Above and Beyond Beef 2014

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Hey guys! I'm Caitlin, new to the 90+ Cellars team but not new at all to event blogging. I'm excited to be part of such a great company and to have the honor of recapping an amazing event. Last night (Thursday 3/13/14) our team was at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) pouring our wines at their third annual Beyond Beef: Food for Thought fundraiser. 90+ often partners with BCAE, in the spirit of supporting the nonprofit's mission to give Bostonian's a place to “learn, discuss, create, and enjoy themselves”. This particular event raised money for scholarships and tuition assistance programs, and thanks to the board members, sponsors, and volunteers involved, it was a great success.

 

The VIP seating area.

Attendees could find something for everyone in the beverage department, from cocktails to wine to beer to a non-alcoholic option. 90+ shared both an upstairs and downstairs table with the guys of Peak Organic Brewing.

Jeannie wo-mans the downstairs bar.

We poured five wines and not a bottle was left unopened by the night's end! The hit of the evening was definitely the Lot 50 Prosecco, followed by the other two whites, Lot 88 Chardonnay and Lot 2 Sauvignon Blanc.

The upstairs bar.

But of course it was a meat-centric event, and we poured two reds to make sure guests would have perfect pairings available. I myself sipped on Lot 108 Cabernet Sauvignon, and we even got some picky Pinot people telling us they loved our Lot 106 Pinot Noir. This was my first event working behind a table, and it felt really special to watch attendees enjoy our wine and also to get that valuable immediate feedback.

Our wines popped up three times in the silent auction, including as a complement to these macaroons!

The cocktail options included a Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka cocktail, a make-your-own-highball bar from Bully Boy Distillers (another Boston local!), and a life-changing warm cocktail called the Boston Grog (Bully Boy Aged Rum, Bully Boy White Rum, rooibos tea, cider, all-spice, and citrus). Mixologist Noon Inthasuwan-Summers of Moksa (Cambridge, MA) really blew us away with that one. 

Matt - the vodka man of the night!

Now that's a fun way to use a slow cooker...

The non-alcoholic option was definitely more exciting than water…many flavors of Polar Seltzer, and fun straws to boot.

Along with hydration the guests certainly needed food to soak up their alcohol, and don't worry, it was plentiful. And options were certainly not limited to beef! Cheese, jams, olives, nuts, crackers, hummus, fruit, and crudites were aplenty.

Tomato and mozz party!

Verlasso offered two different kinds of smoked salmon plus a dynamite smoked mahi dip! I wanted to just eat a big bowl of that stuff.

My first plate - of many!

New England Charcuterie contributed a most wonderful selection including pate!

The contributing chefs did such a marvelous job. It's always impressive to see the unique dishes they can cook up, even if not in a full kitchen. West Bridge served a vegetarian option, all mushroom everything. The pickled chestnut mushrooms were particularly fantastic!

Mushroom makings!

Our favorite dish of the night – the whole team agreed – was the Sweet Cheeks Q burger. Though Chef Dan Raia was willing to do some additional cooking, they “as-is” version was served medium rare…and on a BISCUIT. Plenty of biscuits were left by night’s end and though they added a unique twist to the sliders, the high quality of the beef still was the standout and enough to send this dish soaring above the rest.

Bin o' biscuits!

But still, there wasn’t a single “miss”. Roxy’s Grilled Cheese paired with its Colt 45 braised (classy!) chuck flap on an Iggy’s Pain de Mie with Crispy Leeks & Funyun Aioli a shot of tomato soup. Because what’s grilled cheese without tomato soup?!

Karen Akunowicz of Myers + Chang and her assistant were kind enough to pose for a photo with their table…and I snagged a shot later of the completed dish, juicy duck dumplings with winter spices and ginger broth. Its complex flavors really impressed me. The winter spices and ginger almost made the duck taste like a hearty dessert. It sure tasted wonderful with the Boston Grog.

We had to pair Lumiere's own Michael Leviton's bison short ribs with our Lot 108 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was the fullest bodied red we were serving last night, and bison calls for just that.

Alongside the duck dumpling.

Our pal Michael Scelfo of Alden & Harlow wasn’t “goading” us when he said his dish would go “beyond beef”. The rich texture of his pressed goat steak contrasted beautifully with its garnish of crunchy pistachios.

Michael prepping before the event.

Garnishes and table decor.

The finished product.

One of BCAE’s own teachers, Dustin Rennels, played a part in bringing the evening to a sweet close. His fresh fruit swirls in assorted flavors, topped with shortbread cookies (for dipping purposes, of course), were a great compliment to our white wines.

The live auction was certainly entertaining and the audience was very moved by the words from some key BCAE figures. Over at our booth, certainly some pining was taking place over some of those live auction items!

Our VP Brett needs to stop plotting...

The event ended promptly and the timing of the last bottle of wine being opened worked out fairly well! Next time we will definitely be bringing some more Lot 50 Prosecco…gotta keep that crowd happy and bubbly, after all. We were honored to be a sponsor of this foodie dream evening. Such a great fit for the BCAE, which offers an impressive variety of cooking classes. We hope attendees enjoyed trying their 90+ Cellars wine, be it for the first or the fiftieth time. We know we aren’t sick of it!

This is me (Caitlin) signing off for now, highball in hand!

Which of these dishes looks best to you?

Which of our wines would you pair with a steak?

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