Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events.. **********************************************************
1) Sometimes, you get into a rut. You watch the same type of movie. You choose the same color sweater. Buy the same brand of toothpaste. The Cheese Shop of Concord, with its selection of hundreds of domestic and imported cheeses, won'’t allow its customers get into a cheese rut. In fact, its cheesemongers have compiled this handy guide to sampling new yet similar versions of your favorite cheeses during 2015:

If you like Gorgonzola:
Try locally-made West West Blue. Veteran cheesemaker Peter Dixon makes this two-curd, gorgonzola-style raw cow's milk cheese at Parish Hill Creamery in Westminster West, Vermont. Firm and crumbly in texture, with a rich full flavor and a spicy, tangy finish.

If you like Gruyère:
Try Switzerland’s exclusive Gruyère Alpage. Produced according to a tradition dating back to the year 1115, this raw cow's milk cheese is cooked over an open fire at a minimum altitude of 2,900 feet, from the summertime milk of a single herd. A true example of artisan cheesemaking and ancient tradition, where nature and humans are a team.

If you like Cheddar:
Try their very own Cheese Shop Glory Cheddar, a raw cow's milk cheese made by Cabot and aged at the Jasper Hill Cellars in Vermont especially for The Cheese Shop of Concord. Distinctive for its rich, milky flavor and smooth, creamy texture, this medium-bodied cheddar is a crowd-pleaser.

Like some spunk in your cheese?
Try Casa de Mendevil Velho, a cow’s milk cheese from Minho, Portugal. The rind is washed and covered with a wine-red pepper emulsion, giving the semi-firm cheese a bright and tangy personality and a beautiful appearance.

Like stinky, washed-rind cheese?
Try Ardrahan or Ouleout. Ardrahan is an Irish cow's milk cheese made near County Cork. The paste is rich and soft, and the flavors full, savory and smoky. Ouleout, from Vulto Creamery in Walton, New York, is a soft-ripened cow's milk cheese with a luxurious, silky paste and a deep, round nutty flavor. Pungent additions to any winter cheese plate.

2) Omakase is a Japanese restaurant term meaning “leave it up to us.” In other words, the diner entrusts him or herself to the chef, who uses his knowlede and experience to select and prepare a dish of his choosing, without any specific instructions from the customer. Only a handful of sashimi masters in greater Boston offer omakase, and virtually none of them restrict service by offering only omakase.

This intimate culinary experience combines adventurous dining, performance art, and education. Aka Bistro chef-owner Chris Chung invites omakase fans – whether first-timer or seasoned pro – to join him on Sunday evenings at 5:30 PM for an 8 to 10 course, seasonal omakase menu priced at $135 per person, with two critical caveats:

1) Seats for Sunday night must be reserved by Thursday night
2) Only 8 seats are available for each omakase session

Pricing for omakase excludes MA state sales tax, gratuity, and beverages (chef will suggest pairings with wine, beer, sake or tea). Aka Bistro must be informed of any allergies/dietary restrictions at the time of reservation.

Omakase reservations are being accepted for Sunday, March 8 and beyond. Act fast to get in this intriguing dining experience by calling 781-259-9920.

In addition, on Monday nights, starting March 9, Chef Chung will be serving Shabu-Shabu, a Japanese dish featuring thinly sliced poultry and wild game, beef, or seafood, boiled in broth. The term is derived from the sound made when the ingredients are stirred in theliquid in the cooking pot. The dish is similar to sukiyaki in style; both consist of thinly sliced meat and vegetables and are served with dipping sauces. Shabu-shabu, however, is considered more savory. This dish is designed for sharing and priced at $55 for two.

3) To complement its nearly 120 whiskey selections, Saloon in Somerville’s Davis Square is revamping its menu to satisfy the palates (and stomachs) of the brown liquor faithful. This pre-Prohibition restaurant and bar has designed a new menu that focuses on shareable, hearty cuisine that pairs with its extensive roster of alternative whiskey and scotch selections to create the ultimate social experience.

To start, there are a dozen hors d’oeuvres including: Fried Pickle Chips (panko-crusted dill pickles, sriracha and horseradish ranch dipping sauce - $7); Duck Wings (orange-molasses glaze - $9); Corn Dog (chorizo, sweet potato-corn batter, smoked honey mustard glaze - $8); Three Brandt Beef Slider (onion aioli, bacon, cheddar, LT, B&B Pickles, fries - $15); Lamb Merguez Sausage (spicy pepper, onion relish - $12); Chips Benedict (hand-cut fries, pork belly, fried egg and hollandaise - $9); in addition to an assortment of salads, charcuterie, cheeses, flatbreads and oysters. Saloon also will continue to serve up its signature Devils on Horseback (feta-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon - $9) inspired by a taste in history when the Norsemen invaded England and wore rashers of bacon as armor while on horseback.

For entrees, there are six options that come enveloped in comfort and are a perfect complement to your malt of choice including: Short Rib Pie (red wine, wild mushrooms, root vegetables, puff pastry crust - $18); Chicken Fried Rabbit Leg (cheddar biscuit, kale, sour cream gravy - $18); 1/2 a Bird (half roasted chicken, seasonal vegetables, confit fingerlings, sherry jus - $19); and, the gargantuan Baller’$ $teak (28 oz bone in rib-eye steak, lyonnaise potatoes, market vegetables - $40).

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