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The Passionate Foodie

Sharing My Passion for Good Food, Wine, Saké & Spirits. Come Join Me and Satisfy Your Hunger and Thirst.

Updated: 2018-02-18T20:16:38.251-05:00


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) Join Davio’s Foxborough on Monday, March 5, at 6:30pm, for a five-course wine dinner hosted by Michele Pasqua of Italy’s iconic Marco Felluga Estate. Executive Chef Paul King will prepare dishes including the Seared Duck Breast, Porcini Risotto, Shaved Truffle and Crispy Pork Belly, Goat Cheese Polenta, Pear Mostarda to compliment the wine as you learn all about the rich history of Marco Felluga.Michele Pasqua is the Managing Director of Marco Felluga and Russiz Superiore. Founded in 1956, the Marco Felluga estate has long been regarded as one of the flagship wineries of Friuli, a region known for producing some of Italy’s finest white wines. Since joining the company in 2011, Pasqua holds responsibilities in all aspects of both wineries, especially in overseeing the major export markets.MENU PASSED APPETIZERS Seared Scallop, Crispy Prosciutto Smoked Gouda, Chorizo Arancini Fig, Goat Cheese Flatbread 2015 Marco Felluga “Just Molamatta”PRIMO Crispy Pork Belly, Goat Cheese Polenta, Pear Mostarda 2015 Marco Felluga “Mongris” Pinot Grigio SECONDO Seared Duck Breast, Porcini Risotto, Shaved Truffle 2011 Russiz Superiore Refosco PIATTO DEL GIORNO Prime Brandt Beef New York Sirloin, Sweet Potato Tots, Broccoli Rabe, Maple Glaze 2014 Russiz Superiore Cabernet Franc DOLCE Apple Crostata, Caramel Cashew Ice Cream, Maple Drizzle 2015 Russiz Superiore Sauvignon Blanc The menu will be available for dinner on Monday, March 5th only for $95 per guest (excluding tax & gratuity).To purchase tickets please visit 2) SRV Co-Executive Chefs Michael Lombardi & Kevin O’Donnell introduce monthly Pasta Making Classes. Learn to make pasta with the pros followed by a 3-course lunch, beginning Sunday, February 25, from 11am-2pm. Classes will continue to be held the last Sunday of the month and can be booked 28 days in advance.Each experience will feature a welcome glass of sparkling wine, interactive chef demo led by Lombardi and O’Donnell, passed cicchetti offerings and a three course lunch in the private dining room including wine pairings. Guests will leave with their homemade pasta to enjoy at home. For a more specific breakdown of the event flow and menu, please see below:11:00-11:15: guests arrival; sparkling wine and water offered11:15-12:30: Chefs demo 3 pastas that each guest will have opportunity to make (pasta making will continue on an on-going basis as guests learn and mingle); 3 passed cicchetti will be served during this time.12:30: guests are invited to be seated in PDR for lunch, including Salad, 3 Pastas, Dessert, and Wine Pairings.COST: $150.00 per person inclusive of tax and gratuity. All tickets are nonrefundable and can be purchased 28 days in advance.To reserve, please email or call the restaurant directly at 617-536-9500. A credit card is required for taking reservations.3) On Tuesday, February 27, at 6:30pm, Legal Harborside will host a four-plus-course wine dinner featuring selections from Knights Bridge Winery, a distinguished winery that produces world-class Chardonnay and Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc from its 100-acre site in the eastern hills of Knights Valley (just north of the Napa Valley), a premier source of grapes for fine wines and an area known for its mineral-rich soils and the legendary quality of fruits it puts out. Founded in 2006 by a close circle of friends who celebrate a shared passion for wine and food, a love of farming and respect for nature, Knights Bridge Winery owners Jim Bailey, Tom Costin and Essel Bailey have created this unique place where their families and friends can gather. Legal Harborside will team up with winery’s Boston-based co-founder Jim Bailey to host the dinner. The menu will be presented as follows: HORS D’OEUVRESCrab Arancini, Calabrian Chile AioliShri[...]

Momi Nomni Omakase Duet: Chef Chung & Chef Iwakura


Have you seen the term "Omakase" on a menu at a Japanese restaurant? The word derives from a Japanese word meaning "entrust" and, in essence, it means you are leaving the decisions of your dinner to the chef. The chef will present you with their choice of a multi-course meal, using the opportunity to impress you with their skill and creativity. It involves an element of trust, or at least an adventurous spirit.   When I learned of an Omakase Duet at Momi Nomni with Chef/Owner Chris Chung and Chef Youji Iwakura, it was a no-brainer to attend this special dinner. These are both chefs in which I have complete faith in their culinary skills. I was sure that their Omakase would impress and delight me, and I also knew that my food friend Adam Japko would appreciate it as well.Momi Nomni, which has been open for only about four months, is owned by Chef Chris Chung and is intended to be a casual izakaya. Located in Inman Square in Cambridge, it is a small restaurant, with about 30 seats, but that lends a sense of intimacy. I hadn't yet dined there so this was my first experience, though it definitely won't be my last. Chef Youji Iwakura, who has been a chef at Snappy Ramen, will be opening his own restaurant, Kamakura, in the near future, which will offer contemporary Kaiseki. I've previously experienced the cuisine of both of these chefs, and they are certainly highly skilled, the type of chefs you can always trust to present you a delicious meal. I didn't take many notes at this dinner, choosing simply to enjoy the various dishes so this isn't a complete review of the restaurant. It is more a snapshot of the possibilities at the restaurant, as well as  a glimpse of the exceptional culinary skills of the chefs. I definitely recommend you visit Momi Nonmi and I'm sure Chef Chung won't let you down.Sake is important to Chef Chung so there is a Sake sommelier, Stephen Connolly, at Momi Nonmi. Stephen certainly possesses a great passion for Sake and is a very good ambassador for it at the restaurant. We ordered a bottle of Yuho "Rhythm of the Centuries" Yama-oroshi Junmai Sake to accompany the Omakase, figuring this umami-rich Sake would pair well with the various courses. It worked very well, and was also delicious all on its own. Stephen also provided us tastes of a few other Sakes, including an intriguing Hiya-oroshi. If you know little about Sake, let Stephen lead you through their Sake list, providing you pairings for your meal.Our nine-course Omakase began with Tofu Creme, home-made tofu with Maine uni, bekko-an (a type of sweet sauce), and pickled seaweed. It may not look like much, but this was an impressive beginning to our dinner. The blend of flavors was absolutely delicious, with elements of sweet and salty, with a fine creamy texture. It was like a sweet custard kissed by the ocean. I could have easily devoured a dozen of these dishes and been a very happy person.This beautifully presented dish was Avocado, with uni senbei (the cracker), fish roe, and watercress. You could eat this dish in any way you desired, and it was savory, creamy, earthy, and briny, though with different elements than the first dish. The senbei added a nice textural element, as well as making for a nice delivery system for the rest of the dish.Next up was an Aoyagi Sushi Duo, with Kamakura shoyu, licorice/miso, and scallions. Aoyagi is Surf Clam, and it seemed very fresh with an excellent texture as well as an intriguing taste. One piece was prepared as Nigiri while the other had a slight sear and was atop scallions. Another compelling dish, sure to please any sushi lover.This course was Tuna, with Aoyagi clam veloute, curry, and fennel, presented in a large clam shell. The tuna was silky, its flavors enhanced by the creamy veloute and curry spice. There were plenty of layers to these flavors and everything was well balanced and delicious.The Sashimi Millefeuille was prepared with Amadai (tile fish), turnip, kumquat, and asiago. Beautifully presented, it also possessed complex and del[...]

Rant: "Experts" Making Mistakes


Who can you trust?

The issue of trust is front and center lately as the public tries to determine which news sources are accurate. This is not merely an issue that affects politics and science, but also includes the realm of alcoholic beverages. You'll find many people claiming to be an expert of spirits, wine or beer, but can you trust them? Are they providing you accurate information?

Recently, I received a digital review copy of a new guide to the world of spirits, covering a wide range of topics, from Bourbon to Pisco, Gin to Rum, Baijiu to Shochu. It was written by an alleged "spirits' expert," who has written for a number of national spirit & wine magazines. It seemed authoritative, the type of book many readers would trust.

However, as I skimmed through the book, choosing select chapters of interest, I was dismayed to find a number of factual errors which should have been caught. They weren't obscure issues that could be possibly forgiven the error. I didn't even finish the book because the errors made me mistrust the entire book. Why didn't this expert catch these errors? Was it a lack of knowledge? A failure to fact check?

Let me provide just a few examples of the errors I found.

The book states that Bourbon must be "aged in new, charred, white oak barrels." However, according to the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, 27 C.F.R. 5.22(b)(1)(i), bourbon must merely be aged in "charred new oak containers." There is no requirement that it be "white oak." It is a simple error yet something that any Bourbon "expert" should know. It is also very easy to check and verify.

As another example, the book states that basically "... all mezcal is tequila with some tweaks, all tequilas are definitely not mezcals, ..." However, Mezcal experts understand that Mezcal long predates Tequila and that actually, all Tequila is Mezcal but not all Mezcals are Tequila. This is the opposite of what is claimed in this new book. Tequila was simply a Mezcal from a specific place of origin. That is another easy fact, supported by numerous sources, and a spirits expert should not have made such an error.

Though the book is about Spirits, there is a chapter on Port Wine and this chapter has a significant error. It states "Port is a blend of five distinct grape varietals--Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinga Roriz, Tinta Cao, and Tinta Barroca." This is inaccurate as Port can be produced from over 100 different grapes and not just those five grapes. Those five grapes are certainly the most commonly used to make red Port, but they are not the only grapes used. In addition, White Port is generally made from white grapes, and not any of those five grapes. It would have been easy to edit the book's statement to be more accurate, mentioning that those five grapes are the most common, instead of making it seem definitive that only those five grapes are used.

It is disappointing that numerous readers will likely read this book and accept its information as accurate. Some writers may use this book as a research resource, further spreading its inaccurate information. Just because a book or article is from an alleged expert, you shouldn't automatically accept its veracity. You should verify your sources as best as you can. Fact check! And fact check again! You can't always trust an "expert."

Vilarnau Cava: Spanish Bubbly, Art & Food Pairing


At first, these two bottles of Cava, Spanish sparkling wine, stand out due to the colorful artwork covering the bottles. The art style is known as Trencadís (which means "chopped") in Catalonia, and pique assiette in France, and is a type of mosaic that is composed of small pieces of broken ceramic tiles, roof tiles or crockery. The Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí was well known for using this art style, especially in his Parc Güell in Barcelona. These Cavas are available without the artwork on their bottles, but why wouldn't you want such appealing colors and shapes?The history of the Vilarnau Winery extends back to the 12th century, when the Vilarnau family settled into the Penedés region. Their original home was within the estate of the Castillo de Subirats, where grape vines were already been grown. The family didn't start producing Cava though until 1949, using grapes from their Can Petit i Les Planes de Vilarnau estate, where vineyards had been present for centuries. In 1982 Vilarnau became part of the González Byass family of wineries, eventually leading to the creation of a new winery in October 2005.The Can Petit i les Planes de Vilarnau estate occupies about 20 hectares, growing grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Macabeo and Xarel·lo. As their website states: "Our aim at Vilarnau is make the best cava with as little impact on our planet environment as possible. We make our living from the land, so looking after and nurturing it as best we can is in our DNA. The better we treat the land and our environment, the better the fruit the vines produce will be and the better our cava will be." Sustainability and environmental responsibility are important to the winery, from reducing their carbon footprint to organic viticulture certification.Vilarnau produces a range of different Cavas, from Brut Nature Vintage to Demi Sec Organic, from Barrel Fermented to Gran Reserva Vintage. Three of their Cavas are available in the Trencadís bottles, and I received media samples of two of those Cavas, including the NV Vilarnau Brut Reserva and the NV Vilarnau Brut Reserva Rosé. Both are value wines, priced at $15-$16, and sure to please most palates. I've long preferred Cava to Prosecco, which I commonly find too sweet for my preferences.The NV Vilarnau Brut Reserva ($14.99) is a blend of 50% Macabeo, 35% Paralleda; 15% Xarel.lo, three indigenous grapes which are traditionally used to make Cava. Each grape was vilified separately, and then later blended together, and the Cava was aged for over 15 months in the bottle. With a nice golden color, small bubbles, and 11.5% ABV, this Cava presents a pleasing aroma of fruit, including apple and citrus. On the palate, it is fresh, crisp and dry, with a tasty blend of green apple, citrus and pear, enhanced with a touch of toast, and a moderately long finish.Sure, you can pop a bottle of this Cava to celebrate any occasion, but it is also inexpensive enough that you can open a bottle anytime, including with dinner. Many people don't realize that Sparkling Wine can often be food friendly and you can enjoy it throughout the course of a meal, and not just as an aperitif. I enjoyed this Cava with seared scallops and it was an excellent pairing, elevating the experience because of the bubbly. This Cava would pair well with a wide range of seafood though it would work with other dishes as well, from fried chicken to cheese. And you could even enjoy this Bubbly with just a bag of salty potato chips. Try it sometime!The NV Vilarnau Brut Reserva Rosé ($15.99) is a blend of 85% Trepat and 15% Pinot Noir. Trepat is an indigenous Spanish grape that is often used to make Cava Rosé. This Cava was aged for over 15 months in the bottle. This wine has a lovely, rich pink color, small bubbles, a pleasant aroma of red fruits, and possesses a 12% ABV. On the palate, it is fresh, crisp and dry (like the Brut Reserva), though its flavors include strawberry and raspberry with a hint of a floral[...]

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) Chef Tony Maws is preparing a special dinner at Craigie On Main for Valentine's Day. “What’s better than sharing a meal with someone special, with a really nice glass of wine and a beautifully prepared menu with fantastic ingredients? That’s what we are providing at Craigie On Main this February 14th” shares Maws.THE MENU:First CourseSashimi of Hiramasa (pork belly sub)/red pear, red endive, pistachio, pink peppercorn vinaigretteOrVeloute of Oysters and Oyster mushrooms/caviar, cucumber, sake leesSecond CourseHouse-Made Red Beet Spaghetti/Lobster, butter, chervilOrCreamy “Bloody Butcher” grits/pheasant confit, Perigord black truffle, braised red cabbage, hazelnutsThird CourseWagyu Beef Three-Ways/red beets, blue foot mushrooms, pistachio, pomegranate jusOrOlive Oil-Poached Loup de Mer/horseradish, Macomber turnip, beurre rougeOrSalt-Baked Celeriac/Carolina Gold rice, blue foot mushrooms, Perigord Black TruffleDessert AmuseBlood Orange and Campari SorbetDessertChocolate tasting for 2 peopleCraigie On Main is offering two menu options: a 5 Course Menu, $135 per person; and then a 4 Course Menu, $75 per person, beginning at 9:30pm.Reservations are recommended by calling 617-497-55112) On Sunday, February 25, from 6pm-9pm, the team at Harvest welcomes guests to the 3rd Annual Winter Ice Party on their heated patio with proceeds from ticket sales going towards Furnishing Hope of Massachusetts. Dance, drink and dine as DJ Ryan Brown plays top hits while you can sip on frosty Harpoons and wintry ice luge drinks made with Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey.Executive Chef Tyler Kinnett is serving up an array of fresh New England cuisine and party favorite bites including oysters, confit pork ribs and sandwiches, charred beets, fried mac & cheese and homemade pretzels. Finish off the night with sweets from an exclusive dessert bar specially prepared by Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship finalist and Executive Pastry Chef Joshua Livsey. Satisfy your sweet tooth with snowflake sugar cookies, French macaroons, doughnuts, and hot chocolate spheres.This year, Harvest is joining forces with Furnishing Hope of Massachusetts whose mission is to help families who are transitioning out of homelessness create a home for themselves. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will go towards providing families with basic furniture and household goods necessary to create a comfortable and nurturing environment. Price is $55 per person. Space is limited and reservations are required. Call 617-868-2255 directly to book seats. Or visit to purchase tickets. 3) Puritan & Company Chef/Owner Will Gilson has created a new, transport-friendly restaurant concept that debut this past Monday, February 5. Called Puritan Trading Company, this “Ghost Restaurant” will have a separate menu with a range of cuisine and concepts that cater to the takeout crowd and travel well. The food will be made out of the Puritan & Company kitchen, but the packaging and pickup of the orders will be completed out of the space next to Puritan & Company. The restaurant is working exclusively through Caviar for the launch. Customers are encouraged to order directly through the Caviar website.According to Gilson, “The menu features food we love from our travels around the world and the foods that WE would want to eat if we ordered take out. And most importantly, the food on this menu is designed to be packaged and transported,” said Gilson. “Construction of a restaurant in the space next door featuring this menu would be too costly at this point, so it’s almost like making a restaurant without an add[...]

2015 Domaine Du Poujol Carignan Blanc: Jefferson & Acacia


It's alleged that Thomas Jefferson, when he was touring the wineries and vineyards of southern France, stated that the Poujol estate, located in the Hérault department, was a great vineyard site.

Throughout its history, the Domaine Du Poujol has gone through a number of different owners. In 1994, the estate was purchased by the Cripps family and they subsequently sold it to the Hartung family in 2016. Laurent Hartung, who is a Belgium native, wanted to become a vintner and eventually found the Domaine du Poujol, which he purchased with his family. The estate comprises about 67 hectares, with ten hectares of vineyards from which they harvest grapes, ten hectares which are being replanted, and the rest being woods and garrigue. They plan to plant another 10 hectares of vineyards in the next 5 or so years.

The vineyards have been cultivated as Biodynamic for the last 20 years, an agricultural philosophy embraced by the Hartungs. "Poujol is more than a vineyard. It is a philosophy and a real way of life that we want to share with other producers and with all our clients." Their grapes include red Carignan, Carignan Blanc, black Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Roussanne and Vermentino, with plans to plant more in the near future.

Carignan Blanc? This is a rare grape, a white mutation of Carignan, found primarily in the Languedoc-Roussillon region though a little can be found in Spain too. While perusing the shelves at the Lower Falls Wine Company, I found a wine made from Carignan Blanc, priced at only $13, so it was an easy decision to buy a couple bottles to check it out.

The 2015 Domaine Du Poujol Carignan Blanc IGP Pay's D'Herault is produced from 100% Carignan Blanc, from vines that were planted in 1961, and has a 13% ABV. The wine was vinified in Acacia barrels and then aged for about nine months in those same barrels. Acacia, also sometimes known as Black Locust, is a wood that is usually harvested from forests in northern France. It is supposed to be gentler than oak, provide some floral elements, and is used mainly for white wines. There is much more to Acacia than I'll provide here, and it may end up as the topic of a future post.

With a nice golden color, the wine had an intriguing nose of lemon, citrus and a hint of almonds. On the palate, this medium-bodied wine possessed tasty, fresh flavors of peach and pear, with savory spices notes and lot of crisp acidity. There were some mineral elements in the taste, good complexity and and a long, satisfying finish. This would be an excellent summer wine but delicious during the winter as well, especially paired with food, from roast chicken to seafood. And at this price point, it is an excellent value as well.

2015 Schlossmühlenhof Dornfelder: A Great Choice At Bin Ends


When most people think of German wines, Riesling is the first to come to mind. That isn't a surprise as it is their most widely planted grape and they certainly excel in its production. However, many people know little about the red wines being produced in Germany, despite red grapes occupying about 35% of their vineyards. Part of the problem is that many local wine stores don't usually carry German red wines. Germany's most widely planted red grape is Spätburgunder, their name for Pinot Noir, but they also make wines from red grapes such as Trollinger and Lemberger.While perusing the wines at Bin Ends, I found a German red wine made from another less commonly known grape, Dornfelder. I'd very limited prior experience with this grape but this wine was inexpensive and I was willing to give it a try. In the end, I was extremely pleased I had taken the chance on this delicious wine. The 2015 Schlossmühlenhof Dornfelder Rotwein Trocken ($14.40/1 Liter) is produced from a winery whose roots extend back to 1846, when Johan Michel, a miller, purchased the Schlossmühle ("castle mill"), located in a region of rolling hills that each to the foot of the Wartberg mountain. The family began selling wine prior to the 1940s and currently the sixth generation of the family owns and operates the winery and estate. Their high altitude, cool climate and limestone soils help to produce unique, terroir-driven and high-quality wines.The Dornfelder grape is an intriguing cross of two other grapes, Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe, though both of these grapes are also crosses of other grapes. Helfensteiner is a cross of Pinot Noir and Shiava while Heroldrebe is a cross of Portugieser and Blaufrankisch. Dornfelder is named after August Ludwig Dornfeld, who played a significant role in creating a famed viticultural school in Weinsberg. The grape received official authorization in 1980 and is currently grown on about 20,000 acres, making it the second most widely grown red grape in Germany. It is especially prized because it usually produces wines with a rich, dark red color rather than the paler colors of Pinot Noir.The 2015 Schlossmühlenhof Dornfelder Rotwein Trocken, at only 13.5% ABV, certainly presented with a deep, opaque red, almost purplish, color. On the nose, it was appealing, with enticing black fruit flavors enhanced by mild floral and spice notes. On the palate, it was silky, with mild tannins, and a delicious melange of juicy black fruit, intense spice and nice acidity. It was more elegant rather than powerful, with a lingering, pleasing finish. There was plenty of complexity for a wine at this price point and is was a sheer pleasure to drink, especially with a couple of burgers. This was definitely a food-friendly wine, a versatile wine that would pair well with pizza to tuna. Highly recommended.  At $14.40 for a liter, the price for a 750ml bottle of this wine would have been about $11, making this a killer value. I already know that this excellent wine is going to end up on my 2018 list of Top Ten Wines Under $15. Hurry down to Bin Ends before this wine is gone.[...]

Sips & Nibbles: Valentine's Day Edition


I am back again with a special Valentine's Day edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events.**********************************************************1) The most romantic day of the year is quickly approaching and il Molo in Boston’s North End neighborhood is serving up some serious romance for the occasion. Because the heart wants what it wants, Chef Pino Maffeo has created an extensive prix fixe menu that will have you covered no matter your sweetheart’s cravings; whether a seafood- or hearty meat-lover, there’s something on il Molo’s Valentine’s Day menu to impress everyone. The three-course dinner will feature a combination of Chef Pino’s favorite New England classics and exciting seasonal-inspired dishes. Choose from appetizers such as Lobster Bisque, Burrata Salad or Classic Shrimp Cocktail which will lead the way for a heavenly main-course with menu highlights including Fra Diavlo, Grass Fed Sirloin, Stuffed Maine Lobster ($15 supplement) and Veal Milanese. Nothing spells l-o-v-e- quite like a rich and decadent treat, so end your dinner on a sweet note with one of Pastry Chef Gabriela’s homemade desserts such as Coconut Cake, Tiramisu or Chocolate Cake. DATE: Wednesday, February 14, 4pm-11pmCOST: $65 per person, excluding gratuity & taxes.Reservations are required so please call 857-277-1895. Credit card will be required to hold any reservations.2) Kane’s Handcrafted Donuts is pleased to partner for the second year in a row with Sweethearts® Brand Candies on a limited-edition Valentine’s Day donut, the Sweethearts® Brand Donut. This creation will be available beginning February 1st through February 14th at both Kane’s Handcrafted Donuts locations: 120 Lincoln Avenue in Saugus and 90 Oliver Street in Boston’s Financial District. The special Valentine’s Day donut is a decadent red velvet cake style donut, carefully dipped in a sweet cream cheese glaze and decorated with a custom version of NECCO®’s classic Valentine’s Day confectionery, Sweethearts®, which declares the Kane’s slogan, “Donuts are Love.” “We are pleased to partner once again with a company like NECCO® with such a rich New England history,” said Paul Delios, co-owner and president of Kane’s Handcrafted Donuts. “We feel Valentine’s Day is the right holiday for us to join forces since Sweethearts® Brand is synonymous with the holiday, and because Kane’s ‘donuts are love.’ They’re the perfect way to tell your sweetheart just how much you love them.” For the month of February, Kane’s is also featuring a Chocolate Orgasm Donut (pictured above),a cake style donut filled with creamy chocolate pudding, dipped in Hersey’s chocolate syrup and rolled in crushed chocolate cookies. This is certainly a great donut for Valentine's Day as well. 3) Oysters and romance go hand-in-hand just like going to Select Oyster Bar on Valentine's Day. Grab your date, a friend, or your mom and enjoy a memorable meal at Select where chef Michael Serpa will offer a prix fixe menu featuring a selection of crudos and more at just $75 per guest. Pair it with one of the many wines available by the bottle or glass. Begin with Black Bass Crudo or Yellowfin Tuna Crudo. Then, choose Point Judith Calamari or Maine Lobster Salad. Finally, select Dayboat Scallops or Greek Bronzino.This menu is available for dinner on Friday 2/9, Saturday 2/10 and Valentine's Day, Wednesday 2/14. For reservations, please call (857) 239-80644) In celebration of Valentine’s Day on February 14, Sumiao Hunan Kitchen will be offering a lovingly-themed prix fixe menu for-two including a specialty cocktail and many of the restaurant’s new seasonal dishes. Sumiao’s beverage team will be mixing up a sweet and refreshing Peach Sangria for sipping, served alongside selections[...]

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) For Super Bowl Sunday, Canary Square, in Jamaica Plain, will be throwing a game-watching party with all the action taking place on its huge projector. From 5 p.m. until halftime, guests can indulge in an all-you-can-eat buffet for only $20 (drinks not included). Its regular menu will also be available for purchase.The buffet will offer:--Super Healthy Taco Salad- Red Beans, Pickled Fresno's, Grilled Chicken, Fresh Tortilla, Chip, Choice of Taco Salad Dressing or Lime Vinaigrette. --Build Your Own Nacho Bar- Queso Dip, Refried Beans, Jalapenos, Salsa, Sour Cream, Olives, Scallions, Beef Chili, Chicken Chili.--Wings- Choice of Buffalo, Barbecue, Honey Mustard--Hand Cut Fries--Fried Mozzarella Sticks- Marinara--Pizza- Cheese or Pepperoni--Pulled Pork Sliders2) Also for Super Bowl Sunday, CHOPPS American Bar & Grill in Burlington, welcomes Patriots fans to the expansive bar at CHOPPS for all the action of the Super Bowl. Guests can cheer on the Pats with a view of the game from every seat. Chef Steve Zimei (check out his Interview that was posted yesterday) will be offering a special Game Day bar menu, with specials including: ATL ‘We Smoked You’ Chicken WingsHickory-smoked, Lemon Pepper Sauce, Alabama White SauceThe Gridiron GrinderHousemade Sausage, Peppers and Castle Island Beer-braised Onions, Whole Grain Mustard Aioli, BaguetteFourth Down Flat BreadBraised Short Rib, Gorgonzola Cream, Seared Cipollini Onions, ArugulaTB12 Chili DipPork, Beef, and Veal , Red Kidney Beans, Monterey Jack Cheese , Sour Cream , Housemade Spicy ChipsField Goal Bruschetta--Braised Pork Belly, Melted Taleggio Cheese, Truffle Vinaigrette--Marinated Heirloom Tomato, Basil, Aged Balsamic Vinegar--Rock Shrimp, Smoked Tomato, Garlic Butter, Herb PestoChopps CharcuterieJansel Valley Bresaola, local Prosciutto, Cave-aged Cheddar, Coulemmier, Fig Jam, CrostiniGronk Goes NutsOven-roasted Four Rose Bourbon-glazed Cashews, Smoked Sea Salt3) On Tuesday, February 13, at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods in Park Square will host a wine dinner paired with selections from Opus One Winery (Oakville, California). French in style but Californian in execution, the iconic winery was officially born in 1983 and is the brainchild of two powerful and dynamic wine personalities: Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux and Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi. Sharing one vision which was to create wine of uncompromising quality, the two set off on a journey which would redefine and alter the course of fine wine production in the Napa Valley region. Today, Opus One is made up of four parcels comprising approximately 170 acres and produces one ultra-premium California red wine blend each year. While the grape composition of each vintage is different, Opus One is most often a blend of five grape varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Legal Sea Foods will team up with Opus One Winery’s sales manager Ms. France Posener, a 30-year veteran of the winery, to host a four-plus-course dinner featuring signature cuisine paired with her selections from the Opus One Winery. The menu will be presented as followsHORS D’OEUVRESSmoked Sable, Rosemary Toast, Lemon-Dill Aioli,Asian Beef Salad, Phyllo TartCitrus-Ginger Cream TartVeuve Clicquot Rosé Brut Champagne, NVFIRST COURSEVeal Roulade (chanterelle mushrooms, roasted Yukon gold potatoes, baby mâche, truffle beurre blanc)Opus One, Oakville, 2010SECOND COURSEPetite Filet Mignon (bone marrow, roasted root vegetables, apple beurre rouge)Opus One, Oakville, 2014MAIN COURSEStuffed Swordfish (crab meat, boursin, winter squas[...]

Culinary Creativity: Chef Steve Zimei


Chef Steve Zimei is the Executive Chef at Chopps American Bar & Grill, which is located at the Marriott Burlington. Steve is a native of Massachusetts and graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 1995. He then began his culinary career working for Chef Daniel Bruce, eventually becoming a sous chef at Rowes Wharf Sea Grille. Steve would also work on the opening teams for spots including Aquitaine, Harvest and XV Beacon Hotel. In addition, Steve moved onto executive chef positions at places including Gallia, Hotel MIT, The Worcester Restaurant Group, the Papa Razzi Group, and most recently Trails End Café in Concord.Most recently, Steve returned to work with Chef Bruce at Chopps, introducing new flavors to rejuvenate the American chophouse. Outside of the kitchen you can find Zimei, an avid runner and cyclist, racing for the local cycling team Optimum Performance and serving his community through various charitable organizations. Zimei currently resides in Leominster with his wife and three young sons.Chopps American Bar & Grill is one of my Top 50 Restaurants of 2017, and I've enjoyed numerous lunches and dinners at this spot. Chef Zimei is helping to ensure the consistent quality of this restaurant and it's great to see the new dishes he creates.(Check out my Introduction to the Culinary Creativity series.)Now onto the interview--How important is culinary creativity to you? Why is it important?"Culinary Creativity plays a vital role in being a chef. I am constantly thinking of what's coming in-season and new ways for my staff to learn and grow as culinary professionals. Being creative with menu design, technique, and presentation are all essential in this industry. The best part of my day is when I see a dish come to life. We have a vast array of clientele from all over the world that dine with us at Chopps, so we like to showcase our talents with weekly features that, if a fan-favorite, have the potential of going on our menu."What are your most significant inspirations for your culinary creativity? What makes those matters so inspiring?"I find that a lot of my inspiration stems from visiting local farms where I can feel, eat, and smell the freshest produce at the time. I like to utilize new ingredients to compliment dishes. Traveling to other restaurants to try different cuisines is also important to me to stay current in the culinary world. Not only is it fun, but experiencing new dishes really helps with flavor combinations that I can use to develop into my own style."Where do you get your ideas for new recipes/dishes?"A lot of my menu items develop from foods that I love to eat...I often go out and have dinner and say, “man I need to have a variation of this on the menu.” I will then experiment with flavors that are true to my style and build from there. Often seeking advice from my sous chefs is the best way to get a true feeling of whether the dish works or how to tweak it if needs be."What is your process of creating a new recipe or dish?"Creating a dish for me always starts by using the highest quality of ingredients that is in-season. We change our menu quarterly, so a menu change isn't just a few items but 10-15 dishes. I typically focus in on an idea and then run it as a feature on a tasting menu. Eating a dish a few times helps me navigate textures and flavor profiles until it is at the standard we want to serve guests. With the chef’s tasting menus, we can really play around with off-menu items and those tend to be the most fun for us!"Do other members of your staff assist with creating ideas for new recipes/dishes?"My sous chef and I are constantly bouncing ideas off each other. Most times, we will bring ingredients into the kitchen and cook until we are happy with the end result. This is a time when we can be totally honest an[...]

Starting the New Year With Crémant d'Alsace & Lobster


January 1, 2018: I chose to open two bottles of Crémant d'Alsace as a delicious way to start the New Year. My first wines of 2018, paired with 12 pounds of Homarus americanus, the American Lobster. Bubbles and the Bounty of the waters of Maine.Simply put, Crémant d'Alsace is a French sparkling wine from the Alsace region. In Alsace, they have been producing sparkling wines since the early 19th century but it wasn't until 1976 that the Crémant d'Alsace AOC was created. It's produced in a similar fashion to Champagne, though there are some differences as well. The term "crémant" means "creamy" and originally referred to sparkling wines that were produced with less pressure, which tended to make them taste more creamy than effervescent.The Crémant d'Alsace AOC has strict regulations on viticulture and viniculture, and six grapes are permitted including Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Most of their Blanc de Blancs is made from Pinot Blanc while Pinot Noir is the only grape permitted in their Rosé. Total production of Crémant d'Alsace, which comprises about 22% of the region's production, is about 33 million bottles. However, only about 300,000 bottles are imported into the U.S.Americans need to drink more Crémant d'Alsace! In fact, Americans need to drink more wines, of all types, from Alsace. As I've said repeatedly before, the wines of Alsace are generally not on the radar of the average consumer but they should be. They can often provide excellent value and taste. They are enjoyable while young but can also age well. They can provide a sense of history, as well as showcase state of the art wine making. They pair well with a diverse variety of foods and cuisines. And at their most basic, they are absolutely delicious.To learn more about Crémant d'Alsace, check out some of my previous articles where I share my passion for this tasty bubbly, including: Crémant d'Alsace & The Spartans At Thermopylae, Schoenheitz Winery: A Taste Of Beauty, Puritan & Co.: Alsatian Wine Advice, Gustave Lorentz: More Alsatian Wine Treasures, Alsatian Wines & Pheasant at Craigie On Main and Crémant d'Alsace: A New Year's Eve Recommendation.The first of the wines for the evening was the 2014 Domaine Albert Mann Extra Brut Crémant d'Alsace (about $24). The winery is a union of two families, Mann (who have been wine growers since the start of the 17th century) and Barhelmé (wine growers since 1654). Currently, the winery is owned and operated by Maurice and Jacky Barthelmé, with their wives, Marie-Claire and Marie-Thérèse. The Barthelmés believe: "The goal of the estate is to produce wine that is in harmony with nature. Wine is the memory of the grape and is capable of transmitting the taste of the earth." In adherence to this belief, their estate is certified organic and has been Biodynamic since 1997. Their estate includes 23 hectares of vineyards, broken up into about 100 separate plots, growing Riesling (29%), Gewurztraminer (20%), Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois (19%), Pinot Gris (17%), Pinot Noir (11%) and Muscat (3%).This Crémant d'Alsace is a blend of Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. With a fine golden color and a myriad of tiny bubbles, it possesses an alluring aroma, with elements of fresh fruit. On the palate, the Crémant is fresh, crisp and dry, with delicious flavors of green apple, pear and hints of lemon. Though it is fruit driven, there is complexity in the palate as well, with a touch of minerality and hints of spice. There is a light, elegant creaminess to this wine with a lengthy, pleasing finish, ending with more fruit notes. It livened up my mouth and brought to mind the coming Spring. It was my favorite[...]

Rant: Tell The Restaurant Who Sent You


Which local restaurant critics, reviewers, bloggers and others are the most influential? That is a difficult question to answer and some believe it is based, at least in part, on their number of social media followers.    

However, a recent New York Times article, The Follower Factory, has ignited discussions about fake followers on various social media platforms. People can purchase fake followers, to increase their numbers so that they seem more popular and influential. For some "influencers," the number of their followers directly affects how much money they generate, so there is a clear incentive to raise their follower numbers, even if they must buy them. As such, followers numbers may not be a good measure of influence.

Before dining out, many consumers consult restaurant reviews to assist in determining where they should eat. They may read newspapers, magazines, blogs, message boards, and social media sites. Sometimes they'll read multiple reviews of a restaurant, while other times a single review will catch their eye. Based on what they find, they may select a certain restaurant, finding a compelling reason in the review they checked out.

Unfortunately, many of these diners fail to mention to any of the restaurant employees the reason for why they chose to dine there. They eat in silence, remaining anonymous, and no one realizes what drew that customer to that particular spot. As such, restaurants don't understand the full extent and influence of specific restaurant reviews. A large piece of the overall puzzle remains missing and I, and others, would like to see that puzzle completed as much as possible. Restaurant owners certainly would love to know whose reviews led people to dine at their establishment.

Personally, if one of my readers dines at a restaurant based on one of my reviews, and they enjoy their meal, I would appreciate a small favor in return. First, please tell the restaurant that you visited them based on my recommendation. Second, please tell me where you dined based on my review. That would be very useful to me and would be beneficial to the restaurants as well. I receive feedback from some of readers, and know at least some have let restaurants know they visited due to reading one of my reviews.

I know that I am not alone, and that other writers and bloggers would love to hear more feedback on their reviews. So I encourage you to do a similar favor to them. If a review motivates you to visit a certain restaurant, then let that restaurant know which review led you there. Let your voice be heard, and it will cost you no more than a few moments of your time.

Tell the restaurant who sent you.

Sips & Nibbles: Valentine's Day Edition


I am back again with a special Valentine's Day edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events.**********************************************************1) The Automatic Food + Drink loves heat, spice, sweat and tears. So, of course The Automatic is hosting its own unique Cupid's Hell Night on February 14. With hot chili peppers as one of the most popular and powerful aphrodisiacs, what’s not to love at Cupid’s Hell Night at The Automatic? Plus, let’s be honest, it is a great excuse for Cousin Dave to dress up like Cupid.Chris Schlesinger has handed over the flames to Chef Martin and he is up for the challenge. Martin is creating a menu that will put every sense to the ultimate test. According to Cousin Dave Cagle, “We aren’t holding your hand through this one. That’s what your Valentine is for.” Two seatings, beginning at 6pm. Reservations highly recommended as The Automatic Hell Nights always sell out. To make a reservation, please call 617-714-5226.2) Spend a romantic night out with your one-and-only at RUKA by indulging in a four-course prix fixe menu for $55 per person. Enjoy the Tuna Roja Maki, a heart-shaped spicy tuna roll hugged in tuna sashimi, before digging into savory V-Day specials such as the Lobster Lomo Saltado and Grilled Corazon de Ribeye. To finish, satisfy your sweet tooth with the Pink Velvet Albaricocada, a Japanese sponge cake topped with dulce de leche, apricot marmalade, coconut meringue, besos de moza ice cream and drizzled with pink chocolate ganache. For Reservations, please call (617) 266-0102Make it a staycation by reserving a room at The Godfrey Hotel with their Love Takes Over package. Guests of the hotel on the 14th will receive double occupancy accommodations, a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne, beloved classic mouse chocolates from L.A. Burdick, overnight valet parking and a 2pm check-out. 3) Love is treating that special someone to a romantic dinner at Yvonne’s. On Valentine’s Day, enjoy dinner specials such as the Spice-Smoked Duck Breast ($15) served with a sherry glazed celery root, quince jam and vegetable escabeche and the Honey Walnut Shrimp ($17) with a hot ginger honey, charred gai lan, chili mayo, and buddha’s hand citrus. End the night with the Chain & Whip ($10), a dessert featuring red velvet cheesecake, twisted doughnut, whipped chocolate ganache and unicorn sprinkles. For Reservations, please call 617-267-00474) Take that special someone out for an evening they will not forget. Chef Josue at Bistro du Midi has put together a special four course, multi-choice menu with optional wine pairings. You can enjoy dishes such as Chamomile Cured Scallop, Wagyu Beef Tartare, Seared Foie Gras, Duck Breast, Venison Loin, and Dulcey Ganache. The Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu is $105 per guest, with an optional $65 wine pairing. Both bars welcome walk-ins only, with a limited special Valentine’s Day Bar Menu. To make Reservations, please call 617-426-7878.5) The team at Chopps American Bar and Grill invites guests to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special Chef’s Tasting Menu, available Friday, February 9th-Saturday, February 17th. Executive Chef Steve Zimei has crafted an exclusive menu for lovebirds in addition to the a la carte menu items. The full Valentine’s Weekend Chef’s Tasting Menu is as follows:First CourseFrench Onion Soup, Caramelized Onions, Sherry, Cheese CrostiniSecond CourseLobster Gnocchi, Ricotta Gnocchi, Maine Lobster, Winter Vegetable, MascarponeEntréeAspen Ridge Short Ribs, Five Spice, Celery Root, Salsify, Wild Mushroom, Smoked Bacon BrodoDessertButter Scotch Pot De Crème, Candied Pistachio BrittleThe Bosto[...]

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) Bar Boulud takes a modern approach to the classic Parisian patisserie experience with the debut of its new menu: “An Afternoon in Paris.” Whether gathering for business or pleasure, this experience features a selection of afternoon “perks,” including café, tea and rich house-made chocolat chaud, paired with an assortment of petite patisserie created by Pastry Chef Robert Differ. Available daily from 2:30 to 5:30pm in the restaurant lounge, the menu includes:--Café & Tea (espresso, cappuccino, latte, café au lait, selection of artisanal teas) $7--Chocolat ChaudValrhona Illanka 64% Dark $8Valrhona Dulcey 32% Blonde $8Savory--Vegetable Crudité (seasonal veggies, Chef Daniel Boulud’s famous aïoli) $12--Les Tartines (smoked salmon, shrimp & avocado, jambon-beurre) $15Sweet --Petite Madeleines (brown butter cakes, sugar dust) $8--French Macarons (chef’s seasonal flavors) $12--Pâte à Choux (Trio: éclair au chocolat, grand marnier profiterole, praline cream puff) $12--Fondue au Chocolat (serves two to four guests) $12melting dark chocolate sphere, strawberries, madeleines, vanilla bean marshmallows--La Tour Eiffel (serves two to four guests) $88vegetable crudité, les tartines, french macarons, petite madeleines, pâte à choux and choice of coffee, tea or chocolat chaudTo make a reservation, please call 6170-535-88002) On Sunday, January 7th, 2018, a pipe burst at United South End Settlements’ (USES) South End House, causing extensive damage to each floor and displacing over 100 children from early childhood education and after school programming. USES President and CEO Maicharia Weir Lytle explains the impact: “At $20 per hour for a babysitter, the cost of care per week for one child can be over $1,000. For our low-income families, this burden is devastating. Fortunately, our community has come together in beautiful ways. Families who are able to provide private childcare have opened up their homes and welcomed families who otherwise could not access care.” To this end, USES has created an emergency fund to support families with financial assistance, cover the costs associated with equipping a temporary space, and assist USES with expenses related to rehabbing our building that are not covered by insurance. USES has secured temporary space for programming, as demolishing and rebuilding the interior of the building is expected to take 12-18 weeks. “The biggest expense USES faces is repairing our roof. The pipe burst due to exposure to the frigid outside air. Insurance will not cover the repairs, yet this work is essential to preventing a future recurrence,” said Weir Lytle. On Tuesday, February 6, neighbors and supporters are invited to stop by The Beehive and enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres between 6pm-8pm, and make a financial contribution to USES and/or drop off new and gently used toys and books for USES's classrooms. In addition, The Beehive will donate 100% food sales on USES dinner reservations February 5th, 6th, and 7th. (Be sure to use code “USES” and book a separate reservation on the Beehive's website or call 617-423-0069) The mission of United South End Settlements is to harness the power of the diverse community to disrupt the cycle of poverty for children and their families. In the South End, where USES is located, 36% of children live below the poverty line. Collectively, they have the capacity to do better for the children in their neighborhood, ensuring that both children and their parents develop t[...]

Rant: Approaching Wine Like A Child


Have you lost your sense of vinous wonder?

After years of wine drinking, some people's palates become jaded and little excites them anymore. They also don't seek out different wines, electing to drink the same old wines all the time. Still other people become arrogant and pretentious, often primarily chasing after trophy wines, engaging in one-upmanship with their friends. They seek out high-end Bordeaux and Burgundy, California Cabernet and Italian Barolo, and similar such wines. Dining out with their friends becomes a competition, with each person seeking to select the best (and usually a pricey) wine on the list. All of these people see nothing wrong with their behavior, failing to realize they may have lost their sense of vinous wonder.

There are other people, with the same amount of wine drinking experience, who haven't become jaded or pretentious, who still marvel at wines that aren't trophies, wines which may be inexpensive and more unusual. They get excited about rare grapes, unique wine-making styles, and less common wine regions. These individuals still appreciate and understand the allure of trophy wines, the expensive classics, but they don't make them their raison d'être. They find pleasure and wonder in a wide range of wines, of all price points, of all types, from all regions.

It is usually easy to differentiate those who are jaded or pretentious from those who still possess that sense of wonder. Watch as they present a new wine, priced under $20, that excites them and you'll see a fire in their eyes and their words will be indicative of their delight. They will be eager to share that wine, to spread their thrill with their friends. The jaded person might share a similar wine, finding it of interest, but it's obvious they lack a true passion for the wine. It is offered more as intellectual experience, and it might even be compared to higher-end wines, noting its failings compared to those classics. And the pretentious ones might even show disdain for such an inexpensive wine.

We should approach wine as a child approaches life, with an eager curiosity. Like children, we should  embrace wonder and be open to new experiences.

I want to spend time with those who still possess their sense of vinous wonder. I want to share wine with those people, to marvel together at the unique, inexpensive wines we find. We can still drink and enjoy high-end, classic wines too but we won't turn up our noses at other wines. We will cherish the diversity of wine, being adventurous and exploring all that exists.

Try to examine your own approach to wine with a critical eye, to determine whether you still possess that wonder or not. If you do, then I strongly advise you to be wary of becoming jaded or pretentious.  If you do not, then I highly recommend you make changes to your vinous life. It's never too late to change. If you refuse to change, then you'll lose out on so much.

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) Chef/Owner Delio Susi and his team at Sulmona Restaurant + Bar are introducing an Abruzzese tradition for their guests with the debut of Polenta Parties all this February (except February 14), during dinner service which starts at 5:30pm. Chef Delio and his team have put together this special menu that is inspired by his family’s recipes and the way that they enjoy polenta at his Aunt Maria’s.Guests experience the Polenta Party with the rustic cornmeal based treat served to guests on custom made maple planks with the finest and freshest parmesan cheese and very rare and exclusive organic and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil from Chef Delio’s family vines in Sicily. Guests can select classic handmade toppings for their polenta such as: Country Ribs and CabbageVeal Stew and Wild MushroomShrimp ScampiCabbage and GarlicWild Mushroom and SageBagna CaldaPricing for the Polenta Party menu ranges from $18 - $32/person depending on selected toppings. The experience is available for parties of any size, from the solo diner to sharing with a group with the communal Farmer’s Table at Sulmona available for up to twelve guests.For something special to sip alongside these selections, guests can indulge in the Pia, a cocktail hand-crafted by General Manager Carmelo Bari and Sulmona’s bar team to accompany the Polenta Menu. Served in a polenta and sugar-rimmed coupe glass, the drink combines Grey Goose Pear Vodka, muddled sage simple syrup, Cynar (artichoke liquor), lime juice, and blood orange. Finish the night off with a polenta-inspired dessert. Sulmona’s Pear, Vanilla, and Amoretti Tart, made with thyme and sweet polenta crust and topped with almond gelato.2) The North End’s il Molo is gearing up once again for a Patriots post-season to remember with a special dollar menu. Head to il Molo for Sunday afternoon’s AFC Championship matchup against the Jaguars and nosh on a new $1 Game Time menu featuring finger foods such as Grilled Italian Sausages (topped with perfectly charred caramelized onions and pepper rings), Crispy Shrimp Tacos (topped with spicy aioli sauce and pickled red onion), Fried Calamari (served with sweet dipping sauce) and fresh Oysters – all for a buck. Complimentary, freshly popped Parmigiano Popcorn will also be available at the bar throughout the game. il Molo’s 60-inch flat screen TV hanging above the bar provides sight lines from almost anywhere in the bar-area, and an extensive list of beer, wine and cocktails completes the intimate game-watching experience. The Game Time Menu is available, starting at noon, with the purchase of any beverage and is offered at the bar and at high-top tables in bar-area only.3) Puritan & Co. Chef/Owner Will Gilson, Wine Director Peter Nelson, and the Puritan & Co. team invite guests to join them in celebrating their fifth anniversary with a special "greatest hits" dinner. Puritan & Co. will be hosting a multi-course "throwback Thursday" dinner featuring its greatest hits over the past five years on Thursday, January 25th, at 7pm. The proposed menu includes:--“A Taste of New England’s Coastline” with Smoked Bluefish, Marinated Oyster, Clam Cake, Bacon Wrapped Scallop, and Farm Egg with Jonah Crab--Celery Root Bisque (black truffle, thyme, marinated mussels)--Fresh Cheese Agnolotti (parmesan, leeks, clam butter)--Baked Scallop (parsnip, brown butter, ash oil, pickled mushrooms)--Slow Roasted Prime Rib (potato mille fe[...]

Rant: Vanquishing Fear Through Communication


"People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday that commemorates the birthday of this civil rights hero. In this single post, I can't do justice to the vast work of Dr. King but want to at least write something which attempts to epitomize the spirit of Dr. King. And of course, I want to tie it into the world of food and drink. The above quote is pertinent in many ways, in many different realms and industries. It encourages us to reach out and converse with others, to learn more about each other so we fail to fear others out of our ignorance.

In the Boston+ area, food & drink writers need to embrace more diversity, to reach out and connect with others who are different from them. We need to have more communication with others, to expand our circles so that we can understand others better. We have to break down the artificial barriers that separate us, which can be taken down so easily if only we want them to vanish. And we have to work together to take down other barriers which are more real and not as easily vanquished. Rather than fear and ignorance, we need to be more welcoming and knowledgeable. We need to offer each other assistance, to help us all grow in various ways.

For example, though there are hundreds of food & drink bloggers in the Boston+ area, the number which are written by people of color is extremely low. I've previously highlighted some of those writers, which unfortunately is a very short list, though I'm also sure that my list isn't complete. I've also previously written about my disappointment at the lack of diversity in numerous food and drink events I've attended over the years. Obviously people of color love food & drink just as much as anyone else so how do we encourage more of them to blog and attend local events? One way to do so is for us to communicate more with others, to open ourselves to people who are different from us. We should actively seek new experiences and provide support, assistance and mentoring to others who are open to it.

As another example, food and drink writers need to seek out more diversity in the subjects they wrote about, to break out of their comfort zones and communicate with others who are different from them. Interview, highlight and feature more people of color who are chefs, cooks, restaurant owners, wine makers, winery owners, etc. Maybe you feel uncomfortable talking with these people, or visiting their  places, but you need to get over it, and just do it. Confront your fears and you'll find there was no reason for fear in the first place. Visit some parts of Boston you don't normally visit, which might be places such as Roxbury and Dorchester, and check out the culinary wonders going on in those areas.

Break out of your circles of comfort and reach out to people outside those circles. Push aside your fears and misconceptions and get a first hand experience with others. We all can do our part to unify rather than divided, and the first step is communication, just talking with others, learning about their experiences and points of view. It's all very simple and the benefits can be enormous.

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) This is an exciting event, bringing a taste of Peru to Cambridge! I've long said we need more Peruvian cuisine in our local area so I hope this event does very well. And how often do you find Guinea Pig on the menu?The Automatic Food & Drink is letting Chef Martin Su, who is a native of Peru, take over the kitchen on Sunday, January 28, for a special Peruvian Takeover. Chef Martin will highlight some of his favorite and authentic dishes from Peru.The proposed Menu includes the following: Appetizer:--Leche de Pantera ( Panthers Milk )blood clam, seed weed, toasted cancha, lime juice, fish broth, garlic, gingerCity: Lima--Rocoto Relleno (stuffed spicy pepper)rocoto pepper, onion, raisin, kalamata olives, ground beef, queso fresco, poached eggCity: Arequipa--Inchicapi de Pollo (creamy chicken chowder)yucca, culantro, peanut, onion, polenta, chicken stockCity: LoretoEntree:--Seco de Cabrito (goat stew)chicha de jora, Ají Amarillo, panca, Cilantro paste, onion, beans, salsa criollaCity: Trujillo--Pepian de Cuy (hearty guinea pig stew)yellow potato, panca, peanut, garlic,chicken stockCity: Cusco--Patarashca de Trucha (patarashca of trout)Patarashca is a Quechuan* word meaning to fold and pastecumin, tumeric, salsa criolla, fried plantain, banana leafCity: Iquitos*Quechua is the official language of the Inka EmpireDessert:--Suspiro a la Limeña (sigh of Lima lady - meringue)condensed milk, evaporated milk, white meringue, cinnamonCity: LimaAll items to be ordered a la carte, and pricing is still To Be Determined.Reservations are encouraged, but not required.2) For National Hot Toddy Day, which is today, January 11, Sumiao Hunan Kitchen is offering their own version of a Hot Toddy ($7), with a base of a "warm lemon-honey black tea that is enriched by the depth of Courvoisier VSOP Cognac, a spirit that captures the earthy essence of autumn in New England. A house made lavender-clove reduction is folded in and the cocktail is finished with a sweet dose of Disaronno Amaretto and garnished with a lemon twist."With the cold temperatures we've been facing, a Hot Toddy will hit the spot, and warm you up.3) The new Eventide Fenway is now offering rotating brunch-specific specials mid-day on Sundays, from 11am-3pm, alongside their regular menu. Start the day off right with Buns and Bubbles – two signature Chinese steamed buns filled with soft scrambled eggs, topped with dollops of caviar and served alongside the classic morning OJ and bubbles mimosa – or a Pork Roll Breakfast Sandwich – New Jersey’s beloved breakfast meat with eggs and cheese on an everything bagel.4) Tony Maws, chef/owner of Craigie on Main and The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, just debuted Craigie On Main’s Vegetable Burger on Tuesday. This is the vegetable counterpart to Maws’ famous Craigie Burger. “This vegetable burger will stand on its own” according to Maws. Long a supporter of vegetables, it is actually not surprising to learn that Maws has been working on Craigie’s Vegetable Burger for over a year. “I am fascinated by America’s love of burgers” shares Maws. “I always wanted to create a really great vegetable burger. In fact, my brother Alex, who is a vegetarian, challenged me to create a vegetable burger as good as our cheeseburger at Craigie. He thinks this is a pretty awesome burger, so I hope everyone else agrees!” The Craigie Vegetable Burger [...]

Sake News


Kanpai! Here is another short list of some of the interesting Sake articles that have been published lately. It is great to see more and more coverage for Sake, though I recommend that anyone seeking to publish a Sake article check it at least a few times for accuracy. A few basic errors continue showing up in introductory Sake articles, and those errors would be easy to eliminate if you had a knowledgeable Sake person check your facts. Let us also hope that we see more than just introductory Sake articles in the future. Sake has many depths and all those varied facets make great material for articles.1) Did you know Sparkling Sake exists? A recent Japan Times news article discusses the growing popularity of Sparkling Sake, from its origins in 1998, noting "Presented in small, stylish bottles, many kinds of sparkling sake are only about 5 percent alcohol - lower than the 15 percent of typical sake. It is a popular choice among women." At most of the Sake tastings I have held, Sparkling Sake has usually been the most popular choice of the women attending the tasting. A few brewers have also started producing Sparkling Sake that is more similar to Champagne. Sparkling Sake can be a introduction to Sake, showcasing its diversity and breaking misconceptions about the nature of Sake. The next time you want to celebrate with some bubbly, consider Sparkling Sake.2) Should you age Sake in oak barrels? Very little Sake is aged in wood, and most that is aged in such a manner is aged in Japanese cedar and known as Taruzake. This has historical precedent but what about oak aging, like with wine? The Japan Times wrote about Wakaze, Inc. is now exporting its Orbia Sake brand, which has been aged in used oak barrels. One variety, the Sol, is aged in former red wine barrels while the Luna is aged in former white wine barrels. The Sol is "known for its rich sourness and fruity aroma" while the Luna is known "for its delicate sweetness." A major reason for the creation of these Sakes is to make them better pairings for Western cuisine, such as meat dishes or other fatty foods. This is an intriguing idea though I could see the oak barrels overwhelming more subtle Sakes. 3) Huge Sake news from New York! The Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that the Asahi Sake Brewery, which produces the famous Dassai brand, is planning to open a large Sake brewery in New York state. They have purchased a 62,000-sq.-meter site in New York's Hyde Park area, located in the Hudson Valley, in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America, and the total investment is estimated to be about $31 Million. Plans indicate the brewery will be about to produce about 1.8 million liters, and primarily Junmai Daiginjo, using locally grown rice. They hope to price this Sake at an extremely inexpensive $15, when most other Daiginjo Sake costs $40+. This is certainly indicative of the huge Sake market in the U.S. and could help promote Sake in a large way, especially considering its low price. It will likely be a couple years before we start seeing Sake from this planned brewery but it's very exciting news. And maybe other Japanese Sake breweries will now consider opening a brewery in the U.S.[...]

Rant: Dine Out More This Winter


Last week, there was a significant snowstorm in the Boston area, leaving over a foot of snow in some places and causing some coastal flooding. Driving was treacherous, some roads needed to be shut down, and you needed a boat to navigate some roads. Many people chose to remain inside rather than attempt to travel, canceling their scheduled plans. And this situation leads me to provide some advice I've given before, to remind people who might have forgotten.  

A number of restaurants, which remained open despite the snow, ran special offers, trying to entice diners. Snowstorms can wreck havoc with a restaurant's bottomline, especially when you consider that January and February can usually be slow times. After the holidays, people often tighten their economic belts and don't dine out as much, trying to pay off any bills incurred during the holidays. Others make resolutions, starting diets and try to eat more at home. Thus, at this time, restaurants need as much business as they can get, and a snowstorm can throw a wrench into those plans.

When a restaurant loses business due to a snowstorm, they lose money and it is not always easy to make up for that loss. Some restaurants run "blizzard" or "snowstorm" specials, attempting to lure in some customers. Even after a major snow event, some potential customers will prefer to remain home rather that attempt to battling snow covered roads and limited parking. Restaurants may continue to lose business for a few days after a major snowstorm. This will put stress on even the best of restaurants, so something needs to be done to help them.

My advice is simple: Dine out more this winter.

Despite the snow, despite the obstacles, people need to patronize more restaurants at this time, giving them your support and money. Don't go out if it is dangerous to do so, but don't stay in just because it is only inconvenient. If you can, walk to nearby restaurants. If possible, drive a short distance to other restaurants. Take public transportation if possible. Order takeout or get delivery. In New England, we are used to snow so it shouldn't be as much of a barrier as it might be elsewhere. And during this winter, when there isn't any snow, dine out more, giving your business to these restaurants to help them survive this season.

If you don't give some added support to restaurants at this time, then don't be surprised if your favorite places have to shut down. For many restaurants, especially the smaller ones, their profit margins can be small so that the lack of business during these snowy months can be devastating. And there is little they can do if people stay away because of the snow. You need to patronize these restaurants now, to assist them in weathering these problems.

Consider all the restaurant workers as well, including the servers who rely on tips. Without sufficient business, they won't be able to earn as much money, causing them to endure financial hardship. You can help them by dining out, and tipping properly. And if you order delivery during these snow events, I'd suggest you tip them extra, to compensate them for the difficult of driving in this weather.

Dine out more this winter. Give restaurants your support during these difficult times. Don't let snow lock you into your house for days on end.

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) For the first time, Legal Harborside’s scenic second level dining room will offer a regular weekday lunch service from 12:00pm-3:00pm while overlooking Boston Harbor. Last month, Legal Harborside opened their second level for midday dining to accommodate the bustling holiday season and given the popularity of the service, it will become a permanent fixture in the New Year. Legal Sea Foods’ flagship location in the Seaport will offer an upscale lunch experience on their second level with a menu comprised of chilled shellfish, crudos, soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches and entrees. Highlights from the menu include Jonah Crab Toast with fennel fronds, jalapeño and lemon aioli ($15); Legal’s Signature Crab Cake with jumbo lump crab, remoulade sauce and seasonal salad ($17); a Lobster Roll, prepared traditionally with mayo (MP); a Salmon Burger with freshly ground salmon and roasted red pepper sauce ($14); and, Grilled Tuna with cous cous and butternut squash ($MP). For reservations, please call 617-477-29002) Sumiao Hunan Kitchen is welcoming the New Year with the start of new traditions in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. Designed to heat up the frigid winter, Sumiao Hunan Kitchen is serving up a collection of spice-packed specials and after-dinner drinks to warm the soul. Available throughout the month, Sumiao Hunan Kitchen’s chef specials include the 2017 Fish Platter – a popular menu feature from their New Year’s Eve special – with red braised whole tilapia flavored with a black bean chili sauce and garnished with ginger, scallions and green & red peppers ($38) and the Furious Frog, a daring twist on their signature “Angry Frog” creation that brings even more Hunanese heat to a mix of bullfrog, duojiao, pickled red pepper, garlic and scallions ($32). Debuting at the end of the month and available through the spring, the 2018 Delight is a bowl packed with all of SHK’s favorite things: egg-wrapped fish paste, meatballs, bamboo shoots, calamari, pork, sea cucumber and more ($48). If you are resolving to cut dessert from your diet in 2018, Sumiao Hunan Kitchen now will offer a dedicated “Digestif Spirits” menu. Comprised of single malt scotches, cognacs, cordials and after-dinner cocktails, the new menu is the ultimate perfect ending to any meal without all of the guilt. Highlights include a Macallan 18 Year ($26), Balvenie 14 Year ($20) and Glenlivet 12 Year ($15); D’ussé VSOP ($17) and Courvoisier XO ($25); Fernet Branca ($10) and Godiva ($10); and, a Chocolate-Hazelnut Martini ($10). 3) Thursday, January 11th is National Hot Toddy Day and the Seaport Hotel’s TAMO Bistro + Bar is a fine place to celebrate. Escape the frost and cozy up by the fire to enjoy a piping hot toddy, made with whiskey and customized to your liking. Choose from Traditional (Seaport honey, lemon cloves), Spicy (Sriracha-infused Seaport honey, dried pepper) or Sweet (cinnamon-infused Seaport honey, cinnamon stick) variations to satisfy your taste and warm up from the inside out this winter season. Each Toddy is $12.[...]

No Predictions, Only Desires


As 2018 has now arrived, you'll here plenty of predictions for this New Year, but not from me.Predictions for the New Year are basically useless. At the end of the year, the vast majority of predictions will have failed to come to fruition and even those that do are probably due more to luck than any actual ability to predict the future. You would have just as much success by reading tea leaves or the entrails of goats. I know that if I devised my own predictions, they too would probably fail. We can all hope that 2018 will usher in positive changes to the local food & drink industry. Instead of offering any predictions, I'm going to provide a list of my desires, those trends, issues and items which I would love to see step forward and take precedence in 2018, though I'm not predicting they will actually come to fruition. However, I think we would all benefit if these desires were fulfilled.And we have the ability to make these desires come true. They pose valuable opportunities for entrepreneurs and others to step up and make their mark. They are matters we can demand and promote, matters we can hound restaurant owners, legislators and others to pursue. We can make our future become a reality.Many of these desires are the similar to those I wrote in previous years as those desires did not come to fruition but I still believe they should become more prominent. Maybe 2018 will finally be the year to see at least a couple of my desires come true.1) More Bread Pudding  Bread pudding is relatively easy to make and can be inexpensive as it can be made with day old bread. Plus, it is a diverse dish that can be made in a wide variety of flavors, with different sauces, and accompaniments. I've had some superb bread puddings at local restaurants, and would like to see more restaurants offering it on their dessert menus. However, I also think there is a great opportunity for an enterprising baker to open a Bread Pudding Bakery. They exist in other parts of the country so why not in the Boston area? Skip opening another damn cupcake bakery, think outside the box, and opt for a bread pudding bakery instead. I've been pushing for this for a few years and it still hasn't caught on. Why not?2) More Local SeafoodSomething is seriously wrong as the U.S. imports over 90% of their seafood. Where is the love for domestic seafood? There is plenty of sustainable and delicious domestic seafood available and more of it needs to be served at restaurants and eaten at homes. For example, why serve Asian shrimp, especially considering problems such as the Thai slavery scandal, when Gulf shrimp can be just as good? We should support local fishermen and our local economy by buying more local seafood. Local seafood is also more traceable, so you know where it has been counter to imported seafood which can have a much murkier origin. Price alone shouldn't be the reason to opt for imported seafood.3) More Breakfast PizzaA breakfast pizza, such as with potatoes, bacon, cheese and a fried egg, can be absolutely delicious. It isn't a difficult dish to create yet you won't find it available on many menus. Think of all the pizza joints you know and then consider which ones make a breakfast pizza. You might know one or two, at best. So why isn't it more popular and available? It is puzzling to me and it seems such a no-brainer. People love pizza so why wouldn't they also love a breakfast pizza? This too seems to be a missed opportunity for many so I hope more restaurants decide to add th[...]

10 New Year's Resolutions For My Readers


Happy New Year's and I hoped you enjoyed your celebrations last night, whether you were partying in Times Square or enjoyed a relatively quiet night at home. I hope you spent the evening with family and/or friends and drank some type of delicious Sparkling Wine. It is my fervent wish that this New Year is better for you than 2017.This is also the time when people will ponder their lives and choose to make Resolutions, the things they want to do, or not do, to make their lives better in the New Year. Maybe you want to give up smoking or lose weight, maybe you want to start going to a gym regularly or save more money. Unfortunately, many people will break their resolutions after only a short time, so numerous people will choose not to make a resolution, figuring they won't follow it anyways.As I previously done for the last several years, I want to offer some alternative suggestions for resolutions, all connected to food and drink. Rather than deal in absolutes, or exact measurements, I merely hope that you choose to do your best to follow these suggested resolutions with the simple goal of doing better than you did last year. I don't expect anyone to follow these resolutions all the time. Please just do your best. I think you might find this easier to do than a more specific resolution which is an either/or proposition. Seek continued forward progress in these ten resolutions.1) Resolve to eat & drink healthierThat encompasses so much, from eating less calories to choosing items that have less preservatives and chemicals. Take small steps in your approach rather than diving into a major change. The smaller steps won't seem as burdensome and it will make it easier to take another small step later on. And even small changes can bring about positive changes. We all would benefit from eating and drinking healthier and it will also help our environment and economy.2) Resolve to consume more local food & drinkLocal products can help the environment, the local economy and benefit the local community. Plus, many of those local products can be healthier than mass produced, overly processed foods that might come from thousands of miles away. This includes drinking local wines, as every state now produces wine, and you might be surprised by the quality of some of that local wine. Not all local food and drink is delicious or good for the environment, so do some research to find out the best.3) Resolve to eat more seafood, especially domesticSeafood can be extremely healthy for you, especially those fish rich in Omega-3s, so it is an excellent choice for dinner. And seafood is delicious, versatile and often easy to prepare. Yes, it can be more expensive, but it is well worth the added cost. And buying more domestic seafood will help our economy, rather than buying so much imported seafood. Eating more seafood can be one of the healthiest life changes you ever make. It has scientifically been proven that consuming 26 pounds of seafood annually will reduce your chances of heart disease by 36%. An easy and delicious resolution.4) Resolve to expand your drink horizonsDon't keep drinking the same old stuff all the time. There are so many wonderful beverages out there to taste, to see if you can find some new favorites. Break out of your rut and endeavor to try something new on a regular basis. If you mainly drink Chardonnay, venture out and try some other white wines, such as Gruner Veltliner, Trebbiano or Albarino. Try Sherry, Sake, Jap[...]

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) On Wednesday, January 17,  at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods in Park Square will host a wine dinner with the Israel Wine Producers Association which represents 30 Israeli wineries—from commercial to boutique — and was established to unify the leading quality Israeli wineries in a concerted effort to promote Israel as a ‘fine wine growing region’. Israel has been able to take their ancient history and blend it with the most modern technology to produce some of the finest wines available and become one of the fastest growing winemaking regions in the world. Legal Sea Foods will team up with Joshua Greenstein, the Vice President of the Israel Wine Producers Association, to host an exclusive four-plus-course dinner featuring signature cuisine paired with his selections from Israel’s wines. The menu will be presented as follows: HORS D’OEUVRESTuna Tartare, Cherry Tomato CupSmoked Salmon, Cucumber Barquette, Pickled GingerLemon-Saffron Chicken BrochettesCarmel “Kayoumi Vineyard” Riesling, Galilee, 2014FIRST COURSEChar-Broiled Mediterranean Salmon (mushroom quinoa salad)Teperberg “Essence” Chardonnay, Samson, 2014Castel “C” Chardonnay, Jerusalem, 2016SECOND COURSECoconut-Curried Cornish Hen (cilantro rice, braised greens, winter squash, red onion jam)Jezreel Valley Winery “Adumim,” Galilee, 2014Psâgot “Edom” M Series, Jerusalem, 2014Teperberg “Inspire” Meritage, Shomron, 2016MAIN COURSEApplewood-Grilled Rib-Eye Steak (barley and Brussels sprout risotto, wild mushroom tapenade)Tulip Winery “Reserve” Syrah, Galilee, 2014Yatir Forest, Judean Hills, 2013DESSERTPeach and Berry Cobbler (toasted walnuts, peach sorbet)Mystery WineCOST: $95 per person (excludes tax & gratuity) MORE INFO: Reservation required by calling 617-530-93972) Earls Kitchen + Bar at the Prudential Center is gearing up to host their first New Year’s Eve celebration in the Back Bay while Boston’s “First Night” fireworks twinkle above. The three-season rooftop bar will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland-themed lounge where “ice” will play the counterpart to Boston’s hottest night of the year to socialize. Beginning at 8pm, revelers will be treated to a welcome drink in an ice mug before indulging in an a la carte icy oyster bar or more sips through an ice luge. Groups of four-or-more also will be treated to table service, inclusive of various packages with bubbles and bivalves. WHEN: Sunday, December 31, beginning at 8pmCOST: Individual tickets: $50 per person (includes welcome drink)Table for-four people: $300 (includes round of welcome drinks, a bottle of sparkling wine and a dozen oysters)Table for-six people: $500 (includes round of welcome drinks, two bottles of sparkling wine and a dozen oysters)MORE INFO: Tickets and reserved table options are available for purchase by visiting Ticketholders must arrive prior to 10 pm for guaranteed entry.3) Join TAMO Bistro + Bar at the Seaport Hotel for dinner, drinks and dancing on New Year’s Eve and ring in 2018 with specialty entrées, festive drinks, a DJ and party favors—the perfect evening for couples and groups alike. TAMO’s daily menu will be offered in addition to New Year’s Eve spe[...]

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) Executive Chef Josue Louis and the entire team at Bistro du Midi invite guests to indulge in two special menus showcasing the best of the restaurant’s spectacular Provencal cuisine this New Year’s Eve. The first seating (5:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m.) features a four-course prix fixe menu, and the second seating (8:30 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and 10:00 p.m.) features a five-course prix fixe. Head Sommelier Ray Osborne is pulling out all the stops with a magnificent lineup of artfully paired wines to enhance the entire dining experience. Guests looking for a more casual experience can visit the first-floor café or one of two classic bars, where guests can select dishes from a special a la carte version of the New Year’s Eve menu. The full New Year’s Eve menu options are as follows:FIRST SEATINGAMUSE BOUCHEWarren Cove Oyster, Green Apple Mignonette*NV POL ROGER, EXTRA CUVEE DE RESERVE, EPERNAY, CHAMPAGNEFIRST COURSE (choice of)Heirloom Baby Carrots, Pomelo, Gingersnap, ButtermilkOrScallop Crudo, Blood Orange Sauce Vierge, Fennel Meringue*2015 DOMAINE FOURNIER, SAUVIGNON BLANC, LOIRE VALLEYOrWagyu Beef Tartare, Celery Root, Hazelnut2016 CHATEAU MIRAVAL, COTES-DE-PROVENCE, ROSESECOND COURSE (choice of)Parsnip Soup, Hen ff The Wood, Sage Sable, Aged BalsamicOrSpanish Octopus, Sunchoke, Golden Delicious, Smoked AlmondsOrSeared Foie Gras, Squash Butter, Pistachio Granola, Brioche2015 HUGEL, ‘GENTIL,’ SYLVANER/RIESLING BLEND, ALSACEWHITE TRUFFLE COURSE (OPTIONAL)Fresh Alba White Truffles, Black Pepper Chitarra, Farm Egg Yolk, Trumpet Royales2015 PIETRADOLCE, NERELLO MASCALESE, MOUNT ETNA, SICILY(supplement $30, wine pairing $10)THIRD COURSE (choice of)King Ora Salmon, Salsify, Swiss Chard, Bordelaise2014 TORII MOR, ‘DEUX VERRES,’ PINOT NOIR, WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGONOrSirloin, Purple Potato, Pearl Onion Brulee, Horseradish ButterOrChestnut Crusted Venison, Baby Turnip, Red Cabbage, Cocoa Jus2015 RAMEY WINE CELLARS, ‘CLARET’, CABERNET BLEND, NAPA VALLEYFOURTH COURSE (choice of)Praline Budino, Espresso Cremeux, Kirshwasser Ice CreamOrLemon TART, Champagne Sabayon, Blackberry Ice Cream2014 CHATEAU BEL-AIR, VIEILLES VIGNES, SAINTE CROIX-DU-MONTSECOND SEATINGAMUSE BOUCHEWarren Cove Oyster, Green Apple Mignonette*NV POL ROGER, EXTRA CUVEE DE RESERVE, EPERNAY, CHAMPAGNEFIRST COURSE (choice of)Heirloom Baby Carrots, Pomelo, Gingersnap, ButtermilkOrScallop Crudo, Blood Orange Sauce Vierge, Fennel Meringue*2015 DOMAINE FOURNIER, SAUVIGNON BLANC, LOIRE VALLEYSECOND COURSE (choice of)Spanish Octopus, Sunchoke, Golden Delicious, Smoked AlmondsOrWagyu Beef Tartare, Celery Root, HazelnutOrSeared Foie Gras, Squash Butter, Pistachio Granola, Brioche2015 HUGEL, ‘GENTIL,’ SYLVANER/RIESLING BLEND, ALSACETHIRD COURSE (choice of)Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Black Trumpet, Ricotta Salata, CashewsOrSquid Ink Risotto, Calamari, Prawn, Sea UrchinOrFresh Alba White Truffles, Black Pepper Chitarra, Farm Egg Yolk, Trumpet Royales(supplement $30)FOURTH COURSE (choice of)King Ora Salmon, Salsify, Swiss Chard, Bordelaise2014 TORII MOR, ‘DEUX VERRES,’ PINOT NOIR, WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGONOrSirloin, Purple Potato, Pearl Onion Brulee, Horseradish ButterOrChestnut Crusted Veniso[...]