First Congregational in Lee
Sets Free Wednesday Suppers
Fall through spring at 5:30
Almost every Wednesday evening, from the end of summer until the next summer, church members, local service clubs, supermarkets and restaurants spend the afternoon in the kitchen of First Congregational Church in Lee, 413 243-1033, 25 Park Place, making simple but tasty suppers for their community.
They welcome everyone. Personally.
It's a pretty friendly place. Many regulars take the time to make newcomers feel at home as they eat their freshly made salads, ham dinners, chicken with pineapple over rice, shepherd's pie and serious desserts. There's almost always enough for seconds and take-home.
The day's cooks might have made pans and pans of chocolate chunk brownies they will later serve topped with vanilla ice cream. Teams of cooks come from the church or the Kiwanis, Lions or Rotary clubs or Big Y or Price Chopper or Lee restaurants like the Bombay Grill or Chez Nous.
I've heard the diners discuss how much they enjoyed the most recent dinner brought by Kripalu, from Stockbridge/Lenox.
The supper fills a number of needs: for ongoing community, for a good, hot meal, for a place to relax and unwind in the company of neighbors.
There is a grand piano near the entry doors to the social hall and someone often sits down and plays before and during dinner.
Tables are set for eight, with bowls of butter, pitchers of water, baskets of fresh not stale bread. At 5:30, after a short welcome and blessing from the Rev. Bill Neil, volunteers carry bowls of salad, then plates of dinner to each person waiting for their dinner.
Sometimes the tables are filled, mainly with church members and Lee residents, many older people but young ones and even children, as well. People come from nearby communities like Lenox and Stockbridge, too. On the coldest nights, fewer people venture out, even for a nice, warm supper.
The supper is free. No reservations. But a glass jar sits on the table next to the coffee and tea service for donations from any diner who wants to or is able to give some money. The jar is usually jammed with bills and coins.
Meat-centric Winter Cooking Class Series
Starting at The Meat Market This Weekend
Saturdays and Sundays beginning Jan. 23, times vary
The Meat Market, 389 Stockbridge Road/Route 7 in Great Barrington, will be offering a half-dozen classes in pig butchery and sausage making this winter starting next weekend. The public is promised "new meat experiences" as well as some of the most popular classes including knife skills with The Meat Market conceiver and owner Jeremy Stanton.
The Meat Market will teach you how to butcher a pig, one of several classes being offered at the Great Barrington market.
For those who take the sausage making class, the next step is learning how to make salami and, then, dry-cured sausages. And, for home cooks and butchers who want to "take their skills to the next level," there will be a two-day intensive — seven hours each day — to learn complete pig butchery.
This Saturday, Jan. 23, the market will hold a Pig Butchery 101 class from 5 to 7:30 p.m., for $75 per person. The next Saturday, Jan. 30, Stanton will give his knife skills class. Same time, same price.
Sausage Making 101, Salami Making and Introduction to Dry Curing will all be given in March. I will give more details in the Feb. 22 Berkshire Tidbits.
All the January and March classes include snacks to munch on and beer or wine to drink during the classes. All the sausage classes let participants take home some of the sausage they have made.
How the market will hold classes on the same evenings it is showing samurai movies and serving groups of ramen slurpers and hot-pot dippers in their tiny dining room I do not know. Saturday evenings will be busy at the small shop for the next few months.
Call the shop, 413-528-2022, with any questions and to reserve your place in the classes.
Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink!
at Chez Nous Bistro Resumes
Thursday, Jan 21, 6:30 p.m.
There was not Manger! Boire! evening at Chez Nous last Thursday because of the "A Tour of Portugal" wine-pairing on Friday. Manger! Boire! picks up again this Thursday, Jan. 21, at 6:30 with what Chez Nous baker/co-owner Rachel Portnoy says will be, "another delicious wintry French menu."
"Franck has been wanting to share a 'pork-less' version of his hearty and craveable cassoulet," she said, "and has created a recipe using a confit of lamb."
Cassoulet is originally a peasant winter casserole of white beans and preserved, pre-roasted and cooked meats and pork sausages from the South of France, slow-baked in the oven in a special covered clay pot with sloping sides. Goose and duck and mutton/adult lamb are traditional ingredients. So, confit of lamb, or preserved lamb, is not a stretch.
The appetizer will be a croustillant, a crispy spinach, leek and goat cheese pastry, "to show our guests another great way to use one of our favorite ingredients, feuille de brique."
Feuille de brique are paper thin pastry leaves not unlike the French version of phyllo dough but not so brittle as phyllo.
Rachel said the custardy-apple-y dessert was not served at the onion soup/shepherds' pie Manger! Boire! a couple of weeks ago because it was Epiphany and she served a gallette de rois, a king cake traditional for the holiday. It will be apple custard for dessert this week. Mmmnn. I'm getting hungry.
Call 413-243-6397 and specify that the reservation is for Manger! Boire! Rachel requests you do not try to reserve for Manger! Boire! online. If you reach only voice mail, she asks that you leave a message.
The price is $35 per person plus tax and gratuity.
Portnoy gave me the recipes for the last Manger! Boire! Here is Franck's onion soup, which sounds easy to prepare.
If anyone wants the hachis Parmentier/French shepherd's pie recipe, post a comment to let me know. It is very tasty and substantial with lots of soft vegetables, chewy dense braised beef and utterly creamy mashed potatoes on top.
Franck Tessier's French Onion Soup
adapted from Jan. 7, 2016, Manger! Boire! dinner at Chez Nous Bistro
Thinly slice enough onions to yield 8 cups. Put in a soup kettle with 3 to 4 tablespoons oil.
Cover pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat. Simmer 15 to 20 minds.
Uncover pot. Add a fresh thyme branch or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
Raise heat to medium. Cook onions, stirring often, until they are a rich medium brown color. It can take 45 minutes and it is the most important step for this soup.
Stir in 1/4 cup flour. Cook a couple of minutes, stirring.
Stir in 2 quarts rich beef stock or water, 2 cups white wine and a splash of port. Simmer about 30 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Finish with a crostini/toast of Berkshire Mountain Bakery Peasant Bread topped with a slice of Gruyere cheese and grilled under the broiler.
'Food Is Love' Theme of Guido's
First 2016 Thank-You Thursday
Thursday, Jan. 28, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
They're always fun. Thank-You Thursdays are Guido's Fresh Marketplace customer appreciation events during slow winter. It's like a party at Guido's, both in Great Barrington, 413 528-9255, 760 South Main St./Route 7, and Pittsfield, 413 443-9912, 1020 South St./Routes 7 and 20.
There are tastes of all sorts of things throughout the day from a variety of Guido's vendors and their own kitchen in Pittsfield: cheeses, chips, veggie burgers, sweet things like Klara's Gourmet Cookies or one of their local ice cream suppliers. There's wine tasting, fruits and vegetables, samples from their homemade deli foods and from Mazzeo's Meats or Fish.
Guido's offers special pricing on a number of items that day. There's always a raffle to win a $200 Guido's gift card. In each location. Plus, shoppers get 10 percent discount on most goods during Thank You Thursday and a coupon for a similar 10 percent discount on a future day within the upcoming month.
Even if you don't shop, it's fun to walk around, taste and see what's available at Guido's. A good time to check them out if you've never shopped there.
Wheatleigh Hosts Wine Dinner
Presented by Spirited Wines
Saturday, Jan. 30 beginning at 6 p.m.
Jim Nejaime, wine merchant and owner of Spirited Wines in Lenox, is bringing Marchese di Barolo wines and winemaker/owner Anna Abbona to Wheatleigh in Lenox to lead an elegant six-course dinner as only chef Jeffrey Thompson can prepare and present it.
Wheatleig is serving a six-course menu paired with wines by Marchese di Barolo.
Elegance at Wheatleigh is a very warm and friendly style. Almost everyone there welcomes and makes feel welcome their guests. Quietly. Unobtrusively. Sometimes with a touch of humor.
Thompson takes the finest ingredients and handles them freshly and simply. He gives diners essential, deeply satisfying tastes. As befits Wheatleigh. The dishes in this dinner will be paired with equally elegant Italian Barolo wines with long provenance. The wine cellar traces its family history back 200 years.
Thompson will be including lamb, rabbit and venison in his menu, complemented with hazelnuts, black truffles and black trumpet mushrooms, among other ingredients.
The $135 per person price includes gratuity but not tax. Call Wheatleigh, 413-637-0610, for reservations.
selection of canapés
Marchese di Barolo Dolcetto 2014
carpaccio of lamb with cranberry, hazelnut and Castelmagno cheese
Marchesi di Barolo Ruvei 2014
saddle of rabbit with arancini, butternut squash and black truffle
Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco 2012
agnolotti with lamb sausage, black trumpet mushrooms Swiss chard
Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Tradizione 2010
slow cooked venison shank with soft polenta, root vegetables and rapini
Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi 2011
hazelnut brown butter cake with sabayon and Cara Cara orange sorbet
Marchesi di Barolo, Moscato di Asti
Morgan House Tavern Offers
Special 3-course Dinner Two
Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Friday evenings
between 5:30 and 8:30; 8 on Sunday
This is a very nice deal and The Morgan House at 33 Main St. in Lee has been offering it during winter for quite a few years.
For $29.95, two diners can enjoy the pleasant surroundings of their dining rooms and tavern, homey service and well-prepared food of this traditional restaurant. Each gets a salad and a choice of entrée and dessert.
The Morgan House is closed on Tuesdays. In winter they are also closed on Wednesdays.Call 413-243-3661 with any questions and to make reservations. Although, I have often been able to be seated just walking in.
Barrington Brewery Changes
nightly after 5 at dinner except Saturdays
Barrington Brewery, 420 Stockbridge Road/Route 20, 413-528-8282, likes to keep customers interested and not bored. In addition to specials at lunch and at dinner and changing seasonal beers, the brewery also changes its set Brewplate Specials periodically. Most of these specials come with soup or salad, potatoes, vegetable and their own ale bread and are only served in-house.
Starting Tuesday, Jan. 19, Monday's special will be Brewhouse meatloaf made with its own beer. Tuesday's Brewplate dinner will now be a burger and brew. These dinners are $10.
Thursday's Brewplate remains a prime rib dinner for $17. Friday is still beer battered and fried scallops, shrimp, cod and potatoes with coleslaw and bread for $18. Sunday will be a turkey and trimmings dinner for $12 all day.
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