Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday Sips & Nibbles

I am here with a special Wednesday edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events.
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1) On Wednesday, November 22, from 9pm-Midnight, Puritan & Co. Chef/Owner Will Gilson invites guests to join in celebrating Puritan & Company’s 5th Anniversary at the Cambridge restaurant’s annual Family-You-Choose Feast. Puritan & Company welcomes friends to a night of merriment celebrating five years of Puritan & Company success and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday- a particularly special day for Mayflower pilgrim descendant, Will Gilson. The party will feature complimentary bites and a cash bar with specialty cocktails provided by sponsors Privateer Rum, Notch Brewing, and Campari.

To make reservations, please call (617)-615-6195

2) On Tuesday, December 5, starting at 6:30pm, Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca will host an Italian wine dinner exploring the flavors of Italy's Piemonte region as well as in-season white truffles. Starting at 6:30 p.m., the evening will include a tasting of four different courses (including three truffle-centric mains) along with wine pairings from the Piemonte region.

The menu will feature:
1st course:
Guanciale pizza with white truffles
Wine: Castello di Verduno Pelaverga 2015
2nd course:
Braised rabbit and robiola cappellacci with white truffles
Wine: Luigi Pira Dolcetto d'Alba 2015
3rd course:
Brasato al barolo with polenta and white truffles
Wines: Produttori del Barbaresco 2014 AND Paolo Scavino Barolo 2013
4th course:
Hazelnut torta with gianduja and hazelnut gelato
Wine: Brandini Moscato d'Asti 2016

Tickets are $90 and will soon be available for purchase via Eventbrite.
For more information or to make reservations, please contact (617) 421-4466.

3) On Wednesday, November 29, at 6pm, Bistro du Midi invites guests to experience a variety of Pinot Noirs at the U.S. vs France wine dinner. Executive Chef Josue Louis will prepare an exclusive five-course menu with each plate expertly paired with one of the hand-picked wines by Head Sommelier Ray Osborne.

The full menu for the U.S. vs France Pinot Noir Dinner is as follows:
FIRST
Beet-cured salmon, caper, crème fraiche
2013 WILLAKENZIE, ‘GISELLE’, WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGON
SECOND
Spanish octopus, sunchoke, golden delicious, smoked almonds
2013 DOMAINE RION, 1ER CRU NUITS-ST-GEORGES AUX VIGNERONDES
THIRD
Oxtail tortellini, broccoli spigarello, salsify
2012 LOUIS LATOUR, GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN
FOURTH
Duck breast, celery root, candy cane beet, dates, juniper jus
2014 PATZ & HALL, SONOMA COAST
FIFTH
Chocolate ganache, cassis cremeux, lavender ice cream
PETITE KIR

Cost is $135 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Seating is limited; to make a reservation, please call 617-426-7878

4) Chef Daniel Bruce and the team at Boston Harbor Hotel are thrilled to welcome former New England Patriots Quarterback Drew Bledsoe to Meritage Restaurant + Wine Bar for a reception and four-course dinner on Wednesday, November 29, starting at 7pm.

Former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe will bring select wines from Doubleback, his family-owned vineyard on the outskirts of the Walla Walla Valley, to be sampled and enjoyed at the picturesque Meritage Restaurant + Wine Bar. After returning to his home state in 2007, Bledsoe collaborated with childhood friends and established winemakers to create a premium wine experience with a focus on world-class cabernet sauvignon.

The full menu for the evening is as follows:
RECEPTION
2015 Argyle Brut Rose
DINNER
First Course
2016 Bledsoe Family Cabernet Sauvignon
Char Seared Ora King Salmon, Smoked Winter Vegetables, Cabernet Demi
Second Course
2015 Bledsoe Family Stolen Horse Syrah
Crispy Wild Mushrooms, Shaved Iberico Pork Belly, Melted Leeks, Porchini Dust
Third Course
2014 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon – Cellar Release
Cocoa and Five Spice Rubbed Grilled Prime Rib Filet, Fennel Laced Potato Gnocchi, Cabernet Raspberry, Glazed Baby Brussels
Fourth Course
2015 Bledsoe Flying B Cabernet Sauvignon
Aged Gouda, Parsnip Feta Crepes, Red Wine Syrup, Kale Chip, Fried Sage

Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite for $225 per person (including tax and gratuity). This is a 21+ event.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Taizi Baijiu: A New Zealand Treasure


Baijiu, a distilled spirit that originated in China and is currently the most popular spirit in the word, suffers from an image problem with many Americans. In the U.S., it has a reputation of possessing a foul smell and taste, reminiscent of stinky cheese, gasoline, and even sweaty socks. Though there are Baijiu with strong aromas that might turn off some people, there are other lighter aroma Baijiu which would appeal to many preferences.

As Baijiu is showing up in more and more local bars and restaurants, now is the time to push aside your misconceptions and taste some delicious Baijiu. I suggest you check out my prior Baijiu articles, to gain a basic idea of this intriguing spirit, from its unique production process to food pairings, drinking etiquette to cocktails. My own Baijiu explorations have continued, leading me to a compelling Baijiu produced in New Zealand!

I was sent a media sample of Taizi Baijiu, from Sam and Ben Lu, the brothers who founded this company. Sam and Ben, who grew up in Taiwan, moved to New Zealand in 1994 and by 2007, they have conceived of the concept for Taizi though it took them two years before incorporating their company New Zealand Chinese Liquor Limited. Finally, in 2013, the first batch of Taizi was bottled and sold commercially. The term "Taizi" literally translates as "extreme purple," (which is the beautiful color captured on the packaging), but it also sounds the same as "crown prince."

Why produce Baijiu in New Zealand? Sam and Ben simply enjoy drinking Baijiu so decided to make their own version. They hired Southern Grain Spirits’ master distiller John Fitzpatrick to distill their Baijiu, using a rare English copper column still that was manufactured by John Dore in 1835. They only produce about 21,000 bottles annually and have no current plans to expand that production amount.

Their production process uses the basic science of Chinese Baijiu production, though they don't emulate every step of many Chinese distilleries. The ingredients in their Baijiu include Australian sorghum, New Zealand wheat, local underground water, wolfberries (also known as goji berries) and the rest is a trade secret. They triple distill the Baijiu, which isn't aged in terrace cotta urns, and it has a 58% ABV, making it a potent spirit. It is classified as a "light aroma" Baijiu, the type which should appeal more to Americans.

"This is as close as baijiu gets to vodka, particularly in the nose. It has a smooth body with notes of violet and apricot and a long peppery finish, which hangs in the mouth and warms the belly."
--Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits by Derek Sandhaus 

It is suggested that you chill this bottle in your freezer and drink it straight, ice-cold, or you can use it in a cocktail, substituting Baijiu for any white spirit in a classic recipe. I began by tasting it as an ice-cold shot and then experimented with it in a couple simple cocktails.

With its clear color, the Baijiu has an intriguing nose of berries and licorice, and on your palate, the berry flavors are very prominent upfront with more licorice notes on the finish. It has a slightly oily texture, but drinks very smooth and balanced, and you wouldn't realize its high alcohol content. There is an underlying complexity, more subtle notes, including some herbal elements, accenting the Baijiu. This Baijiu lacks that off-putting aroma or flavor which is found in more strong aroma Baijiu so it would appeal to many Americans.

I initially mixed the Baijiu with a strawberry lemonade drink, a 1 to 3 ratio, and that was delicious, the strawberry and lemon melding well with the Baijiu berry flavors. It also worked well with a pineapple/coconut juice and a Clementine juice. I'm certain it would work well in more complex cocktails as well. And within a cocktail, you definitely don't realize the high alcohol content of the Baijiu so you need to take care when drinking multiple cocktails.

The Taizi Baijiu is delicious and complex, one of the best Baijiu I've tasted, and it earns my highest recommendation. It will appeal to many spirit lovers and will change your perceptions about how you think Baijiu tastes.    

Monday, November 20, 2017

Moonshine? A History of Sotol in the U.S.

"More than 75% of the population of Mexico may be illiterate. Educational methods in Mexico follow more closely cock-fighting, sotol drinking, and the bull ring rather than the "three R's."
--Omaha Daily Bee, March 26, 1914: A letter to the editor written by Wood B. Wright

This racist comment is interesting for one aspect, that it mentions Sotol drinking rather than Mezcal or Tequila. Today, when discussing Mexico, most people would first mention Tequila and then maybe Mezcal. Very few people though would mention or even know about Sotol. However, back in the early 20th century, Sotol was apparently much more dominant in the northern region of Mexico and Americans on the borders were more familiar with it. Sotol has since been eclipsed by Tequila and Mezcal, but it is starting to make a bit of a comeback and you should learn more about it.

The Sotol plant (Dasylirion wheeleri), also known as the Desert Spoon, derives its name from the Nahuatl word “Tzotolin,” which basically translates as “palm with long and thin leaves.” It was once thought to be a type of Agave but it was eventually discovered that it actually is a succulent that belongs in the Nolinaceae family. Both the Agave and Nolinaceae families fall under the same plant order, Asparagales, so they are related to a degree. Sotol grows in northern Mexico and ranges into the U.S., primarily in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Indigenous peoples have been using the Sotol plant for thousands of years, for a number of different purposes. They use the strong fibers of the leaves to make cords and weave baskets. The base of the leaf has been used to make a spoon-like utensil, which led to the Sotol being called the Desert Spoon. The core of the plant has been used as a food source, and some peoples also fermented the plant to make alcohol.

Once distillation was introduced to Mexico, then some people began to distill the Sotol plant, creating an alcoholic spirit that also was named Sotol. Sotol is primarily produced in the northern Mexican regions of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango, though it can be found in other Mexican regions as well. In 2004, Mexico granted Sotol a Designation of Origin (DO) and formed a Consejo Mexicano de Sotol to regulate its production. Legally, Sotol can only be produced in the states of ChihuahuaCoahuila and Durango.  Generally the producers uses wild Sotol plants, which commonly take about fifteen years to mature, and it is said that one plant can produce a single bottle of Sotol.

In Texas, a new Sotol distillery, Desert Door, has recently opened to the public, raising the issue of whether there is a history of Sotol distillation in the U.S. There appears to be some anecdotal evidence, stories passed down from family members, that Sotol might have been illegally distilled, a form of moonshine, in Texas. It certainly seems plausible that it might have occurred but it would be good if we could find some documentary evidence to support the belief.

I decided to conduct some preliminary research on the issue and based on this initial work, I couldn't find any documents to directly support the allegation of Texans distilling Sotol. What I found tends to lend more support to the possibility that such distillation didn't occur on any significant basis in Texas, and was essentially limited to Mexico. However, I did find a single reference mentioning Sotol distillation by some of the indigenous peoples of Texas region. Further research into that area is definitely warranted.

One of the earliest documents I found, with substantial information on Sotol, was in The American Naturalist Vol. 15, No. 11, Nov., 1881, an article titled "Sotol" by Dr. V. Harvard, a U.S. Army Surgeon who was stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln in North Dakota. Dr. Harvard noted that the production of Sotol "... is carried on mostly in the Mexican States of Chihuahua, Cohuihuila and Sonora, and sotol mescal is the ordinary alcoholic beverage of the native population. It is precluded in Texas by the high duties laid on this class of industry." Dr. Harvard doesn't indicate that any "sotol mescal" is produced in Texas, or elsewhere in the U.S.

Dr. Harvard then goes into a detailed explanation of "sotol mescal," from its harvest to a description of the heads, noting harvesting is suspended only during the rainy reason, from June to September. He also notes how the heads are baked in circular pits, which are about ten feet deep, before they are pounded into a pulp. This sounds similar in some respects to the production of Mezcal. However, the pulp is then thrown into vats for fermentation, and for a few days, men tread upon the pulp with their feet. That foot-treading generally doesn't occur when making Mezcal. Once fermentation is complete, it is then placed into a still. "The first liquor obtained, being richer in alcohol and possessing to a higher degree the peculiar aroma of sotol mescal, is considered of better quality."

Dr. Harvard provides some information on the pricing of "sotol mescal" too. "A vinata in good running order will turn out a Mexican barrel a day (about twenty-eight gallons), sold at an average price of fifteen dollars, and retailing for thirty or forty centsaquart." He also is appreciative of its taste, "Sotol mescal is a pure, wholesome alcoholic drink; if the best brand be kept long enough to lose its sharp edge, it compares favorably with good whisky;.." And another benefit is "On account of its cheapness and characteristic taste, mescal is very seldom adulterated." This is a fascinating article and you should read it for even more information on Sotol.

In some subsequent written references, Sotol in Texas and New Mexico is mentioned as animal feed, with no reference to distillation. A Colorado newspaper, Walsenburg World, June 12, 1892 wrote that in the Pacos river valley of Texas, they are using a "peculiar" sheep feed called Sotol, noting that men with axes must first cut open the Sotol heads and that the sheep are quite fond of the Sotol.

The Santa Fe Daily New Mexican, April 02, 1895, in an article titled "Live Stock Interests," wrote "Attention is now being directed to the nutritive and fattening qualities of sotol, a vegetable growth of the cacti species. Sotol is said by stockmen, who have closely studied its virtues as a stock food, to furnish both feed and water, as it contains sufficient moisture supply stock for long periods without water. Sheep readily fatten on it while cattle and horses take to it as they do to grain. It is not available for sheep unless burst open with an ax." So we see Sotol being used as feed for sheep, cattle and horses, but there isn't any mention that anyone locally is distilling it into alcohol.

There are a number of other newspaper articles during this time frame which discuss feeding sotol to animals, especially sheep, and I haven't added many of them as the information would be duplicative of what I've already mentioned. In none of those articles will you find references to Texans distilling Sotol alcohol.

One of the first references to Sotol being used to distill alcohol isn't quite what you think as no one will be drinking that alcohol. The Brownsville Daily Herald, October 12, 1906, in an article titled "And Ozona Is Advertised," reports that: "Another gold mine has been discovered in Texas, namely, the vast quantities of alcohol contained in the sotol bush. At Ozone, in Crockett county, the light and ice company is making its own fuel from the sotol and this same company proposes to supply fuel for power to all the surrounding country from its distilling plant." Again, there is no mention that anyone in Texas is distilling Sotol for alcohol consumption. You would have thought this article might have mentioned it if it were occurring.

There are additional references to the plans to use Sotol for fuel. The Jimplecute, October 13, 1906 mentions "San Antonio: John Young of Ozona, who is at the head of the company that proposes to distill denatured alcohol known at (sic) "sotol," is in this city and has shed some new light on the proposed enterprise. He says that sotol plant has somewhat the appearance of a cabbage and grows in great abundance all over West Texas. For many years the Mexicans have manufactured mescal from the plant, producing a good grade of alcohol." Though it mentions Mexicans making alcohol from Sotol, there continues to be a lack of mention of any Texans doing the same.

The San Angelo Press, October 18, 1906 adds more detail, stating that the denatured alcohol will replace fuel oil in machinery plants, also stating that: "Other good uses have been made of sotol, however. Sheepmen in the sotol section have long utilized it as the chief food during the winter for their flocks." And once again, despite refereeing other uses for Sotol, there isn't any mention of Texans making alcohol from Sotol.

As for the use of Sotol as feed, the Albuquerque Evening Citizen, July 03, 1907 published an article, Alfalfa versus Sotol for Cattle, discussing a report prepared by a New Mexico agricultural experiment station that conducted a study of the use of Alfalfa vs Sotol. Though they found that Sotol was generally cheaper than Alfalfa, commonly by as much as half, they also concluded that Alfalfa was generally better nutritionally for the animals unless additional ingredients were added to the Sotol feed. In the end, it came down to how inexpensive a farmer could obtain Sotol and the other ingredients as compared to Alfalfa.

In an intriguing article titled, Useful Desert PlantThe Florida Star, October 09, 1908 mentions that at the last session of Congress, permission was granted so a company could produce denatured alcohol from Sotol and a distillery was subsequently constructed at El Paso. The article also provides some more general and historical information about Sotol. First, there is a fascinating mention of the Spaniard's first contact with Sotol alcohol near the Rio Grande. "When the early Spanish explorers first penetrated the region along the Rio Grande river below Alpine more than two centuries ago they found that the Pueblo and other Indian tribes had a knowledge of the alcoholic properties of the sotol plant. Primitive stills were in operation, from which a fiery white liquor was obtained." This is documentary evidence of Sotol distillation, conducted by Pueblos, in the U.S. More research into this area is needed to determine how prevalent Sotol distillation might have been among the indigenous peoples of America.

The article then discusses the current status of Sotol, reporting that: "The sotol liquor still is a favorite beverage along the Mexicans of the border. The American cowboy of this region has an intimate knowledge of the "fighting" qualities of this liquor. It is one of the phases of initiation which the tenderfoot is always put through upon the border ranches." However, there isn't any mention that anyone in Texas is distilling Sotol.

Smuggling Sotol across the border, from Mexico into the U.S. was a problem and there are multiple references in various newspapers about people being caught smuggling. For example, in the El Paso Herald, August 04, 1910, there is a report of a Mexican smuggler trying to discard his contraband Sotol, "the Mexican booze," before he is apprehended by the border authorities. In none of these references is there any indication that Americans were distilling their own Sotol.

In the Bryan Daily Eagle And Pilot, May 08, 1911 there is a brief mention of Sotol: "Then there are the sotol and the maguey and other desert plants, which the Mexican well knows how to convert into either food or drink." Once again, Sotol distillation seems restricted to Mexico and there is no mention of it occurring in the U.S.

The use of Sotol for animal feed took a technological step forward as reported in El Paso Herald, July 04, 1917. A new company was formed in El Paso, Sotol Products, to produce feed for livestock derived form the Sotol plant. The company has a new patented process which produces a nutritious Sotol molasses. This molasses is then combined with the pith of the Sotol as well as some Alfalfa or other vegetable material. This livestock feed could be sold at "an extraordinary low price."

In a follow-up, in El Paso Herald, July 27, 1918, there is an advertisement for this new Sotol animal feed. The "Sotol Molasses Mixed Feed" contains a blend of 25% Alfalfa Meal, 25% Ground Sotol Plant, and 40% Sotol Molasses. There is then a breakdown touching on the feed's Fats, Protein, Nitrogen Free Extract & Crude Fiber and comparing them to beet pulp, showing that the molasses mixed feed was better for livestock. And the advertisement also stresses the low cost of this product.

In my preliminary researches, it seems there is some evidence of Sotol distillation by the indigenous people of the southwestern U.S. though more research should be done. However, I haven't find any documentary evidence that any Texans were involved in the distillation of Sotol, no Sotol "moonshine." And with all of these articles, it seems likely at least one of them would have mentioned distillation in Texas if it had occurred. The printed references seem to restrict such distillation to Mexico.

As more Mexican Sotol becomes available in the U.S. market, I recommend you seek it out. Last night, I enjoyed a glass of Sotol at the new Bodega Canal, near TD Garden. You'll find some other local Mexican restaurants too that may carry one or two Sotol. Be adventurous and enjoy a new spirit!

"There is some resemblance between the cabbage and sotol, but there is no reason to conclude that cabbage beer is anything like mescal, one drop of which, it has been said, will make a rabbit go out and hunt a fight with a bulldog."
--Bryan Daily Eagle And Pilot, August 26, 1911

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sips & Nibbles: Thanksgiving Edition

I am offering a special Thanksgiving edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events. Today, you'll find some restaurant options for Thanksgiving if you just don't feel like cooking this year.
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1) Capo’s talented culinary team is offering a variety of options to help make this Thanksgiving the best one yet. Leave the baking to the experts and order a special Thanksgiving Pie to Go or join Capo for prix fixe and a la carte Thanksgiving Day dining options.

PIES TO GO
This Thanksgiving Capo is offering made-to-order Specialty Pies by renowned Boston pastry chef Kate Holowchik, the newest addition to the Capo culinary team. Available for pre-order now through Monday, November 20, the beautiful pies are sure to turn heads at the dinner table. Chef Kate’s baking up Thanksgiving favorites including Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie, and decadent French Silk for just $25 each. All three flavors are also available gluten-free, upon request, for $30 each. Visit https://www.caposouthboston.com/store/ to order a pie.
When: Last Day to Order: Monday, November 20; Pick Up: Tuesday, November 21 – Thursday, November 23
Cost: Holiday pies are $25 each (gluten-free also available for $30)

TURKEY GOBBLER TO GO
Enjoy Thanksgiving on the go with a special Turkey Gobbler Sandwich packed with Roasted Turkey, chestnut sausage stuffing, orange cranberry sauce, caramelized onion focaccia, roasted turkey gravy. The Turkey Gobbler Sandwich is the perfect option for Bostonians stuck working on the holiday that are still looking for their Thanksgiving fix, or the unlucky hosts who were left with no leftovers for next-day sandwiches. Swing by Capo on Thanksgiving between 2pm and 10pm to pick up Chef Nick Dixon’s ultimate turkey sandwich for just $12.

THANKSGIVING DINING
The team at Capo welcomes guests to enjoy a hearty Turkey Day meal at Capo, with a variety of options to accommodate families of all sizes. Dishes by Chef Nick Dixon and desserts from pastry chef Kate Holowchik can be enjoyed as a three-course prix fixe menu ($45/adult, $20/children, free for children under 4) or a la carte.

First Course (for prix fixe, choice of)
Lobster Bisque, Cream lobster bisque, crème fraiche, $15
Gnocchi Alforno, Hand-rolled gnocchi, English peas, shaved truffle, $16
Cacio de Pepe, House-made spaghetti, guanciale, black pepper, pecorino Romano, $15
Second Course (for prix fixe, choice of)
Roast Turkey, Chestnut and sausage stuffing, Yukon mashed potatoes, winter vegetables, cornbread soufflé, gravy, cranberry bourbon sauce, $25
Roast Prime Rib, Yukon mashed potatoes, bone marrow popover, au jus, $32
Eggplant Involtini, fresh mozzarella, smoked tomato sauce, torn basil, $18
Third Course (for prix fixe, choice of)
Pumpkin Crostada, $10
Apple Pie Tiramisu, $10
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart, $10
A La Carte Side Dishes
Roasted Winter Squash, delicata squash, Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, rosemary, $10
Cornbread Soufflé, $10
Slow Roasted Sweet Potato Casserole, $12

Capo will be open on Thanksgiving for dinner from 2pm – 10pm, with last call at 11:30pm. For Reservations, please call 617-993-8080.

2) The newly opened Sumiao Hunan Kitchen is celebrating their first Thanksgiving in Kendall Square by dishing out Hunanese twists on traditional “Turkey Day” staples and family-style prix fixe menus for four-to-eight guests for two straight days, November 23 & November 24 from 11am-close.

Sumiao’s a la carte specialties include the four-piece Pan-Seared Pumpkin Cake with sweet pumpkin, sticky rice powder, condensed milk and sesame ($12); Mala Turkey with house chili soy sauce, Szechuan peppercorn oil, cilantro and sesame ($14); Crispy Turkey with hoisin-BBQ sauce ($28); and, tempura-style Yolk Breaded Pumpkin with preserved duck yolk and sweet pumpkin ($18).

Whether feasting for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, group dining is made simple with Sumiao’s trio of prix fixe-style menus ($125-$250 per group). Each menu starts with Melted Gold Soup with pumpkin and millet. Moving onto the appetizer course (Sumiao Shang Gan, Scallion Pancake or Spicy Dried Baby Fish), groups of four pick one while groups of six choose two, and eight select three. Each guest then can choose one sharable entrée from a selection of 12 signature vegetable, seafood and meat dishes like the Spicy Cauliflower, Red-Braised Pork Belly or Steamed Duijiao Tilapia. Each group also gets a complimentary order of one of the a la carte specials featured on these two days.

To make Reservations, please call 617-945-0907

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.
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1) On Wednesday, November 29, from 6:30pm-9:30pm, Celtics star Marcus Smart will be hosting An Evening with Marcus Smart at Towne Stove and Spirits to benefit his YounGameChanger Foundation. Guests will be treated to passed bites; cocktails; silent and live auctions; and meet-and-greet opportunities with some of Boston’s notable athletes and VIPs.

Boston Celtics Guard Marcus Smart established the YounGameChanger Foundation to provide families with seriously and chronically ill children with encouragement and life-changing experiences and to be a voice of motivation, empowerment and encouragement to inner city young athletes to be game changers off the court or field.

Single tickets cost $200 and proceeds will benefit Marcus Smart's YounGameChanger Foundation's mission.

To purchase tickets, please visit https://www.marcussmart.org/event/eveningwithmarcussmart2017

2) November marks Diabetes Awareness Month and Kendall Square’s newly opened Sumiao Hunan Kitchen has teamed up with Joslin Diabetes Center’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) to help bring attention to the impact of diabetes on millions of Asian Americans. All month, the team at Sumiao will be featuring a special menu with a collection of delicious, diabetes-friendly dishes, hand-selected by one of the nutritionists from Joslin’s AADI.

Standout Hunanese-style selections will include Cinderella with Japanese pumpkin and lily ($12); Kung Pao Shrimp with peanuts, green & red peppers and dried chili pepper ($20); Hunan Steak Tips with white beech mushroom, serrano pepper, black pepper and honey ($28); Lava Fish with swai filet and duo jiao ($24); and, Steamed Butterfly Shrimp with aged orange peel, garlic and peppers ($28). In total, Sumiao Hunan Kitchen will offer more than 20 diabetes-friendly options.

One in two Asian Americans will develop diabetes or pre-diabetes in their lifetime, despite having a lower average body mass index than the overall population of Americans. Originally from Hunan, China, Sumiao Chen has followed the diabetes epidemic closely through her experience as a scientist and former doctor, sparking a passion for raising awareness about the issue and promoting health conscious menu choices at her restaurant.

Joslin makes no guarantee that these items will be available at time of visit. Joslin does not endorse products or services, including those of this restaurant.

3) On Monday, December 4, from 7pm-10pm, Bar Boulud’s resident Sommelier, David Bérubé, invites guests to celebrate the holiday season with a festive five-course Champagne Dinner featuring pours from Champagne Taittinger.

Founded in 1932, Champagne Taittinger is regarded as a regional leader for chardonnay-based champagnes; they are renowned for their exclusive and extremely rare prestige cuvee: Comtes de Champagne. Showcasing a premier selection of vintages including the Comtes de Champagne White 2006, each pairing has been chosen to complement the unique, harvest-inspired dishes created by Chef de Cuisine Michael Denk and Pastry Chef Robert Differ.

Bar Boulud’s Five-Course Champagne Taittinger Dinner will include:
Truffle Arancini
Taittinger, La Francaise, Brut, 3L
Caviar “Sandwich” (Brioche, red onion, crème fraîche, farm egg)
Taittinger, La Francaise, Brut, 3L
Halibut (Hazelnut crust, spaghetti squash, Brussels sprouts, beurre blanc)
Taittinger, Prélude, Grand Crus, Brut
Veal Duo- Roasted tenderloin, veal cheek blanquette (kumquats, black trumpet mushrooms, carrots, parsnips)
Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Brut 2006
Opera Torte Moderne (Almond biscuit, whipped ganache, ivoire chocolate-espresso gelato)
Taittinger, Prestige, Brut Rosé

COST: $175 per person (taxes and gratuity included)
Tickets may be purchased at Eventbrite.com: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/taittinger-champagne-dinner-tickets-39525509864