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BRINE Launches 15-Course Culinary Opus Dinner Series

By Scott Kearnan  |  August 28, 2013

Talk about ambitious. Five-, seven- and even nine-course dinners aren't uncommon to see popping up around the Boston area. But on Thursday, September 12, Newburyport's BRINE launches something that will make mouths water for a much longer time: its 15-course "Culinary Opus Dinner Series."

Each monthly installment will be led by a different chef from Caswell Restaurant Group (the team behind BRINE and Ceia Kitchen + Bar), with BRINE/Ceia pastry chef Michael Daly given the honors of commanding the kitchen for this kickoff. Of course, for a night this elaborate, he'll have plenty of back-up. "The whole team from the restaurants will be in the kitchen. It's been amazing to watch the camaraderie between chefs as they get ready for this," says owner Nancy Batista-Caswell, who approached her toques with the idea after being inspired by the success of similar full-course dinners at Brooklyn spots like Blanca.

The Boston area is hungry for something like this, she says, and so is her team. "Something like this keeps people excited and motivated about their work, and let's them try new things and play with food in ways they don't always get to." Each chef will independently drive their "Opus" affair, with Daly's beyond bite-sized courses set to include lamb tenderloin wrapped in foie gras liver mousse, green apple with Portuguese olive oil, and a chocolate dessert invoking maitake mushroom. But as elaborate as the coursing is, the evening is designed to feel casual and familiar, says Batista-Caswell: midway through the meal, a "cocktail course" will give guests a chance to stretch their legs and clink drinks at the bar while the table is reset.

And the five wine pairings, offered up by Napa-based guest vintner Maria Sinskey (Robert Sinskey Vineyards), will come from large-format bottles to enhance a friendly, communal vibe. In fact, the 7 PM seating is limited to 50 guests and Batista-Caswell is taking the step to strictly prohibit mobiles phones: no photo-snapping for Instagram, no documenting each bite on Twitter. You wouldn't do that at a dinner party, she says, and keeping phone in pocket allows the attention to stay where it should: on the food, and new friends. "If someone is coming to a 15-course dinner, it's fair to say they're interested in food too," she chuckles. "It's a great way to make friends, connections, and start really great relationships. We don't want to break that up. The dinner really focuses on speaking and interacting with one another." (For reservations - $130 - and information on October, November and December dinners, contact BRINE.)