Thursday, October 18, 2012

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) AKA Bistro, one of my favorite suburban restaurants, should soon have a full liquor license and will start serving a variety of cocktails.At a public hearing on October 1, their application for a full liquor license was approved so now it heads to the Alcoholic Beverage Comission where it hopefully will also be approved. They are planning to create some Lincoln-themed cocktails including: The 1754 (kaffir lime infused vodka, cucumber, sour mix) and The Sandy Pond (gin, green tea, honey, orange juice). Good luck to them!

2) On Saturday, November 3, from 12pm-2pm, the Seaport will host an interactive cooking class for the holidays. Class attendees will work alongside Seaport’s chefs in the interactive Action Kitchen to create Thanksgiving specialties and side dishes while enjoying tasty bites and beverages. Menu items to include: Sherried Green Beans with Wild Mushrooms, Classic Sweet Potato Casserole,  Traditional Cornbread Dressing,  Fresh Cranberry Relish and the Perfect Gravy. Seaport Beverage Manager Eric Loring will be on-hand to speak to pairing the perfect wines with your holiday meal.

Ticket prices for “Creating a Holiday Meal to Impress Your Guests” are: $75 for one guest or $125 for a couple. Admission includes complimentary self-parking in the Seaport Garage as well as side dishes and recipes to go.

Tickets are available via Eventbrite

3) Doug Bates, President, Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, has announced the dates for Restaurant Week Portsmouth & The Seacoast: November 8-17. The bi-annual culinary event has 49 locally owned restaurants already signed on to participate with special menus and deals. The restaurants and chefs are planning to celebrate the area's seasonal bounty. At each restaurant, a three course lunch will $16.95 while a three course dinner costs $29.95.

I have mixed feelings about these myriad restaurant weeks, as they often times don't offer a stellar experience or food. You have to be really choosy about where you go, as the true gems are not easily found. But some of these newer restaurants weeks lack some of the issues that plague the longer running events, like Boston Restaurant Week. Portsmouth is an up and coming culinary destination, and reminds me in some ways of Portland, Maine. Portsmouth is attracting some very talented culinary talent and it is well worth checking out, so this Restaurant Week gives people a less expensive opportunity to check out the offerings.

My top recommendation for Portsmouth is Moxy, which I recently gave a stellar review. Their Restaurant Week menu is not yet online, but I suspect their offerings will be quite compelling.

4) On Tuesday, October 30, at 6:30pm, haunted happenings will take over Legal Sea Foods. In honor of Halloween, Legal Sea Foods will host a spooktacular “Legal Holiday” a night early in Park Square’s 10,000 bottle wine cellar. The evening will feature small plates and Halloween-themed sips:

Maryland Crab Bisque (Old Bay & curried brioche croutons)
Craggy Range "Fletcher Family" Riesling
Braised Beef Short Ribs (creamy polenta, chanterelle mushroom ragout)
Terlato "Devil's Peak" Meritage Style Blend
Belgian Chocolate Bread Pudding (Chambord cherry compote, chocolate shavings)
Death by Chocolate Martini

Cost: $40 per person (includes tax and gratuity)
Reservation required by calling: 617-426-4444

5) Chef Vittorio Ettore, Chef/Owner of A Tavola, is pleased to announce that Chef Daniel Noonan has recently been appointed as Chef de Cuisine. Chef Daniel Noonan comes to A Tavola from Hamersley’s Bistro, where he worked for over 11 years and was most recently Sous Chef. He strives to emulate Gordon Hamersley’s work ethic and inspiring dedication. As a Chef, Noonan’s top priorities are delivering a great product at a fair price in a timely manner as well as creating two-way communication platforms with his staff and customers. Noonan also admits the three ingredients he could not live without are thyme, olive oil and love. And maybe salt.

Continuing the monthly A Taste of Italy tour at A Tavola, Noonan and Ettore have worked together to create an exclusive menu throughout the month of October. This menu will focus on the Lazio region and the simple pasta and roasted meat dishes that dominate tables throughout Central Italy.

--Caccio e Pepe (Thick Spaghetti with Roman Pecorino and Black Pepper)
--Agnello alla Romana (John Crow Farm Lamb and Roman Style Fava Beans with Mint, Sage and Fennel)
--Castagnaccio (Chestnut Tart with Pine Nuts and Raisins)

The pre fixe Tuscany menu is $45 per person, with regional wine pairing for an additional $20.
Reservations are welcome by calling 781.729.1040

6) is throwing its annual autumn fundraiser on Monday, November 12 at Regattabar from 5:30 to 8:30 PM. Now in its ninth year, Flavors of Fall--co-sponsored by City Square Associates, The Charles Hotel and Cambridge Savings Bank--brings together a dozen of the area's top restaurants in support of a local charity.

This year's beneficiary, The Possible Project, utilizes entrepreneurship to inspire young people who have untapped potential, empowering them with the skills required to achieve enduring personal and professional success--skills like leadership, professionalism, self-confidence, teamwork, and resilience. The Cambridge-based after school program enables high school students to start and run their own businesses, participate in a collaborative work experience, and receive individualized advising on their post-high school pathways.

Returning Cantabrigian restaurants--Rialto, Russell House Tavern, The Blue Room, Bergamot, Garden at the Cellar, Harvest, Henrietta's Table, Sandrine's and UpStairs on the Square--will be showcasing their tasty wares alongside Flavors newcomers like Amelia's Trattoria and recent neighborhood additions Belly and West Bridge. And because hungry do-gooders are bound to get thirsty as well, Brooklyn Beer, Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., Noir Bar and Native Waters will be onsite serving their beer, wine, cocktails and water.

Tickets are available online right now, and the $65 per person ticket price--all of which goes to support the good work of The Possible Project--includes all food and beverages, not to mention a side of jazz courtesy of the Rollo Tomasi Quartet. And once again, J.P Licks will be on hand with their flavorful ice creams and coffees to make sure that you end the night on a sweet note.

Since the first Flavors event in 2004, over $75,000 have been been raised for a wide range of Cambridge-based community organizations. Past beneficiaries have included Tutoring Plus, Community Art Center, Second Chances, CitySprouts, CycleKids, CLSACC, On the Rise, and Project Playgroup. Go to the Flavors of Fall Hall of Fame to learn how these groups are enriching the lives of our neighbors in Cambridge and beyond.

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