Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting wine and food items that are upcoming. **********************************************************
1) Horse-drawn coaches carrying travelers from Hartford to Albany in the mid-1700s often paused at an inn on the town green here for a whiskey and a good night’s sleep. Today, The Old Inn on the Green remains much as it was then, with its wide pine floorboards, multiple fireplaces, and candle lit dining rooms. Under the auspices of innkeepers Peter Platt and Meredith Kennard, the inn’s nods to modern life include a swimming pool, Frette linens, air conditioning, in-room Jacuzzis, Wi-Fi and satellite TV. The Old Inn on the Green’s inventive American cuisine has won a number of awards, and Yankee Magazine named The Old Inn on the Green the #1 historic inn in New England.

This week, The Old Inn on the Green unveils a renovated taproom on its premises, created to meet the 2014 needs of both travelers and local guests. The renovated taproom features a bar top crafted from locally mined schist, custom designed pine shelving, paneling and cabinetry, and handmade barstools fashioned from local ash trees and hickory. It’s a look that fits seamlessly into the circa 1760 inn, thanks to 12 months of respectful attention from an historic preservation architect, a local master cabinetmaker, and a wise and seasoned builder. Classic cocktails, local draught and bottled beer, and an extensive wine list make the new, 7-seat taproom a welcoming stop

2) On Saturday, December 13, Santa Claus will be paying Harvard Square a special visit at Beat Brasserie aka Beat Hôtel for its second annual family-friendly Santa brunch from 10am-3pm. Guests of the Santa Brunch can count on food and drink from Chef Ignacio Lopez, live holiday music from Bobby Keyes, photo opportunities and mingling and jingling with the big man himself...Santa Claus!

The Beat’s Executive Chef Ignacio Lopez will serve a  selection of brunch fare such as quiche made with Tuscan kale, sundried tomato & goat cheese served with a house salad ($14.50), wild flower honey & lemon pancakes with wild blueberry compote ($14) and eggs shakshuka, poached eggs, north african tomato sauce, peppers and polenta ($14.50) while children can order scrumptious selections off the “Flower Children” menu including kiddie scrambled eggs & toast ($7.50), grilled cheese ($7.50) and pancakes ($7.50).

While the little ones are running around with Santa, parents can have a hand-crafted cocktails such as the Electric Sidecar, Clear Creek apple brandy, Fruit Lab orange organic liqueur and sour mix ($12) or the Purple Door, Tito’s vodka, blueberry puree, and real maple syrup ($12). Wine enthusiasts can warm up with one of Beat’s 32 American artisanal wines on tap. Guitarist Bobby Keyes will get everyone in the holiday spirit with a live performance featuring holiday tunes from his new Christmas album.

This is an event for kids of all ages. Santa will be available for photos opportunities, but cameras will not be provided. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 617-499-0001. Regular brunch pricing and specials offered. No cover charge.

3) Known to be superior in taste, large format wine bottles are classified as anything more than 1.5 liters (the equivalent of two bottles of wine), and over 150 bottles are now available in 1.5, 3, 5, 6 and even 9 (equivalent to 12 bottles of 750ml wine) liter bottles at The Wine ConneXtion, located in North Andover.

Every year, Sam and Tina Messina, siblings and co-owners of The Wine ConneXtion, set out in search for rare, large format wines produced by some of the most prestigious wineries-- and each year, their quest is unpredictable. Every large format wine is hand-bottled which makes production limited, and their availability rare. Bottles that do make it to the retail stores are found few and far between, and when they are available, are usually scooped up by wine enthusiasts who want to add them to their prized wine collections.

This year, The Wine ConneXtion searched far and wide to acquire the largest selection of large format wines in New England. Nowhere else can you find such a vast assortment of large format wine, many of which were special ordered directly from the wineries and include older vintage wines that do not exist in the 750ml format today. Offering everything from 1.5, 3, 5, 6 and even 9 liter bottles, The Wine ConneXtion’s collection of large format wines is the Holy Grail for any vino lover. More than just a bold statement, large format bottles add a unique touch to dinner parties and make an impressive gift for both avid wine collectors and those hard-to-buy-for friends! Quantities are extremely limited, so stop by The Wine ConneXtion while supplies last. Visit for an updated list of available bottles.

4) On December 8, at 6:30pm, Legal Harborside will team up with Lacey Burke, Brand Ambassador of Ruinart, for a four-plus-course champagne dinner. Producing champagne since 1792, Ruinart is the oldest established champagne house in the world. Founded by Nicolas Ruinart in the renowned region in the city of Reims, the house is today owned by the parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA. With the Chardonnay blend at the very soul of Ruinart, its fresh aromas, vivacity and purity, are is evident in all cuvée varietals. The delicate grape will only display the full breadth of its aromatic richness after a slow maturation in the coolness of the Ruinart cellars. The maturation process is a true testament of the Cellar Master's skill, required to tame and highlight this sometimes fickle grape. Brightness, intensity and elegance are only a few combinations of the unique traits that reside in the celebrated “Ruinart Taste."

The menu will be presented as follows:

Quail Egg, Caviar, Crème Fraîche, Dill
Black Forest Ham, Gruyére Croquette
Scallop Crudo, Lemongrass Gelée, Red Fresno, Madras Curry
Baked Oyster, Creamed Leeks, Pernod, Brioche Crumbs
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, NV
Hudson Valley Duck Terrine (Duck Liver Mousse, Duck Rillette, Red Currant Gelée, Blood Orange Honey)
Ruinart Brut Rosé, NV
Butter Poached Maine Lobster (Sauce Américaine, Puff Pastry, Upland Cress, Tarragon Essence)
Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, 2004
Yuzu and Elderflower Sorbet (Finished With a Touch of Herbsaint)
Slow Roasted Loch Duart Salmon (Mushroom Consommé, Braised Swiss Chard, Roasted Quince)
Dom Ruinart Rosé, 1998
Lychee Pudding Cake (Strawberry Pink Peppercorn, Coconut Compote)

COST: $165 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
Reservation required by calling 617-530-9470

5) The 3rd Annual Christmas in the City Kick-Off & Celebrity Holiday Tree Auction event will be Wednesday, December 3, from 6pm-8pm, at the Seaport Hotel. The evening will feature an auction of Christmas trees lit and fully decorated by the Black and Gold’s left wing, #17 - Milan Lucic as well as a “Boston Strong” tree in memory of Mayor Thomas Menino – who was a huge supporter of Christmas in the City for over 20 years. 100% of money raised from this event will go to Christmas in the City, including ticket sales.

The Seaport Hotel will be providing tasty nibbles and a cash bar for guests to enjoy during the event; the hotel will again serve as a toy drop-off location for Christmas in the City, beginning November 25th. You can literally valet your toys, by pulling up to the valet and either handing them off or running them in to the lobby yourself, to make donating quick and easy. Celebrity guests include Santa Claus and Jake & Sparky Kennedy (founders of Christmas in the City) in addition to the many supporters of Christmas in the City.

Christmas in the City, a 100% volunteer organization, will hold its 26th Annual Holiday Party this year and is expecting to serve thousands more children this year – so they need more support than ever to meet the need. 5,000 children living in shelters, hotels or transitional housing will attend the celebration with their Mom or guardian. The following day, Christmas in the City will give out toys and clothing, serving 12,000 more children whose families have fallen on hard times and otherwise might find nothing under the tree.

Admission price is a donation of $20. Guests are also asked to please bring ONE toy to donate.
Tickets are available at

6) Are you ready to go whole hog? Join the Grafton Group on December 9, from 6pm-9pm, for the first-ever “Heads to Tails Privateer Pig Dinner” at Russell House Tavern. Chef Tom Borgia is prepared to treat your taste buds to a six-course feast featuring local heritage hog from Brambly Farms in Norfolk. Each course has been paired with a handcrafted Privateer Rum (also made in MA) cocktail – shaken or stirred to perfection by Bar Manager Ashish Mitra and guaranteed to keep you refreshed all evening long.

The Menu is as follows:

Course 1
Blackstrap Cured B.L.T. (House-Cured Bacon, Smoked Tomato, Peppercress)
Ipswich Daiquiri (Privateer Silver Reserve Rum, Lime, Celery Juice, Real Sugar Simple, Celery Bitters)
Course 2
Nantucket Bay Scallop Ceviche (Crispy Pig Skin, Yuzu, Melon)
Maggie’s Daisy (Cilantro & Chive Infused Privateer Silver Reserve Rum, Yuzu, Melon, Velvet Falernum, Rhubarb Bitters, Salt)
Course 3
Curried Clam and Pork Belly Chowder (Steamed Littlenecks, Braised Pork Belly, Pink Peppercorn)
Shave and A Haircut (House-Spiced Privateer True American Amber Rum, Cola Syrup, Harpoon Boston Irish Stout)
Course 4
House-Salted Cod and Chorizo Doubles (Garbanzos, House-Made Chorizo, Shaved Spanish Chorizo, Fried Dough, Pickled Shallot)
Mary Pickford (Privateer Silver Reserve Rum, Pineapple, House Grenadine, Maraschino)
Course 5
Pork Shoulder Aji Mojo (Braised Calilou, Macomber Turnip Puree)
Rum Bronx (Privateer True American Amber Rum, Sweet and Dry Vermouth, Orange Juice)
Boozey Black Cake (Jamaican Allspice Ice Cream)
Winter’s Sting (House-Spiced Privateer True American Amber Rum, Giffard Menthe-Pastille, Orange)

COST: $75 including tax and gratuity. Tickets are limited,

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