Thursday, November 12, 2020

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I'm back again with a new edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events. For now, some of these events will simply be the opening of certain restaurants, generally ones dear to my heart for a variety of reasons. And I hope everyone dines out safely, and tips well. 
1) NECAT (New England Center for Arts & Technology) is one of my favorite causes. In short, NECAT provides culinary training to students who have had troubles or disadvantages in their past, such as drug addiction or incarceration. You can check out my previous article, Support NECAT & Transform Lives, for more background information on NECAT and their mission.

Due to the pandemic, NECAT has been struck hard, having to cancel all of their in-person fundraising events this year. Fortunately, since July, they have been open and training students, with plenty of protocols in place to ensure the safest possible environment. For example, they have reduced class sizes, reorganized their spacious center, and are working in shifts to ensure that social distancing measures are closely followed.  

Since the pandemic, they've graduated 50 trainees, and even with the pandemic problems for many restaurants, there are still essential food service jobs in hospitals, care facilities, and supermarkets where prepared meals are made. These are the jobs that their graduates are securing.  

However, to continue this great work, NECAT needs more donations, and every dollar counts. As one way to make up for the cancelation of their public fund-0raising events, they are now offering virtual Dinner Parties throughout the autumn and winter. As they states, "It's an opportunity to combine eating, socializing, and team-building without breaking any safety rules." So, please check out their Virtual Teambuilding & Cooking Classes.  

How does it work?
     1) Menu & Ingredients: You select a recipe and wine pairing with the help of one of their talented chefs. Ingredients will be shipped directly to all participants in advance to make prep quick and easy (no shopping necessary). *
     2) Invitation: NECAT will provide the email invitation and prep instructions to your participants once you provide contact names, emails and shipping addresses.
     3) Lesson: Your team will be instructed by an experienced NECAT chef. The format is interactive and informal, as your participants cook along with their chef, ask questions and see your dinner come together.
     4) Enjoy! Eat, drink, and be merry together. 

Benefits & Menu Options
     For $10,000: 12 participants: includes all ingredients, one bottle of wine, appetizer and dessert shipped directly to each participant or couple; Choose from Premium menu options; Prominent acknowledgement on all NECAT’s social media platforms; Permanent sponsor acknowledgement at NECAT
     For $5,000: 12 participants (Ingredients purchased by participants); Choose from Premium menu options; Prominent acknowledgment on all NECAT’s social media platforms; Permanent sponsor acknowledgement at NECAT

Base Menu Options: 
--Beef Tenderloin with Lobster Tail (In a béarnaise sauce with haricots verts) 
--Veal Chop in a reduction sauce (With parsnip pear purée and roasted brussel sprouts) 
--Scallop Risotto (With roasted asparagus) 
--Cioppino (Italian Seafood Stew) (With pistou crostini) 

To reserve a date or obtain additional information, please contact Jessica Williamson at 

And if you can't afford one of these virtual Dinner Parties, please consider a monetary donation to NECAT anyway. It's a great cause, helping the community, and they need every dollar they can get.

2) Will Gilson and his Puritan & Company team’s second dining concept, The Lexington, at Cambridge Crossing (CX) just opened yesterday. The Lexington is a cocktail bar and restaurant with a rooftop terrace overlooking the Common at CX in a building referred to as The Shed. 

This has been our passion project for about two years now. We are thrilled to introduce three distinct concepts at Cambridge Crossing; Café Beatrice which is an all-day café with Pastry Genius Brian Mercury at the helm, The Lexington which is our second floor restaurant and bar featuring a rooftop terrace and Geppetto, our Italian concept that is opening in 2021,” said Chef/Owner Will Gilson. “We are opening each venue in phases, starting with Café Beatrice and followed by The Lexington with Geppetto to follow at a later date. Our intention was to give our guests something for every daypart to fit into their lives.”

Open from 4:00pm until 10pm every Tuesday through Saturday, The Lexington will be a second-floor restaurant at the Lexington with a rooftop bar where guests can enjoy a quick bite with friends, a date night, or an approachable dinner on the large rooftop patio terrace that overlooks the Common at CX. The restaurant also has accordion-style doors that open onto the spacious patio offering an al fresco dining option.

Guests will be able to imbibe in crafted drinks and a locally-sourced food menu, with a menu created by Gilson and his team. There will be a “snacks” section of the menu which has items such as baked stuffed clams, onion dip and homemade potato chips. The “appetizer” section of the menu will include crab cakes, Swedish Meatballs and scallop crudo. There will be a salad component and entrees will include glazed short ribs, fish and chips, grilled salmon and wild mushroom lasagna. There will also be a fried scallop roll, a lobster roll served hot and buttered or with mayo, and a Prime Burger with Dukes mayo, pickles, Maine tomato, Gruyere and American Cheese.

The Lexington has a private dining room that seats 40 guests with AV capabilities and two Smart TV’s, a main dining room and bar that seats 75 guests and a rooftop terrace that accommodates 55 guests.  The roof deck terrace has large, retractable doors that open up the space for an open-air flow. There is a 25-seat stone and painted shiplap bar that curves through the space to the second-floor open kitchen. 

3) Previously, I mentioned that the Alpine Restaurant Group had announced that its Mexican kitchen and tequila bar, The Painted Burro, would bring tacos, margaritas, and other mouth-watering dishes to Posto Bedford at a festive pop-up event from October 26th through November 9th.  

The collaboration between Posto Bedford and The Painted Burro featured an expansive takeout menu including pizzas, pasta, tacos, margaritas, and kid’s meals. For example, there were Appetizers like Nachos con Chorizo De La Casa and Cholo Corn Cob. There will be 6 Tacos, such as Gulf Shrimp Diablo and Pork Carnitas. In addition, there were b3 Entrees, such as Roasted Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas and Fajitas.

Now, it has been announced, due to its popularity, that this collaboration will continue throughout the Winter. So, there's plenty of time to get to Posto and have some of the tasty Painted Burro cuisine. For reservations, please call (781) 271-9100 or visit to schedule an online reservation. 

4) "...a cake called "baklava"which is toothsome enough to have been born in the kitchen of Paris's famous Petit Vefour. The paste for baklava is rolled into sheets as thin as as paper, and forty are used for one cake. Between each leaf of pastry is laid a thin coating of of pounded almonds and pistache nuts delicately flavored with rose water."
--St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), October 7, 1894

November 17 is National Baklava Day and one way to celebrate would be with a visit to Newton’s Greek restaurant, Farm Grill and Rotisserie Baklava, made with multiple layers of filo dough and chopped nuts, and soaked in sweet syrup, is a compelling ending to a traditional Greek meal.

Farm Grill’s baklava is based on the recipes that owner Alex Iliades has known and savored since childhood. “An authentic Greek meal just isn’t complete without dessert,” said Alex. “We know diners love our baklava and we are ready to welcome them on November 17, when we’ll be well stocked!

Baklava is one of a number of home-made treats that Farm Grill diners can enjoy. Others include orange pie, rice pudding, galaktoboureko (custard in filo), koulourakia (Greek Easter cookies, popular year round), melomakarona (Greek Christmas honey cookies), kataifi (similar to baklava, with “shredded filo”), coconut macaroons and more.

Farm Grill, located at 40 Needham Street in Newton, is open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 8pm. Customers can eat in or request takeout, curbside pickup or delivery. Order online or call 617-964-7766.

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