Like many wine lovers in Massachusetts, I would like the ability to receive shipments of wine directly from out of state wineries. There are plenty of wineries which do not sell their wines in Massachusetts but which I would like to be able to purchase. However, I still cannot do so because the legislature can't seem to get their act together and pass a constitutional law which would allow it.
Sport fans tend to support their home teams, to have a sense of pride in these local sport teams. In Boston, most local residents support the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Patriots. Even if you are not a big sports fan, you still tend to have a sense of pride in your local teams. One's pride in your local teams often does not depend upon the greater success of those teams. These sports teams don't even have to win championships to have local fans with great pride in their teams. For example, Red Sox fans fervently supported their team despite the fact it took them 86 years to win another World Series.
Local teams, local pride.
This is a great concept and I wish people would have that same pride in their local wine industries. Every state in the country now makes their own wine, and those wineries need the support of their local residents. They need to be embraced like they were a local sports team.
Over the weekend, I attended the fifth annual Drink Local Wine conference in Maryland. This was a fantastic opportunity to learn about and taste a diverse variety of Maryland wines. Prior to the conference, I had never tasted a Maryland wine and at the conference, I probably got to taste easily over 100 Maryland wines. In addition, I attended several panels where a number of people involved in the Maryland wine industry discussed the past, present and future of their wine scene. The issue of local pride arose during these panels.
Like many states, Maryland wines have an image problem, including among many of its citizens. Though I saw much pride for their wine at the conference, the grand tasting also showed how numerous people still did not fully understand the type of wines that Maryland produces. Some previously believed that Maryland made only sweet wine so the grand tasting was an eye opener for them, giving them additional reasons to have greater pride in their state. Far more residents of Maryland need to have pride in their wine industry, to embrace it as they do their local sport teams.
I think it was especially fitting that the Grand Tasting was held at the Warehouse at Camden Yards, the park where the Baltimore Orioles play baseball. Maryland residents have great pride in the Orioles and they should have a similar pride in their local wine industry. That requires a greater comprehension of the local wine industry, a willingness to explore and taste local wines to learn what they have to offer.
I heard a local chef, whose restaurant emphasizes local ingredients, explain that he was still ignorant of many Maryland wineries, which was part of the reason why his restaurant's wine list had only a tiny amount of local wines. As he has pride in local food ingredients, he should learn more about Maryland wine and obtain a similar pride in those wines. Locally, I have heard from a number of restaurants and wine stores who possessed much ignorance of the Massachusetts wine industry, failing to realize the quality that exists there.
I am using Maryland as an example and my point extends to citizens in every state. You need to have pride in your local wine industry, no matter where it fits on the spectrum of quality. Maybe your state doesn't make "championship" wine yet, but that still does not mean you shouldn't support it. Your support and pride in your local wine industry will give it an added incentive to improve, to raise its quality. Take some time to learn about your local wine industry and you might be surprised at the quality you discover.
Let your pride for your local sport teams extend to your local wineries!
I am back with a special Friday edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently.
1) Executive Chef Eric Gburski is getting ready to roll out a new lunchtime menu at Estelle’s in the South End. Chef Gburski’s Burger Joint menu will launch on Monday, April 15, and features five juicy burger options and four gourmet salads perfect for all palates. Estelle’s will now be a burger joint by day while continuing to serve up its signature southern cuisine by night and also for Sunday brunch.
Chef Gburski’s quintet of burgers are served with house-cut fries and a variety of sauces and will be flipped as follows: Estelle’s House Burger (100% beef burger with American cheese, tomato, onion, Estelle’s B n’ B pickles, potato roll - $7.95); Double Trouble (double 100% beef burgers, double American cheese, tomato, onion, Estelle’s B n’ B pickles, potato roll - $12.95); Cajun Turkey Burger (spiced turkey with American cheese, tomato, onion, Estelle’s B n’ B pickles, potato roll - $9.95); Crispy Catfish Burger (pan fried, breaded and spiced catfish with lettuce, tomato, onion, Estelle’s B n’ B pickles, potato roll - $10.95); and, Vegan Burger (black eyed pea and corn burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, Estelle’s B n’ B pickles - $8.95).
For salads, there are four options: Cajun Chef’s Salad (smoked turkey, Tasso ham, Gruyere cheese, Romaine lettuce with remoulade vinaigrette, julienne vegetables, house deviled egg - $11.95); Big Chopped Salad (Iceberg chopped and tossed with buttermilk ranch dressing, pickled red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, cornbread croutons - $9.95); Spinach Salad (warm roasted shallot-bacon vinaigrette, crumbled feta cheese, chopped egg, grilled red onions - $10.95); and, Bitter Greens Salad (chicory, arugula, Tuscan kale, sherry-mustard vinaigrette, roasted beets, goat cheese, orange-spicy pickled carrots - $9.95).
Estelle’s will be open for lunch service Monday through Saturday from 11:30am to 5:00pm.
2) Owner & Chef Brian Poe is springing into the season with the launch of a series of new menus at The Tip Tap Room in Beacon Hill on Thursday. On the culinary side, Executive Chef Poe will introduce a new upscale, entrée concept to his restaurant – devoid of “tips” – while refreshing some of his signature “tips” and lunch offerings to incorporate the premier flavors of spring. On the beverage side, seasonal sips, brews and first-time “mocktail” selections will emerge.
For dinner, Chef Poe will now serve up a quintet of new entrees geared toward those with savory and hearty appetites: Wagyu Flank Steak (marinated in basil and garlic with spring peas, shiitake mushrooms, bacon-mint risotto, cabernet sauce - $24.95); Thai Peanut Crusted Halibut (roasted fingerling potatoes, coconut lemongrass broth, grilled baby bok choy - $26.95); Pork Porterhouse (basil and onion marinade, avocado, chanterelle mushroom and tomato salsa, mushroom glace - $24.95); Shrimp (with lobster-buttered cheese grits - $26.95); and, Antelope Meatloaf (cranberry-jalapeño au jus, crispy cheesy potato cake - $17.95).
On the lunch menu, there are now six gourmet salads and six sandwiches, piled-high, available in addition to many options for soups, appetizers and “tips.” Highlights include: Endive, Radicchio & Arugula (grilled asparagus, toasted pine nuts, kalamata olives, parmesan cheese, aged balsamic vinaigrette - $9.95); Grilled Baby Bok Choy Salad (sauté of snap peas, Thai chilies, caramelized shiitakes, grilled tofu, sesame-soy vinaigrette - $10.95); Buffalo Sandwich (buffalo meat, lettuce, tomato, boar bacon, juniper mayonnaise, Swiss cheese - $12.95); Spring Chicken (grilled chicken tips, Meyer lemon mayonnaise, mint vinaigrette, pea tendrils, tomato - $10.95); and, Grilled Tuna (peppercorn and coriander, grilled medium rare, pink peppercorn-soy vinaigrette, micro wasabi greens - $15.95).
Other newcomers to the spring menus include: Lobster Corn Chowder (lobster, corn, potatoes, ginger - $13.95); Spring Pea Soup (crème fraîche, crouton - $9.95); Spring Salad (peas, carrots, parsnips, cucumber ribbons, morels, seasonal specials - $9.95); and, Celery Salad (roasted celery root, celery root chips, celery, shaved parmesan, watermelon radish, black radish, sea salted walnuts, fennel, red wine Dijon vinaigrette - $11.95).
Available at lunch and dinner, Chef Poe will continue to serve up his seven signature “tips” selections with refreshed accompaniments and his nightly rotating wild game specials.
I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently.
1) The Taste of the North Endis turning 20 this year. The Taste of the North End was founded by Donato and Nancy Frattaroli in 1993 as a benefit for Casa Monte Cassino. The Frattarolis became aware of Casa Monte Cassino when a family from Italy came into their North End restaurant. The family was staying at the CMC while their four daughters received medical attention at Boston's Children's Hospital Boston. The Frattarolis were touched by their story and inspired by the mission of the Casa; to provide a place to stay for impoverished families from around the world while their children receive serious medical attention in Boston. Over the next few weeks, as the Frattarolis developed the idea for the Taste of the North End to raise funds to help Casa Monte Cassino provide its invaluable services.
The Frattarolis, with the support of the North End restaurant community, held the First Annual Taste of the North End in the basement of St. John's School. That first year, guests were able to try dishes from fifteen North End eateries. The success of the event has been incredible. What started in St. John's moved to the local Coast Guard Base, the New England Aquarium, and finally to the DCR's Steriti Rink on Commercial Street. The Taste of the North End currently features over 30 restaurants, bakeries and distributors. Since its inception, the Taste of the North End has raised over $500,000 for Casa Monte Cassino and other local North End charities.
This year, guests can sample from more than 35 popular North End eateries showcasing a wide array of delectable appetizers, cheeses, entrees and desserts, and sip on refreshing libations from area wine and beer distributors. There will also be a high-end silent auction with hotel and restaurant packages, Boston sporting tickets, memorabilia, and more.
All proceeds from the event are split between multiple non-profit organizations in the North End including elderly, education and health programs to help better then entire community; last year over $100,000 was raised. This is the fourth year that North End Waterfront Health has partnered with the Frattaroli family to put on and host the event.
This year’s event co-chairs are event founder Donato Frattaroli, owner of Lucia Ristorante, and James Luisi, CEO of North End Waterfront Health. The Master of Ceremonies for the 16th year is KISS-108 and NECN personality Billy Costa. This ceremony will also honor Matt Conti, a local North End Community Journalist for his charitable work with North End organizations and North End restaurant owner, Barbara Summa of La Summa Restaurant.
This year’s participating restaurants include: Al Dente, Antico Forno, Aragosta, Artu, Bricco, Cantina Italiana, Carmelina, Ducali, Filippo, Fiore, Gennaro’s 5 North Square, Il Panino, J. Pace, La Summa, Lucca, Lucia Ristorante, Mamma Maria, Massimino, Mercato del Mare, Mike's Pastry, Modern Pastry, Neptune, Pagliuca, Paul W. Marks, Pellino, Perkins, Piantedosi Baking, Quattro, Taranta, Terra Mia, Tresca, and Vito’s Tavern.
The event will be held on Friday, May 10, from 6pm-11pm, at the DCR Steriti Memorial Ice Rink, 561 Commercial Street, Boston.
Tickets are $79 and can be purchased in advance at totne.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 617-643-8105. Tickets are $99 after April 26th.
2) Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer is celebrating their 14th year of success in the city. This year, from May 6-12, some of the area’s premiere restaurants and bakeries will be joining forces to help raise money to benefit breast cancer research and care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Establishments will choose one dessert to feature for a week where 100% of the proceeds from sales will go directly to the Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer organization.
This year, top area restaurants have kindly pledged to donate all of their selected dessert’s proceeds to join in the battle against breast cancer including:
Avila Modern Mediterranean and Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse’s Warm Chocolate Cake ($9)
BOKX 109 American Prime’s Local Strawberry, Tarragon & Balsamic Shortcake (basil, peach gelato, rhubarb lattice - $10)
Haru’s Banana Spring Rolls (chocolate dipping sauce - $9)
Legal Harborside’s Savarin Aux Fruit (yeast cake soaked in passion fruit and Bärenjäger with whipped cream, fresh fruit - $7.95 on the second level)
The Tip Tap Room’s Blackberry & White Chocolate Bread Pudding (caramel and brioche - $6.95)
The Varano Group’s Fresh Berry Chocolate Tart ($9 at Strega Waterfront, Strega North End and Nico).
3) On Monday, April 15, at 6:30pm, Tryst Restaurant located in Arlington and Berman’s Wine & Spirits, located in Lexington combine forces to host a four course, prix fixe wine dinner in celebration of international winemaker and the evening’s special guest, Guillaume Gonnet, the co-owner of Font de Michelle located in the Rhone Valley of France.
Font de Michelle has been run by the Gonnet family for over three generations, and offers some of the fairest prices throughout Chateauneuf du Pape sector. Quoting Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate, "One of the top estates in the eastern sector of Chateauneuf du Pape, with cellars located adjacent to Vieux Telegraphe, Font de Michelle has been impeccably run by the Gonnet brothers for a number of years. Moreover, they have kept their egos in check, offering some of the fairest pricing of the appellation."
Hosted at Tryst, guests will indulge in Chef Turano’s four course menu:
P.E.I Mussels (Coconut & red curry)
(2011 Cotes du Rhone Blanc “La Julia”)
Comte & Caramelized Onion Tart (Field greens & lardon’s)
(Cotes du Rhone Rouge “Font du Vent”)
Slow Braised American Lamb (Spring dug parsnip & roasted vegetables)
(2010 Chateauneuf du Pape “Font de Michelle”)
Almond Financier (Orange anglaise & rhubarb)
(Muscat Beaume de Vinise-La Pigeade)
Cost: $75 per person (tax & gratuity not included)
Reservations are required by calling Tryst at 781-641-2227
4) Mâitre d' hotel and Fromager Louis Risoli teams up with Sommelier Erich Schliebe to bring an exquisite Cheese & Champagne sampling to this month’s Salon Session at L’Espalier. On Thursday, April 11, at 6pm, Risoli and Schliebe present an entertaining evening for an intimate and interactive sampling. For $55 per person, guests can indulge in a selection from L’Espalier’s award-winning cheese cart paired with fine champagne. Hosted in L’Espalier’s striking salon overlooking Boylston Street, guests can toast to great cuisine, conversation, and a one of a kind view of the city.
For more information or reservations, please call (617) 262-3023
"Recent immigrants aside, Americans spoil and cater to their children more than do other countries. We buy them more toys, read more books about how to bring them up, and give them larger allowances to spend."
--An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen
Tyler Cowen is an American economist, academic, and writer. He occupies the Holbert C. Harris Chair of economics as a professor at George Mason University.I have been reading his newest book, which was released last year, and it is a fascinating look at the world of food. He possesses strong opinions, and though I don't agree with all of them, there is validity in much he has to say.
Spoiled children! Even if you won't admit it, I am sure you know plenty of parents who spoil their children too much. You might even be one of those parents yourself, though you probably deny it. There are numerous negatives attached to spoiling children but I am only going to deal with a single aspect here: Food.
Food? How does that fit into being spoiled? Let us start at the beginning. "Food habits start in the family. That is where we learn what to eat, how to eat, and how to value food. While a palate can be retrained, most people keep the food tastes of their childhood." (Cowen) This is an essential foundation and applicable to many varied food issues. If we truly want to change the negative aspects of our food system, much of our efforts should be directed at changing the eating habits of children.
"We also spoil our children by catering to their food preferences, but this damages dining quality for everyone. American parents produce, buy, cook, and present food that is blander, simpler, and sweeter, and in part that is because the kiddies are in charge." (Cowen) Sugar coated cereals, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken fingers, McDonald's and more. Go to most restaurants, and that is what usually can be found on their childrens' menus. This often bland and predictable food can negatively impact a child's future consumption patterns.
However, the negative impact also adheres to the parents and that may not be as readily visible, but it needs to be considered due to its significance. "A lot of American food is, quite simply, food for children in a literal sense. It’s just that we all happen to eat it." (Cowen) Parents fall into the trap of eating similar food to their children and there are multiple reasons for this. "Since it is easier to cook for the whole family, American food followed this simpler, blander path." (Cowen) Rather than cook two meals, one for the children and one for the parents, many choose to cook a single meal, which caters more to the blander, simpler tastes of the children. When children eat out, many want to go to fast food chains, from McDonald's to Burger King, and they take their parents with them, who then also eat there. "Many fast food outlets target their marketing at children, hoping that parents will be dragged in as well." (Cowen)
When children are on their own, with their own money, their eating habits don't get any better. "...(C)hildren spend a lot of their allowance money on candy, fast food, and snacks. This shapes their tastes and gives them some food autonomy, relative to their peers in other countries, who are typically more dependent on the food chosen by their parents. The result is a lot of bad food and a lot of sweet, bland food. For instance, children have been the driving force behind the prominence of doughnut chains in the United States." (Cowen) You can't expect most children to seek out healthy food when they are out on their own, with their own allowance money.
Other countries often lack their issues. For example, "In France, in contrast, the wishes of children, whether for food or otherwise, are more frequently ignored. The kids are simply expected to eat what the adults feed them." (Cowen) Children are far less spoiled and they learn to eat much better cuisine. Interestingly, at AKA Bistro in Lincoln, which has a French bistro section, their childrens' menu includes items like snails, replicating more of the French experience.
In the end, parents need to seize control and stop spoiling and catering to their children. They need to feed their children better food, more interesting and healthy foods. They need to stop taking them so much to cheap fast food chains and stop them from guzzling gallons of sugary drinks. The children are not going to stop on their own. Parents bear the ultimate responsibility and it is time for them to step up to the plate. Don't look to the government to solve problems such as children's obesity. Parents, look at yourselves and make the necessary changes.
I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently.
1) Tuesday nights are now “Arlington Fried Chicken Night” at Tryst Restaurantin Arlington. This off menu special is available only on Tuesdays from 5pm-10pm and is focused on takeout. Guests will get 2 pieces of fried chicken marinated in buttermilk, double dredged and double-fried to a perfect golden crisp, along with a side of house-made whipped mashed potatoes with pan gravy, fresh coleslaw and a warm from-scratch buttermilk biscuit for $20.
The best part, $3 of each order sold will go directly to various Arlington based nonprofits including the Arlington Center for the Arts, Arlington Boys and Girls Club, and the Arlington Education Foundation.
Diners can call ahead and pick up this packaged meal which is available for take-out or dine-in on Tuesday nights only. Each AFC box is $20 (feeds one person) and can be ordered by calling the restaurant at (781) 641-2227.
Fried Chicken Recipe:
One all natural chicken, approximately four pounds. (Serves: 8)
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
½ Tablespoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne
One day in advance:
Cut chicken into ten pieces, removing the back bone and wing tips.
Combine all of the ingredients for the dry rub and massage into the chicken parts. Refrigerate overnight.
Vegetable oil for frying
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oil to 350˚.
Remove chicken from the refrigerator, do not rinse. Double batter in the buttermilk and flour (buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour).
Fry in batches, approximately 8 minutes
Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
2) Proprietor/General Manager Chris Campbell & Executive Chef/Partner Scott Hebert announced Sue Drabkin has taken the helm as Pastry Chef at Troquet. Drabkin was most recently the Executive Pastry Chef at RIS in Washington, D.C.’s West End.
Campbell said of Drabkin’s work, “Sue's mature dessert approach pairs well with our in-house wine approach: Providing uncompromising quality with sophistication & elegance.”
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA, Drabkin has since worked in some other New England kitchens including Rhode Island’s Stone House at Pietra Restaurant in Little Compton, & more recently at Harvest Restaurantin Cambridge, MA. During her two-year tenure at Harvest, she created seasonal menus from local produce available in Boston.
Drabkin said, “I am trained in the nuances of pastry, but what I think our guests will taste in my work is much more than technique & fresh ingredients. I have a lifelong affection for art & antiques – I design my own jewelry, too. My desserts embrace creativity & passion, & are very personal to me.”
Drabkin’s inaugural menu includes:
Pineapple Macaroon Napoleon with crème fraîche, roasted & fresh pineapple, mango sorbet, & toasted macadamia nuts
Lemon Meringue Tartlet with Amarena cherries, torched meringue, pistachio & sour cream lemon sorbet
Crème Brûlée Gâteau with orange chiffon, feuille de brick, brown sugar ice cream, blood orange sauce, & pomegranate
Valhrona Chocolate Soufflé with espresso crème anglaise, & cinnamon truffle ice cream
Lime-Ginger Parfait with gingersnap, cassis, lime gel, & lemon ginger sauce
Caramèlia Mousse Bombe with hazelnut crumble, bittersweet chocolate sorbet, & passion fruit coulis
3) Chef & Owner Anthony Caturano is helping everyone gear up for Marathon Monday by offering an array of carb-laced specials on Marathon Sunday, from 5:30pm-10pm, at Prezza in the North End. Chef Caturano will dish out a trio of handmade pasta options that will allow runners and spectators the opportunity to deliciously fuel up the night before going the distance…be it physically or mentally: Orecchiette (broccoli rabe, sausage, Taleggio cheese); Linguini (shrimp, spring garlic, fava beans, white wine); or, Bucatini all’ Amatriciana. Chef Caturano’s Marathon Sunday specials are available as individual entrees for $18 or for an unlimited portion of one for the apt price of $26.2(0) per person.
For one night only, this trio of specials will join Caturano’s staple handmade seasonal pasta offerings, available in both appetizer and entrée portions, including: Ravioli di Ouvo (ravioli stuffed with ricotta and egg yolk tossed with butter and sage - $12); Lobster Fra Diavlo (tagliatelle, roasted tomato, fennel, lobster meat - $18: appetizer; $25: entree); Pea Raviolini (Jones ham, English peas, mint, mascarpone, pecorino cheese - $15: appetizer; $30: entree); Walnut Ravioli (rabbit, fava beans, sage, butter, parmigiano cheese - $15: appetizer; $30: entree); and, Potato Gnocchi a la Bolognese (rustic meat ragout, tomato, porcini cream, pecorino cheese - $15: appetizer; $30: entree).
For reservations, please call 617-227-1577
As I am an attorney (and despite the cliched jokes to the contrary), my ethics are very important to me. I have posted aBlogger Code Of Ethicsand written numerous posts about ethical issues. I believe that all bloggers should follow a code of ethics as the power of the "pen" can be too easily abused. For example, negative reviews can adversely affect a business so one must be very careful in how one proceeds. One must be objective and fair, honest and upfront.
Rarely do I have an ethical dilemma as I simply follow my own rules, which have served me well for many years. However, I find myself now entangled in an ethical dilemma which has the power to destroy a person's reputation. I have long been pondering over how to properly handle this matter and have asked others for their opinions as well. I have finally made a decision on a course of action and only hope that what I am doing is right.
Because of my Monday Rants, I was approached by a line cook from a popular, Boston-area restaurant. He wanted to share with me some unsavory information concerning the chef and initially I was reluctant to talk with him about this matter. I had little interest in gossip about chefs, such as who they might be sleeping with or whether they do drugs or not. His information though struck at a more important issue, a deception the chef was perpetuating upon the general public, a lie about the sourcing of some of this restaurant's ingredients.
The restaurant has a reputation for serving primarily local foods, from their produce to their meats. The line cook alleged that the restaurant actually served very little meat that was purchased locally. Most of it came from large scale, out of state farms that cost far less than locally purchased meats. It appears that the chef has a close relative who works with one of those large scale meat suppliers and thus is able to acquire his meats more covertly.
This is an explosive allegation and I certainly would not have given it any credence without clear evidence. I met with the line cook and he had a cell phone video showing an incriminating conversation between the chef and his relative. It was not the best of quality, but the voices were clear enough and seemed to support the allegation. He lacked any further evidence and didn't think he could get anything else.
I was considering dropping the matter but decided I would interview the chef, and try to throw in a few questions about rumors concerning his meat sourcing. I arranged an interview through his PR company and met with the chef later one morning at his restaurant. The interview started off well until I started asking questions about his sourcing. My initial questions were rather innocent, without mentioning any rumors, yet the chef's attitude and demeanor changed. He seemed defensive even though there was no reason to be at that time. When I finally asked about the rumors, he ended the interview, leaving quite angrily.
It seemed to me that there was validity to the line cook's allegations. It seemed clear that the chef was trying to hide something. I did some further digging, identifying the chef's relative and his company. I phoned the relative and let me just say that I obtained verification that he delivered meat to the restaurant. With that verification, I contacted the chef again, though this time directly. I indicated I might be publishing this story and wanted to hear his side.
The call was extremely unpleasant, with lots of profanity and threats from the chef. However, the chef realized that he was in a corner, though refusing to admit guilt, and begged that I would not post the story. If I posted my story, it would probably destroy his reputation though he seemed guilty of the allegations. Should I post it or not?
In the end, the chef indicated that he would be leaving the restaurant within the next week, that he would likely be getting a job in another city. I indicated to him that if he quit and move, then I would not post the story. That deadline has passed though and there is no indication that the chef intends to move on. The chef has also not returned my subsequent phone calls or emails. This post is his final chance to do the right thing, to follow through on our agreement.
If nothing changes this week, then next Monday's Rant will identify the chef and restaurant, providing the evidence I possess. I received much support on both Facebook and Twitter for outing the chef if I possessed sufficient evidence of his deception. My outing will not be without repercussion, but I am willing to take on those consequences to expose this fraud. Once I identify the chef and restaurant, the restaurant owner will have the ability to verify this matter on their own. All they will have to do will be to analyze the invoices for the local meat producers and determine there was an insufficient amount to have fed all of the restaurant's patrons.
Chef, step up and do the right thing or it will be my obligation to reveal the truth.
Every year, on April 1, I write an April Fools post, and this year is no different. I have no plans to out any chef, and have not received any info about a chef's deception concerning the source of their meat. With the advent of Social Media, it has become even more difficult to fool anyone because everyone talks about April Fools. Before SM, you could go the entire day without someone mentioning it. Now, you often can't go five minutes before someone mentions it. This post does strike at some very important issues and I appreciate all the thoughtful comments it has engendered. Though it has generated a few hateful comments as well. This is an issue that certainly could arise one day. But this time, it is only an April Fools joke.
Yurine's Pot, the first Tipsy Sensei story and it featured an ancient Japanese legend aboutShōjō, water spirits who love Sake. In honor of this anniversary, it thus seemed appropriate that I should visit a Chinatown restaurant calledShōjō.I previously reviewed this restaurant, after a lunch visit, proclaimingit A Welcome Addition To Chinatown. Pleaseread that post for background information on the restaurant and here you can read my new thoughts after my dinner visit with Jen and Adam.
I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently.
1) On Tuesday, April 9, at 7pm, Legal Sea Foods in Park Square will host a wine dinner with Jordan Winery, a Sonoma County-based winery that specializes in producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Legal Sea Foods will team up Jordan Winery’s Assistant Winemaker, Maggie Kruse, to host a four-plus-course dinner featuring signature cuisine paired with choices from their vine.
The menu will be presented as follows:
Scallop Tiradito* Al Aji Limo, Micro Cilantro, Choclo
Oysters on the Half Shell, Fuji Apple Mignonette
Tempura Lobster Bites, Sweet & Sour Aioli
Jordan Chardonnay, Alexander Valley, 2010
Crab Meat Tartare in Salsa Verde (Green Apple & Ginger Vinaigrette)
Jordan Chardonnay, Alexander Valley, 2011
Mesquite Wood Grilled Tuna Steak* (Creamy Hedgehog Mushroom Risotto, Blackberry Chutney)
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2008
Herb Crusted Lamb Chop* (Black Truffle Mashed Potato, Grilled Ramps)
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2004
Aged Vermont Dandy, Grafton 3 Year Aged Cheddar, Maple Wood Aged Cheddar (Grilled Francese, Cherry Compote, Dark Chocolate Shavings)
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2002
Cost: $95 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
Reservations required by calling 617-530-9397
2) On Saturday, April 6, Horizons for Homeless Children will host their annual Spring Event, A Night For Tomorrow, followed by the first annual Spring Event After-Party. Starting at 9:30 p.m., guests can come enjoy a fun-filled evening with the lively Horizons’ Young Professionals Group. The evening will feature late-night drinks, dessert, dancing and views of the skyline from the beautiful State Room.
All proceeds from the After-Party (as well at the annual Spring Event) will directly benefit Horizons for Homeless Children.
COST: Tickets are $75 each
WHERE: State Room 60 State Street, 33rd Floor Boston
FOR TICKETS: www.horizonsforhomeless.org/springevent
3) For the first time ever, Tavolo will open its doors on Easter Sunday, with service from 1pm-8pm. In addition to its regular Italianate menu, Tavolo will feature a variety of a la carte brunch and dinner specials, some of which will appear on the new spring menu. Chef de Cuisine Nuno Alves loves cooking with rabbit, which his family raised and ate as he grew up with 10 siblings in Somerville. Nuno has also become something of a local expert on American lamb.
On the Tavolo menu Sunday, March 31 and beyond:
Braised Rabbit Ragu over Housemade Gnocchi
Truffled Egg or Bacala Pizza
Asparagus and Bacon Salad
Spring Pea Soup
Ligurian Whole Trout Bourride
House-Butchered Lamb Two Ways: smoked breast / roast leg
Confit Artichoke Tart in whole grain crust, inspired by Maria Speck's Ancient Grains for Modern Meals Eggs and Peppers over Polenta
Squid Ink Linguini with Cockles and Tomatoes
Rhubarb Panna Cotta
4)Portsmouth & The Seacoast Restaurant Week will be held from April 4-13, with a three course Lunch at $16.95 and a three course Dinner at $29.95. At least 49 restaurants will be participating this year. Doug Bates, the President of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce stated: "Every year we welcome new restaurants to the program and new dining guests to the Seacoast. We thank our locally owned and operated restaurants, chefs and farms for providing incredible product at a tremendous value as part of Restaurant Week. This year we are delighted that Portsmouth's reputation as a dining destination is being recognized nationally, with our chefs earning national honors and acclaim."
Bates is referring to two local chefs, Chef Evan Mallett of Black Trumpet Bistro, a James Beard Award semi-finalist and Chef Matt Louis of Moxy, a Food & Wine Magazine People's Best New Chef 2013 Nominee. I previously raved about Moxy and awarded it my Favorite New Hampshire Restaurant of 2012.
A trend for Restaurant Week this year is an expanded offering of Gluten Free and Vegetarian menus. There are over a dozen restaurants also offering gluten free and/or vegetarian menu options. They include The River House, Blue Moon Evolution, Brazo, Cava, Common Man, Green Monkey, Martingale Wharf, Moxy, Tulsi and more. You can find Restaurant Week menus for about 70% of the participating restaurants on the website.
Interestingly, some of the restaurants offer even better deals that the usual. For example, The Portsmouth Gas Light Co., B.G.'s Boathouse and Cafe Nostimo eachoffer a complimentary glass of wine or beer. The Great American Grill offers a free glass of House Wine. Cava offers a four course dinner rather than the usual three courses.Tio Juan's Margaritas Mexican Restaurant and Grill 28are offering their three course meals all day for only $16.95. So why not give Portsmouth & The Seacoast Restaurant Week a try?
5)On Easter Sunday, March 31, Turner Fisheries is offering a special brunch from 11am-3pm. For $69 per person, ($23 for children ages 5 to 12, under 5 years no charge) guests can enjoy a chef attended carving station, both a cold a hot buffet, and a plethora of desserts. Guests can indulge in a few of Turner classics such as the Clam Chowder and the New England Seafood Harvest complete with northern shrimp cocktail, cape littlenecks and island creek oyster. There are also traditional Easter brunch classics with a “Turner twist” including Crab Cake Benedict and Carved Lamb Chops with caramelized onion rolls from the chef’s station.
For the full menu selection, click here. For reservations please call: 617-424-7425
6) On Tuesday, April 23, The Beehivepresents a tribute to the “father of jazz,” Louis Armstrong with an evening of live performance featuring some of his most iconic work. Join The Beehive as musician Eric Bloom and guests take the stage to honor one of the most legendary musicians of all time.
Widely remembered for his 1968 hit song “What a Wonderful World,” Armstrong was best known for his superb trumpet skills and iconic raspy voice. He pioneered the jazz genre-- shifting its focus from collaborative group performances to solo performances with scatting and singing, and was one of the first African American musicians to make his mark on the music scene.
From 8pm-12am, the music of the great Louis Armstrong will take over The Beehive as current jazz musician Eric Bloom plays some favorite tunes. Bloom broke into the jazz scene at the young age of 17 when he was chosen as a soloist for the All Eastern jazz band that performed at Carnegie Hall. In 2009 he began playing with highly-acclaimed singer-songwriter Diane Birch and opened for legendary musicians and fresh pop icons including James Morrison, Mat Kearny and Nick Jonas, and appeared on several national TV Shows including the Today Show, the Jimmy Kimmel Show and the David Letterman Show. In 2011 Bloom started playing with two critically-acclaimed funk bands Soulive and Lettuce, and since then he has performed with Dr. John, Pharohe Monch, Billy Martin and Talib Kweli to name a few.
No cover charge, cash bar, reservations recommended.
7) Wines will be poured and cuisine will be served on Saturday, April 20, from 12pm-5pm, at The Wine ConneXtion, located in North Andover, as they welcome guests to A Tasting for the Ages. Wine expert Aldo Rafanelli, from the famed House of Antinori will pour select wines as guests learn about the 600-year-old family dynasty, while complimentary Italian fare will be provided by North Shore favorite, Salvatore’s Andover, for all to enjoy.
With wine-making roots dating all the way back to family members in the 1385 Winemakers Guild of Florence, The House of Antinori has been in the business for over six centuries. Owning vineyards in Chianti Classico, Bolgheri, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Orvieto, and Washington State, the family has honored Italian traditions across multiple generations. Joining the family in 1987 as the sole U.S. representative, Aldo Rafanelli of Ste. Michelle’s Estate has carried the Antinori tradition overseas and will be at the Wine ConneXtion to guide guests with his passion and extensive knowledge, while providing them with rare insight into his 26 years with the company.
Walk-ins are encouraged and welcome all day! The event is Free to the public. Please note: Must be 21 or older.