Thursday, November 14, 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 Salty Pig announces the introduction of a new pasta program. Showcasing the talents of Executive Chef Kevin O’Donnell and Sous Chef Michael Lombardi - both of whom worked in Italy and at Mario Batali’s Del Posto - the menu now features a rotating selection of pastas and Italian-influenced starters and mains.

Not only will The Salty Pig make all pasta in-house, but it will also produce pasta for sister restaurants Coda Bar & Kitchen and Canary Square, averaging about 50 pounds per week. Three different types are currently featured on the menu: a buckwheat pappardelle with rabbit and local cabbage, cavatelli with sausage, broccoli, and chili, and tonnarelli with pecorino, black pepper, and olive oil.

The Salty Pig has also introduced a new weekly concept, Red Sauce Sundays, created to give guests a fun yet affordable dining experience. Each Sunday, the restaurant will transform into a throwback Italian joint reminiscent of the good ol’ days with red checkered tablecloths, candles, and the smooth sounds of Sinatra. The menu will feature a rotating selection of Italo-American crowd-pleasing classics made with high quality ingredients and The Salty Pig’s touch including marinated house made mozzarella, bolognese, eggplant parmesan, and chicken piccata.

2) As fall segues to winter, Ashmont Grill’ has changed their menus to match the seasons. That includes the following:

Spicy Smoked Pork Tacos, tomatillo salsa, cotija, cilantro crema
Oyster Pan Roast – an Acadian recipe that adds the heat of chourizo broth to shucked oysters; sop ‘em up with tarragon-parmesan toasts
Mark’s Charcuterie Board – meats and cheeses change often, but this will always feature the snappiest housemade pickle in Boston
Roast Delicata Squash stuffed with pumpkin-cranberry farro
Lemony Braised Pork Shank with grilled Napa cabbage
Beef Tongue & Kimchee Sandwich (with cheddar, avocado and fries)
Salted Caramel Parfait with almond shortbread streusel, candied almonds
Clare's Ice Cream Sandwich of the Month: roasted banana chip ice cream with peanut butter cookie
Dorchester’s own beer: Percival Brewing Company’s DOT ALE 1630
The Hot & Dirty: hand-stuffed blue cheese olives, brine and Tabasco, with Ketel One

Three unique events are also coming up at Ashmont Grill:
Sunday, November 24: Moustache Brunch
A hair-raising benefit, with proceeds donated to the Codman Square Health Center
Monday, December 2: Five Course Beringer Wine Dinner
$65 per person, by reservation only.
Sunday, December 15: Ugly Christmas Sweater Brunch
Everyone’s got one; we wanna see ‘em. Come wearing yours and you could win a prize.

3) Each year, on the first Thursday in December at 3:30 PM, residents of all ages in Concord assemble on Walden Street for the arrival of the largest wheel of Italian cheese in North America. This year, the date is December 5. The annual Crucolo Cheese Parade attracts over 1,000 adults and children, attracted to a spectacle that includes:

--The arrival down the town’s main commercial street, by horse-drawn cart, of a 400 lb. wheel of Crucolo cheese, equal in diameter to a 3-year-old child.
--The Crucolo is accompanied by a member of the Purin family, makers of Crucolo for the past 250 years. Its trip began in Scurelle, a town in the mountains of Trentino, Italy, where the cheese is made especially for this event.
--The Crucolo Dancers, a troupe of exuberant Concord Academy teenagers, prance down the street in advance of the cheese. Simultaneously, the cheese is loudly serenaded by an Italian chorale group, while 1,000 excited onlookers brandish Italian flags.
--A proclamation announcing Crucolo Day in Concord is read, Occupy Wall Street-style; a human megaphone echoing in English and Italian.
--The Crucolo is rolled from the horse cart to a stage, as if bridging the Old World with the New World. It is then cut, sliced and distributed to the hungry crowd.

On the sidewalk people pose with the giant cheese, while inside The Concord Cheese Shop, cheese-lovers clamor to purchase Crucolo, which retails for about $20/lb. The entire 400-lb. wheel will be sold before Christmas.

The Crucolo parade is free and open to the public.

4) On Tuesday, December 3, at 6:30pm, Piattini, located on Newbury Street, is hosting a special tasting of rare and unusual Italian cheeses. Owner Josephine Oliviero Megwa will be joined by cheese extraordinaire Mark Sutherland of WB Cheese, and the two will lead an intimate tasting in Piattini’s private dining room. Guests will learn about the ancient cheese-making methods that are still used today and will even have a chance to make their own fresh mozzarella. Sutherland will bring with him a rare and unusual selection of imported Italian cheeses and as guest’s sample the different varieties he’ll explain the different nuances and tasting notes of each.

Piattini’s cheese tasting is $30 per person (tax and gratuity not included), and for an additional $15 guests can sip on perfectly paired wines for each cheese selection. Space is limited and reservations are required by calling Piattini at 617-536-2020.

5) Do you feel lucky? Want to win a free dinner? Laurie’s 9:09, located in Wakefield, will begin offering a new Wednesday night special that gives customers the chance to eat for free with the flip of a coin. Every Wednesday evening, starting November 13, guests will be presented their bill at the end of the meal and the waiter will flip a coin and the guests will be allowed to call “heads” or “tails.” If they guess correctly their dinner is completely free. If they guess incorrectly they will be required to pay their bill. There are no party size restrictions on this offer and all are welcomed in to try their luck.

We’re still a pretty new restaurant and while Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are very busy, we still want to give people a fun reason to come in and enjoy our place mid-week. When thinking of a fun promotion I tried to think of what would make me want to come out on a Wednesday night. The idea of getting it all for free seemed like a big motivator to me,” said Chef/Owner, Laurie Rizzo.

The promotion is not valid for takeout, excludes alcohol and you are asked to still tip on the total amount of the bill that is complimentary should you win the coin flip.

6) On Monday and Tuesday November 25 and 26, 2013, Rolling Stones band members Tim Reis, Bernard Fowler and Darryl Jones will be performing songs off of Reis’s album “The Rolling Stones Project,” at the newly opened Beat Hôtel located in Harvard Square, for a once-in-a-lifetime iconic performance. From 9pm-12am, the former Rolling Stones band members will play an assortment of Stones classics as guests enjoy food from Executive Chef Rebecca Newell and sip on cocktail specials from Ketel One and Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Tim Reis, one of the one of the most sought after soloists, composers, and arrangers in the music business, had the opportunity to play the keyboard and horn while touring with The Rolling Stones in 1999. Following the tour, Reis began work on his album and realized that a lot of The Stones music had “great potential for jazz arrangements,” and thus, “The Rolling Stones Project” was formed. The project features guests like Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones and original Stones members Keith Richards and Charlie Watts. Since their first live performance in 2004, The Rolling Stones Project toured the world playing in prestigious venues and festivals including Toronto Jazz Festival, The Stockholm Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scotts in London and The Melbourne Jazz Festival.

Reis will be joined on stage at Beat Hôtel by Rolling Stones backup vocalist Bernard Fowler and bassist Darryl Jones. Fowler’s relationship with the Stones began when he sang back up vocals for Mick Jagger on his solo album “She’s the Boss.” Proving his stamina and soulful talent, Fowler joined The Rolling Stones and has since toured with them as a backup vocalist and worked with Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards on their solo projects, also appearing on their albums and tours.

Much like Reis and Fowler, Darryl Jones has the same extraordinary experience. Jones has appeared on over 30 albums and worked with an astounding list of accomplished artists including Yoko Ono, Robert Plant, Pearl Jam, The Neville Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Duran Duran and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to name a few. In 1994 he was asked to join The Rolling Stones as a bassist, replacing Bill Wyman and he has been with them ever since.

To make a reservation or for more information please call 617-499-0001

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