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.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Rant: Eat More Seafood, Your Heart Will Thank You

Eat More Seafood! Eat More Seafood! Eat More Seafood! 

Yes, I've said this repeatedly before, in multiple posts over the years. And it continues to bear repeating as many Americans still haven't stepped up as much as needed. Seafood consumption will significantly lessen your chances of dying from the leading cause of death in the U.S. That's a powerful reason why you should consume more seafood and it's far from the only reason.

The Seafood Expo North America is in full swing, having started yesterday and it will end tomorrow. Once again, I'm walking its myriad aisles, exploring the various booths, tasting samples of seafood, learning about seafood issues, and much more. For a writer, the Seafood Expo is such a fertile ground for story ideas. I'll be writing about my experiences at the Expo in the near future but wanted to begin my coverage with the most important issue, trying to convince more Americans to eat more seafood.

Annual seafood consumption had been on a depressing decline during recent years, with seven years of constant decline, down to 14.5 pounds in 2013. In 2014, there was a tiny increase, to 14.6 pounds, but the best news came in 2015 when annual consumption actually increased nearly a pound to 15.5 pounds. Is this an anomaly or the sign of a positive new trend?  The problem is that this amount still falls short of the recommendations of the USDA and many other bodies who state that Americans should consume at least 26 pounds of seafood each year, essentially meaning you should eat seafood twice a week. How do we get Americans to eat over 10 pounds more seafood each year?

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease, killing over 614,000 people each year. We all have had family and friends who have died from heart disease, and we should be doing what we can to reduce our own chances of acquiring heart disease. Do you want to die prematurely, leaving your loved ones without your presence? Do you want to die from heart disease when you could have adopted a small lifestyle change which might have saved you?

Seafood consumption is a significant key to reducing your chances of heart disease. Since the 1970s, over 20,000 research studies have been conducted on the health benefits of seafood and they have concluded that eating seafood twice a week can reduce your chance of dying from heart disease by about 36%. You won't find another single food that has been scientifically proven to reduce heart disease so much. Low seafood consumption is blamed for 84,000 deaths in the U.S. and 1.4 million globally. Besides helping to reduce heart disease, research has also been providing growing evidence of the health benefits to the brain and bones as well as against cancers and inflammatory diseases.  Eating more seafood is such a simple change to your lifestyle and it can bring so many health benefits.

If we want this positive trend to continue, we need to continue to find ways to persuade people, overcoming their objections, to eat seafood more frequently. More outreach is needed. We need more positive articles in the media espousing the health benefits of eating seafood. We need to overcome the obstacles that prevent people from consuming more seafood, such as its high cost and the difficulties many people have cooking seafood at home. It's a formidable goal, but it can be accomplished. You owe it to yourself, and your family, to eat more seafood and benefit your health.

In the Boston area, we are fortunate that we have seen a recent surge of new seafood restaurants, which can help us reach our annual goal of 26 pounds of seafood. Consider places such as Island Creek Oyster Bar (with a second location in Burlington), Row 34Select Oyster BarIl MoloSaltie GirlLuke's Lobster, Tonno (with a location coming to Wakefield), and Haley.HenryThere are numerous other seafood restaurants which have been around for longer too. You can also go to the retail location of Red's Best at the Boston Public Market to purchase seafood meals or fresh fish which you can prepare at home.

Step up your game and eat more seafood. Try to consume seafood at least twice a week. Seafood is delicious, can be prepared in a myriad of ways, and is extremely healthy. So what's stopping you from reaching your seafood consumption goal? I'll soon pull together all of my various seafood posts, providing responses to the common reasons people don't eat enough seafood. Let's make 2018 a year to remember for seafood consumption.

(This is a slightly revised version of a prior post which is just as relevant now as it was then.)

Thursday, March 8, 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) Chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette announce the debut of JK Food Group Crawl, a tapas tour of their Boston restaurants Toro, Coppa and Little Donkey designed to enjoy throughout one evening. For groups of 4-6, the experience includes a selection of small plates, drinks, tax and transportation between restaurants (gratuity not included), available on Sunday – Thursday.

At Toro, their Barcelona-inspired tapas bar, guests can begin with a creative take on both modern and traditional tapas using market fresh ingredients, kicking off the evening with a festive porron of Cava or glass of Sangria alongside favorites like the Datiles con Jamon, Pan con Tomate, Pimentos del Padron and more. From there, it’s off to Coppa, their Italian enoteca located at a cozy corner of the South End, where a selection of house specialties can be paired alongside a glass of wine, such as Wood-oven Roasted Meatballs, Cavatelli con Pollo or the savory Salsiccia Pizza.

For a sweet finish, crawlers will end at Little Donkey, Oringer and Bissonnette’s global small plates restaurant in Cambridge’s Central Square, with a menu inspired by their world travels. Tuck into the beloved Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with milk espuma, playfully served on the beater, Ice Cream Churro Sandwich and more, alongside a drink of choice, from dessert wine to Little Donkey’s signature rotating drink: The One in the Grapefruit. Guests can also opt for a savory third course, with bites like Duck Nachos and BLT Lettuce Wraps.

We wanted to offer our guests, both fans and newcomers, a taste of some of our favorites. Consider this our ultimate night on the town in Boston,” – Ken Oringer

Our food is designed to be shared between couples, families and friends. The JK Food Group crawl embodies this experience. Leave the transportation and logistics up to us and we’ll leave the eating and drinking to you!” – Jamie Bissonnette

Starting March 4, reservations will be accepted through Pricing options include $165 per person for drinks + two food courses plus dessert; or $175 per person for drinks + three full food courses. Credit card(s) are required to hold all reservations. Groups can cancel up to a week in advance with no charge. Cancellations within a week of the reservation will be charged $50 per person.

2) CHOPPS American Bar and Grill and Executive Chef Stefano Zimei invite guests to indulge in some of the West Coast’s best vineyard offerings with a special California Wine Dinner on Friday, March 16, at 6:30pm, featuring wines from Domaine Chandon, Duckhorn, Silver Oak Winery, Faust, and Foley Vineyards.

Passed Hors d’Oeuvre
First course
Baked Oysters (Spinach, Parmesan Cream, Herb Breadcrumbs)
Peppercorn Crusted New York Strip (River Rock Farms, Baby Beets, Potato Pave, Shallot Brandy)
Layered Crepe Cake (Mascarpone, Marena Cherries)

Seats are available now for $95 per person (inclusive of tax & gratuity).
Space is limited and reservations are required. Call 781-221-6643 directly to book seats. A credit card is needed to secure a reservation.

3) Thirteen million children across the country struggle with hunger, putting us at risk of losing an entire generation of leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers. For more than 20 years, Chef/Owner Andy Husbands has worked closely with No Kid Hungry, the national campaign run by Share our Strength, to end childhood hunger through his Cooking Matters Dinner and a variety of other events.

On Monday, March 12th, starting at 6pm, Andy Husbands and the team at Tremont 647 will host the 21st Cooking Matters Dinner to benefit No Kid Hungry with a cocktail reception at 6:00PM followed by a multi-course dinner with wine pairings served family style at 7:00PM and prepared by some of Boston’s most renowned chefs, including Tony Maws, Chris Coombs, Jeremy Sewell, Jason Santos, Tim Maslow and Joanne Chang.

100% of proceeds from ticket sales will benefit No Kid Hungry’s work to end childhood hunger in Massachusetts.

Ticket packages include:
$175 individual ticket
$1,000 Summer Meals Supporter (4 tickets, recognition on website)
$2,500 Afterschool Meals Friend (table for 6, recognition, email invitation)
$5,000 School Breakfast Champion (table for 10, recognition, email invitation, remarks as a member of Host Committee)
For tickets, please visit

4) Assaggio restaurant invites guests for a Fantasy Fine Wine Dinner in Boston's historic North End. On Wednesday, March 7, from 7pm-11pm, the newest restaurant to join Depasquale Ventures, Assaggio will be hosting a Fine Wine Dinner highlighting fantasy fine wines and a five course serving of their Positano cuisine from Italy's Amalfi Coast. Reservations are $65 per person and can be made by phone at (617).227.7380.

Assaggio's Fine Wine Dinner presents:
Bruschetta (Eggplant Caponata with Whipped Burrata)
2016 Prestige Rose Sparkling Aglianico – Compania, Italy
Shrimp Scampi (Jumbo Shrimp Sauteed with Garlic Olive Oil and Grechetto)
2015 Grechetto Azienda Vitivinicola Chiorro – Umbria, Italy
Revello (Caprese Ravioli, Soft Ricotta Pillows, Marjoram, Tomato & Basil)
2011 Montepulciano Riserva "Trinita" Cordona – Abruzzo Italy
Griglia Mista (Filet, Short Rib, Lamb Chop, Seasonal Vegetables, Aglianico Demi)
2011 Aglianico Kapinos Masseria Frattasi – Campania Italy
Delizia Limone (Citrus Cake, Lemon Glaz, Fresh Lemon Cream)
2014 Passito Masseria Frattasi – Campania Italy

Reservations are $65 per person and can be made by phone at (617).227.7380.

5) On Thursday, March 15, from 5pm-10pm, Viale, in Cambridge, will host a Roots, Rum & Reggae party, celebrating with a Caribbean inspired menu, Tropical Cocktails, and Island Music. They are partnering with Privateer Rum, who will provide all the rum for the cocktails. The music will be provided by Murf Reeves Music.

To make reservations, or for more information, please call Viale at 617-576-1900.

6) It’s traditional to celebrate special events with roses, so Chef Michael Serpa of Select Oyster Bar in Boston's Back Bay has decided to celebrate the restaurant’s third anniversary not with flowers—but rosé wines. Join Serpa and cooking colleagues from Myers + Chang, SRV, haley.henry, and pop up sensation, East Boston Oysters, for an evening of rosé  and rosé friendly dishes at Select Oyster Bar on Tuesday, April 3rd, at 6:00 p.m., to celebrate Select Oyster Bar's third anniversary.

Tickets start at $100 per person and seating is limited.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit No Kid Hungry through Chefs Cycle bike-a-thons this May in Santa Rosa, CA and in September in Charlottesville, VA, where Chef Serpa and other notable Boston-area chefs will be participating.

Visit for reservations and more details.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Rant: Too Many Italian Restaurants in Wakefield?

A new Italian restaurant is coming to Wakefield, but does the town really need it?

Back in 2011, I wrote a post on food trends, and stated: "Let me use another example, the suburban town of Wakefield. It has a population of about 25,000 and already had several Italian restaurants. Yet within the last year or so, even more Italian restaurants opened, most within about a half-mile or so. How many similar Italian restaurants does one small suburban town need? Why would a restaurateur decide to open another Italian place, when there is already plenty of competition? It doesn't seem to make good business sense."

Since that time, a couple Italian restaurants have closed but others have opened, so there are still plenty of Italian restaurants in Wakefield, many located within a short distance of each other. As a general thought, I'd probably echo the idea from my prior post and state Wakefield doesn't need another Italian restaurant. I'd rather see a new restaurant serving a different type of cuisine.

However, based on recent news, it appears I need to modify my position. I'm actually excited to learn about a new Italian restaurant, Tonno, which may open in Wakefield this summer. What has gotten me to change my mind?

If you check out the menus of the existing Italian restaurants in Wakefield, you'll find many similarities. Plenty of Chicken Parmigiana, Eggplant Rollatini, and Veal Marsala. In general, their differences appear minor and it is that relative similarity which is off-putting. Wakefield certainly doesn't need another Italian restaurant with a similar menu. Fortunately, Tonno is bringing something more unique to Wakefield.

Back in 2000, Chef/owner Anthony Caturano opened Prezza in the North End and it is one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Boston. In 2016, Chef Caturano opened his second restaurant, Tonno, in Gloucester, highlighting Italian seafood dishes. With a hope of opening this summer, Chef Caturano is establishing a second location of Tonno in Wakefield. The menu at the Wakefield location will be similar to that of Gloucester so check out their Menu. You'll note the concentration on seafood dishes, which is something you won't find in the other Italian restaurants in Wakefield, all which generally have only a few seafood dishes.

At Tonno, you'll be able to get Oysters and Cherrystones, Crudo and Tuna Tartare, Octopus "la plancha" and Grilled Shrimp, and so much more. Some of the entrees include their famous Grilled Tuna Steak, Cioppino, Cod Oreganatta, and Scallops "la plancha." You'll also find homemade pasta dishes, from Tagliatelle Bolognese to Cavatelli, Rabe & Sausage. If you compare Tonno's menu to the other Italian restaurants in Wakefield, the amount of similarity is very small. Chef Caturano is bringing a much different Italian restaurant to Wakefield, one which fills a gap, especially considering all of the seafood dishes they offer.

As I'm sure you're aware, I've long been imploring my readers to eat more seafood, especially because of all its health benefits. To have a new restaurant, promoting fresh, and often local, seafood, then that is a restaurant which appeals to me.

I also have much faith in the culinary skills and knowledge of Chef Caturano, and feel secure that his new restaurant will be impressive. I rarely dine at the other Italian restaurants in Wakefield, finding most of them to be of rather average quality. However, I expect I'll be a regular at Tonno when it opens. So, before you dismiss Tonno as just another Italian restaurant, do your research and understand its differences, and the reasons why you should anticipate its opening.