Back Bay Social Club's Eat Local. Be Social. Event

On Monday night, Back Bay Social Club held its Eat Local. Be Social. event. I had written a post promoting the event on my Examiner page and was later offered two complimentary tickets. I eagerly accepted the tickets because the event sounded great to me: a menu featuring local foods paired with wines from Landmark Vineyards.

I invited Alicia to come along and, after a miserable wait for the T on Monday after work, I met up with her at Copley, and we strolled down Boylston to the restaurant. There's a cute, spacious patio area out front that I plan to keep in mind for some warm weather, outdoor dining.

On this particular chilly evening, I was happy we were headed to the event space downstairs though. We were immediately greeted by those running the event and got to chat with Damaris Colhoun, the representative from Landmark Vineyards, for a few minutes. Then we were told we could choose our seats and help ourselves to a glass of wine at the bar.

We stopped at the bar first, under the impression that wine was included, but it turned out to actually be a cash bar. We each got a glass of wine anyways. I asked for Shiraz. Unfortunately, the wine tasted as though it had turned. I brought it back to the bartender, and he quickly poured me a glass of Malbec instead. Crisis averted, Alicia and I settled in at a small table with somewhat decent lighting -- food bloggers are always thinking about how the pictures will come out.

Soon the rest of the guests had filled in, and the wait staff brought around some appetizers. We started with apple tarts with frisee and arugula. The tart was sweet and buttery with just a hint of salt and nicely browned cheese.

Then we tried the famous meat candy. I had read about this all over some of my favorite blogs last week. It's roasted kielbasa with pineapple. Cloves and worcestershire sauce give it a hint of spice and a little kick. I loved the sweet, juicy pineapple paired with the smoky kielbasa. (This picture does not do it justice.)

While we snacked on the appetizers, Damaris introduced herself and talked a little about the winery, which her grandmother started in 1974. Her grandmother's great great grandfather just happened to be John Deere -- yes, that John Deere. Many of the wines are named for him. Today Damaris' parents run the vineyard in California while she lives in New York and runs the sales and marketing.

We went back to the food, tasting some of Back Bay Social Club's signature garlic bread. It isn't your run-of-the-mill garlic bread. I'm not sure what they call it, but I'd call it lemon-pepper garlic bread because of the strong lemon and pepper flavors present. I had to have two pieces!

The wait staff came around and poured the first wine and served the first course: roasted native pumpkin soup with 2008 Chardonnay "Overlook." As we ate the soup, Damaris told us about the Chardonnay. The vineyard considers it a reserve wine for a non-reserve price. It's a cooler climate Chardonnay, has great acidity, and tastes of fruit like green apples. It wasn't smoky at all, and it's one of few Chardonnays I actually enjoyed.

The pumpkin soup was incredible. It came with a pool of creme fraiche, a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, and a sprinkling of toasted pepitas. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the crunchy, fried sage.

I had never tried pumpkin seed oil before, so I took a little of it on my spoon and took a taste. It was incredibly nutty, and I'm already thinking of picking some up. Tasting out of the way, I began scooping up all of the components together. I loved the soup. I tend to like all pumpkin soups, but this one was so savory. There was no overwhelming flavor of pumpkin pie spices and nutmeg. I much prefer the natural pumpkin flavor with the savory elements of sage and pumpkin seed oil.

I could have left at this point and been perfectly happy (and perfectly stuffed), but there were two more courses to get through!

The next wine was the 2008 Pinot Noir "Grand Detour." Damaris explained that it pairs well with earthy dishes and has a spicy, smoky deliciousness to it. It would complement either of the options for the next course: braised Berkshire pork shanks and fall root hash or housemade fettuccini with mushroom ragu.

Alicia and I both went with the pork shank, but in retrospect we could have gotten different dishes and shared. I don't think either of us expected such a hearty serving of pork. We joked that it was the size of the Brontosaurus ribs Fred Flintstone always ordered.

I only made it about halfway through. The flavor was unexpectedly more like ham than pork -- maybe I need to learn more about the different parts of a pig.

The shank was set in applesauce and accompanied by the fall root hash -- baby potatoes, parsnips, roasted apples, and smoked onions. This was one of those dishes I would definitely crave on a chilly fall night.

With the last course, we had the 2008 Syrah "Steel Plow." Syrah is one of my favorite wines. This particular one goes especially well with cheese, so it was only right that our last course was an artisanal cheese plate. Damaris told us the wine had a stinky funkiness, and believe me, as soon as I brought the glass near my nose, I got a whiff of that funk. The wine had an interesting flavor and some subtle bubbles.

We enjoyed it with Morbier cheese, topped with apples, oregano, and dried cranberries. The Morbier was much milder than I expected.

Alongside the cheese was a spicy, chunky apple butter, and some thin slices of toast drizzled with honey. The dessert had enough sweet to finish the meal but enough savory to make it interesting. The oregano really stood out to me.

We both really enjoyed the dinner, which was locally sourced from Ward's Farm, Sugar Mountain, Kimball Farms, and Carlson Orchards, and we learned a lot about wines from Landmark Vineyards.

Have you been to Back Bay Social Club, or have you eaten a locally sourced meal out at a restaurant?

Back Bay Social Club on Urbanspoon


Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

This looks like a wonderful evening at a great new place! It is just after 7 AM and now I am craving pumpkin soup...

MelissaNibbles said...

I really want to try this place. The pumpkin soup sounds great!

themusingbouche said...

wow! I've been meaning to try Back Bay Social Club and you may have just provided the extra push I needed.
Pumpkin seed oil, btw, is amazing. I think it'll be the new truffle oil in a year.

Emily said...

Christopher and I went last Friday. It was PACKED. We waited for a table and the only free one was right by the door. It was FREEZING that night, so we just stayed at the bar, which was really pleasant. The food was phenomenal and the drinks did the trick. I'll definitely be going back (with a reservation this time!)

Boston Food Diary said...

Im sooo glad to hear that you had a good experience! It's making me almost want to give them another shot!

Kristen said...

You have been tagged and there's an award for you over at my site.

That looks like an incredible meal!!

Meesh said...

That cheese looks great! and you're right about the meat candy, it tastes so much better than it looks!

Lisa said...

Wow, you have been out and about on the dining social scene! Great write up and the food looks and sounds terrific!

Ingrid said...

That's cool that you were able to go especially as everything was so good.

Shannon said...

ooh, that meat candy and pumpkin soup look amazing!!! love crispy sage :)

Daisy said...

So glad you got to check it out. I've been dreaming about that meat candy! and the pumpkin soup is now added to those dreams.

Lizzy said...

Wow, everything looks so delicious. I need to check that place out. The pumpkin soup is gorgeous... and the shanks! I'm full just looking at all the food. Totally jealous : )

Alicia said...

Thank you so much for bringing me as your +1 - I had fun catching up - and you know I always love talking about the food as I'm eating the food :)


Jen said...

This looks like a great evening. The pumpkin soup does look tasty. I've never had pumpkin oil either... I'm intrigued.