Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new special Wednesday edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events. As tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I moved up this column this week.
1) On Saturday, December 10, Pastry Chef Robert Differ of Mandarin Oriental, Boston invites pastry enthusiasts for an intimate and festive Holiday Pastry Decorating Workshop. This one hour and 30 minute hands-on class will feature tips and techniques required for mastering the art of holiday cake decorating.

Upon arrival, guests will sip a complimentary glass of sparkling prosecco or a rich cup of homemade hot cocoa while Chef Differ showcases how to bring each cake to life. Students will be provided with a freshly-baked chocolate present cake, filled with Italian buttercream, pre-wrapped with a choice of red or green fondant. Working with a variety of mediums, students will learn how to prepare, create and attach fondant bows and personalized gift tags made out of professional modeling chocolate. In addition, Chef Differ will also demonstrate how to use edible markers, festive cutouts and gold paint detailing to decorate and enhance each unique design.

After crafting these elaborate cake confections, guests will be able to bring their sweet masterpiece home to share with friends and family.

Chef Differ’s Holiday Pastry Decorating Workshop will begin at 10:30 A.M. and is available for $95 per person.
For more information or to make a class reservation please visit (

2) Chef Dante de Magistris and his brothers Filippo and Damian are thrilled to share the launch of Sunday Brunch at il Casale Cucina Italiana in Belmont. Having just started on Sunday, November 20, Chef Dante de Magistris and his brothers offer Sunday Brunch service from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Brunch-goers can enjoy the de Magistris’ spin on the classics with exclusive Brunch Beverages, Colazione Dolce (Sweet Breakfast), Colazione Salata (Savory Breakfast), Le Uova (Eggs) and Pranzo di Domenica (Sunday Lunch) options.

The menu opens with a selection of wines by the glass and brunch beverages carefully crafted by Co-Owner Damian de Magistris such as the bloody Mary with il Casale’s proprietary fra diavola mix and castelvetrano olives and the “cream no sugar” with earl gray iced tea, Kahlua, Frangelico, nardini amaro.

Standouts from the Colazione Dolce section include fritelle all’ Americana, traditional buttermilk pancakes, Vermont maple syrup and toast...alla Francese, brioche French toast, cinnamon vanilla batter, gelato butter, crispy pancetta. The Colazione Salata section features the S.L.T. with Nova Scotia smoked salmon, lettuce & tomato bruschetta, mascarpone rosemary fries. A robust section of Le Uova celebrates everyone’s favorite brunch staple with Uova in “purgatorio,” fried eggs in “purgatory” with spicy tomato sugo and four versions of Benedetto (tradizionale with crispy pancetta, Fiorentina with sautéed spinach, carne with sliced steak, granchio with house made crab cakes) all served on il Casale’s signature Pugliese bread with grilled lemon hollandaise and home fries.

The Pranzo di Domenica section of the menu includes il Casale Cucina Italiana’s most popular pasta dishes tagliatelle alla Bolognese, classic meat ragù from Emilia Romagna and chitarra alla carbonara, soft onions, guanciale, Pecorino Romano D.O.P. in addition to pesce spada alla Siciliana, blackened swordfish Sicilian style, eggplant caponata and pollo alla marengo, sauteed chicken breast, crispy pancetta, fried eggs, mushroom cream sauce.

WHEN: Sunday 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling 617-209-4942

3) Said to be superior in taste, large format wines are classified as anything more than 1.5 liters (the equivalent of two bottles of wine), and over 150 bottles are now once again available in 1.5, 3, 5 and even 6 (equivalent to 8 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. 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. Due to the size and rarity of these bottles they do not ship Large Bottle Formats.

4) Chef and Restaurateur Michael Schlow is excited to announce that Chef Brendan Pelley will join him as the new Chef de Cuisine at his Greek inspired restaurant, Doretta Taverna and Raw Bar. Pelley’s Greek heritage, deep understanding of Mediterranean cuisine, and his innovative style will bring a new added dimension to the popular Back Bay restaurant.

Most recently known for his successful year-long run of Greek pop-up Pelekasis at Wink & Nod, Chef Pelley honed his craft working in some of the top kitchens across greater Boston, including Ken Oringer’s Clio, and Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier’s Summer Winter. Brendan then went on to hold the sous and pastry chef positions at Tryst Bistro, where he refined his knowledge of classic French technique . After Tryst, Pelley went on to perfect his skills of food and wine pairing as chef de cuisine of the Stonehedge Inn & Spa in Tyngsboro prior to taking over at Zebra's Bistro in Medfield.

I’ve been a fan of Brendan’s cooking for a long time,” says Schlow. “I’m impressed by his knowledge and dedication to the beautiful cuisine of Greece; he’s the perfect match for Doretta and I’m excited to get the opportunity to work with him.”

The culinary synergy between Schlow and Pelley is already evident in new menu items and the two chefs will of course continue to offer the classic Greek dishes that Doretta has already become known for.  Chef Pelley shares Schlow’s excitement on the collaboration, “With Doretta, I've really found the perfect stage for my cooking...a beautiful space and perfect location, a passionate and excited service staff, an amazing kitchen and the support and guidance of a world-renowned chef in Michael.”

Some of the new menu items that Chef Pelley worked with Chef Schlow to introduce to the Doretta menu include new takes on gyros on the lunch menu, an expanded raw bar selection, and items such as: Braised lamb neck kritharaki (orzo) with mizithra cheese and dehydrated kalamata olive breadcrumbs, Harissa roasted carrots with onion ash yogurt, Crispy Brussels sprouts with Krokos (Greek saffron) aioli, and seared scallops with chickpea caper and parsley salad, citrus emulsion and crispy grape leaf.

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