Tag Archives: Boston

Day 21 Gifts – Cocktail Time with Eastern Standard Kitchen and St-Germain

The gift ideas for Day 21 take us to one of my favorite places in Boston, Eastern Standard Kitchen in Kenmore Square. Just steps away from Fenway Park, it’s a great place to go before or after the game (or anytime, really!) Jackson Cannon, Bar Manager & Mixologist extraordinnaire, was my guest on Episode 28, and was so interesting & fun to speak with. A great gift would be a gift card to Eastern Standard Kitchen or their new sister restaurant, Island Creek Oyster Bar, which is right next door. The menu pays tribute to classic European and New England favorites, such as Veal Schnitzel, Beef Wellington and Mussels & Frites as well as a fantastic raw bar. Jackson has a great cocktail program going on in both places, as well as a fabulous reserve beer program at ICOB.

You can check them out at 



I discovered St-Germain about two years ago, and still love it every time I taste it…especially the St-Germain Cocktail and Sangria Flora. I was so exited to have Founder & President of The Cooper Spirits Company, Rob Cooper, as my guest on Episode 30. The cocktail enthusaist in your life would love a bottle of St-Germain, or if you can find it, a St-Germain Carafe Set.

St-Germain is a beautifully crafted, French elderflower liqueur made from 100% fresh elderflowers from the foothills of the Alps. Only available in limited quantities, each bottle of St-Germain is numbered and marked with the vintage year reflecting the year in which the flowers were harvested. It can be enjoyed straight over ice but is ideal in cocktails as well as mixed with white or sparkling wine. The limited edition sets include a bottle of St-Germain, a Glass Carafe and Stirrer and a Cocktail Recipe Book.

Find out more at  www.stgermain.fr



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Day 20 Gifts – L’Espalier & Jordan Vineyard

Day 20 takes us to one of my favorite Boston restaurants, L’Espalier…I was so happy to have Sommelier Kate Moore (a fellow BC grad) as a guest on Episode 24. L’Espalier is in the heart of the Back Bay, adjacent to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Under Chef, Proprietor, Author and now Farmer Frank McClelland’s stewardship, L’Espalier has consistently been rated at the top of national and local best restaurant lists (Zagat, Boston Magazine, Frommer’s Travel Guide, Wine Spectator, among them), serving sophisticated and modern New England-French cuisine, with an emphasis on artisanal and New England ingredients.

A great gift would be a gift card to L’Espalier (prices vary), so that the giftee can go to lunch, dinner or to one of Kate’s “Top Shelf” Cocktail classes…add to that a copy of Chef  McClelland’s “Wine Mondays”, which features 130 recipes organized into four-course pairing menus by season, with accompanying wine notes and suggestions. All of the recipes come from the popular Wine Mondays program at L’Espalier—a weekly event created to make food and wine pairing accessible, fun, and affordable. ($24.95)


To that, add a gift set of wine from Jordan Vineyards. I’ve long been a Jordan fan, and was thrilled to have CEO John Jordan as my guest on Episode 26. Since their inaugural 1976 vintage, Jordan wines have been renowned for their consistency and elegance. Tucked into the hills in Alexander Valley, just north of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, they are dedicated to winemaking, hospitality and the joys of the table.

A beautiful wooden box set of the 2008 Jordan Chardonnay & 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon would delight any wine lover on your list ($90). Include a beautiful Riedel Vinum Engraved Chardonnay ($24) or Bordeaux ($29) wine glass, so they can enjoy their gift in style.

Find out more at www.jordanwinery.com




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Day 17 Gift Idea – Simply Ming & Blue Ginger

I have long been a fan of Chef Ming Tsai and his fabulous restaurant Blue Ginger, so I was thrilled when he was my guest on Episode 21 in October. A great gift idea for the home chef in your life is a copy of Ming’s latest book “Simply Ming One-Pot Meals“. As someone who loves to cook, but not clean up, this is ideal! The book has 80 one-pot recipes that can be created quickly and healthfully, with relatively inexpensive ingredients….many recipes can serve 4 people for under $20.  Ming focuses on seven cooking methods: braise, wok, sauté, roast, high temp–which includes steaming and flash frying–soup, and toss. He offers preparation tips and drink suggestions, and each recipe is accompanied by a full-color photo.

List price is $29.95 ($19.77 on Amazon).

To this, add a gift card to Blue Ginger, his beautiful restaurant in Wellesley MA. Ming and his team create award-winning cuisine that harmoniously blends ingredients and techniques from the East and the West. The menu offers signature items including the Sake-Miso Marinated Alaskan Butterfish (my favorite) and the Garlic-Black Pepper Lobster as well as seasonal dishes. All breads, crackers, ice creams and desserts are made in-house by the pastry department. Blue Ginger also has a beverage menu that really complements their East-West cuisine. Signature cocktails include the Blue Ginger Gimlet and the Golden Goose, a ginger-infused vodka martini, and they have an extensive wine cellar.

You can buy online at www.ming.com



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Day 15 – Fabulous Wine Festivals by Chef Daniel Bruce

A fun and fabulous gift idea for that person on your list who has everything would be tickets to an amazing wine dinner or tasting, no matter which part of the country they’re in. Chef Daniel Bruce, who was our guest on Episode 26 has lots of options for you to choose from.

As the founder of the internationally renowned Boston Wine Festival, the nation’s longest running food and wine pairing series, Chef Bruce lines up dozens of the top winemakers and producers over a four month time span. Due to the success of the BWF, he has also launched similar festivals in the French Quarter, Washington DC and Berkeley CA.

Some of the many events to choose from (prices vary) are Baron Phillipe de Rothschild, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Plump Jack & Cade Winery, Meritage Madness and Super Tuscans…you can find out more at





You could also give a gift card to Chef Bruce’s award winning restuarant, Meritage at the Boston Harbor Hotel, where he pairs more than 200 dishes each year with outstanding wines from around the world. Large and small plates are offered for each item on the menu, and matched with complementary wine flavors. Meritage has a 12,000-plus bottle wine collection which boasts over 850 different varieties.


Why not buy tickets for yourself while you’re at it…you’ve been good!



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Day 7 of Our “25 Days of Holiday Gift Ideas” – ‘Gansett Beer

Day 7 is for the beer lover in your life…

My guest on Episode 2 was Mark Hellendrung, CEO of Narragansett Beer. Narragansett is an iconic New England beer that had disappeared until Mark resurrected it back in ’05. Brewed since 1890, ‘Gansett has played a prominent role in New England for over 100 years – during its glory days, the Rhode Island brewery produced almost two million barrels of beer per year and the company employed roughly 850 people. A great gift would be one of their metal buckets ($12), a pint glass ($5.50), a hat ($16) and a 6 pack of ‘Gansett beer.

You can find more info at www.narragansettbeer.com

If you’re feeling festive, add a copy of George Wendt’s book “Drinking With George” ($10 paperback on Amazon)….he and beer have shared a lot over the years: good times, great stories, useless trivia, and a successful show business career. In Drinking with George, Wendt invites readers to crack open a cold one and pull up a seat at the bar as he celebrates the intoxicating beverage, telling hilarious and frank tales of his own imbibing adventures—from taking a first sip of his grandfather’s Bud as a child to a beer-fueled impromptu performance with Woody Harrelson and the U.S. Women’s Synchronized Swimming Team… no, he wasn’t a guest, but I tried!



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Day 5 of our “25 Days of Holiday Gift Ideas” – Boston Wine & Dine

Day 5 is about Boston and some of the great guests we’ve had from my hometown…

First up is a gift card or a gift basket from The Urban Grape, a fantastic new wine shop in Chestnut Hill that is co-owned by TJ Douglas, our guest on Episode 9, and his wife Hadley. The Urban Grape is featuring several gorgeous gift baskets made by Table & Tulip – this one is a pair of Hudson “Baby Bourbon” and “Four Grain” Bourbon bottles nestled in a lush mood moss accented with succulents in your choice of silver metallic box or reclaimed wood box. Check it out at


To that, how about adding a gift card to Russell House Tavern, one of the hottest restaurants just over the Charles River in Cambridge? Executive Chef Michael Scelfo and Bar Manager Aaron Butler were also guests on Episode 9.  The Russell House Tavern is a New American Tavern serving seasonally-inspired, classic dishes from New England, specializing in artisanal fare served alongside carefully hand-crafted cocktails and a distinctive collection of all-American wines and craft beers.


Sound like perfect gifts to me…



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Lunch with Shirley Roy of Roy Estate Wines

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be invited to lunch with Shirley Roy, owner of Roy Estate Wines. We met at L’Espalier in Boston’s Back Bay, and spent the next two hours discussing her wines, winery and the dream she and her late husband Charles shared of building. Shirley is a lovely woman, passionate about her wine, traveling around the country to tell the Roy Estate story. Her husband and partner Charles tragically passed away earlier this year, as a result of complications from surgery.

Charles Roy was originally from Massachusetts, a civil engineer and an architect. Shirley was born on Long Island, grew up in New Jersey, and was an accountant as well as a student of fine food and wine. Together, they owned and operated executive suite businesses in New Jersey and Norfolk, Virginia. During the 1980’s and 90’s they made many business trips to San Francisco and Northern California. They fell in love with Napa Valley and in 1999 purchased pro golfer Johnny Miller’s estate in Napa Valley property, which is nestled in Soda Canyon just south of the Stags Leap district.

The Roys planted five acres on flat land while awaiting a decision about how much and where they could plant the rest of their vines. In November of 2000, they were informed that Helen Turley was looking for a winemaking project of that size, and they began working on their dream. They ripped up the original five acres of vines, re-planting twice as many vines knowing they would only come away with half of the fruit. The seventeen acre vineyard, planted in 2001 and 2002 by Pina Vineyard Management under the direction of Helen Turley, is divided into seventeen blocks: twelve blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, four blocks of Merlot and one block of Petit Verdot.  The three varietals are planted with four rootstocks and nine clones and the spacing is six feet by three feet, which equals 2,430 vines per acre.  The vineyard has elaborate irrigation systems, allowing them to farm vine by vine.

The 17 acre vineyard produces wines that are all estate grown – according to Shirley, it’s not about making 2,000 cases a year, it’s about making the best wine possible. In 2001, they planted Cabernet and Petit Verdot which produces their first vintage in 2004. Helen Turley left the project in 2005, which resulted in winemaker Philippe Melka coming onboard. He is one of the world’s most respected winemakers, who is best known for ‘finding the voice of the vineyard through its terroir,’ as he puts it.  Philippe was born and raised in the Bordeaux region and graduated from the University of Bordeaux with a degree in geology in 1989 and then earned a second degree in enology in 1991, specializing in agronomy and vineyard soils.  He began his career working at wineries in France (Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau Petrus), Italy (Badia a Coltibuono), Australia (Chittering Estate) and California (Dominus and Ridge) before settling in the Napa Valley in 1994. Named ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by Food & Wine Magazine in 2005 and The San Francisco Chronicle in 2003, Melka explains, “my style is to show the site through the wine, to respect the grape as much as I can.  So every single wine I make will be very different, because every one has a unique site.  We should emphasize the estate much more than the winemaker.  You have to minimize the technique as much as you can.”

It was his idea to concentrate on only two wines: a Proprietary Red blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon. At lunch, we tasted the ’06 blend, which is 82% Cabernet, 15% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. It is 100% barrel fermented in new French Oak and received a 94 from Robert Parker for the ’04 vintage, and a 95 for the ’05. It retails for $110/bottle, and 1100 cases were produced. It had a soft mouth feel that combined a velvety texture with incredible integrated tannins. It was fresh, light on its feet for a big wine, and a beautiful soft finish.

The second wine we tasted was the ’06 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was 93% Cabernet and 7 %Petit Verdot, also 100 percent barrel fermented in new French Oak. It released aromas of dried herbs, espresso beans and chocolate, and hints of black cherry, blackberry, and mocha on the palate – there was great depth and complexity to the wine. This wine spent an additional 6 months in the barrel for a total of 24 months aging. It retails for $150/bottle, and only 440 cases were produced.
The annual FOOD & WINE book, “wine guide 2010” highlights ROY Estate’s 2006 Proprietary Red blend. It was among just four other (Bond, Harlan, Insignia & Pahlmeyer) Napa Bordeaux style wines to receive the highest rating of 4 stars.

“Philippe Melka, a terroir-obsessed Bordeaux native, has composed a wine that expresses both Old World elegance and New World concentration.  Aromas of red and black currants, cocoa and pepper give way to a palate of dark fruit, earth and oak. 

The Roy Estate wines are currently available in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Chicago, California, Nevada and Hawaii, in both on and off premise accounts.

Tours and tastings are by appointment only – please visit www.royestate.com for more information.

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