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Hub bartender takes Chopped “Best Bloody Mary” first place for “The Hell Mary”AS

Arley Howard, head bartender, took the local Chopped Best Bloody Mary competition first place for his creation of “The Hell Mary.” This weekend, Oct. 18, he heads to Manhattan to compete for the U.S. title at the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE.

Only the country’s top 12 winning bartenders were invited to compete. Arley’s drink will be showcased at a sold out Food Network brunch for 850 guests at the New York Hilton. Guests will cast votes and final judging for Best Bloody Mary in America will be by the folks from “CHOPPED.”

This is the winning recipe:

Top of the Hub’s THE HELL MARY
By Arley Howard

• 2 parts ABSOLUT 80
• Yellow Heirloom Tomato Puree
• Roasted Scotch Bonnet
• Raisin Puree

Fill a highball glass with ice, add 2 oz. ABSOLUT 80, yellow heirloom tomato puree, roasted scotch bonnet, raisin puree. Stir, garnish with a baked Orange rind, Enjoy and raise a toast to Arley’s winning the national title!

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The Spirit(s) World – Black Infusions’ Black Fig Vodka

Black Infusions introduces Black Fig Vodka, handcrafted and distilled from corn and infused naturally with California figs. It’s not you typical “flavored” vodka, but rather, rich and aromatic with notes of honey and suggestions of caramel, raisin and even nuts.
There’s a lot going on here and it’s all to the good for lovers of delicious spirits. A natural sweetness is there but it’s not cloying.
Mixologists will have fun finding ways to create exotic cocktails. Unlike a “figgy” pudding from Victorian England, it’s not heavy with figs but rather, a happy marriage of flavors.
This vodka, unlike the numerous clean, crisp varieties, is rich and buttery and has a full, satisfying mouthfeel. It’s enjoyable alone on the rocks or with club soda and a twist of lemon, but there are opportunities here for creative mixing. We’re eager to see what Black Infusions comes up with next!
P.S. You’ll want to call M.S. Walker for distribution.

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MRA receives largest scholarship fund contribution ever

Horizon Beverage Company presented the Massachusetts Restaurant Association with its largest donation in the group’s history – $80,000 – targeted for MRA Educational Foundation at a recent event at Boston Chops.
The program included a check presentation to the MRAEF by Horizon Beverage Company representatives with Chef-Owner Chris Coombs (a MRAEF ProStart scholarship recipient), as well as brief remarks by MRAEF leadership and Doug Epstein, a fourth generation owner of Horizon Beverage Company, on behalf of his family and their company.
The $80K commitment will award $20K in scholarship prizes over the next four years at the MRAEF’s annual ‘Making the Future Bright Scholarship Awards Gala.’ Beginning with the awards gala in the spring of 2015, four Horizon Beverage scholarships will be awarded to students entering foodservice education programs. Award recipients will be selected by a committee including a representative from Horizon Beverage Company based on the quality of their applications, merit, and commitment to the foodservice industry. With this donation, the beverage distributors represented by the Epstein family will partner with the MRAEF to encourage the continued growth of Massachusetts’ hospitality industry by supporting education for the next generation of industry leaders.

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Wine of the Week – Victor Vineyards, Lawson Ranch Chardonnay 2012, Lodi

Victor, CA is a tiny place – home to Victor Vineyards, east of Lodi. Ask the 290 residents why the rooster crossed the road and they’re quick to let you know it was a bird that preferred wine over water and would cross the highway at harvest time to get to the vineyard!

The Lawson Ranch Chardonnay, 2012, Lodi offers notes of pear, peach, and apple with hints of toasted oak and vanilla. It’s crisp, fruity and delicious. Follow that rooster if you’re in town! It will steer you right.

The grapes are grown along the Mokelumne River. Owner Robert Lawson, who’s been in the area 50-plus years, dreamed of owning a winery and in 993 he purchased 90 acres in the Mokelumne River AVA, now know as Lawson Vineyard. After successfully building a reputation for supplying grapes to some of the best wineries around the country, he purchased the historic Victor Fruit Growers Company location in 1999. Today, he lives his dream of making his own vines.

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Learn of maximize food safety for customers this month!

“Accommodating food-allergic guests doesn’t need to be expensive, complicated or time-consuming to implement, and the benefits to their business – including increased profits and customer loyalty – can be quite significant,” says Paul Antico, founder and CEO of Boston-based AllergyEats, father of three food-allergic children and passionate food allergy advocate.
It’s also a way to make sure you never have a situation in which a customer with serious food sensitivities has a major issue or worse from food they’ve eaten in your restaurant or foodservice facility.
This month in New York, AllergyEats holds a major conference on Tuesday, October 21 at the Radisson Martinique on Broadway in Manhattan. The event is sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P., as well as Nation’s Restaurant News, the New York State Restaurant Association, the Connecticut Restaurant Association, MenuTrinfo, and Gipsee.
Questions to be addressed include:
· How can I make my commercial kitchen safer for food-allergic and gluten intolerant guests? Prestigious industry trainers Betsy Craig from AllerTrain and Dr. Julie Kuriakose from Hudson Allergy will explain how to prevent cross contact, elevate internal protocols, create detailed ingredient spreadsheets, understand ingredient “aliases,” and much more.

· What types of protocols do allergy-friendly restaurants implement? Expert restaurateurs, including Matt Abdoo of Del Posto and Robin Hamm of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, will describe their best practices around food allergies. They’ll also explain why they’ve committed to being allergy-friendly and the positive outcomes they’ve experienced as a result.

· Will accommodating guests with food allergies really impact my business? Paul Antico from AllergyEats (and a longtime financial expert) will demonstrate that allergy-friendliness can significantly impact business, leading to increased revenue, customers and loyalty.

· What happens if a guest accidentally eats their food allergen? Prominent physicians, including Dr. Scott Sicherer of Mount Sinai Hospital, will explain the basics of food allergies, the range of repercussions, what allergic reactions look like and what to do if one occurs. They’ll also discuss the increased prevalence of food allergies and dispel common misconceptions.

· How do I modify meals to accommodate food-allergic diners? Accomplished chefs Colette Martin, Lori Sandler, and Beth Hillson will discuss ingredient substitutions, explaining how to modify recipes to be allergy-friendly, gluten free, and still delicious. They’ll also advise on the must-have items for allergy-friendly commercial kitchens.

· How can university dining halls safely serve food-allergic students? Hear from Robert Landolphi of the University of Connecticut, a pioneer who has created exceptional allergy-friendly protocols on campus. He’ll describe the steps he’s taken to better accommodate students with special dietary restrictions, including labeling allergens, offering cook-to-order stations, and training dining hall staff.

· How can my mom-and-pop restaurant be as accommodating as big restaurants/chains with much more significant resources? Independent restaurateurs like Jared Schulefand of Home will discuss cost-effective ways to elevate food allergy procedures, showing that restaurateurs don’t need to invest significant time or money into the process to reap the tremendous business rewards.

· What are food-allergic diners looking for when choosing a restaurant? Experts, including Dr. Mike Pistiner of Children’s Hospital Boston and Lisa Giuriceo of the Food Allergy & Asthma Support Group of North Jersey, will discuss the factors that go into this important decision, teaching restaurateurs how to attract this loyal customer base.

Registration is $279 per person. Group discounts are also available. To register and for more information, please visit www.allergyeats.com/conference.

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What’s Brewin’ – Ellie’s Brown Ale

This robust offering from Boulder, CO’s Avery Brewing Co. pleased us enough to order a second round at jmCurley’s in Boston’s Downtown Crossing recently. We didn’t go “woof” but it’s named for a chocolate brown Labrador and appropriately so, with its rich chocolate malt flavors and color. It has won awards for its drinkability and hoppiness. Go to http://www.averybrewing.com.
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Wine of the Week #2 – ‘S’ Sigma Mellasat 2012 White Pinotage, Paarl Coast

To my friend who once denounced my fondness for South Africa’s native Pinotage, I can only say he was totally wrong – Pinotage hasn’t tasted like burnt rubber tires (his words) for a very long time. And this year, we had the good luck to discover white Pinotage – a true treat.
Masciarelli Wine Company’s annual fall tasting in Boston is always a treasure trove of wines and if one takes the time to focus on certain wineries/styles/varietals, they’ll find a myriad of well-worth exploring vintages.
Such was the case this year when we began with the two booths serving South African wines and fell in love with this relatively rare white Pinotage. It quickly became a favorite with the first sip. Terry Seitz Selections presented the wine, noting that production is limited with only 1,800 cases exported to the U.S.

The grapes are whole bunch pressed right after picking the juice from being colored by the red pinotage grape skins. The wine is barrel fermented and held for 10 months, producing creaminess and nutty notes. It’s 13.5% abc and goes for a suggested retail price in the $19 range. It’s been an award winner for the 2010 and 2011 vintages.

The winery dates to ’96 but the vineyards date to 1693. Located 45 minutes from Capetown, it’s in the heart of winemaking country. We loved this wine and would like to see it have broader distribution.