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. Legal Harborside will whip up a special three-course prix fix lunch or dinner to honor the day including the following:

Fall Green Salad (Sky Vegetables greens, pears, spiced walnuts, Great Hill blue cheese vinaigrette)
Local Sautéed Grey Sole (Slab bacon, braised Verrill Farm’s collard greens, fire roasted squash)
Suggested wine pairing: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht “Clos Windsbuhl” Riesling, Alsace, 2006, $55 per bottle
Biodynamically farmed with rich, ripe apple, peach and mineral notes
Tarte Tatin (Honey Pot Hill Orchards apples, crème fraiche ice cream)
Suggested wine pairing: Konrad “Sigrun” Noble Riesling, Marlborough, 2002, $8.50 per glass/$32.00 per half bottle. Sustainably farmed with luscious, sweet apricot and honey flavor

COST: Three-course prix fixe: $37.95 per person (includes tax and gratuity)

4)  AKA Bistro, in Lincoln, has recently named Damien Brockway as their new Chef de Cuisine. Damien, another alumni of the kitchen at Clio, hails from Norwalk, Connecticut and has over a dozen years of professional experience in French and new American cooking. He most recently worked in San Francisco at One Market, and has also worked at Salts in Cambridge, The Old Inn on the Green in New Marlboro, and 2-3 other highly rated restaurants in New England. He holds a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Damien is also a certified arborist, and enjoys foraging and rock climbing when not cooking.

Brockway has added the following dishes to the new fall menu:
* Tartlette Savoyarde (with roasted garlic, raclette cheese and foraged mushrooms)
* Loup de Mer (sea bass) with Belgian endive, roasted potato, salsify and cress
* Seared Duck Breast with braised red cabbage, rutabaga, hibiscus and cocoa nibs
* 13 oz. Cote de Beouf Bordelaise with cauliflower gratin

In addition, Executive Chef & Co-owner Chris Chung is debuting some new offerings:
* BBQ Hiramasa Sashimi (Australia kingfish) with hibiscus, smoked foam and pickled baby leeks
* Scallop Sashimi with preserved lemon puree, jalapeno-daikon granite’
* AKA Fried Rice with Rib Eye Cap, seasonal seafood and farm vegetables

I have dined at AKA Bistro since Chef Brockway has been appointed, and the quality of their food has not diminished in the least. I have not tried their new fall items yet but they certainly sound appealing. AKA Bistro remains one of my favorite suburban restaurants.

AKA Bistro also has some special events planned for the next coming months. On November 2, at 6:30pm, Peter Lovis, proprietor of The Concord Cheese Shop, will host a discussion and tasting of almost 20 (primarily French) cheeses. After tasting the cheeses in their natural states, diners will be served five cheese-based courses with wines to match, ranging from Warm Herbed Goat Cheese and Greens with Sancerre, to a quartet of bleu cheeses . The cost is $85 per person and you must call 781-259-9920 for reservations.

5)  On November 2nd, at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods at the Prudential Center will host a South African wine dinner, part of their ongoing celebration of the region that boasts a 350+ year history of winemaking. From October 31st to November 27th, participating Legal Sea Foods locations will offer an exclusive wine list affording an opportunity to enjoy the distinct and delicious flavors of South African wines. This special three-plus course wine dinner will be hosted by Wendy Appelbaum, owner of De Morgenzon Estate.

The menu will be presented as follows:

Hors d'Oeuvres
Selection of Raw Oysters and Ceviche
Raats Family “Original” Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region, 2010
First Course
Fried Mussels
Celery, Fennel, and Shiitake Mushroom Salad with Harissa Dressing
Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia, 2010
Second Course
Pistachio and Caper Crusted Salmon
Braised Escarole, Cured Lemon, Chorizo Oil
and Cannellini Beans
De Morgenzon “DMZ” Chardonnay, Western Cape, 2010
De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2009
Third Course
Coffee and Vin Cotto Glazed Short Ribs
Caramelized Apples and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
De Morgenzon “DMZ” Shiraz, Western Cape, 2008
Kanonkop Pinotage, Stellenbosch, 2009
Dessert Course
Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
Klein Constantia "Vin de Constance," Constantia, 2006

COST: $75 per person (excludes tax and gratuity)
Reservations required by calling: 617-266-6800

6)  Galloping into town for the second year running this November is the “Horsing Around at the Ritz” Gala benefiting The BiNA Farm, a philanthropic endeavor of Coryn Bina and her husband Babak Bina, co-owner of Lala Rokh, Bin 26 Enoteca and BiNA osteria. A non-profit organization aiding children with cognitive, physical, psychological and developmental challenges, The BiNA Farm provides Equine Assisted Activities & Therapies (EAAT) and integrated programs focused on life skills, music, art, gardening and nature, among many others.

§ Presentation by children from The BiNA Farm’s program, with special video messages from Cam Neely of the Boston Bruins and Senator Scott Brown.

§ Live and silent auction items with proceeds ensuring that children with special needs from all walks of life reap the benefits of The BiNA Farm’s programs through scholarship funding.

§ Remarks from Honorary Chair Keith Lockhart of The Boston Pops.

WHO: The BiNA Farm Founders Babak & Coryn Bina and Terry Snow; Master of Ceremonies
Kim Khazei of Channel 7 News; The BiNA Farm Honorary Chairs Keith & Emiley Lockhart; and The BiNA Farm Board of Directors, including Dr. Barry Zuckerman, Chief of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, and Patty Ribakoff, Co-Chair of Mass General Hospital’s philanthropy program.
WHEN: Saturday, November 12, at 6:30 p.m.
COST: Individual Tickets: $250
Reserve Champ (two tickets): $500
Grand Champ (10 tickets): $2,500
World Champ (10 tickets): $5,000
WHERE: The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common, 10 Avery Street, Boston

7)  On November 2nd, from 7pm-9pm, Stanley Cup champion Shawn Thornton will host a wine social at Towne Stove and Spirits in the Back Bay to benefit the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Joined by his teammates and their significant others, Thornton and his crew will turn the tables and introduce various wine and beer selections alongside hors d’oeuvres by Culinary Director Lydia Shire. Supporters will also enjoy a silent auction and raffle while mingling with Boston’s latest golden team in a relaxed setting.

COST: $50 per ticket (proceeds benefit the ASPCA and include complimentary wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres)
TICKETS: Contact Sports Identity at 617-744-5423.

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