Thursday, March 22, 2018

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) Guests are invited to continue the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with Glendalough Distillery, Ireland’s first craft distillery, on Wednesday, March 28, at 6:30pm, at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. While wine often takes the spotlight, whiskey and cheese make excellent partners, and you'd be hard-pressed to find stronger advocates for that fact than the team behind this class. Guests are welcomed to join Dan Pontius, Bar Manager of Alden and Harlow and Donal O'Gallachoir, a representative for Glendalough Distillery, along with Julia Hallman, cheesemonger and general manager at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, for a spectacular evening of whiskey and cheese.

During this edible lesson on how and why whiskey and cheese pair so well together, Donal will explain the origin and rich history of Glendalough Distillery as well as the vast and distinct flavors associated with the various types. Next, Julia will discuss a variety of cheeses, how they are made and what characteristics make them a perfect complement for whiskey. Together, they'll plate up some of our favorite cheeses alongside a variety of whiskey styles in a multi-flight tasting to illustrate the toothsome and tasty potential of this kind of pairing. Lastly, not to be outdone, Dan will whip up a couple whiskey cocktails highlighting Glendalough Distillery which will be perfectly paired with cheese.

More details below on the latest from Glendalough Whiskey:
Founded by five friends from Wicklow and Dublin with a deep passion for reviving the heritage of craft distilling in Ireland, Glendalough Distillery has forged their own path to produce innovative spirits while staying true to the tradition and legacy of their Irish ancestors. Glendalough (meaning The Valley of Two Lakes) is a glacial valley nestled in the Wicklow Mountains renowned for its early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin, a legendary monk and the man depicted on their bottle.

The Double Barrel Irish Whiskey gains its sweet, smooth vanilla notes from three years in bourbon barrels before being transferred to 500 litre Oloroso casks from Montilla, for up to a year, where it becomes steeped in rich, dark, fruity and floral flavors (raisins, sultanas, fig, candied peel, cinnamon and nutmeg) with a nutty, complex finish.

The 7 Year Old Single Malt gets its flavor from Dublin’s Black Pitts Porter craft beer barrels, the deep, dark flavors of chocolate malt and roasted barley give the whiskey its cocoa, toffee and dark-chocolate-orange notes.

The 13 Year Old Single Malt is the first and only Irish whiskey that uses Japanese Mizunara oak. Extremely rare and expensive, the oak is found in the forests of Hokkaido; its high levels of vanillins pack a punch, with exquisite sandalwood flavors, layered with honey, and citrusy notes for a distinctly unique tasting whiskey.

Tickets cost $65 and you can purchase them through Eventbrite.

2) Executive Chef Nick Deutmeyer and the team at Post 390 are calling all cheese lovers for a special Massachusetts Cheese Trail Farm to Post menu, featuring a special kick off dinner showcasing the top Massachusetts cheese farmers.

Post 390 welcomes guest for a Farm to Post dinner on Wednesday, April 4, from 6pm-9pm, with the spotlight on Massachusetts artisan cheese farmers. Executive Chef Nick Deutmeyer takes guests on a journey through each course, highlighting specific notes of each decadent cheese and their perfect flavor pairings. Chef Nick has crafted a special Farm to Post menu to showcase these exquisite cheeses from award-winning local farms such as Upinngil Farm, Ruggles Hill Creamery, and Westfield Farm. Guests can mix and mingle with representatives from each farm, who will be onsite to share some details about their unique cheeses. The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and begins with a welcome reception followed by a seated four-course dinner.

The Massachusetts Cheese Trail dinner menu is as follows:
Upinngil Farm (Gill, MA)
Upinggillar, Spinach, Bacon, Paté Brisée
Feta, Cucumber, Oven Roasted Tomato
Ayrshire, Herbed Butter Cracker, Jagerwurst
Robinson Farm (Hardwick, MA)
Arpeggio "the aroma and flavor notes of the terroir in one bite"
Early Spring Asparagus, Sugar-Stack Ham, Foraged Morels, Caramelized Onion Soubise
Ruggles Hill Creamery (Hardwick, MA)
Greta's Fair Haven "fruity, peppery, and densely textured"
Chilled Roast Chicken, Marbled Rye, Pickled Green Strawberries, Cracked Black Pepper, Green Peas
Westfield Farm (Hubbardston, MA)
Hubbardston Blue Cow "surface ripened...very soft and creamy center"
Garlic & Herb Leg of Lamb, Duck Fat Fried Potatoes, Lemon Smashed Peas, Pan Drippings
Smith Country Cheese (Winchendon, MA)
Extra Aged Gouda "creamy, nutty parm-like cheese"
Strawberry & Almond 'Shortcake', Aged Gouda Ice Cream, Strawberry-Gouda Crumb, Rhubarb Jam, Toasted Almonds
Take Home
Shy Brother’s Farm (Westport Point, MA)
Hannahbells "thimble-shaped morsels that pack a dramatic throw-weight of pungency and lingering flavor"

Tickets are $55 per person and include tax, gratuity, and beverage pairings. They can be purchased through Eventbrite. Reservations are required.

3) On Wednesday, March 28, from 7 to 10 pm, Joe's American Bar & Grill at 181 Newbury Street is hosting their second annual Down East Cider dinner. Guests will be able to enjoy a special menu prepared by new Executive Chef Scott Gagne featuring 5 courses of culinary treats paired with a different cider variation from the cider brewery for just $50 (excludes tax and gratuity).

The courses and cider pairings (all gluten free) are as follows:
Oyster on the half shell with grapefruit and jalapeño granita
Cider Pairing: Hopped Grapefruit
Gazpacho three ways with yellow heirloom tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, beets, lemongrass, ginger, and cucumber aspic
Cider Pairing: Ginger
Purple Peruvian potato skins stuffed with double cider and chipotle braised chicken, and topped with a chicken skin crackling
Cider Pairing: Double Cider
Aloha pork wing with coconut pineapple rice, and hazelnuts wrapped in a banana leaf
Cider Pairing: Aloha Friday
Housemate ice cream floats with chocolate cookies and ice cream
Cider Pairing: Roasted Joe

Tickets are limited and can be purchased via the Joe's Down East Cider Dinner Eventbrite page.

4) Chef Chris Coombs and the Boston Chops staff invite guests to join them for a special four course Bourdeaux-inspired wine dinner on Monday, April 2nd, at 7 p.m. The evening will feature wine from France's wine capital, paired with a delectable Spring menu crafted by Chef Chris Coombs.

The menu will include:
To Begin
Bay Scallop Ceviche, Grapefruit, Tarragon Oil, Meyer Lemon
Chateau La Dame Blanche Bordeaux Blanc
Truffled Mushroom Tartine, Boucheron, Micro Arugula
Chateau Pey Lescours St Emilion
Grilled Hanger Steak, First of the Season Nettles, Fingerling Potatoes, Native Pea Greens
Chateau Haut-Vigneau Pessac Leognan
To Finish
Orange Blossom Gateau, Champagne Mango & Cara Cara Orange, Vanilla Glace
Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes

Tickets are $79 plus tax and gratuity, and can be reserved by calling (617) 227-5011.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Rogue Spirits: Whiskey & Gin From Oregon

Dead Guy Ale to Rogue Sriracha Hot Stour, Yellow Snow Pilsner to Hazelutely Choctabulous, 8 Hope IPA to Morimoto Soba Ale. You might be familiar with these and other beers produced by the Rogue Brewery in Oregon. For over 30 years, this brewery has been at the forefront of the craft brewing movement. However, you might not know that they also own a distillery, producing primarily Whiskey and Gin, and these spirits are definitely worthy of your attention.

Initially, the Rogue team obtained the first distilling license in Washington, with plans to make Rum, but that lasted only a few days. Unfortunately, the distillery was shut down by the fire department so Rogue moved the facility to Oregon, which opened in 2003. Rogue Ale & Spirits became the first rum distillery in Oregon since the repeal of Prohibition. Their first spirits were Vodkas and Rums (such as Dark Rum and Hazelnut Spiced Rum), though those are now being phased out so the distillery can concentrate on producing quality Whiskey and Gin.

Recently, I met up with Dewey Weddington, the Director of Spirits at Rogue Ale & Spirits, and he tasted me through several of Rogue's new spirits. We met at Saloon, in Davis Square, sampling these spirits while accompanied with food. I've known Dewey for over six years, and respect his knowledge of wine, Sake, spirits and Oregon. It was a pleasure to raise a glass with him again, as well as learn about Rogue's intriguing spirits.

Rogue is creating artisan spirits, often using local ingredients, and aren't afraid to be innovative. They are also more unique as they are the only brewery in the U.S., and one of the very few distilleries, that owns their own cooperage. With the importance of barrel aging for whiskey, then owning their own cooperage is a significant advantage. Currently, they are using American oak for their barrels though they have started experimenting with some Oregon Oak, which they've found to possess less vanilla flavor and more citrus and baking spice. Next year, they are likely to release their first spirit that was aged in Oregon Oak, so that is certainly a fascinating item for the future.

Rogue's concentration will be on three different Whiskies and two Gins, and I tasted four of the five as their Rye Whiskey was not yet available. As you'll see from the photos below, the bottles are relatively simple in design, and I like that simplicity as it presents a more serious note. They aren't trying to cover up anything with a splashy design and amusing name. Instead, they want the exterior to be more understated, and let the liquid make the bolder statement.

The Rogue Spirits Dead Guy Whiskey ($49) uses the same base as their Dead Guy Ale, the same four malts just without any hops. The four malts include 2-Row, Maier Munich, C15 & Rogue Farms Dare™ and Risk™ Malts, while the other two ingredients are Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water. This whiskey is aged for 1-3 years, in Charred 3 American oak, and is said to be "ocean aged." What that means is that the distillery is located close to the Pacific Ocean and Yaquina Bay, and that the aging room is open to the outside, open to the elements. In this region, aging is considered to be slow and steady as there are few high temperatures and a high humidity from the ocean.

Bottled at 40% ABV, the whiskey has a pleasant aroma, with hints of orange and vanilla. On the palate, there is an interesting blend of flavors, with notes of citrus, caramel, maltiness, and hints of salinity. There is also a subtle taste reminiscent of beer which permeates the whiskey. It would be good on its own, or could be used in a variety of cocktails.

My favorite spirit of the evening was the Rogue Spirits Oregon Single Malt Whiskey ($65), which was only released a couple months ago and isn't yet available in Boston though will be in the near future. It is made from only three ingredients, including the Rogue Farms Risk™ Malt, Free-Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast, and was aged for about five years in American oak. Their website states: "The grains used are plowed, disced, harrowed, seeded, fed, watered, threshed, winnowed, malted, milled, mashed, fermented, distilled, smithed, barrel-aged and bottled by hand. When you grow it, you know it."

This light-colored whiskey possesses an alluring aroma, a complex blend of intriguing scents, which will make you simply sit and sniff your glass for a time, enjoying the aroma alone. On the palate, the complexity remains, with such a fascinating melange of flavors, caramel to vanilla, baking spice to stonefruit, citrus to chocolate. Silky smooth, well-balanced and with a lengthy & satisfying finish. Absolutely delicious and it will please any whiskey lover. Dewey stated he felt it reminded him of a Speyside whisky.

The Rogue Spirits Oregon Rye Whiskey has not yet been released. They used to have a rye farm in Independence, Oregon, but there were significant problems with slugs so they decided to move the farm, eventually selecting Tygh Valley. They are hopeful this new area will prove more beneficial for their rye. As a lover of Rye Whiskey, and based on the high quality of their Single Malt, I'm anxious to taste the Rye once it is released.

While sipping these spirits, we enjoyed some of Saloon's tasty cuisine. The Single Malt paired exquisitely with the briny Oysters, and more restaurants need to embrace the pairing of Whiskey & Oysters. The Devils On Horseback, feta-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, are a decadent treat and also went well with the whiskey. The Poutine, potato wedges with garlic cheese curds & bacon gravy, was also a tasty comfort food, a fine bar snack. Though you might like drinking Whiskey on its own, it can pair well with a variety of dishes, an idea that isn't promoted enough.

I'm very particular as to the Gins I like, preferring a gin which has a more balanced taste of botanicals rather than one that is all about the juniper. The Rogue Spirits Spruce Gin ($35-$40) fits into my preferences, presenting a delicious, intriguing and balanced mix of botanicals from Oregon. The ingredient lists includes Spruce, Juniper Berries, Ginger, Fresh Cucumber, Orris Root, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Tangerine, Grains of Paradise, Angelica Root, Coriander & Free Range Coastal Water. It was fascinating to learn that around August, when the thousands of cucumbers are harvested, they are then peeled, one-by-one, a lengthy and laborious process. Approximately 100 pounds of cucumbers have to be added to each batch. The fall is also the only time of the year that they produce this gin.

On the nose, there is an intense smell of juniper, but beneath the dominant juniper were more subtle notes of the other botanicals, such as the spruce and citrus. On the palate, the botanicals balance out into a delicious and interesting combination, from fresh cucumber to herbal spruce, bright citrus and hints of spice. This could easily be drank on its own, with a little tonic, or make for an excellent component in a cocktail. This is certainly a Gin I would recommend.

The Rogue Spirits Pinot Spruce Gin ($35-$40) is the same gin as above, except this gin has been aged for about six months in former Pinot Noir barrels, mostly obtained from Chehalem Winery. As expected, the gin has a pleasing pink color from the barrels. In addition, the flavor profile adds an element of red berries to the botanicals, as well as some subtle notes of vanilla and baking spice. It is a more unique gin variation and works quite well. It is almost as if you created a Gin cocktail with Pinot Noir, though this would work well in other cocktails. Even gin haters may have an interest in this gin.

Within time, Rogue will be known for far more than just their craft beers, forging a name for themselves in the spirit world as well. Their Single Malt is compelling and should impress any whiskey lover. Their Gins are also compelling, worthy of your attention. Some might feel these spirits are too expensive however you should understand what you are purchasing. These are spirits made from local ingredients, created by a small, artisan distillery, and they are quality products. You should also ask yourself, do you want to support small, U.S. craft distilleries? I believe these spirts are worth the price and highly recommend them.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Rant: Would You Fish For Dinner...At A Restaurant?

Imagine this: You enter a local seafood restaurant and are handed a fishing pole, to use to catch the fish that you'll eat for dinner. Does that appeal to you? Would it be fun? Or would it be far too much work? And what happens if you catch the wrong fish?

Zaou is a chain of restaurants in Japan where you can fish for your dinner and one is going to open in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. When you dine at the restaurant, you have the option to fish or not for your dinner. If you want to go fishing, they'll rent you a rod and provide you with bait. If you need assistance, they will help you catch your intended fish. However, if you catch the wrong fish you might still have to pay for it. Once the fish is caught, it is then delivered to the kitchen, which will prepare it in a variety of ways dependent on your choice. Grilled, Tempura, Sushi and more.

There is a financial benefit to catching your own fish too as Zaou charges you less if you catch your own, maybe about $8-$10 less. However, you have to consider the time involved that you might spend fishing, dependent on how successful you can be in a short time period. If you're a poor fishermen, you might be waiting for your dinner, which could be a problem if you are in a group and the others are better, quicker fishermen.

I can see this as being a novelty for a time or two, but I certainly wouldn't want to make it a regular occurrence. You most often go to a restaurant to relax, not to spend your time working for your dinner. I know people that dislike going to a Hot Pot or Fondue restaurant as they dislike having to cook their own meal. I can't see them wanting to fish for their dinner either. I see it more as a tourist attraction, the novelty of fishing inside a restaurant, rather than a neighborhood spot where everyone goes to eat.

As I want to motivate more people to eat seafood, then I see Zaou as a good thing, something which could attract more people to seafood. However, I'm also very glad that you don't have to fish at Zaou to enjoy their seafood.

Would you like to see Zaou, or a similar restaurant, in Boston?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

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) Adelita, located in Concord, serves organic Mexican cuisine and is now open for both lunch and dinner. From the team behind Woods Hill Table, Adelita is the culmination of operating owner Kristin Canty’s passions for food, family farms and sustainable sourcing. The menu – developed and overseen by Woods Hill Table’s Executive Chef Charlie Foster – showcases Foster’s love and appreciation for the cuisine of his wife’s native Mexico.

The name of the restaurant, Adelita, was inspired by the name given to the female soldiers who fought in the Mexican Revolution. Adelita also represents Canty’s fight and advocacy work on behalf of small-scale farmers and the food sovereignty movement.

Living and working in Concord, Charlie and I noticed a lack of heartfelt, quality Mexican food in the area,” says Canty. “By continuing our tradition of sourcing from my Bath, New Hampshire, farm – The Farm at Woods Hill – and taking inspiration from Charlie’s regular trips to Mexico, we can offer guests flavorful, nutrient dense Mexican food that we’d be proud to serve our own families."

Composed of Chef Foster’s take on Mexican street food, the Adelita menu celebrates high quality ingredients, careful sourcing and scratch-made dishes such as tacos, ceviche and composed plates. Sourcing primarily from The Farm at Woods Hill, Foster uses grass-fed proteins throughout the menu, with dishes such as Housemade Pork Chorizo & Carnitas, Lamb Barbacoa, and Chicken Tinga. Canty and Foster also look to other small-scale purveyors for fresh ground masa, seafood, and organic (a mix of practicing and USDA-certified) produce to create flavorful, close-to-authentic Mexican dishes that are as ecologically viable as they are delicious.

Adelita’s bar program emphasizes quality ingredients and carefully selected products. The star of the drink program, the Adelita Margarita is made entirely from small batch reposado tequila, housemade triple sec, fresh organic lime juice and organic aqave syrup. Unique iterations of this Mexican staple include beet and guava. Additional cocktails range from the refreshing Paloma to the smoky Mezcal Old Fashioned.

There are twelve Mezcals on their beverage list, from three different producers, and Canty stated, “All three of the producers that we have are on because they highlight single village styles of Mezcal, and single varietal agave. They are truly unique products and a wonderful experience to try them all side by side. The Leyenda, which is not on the menu yet but will be on next week, is the only certified organic mezcal on the menu. This is important to the owner’s concept of supporting smaller organic farmers and distillers.”

Whether USDA certified or “practicing,” all wines featured at Adelita are organic, focusing on Spanish varietals. Adelita’s wine menu of minimally processed labels highlights Tempranillo and Viura’s diverse food-pairing abilities.

Adelita is open Monday – Saturday, from 11am – 10pm, with Lunch from 11am – 2pm and Dinner from 5pm – 10pm

I'm looking forward to checking out this restaurant, and enjoying a fine Mezcal with dinner.

2) On Sunday, March 18th, at 6pm, Brassica Kitchen + Cafe will host a Sunday "Pop Up." Brassica's Chef de Cuisine Matt Hummel will partner with Chef Yesid Areiza of Shepard, and cocktail virtuoso Moe Isaza of Pammy's for a dining experience inspired by the flavors of Colombia and Peru they’re calling, "Cajita Para Llevar".

A colloquial phrase heard in many Latin American restaurants,'Cajita Para Llevar” means "for here or to go "— a sentimental shoutout to both the Colombian roots of Areiza and Isaza as well as the gastronomic diversity and bounty of South American countries like Colombia and neighboring Peru. The menu is highly personal, including the arepas Areiza used to make with his Mom, or Hummel's take on Pollo a Parrilla, that he discovered in a tiny restaurant in Cuzco.

Bacardi Legacy Finalist Moe Isaza will craft signature libations and curate pairings that riff on classic South American flavors and popular spirits, similar to the rum and mezcal-heavy beverages he crafts at Pammy's.

Tiradito al Pargo Rojo con Erizo de Mar y Leche de Tigre y Coco (red snapper sashimi, uni and coconut leche de tigre, rocoto chili jam, corn crunch)
Remolacha con Nueces de Macadamia y Queso de Mano (marinated beets, hand made cheese, cape berries, macadamia nuts)
Arepa con Pulpo, Aguate y Cebolla Escabeche (blue corn arepas, spanish octopus, avocado mousse, fermented onions, culantro)
Filete al Trapo, Hinojo Dorado, Sauco Jus de Carne (smoked beef tenderloin, caramelized fennel, quinoa, elderberry jus)
Maracuyá y Chocolate (Passionfruit parfait, dark chocolate cake)

Tickets for this 5-course meal begin at $65 with an optional $30 beverage pairing and are available via Eventbrite.

3) Sumiao Hunan Kitchen is pulling the (bar) curtain back on a secret cocktail program that will make it’s downlow debut, this month. Designed by Bar Manager, Vinicius Stein, the 25 drink repertoire can be accessed via invite only or by spilling the secret yourself at the bar. The program, which Stein has dubbed, “Walk Up The Wall of China,” is a multi-part challenge to cocktail enthusiasts beginning with a shot of Baijiu, the best selling spirit in the world yet uncommon among the Boston beverage scene.

The ancient Asian spirit is a staple in Stein’s cocktail program alongside a carefully curated selection of spirits, taste profiles and other unique accoutrements. Following the Baijiu initiation, guests will be invited to ring a Chinese bell at which point they will receive a personalized membership card to the program. Once initiated, guests will have the opportunity to extend invitations to fellow cocktail enthusiasts and challenge them to walk the wall and discover over two dozen off-menu, Asian and Hunanese influenced cocktail creations.

One of Sumiao’s standout secret cocktails includes The Emperor ($14), created with muddled fresh ginger and lime, Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal, Don Julio tequila, Crème Yvette, hibiscus liqueur, agave nectar and lime reduction that is delicately garnished with a mint leaf.

Available exclusively during the month of March, the beverage team has also created a $5.00 Hong Kong Mule ginger cocktail, inspired by Sumiao Hunan’s Kitchen’s dedicated support of Joslin Diabetes Center’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI). The Hong-Kong Mule further spotlights the beverage team’s celebration of Baijiu as an unsung hero in the cocktail world. A recreation of a Moscow mule, SHK’s Hong-Kong Mule marries HKB Hong-Kong baijiu and hibiscus liqueur that is topped off with ginger beer and a splash of fresh lime, garnished with fresh mint springs and a lime wedge.

4) Best Burger Bar brings Wild Game fare to Brookline. For the months of March and April, Best Burger Bar will be offering an array of wild game burgers. These burgers will be available in limited quantities, and once sold out they will move onto the next wild game special.

First up is the Wild Boar Burger, a Wild Boar Patty with Honey Crispy Apple Bacon Jam and Umami Aioli all on a Brioche bun. The Wild Boar meat tastes like a cross between pork and beef, with a unique rich and nutty flavor that adds to the depth of flavor in this burger. If you’re really feeling adventurous, Best Burger Bar is also offering the option to add dried scorpions to your burger! Other assorted bugs will be available as new wild game specials are released.

Best Burger Bar will also be offering three new cocktails in honor of the warmer weather that is upon us. These limited-edition cocktails will be available for the month of March only. The Concord Grape Fizz features Brockmans Gin, Pear Syrup, Lemon Juice, Egg White, and a Champagne Floater. The Violet Blue Margarita, a mix of Tequila, Lime Juice, Orange Curacao, Sesame Syrup, and Blue Curacao will be available by the glass, or in a fish bowl for sharing. The Violet Blue Fish Bowl will be available through the end of summer, the perfect beverage to share with friends on Best Burger Bar’s patio.

Wild game burgers are available from March 6 to April 30, 2018.
Cocktail specials are available for the month of March with an exception to the Fish Bowl which is available through Summer.

5) Sumiao Hunan Kitchen is gearing up for a one-time Sunday brunch event dubbed “A Pinch of Ginger.” The event will take place on March 25, from 11:30am-2pm, and will unite the Boston-area foodie and medical communities while supporting Joslin Diabetes Center’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI).

Sumiao Chen – the restaurateur behind Sumiao, the city’s first Hunanese restaurant – is a pharmaceutical researcher at Novartis by-day whose passion for food and science inspired her to get involved with Joslin’s signature spring fundraising event, “A Taste of Ginger.” This brunch will serve as a preview to “A Taste of Ginger” happening in April at the Museum of Fine Arts which will feature cuisine from more than 30 restaurants.

Joining forces with SHK for this buffet-style brunch will be Chen’s second restaurant, Fengshui, as well as China Pearl and BLR by Shojo under the leadership of Brian Moy, whose family will be honored at this year’s “A Taste of Ginger” event.

The restaurants will showcase dozens of creative “diabetes-friendly” brunch dishes such as Lava Fish with swai filet and duo jiao and String Beans with Eggplant while brunch-goers enjoy live entertainment from Receita de Samba and SHK’s ginger-themed cocktail specials: the Hong-King Mule (Hong-Kong baiju, hibiscus liqueur, ginger beer, fresh lime, garnished with mint sprigs - $5) and The Emperor (muddled fresh ginger and lime, Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal, Don Julio tequila, Crème Yvette, hibiscus liqueur, agave nectar and lime reduction garnished with a mint leaf - $14).

Proceeds from both Sumiao’s “A Pinch of Ginger” and Joslin’s “A Taste of Ginger” will benefit the Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) at Joslin Diabetes Center which works to enhance the quality of life and health outcomes for Asian Americans living with diabetes, and collaborates with Joslin as they work to find a cure.

TICKETS: Tickets cost $35 per person and can be purchased online or in-person on a first come, first serve basis:

6) On Monday, April 9, from 6:30pm-9:30pm, Joslin Diabetes Center’s will host the 14th annual “A Taste of Ginger” at the Museum of Fine Arts to benefit Joslin’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) which works to enhance the quality of life and health outcomes for the rising number of Asian Americans living with diabetes, and collaborates with Joslin as they work to find a cure. Each year, hundreds of supporters and foodies gather to enjoy a lively evening full of cultural and musical performances and the opportunity to meet and taste the cuisine of more than 30 of Boston’s chefs such as Jasper White, Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Café, Andy Husbands of the Smoke Shop, Tracy Chang of Pagu, Karen Akunowicz of Myers + Chang, Sumiao Chen of Sumiao Hunan Kitchen and Avi Shemtov of the Chubby Chickpea, amidst the beauty of the MFA.

Emceed by NBC 10 Boston anchor and health reporter Kristy Lee, the event will honor the Moy family, restaurateurs and owners of China Pearl, Shojo, Rukus and BLR by Shojo. Longtime Joslin supporter and “A Taste of Ginger” founder Leverett Wing, whose parents helped to establish the AADI at Joslin, will serve as event chair.

Tickets to “A Taste of Ginger” are $250 and can be purchased at (Business casual attire required)

7) The Greeks have been making wine for more than 6000 years – from the age of Dionysus and Homer to the present day. But their wines have remained a mystery to many – until now. Winemakers from all over Greece are coming to Boston for Odyssey, a Greek wine tasting adventure. Expand your palate as you taste wines made from indigenous grapes found only in Greece; sip on international blends; and marvel at rare vintages uncorked just for Odyssey. Take the opportunity to support a great cause and experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Greece.

Attendees at the tasting will tour the three main wine producing regions: The Islands, The Peloponnese and Northern Greece each with characteristic terroirs, indigenous grapes and 6000 years of winemaking history; meet the winemakers and learn about their vinification techniques, terroir philosophies and personal stories; and of course, taste indigenous, international and rare varieties and vintages from the Cava Spiliadis portfolio. Odyssey is hosted by George Spiliadis, son of noted Milos restaurateur Costas Spiliadis.

The Odyssey event is being held on Friday, March 30, from 5pm-8pm at Post 390, at 406 Stuart St, Boston.

Cost: $50 per person with 100% of the ticket sales being donated to Boys and Girls Club of Boston
Details and Tickets

I'll be attending this event as I love Greek wines and always want to expand my palate and try more wines from this compelling country. I've previously several wines from the producer that will be at this event and I was impressed with what I tasted. This is going to be a killer wine event and highly recommended.

8) Chef Rick Araujo and his team at Civic Kitchen & Drink welcome Chef William Nemeroff of B.T.’s Smokehouse as the featured guest at Civic’s Guest Chef Collaboration Series. The special event takes place March 21, at 6pm, at Civic Kitchen and Drink.

We are all about local product and the community, so we love taking this opportunity to showcase our local heroes in the culinary landscape” shares Araujo. “Bill is respected throughout the region for his fantastic BBQ dishes, and we can’t wait to welcome him to our kitchen on March 21. We’re going to be cooking up some amazing BBQ – I can’t wait to learn some of his secrets!”

The Menu:
BT’s 3 Year Aged Prosciutto with Assorted Sausages and Civic Accompaniments
Paired with Wormtown Helles Lager

Cold Smoked Faroe Island Salmon with house-made Crème Fraiche, Dill Pearls, Rye Crisp, Cured Spring Ridge Egg Yolk
Paired with Wormtown Irish Red Ale

Double Smoked Pork Jowl with Civic’s Four Star Farms Cheddar Grits and Vermont Plum Rumtopf and Local Pea Tendrils
Paired with Wormtown African Queen Be Hoppy IPA

BT’s 26 Hour Smoked Beef Brisket with Civic’s Roasted Carrot and Habanero Puree, Pickled Local Garlic Scapes and Two Potato Hash Browns
Paired with Wormtown Buddha Juice X2IPA

Banana Pudding with Civic Bourbon Roasted Banana Puree and Smoked Nuts
Paired with Wormtown Spies Like Us Imperial Stout

Cost: $59 per person
Reservations are highly recommend and can be made by calling 508-3429-5179 or visiting and click the ‘order online’ button.

9) Matadora, the Spanish tapas restaurant located at the newly-renovated Hilton Boston/Woburn, will open for brunch on Easter Sunday, April 1, from 11am-2:30pm, offering a buffet brunch with a dash of Spanish flare.

The Menu includes:
Scrambled Eggs | Cage Free, Espelette
Home Fries | Pimenton, Peppers, Onion
Breakfast Meats | Sausage, Bacon
Torrijas | Traditional Spanish Grilled Breakfast Bread, Cinnamon, Honey
Spanish Chicken & Kale | Red Mojo
Hornazo | Traditional Spanish Meat Pie, Chorizo, Eggs, Manchego
Spanish Baked Salmon | Lemon, Pimenton, Dill
Assorted Breakfast Breads | Muffins, Danish, Bagels, Croissants, Breads
Waffle Bar | Whipped Cream, Strawberries, Salted Caramel, Maple Syrup, Chocolate Sauce
Oysters & Shrimp Cocktail | Pimenton Cocktail Sauce, Aleppo Sherry Mignonette
Parfait Bar | Yogurt, Granola, Fresh Fruit Selection
Caesar Salad | Romaine, Crouton, Pecorino
Strawberry Fields Salad | Field Greens, Caramelized Pecans, Strawberries, Balsamic
Almond Cake | Whipped Cream, Strawberry Compote
Mona de Pascua | Traditional Spanish Easter Cake
Mini Desserts | Chef Selection

Cost: Adult $34.95; Children $17
Reservations encouraged so please call 781-904-0658

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Gonzalez Byass La Copa Vermouth: From Sherry With Love

In a number of respects, Vermouth is the Rodney Dangerfield of the wine world, not getting sufficient respect. Many people don't even realize that it's a wine, thinking it's only a minor ingredient in cocktails. That needs to be changed and Vermouth needs to be respected and loved for all that it can offer.

As I've said before, "It's a wine with a fascinating history that extends back thousands of years...It can be delicious and complex, intriguing and diverse, and offers a template upon which a producer can put their individual stamp." Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine, which works well in cocktails but also can be enjoyed on its own, maybe with a ice cube or two. The intriguing complexity of some Vermouth makes it a compelling wine on its own. Fortunately, there are numerous producers taking Vermouth seriously, creating some unique and fascinating Vermouths, from a wide range of base wines and botanicals.

Gonzalez Byass, which was founded in 1835, is a Sherry producer, one I visited back in 2010, and they export a wide range of delicious Sherries. Back in the 19th century, they also made Red Vermouth, and two years ago they started to produce it once again, using the original recipe as their foundation. I received a media sample of this new product, the Gonzalez Byass La Copa Vermouth, and it is impressive and complex, delicious and versatile. This is a Vermouth for Sherry lovers, wine lovers and cocktail lovers, earning my highest recommendation.

The specific recipe for their Vermouth is considered proprietary, so they won't provide it, except that is not fully the case. Each year, the González Byass Foundation celebrates International Archives Day, which is held annually on June 9, by opening up their Historical Archives to the public. On this day, they have previously displayed the original recipe for their Vermouth, from 1896, and might do so again at future International Archives Days. They also have provided some basic information about the formula, enough to be intriguing.

The La Copa Vermouth is a blend of 75% Oloroso Sherry and 25% Pedro Ximinez Sherry, both from soleras that are approximately eight years old. It is rare to find any Vermouth made from Sherry, and we certainly need more such Vermouths. Some of the botanicals that are blended into the Vermouth include wormwood, angelica, savory, clove, orange peel, nutmeg, quinine, and cinnamon. The name, "La Copa," derives from the name of the branding iron used on the cattle and horses of the ranch of Marqués de Torresoto, the son of the bodegas’s founder Manuel Maria González. The label for the La Copa is also based on the original 19th century label for their Vermouth.

Relaunched in June 2016, La Copa Vermouth ($25) is a taste of history but one which also presents well in the present. On the nose, its complexity is first experienced, a wonderful melange of spices, salted nuts, and citrus notes. It's an alluring nose, one that will entice you to drink, to hopefully realize the vast promises of those aromas. On the palate, you're not disappointed in the least, intrigued by its complexity, balance and elegance. There is a superb blend of spices and herbs, with nuts, caramel, a touch of plum, candied orange and more. The Sherry influence is prominent and well integrated. There is balanced sweetness with hints of bitterness, exactly what you want from a fine vermouth. It's smooth with a lengthy, satisfying finish and is wonderful on its own, though it also does great in a Manhattan.

It is the use of the Sherry which elevates the quality of this Spanish Vermouth and I would love to see other Vermouths using Sherry as the base. Gonzalez Byass is producing a compelling wine, and I strongly recommend that all wine lovers sample this intriguing Vermouth. Consume it on its own, reveling in its complexity, or use it in your favorite cocktail.