Break out your crystal ball, look into its depths and envision the future. What food and drink trends do you see coming up for 2013? If you don't have your own predictions, you will find numerous articles making their own predictions. It happens every year but if you review the previous year's predictions, you will likely realize that most of the predictions probably never came true. Our prophetic powers seem to be lacking. It would be futile for me to predict a list of trends which might occur in 2013.
Instead, I want to offer my wishes for which trends I want to see, though it may be doubtful that these trends will actually occur. I believe my wishes address gaps in the local food and drink scene, and which present opportunities for adventurous entrepreneurs to capitalize on. Too many trends extend for far too long, becoming stale and trite, because they seem safe. I am hoping more people choose to take a risk by leading the way in a new trend rather than following others like sheep.
1) Bread Pudding: I am so tired of cupcakes, especially as it seems many are average or lower quality. A good bread pudding can put those cupcakes to shame, and bread pudding is so versatile, available in a myriad of tasty flavors. Maybe you would enjoy a moist chocolate bread pudding or a light bourbon bread pudding with caramel sauce. Why don't more restaurants offer this dish on their dessert menus? Why isn't there a local bakery that specializes in different bread puddings? Can you make a bread pudding out of all those mediocre cupcakes? My favorite dessert of 2012 was a Pineapple Bread Puddingand I would love to see more restaurants creating their own compelling bread pudding.
2) Meatloaf: I am also tired of burgers. I love a good burger but I think we areover saturated with burger joints, with even more coming in the near future. When is enough enough? Why not use all that ground beef and create some amazing meatloaf recipes? I admit that meatloaf never did much for me but The Painted Burro has changed my mind, showing me the potential of this comfort food. Their Yucatan Meatloaf was stunning, a blend of alluring flavors that won't remind you of the bland meatloaf you might have once had as a child. I want other restaurants to step up to the plate and create their own unique meatloaf recipes, recipes that will change the mind of even meatloaf haters.
3)FilipinoRestaurants: There isn't a single Filipino restaurant in Boston and the closest restaurant appears to be in Quincy, JnJ Turo Turo. Where is the love for Filipino cuisine? This isn't just a Boston problem as there are less than 500 Filipino restaurants across the country. However, it can be a delicious cuisine, with a rich history, so it is very strange that there are so few restaurants. This is a great opportunity for a Filipino chef to blaze a trail in Boston. Bring on adobo, mechado, kare-kare and more!
4) Peruvian Ingredients: Peruvian cuisine is under represented in the Boston area despite the myriad of fascinating Peruvian ingredients which exist, from thousands of potatoes to numerous indigenous fruits. Chef Jose Duarte of Taranta, an Italian/Peruvian restaurant in the North End, has opened my eyes to the vast potential of Peruvian ingredients. He has created some superb dishes and I am perplexed why more chefs are not delving into the treasure trove of Peru, using such ingredients to enhance their dishes too. Let us see lucuma, auyuma, panca pepper and more.
5) Sake: Sake seems to be growing in popularity, but very slowly. I want that trend to continue though I would prefer that the pace accelerates. It truly is a complex and wondrous drink with a rich history and culture. It is extremely food friendly and many more people would enjoy it if only they tasted it. I will continue my own campaign to spread my passion for Sake and hope others take up the effort as well. Come to one of my Sake dinners, tastings or classes in 2013 and learn why you should be enjoying Sake.
6) Fortified Wines: Sherry, Port and Madeira remain niche beverages, though they are worthy of far more attention. Consumers often possess misinformation about these wines and need more education to better appreciate them. For example, many think all Sherry is sweet yet a large portion are actually dry, like Fino and Manzanilla, and they are food friendly. Why not enjoy some oysters and briny Manzanilla? Port is great after dinner, yet it too can work well throughout an entire meal. Explore these fortified wines and learn the marvels they contain.
7) Spirit Paired Dinners: Wine and beer paired dinners have become commonplace but it is still a rarity to find dinners paired with spirits, such as bourbon, scotch, tequila, and rum. For example, Legal Sea Foods ran their first Scotch paired dinner this past year. I have attended several spirit paired dinners in 2012 and the pairings often worked quite well. People usually don't think of drinking spirits with dinner but they should give it consideration. Restaurants have the opportunity to present unique events by creating harmonious pairings with spirits. Show the potential to consumers.
What food & drink trends would you like to see in 2013?
I am back with a special New Year's Eve edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently. If you are seeking a place to celebrate, why not consider these places.
1) Legal Harborside will celebrate New Year’s Eve under the stars at Liberty Wharf this year. At this celebration bidding adieu to 2012 and welcoming 2013, revelers will enjoy the winter scene – complete with Legal Harborside’s copper-clad fireplace – and will eat, drink and be merry with a bird’s eye view of First Night’s midnight fireworks over Boston Harbor.
In addition to being supplied with festive noisemakers and hats, tickets to this sky-high soiree include live music and a midnight toast with Gosset "Excellence" Brut NV bubbly. Legal Harborside will also offer table reservations to this year-end celebration.
When: December 31st from 9:30pm – 1:30am
Cost: Individual tickets: $45 per person; Reserved couch/table: $400 per group (up to six people)
More Info: Tickets and tables may be reserved online. Tickets purchased are non-refundable and have no cash value. Limited tickets and table reservations are available. Access to the event will only be granted to guests with a ticket receipt and 21+ ID. Guests may order food a la carte from Legal Harborside’s full menu up until 12am.
2)Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar's tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve for a long weekend continues. Start the festive evening with a holiday cocktail or featured bubbly and then indulge in the New Year’s menu.
--Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut ($12 by the glass, $100 magnum bottle) - Raise a toast to celebrate the New Year with “a wonderfully drinkable sparkling wine that appeals immediately for its balanced texture and rich flavors," Wine Enthusiast.
--Haute Holiday ($10.95) & Merry Mint Spice ($11.95): Ladies will enjoy Fleming’s Haute Holiday created by wine director Maeve Pesquera expressly for the season. Quay Elysim (a Muscat dessert wine), Germain Elderflower Liqueur and Mionetto Prosecco are presented in a champagne flute garnished with a Luxardo cherry. For the gentlemen, Merry Mint Spice mixes Gentleman Jack with Domaine de Canton and POM juice with aromatic muddled mint leaves and simple syrup, shaken and served on the rocks.
New Year’s Nights Celebration Menu offers three luxe entrées which all include a special shrimp appetizer. Fleming’s a la carte menu will also be served.
Shrimp appetizer included with entrées:Poached Gulf Shrimp over Southern-Style Goat Cheese Grits - celery root slaw, extra virgin olive oil drizzle
--Delmonico Steak with Blue Crab & Gruyère Glassage - shaved black truffles, served with bacon-wrapped braised leeks and balsamic reduction ($74.95)
--Filet Mignon & Lobster-Brioche Bread Pudding - on roasted asparagus, lemon beurre blanc and lobster reduction sauces, black truffle shavings ($69.95)
--Lobster Tail with Mac & Cheese - one pound east coast lobster tail, split and roasted with champagne, sage and lemon butter, served with Italian bacon mac & cheese ($79.00)
--Chocolate Budino - rich chocolate tartlet, chevre-salted whipped cream, and cocoa nibs ($9.95)
When: December 28th – 31st beginning at 4pm
Make Reservations by calling 617-292-0808
3) The Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro is hosting a special New Year’s Eve Dinner featuring a multicourse, prix-fixe menu and an optional wine pairing. Guests can choose to dine early, leaving time to enjoy the festivities and see the beautiful ice sculptures in Boston Common located just steps from the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro, or guests can ring in the New Year by dining later in the evening while watching the clock tick down as the champagne starts to flow. Reservations are required and can be booked early by calling 617-723-7575.
WHEN: Monday, December 31st, 2012 from 5:30PM to 11PM.
COST: $77 per person. Optional supplement course for two for an additional $20 per person and optional three course wine pairing for an additional $29 per person.A 20% Gratuity Will Automatically Be Added To Your Bill
New Year’s Eve Prix-Fixe Menu
--Pat and Barbara Woodbury’s Wellfleet Oyster (Smoked Ikura Roe)
--Scituate Lobster Bisque (Black Garlic Ink, Tarragon)
--Nantucket Bay Scallop Ceviche (Baby Gem Lettuce, Fennel, Cranberry Vinaigrette)
--Boston Lettuce Salad (Grapefruit and Orange Segments, Jeweled Pomegranate, Rosemary Vinaigrette)
--Duck Leg Confit (Mustard Leaf and Wild Mushroom Panzanella, Fresh Local Cheese)
--Country Style Terrine (Seasonal and Traditional Accompaniments)
--Wild Mushroom Risotto (Oyster and Maitake Mushrooms, Parmesan)
Supplement Course for Two (For An Additional $20)
Foie Gras Torchon (Anadama Toast, Pear and Chestnut Jam)
--Painted Hills Sirloin Steak (Jerusalem Artichoke Confit, Root Vegetable Gratin, Red Wine Bone Marrow Jus)
--Scituate Lobster (Poached in Saffron and Butter, Potato Purée, Celery and Bay Flan)
--Gnocchi Parisienne (Braised Free Range Chicken, Pumpkin, Sage Ricotta, Brussels Sprout Leaves)
--American Red Snapper (Warm Farro Salad with Pumpkin, Pickled Honey Mussels, Coriander Beurre Rouge)
--Sorghum and Olive Oil Roasted Delicata Squash (Crimson Lentils, Pistachio, Black Truffle Vinaigrette) --Round the Bend Lamb Loin (Braised Winter Greens with Mint, New Potato, Roasting Jus)
Desserts or Cheese
--Warm Chocolate Cake (Earl Grey Ice Cream, Candied Walnuts)
--Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée (Gingersnap Cookie)
--Buttermilk Panna Cotta (Chocolate Crumb, Honey Anglaise, Raspberry Preserve)
--Maggie’s Reserve Cow’s Milk Cheese, Williamstown, MA (Jewish Rye, Pickled Mouse Melon, Kiev Raspberry Jam)
4) This New Year’s Eve, Towne Stove and Spirits will say goodbye to 2012 with a lively Gatsby-themed cocktail party that lets guests relive the magic and mystique of the roaring ‘20s. Featuring a midnight champagne toast and classic hors d’oeuvres prepared by Culinary Director Lydia Shire and Executive Chef Mario Capone, revelers will experience the splendor of a near century-old style in Towne’s upstairs dining and lounge areas, Uptowne and the Back Bay Room, where live music will entertain the dapper gentlemen and flapper girls decked out in their best Prohibition-era attire.
WHEN: Monday, December 31st from 9pm – 2am
COST: $80 per person
MORE INFO: 1920s Gatsby-esque semi-formal attire is required. Event tickets are available online. For VIP tables, please email: email@example.com.
"It is the beauty of the thing that is important to me."
"O what an ugly sight the man who thinks he’s wise and never drinks sake!”
--Otomo no Tabito (c. 662-731)
The Japanese have long valued Sake, for its taste, medicinal use and even as a beauty product. For at least 2000 years, Sake has occupied a special place within Japanese culture. I have often tried to promote the benefits of drinking Sake and recently learned about a historical list of the "Ten Merits of Sake." This was a fascinating list of the benefits of Sake and I wanted to share it with my readers, to give you more reason why you should partake of this wondrous beverage.
This list was provided in a kyōgen play called Mochisake which was written during theMuromachi period (1338-1573 AD).Kyōgenis a form of traditional comic theater, often including slapstick and satire, and the plays are usually short, containing only two or three roles. They are meant to be easy to understand, intended to make people laugh, and there are over 250 plays in the official repertoire. Makes me think of a Three Stooges episode.
Mochisake, which can roughly be translated as Rice Cake & Sake, is a play about a couple farmers who each are traveling to the city to pay their back taxes, which they had been unable to pay because of a terrible snow storm. Each of the farmers is also carrying a special item which they hope might cause the tax collector to be easy on them. Kind of a bribe. One of the farmers has some kagami mochi, mirror rice cake, which looks like two oval mochi atop each other. The other farmer has some kikuzake, sake flavored withchrysanthemum petals.
The farmers do not know each other but meet en route and end up talking with each other, discussing their mutual problem. When they finally reach the city, they go before the tax collector, explain about the blizzard, and present their mochi and sake. The tax collector is in an excellent mood and he forgives them both. In fact, they end up celebrating together, sharing the mochi and sake as well as singing and dancing.
During the course of the play, the Ten Merits of Sake are mentioned:
1) Sake can be better for your health than any medicine.
2) Sake will enable you to live longer.
3)Sakewill recover you from fatigue and weariness.
4)Sakewill drive gloom away and cheer you up.
5) You can make friends with anyone over a drink ofsake.
6)Sakewill create the atmosphere where everyone can express their opinions frankly (even to their superiors or seniors).
7)Sakeis a good friend of those who live alone.
8)Sakewill make you feel warm to endure cold weather.
9)Sakecan serve as a versatile but nourishing meal during a trip.
10)Sakewill be a great gift when you visit friends.
(fromSake, Health and Longevity by Yukio Takizawa)
This is a great list, though one could make the case that it could apply to wine as well. It is indicative though of the deep love the Japanese possess for Sake, of how deeply it is rooted in their culture and history. In addition, Sake is not seen as a drink for the elite, as some pretentious, hoity toity alcohol, which is a problem that sometimes plagues wine. Sake is a drink for everyone, of whatever social status, of whatever profession. It pleases both peasant and Emperor.
As the holiday season approaches, remember #10, that Sake makes a great gift.
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)At Ashmont Grill,Chef-owner Chris Douglass and his kitchen team have rolled out a late fall brunch menu to savor, made better with one of their Bloody Marys:
· Spiced Apple Buttermilk Pancakes with local apple compote
· Egg Strata with pumpkin, leeks and pears
· Autumn Hash with bacon, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts plus two sunny side up eggs and toast
· The Hot Brown Sandwich: a regional southern favorite reconfigured for diners south of Boston. Stacked with roasted turkey, aged cheddar, bacon and tomato.
· Ham & Cheese Biscuits: Stewed Langwater Farm winter greens and eggs make this another south-ified brunch treat
· Spinach Salad with roasted local pears, toasted hazelnuts and warm goat cheese; cider vinaigrette
2)Celebrate New Year’s Eve on Monday, December 31 from 9pm-2:30am, as The Beehivehosts its 6th annual New Year’s Eve gala celebration.The Beehive’s, “Discothèque Burlesque New Year's Eve 2013” is an evening of bohemian decadence and eccentric fun. Guests will explore their senses as they take in the wonders of sultry Parisian burlesque performances (by NYC’s hotties Francine “The Lucid Dream” & Essence Revealed) and dance to the live powerhouse 60’s pop and soul sounds of Amy Lynn & The Gun Show.
Throughout the evening Executive Chef Rebecca Newell will feature a delectable buffet of hors d’oeuvres and desserts, all served in a cocktail setting. To top it all off, guests can toast the evening with one of The Beehive’s signature cocktails from the evening’s sponsors including Hennessy Cognac, Milagro Tequila and Svedka Vodka, as well as Domaine Chanson wine and Moët & Chandon champagne.
Cost of the event is $115 per person with food buffet, or $75 per person without buffet.Tax and beverages not included. Non-refundable without 24 hour advance notice.Both ticket options include admission and entertainment. There is a cash bar all evening. Tickets/reservations are available by calling 617-423-0069.
3) Meet two-time James Beard Award-winning authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg as they make their first public appearance in Boston in more than a decade. On December 11, from 5:15pm-6:45pm, they'll be hosted for a reception at The Butcher Shop, where they'll be signing copies of their books The Flavor Bible, What To Drink With What You Eat, and The Food Lover's Guide To Wine. I own all three of these books and think they are excellent reference works which all food and wine lovers should read. They are very informative and comprehensive.
Enjoy complimentary refreshments and meet the couple, former Bostonians who married at Biba in 1990 and now live n New York City. Page earned her master's degree from Harvard, while Dornenburg got his start cooking with Chris Schlesinger at the East Coast Grill and with Lydia Shire at Biba.Their other books include Becoming A Chef, Culinary Artistry, Dining Out, Chef's Night Out, and The New American Chef.
After this reception, at 7pm, they will be conducting a Cookbook Class at Stir($165 per person) to prepare some of their favorite flavor combinations and beverage pairings.
Why is Pinotage still such a divisive grape? In the past, there might have been some Pinotage wines that evidenced a nasty, burnt rubber aroma and taste, but that has largely vanished. Today's Pinotage wines have never been better, offering intriguing and compelling flavors and aromas. I have long been a fan of this grape and strongly recommend that all wine lovers check out these wines. Forget your old prejudices and give Pinotage another chance.
For more information about Pinotage, you might want to start with a fascinating book devoted to this grape, Pinotage: Behind The Legends Of South Africa's Own Wine by Peter May, which is now available as an ebook too. I previously reviewed this book and urge all wine lovers to check it out. Peter tells a compelling story and you will learn much.
I recently tasted two delicious Pinotage wines, including a Rosé, and both of these wines should convince skeptics of the wonders of this grape.
Welcome to a special Wednesday edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I briefly highlight some interesting wine and food items that I have encountered recently. As Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I decided to post Sips & Nibbles a day earlier.
1) The ancient Mayans were master astrologers and timekeepers, tracking the stars and planets and developing a cyclical calendar that has proven even more accurate than its modern day predecessors.Thousands of years ago the Mayan’s predicted that the 5,125-year “Great Period” would end specifically on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 11:11PM and the world as we know it would cease to exist.
In preparation, Olé Mexican Grill, located in an extremely thick walled building in Cambridge, will usher in the event with their “Doomsday Dinner & Candle Vigil” on Friday, December 21, from 5:30PM – 11:11PM (Extended Hours).In addition, and for those of us left, Olé will also hold a very special “Survivalists Brunch” on Saturday, December 22 from 10:30AM to 2:30PM.
At the Doomsday Dinner & Candle Vigil, in addition to the regular menu at Olé Mexican Grill, the restaurant will also feature some heart-stopping, extremely rich regional Mexican dinner specials prepared by Executive Chef & Owner Erwin Ramos including:
--Montezuma’s Last Meal – An 18oz Ribeye Steak stuffed with caramelized garlic and jalapeños. Served with three cheese mashed potatoes and spicy fried onion rings ($32).
--Cortez’s Flautas - Crispy rolled corn tortillas filled with lobster and topped with a creamy chipotle sauce ($12)
--Mystic Offering - Lamb shank served with sweet mole manchamanteles, yucca fries and black beans ($26)
--Chocolate del Diablo - Double chocolate bread pudding served with vanilla ice-cream and topped with cajeta (caramel) sauce and churro bites ($8)
Guests can pair their dinner with such libations as: Maya’s Offering Margarita – a Blood orange frozen margarita with rimmed spicy salt ($8), or they can try the “Triple Threat” - a flight of three artisanal Mezcals for ($11).
Guests should spend, eat and drink like it is the end of the world (because it is)! All above will be served as al a carte specials in addition to the regular menu. Reservations are highly recommended by calling (617) 492-4495.
Survivalists Brunch:For those still around the following morning, let’s face it …they’re going to be hungry and need a drink. Celebrate the start of a new era in time with dishes such as: Tortilla de Jaiba con Huervos, crab cakes with poached eggs cilantro hollandaise sauce, caramelized plantains and home fries ($12.95), Huevos con Chorizo, scrambled eggs with Mexican sausage, onions and tomatoes on corn tortillas with pinto beans, home fries and toast ($9) and Mexican Hot Cakes, a baked pancake topped with caramel sauce, fresh seasonal fruit, sugared pecan and fresh whipped cream ($9). Pair it all with a Mexican Bloody Mary (Same as a regular Bloody Mary except you need to show a passport), or discuss your plans for the new rebellion over a fresh squeezed orange juice!
2) This New Year’s Eve, raise a glass to new beginnings with China Blossom Restaurant & Lounge and Lots of Laughs Comedy Lounge, located within China Blossom, in North Andover. On Monday, December 31 from 9:30PM to 1:00AM, give a proper farewell to 2012 with a night of fine dining, live entertainment and laughs.
The 2013 countdown begins at 9:30PM, when guests are invited to feast on their favorite China Blossom dishes at an all-you-can-eat premier buffet with live-action cooking and carving stations, create-your-own noodle soups and a diverse selection of sushi.
After their last supper of 2012, guests can put on their dancing shoes & show off their signature moves to the beat of DJ Barry Mooney! Then a team of the best comics in Boston will take the stage for an all-star comedy show featuring Sal Votano, Christine Hurley and John David.
Guests will toast to the New Year with a complimentary glass of champagne and festive hats & noisemakers. Attendees won’t be starting off the New Year empty handed, as they have a chance to test their luck with raffles, prizes and giveaways all night courtesy of China Blossom and Lots of Laughs.
Please call 978-687-1789, or visit http://www.lotsoflaughsnewyearseve.eventbrite.com for more information or to purchase tickets. Tickets are $75 per person and include an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet, comedy show, live entertainment, giveaways and a champagne toast at midnight.
Special hotel rates of $110 are available at the Wyndham Boston Andover with transportation to and from the event and a full breakfast included in the room rate. Rooms must be booked online or under the group reservation “Lots of Laughs/ China Blossom New Year’s Eve.”
3) When your child is sick, it’s hard to keep up a normal daily routine, and even harder doing so during the holiday season. This is something that executive chef/owner of Tryst, Paul Turano, knows all too well, having spent time with his son at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant Units over the past few years. Both Turano’s children have a rare auto-immune disease, and when his son was just two months old he had a bone marrow transplant at Boston Children’s Hospital that saved his life. This holiday season, Turano is giving back to the hospital that was there for his family by holding a holiday fundraiser for the Patient and Family Resource Room, a program that helps provide services to over 45 families whose children are being treated at the Boston Children’s Hospital Oncology and Hematology Center.
In cooperation with Boston Children’s Hospital, Tryst has set up a branded donation page online and will be encouraging holiday donations for the family resource program from December 1st through December 31. To donate, guests can visit the donation page online, or can donate at the restaurant where a QR code will be set up which, when scanned, will take guests directly to the page where they can make a donation on their mobile devices. In exchange for donating, Tryst will give donors a gift certificate to Tryst (for up to $20) with proof of donation.
“I can’t emphasize how much the Patient and Family Resource Room helped my family and I when we were going through this difficult time. It’s because of their team and services that we were able to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine, and I want to be able to give that back to other families that are going through it,” said Chef Turano, Executive Chef/Owner of Tryst.
Funded through donations from area businesses and families, the 6th floor Patient and Family Resource Room is staffed by a patient and family educator who can help patients and families learn about their medical treatment. The Patient and Family Resource Room also offers a space for patients and families to relax and connect with others going through a similar experience. Whether the donated money be used for a morning coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts, or towards purchasing a generic American Express donation that can be used towards gas, or parking (daily routines that are often overlooked), each donation will help parents regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. With the extra help of these funds, Tryst will be putting the holidays back in the hands of these families.
HOW: Donate on http://howtohelp.childrenshospital.org/events/page/Paul-Turano/tystsholidayfundraiser.htm or visit Tryst and scan the QR code (displayed throughout the restaurant). After donation, present your receipt at Tryst to receive your gift certificate (of equal value, up to a $20 value).
ADDITIONAL: Limited to one Tryst gift certificate per person per visit. Gift certificates cannot be combined with any other offer. To receive gift certificate diners must visit Tryst. Cannot be done online.
4) It’s time for The Beehive’s Holiday Brunch on Saturday, December 15, from 10am-3pm. Guests can count on tasty food and drink including specials from sponsor Bulleit Rye, seasonal music from some of Boston’s best, and plenty of holiday cheer.
From 10:30am-2:30pm, The Beehive will be filled with the sounds of the season as local musicians, Patrice Williamson, Sandi Hammond and Emily Broder, take the stage to perform holiday classics. Williamson, known for her soulful, gospel-inspired jazz, and a regular at The Beehive, will be joined by Sandi Hammond whose piano and guitar playing pop-folk blend will add wonderful sensitivity to the performance while Emily Broder, a versatile singer and actress, will bring the group full circle with her dramatic flair.
Couple all this merry music with brunch items like Extra Thick French Toast served with Chantilly cream and real deal maple syrup ($13), or the Beehive Eggs Benedict served with Virginia ham ($13.5) or smoked salmon ($14). Don’t forget about the kids! The Beehive’s “Little Bee’s” menu is perfect for little ones buzzing about. Children can choose from items such as Kiddie French Toast ($5), Scrambled Eggs & Toast ($5), or Free Range Chicken Fingers and Frites ($6).
Guests can toast the holiday season by sipping on cocktails from sponsor Bulleit Rye including the El Chicano, made with Bulleit Rye, Kahlua, Coffee Bitters and a Dash of Illegal Mezcal Joven, $12.50, or The Beehive’s famous Bloody Mary made with a secret house spice and pickled veggies, $11. Or, opt for seasonal sips such as the Cranberry Mojito, made in-house with drunken cranberries (marinated in rum and Cointreau) $12.50, the Kentucky Orchard, butter infused bourbon, fresh apple cider and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, $12, or the Queen Bee, vodka, fresh grapefruit, St. Germaine and champagne, $12.50.
Reservations are highly recommended. Regular brunch pricing and specials offered. No cover charge. Please call 617-423-0069 to make reservations.
5)Starting November 30,80 Thoreau, located in Concord, will begin The Chef's Tasting Menu.Chef Carolyn Johnson and her team will prepare a one of a kind Five Course Tasting menu at the restaurant's Chef's Counter, which only has four seats! The Chef's Tasting Menu will be offered Thursday-Saturday, two seatings, at 6pm and 8:45pm.
The format will allow Johnson to feature luxury ingredients and those available in only small quantities (think heritage pig lardo or Concord maitakes), in her ever changing Chef's Tasting Menu. "This is the natural next step for our restaurant" shares Johnson. "We are excited because it gives us an outlet to do things beyond the menu. When I find amazing local product, but it's not in enough quantity to include on our daily menu, I can now showcase it here on our Chef's Tasting Menu." Wine pairings from the restaurant's cellar will give guests a chance to try selections otherwise not available by the glass.
The cost for this dinner is $75 per person, not including wine pairings, and Reservations are required by calling 978-318-0008.
AKA Bistro in Lincoln. For only $55 per person, you will be treated to a four course meal, each course paired with a different Sake. During the course of the dinner, I will talk about Sake, from its history to its rituals, giving you a basic foundation in this intriguing beverage. I'll help demystify this exotic alcohol and hopefully entice you to seek our more Sake after this dinner.
"If you want to enjoy wine more, the trick is to learn more about wine."
Does more knowledge about wine enhance the pleasure you derive from it? On the other hand, can you truly enjoy a wine you know almost nothing about?
The "pleasure theory" of Paul Bloom, author of How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, is based on a number of studies of which many of us may already be familiar. We have heard of how wine lovers have been fooled into raving about a $90 bottle of wine, which actually turns out to be a $10 bottle. The alleged price of the wine affected their perception of the wine. We have heard of blind taste test studies where people preferred much cheaper wines rather than far more expensive ones. Paul Bloom has gathered together many of these studies and assembled his theory of the essentialist,arguing that everyone is an essentialist at heart.
An essentialist cares about the history and origins of an item, and that plays a significant part in their pleasure of that item. It applies to many different items, as well as our relationships with other people. For example, it applies to wine, with people gaining much more pleasure from their knowledge of the origins of a wine. It is partially why people seem to enjoy a more expensive wine, or one from a celebrated producer or region. In some respects, people enjoy a wine more when it possesses a great story. Yet this is a double edged sword as well and we can be deceived.
Bloom has stated, "Like I said, part of your response to wine is based on its chemical properties But how you experience it will always be affected by your beliefs about what you are drinking. Now this opens you up to being fooled. Given that we’re creatures who respond to the history of things, we can be exploited. You could be lied to about the price of wine, you could be lied to about where your sweater came from, you could be lied to about whether your painting is an original or a forgery, and so on. This is the bad news."
Adam of Wine Zag decided to put Bloom's theory to the test with a blind tasting which would compare seven pairs of wine. He pitted seven wines from 90+ Cellarsagainst seven others that he chose, trying to roughly match up the type and price of the wines. He was certainly not going for a scientific test, but more of a fun comparison which might provide some basic insight into Bloom's pleasure theory.
90+ Cellars purchases excess wine from wineries all over the world and rebottles it under their own label, selling it for less than its original purchase price. They do not reveal the true name of the producers, though they provide other information about the wine, including the wine region, grapes, vintage and a few other details. A consumer thus will find much information about the wine, though certain items will elude them. So you get part of a story but not the whole one.
The question becomes, does that lack of the identity of the producer detract from the pleasurable experience of the wine? Adam had never previously purchased any wines from 90+ Cellars because he didn't know the name of the producers. That information was very important to him. He wanted to see how the 90+ Cellar wines would stand up to a group of known wines in a blind tasting.
About twenty of us attended the tasting at the Boston Wine School, with eighteen people voting for their favorite wines in the pairings.According to Bloom's theory, if it were not a blind tasting, then the 90+ Cellars wines should have shown poorly against the wines from known producers. The added information about the producers should have enhanced our pleasure of those wines. In a blind tasting though, Bloom's theory should lead to a different result, where the 90+ Cellar wines would hold their own against all comers.
In the end, the results were very close between the 90+ Cellars and the known wines, and I think it is safe to say that the 90+ Cellar wines held their own. The known wines won in 4 of the 7 pairings, though the voting was generally close. Personally, I selected the 90+ Cellar wines in 4 of the 7 matches. The big surprise for all was that the top wine of the evening, voted by 15 of the 18 tasters (including myself), was from 90+ Cellars, the 2009 Rosso Maremma Toscana Lot 70 ($26). This was the only overwhelming vote of the evening so that is a wine you might want to seek out. The second place wine, with 3 votes, was the 2008 Sean Thackrey Andromeda Pinot Noir, another excellent wine.
Our blind tasting essentially met the expectations of Bloom's theory, that without the information about wine we normally seek out, 90+ Cellars showed well against the other wines. They are wines you may very well enjoy, if you give them a chance. Even after the results of this blind taste test though, I am not sure all of the attendees at the tasting would purchase a 90+ Cellars wine. It may be difficult for some to overcome their perception that knowing the producer provides additional pleasure from the wine even if in a blind taste test, they could not perceive a difference.
I don't have a problem purchasing 90+ Cellars wines, probably because I have tasted a fair amount of them and found that many are very good value wines. Though I enjoy wines with a good story, I don't like the 90+ Cellar wines any less because I don't know the true producer. Adam, who has never before purchased a 90+ Cellars wine, stated that he would definitely be purchasing the 2009 Rosso Maremma Toscana Lot 70.So this blind tasting changed his mind in some respect.
Though I may find some credence in Bloom's theory of the essentialist, I think that people are not essentialists in all their purchasing decisions. I think it might depend more on the specific items in question, and how much that person values those items. For example, at the wine store where I work, we get a diverse mix of customers. Many of them care very little about the origins and history of the wines they purchase. First and foremost for them is price, and then second it all has to do with taste. The 90+ Cellar wines sell very well at our store and I think primarily because they offer a good value, even if their story is not complete.
It might be more dedicated wine lovers who have more difficulty accepting 90+ Cellar wines because they lack the identity of the producer. It is they who are more likely to be more passionate about the story of a wine. It may be their perception that the more they know about a wine, the more likely they are to enjoy it. However, in a blind tasting, their preferences might be very different.
Bloom's theory has other applications to wine as well, such as in the arena of wine reviews. If a person reviews a wine, possessed of a certain amount of information about that wine, and someone else tastes that same wine, but lacks that same information, will they like the wine less? Would you rather trust a review where the reviewer knows all about the wine, or would you prefer the reviewer tasted blind? If you read a review, do you want to know the knowledge level of the reviewer to ascertain how that might have affected their review?
To sum it up, one could say:Pleasure Is In The Mind Of The Beholder.