Foodies of NE Winter 2012 : Page 72

72 Foodies of New England

Dining Their Way Through Worcester

Dining Their Way Through Worcester, One Restaurant at a Time<br /> <br /> Written by Jodie Lynn Boduch<br /> Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault<br /> <br /> Who? The Worcester Foodies, an offshoot of WorcesterScene.com (a website endorsing the Worcester business community). The group, which consists of approximately 20 people, was founded by Luke Vallaincourt and Joe Giacobbe.<br /> <br /> What? Food lovers who live in and around Worcester and who gather together once a month to dine. The Worcester Foodies are not professionals in the food industry; group members come from a variety of backgrounds and professions and have one thing in common: An appreciation for good food and drink. In addition to trying new restaurants and enjoying an evening together, Foodies are asked to write thoughtful reviews on each dish.<br /> <br /> Why? Here one is tempted to ask instead…why not? Who doesn't love a night out on the town and meeting new people? Beyond that, however, Vallaincourt and Giacobbe started Worcester Foodies with two goals in mind: First, to introduce new restaurant options to people so they have the opportunity to break from their typical dining-out routine. Second, to support and promote Worcester restaurants.<br /> <br /> Where? A different Worcester-area restaurant each month, chosen by a group member. The People's Kitchen, Zorba's Taverna, Shiraz Armenian Cuisine, and Hirosaki Prime are some of the recent spots the group has tried. Vallaincourt explains that when the group was initially formed, members were seeking out the well-known highlights among Worcester restaurants. Since then, the objective has evolved into finding a hidden gem. "Often when we go to the small restaurant that no one has heard of," Vallaincourt says, "we have an experience that exceeds our expectations."<br /> <br /> When? Tuesday night, once a month. Tuesday is traditionally one of the slowest nights for restaurants.<br /> <br /> How? Although the Worcester Foodies notify restaurants about their attendance and purpose in advance, meals are not comped. Group members pay for their own meals, thus supporting the restaurants financially and endorsing them via word-of-mouth and the Internet.<br /> <br /> The Experience: We had a chance to join the Worcester Foodies in October at The People's Kitchen (a Niche Hospitality Group restaurant) in Worcester. The prix fixe menu included an optional wine pairing, and diners were also welcome to order off the cocktail menu or regular wine list.<br /> <br /> Ah, where to begin? With the appetizer, of course. Rather than review each (delectable) course here, we'll just share the menu with you…and let your imagination do the rest. (The Foodies' reports on these dishes as well as those from other outings are available at http://worcesterscene.com/category/eat/ and the Worcester Foodies Facebook page).<br /> <br /> The first course was a roasted root vegetable panzanella (beet, butternut, parsnip, and maple vinaigrette) paired with Huber Grüner Veltliner.<br /> <br /> Next was the intermezzo, an apricot sorbet with fresh tarragon accompanied by a glass of Poema Cava.<br /> <br /> The main course, served with Pedroncelli 'Mother Clone' Zinfandel, was a Tahitian vanilla & Valrhona cocoa-brined double-bone pork chop. The sides included Grafton cheddar mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables.<br /> <br /> Dessert–for those who had room (some opted to take their dessert to go)–was "Almond Joy" bread pudding with a coco puff streusel, capped with Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry.<br /> <br /> Though most Foodie Nights are more informal and consist of members trying as many different dishes as possible, this event was so well-received that the group plans to have more functions at Niche restaurants in the coming year, owing in part to co-owner Michael Covino's enthusiasm and support for the Worcester Foodies.<br /> <br /> For Vallaincourt, this was a particularly memorable night, given that Chef William Nemeroff came out of the kitchen to talk to the group and to explain each dish. "It's incredible to understand the reason behind pairings of foods–it offers a quick glimpse of the complexity of the flavors and textures and how they play their roles within the overall dish," says Vallaincourt.<br /> <br /> As for this foodie…well, she was so enamored with the group's purpose and dynamics that she and her husband are now among the newest members of the Worcester Foodies.<br /> <br /> The motto of WorcesterScene.com is "Where It's Happening." When asked what the tagline for the Worcester Foodies might be, Vallaincourt says, "Eat everything and report it." And he isn't kidding about the everything part–the group hopes to try every meal at every restaurant.<br /> <br /> Hmm…that's a bucket list item for just about any foodie.

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