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Berkshire Tidbits: Butcher's Workshop & Wellness Eating
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
03:04PM / Monday, March 28, 2016
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Jae Chung's new Vietnamese and Thai restaurant at the corner of Seymour and Wahconah Streets in Pittsfield is now in business. (photo by Judith Lerner)

The interior of the new Vong's in Pittsfield.

This past Saturday was the annual pastry sale hosted by the Greek Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. George's Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsfield.

Ahladthakia, pear-shaped orange-lemon shortbread cookies.

What one of three boxes of someone's order looks like.

Filling the boxes at the pastry sale.

Buying for friends.

Something new with almonds, whipped cream, custard and graham crackers.

They got smart this year and created some already filled boxes of baklava pieces topped with a cinnamon sticks.

Here's a couple last-minute additions in time for the weekend:

Christian and Donna Hanson, winemakers and owners of Balderdash Cellars, a Pittsfield winery.
Every Saturday afternoon between noon and 4, Spirited Wines, 444 Pittsfield Road/Route 7at the beginning of Holmes Road in Lenox, 413-448-2274, hosts a free wine and sometimes cheeses and other wine-friendly food tasting.
This week, Saturday, April 2, all the tastings are of local wines, beers, spirits and cheese. The producers will be Balderdash Cellars, a Pittsfield husband and wife winery; Graham Farmhouse Wines, another husband and wife winery, this one in West Stockbridge; Berkshire Mountain Distillers (spirits) and Big Elm Brewing (beer) both of Sheffield; Jack's Abby Brewing out of Framingham, a three-brother team that makes German-style lager beers; and raw milk cheese from Grace Hill Farm in Cummington.
Everyone has always been friendly at these events. This one sounds particularly fun.
It's the weekend for Moments House pizza fundraiser, Slice of Life Pizza Competition, this year at the Crowne Plaza, 1 West St. in Pittsfield, starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It's all-you-can-eat and judge the best, too.
Vote for Best Sauce, Best Crust, Most Unique and Best Overall. Lots of music, amazing raffles and great food from pizza houses all over the county and for a good cause, to help cancer patients.
Adults are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, children 5 to 12 are $5 in advance, $7 at the door, children 4 and under eat free.
Call 413-443-6800 for reservations and with questions.



I went looking for the Easter Bunny in Great Barrington last weekend and found him and his chick and egg buddies doing double duty at Catherine's Chocolate Shop, as I told you.

I hadn't been in Catherine's for a while. I wanted to get a look at and a photo op and a taste of that funny looking Leap Day milk chocolate frog they had gotten hold of in February.

But I had no luck. Gone. He was all gone. Eaten, every one.

I'll have to wait another four years until the next leap year to catch him again.

I will be lurking.


The menu for the Haven Supper Club for the week of March 28 will be:

Lasagna Bolognese with sautéed spinach and garlic bread

Seared beef tenderloin with port wine sauce, roasted fingerlings and roasted asparagus

Pan-roasted salmon in aromatic green pipian (a mole or sauce made from toasted sesame seeds, roasted tomatillos and cilantro) with tomato rice

Entrées come with soup or salad and cost $22 for one to three dinners ordered, $75 for four dinners ordered, $110 for six dinners, $200 for 12 dinners. They can be any of the dinners.

Order by Wednesday, pick up at the bakery in Lenox on Friday. The staff suggests people can order for different meals and can choose among that week's options. Contact Haven at 413-637-8948 or, to order and get on the list to received upcoming menus.


Wild Oats Market Co-op, 320 Main St./Route 2 in Williamstown, produce, meat and cheese manager Leigh-Anne Nicastro and grocery manager Nicole Delmolino will be serving their unique take on chicken noodle soup as their Soup of the Week. It is always fun to taste a classic. Wild Oats Soup of the Week will be sampled, free, at the hot bar next Wednesday, March 23, from noon to 1 p.m. It'll be for sale from about 10:30 a.m.


On Thursday evening, March 31, from 6 to 8, chef Julie Gale, owner of At the Table Cooking School in Hillsdale, N.Y., will show her students how to cut like a pro as she teaches her Knife Skills class as part of the Cooking at The Chef's Shop series, 31 Railroad St. in Great Barrington, 413-528-0135. She will be trout meunière, roasted Cornish hen and grilled fresh pineapple with rum sauce. She will have you filleting, spatchcocking, carving and getting all those little dried up pips out of the pineapple rind.

I'd love to be there.

The cost is $60 per person for a single class, $150 for a series of three. Payment is required in advance with a 48-hour cancellation policy. The Chef's Shop offers students a 10-percent discount on purchases made on a class day. Call or, to reserve a place.


It's finally time for The Meat Market's two-day pig butchery intensive this coming Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2, 9 to 4 each day.

The Meat Market, 389 Stockbridge Road/Route 7 in Great Barrington, 413 528-2022,, offers this class for home cooks and butcher who want to "take their skills to the next level. The intensive — seven hours each day — will teach complete pig butchery, with lunch each day.

There will be a 100-plus pound side of heritage pork for each participant or pair of participants to learn to butcher into specific cuts. Participants get to take the whole finished, butchered pork side home.

The cost of the class is $650 per individual or $800 per pair of participants.

Call the shop with any questions and to reserve your place. TMM is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 to 6, to 4 on Sunday.


Berkshire South Regional Community Center, 15 Crissey Road in Great Barrington, 413-528-2810, Ext. 10, is offering a cooking series of four classes for children 5 through 8, Now You're Cooking (For Kids)!, program 161YT83, from 4 to 6 p. m. on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, April 5, 7, 12 and 14.

Local chef and caterer Anne Dinan will teach the after school hands-on cooking and nutrition classes which start with the children gathering for healthy snacks.

The classes cost $28 for members, $34 for non-members. Call to register. Enrollees are asked to register at least 48 hours in advance, which probably means by Friday, April 1.

BSRCC offers a 10 percent sibling discount and a 25 percent discount for Action Adventures students. The two discounts may not be combined.


The Yoked Parish of Becket presents its free monthly pasta dinner this Friday, April 1, from 5 to 7. All are welcome.

Parish minister, the Rev. Kevin Smail said that the meal includes a pasta dish, salad, Italian or garlic bread and an assortment of mostly homemade desserts and beverages.

The purpose of the regular meals is to build community, he said.

The free dinner will be at the parish house of the Becket Federated Church, 413-623-5217 or -3381 Main St. in North Becket.


All afternoon this Saturday, April 2, from noon to 6, The Meat Market, 389 Stockbridge Road/Route 7 in Great Barrington, 413-528-2022, is having its Spring Sausage Fest.

Owner Jeremy Stanton loves to make charcuterie/cold cuts and wursts/sausages. And to have other people love them, too. For his Sausage Fest, he gets The Meat Market to create a dozen new and unusual flavor combinations.

This time, the Sausage Fest is going international with inspiration from Asia, South Africa, a weisswurst/white sausage made from local guinea hen and more — housemade condiments and sides.

There will be cocktails and beers for sale outside the shop although Saturday isn't predicted to be a warm day, mid-40s, maybe — and it may rain. Serving will continue until they run out of sausages.

Of course, all these new sausages and all their other meats and foods are for sale.

No cost is mentioned for this event although, sometimes, TMM has charged $15 to participate. TMM Sausage Fest started out with sample, then buy. Now it's buy to sample.


CHaven Bistro and Spirited Wines are offering a 6-course wine pairing.

Thursday evening at 6, Haven Bistro, 8 Franklin St., 413 637-8948, and Spirited Wines, both of Lenox, will present a 6-course, 6-wine wine pairing dinner with wines from Orin Swift Winery.


Spirited's owner and wine merchant, Jim Nejaime, personally selected the wines. Nathan Bergeron of Orin Swift will speak about his company's American wines.
The dinner is $85 including tax but not gratuity. Call for reservations.
sorrel and strawberry salad with cheese beignet
2015 Fragile Rosé (Dry Provence-style)
herbed butter-poached lobster with grilled pineapple and pickled jalapeno salad
2014 Mannequin Chardonnay
porcini risotto with shiitake chips
2013 D-66-Grenache, Syrah, Carignan
pan-seared duck with saffron steamed buns, creamy radish salad and sour cherry sauce
2014 Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon
rosemary roasted leg of lamb
with peas, caramelized pearl onions, blue cheese Dauphine and mint verjus carrots
2013 Papillion Bordeaux Blend Cabernet, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot
Aebleskiver molten cake with aged goat cheese ice cream and sweet cherries
Orin Swift Muté Dessert Wine


On Saturday evening, April 2, and the following three Saturday evenings, starting at about 7, The Meat Market, 389 Stockbridge Road/Route 7 in Great Barrington, 413 528-2022, will host guest chef Erhard Wendt, formerly of the Williamsville Inn in West Stockbridge who will prepare an understated seasonal, local menu.

Last weekend, Erhard and cheesemonger Matthew Rubiner of Rubiner's Cheesemonger & Grocer in Great Barrington joined forces at The Meat Market to bring their dining public their version of an Easter dinner, a spring meal to be remembered.

These guys really love each other and worked off each other, that is, they made inspired food together for a fun evening.

Erhard started with a spring fresh pea soup with mint and fried leeks. Then, he roasted a leg of lamb from Sir William Farm with a sweet garlic jus/natural drippings that he served with heirloom carrots and parsley spaetzle/shaved German pasta like mini, mini gnocchi.

The last course was a platter of American cheeses selected by Matt Rubiner, which he was happy to analyze and comment upon at various fellow-diners' tables.

I do not have this week's menu, yet. But it will be simple, local and richly flavored.

The dinner costs $50 plus tax and gratuity. There will be a cash bar. Call for reservations.


Dr. Mark Hyman, the nationally acclaimed family physician and best-selling author who maintains his UltraWellness Center practice in Lenox, will be presenting a weekend workshop at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health Friday, April 8 through Sunday, April 10.

The program to "lose weight, reverse diabetes, feel great" and have fun doing it, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, is a way to get started on Dr. Hyman's programs.

Hyman is "dedicated to identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic illness." You can read about his work at and at The UltraWellness Center presents itself as practicing patient-centered rather than disease-centered medicine.

For local commuting Berkshirites, the weekend will cost $360, which covers the classes, all meals from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch, all activities at Kripalu such as yoga classes and evening programs, use of the facilities including the whirlpool and sauna.

Check-in from 2:15 p.m. Friday, dinner is at 5 and the program begins 7:30 p.m. The program ends Sunday about 11 a.m.

Call Kripalu at 413-448-3400 for more information or to register.


As of this writing I have no details, but I know that on Friday evening, April 8, Hotel on North, 297 North St. in Pittsfield, 413-358-4741, and Spirited Wines of Lenox will be collaborating in a second in their wine pairing dinner series. This dinner will revolve around Italian imports, Spirited owner Jim Nejaime told me.

The first wine dinner was an extravaganza with a pre-dinner wine tasting and a discounted overnight stay. This will have to be comparable. Call Hotel on North for more information.


I was just looking over this summer's offerings at Bascom Lodge on the summit of Mount Greylock between Lanesborough, Adams and North Adams. There will be so many enticing events, dinners, music, free talks about food, beekeeping, birds on the reservation, local history.

I looked at some of their dinner menus that are already posted. I saw that The Highlanders will be there with their bagpipes again; and Wintergreen Trio will be back. John Kozinski will be there talking about food and health. John Wheeler will talk about mushrooms in the Berkshires. Leslie will offer advice on making your yard bird and insect-friendly. Lauren Stevens will be there.

Once the season opens I will include their events, mostly free, in Tidbits.

The Lodge opens in less than two months. I will be very torn for parts of this warm season between Bascom Lodge, Jacob's Pillow and Tanglewood.


Vong's has opened!

As of lunchtime Saturday, March 26, Jae Chung's new Vietnamese and Thai restaurant at the corner of Seymour and Wahconah Streets in Pittsfield is now in business. I'll share more when and if I learn more.

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