Monday, April 20, 2015

Rant: Getting Carded

If you shop at a wine or liquor store, or you dine at a restaurant and order some alcohol, there is the possibility that you will be carded, asked to provide identification to prove your age. You must be at least 21 years old to obtain alcohol in any state in the U.S. If you lack identification, you will be refused service, no matter how old you may be. If they wanted, restaurants and wine/liquor shops could card every single customer. If they fail to card someone who is a minor, they could face sanctions and even potentially lose their liquor license.

When I card customers at the wine shop, the vast ,majority of customers provide me identification without issue. They understand that it is part of my job and there is absolutely no reason to take offense. There is a tiny portion of people though who do not have any identification on them, and who I must refuse service. It is a portion of these individuals who get upset about being carded, who complain, alleging that they are of the proper age. They might be of legal age, but without identification, there is nothing I can do. I must not sell them beer or wine.

What bothers me is why don't these people carry identification?

I don't think all of these people are underage. I'm sure some are, and bluster and storm hoping I will sell them alcohol anyways. However, I bet some of them are of age, yet simply didn't carry a ;license, passport or other i.d. with them. These same people carry money and/or credit cards, so why don't they carry i.d. too? It seems to make no sense, especially if you are going somewhere where you potentially could be asked for your i.d.

I know that I carry i.d. with me all the time, and it seems most people I know do the same. I.D. can be important for numerous reasons. Heaven forbid you get into a terrible accident and are unconscious. If you have an i.d., your relatives can more easily be contacted by the authorities. Without that i.d., the authorities could have a difficult time trying to identify you. If you are driving, you could get into trouble if the police stop you for some traffic offense.

A license isn't a cumbersome item to carry. There really is very little reason, if any, not to carry it with you. It could save you much grief, in numerous ways.  Don't complain if you are asked for your i.d. if you don't have it. The onus is on you to carry it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

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) Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer is celebrating their “Sweet 16” years of success in Massachusetts. This year, some of the area’s premier restaurants and bakeries will be joining forces to help raise money to benefit breast cancer research and care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. From May 4-10, establishments will help raise money by donating 100% of the sales from a featured dessert or by donating 50% of the sales from their entire dessert menu. In honor of the organization’s 16th anniversary, select venues also will serve up a special “Sweet 16” beverage during the sweetest week in Boston.

This year, these restaurants have pledged to donate proceeds to join in the battle against breast cancer:

Brass Union will donate 50% of sales from their entire dessert menu, including:
o Dark Chocolate Brownie Sundae – housemade hot fudge sauce, ice cream ($8)
o Rich & Creamy Ricotta Cheesecake – seasonal toppings ($8)
o Clafoutis – a spin on the 19th century classic French dessert with seasonal fruit filling ($7)

Cask ‘n Flagon will donate 100% of sales from their featured dessert:
o Semi-Sweet Flourless Chocolate Torte - vanilla bean ice cream ($6.75)

Foundry on Elm will donate 100% of sales from their featured dessert:
o Guinness Brownie Sundae – Irish cream ($7)

The Independent will donate 100% of sales from their featured dessert and “Sweet 16” mocktail:
o Strawberry Rhubarb Tall Cake ($8)
o The Sweet 16 - rhubarb, thyme shrub, grapefruit juice and soda ($6)

River Bar will donate 100% of sales from their featured dessert and “Sweet 16” mocktail:
o Fresh Strawberry Pudding – whipped cream and vanilla wafers ($7)
o Grapefruit & Tarragon Smash ($5)

Saloon will donate 100% of sales from their featured dessert:
o Guinness Brownie Sundae – Irish cream ($7)

The Tip Tap Room will donate 100% of sales from their featured dessert:
o Blackberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding - whiskey caramel glaze ($7.95)

2) Beginning on April 12th, from 11am to 3pm, Davio’s Boston will offer guests an irresistible brunch menu featuring seasonal cocktails and an extravagant tableside Bloody Mary Cart.

Executive Chef Eric Swartz will be offering specialties such as:

Warm Apple Zeppole, Calvados Caramel Sauce ($9)
Lobster Bisque, Lobster Tomalley Buttered Crostini ($12)
Oven Baked Jonah Lump Crab Cake, Whole Grain Mustard ($15)
Crispy Fried Oysters BLT, Baby Lettuce, Tomato, Bacon, House Tartar Sauce ($15)
La Quercia Prosciutto Americano, Salumi, Burrata, Aged Balsamic ($16)
Spaghettini Carbonara, Eggs, Pancetta, Parmigiano, Cream ($19)
Hand-Rolled Potato Gnocchi, Organic Mushrooms, Basil, White Truffle Oil ($20)
Tagliatelle Bolognese, Braised Veal, Beef, Pork, Tomato Sauce ($23)
Belgian Waffle, Berry Compote, Warm Vermont Syrup ($16)
Buttermilk Pancakes, Bananas, Amaretto Caramel Sauce ($16)
Poached Eggs, Country Ham, Popover, Hollandaise ($14)
Country-Egg Frittata, Sweet Sausage, Goat Cheese, Spinach, Tomatoes ($16)
White Cheese Pizza, Bacon, Egg, Scallions, White Truffle Oil ($15)
River Rock Steak Burger, Vermont Cheddar, Bacon, Herb Aioli ($15)
Pan Seared Sea Scallops, Sweet Creamy Corn, Match Stick Potatoes ($37)
Make Your Own Bloody Mary ($12)
Mimosa ($12)

3) To celebrate Earth Day and encourage diners to go green by saving energy, Tempo, a staple on Moody Street for the past ten years, is serving a one-night-only candlelight dinner. Beginning at sunset on Wednesday, April 22, Tempo will be turning off the lights to serve diners its signature dishes by candlelight. Chef-Owner Nathan Sigel, who prides himself on sourcing local seafood and produce, will offer guests Tempo’s spring menu alongside several seafood-focused specials, which he will personally curate from Boston’s fish piers that morning.

To provide extra light in the dining room, Tempo will shake up its new flaming Pain Killer cocktail, which features Navy and Dark Rum, Fresh Pineapple Juice, Sweetened Coconut Cream and Fresh Orange, completed with a hollowed out lime that’s topped with Bacardi 151 and cinnamon before being lit on fire! Additionally, to further promote eco-friendly eating and drinking, Tempo will offer several biodynamic wines by the glass.

Reservations are recommended so please call 781-891-9000

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A History of Sake Brewing in the U.S.

Years ago, on my first trip to San Francisco, I visited the Tasting Room and Sake Museum of Takara Sake USA, Inc. in Berkeley. It was a fun experience, especially seeing some of the historical artifacts, but at that time, I was unaware that Berkeley was also likely the site of the first U.S. Sake brewery.

There are approximately a dozen Sake breweries in the U.S. that already exist or are in the works to open in the near future. The oldest was founded n the 1970s though numerous other Sake breweries have come and gone since the start of the 20th century. I want to explore the history of these early breweries, to look at our country’s introduction to this intriguing Japanese alcohol. More research is warranted into this history so the following is more a peek into the past rather than an extensive examination.

When did Japanese Sake first arrive in the U.S.? We might never know the exact answer but we can speculate based on the evidence. The odd Sake container might have shown up in the U.S. as early as the 18th century, a curiosity brought in by a merchant or world traveler, though I'm unaware of any documentary evidence to prove it. It seems logical though that Hawaii, in the later part of the 19th century, might be the site where Sake first made its appearance as more than a mere oddity.

In 1868, the first Japanese immigrants, the gannen mono, arrived in Hawaii. Gannen mono means the “first-year people” as they traveled to the Kingdom of Hawaii in the first year in the reign of Emperor Meiji. Hawaii needed laborers to work on their sugarcane plantations and they sought out assistance from Japan. Though they wanted 350 laborers, only 148 Japanese actually stepped forward, including 140 men, 6 women, and 2 children. Their passage to Hawaii was fully paid and they were to receive a salary of $4 per month, including room and board, for a three-year period.

It seems reasonable that some of these immigrants brought Sake with them to Hawaii. Sake is an important beverage, one often used to celebrate special occasions and holidays. The immigrants would have wanted a slice of their home with them, and Sake could be such an element. Unfortunately, many of these immigrants had no knowledge of farming and the Japanese government received many complaints from them about their treatment by the Hawaiians.  Ultimately the experiment was considered a failure and 40 of the immigrants returned to Japan.

The Japanese government decided to prohibit any further emigration to Hawaii, and banned it from 1869-1884. In 1874, Kalākaua, who would later become known as the Merrie Monarch, became the King of Hawaii, reigning until 1891. In 1881, King Kalākaua began a diplomatic tour of the world, and spent ten days in Japan, trying to form a better relationship and lift the ban on immigration. His efforts were eventually successful, after some intense negotiations, which granted better terms for future Japanese immigrants, including items such as better pay, medical care, and a food allowance. Japan also were more selective in their chose of immigrants, seeking those with farming experience.

In early February 1885, once the ban was lifted, the first group, 153 Japanese immigrants, made the journey to Hawaii to work on the sugarcane and pineapple plantations. Their arrival is also the first known documentation of the presence of Sake in Hawaii. Upon their ship's landing, King Kalākaua organized a sumo wrestling exhibition at the Honolulu Immigration Depot. Forty immigrants were divided into two groups, the East and West, and competed for about an hour. The East won, and the King had arranged for 10 barrels of Sake to be awarded to the winners. With that much Sake, I’m sure everyone got to drink some, not just the winners. I wasn't able to determine though how and where the King obtained the Sake.

As other Japanese immigrants began to travel to California and other parts of the mainland U.S., it's likely they brought Sake with them. By 1890, Sake was available in Hawaii, and California too, as an import though it could be costly. On Hawaii, there was also a temperance movement, led by a Japanese priest and a number of wives, which tried to decrease Sake imports and consumption. Several years later, the Hawaiian government started becoming anti-immigration and wanted to discourage it. One method of doing so was to raise taxes on an important import, Sake.

In June 1896, the Hawaiian legislature approved, over the veto of President Dole, “An Act To Increase The Duty on Liquors, Still Wines, And Other Beverages Made From Materials Other Than Grape Juice.” This raised the duty on Sake imports from 18 cents to $1, a vast jump. When the Japanese laborers were only earning $12-$15 per month, Sake became a very expensive luxury and it led to some people choosing to illegally brew their own Sake. One enterprising Sake brewery found a loophole in the new Act. The Kiku-Masamume Brewery in Japan had been exporting Sake to California since 1889. They realized that the Act’s oppressive duty only applied to Sake that was shipped into Hawaii from Japan. If they shipped their Sake from California to Hawaii, even though the Sake had originally been imported from Japan to California, they didn't have to pay the duty.

The first legal Sake brewery in the U.S. was likely started in California, not Hawaii, as stated by some sources. On June 10, 1901, the Japan Brewing Co. filed incorporation papers in San Francisco. The brewery was owned by H. Soejima, and it seems that it was located in West Berkeley, though it also had an address at 209 Battery Street in San Francisco. I suspect the San Francisco address was merely an office, which moved in 1906 to San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. By 1905, the brewery was producing about 50,000 gallons annually, and was exporting Sake to Hawaii, the Philippines and even Japan. It must have been doing something right if people in Japan wanted to buy their Sake.

There is some indication that the Japan Brewing Co. closed in 1906 but that might not have actually been the case. In January 1906, there was a brief news article that Soejima wanted to move the brewery to San Francisco to avoid having to pay a $200 license fee. Though there doesn't appear to be evidence of such a move, there is some evidence, in 1907, of a Japan Brewing Co. in Emeryville, which is close to Berkeley. It is possible the brewery moved to Emeryville, lasting for one more year, but more investigation is needed.

In addition, there is evidence of the existence of other Sake breweries in California, such as one in Watsonville during 1907 and another in San Jose in 1916. However, there seems to be very little information about these other breweries, and it is another fertile ground for more research.

Back to Hawaii. In 1899, a sixteen-year old Japanese immigrant from Hiroshima, named Tajiro Sumida, came to Hawaii and in 1904, he opened a shop. Eventually, he decided that he could lower the price of Sake if he produced it himself so he opened a Sake brewery in 1908, the Honolulu Sake Brewery. The heat of Hawaii caused problems with the fermentation process, but Sumida persevered and was still able to produce a brew in December 1908 which he named Takarajima, “treasure island.”

To handle the difficulties of brewing Sake in Hawaii, Sumida eventually invented a refrigeration process to handle the heat problem, and that innovation would later be adopted by Japanese Sake breweries. In numerous other ways, Sumida was also a pioneer and innovator, being the first to use stainless steel tanks, the first to brew Sake year round, devising a method to use California rice, and also creating a yeast strain which reduced the foam created by fermentation, increasing the yield in a vat by 30%. These foamless yeasts are now used by a number of Japanese breweries. By 1914, Sumida was making about 300,000 gallons of Sake annually and by 1920, he was the most successful Japanese businessman in Hawaii.

Back in California, it is important to note how the Sacramento Valley became an important growing region for rice. In 1909, Tokuya Yasuoka, a Japanese immigrant, was the first to successfully harvest 25-acres of rice, though it took him numerous years of experimentation before his success. Other farmers then followed his path so that by 1920, there were approximately 162,000 acres of rice in California. The rice variety that proved best to the area was Wataribune, and its descendant, known as Pearl Rice, still grows in the region. Wataribune could be used as an eating rice, and that was probably its main function in California, though it also made an excellent Sake rice.

Prior to Prohibition, there might have been 9-20 Sake breweries in the U.S., though little is known about most of them, many which existed for only a short time. California and Hawaii seemed to be the primary location for these breweries. Prohibition stopped Sake brewing, which also contributed to some breweries having to close. The Honolulu Sake Brewery was able to survive as they changed gears and produced ice during Prohibition. Once Prohibition ended in December 1933, the Honolulu Sake Brewery returned to brewing, creating a few different labels, including Takara Masamune.

Other new Sake breweries then arose too in Hawaii. For example, there was the Hilo Brewing Co. (from 1937-1942) and the Maui Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. (from 1935-1942). The Nichebei Shuzo Kabushiki Kaisha, Ltd. (from 1935-1942) may have been succeeded after World War II by a name change, to the Kokusui Co., Ltd. Brewery (from 1948-1957). The Fuji Sake Brewing Co. also lasted from 1934-1942 and then restarted after the war from 1948 to 1965.

After Prohibition ended, more breweries opened up California as well. There was the American Sake Brewery Co. (from 1934-1935), located in Los Angeles, which brewed 5146 gallons of Sake as of June 1934. Also in Los Angeles, there was the Central Sake Brewing Co. (from 1948-1950), the California Sake Brewery (from 1947-1949) and the Los Angeles Sake Brewing Co. (from 1947-1949). In San Jose, there was the San Jose Sake Brewery (from 1934-1935) and the Nippon Sake Brewery (from 1935-1940).

San Francisco saw its share of Sake breweries too, including the Aiji Matsuo Brewery (from 1934-1937) which seems to have been succeeded by Matsuo Sake Brewing Co. (from 1937-1941). There was also the Katsuzo Shioji (1934), which was seemingly succeeded by the San Francisco Sake Brewery (from 1934-1935), and the California Sake Brewery Co. (from 1934-1935), which was succeeded by the Nippon Sake Brewery Co., Inc. (from 1935-1937). There was even a brewery in Denver, the Colorado Sake Brewery (from 1947-1949).

In Hawaii, when World War II began, the existing breweries were producing annually almost 2 million gallons of Sake. However, a law was issued prohibiting rice from being used for anything except food, meaning it was now illegal to brew Sake. As with Prohibition, the Honolulu Sake Brewery found a way to survive, this time by producing shoyu, soy sauce, under the label Marumasa Soy and later Diamond Shoyu. Once the war ended, and the prohibition was lifted, they began making Sake once again, continuing to operate their brewery until 1989, though it became a subsidiary of Takara Sake in 1986. Sadly, when the brewery closed, it was destroyed to make way for townhouses.

There seemed to have been a large void, except for the Honolulu Sale Brewery, in U.S. Sake breweries after 1950 for over twenty years. It wouldn't be until the 1970s that the next crop of new Sake breweries started opening, primarily in California but that is a tale for another time.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rant: Why Do So Few Americans Eat Lamb?

Why do so few American eat lamb?

Yesterday, I was one of the judges at the Boston Lamb Jam, a celebration of the unique taste of lamb and put on by the American Lamb Board, I got to sample a diverse selection of lamb dishes from twenty different New England chefs. The public also got to attend this event, to taste the collection of lamb dishes and celebrate its deliciousness. This event is always an excellent opportunity to experience the versatility of lamb.

The holidays of Easter and Passover recently passed, and a number of Americans ate lamb for their meals. For some people, that might be the only time during the year that they consume lamb. Still others won't eat lamb even on these holidays. Lamb consumption in the U.S. has seen a drastic decline over the years and that needs to change. More people need to eat lamb and there are multiple reasons why they should do so. Lamb is nutritious, delicious, versatile, and uses less resources than some other meats, such as beef.

Back in the early 1940s, there were about 56 million sheep and lambs in the U.S. but that number has dropped to just over 5 million, less than 10% of its previous count. In comparison, there are over 90 million cattle in the U.S.  Beef is far more popular than lamb and that is plaint to see. Half of the lamb that is now consumed in the U.S. is imported, primarily from Australia and New Zealand. Interestingly, if the U.S. supply of sheep and lamb only doubled, we might not need to import any lamb.

As for lamb consumption, the average American, during the early 1960s, ate annually about 4.5 pounds of lamb. By 1990, this amount had declined to 1.6 pounds and by 2012, the amount had dropped even more, down to 0.88 pounds. Less than one pound! If we examine who is eating lamb, we also realize that certain ethnic groups, such as Greek, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, and Native Americans, consume far more lamb than others  Lamb consumption also occurs far more often on both the East and West coasts. In the middle of the country, there are plenty of people who never eat lmab. We can also see that lamb consumption, for many, is confined to certain holidays.

Lamb often seems to be a polarizing meat, one you either love or hate. The most common complaint I have heard about lamb is that it possesses a strong, gamey taste which many find off putting. Although some lamb does have a gamey flavor, much of it doesn't possess that nature or only to a very mild degree. It seems to me that much of the opposition to lamb is actually psychologically based, due to misconceptions about its actual nature. Maybe in the past, some lamb had a stronger, gamier taste, but that is largely changed. In addition, much depends on how the lamb is prepared.

There are also sometimes claims that lamb is too expensive and too difficult to cook. First, there are less expensive cuts and preparation of lamb, such as ground lamb. Second, you don't need to eat a large portion of lamb, just as you don't really need to eat a large steak. Smaller cuts of meat are less expensive. As for cooking, it is a versatile meat, which can easily be prepared in a wide manner of dishes. It is not a difficult meat to cook. That is a misconception which needs to be over thrown.

Consumers need to get over their fears of lamb and simply taste more lamb dishes. I'm sure, if they give it a chance, they will find they actually enjoy the taste of lamb. Besides its great taste, it is also a healthy meat. I've spoken often about the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, and lamb possesses five times as many Omega-3s as does beef.  It is also a very good source of Protein, Vitamin B12, Niacin, Zinc and Selenium.

Break out of your prejudices against lamb. Embrace it, buy it, cook it, order it at restaurants, explore its versatility, and put it on your plate. It's a healthy and delicious choice. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

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) In celebration of Khmer New Year (Cambodian New Year), a three day celebration which marks the end of the harvesting season when farmers enjoy the fruits of their labor, Elephant Walk (South End) is celebrating this holiday with traditional Cambodian New Year’s specials in addition to the regular menu from April 13 to April 15.

These are the dishes that I remember most fondly from celebrating our New Year as a child in Cambodia,” said Chef/Owner Nadsa de Montiero.

N’Sahm Chrouk (gluten free) includes natural pork belly, mung beans enrobed in coconut sticky rice, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed; served pan fried with sweet soy and Cambodian pickles ($11). Another dish, Hong Chrouk with PT Farm pork shoulder and belly braised in caramelized pepper-garlic soy broth, with hard-cooked eggs and daikon radish ($20). Lastly, try the N’Sahm Chaek, sweet banana in coconut sticky rice, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed; served warm with coconut cream, fresh coconut and toasted sesame seeds ($8.50).

For more information or to make a reservation please call (617) 247 – 1500.

2) Company Chef/Owner Will Gilson and his at Puritan & Company is celebrating Spring with the unveiling of an enhanced Puritan 2.0. The restaurant concept continues to be that of an urban farmhouse where Gilson presents seasonal, fresh cuisine deeply rooted in New England tradition but Gilson and his team have been working on some changes.

During this tough winter, my team and I started to think of new, fun ways to invite guests back in for the spring. Now, we have a bit of spring fever and so does the restaurant. We wanted to continue our focus of always evolving and moving forward to make sure that Inman Square continues to be an exciting and innovative dining destination,” said Will Gilson.

Some of the noted additions to the Puritan & Company experience this spring include:

· Saturday Meat Market: The space next to Puritan & Company will become the Puritan Meat Market on Saturdays from noon until 2pm. It will be a takeout, quick service “pop up” concept that pays homage to a throwback of New England lunch favorites. Some of the specialties available for takeout will include: an authentic New England Grinder with cheeses, cured meats, and pickled peppers; a meatball sub; corned beef sandwich; and sausage with peppers and onions. Prices will range between $5 and $10. The Saturday Meat Market begins this Saturday.

· Sunday Spotlight on Chef de Cuisine Alex Saenz: Chef Saenz will now have his own spotlight when he takes over Sundays with his own menu influenced from his South Carolina roots. Called “Southern Sundays with Saenz”, he will create different weekly playful and traditional Southern dishes for guests to enjoy. Some of the featured dishes will include Fried Chicken, Catfish Fry, Shrimp and Grits, and many pork dishes prepared in southern-style. He will also be offering fried green tomatoes, house-made pimento cheese and sweet tea.

According to Saenz, “Southern Sundays will be my vision of how I would be cooking food if I was back home in Charleston; whimsical but staying to the roots of traditional southern cuisine, because you don't change something that is already delicious, you just put your own take on it.”

· Chef’s Tasting Menu: Puritan & Company recently started a Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu every night that will be available in both the bar and dining room. The prix-fixe dinner is $70 per person and is six courses that will be selected by Chefs Gilson and Saenz and will change nightly. The entire table must participate to order the Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu.

· Patty Melt: Without a burger on the menu for the first two years, Puritan & Company has recently added a Patty Melt to the bar menu and Sunday Brunch. It started as a special and became a secret burger for guests at the bar. Due to its popularity, it now holds a permanent position on the bar and brunch menus. The Puritan & Company Patty Melt is $16 and is made with a dry aged beef patty, topped with house-made spicy special sauce, Swiss cheese, American cheese, and homemade rye bread.

· Charcuterie Bar: Puritan & Company has re-launched and re-designed its Charcuterie Bar. The six seat area has a special menu of crudo, cheeses, charcuterie, and amaro flights. A chalkboard will prominently feature the daily specials and a leg of ham will be on display. The Charcuterie Bar will also be available for private parties to reserve for charcuterie and amaro tastings.

3) On April 28, at 7:30pm, Legal Harborside will team up with Olivier Humbrecht, Master of Wine at Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, to host an exclusive four-plus-course wine dinner. With over 100 acres of prime estate vineyards, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht is the archetype of its French region and one of the world’s greatest wine producing estates. Since 1620, the winemaking lineage has proved to last as the hallmark of each Zind-Humbrecht wine is its overriding sense of terroir: the taste of the vineyard is always clear and unmistakable.

The menu will be presented as follows:
Razor Clam Ceviche, Fava Beans, Yuzu, Breakfast Radish
Pea Soup, Meyer Lemon Froth
Fluke Sashimi, Satsuma Tangerine, Japanese Mint
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Muscat d’Alsace, 2011
Hamachi Crudo (coconut-curry vinaigrette, edamame, mango)
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling “Herrenweg de Turckheim,” 2011
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling “Herrenweg de Turckheim,” 2001
Five-Spice Lobster Tail (baby bok choy, ginger-verjus emulsion, Thai basil)
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris “Rotenberg,” 2012
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer “Turckheim,” 2012
Tandoori King Salmon (braised chickpeas, grilled apricot, cucumber raita)
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling “Clos Hauserer,” 2009
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (torched pineapple, lychee-buttermilk gelato, cardamom caramel sauce)
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer “Clos Windsbuhl,” 2011

COST: $110 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
Reservation required by calling 617-530-9470 .

4) Hard Rock Cafe is celebrating spring with a new line of cocktails curated by rock legend Carlos Santana. The limited-edition beverages benefit The Milagro Foundation, a charity created by Carlos Santana in 1998 which benefits underserved and vulnerable children around the world by making grants to community-based organizations that work with children in the areas of education, health and the arts. Milagro means “miracle.” The image of children as divine miracles of light and hope, even as gifts to our lives, is the meaning of the name.

The Black Magic Press and the Maria Maria Coronita both feature Carlos Santana’s Casa Noble Crystal Tequila. The Carlos Santana limited-edition cocktails will be available at cafes around the nation beginning now through Tuesday, May 5. “I'm honored that Casa Noble and I are partnering with Hard Rock Cafe to be a part of their new spring cocktail menu,” said rock legend Carlos Santana. “Like the music of Santana, each ingredient is fresh and new with vibrant flavors that will make guests want to move and celebrate life. Like Santana and Casa Noble, Hard Rock Cafe is committed to helping people, so a portion of the proceeds from this partnership will go directly to helping children in the Las Vegas area.

The Black Magic Press, named after one of Santana’s top hits, features Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, Hard Rock’s made from scratch margarita mix, fresh blackberries, blueberries, lime wedges and mint leaves. The unique cocktail is served in a coffee-press style vessel that infuses the fruit into the cocktail through the drinking process. Guests can also enjoy the Santana-inspired Maria Maria Coronita – made with Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, orange liqueur, mango puree, lime juice and garnished with a Coronita Extra.