Tidbits & Leftovers: Culinary occasions lie ahead


During this brief period between Thanksgiving feasting and Christmas feasting, culinary and dining events abound in the Berkshires from benefits to wine and beer pairing dinners to classes -- including one about how to peel a pomegranate.

Here are some that The Eagle knows of.

Katherine Miller of Kosmic Kitchen in Lee is giving her gluten-, dairy- and refined sugar-free holiday desserts class on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $75.

The class will make a nut log, maple-craisin-crunch, chocolate macaroons, a ginger-clementine compote with cardamom cake, a pomegranate cream tart and other confections.

Call her at (413) 822-8390 for information or to reserve a place in the class or email her at katherine@kosmic-kitchen.com. 

Three benefits are upcoming. Two support local causes and the other will donate a portion of the proceeds to Hurricane Sandy relief through the Red Cross.

On Monday, Dec. 3, starting at 5:30 p.m., five chefs -- Brian Alberg, Red Lion Inn; Rachel Hunt, Fiori; Jaime Paxton, The Meat Market; Dan Smith, John Andrews; Zee Vasos, Firefly -- will work with the culinary students of the Railroad Street Youth Project in Great Barrington to present a fundraising dinner to support the youth project. Cost is $125 per person.

The students assist the chefs in prepping for and presenting this dinner, which features hearty, local, seasonal ingredients such as venison sausage, smoked pork, greens and butternut squash.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m., Nejaime's Wine Cellars, (413) 298-3454, and chef Michael Roller of Savory Harvest catering will present a holiday wine dinner at Elm Court Estate, 310 Stockbridge Road, Lenox. A portion of the proceeds are planned to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy through the American Red Cross.

Dinner begins with hors d'ouvres and champagne, then proceeds through gnocchi with lobster and artichokes, maple-miso glazed hamachi, has a beef course with hen of the woods mushrooms, a cheese course and ends with a complex serving of flourless chocolate mousse cake -- all courses carefully wine-paired.

Call the Wine Cellar for information and reservations or go to www.nejaimeswine.com/calendar/event?eventid=17015 for details.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., chef Michael Ballon, owner of Castle Street Café, 10 Castle St., Great Barrington, (413) 528-5244, is creating a buffet dinner, followed by music and dancing. Cost is $25 per person. All the proceeds go to benefit the Brien Center, Construct and the Watson Fund.

His menu features turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, his mother's potato latkes with applesauce, homey desserts, and many local ingredients such as grilled vegetables and Berkshire Mountain Bakery breads.

Ballon makes everything from scratch, including the cranberry and apple sauces. See www.castlestreetcafe.com for more details.

Tian Dowzell, one of the produce associates at Berkshire Co-op Market, 42 Bridge St. in Great Barrington, will demonstrate how to peel a pomegranate on Saturday at about noon. If you miss the demonstration, there will be cards at the front desk showing how to peel this fruit.

The Co-op promised to teach grape peeling in time for Valentine's Day.

In the holiday spirit, every year for the last 25 years, Berkshire Place, 89 South St., Pittsfield, (413) 445-4056, www.berkshireplace.com hosts a hot chocolate party and open house. This year, on Tuesday, Dec. 4, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., tables will groan under platters of 13 kinds of homemade cookies and desserts. savory gorgonzola-pesto cheese balls, fresh fruit dips, strawberry lemonade punch infused with fresh rosemary and "from-scratch" hot chocolate.

Everything is made in their kitchen by Gina Artioli and her staff. Berkshire singer-songwriter and music minister Mary Verdi will provide the afternoon's entertainment. No reservations necessary.

The Friends Film Society of the Berkshire International Film Festival and Heirloom Meals present a special screening of Carole Murko's "Heirloom Meals Christmas Special" at the Norman Rockwell Museum, followed by a dinner at Boulderwood Farm in Stockbridge on Friday at 6 p.m.

The museum reception will feature eggnog, chocolates and cookies galore. The dinner at Boulderwood starts at 8 p.m., and features wines from Alex Elman, beef bourguinon, sautéed shrimp with rice, Hungarian baked noodles and more.

Tickets are $15 for the eggnog reception and screening at Norman Rockwell and $75 for the reception, screening and dinner.

Call (413) 528-8030 or email Lauren@biffma.org.

On Thursday, Dec. 6 from noon to 1 p.m., Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, (413) 854-9609, will offer a free program, "Mindful Eating" by registered dietitian Melinda Couture. Registration is required.

Chef Greg Roach will be making Hanukkah latkes at Wild Oats Co-op in Williams town on Thursday, Dec. 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 8, there will be A demonstration and tasting of the Vermont-made organic seed-and-nut energy snack Battenkill Brittle, lightly sweetened with rice and maple syrups.

For more events at Wild Oats Market go to www.wildoats.coop.

Berkshire Co-op Market has a new series of cooking classes taught by Alana Chernila, author of "The Homemade Pantry." They will be given the first Thursday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. at Berkshire South Community Center Crissy Road, Great Barrington starting next week, Dec. 6.

The first class will cover homemade food gifts for the holidays, including roasted nuts, caramels and pancake mix.

Each class will cost $35.

For further Homemade Pantry classes and other events at Berkshire Co-op go to www.berkshirecoop/news/events-calendar/. 

Chez Nous's Thursday night Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink! cooking class/mini-wine pairing dinners [cooking demo, recipes, food and wine $30] return next week with Normandy night. Chez Nous now also has Friday night classic French 2- or 3-course prix-fixe dinners. All Chez Nous events are by reservation.

The Meat Market, 389 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, (413) 528-2022, www.themeatmarket.com, is serving cassoulet every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. -- a different regional style each week, $12.

For classes, visit www.themeatmarketgb.com/classes/.

Scott Ross moved to the Berkshires last summer and is offering customized, personalized, private 1 1/2 hour cooking sessions for children age 10 and up. Ross says he is experienced working with special needs children. He can be reached at scottjordanross@gmail.com.


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