Thursday, July 25, 2013

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) The Blue Room and neighbor Bon Me are uniting, on Wednesday, July 31 (rain or shine), from 6pm-9pm, for a collaborative pop-up picnic at the scenic Rings Fountain on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. Guests are invited to lounge on provided blankets and dine picnic-style on a four-course fusion feast prepped in Bon Me’s newest truck.

The collaborative menu includes:
1970s Chicken Galantine with Modern Farm Slaw (The Blue Room)
Chilled Cucumber Soup Shooter (Bon Me)
Bon Me Sandwich with Sweet + Spicy Chinese Sausage (Bon Me + The Blue Room)
Forbidden Rice Pudding (The Blue Room)

Gluten-free and vegetarian options are available if requested in advance by emailing

Cost: Tickets cost $25 per person in advance or $30 at the event. Purchase tickets at

2) Tavolo chef de cuisine Nuno Alves is excited to be taking delivery of a caja china,… a charcoal-fueled cooking box that can roast whole animals outdoors in a 6-foot-long chamber constructed of wood and steel. Culinary historians disagree on its origin but what matters is that caja china cooking requires patience, but results in crisp yet moist meat with little fuss or attention. The caja china’s trial run occurs Wednesday, August 7 at Tavolo’s Porchetta Festival. The porchetta festival features three authentic dishes from the Italian region of Liguria for $25 per person and advance reservations are recommended.  

On the morning of August 7, white-ashed charcoal briquettes will be heaped into the caja china and sealed tight to cook for 5-7 hours with a brined pig from Brambly Farms of Norfolk within. One pig can feed 30 salivating diners generously. Sides might include tiny stuffed peppers, pasta with eggplant, and a pork sausage stuffing fragrant with fennel fronds and seeds.

Tavolo will also hold an annual Gnocchi Fest on Wednesday, August 21. Experience a variety of Venetian recipe gnocchis – from hearty buckwheat versions to delicate egg spheres– combined with local farm vegetables, swordfish, and more. The cost is $25 per person for three courses.

Future Italian festivals coming up are:
Calabrian Hot Pepper Fest on September 4
Apulian Lambrusco Fest on September 18
Tavolo marks its 5 Year Anniversary with a gala party on Sunday, September 22.

3) Chef/Owner Chris Coombs, of Boston Chops, Deuxave and dbar, has teamed up with Smolak FarmsWhim” 2013 to present a dinner on Wednesday, July 31. Whim is a unique “pop up” dining experience held at Smolak Farms every Wednesday evening from July 10 through August 21 where some of New England’s best chefs prepare a three-course dinner in the Smolak Farms Pine Grove. Guests enjoy beer, wine and cocktails and a seated three-course dinner under the tent in the pine grove. Notch Brewing Company will also be on site sampling beer and offering a wide selection of their delicious, local craft beer for purchase.

Coombs’ one time menu will include:
First Course: Cucumber Soup with Marinated Shrimp, Lemon Creme Fraiche, Crouton
Second Course: Two Hour Egg, Orecchiette, Grilled Kale, Summer Squashes, Parmesian
Third Course: House made Sausage, Warm Potato Salad, Basil Pistou, Peach and Sweet Pepper Relish
Fourth Course: Blueberry Cobbler

Check in and cocktails begins at 6 pm and Dinner begins at 7 pm
Cost: $69 per person (includes tax), beverages and gratuity not included. There is one 3-course menu presented by the chef: no substitutions. Dinner is held rain or shine, no refunds after purchase. Wine, beer and soda will be available for purchase. (No BYOB allowed). Dress is casual. Tickets must be purchased in advance at

4) Rather than the usual Restaurant Week menu, Piattini will be serving a multi-course family-style Italian Wine Dinner on Monday, August 19, 2013 at 6:30pm. Piattini will be joined by Francesco Calderaro from Winebow Boston as they wine and dine guests through an exciting 3-course tour of Italy. For $35 per person (+tax and gratuity), guests will get to try two antipasti and two entrées served family-style, each paired with a different Italian wine. Known for its educational wine program, Piattini and Carderaro will educate guests on the ins and outs of pairing Italian cuisine and wine, and everyone will leave with a wine card detailing the region, tasting notes, and other pertinent information of each poured wine.

First course (shared)
Arugula (Seasoned, chopped fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, arugula, Parmigiano reggiano, lemon-oil dressing)
Polpo alla Griglia (Grilled marinated baby octopus, white cannellini bean salad, myer lemon drizzle)
Wine: Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2012
Second Course (shared)
Bolognese (Homemade fussilli, traditional meat ragout)
Stracotto di Manzo (Braised Short ribs, glazed onions, parsnip puree)
Wine: Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2009 Veneto
Vanilla Almond Panna cotta
Wine: Bera Moscato di Asti DOCG 2012
Aromas of fresh grapes, honey, white flowers and orange blossoms.

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