LENOX, Mass. — A slate of culinary experts with local ties will display their skills using New England's first harvest of the year — maple syrup.
Berkshire Grown holds its annual March Maple Dinner on March 18 at Cranwell Resort to benefit the organization and Share the Bounty, which buys shares in local farms for food pantries.
This year's March Maple Dinner chefs cut their cooking teeth at either Wheatleigh or Blantyre in Lenox and Stockbridge. Many of these young chefs went on to other triumphs — Brian Young is now executive chef at Tavern on the Green in New York City; Hung Huynh, winner of "Top Chef Season 3," is now executive chef at The General, also in New York City.
Their hearts, however, have remained in the Berkshires and this is the first time all seven will gather to produce a meal in support of Berkshire Grown.
The maple-inspired five-course dinner features these creative chefs:
Jeffrey Thompson, executive chef at Wheatleigh Brian Young, former cook at Wheatleigh and executive chef at Tavern on the Green Hung Huynh, former cook at Wheatleigh, "Top Chef" winner and executive chef at The General Chris Brooks, former executive chef at Blantyre, current owner of The Chef at Your Table catering company and chef at Austin Riggs Michael Roller, former executive chef of Blantyre and current owner of Savory Harvest Catering Shirl Gard, former pastry chef at Wheatleigh and current pastry chef at The Old Inn On The Green
Host chef Carl Deluce, executive chef at Cranwell Resort
The event also features of live auction for a wine dinner for eight at The Old Inn on the Green, and a one-week stay at Casa Miel, a home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
The evening begins at 6 with hors d'oeuvres and a complimentary tasting of beverages by Barrington Brewery, Berkshire Mountain Distillers & M.S. Walker Wines with a cash bar available. Dinner follows at 7 with courses featuring maple syrup from local farms.
Tickets, by reservation only, are $100 for Berkshire Grown members, $125 for non-members. For reservations call the Berkshire Grown office at 413-528-0041.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Adam Zieminski of CafeAdam served up a spring recipe on NBC's "Today Show" on Tuesday morning.
The Berkshire native and graduate of Johnson & Wales University was tapped to appear on the program's "What's on the Menu?" segment thanks to one of his favorite customers, "Today's" weatherman Al Roker.
In the video, Zieminski shows how to prepare seared scallops with parsnip puree and wilted vegetables and talks about how he uses fresh Berkshires produce whenever possible.
Find the recipe here; the clip runs after a commercial.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Americans have been in love with French cooking long before Julia Child introduced it to the masses.
But why French cooking in the first place? That's the question New Yorker columnist Adam Gopnik will address in "How Did Food Happen in France?" drawing on his musings in his latest book, "The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food."
Gopnik will be speaking in Griffin Hall, Room 3, on the Williams College campus on Monday, March 5, at 6:30 p.m. His talk is free and open to the public.
Tracy McNicoll of Newsweek describes Gopnik's treatise as "more ambitious than a history of restaurants — it's about how we taste, dream, and argue about food. He explores the extremes of strict localism… He gets into the heads of apparent adversaries — the meatless crowd and the whole-beast fiends, the Slow Food and molecular movements, the New and Old World wine advocates — and gives each its place in the grand foodie pantheon." "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi adds that it is "The perfect book for any intellectual foodie, a delicious book packed with so much to sink your teeth into."
The award-winning writer is known for his essay collection "Paris to the Moon," detailing his life with his family in the French capital, among other writings. His books "The Table Comes First," "Winter" and "Paris to the Moon" will be for sale before the talk.
The event is sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, with support of the W. Ford Schumann '50 Program in Democratic Studies, the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program, the Departments of English, German, and Russian.
The chefs will discuss every step from charcuterie or butchery and the preservation of fruits and vegetables to the full meal with a wide range of cured, dried and pickled meats including lardo, pickled pig's feet, porchetta de testa, hickory-smoked jowl, lamb'cetta and crispy pig ear. The demonstration will include ways to preserve fresh food through the winter.
The event was organized by Executive Chef at the Red Lion Inn and President of Berkshire Grown Brian Alberg, who also owns his own farm. This is Alberg's ninth appearance at the Beard House.
"The food culture of Berkshires has been embracing preservation long before the farm-to-table movement became a national story. Here in New England, maintaining and creating nutritional value, texture and flavor, have been imperative to extending our limited growing season. This dinner celebrates our time-honored tradition of preservation and pays homage to the farmer, producer and grower, as well as to the animal itself," Alberg said in a press release.
The reception and dinner is a collaboration among a variety of Berkshire chefs, farmers and producers. The participating chefs are: Alberg, Joji Sumi and Nicholas Moulton of Mezze, Lester Blumenthal of Route 7 Grill, Daniel Hardy of Allium Restaurant, Jeremy Stanton of The Meat Market and Dan Smith of John Andrews. Red Lion Inn Sommelier Dan Thomas selected the wines that accompany the dinner’s reception and six courses.
The chefs sourced menu ingredients from many Berkshire region farms and artisans including Bacon on the Side Farm, Berkshire Blue Cheese, Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Berle Farm, Blue Hill Farm, Community Cooperative Farm, East Mountain Farm, Farm Girl Farm, Foggy River Farms, High Lawn Farm, Hilltop Orchards, Howden Farm, Indian Line Farm, Lakeview Orchard, Mighty Food Farm, North Plain Farm, Peace Valley Farm, Taft Farms, Wanabea Farm, West County Cider and Zehr and Sons Mushroom Farm.
The evening begins at 7 p.m. with a reception in the Beard House's Greenhouse Gallery with assortment of hors d'oeuvres. A seated tasting menu begins around 8 p.m. The price is $130 per person for James Beard Foundation members and $170 per person for the general public.
Beginning at noon a team from The Red Lion Inn and Berkshire Farm and Table will be streaming live behind-the-scenes coverage of Berkshire chefs in the James Beard kitchen. Media coverage will include blog posts, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter updates for up-to-the-minute storytelling as it takes place onsite in New York.
Rosemary Flatbread with East Mountain Farm Lardo and Lakeview Orchard Jam
Cured Sardines with Preserved Citrus
East Mountain Farm Fried Pork Croutons with Dried Peace Valley Farm Cherry Tomatoes, Mighty Food Farm Winter Kale, and Mayonnaise
East Mountain Farm Pickled Pigs’ Feet with Toasted Bread and Parsley Salad
Mighty Food Farm Potato–Parsnip Latkes with Applesauce
Berkshire Mountain Distillers Apple Cider Manhattans
Berkshire Mountain Distillers Smoked Tomato Bloody Marys with House-Smoked Bacon
Medici Ermete Quercioli Reggiano Lambrusco Secco NV
North Plain Farm and Blue Hill Farm Pigs’ Heads Three Ways > Porchetta di Testa, Hickory-Smoked Jowl, and Pickled Tongue with Salt-Cured Lemon, Indian Line Farm Pickled Green Tomatoes, Community Cooperative Farms Pickled Cucumbers, Farm Girl Farm Pickled Beets, and Chef’s Garden Quince Preserves Dönnhoff Riesling 2010
Arctic Char Crudo with Farm Girl Farm Bok Choy Kimchi, Zehr & Son’s Mushroom Farm Shiitake Velouté, and Shiitake Chips Ameztoi Getariako Txakoli 2010
Roasted Foggy River Farms Blue Hubbard Squash and High Lawn Farm Ricotta Ravioli with Lila’s Mountain Smoked Lambcetta, Taft Farms Pickled Green Zebra Tomatoes, and Oven-Dried Beefsteak Tomato Purée Damilano Barbera D’alba 2009
Berkshire Sauerkraut-Braised Wanabea Farm Rabbit with Smoked Foggy River Farms Squash Purée and Squash Butter West County Ciders Reine De Pomme NV
East Mountain Farm Pork Roulade with Garlic Sausage, Pork Confit, Crispy Pig’s Ear, Mighty Food Farm Root Vegetable Purée, and Pickled Vegetables Villa Ponciago Fleurie La Réserve 2009
Howden Farm Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Candied Bacon on the Side Farm Bacon and Berkshire Blue Cheese–Dusted Berle Farm Organic Popcorn Berkshire Mountain Distillers Hot Buttered Rum With Hilltop Orchards Cider
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Berkshire restaurants are taking their food seriously, and outsiders are taking notice.
Mezze Bistro and Bar, which opened its new location on Cold Spring Road 10 months ago, received a mention in this month's issue of Food & Wine on Dana Cowin's Editor's Letter page. Cowin writes that Mezze Bistro and Bar (founded by Nancy Thomas, who is also owner of the Mezze Group Inc.) "executed simple dishes magnificently, like a pan-roasted salmon served with tomato, beans and olives." It is this simplicity that is putting local farm-to-table eateries, including Mezze, Nudel in Lenox and the Route 7 Grill in Great Barrington, on the Northeastern food map.
Photo by Jason Houston
The interior of the new Mezze on Cold Spring Road in Williamstown.
"Mezze's menu is very much focused on the farm-to-table movement, sourcing local ingredients whenever possible," said communications director Angela Cardinali. "Changes to our dinner menu are made daily by our chef, depending on what is available at local farms and from artisan producers. The mention in Food & Wine magazine may impact the restaurant in visitor season as potential new patrons visit the area and may be looking for a restaurant they have 'heard about'. Some F&W readers take Dana Cowin's recommendations very seriously. The mention by the editor provides validation for Mezze Bistro for people interested in a reputable restaurant if they happen to be visiting the region."
While visitors to the area may be discovering Mezze for the first time, local residents including business owners and area chefs continue to demand local ingredients for their meals. Many area restaurants (such as Mezze and its sister restaurant Allium in Great Barrington) and some markets are active sponsors of Berkshire Grown, and have developed strong relationships with local farmers.
"Mezze's involvement with the locavore scene is that Nancy Thomas, founder, is an active member of the board of Berkshire Grown. We sponsor and produce many of the food-related events that take place for Berkshire Grown," Cardinali said. "Future plans include the implementation of an edible garden on the Mezze Bistro property and creating additional opportunities to tell the Berkshire 'food culture' story. We believe the food story of our region is one that should parallel the arts and culture position we are able to project so well today. We are at the beginning stages of creating Berkshire Farm & Table, an organization whose mission is to share the story of the Berkshires' culinary artisans, farming values and agritourism experiences."
As Mezze moves forward and will most likely receive more accolades for its sustainable menu, Cardinali said the restaurant is preparing for a busy summer season as well as many Berkshire Grown events that it has come to sponsor.
"Guests come from the surrounding colleges, visitors to the Clark, WCMA and Mass MoCA and the Williamstown Theatre Festival as well as Jiminy Peak. We have a very busy season in summer, fall foliage and ski season," she said. "We sponsor and produce many of the food-related events that take place for Berkshire Grown including 'Farmed + Foraged: A Weekend of Spring Flavors' (taking place May 20-22), 'Preserving the Bounty" (Aug.-Sept.) and the very successful Holiday Farmers' Markets.
"We recently sent two of our chefs down to the James Beard Foundation in NYC along with four other talented Berkshire chefs to present 'The Whole Berkshire Hog' in early February. We are planning on participating in Berkshire Farm & Table's 'Where the Wild Things Are' – foraging walks led by experts throughout the month of May – as well as a whole bunch of other events with a focus on local food and farming."