Thursday, May 30, 2024

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I'm back again with a new edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food and drink events. I hope everyone dines out safely, tips well and are nice to their servers.
1) Summer in New England wouldn't be complete without enjoying a Lobster Roll or two. Do you prefer warm, butter poached lobster or chilled lobster with a bit of mayo? Now through Labor Day, Banners Kitchen & Tap  has a compelling, and very reasonably priced, lobster roll special. Get one Northern Atlantic Lobster roll and a beer for only $20 or make it a double play and get two lobster rolls and a beer for $35. For the first few weeks, your beer choice will likely be a Narraganset or Gansett Del’s Lemonade Shandy

In addition to the lobster roll, Banners menu features upscale tavern cuisine, classic game-day menu staples, healthy alternatives, a children’s menu, and other dinner offerings. Banners offers 40 tap lines of local and regional craft beer, including fresh IPAs and barrel-aged stouts, which rotate frequently for a new selection upon each visit.

And on their regular menu, you'll find the following:
Connected Lobster Roll: Butter poached on a brioche roll & fries ($15).
Classic NE Chilled Lobster Roll: lemon garlic aioli, claw & knuckle, scallion, brioche bun & fries ($15) 

2) Calling all donut lovers! National Donut Day, with origins extending back to 1938, is approaching on Friday, June 7th, and Kane’s Donuts is ready to celebrate. With a purchase of a dozen donuts, Kane's will offer customers a small cup of Stella Blue Coffee and a donut. This will take place at all three of Kane’s locations. June will also see Kane's new monthly donut flavors.

3) On Friday, May 31, from 6:30pm-8pm, join Commonwealth Wine School as they join forces with Harvard Square's Oggi Gourmet for a spectacular food and wine pairing session. Guests will sample a range of treats created by Chef Steve and his team at Oggi Gourmet, along with matched wines, as participants learn the secrets of food and wine pairings from Commonwealth Wine School's own Adam Centamore. This evening of food and wine pairings will take place at Oggi Gourmet at 30 Dunster Street in Harvard Square, just across the street from Commonwealth Wine School 

Ticket Pricing includes $65 for a variety of wines, tasty treats from Oggi, and wine and food education from CWS. All participants must be at least 21 years old. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite

Monday, May 27, 2024

In Honor Of Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a time to honor all of the valued people who died while serving in the U.S. military. Though it only became a federal holiday in 1971, its roots reach back to 1868, after the Civil War, when it was known as Decoration Day. On that first day, about 20,000 Union and Confederate graves at the Arlington National Cemetery were decorated. 

For almost 40 years, this holiday only commemorated those who died during the Civil War. However, during World War I, this holiday expanded to include commemorating all U.S. service personnel who died in any war.

Although today is also seen by many as the usual start of summer, and a time for parties and grilling, please take a little time to reflect on the meaning of the day, and to give thanks to all those service personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. 

Unfortunately, each year, the total number of those who make that sacrifice continues to grow. From 1980 to 2022, an annual average of about 1400 Americans, on active military duty, died. Thus, this isn't just a remembrance of the past, but also reflects what is still going on around the world.

I strongly urge you to check out the touching words of my friend Fred Minnick, who does a much better job than I talking about Memorial Day.

(There is no Rant today in honor of Memorial Day.)

Monday, May 20, 2024

Rant: The Heat Death of Wine

Although it's still Spring, temperatures this week could rise to the high 80s, a toasty heat. This seems like an excellent time to repeat a vinous warning, a caution to protect your wine from such high temperatures. 

We often hear how we should stay hydrated, use sun screen, and otherwise protect ourselves from the intense sun and heat. We also hear how we shouldn't leave children or pets in a hot car, even if the window is open a bit. 

However, how often do you hear that you should protect your wine from intense heat as well?

It should be illegal, the torture of an innocent wine bottle by the application of intense heat. It's also a far too common crime during the summer season. Please stop this cruel practice, and persuade others to give it up as well. Do you really want to lose that bottle of wine you recently bought? Please save the gentle wine bottle.

Summer is the time for travel, and maybe you'll visit a wine shop or winery. You might buy some wine and then need to transport it with you. Often, the wine is just placed into the trunk, and you might leave it there while you travel quite a distance, or just store it there for a couple days while you are away. You need to realize that your trunk can get very hot and that heat can adversely affect your wine. It needs protection, just like you, your children, or pets.

When I travel, I often bring my metal wine case, which is insulated and holds a dozen bottles of wine. Thus, I can safely transport my wines and it has been invaluable on long trips. You don't need to purchase such a case, though if you often buy wine it can be a good investment. Instead, you can carry some other type of insulated bag, box or other container, the same type you would use to transport frozen food or other perishables. You need to protect the wine from the heat, keeping it at a cooler temperature.

An insulated container has other uses too if you travel. You might find some food you wish to take home, and that too can be protected on your long drive home. How many times have you stopped at a farmer's market or food shop, and wanted to buy something but worried about it surviving the journey home? An insulated container will resolve that issue.

It's an easy solution to a rampant problem. Save the wine bottle from the heat, so that you don't come home and find your wine is ruined. Cherish the insulated container.

I'll also add that you need to protect your wine at home from intense heat as well. Where do you store your wine at home? Some just place them in open racks in their kitchen or dining room. If those rooms get too hot, then your wines are endangered. It would be better to store them somewhere else, where it is cooler and dark, such as maybe in your basement. If you have a wine cooler or wine refrigerator, that is probably the best place for your wines. 

Protect your wine from heat, wherever it might be.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I'm back again with a new edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food and drink events. I hope everyone dines out safely, tips well and are nice to their servers.
1) On Tuesday, June 11, at 6:30pm, Abe & Louie’s will welcome the PlumpJack Collection of Wineries to the Back Bay for a night of perfect pairings. The PlumpJack portfolio includes PlumpJack Estate Winery, CADE Estate Winery and Odette Estate Winery which will be featured in a multi-course dinner hosted by Odette’s Head Winemaker, Andrew Haugen. The collection of celebrated Napa Valley wineries – specializing in cabernet, sauvignon blanc, syrah and beyond – have their own unique style that pay homage to their Estate Vineyards resulting in wines crafted in harmony with nature.

Hosted in “Louie Louie” – the second level dining room overlooking Boylston Street – Haugen will team up with Abe & Louie’s executive chef, Mark Mariano, in presenting a curated menu designed for the cuisine and wine to balance well. During the reception, the 2022 CADE Sauvignon Blanc will be complemented by the chef’s selection of canapes. The first course is ahi tuna crudo with avocado crema and mango chutney paired with a 2022 PlumpJack Reserve Chardonnay. Moving to the entrée, oenophiles will sip two wines from the collection – the 2021 PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon and 2019 Odette Cabernet Sauvignon – while indulging in a prime angus sirloin with bordelaise, truffled potato croquette and wilted spinach. For dessert, there’s a key lime pie panna cotta with a Graham cracker crumble and Chantilly cream served alongside the 2014 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, a sweet wine from South Africa.

COST: $265 per person (does not include tax or gratuity)
RESERVE: Reservations required in advance via Tock. This event is reserved for ages 21+ with proper ID.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Rant: Become a Wine Activist

"With our wine purchases, I believe, we can help advance regional peace, provide support for farmers in war-torn regions, have a voice in geopolitics, and aid in economic recoveries."
--Peter Weltman

When you purchase a bottle of wine, you're not just buying some alcohol. It can be a political decision, a moral decision, an economic decision. You can become, and should be, a wine activist. 

Back in 2017, SevenFiftyDaily published a fascinating article, "How Wine Buyers Can Become Activists" by Peter Weltman, a sommelier and writer in San Francisco. Peter describes how his view of being a sommelier shifted, of how he became more of an activist by "leveraging wine’s privileged standing to improve people’s lives." He even created a hashtag for this activism, #BorderlessWine, reflective of being adventurous in one's wine choices, going beyond the usual suspects. 

Unfortunately, much of the discussion on this topic has died off in the last several years. It was popular for a couple of years, but for unknown reasons, it didn't last. Peter's website is apparently gone, and the #BorderlessWine hashtag isn't used any longer. His thoughts though are probably even more important now than ever, in these politically turbulent times, so I wanted to promote his ideas once again. 

Wine is often seen as a mere luxury, something of little importance in the greater picture considering all of the problems in out world. However, wine purchases can actually have a significant impact in numerous ways, even on a global basis. Such purchases are vital to the economies and political stability of numerous countries. It can be a valuable export, provided other countries are willing to buy their wines. To assist these countries, we should consider that potential impact when we decide which wines to buy for our consumption.

In his article, Peter discusses wines made in Israel, Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, Palestine, and Georgia. One of the first examples he mentioned included a collaboration between a Palestinian grape grower and an Israeli winery. He continued on, mentioning Chateau Musar which continued to produce excellent wine through the unrest in Lebanon. These are people and countries worthy of your support, who are also producing quality wines. 

One of Peter's primary points is that "Financial support of a country’s wines contributes to the well-being of regions, countries, and producers." Countries like Greece, whose economy has undergone much turbulence, economically benefit if more people purchase their wines. Georgia, which is still recovering from when Russia controlled the country, also benefits from more people buying their wines. With our wallets and pocket books, we can help to bring about positive change. Although not mentioned in the article, Croatia falls into this category as well, having only achieved their independence about 30 years ago. Buying their wines supports that country, and I can personally attest to how many excellent wines they produce. 

Your support of wines from these regions should be easy because these countries are making plenty of delicious and interesting wines, often from unique and indigenous grapes. They often have lengthy wine histories, extending thousands of years into the past. They produce all types of wines, reds, whites, rosé, sparkling, dessert, fortified, and more. Wine lovers can learn so much by exploring these regions. I've introduced numerous people to wines from these regions and most often receive positive feedback from these people.

I strongly urge you to read Peter's article and then give much more consideration to which wines you purchase. Try to support and improve these regions by purchasing their wines, as well as spreading the word about their wines. If you are so inclined, become more of an advocate for these wines, becoming an unofficial ambassador. I often passionately advocate for these wine region, and will continue to do so. Please join me in this endeavor.

As Peter concludes, "Wine transcends borders and bridges cultures, and it can be used to improve lives if we make the right purchases."

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I'm back again with a new edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food and drink events. I hope everyone dines out safely, tips well and are nice to their servers.
1) Verveine Cafe & Bakery is a new cafe and bakery, from pastry chef Monica Glass and chef & restaurateur Ken Oringer, which is now open at 298 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge. Monica Glass and Ken Oringer are reunited again, nearly a decade after working together, to bring this newest cafe to Boston. 

Drawing inspiration from cafe cultures from around the world such as brasseries in France, kissaten throughout Japan, and bars in Italy, the new 24-seat cafe and bakery serves a menu inspired by Monica and Ken’s extensive travels and influences drawn from time abroad, serving housemade pastries, breads, pizzas, and more. With the opening of Verveine Cafe & Bakery, Monica introduces WLDFLR™– her new brand of carefully crafted proprietary flour blends that serves as the secret ingredient behind many of the creations on the menu. The cafe and bakery will accommodate all dietary restrictions, including individuals with a gluten-free diet.

On their Breakfast menu, you'll find items like Congee with Thai chicken sausage, puffed rice, caramelized onions, roasted maitake mushrooms, parmigiano with a soft boiled egg; Spicy Chili Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich with fluffy scrambled eggs, arugula, avocado, and spicy chili jam on biscuits freshly baked in house; and Crepe au Sarrasin, a traditional buckwheat french style crepe with jamon, gruyere cheese and an egg. 

As for Sandwiches, you'll find dishes Japanese Shrimp Katsu Sandwich with a crispy panko coated shrimp patty with cilantro, ginger, chili, and garlic, topped with kewpie mayo and Bull-Dog sauce on Japanese milk bread; Honey Chili Tuna Melt on signature sourdough country loaf with tahini, pickle, red onion, hot honey with melted Vermont cheddar; Veggie Sandwich on sourdough ciabatta with honey and spice roasted delicata squash, melted halloumi, hazelnut dukkah and raw baby kale dressed in chili oil vinaigrette; and Chicken Shawarma with house made pita, garlic aioli, guindilla peppers, pickled onions and homemade apricot habanero chutney. There will also be a rotating Pizza of the day served Neapolitan style. 

You'll also find a wide selection of pastries, such as Danishes, Muffins, and Scones, including: 
  • Kimchi Egg Cheddar Danish with kimchi, egg, cheddar cheese;
  • Blood Orange Danish with cardamom cream and blood orange jam;  
  • Meyer Lemon Blueberry Crumb Muffin; 
  • Carrot Hazelnut Date Muffin;
  • Green Onion & Gouda Scone with melted gouda and fresh scallions and Rhubarb Pink Peppercorn. 
  • Fudgy Purple Ube Brownies
  • Strawberry Guava Hand Pies
  • Black Sesame Financier, the traditional French cake with sesame sourced from a 5th generation sesame roaster in Osaka Japan; 
  • Bibingka, a popular pastry from the Philippines served in a banana leaf, made with rice flour and coconut milk, topped with salted coconut milk jam and okinawa black sugar. 
2) Croatian Premium Wine Imports (CPWI), specialists in Croatian wines, and which can be ordered online across most of the U.S., has recently added 28 wines to their portfolio. So, their portfolio now includes 121 Croatian wines! Of their 28 new wines, 18 are new wine labels and 10 are new vintages.  As for the new wineries and new wines, they include the following, a number of which I have previously visited and enjoyed.  

Damjanić – An Istrian family, near Poreč, with a long-history of winemaking and a brand-new winery.  Check out my winery review.

Delmati – A new ownership of a number of up to 60-year-old vineyards, which were first reenergized before renewing the winery and the winemaking process. A great team of leaders from the Dalmatian hinterland. Enjoy their Biokovo line -- Trbljan (white) which just received a Gold Medal from TEXSOM Awards and Plavka (red) with the Silver.

Enosophia – Drom Feričanci, Slavonia, comes a new brand line from the winery whose name is Wisdom in Wine, and wines include sparkling white - Today Blanc, sparkling rose – Todays Rose, a light red blend - Ruby Fusion and TRS NO. 5, a Graševina that sings. This winery strives to combine the traditional with the modern, and boy did they. You can download from their website the app to hear the music that accompanies TRS NO. 5. This certainly appealed to “yours truly” techies. Check out my winery review.

Krauthaker – Mirena and Win absolutely fell in love with a very limited-production orange wine made from Graševina. True to Vlado’s wit, he named it Kuvlahki. The code to decipher the name = starting with letters from town of Kutjevo, adding letters from his name and then ending it in a Georgian language style to pay homage to the recent inspiration on orange wines. Check out my winery review.

Kutjevo – A winery with a long history (since 1232) and with a newly branded rosé that gets Decanter Golds and Silvers year after year. Its official name is Rosé Premium, but we call it Kravata. Check out my winery review.

Meneghetti – An Istrian icon from two perspectives – superb winemaking and a luxury wine-hotel experience.  

Testament –Mirena and Win have added a few gems to the portfolio - due to Juraj’s, Patricia’s and the team’s creativity we chose Opolo Rosé made from Babić; Zenit, a skin-contact wine from Pošip; Tribidrag; and Prošek made from Babić. Check out my winery review.

Now is the time for to experience the wonders and diversity of Croatian wines. I'm a huge fan, have visited the country twice, and tasted so many excellent wines. CPWI makes it easy for wine lovers in the U.S. to obtain Croatian wines, and I strongly encourage you to order some Croatian wines from them.

The 17th Anniversary of The Passionate Foodie

Today, it's time for me to open a special bottle of wine to celebrate a milestone as The Passionate Foodie blog celebrates its Seventeenth Anniversary! During all those years, I've seen many other food & wine blogs come and go, but I've chosen to continue my writing, and to continue to challenge myself. I've posted over 5400 articles on my blog, covering a vast myriad of food and drink topics. 

I'm very proud of all I've written and accomplished, and I look forward to continuing to write, continuing to share and spread my deep passion for food & drink. I've actually been writing about food and drink for 18 1/2 years, as I wrote for another blog, Real World Winers (since defunct), for 1 1/2 years before I started The Passionate Foodie.

During the past 17 years of The Passionate Foodie, I've learned so much about food & drinks, exploring a wide variety of topics, essentially about anything I can eat or drink. My blog has provided me a myriad of wonderful opportunities and experiences, creating a vast storehouse of fantastic memories. I've sampled so much excellent and exciting food and drink, in this country and many others.

I've gotten to travel to some amazing destinations, including Canada, Croatia, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, England, Slovenia, Bosnia & HerzegovinaArgentina and Chile. In the United States, I've visited a number of wine-producing states, including California, Oregon, Washington, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, and more. 

Over all these years, I've met so many interesting people, which has enhanced my experiences as I've long said that food and drink when shared is even better. Some of those people have become very close friends. It's been fascinating to meet numerous wine makers, distillers, brewers, wine & liquor store owners, importers, distributors, farmers, restaurant owners, chefs, and much more. From each, I've learned something new, which has expanded my understanding and enhanced my writing.

During these seventeen years, what began as a hobby transformed into my profession. I'm now a freelance writer, having been published in a number of magazines and newspapers. I'm also a Sake educator and consultant, having worked for a variety of clients, from restaurants to distributors, conducting Sake classes, tastings, dinners and more. I also work part-time at a wine shop. 

It has been my ardent pleasure to showcase and promote under-appreciated and/or lesser known wines, spirits and other drinks, such as Sake, Croatian Wines, Greek Wines, Georgian Wines, Uruguayan Wines, Portuguese Wines, Sherry, Franciacorta, Mezcal, Baijiu and more. I've championed many of these underdogs, all which are worthy beverages deserving of much more attention by consumers as well as other writers. We all need to expand our palates and seek out the liquid wonders that can be found all around the world.

Within the last several years, especially because of the pandemic, I've dedicated more time to researching and writing numerous historical articles about food and drink, and I'm especially proud of these articles, many breaking new ground in our understanding of certain topics. I've compiled links to all of these fascinating articles in All About My Historical Food & Drink Articles

I owe many thanks to all of my readers, as it's their support and encouragement which has helped motivate me to continue writing year after year. I also owe thanks to my family and friends who have been so supportive for all these years. In addition, I am grateful to everyone in the food and drink community, from chefs to wine makers, who have helped contribute, in a myriad of ways, to my blog.  Life is about connections, about the relationships we make, and they all contribute to what we do.

If I didn't thoroughly enjoy what I've been doing, then it would have ended years ago. I find it fulfilling and satisfying, and hope that my passion for food, drink and writing never dims. I look forward to celebrating my 18th anniversary next year (and eventually my 20th), and I hope my readers keep reading me year after year.

If you've enjoyed my articles during the past year, or more, please consider Donating to me through Venmo at @Richard-Auffrey-1, so that I can continue to provide interesting and educational content. My largest expense is the cost of the resource sites that I use, especially newspaper archives, allowing me access to fascinating information which provides the background for my historical articles. Donations also allow me to continue operating this blog without any advertising, which I have done from the start. I appreciate any and all of your contributions.   

It's time to celebrate!

Monday, May 6, 2024

Rant: Restaurants Need Servers!

Speak to any group of chefs and they'll likely tell you that they have been having trouble finding good servers. Pass by any group of restaurants and you may see a number of Help Wanted signs. If you dine at a restaurant, you might the find that the restaurant doesn't have as many servers as maybe they once did. You might also find some servers who aren't as experienced, who may make minor mistakes during the course of your meal. 

You'll also find numerous news articles detailing the restaurant server shortage. For example, the National Restaurant Association has noted that 62% of restaurants indicate they don't have sufficient staff to meet demand. And the cost of labor has increased as well, often leading to increased menu prices.

These server shortages can negatively affect a customer's restaurant experience, which indicates the importance of these restaurant employees. And when you visit a restaurant, which has a proper amount of servers who are all well trained, you clearly see how much those servers enhance your overall dining experience. Not enough customers consider the importance of servers, and primarily only talk about servers when they have a complaint. 

These issues came to mind recently while I was dining at Il Ponte, an Italian restaurant in Woburn. It only seats about 50 people, but has numerous servers, all keeping their eyes on the various tables, to ensure they could immediately react to any customer situation. The servers are all knowledgeable and personable, and their hospitality seems genuine. When they weren't tending to a customer, some servers were wiping down menus. They always seemed to be busy, with a smile on their faces. And this type of service truly elevated the dining experience. 

I also recently dined at a newly opened, high-end restaurant, and the food and drink was amazing. However, some of the servers seemed somewhat inexperienced and unconfident. That detracted from the overall experience, especially when you expect high-end restaurants to provide more professional service. Once has to consider that this restaurant is new, and needs some time for all of their servers to fully get up to speed, especially in these times of server shortages. 

It's important for diners to understand the current server shortage, and to give some leeway to restaurants which are having trouble finding proper staff. And if you's seeking a job, consider being a server in the restaurant industry. When you dine out, please also remember to tip properly. 

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I'm back again with a new edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food and drink events. I hope everyone dines out safely, tips well and are nice to their servers.
1) Nightshade Clam Shackby the Nightshade Noodle Bar team, opens today! Chef/Owner Rachel Miller’s Nightshade Clam Shack menu blends classic New England seafood with dynamic southern flavors. The Clam Shack will be open Thursdays to Sundays, from 11am-2pm. 

The Nightshade Clam Shack menu features five categories of lunch items: Brioche Rolls, Bánh Mì, Boxes, Viet-Cajun Seafood and Desserts. A sample menu can be found below and weekly specials can be found announced in real time on Nightshade Clam Shack’s Instagram

Brioche Rolls
--Fried Salt and Pepper Clam Roll (Green chili lime sauce, secret dressing) $30 Warm Viet-Cajun 
--Lobster Roll (Warm lemongrass cajun butter, crispy garlic, scallions) $30 
--Crispy Rock Shrimp Roll (Funky fermented red chili sauce, thai basil, fried shallots) $30 
Bánh Mì
--Chili- Ranch Soft Shell Crab Bánh Mì
 (Thai basil butter sauce, cucumber, pickled carrot + daikon, jalapeños) $28
--Blackened Catfish Bánh Mì (Picked green tomato remoulade, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeños, secret sauces) $26
--Cajun Lobster Cake Bánh Mì (Picked green tomato remoulade, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeños, secret sauces) $30
--Fried Clam Box
 (Spicy tamarind + coconut ranch dips, shredded cabbage salad) $30
--Fried Smelts Box (Bột chiên fries, crispy sugar snap peas, dill pollen, gribiche) $28
--Big Ass Salad Box (Chilled shrimp, shredded cabbage, citrus nước chấm, spicy peanuts, every herb) $28
--Mixed Seafood Box (Fried clams, smelts, scallops + rock shrimp) with choice of two sauces (cabbage salad-gribiche, coconut ranch or spicy tamarind) $32
Viet-Cajun Seafood: All served in a bag of Nightshade Noodle Bar’s signature lemongrass cajun butter
add corn $1 | add potato $1 | add andouille $2
--Gulf Shrimp $18
--Crawfish $18
--Stone Crab Cluster $24
--Banana Pudding Cup
 (Nilla wafers, bananas, whipped cream) $7
--Chocolate Pudding Cup (Oreo crumble, whipped cream) $7

Online ordering is available for takeout to enjoy at home, on-the-go, at Nightshade Noodle Bar & Sin City Superette’s patio seating or at nearby Nahant beach. Additionally, Sin City Superette’s indoor seating is available for Nightshade Clam Shack customers’ use. Pre-ordering is highly recommended and all orders can be picked up at Sin City Superette, located at 71 Exchange Street in Lynn, Massachusetts. Delivery is available via Toast (within 5 miles) and Uber Eats.

2) On Sunday, May 12, from 12pm-10pm, XOXO Sushi Bar is celebrating its first Mother’s Day in Chestnut Hill with a lavish eight-course prix fixe menu. 

For the first course, there is a duo of Island Creek oysters topped with rhubarb granita, Thai chili vinegar and micro mint. The next two courses celebrate treasures from the sea with the Sakura masu sashimi (cherry blossom trout smoked with cherrywood, served with pickled cherry blossoms and cherry blossom crème fraiche) as well as lobster dashi (lobster tail grilled over Binchōtan charcoal with saffron dashi foam, caviar and brown butter) before a robatayaki specialty makes an appearance in the fourth course, a pork belly bao bun (braised pork belly fried on a Taiwanese steamed bun with sweet chili miso, yuzu koshō and micro cilantro). After delighting in five-pieces of chef’s choice nigiri, there is crusted cod (consommé, mushrooms, tempura crisp and onion puree) followed by A5 Wagyu toast on homemade milk bread with soy-cured egg yolk, Wagyu carpaccio, caviar and chive topped with a quail egg yolk. The finale – “doki doki,” Japanese for “I’m excited” – is chocolate meringue with sake-braised strawberries, vanilla-blood orange cream, prickly pear and hibiscus ganache.

On the liquid side, there are two specialty cocktails: Toda Mariko – named after the strong matriarch in the television series, Shōgun – with citrus vodka, Aperol, fresh squeezed lemon juice and yuzu served straight up with a lemon-strawberry garnish ($18) in addition to the three-layered E(i)mpress Your Mother with rose simple syrup at the bottom, lychee, lemon juice and yuzu omoi sake in the center, topped with a float of Empress gin with a flower rim ($20).

Cost: $200 per guest (à la carte menu also available)
Reservations are recommended via Resy or by calling (617) 505-3378.

3) This Cinco de Mayo, Kane’s Donuts is partnering with High Noon, featuring the Cinco De Mayo Donut inspired by High Noon’s Tequila Seltzer. The donut consists of an airy light yeast ring dipped in a glaze made from High Noon Tequila Seltzer with real Blanco tequila and real lime juice and blended with Kane’s Signature Honey Glaze, then lightly salted. 

May also brings some other special flavor of the month, including: 
  • Moose Tracks Donut: A light, airy brioche donut frosted with creamy vanilla frosting, mini peanut butter cups, and chocolate fudge stripes.
  • Cherry Cheesecake Donut: This is a cherry cake donut with real cherries in the dough topped with cheesecake frosting and a dollop of cherry pie filling.
  • Blueberry Filled: Kane’s fluffiest yeast shell donut bursts with the fruit and flavors of a homemade blueberry pie filling, then tossed in confectioners' sugar.
  • Gluten-free Strawberry Shortcake: A cake-style donut with real strawberry fruit folded in the dough, dipped in Kane’s honey glaze, then frosted with a creamy strawberry frosting, topped with strawberry crumble and a dollop of whoopie pie filling in the center.
  • Vegan Chocolate Frosted: A cake-style donut frosted with chocolate and then dipped in chocolate sprinkles. 
4) The South End Business Alliance invites you to their annual Spring Stroll to celebrate the changing season and their multitude of amazing businesses on Wednesday, May 8th, from 4pm-8pm. A short walk from Downtown and Back Bay, head to the 02118 where within the four walls of the neighborhood you can shop and dine locally from the South End’s multitude of businesses and restaurants. Shops will be offering beverages, discounts, pop-ups with other makers + the chance to grab your Mother’s Day and grad gifts in one fell swoop. After shopping around, head to their restaurants and bars for spring themed menus, specialty cocktails + promotions to those who mention the stroll. Reminder: patio season is finally here, so grab your friends and family and head to your favorite South End restaurant to sip and enjoy the Spring sun! 

Check out the Map of the Spring Stroll offerings, with over 65 participating businesses.   

The South End Business Alliance is a non-profit membership-based organization whose mission is to organize and unify SEBA members and promote their businesses in the South End community. SEBA has created a culture of inclusion and embraces our rich membership diversity, including culture/arts organizations, professional services, healthcare, hospitality, restaurants and retail, financial services, and health and fitness industries. We are committed to maximizing the visibility and success of all businesses that reside in Boston’s South End.