Wild Blueberries at Black Queen Angus Farm

Posted in Black Queen Angus Farm, Wild berrys with tags on August 28, 2011 by Chris Amendola

My Parents came to the Berkshires for a couple of weeks to visit.  While they were here, I took them to one of my farms for the day, Black Queen Angus Farm.

Morgan gave us a tour of the farm and while we were walking around talking, he told us about a patch of wild blueberries and blackberries on his property; naturally I had to check it out. Wild blueberries are some of my personal favorites of summer.

On the way to the berry patch, Morgan introduced us to his newest addition at  Black Queen Angus Farm; pigs. They were awesome and very curious. All thirteen came right up to us for a pat on the head or to nip at our ankles, either way it was cool.

Then we were off to pick berries. Halfway up the side of the mountain as far as we could see the fields were covered with berries. We picked some, ate lots and then  a storm rolled in from the west putting a damper on our picking. We took cover under the trees to try and wait it out but it started to rain harder. Needless to say we got a little wet that day.

All in all though, it was a great day on the farm eating wild berries.


Catching Up

Posted in foraged salad with tags , on July 7, 2011 by Chris Amendola

Now that it is has gotten a little less crazy, I have time to catch up on my blog.  We have been busy catering several parties along with our nightly service. Summer is here and business is booming.

In late May, I was asked to take the local news team out foraging for a news segment on YNN, Channel 9 News, Albany.  It was weird having cameras following me around the woods. Not too bad for my first news interview.

We did a farmed and foraged dinner in early June using nothing but local  farmed and foraged products. I was able to spend quite a bit of time in the woods foraging during that time and returned with bags and baskets full of freshly harvested mushrooms.

The photo above is a pheasant back mushroom I found on one of my first trips into the woods. When you first cut them off the tree they have an incredible smell, just like watermelon rind.

I was like a kid in a candy store when I found my first morel of the season.

This was our house foraged salad. It was composed of garlic mustard, ramps, fiddle heads, violets, Japanese knotweed with a nettle vinaigrette .

This is another dish I did with tile fish, fiddle heads and morel mushrooms.

There are lots of wild edibles coming into season; day lilies, wild blackberries and blueberries with chanterelles right behind. This is a great time to be a Chef in the Berkshires!


Posted in fiddle heads, musrooms, ramps, Spring, Uncategorized with tags , on April 28, 2011 by Chris Amendola

After what I think was the longest winter of my life, spring has finally arrived. This is one of my favorite times of the year, the product is amazing.

A couple days ago, I went foraging for ramps. I found an entire side of a mountain covered with them, I’ve never seen so many ramps in one place in my life.  I believe in foraging sustainably to ensure a future harvest so we just picked some here and there from patches. With a little help, we collected about 40lbs and didn’t even put a dent in the field.

I’m preserving some of the ramps to add to our pantry for next fall/winter. They will make a nice addition to our winter menu.

One of our farmers stopped by this morning and brought us these fiddle heads that he had picked a just few hours earlier. They are one of my personal spring favorites.

When I was out looking for ramps, I came across these witches butter mushrooms. They are some of the coolest mushrooms I have ever seen. There were only a few, so I decided not to pick them. Hopefully, next time I go out they will have multiplied enough for me to harvest.


Posted in cured ham with tags on April 13, 2011 by Chris Amendola

After 9 months of checking on the hams every few weeks and waiting patiently, we finally decided to break into the first one we started curing back in August.

I wish cameras could take pictures with smell, the sweet buttery smell of country ham was amazing. This one came out better than I was ever expecting. Our first attempt at curing a ham tasted like a little slice of heaven.

House cured country ham served with smoked honey and buttermilk biscuits.

We made stock out of the ham bone. I wish one of my farmers had collard greens so we could cook collards and beans in this liquid gold.

Housemade Maple Syrup

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on March 21, 2011 by Chris Amendola

Spring has arrived which means the maple sap is running here in the Northeast. Our pastry chef has some friends, Tad and Jamie Higgins from Ancram NY, whose spring ritual includes tapping their maple trees. They shared 15 gallons of maple sap with us from their own private stash. I was really excited since having lived in the south most of my life, I’d never seen the process of making maple syrup.

The sap was nothing like I expected. I thought it was going to be a thick, sticky sap, instead it was the consistency of water with a hint of maple odor. We  boiled it down for over 15 hrs.  The smell was amazing as it reduced down.

With all said and done, we ended up with about a half gallon of pure maple syrup. It tastes incredible and I can’t wait to use it. Thanks to those who helped make this possible.

New Dishes

Posted in citrus cured fluke, Liverwurst with tags , , on March 6, 2011 by Chris Amendola

Here are several new dishes I’ve added to our menu.  First up is a citrus cured fluke, puffed rice, anise and smoked honey. The micro greens on top were grown, in the middle of winter, in New England with four feet of snow on the ground, right here at Alluim.

I love making pates. This is liverwurst done with classical flavors but plated a little different. On the plate with it is cornichons, garlic aoili and  house made rye bread

We have been doing this dish for a few weeks now and I am very happy with the way it came out. My inspiration for this one came from my friends down at the zoo in Orlando, FL. Short rib pastrami, caramelized onion puree and potato millefeuille. Corn beef hash 2011.

James Beard Dinner

Posted in James Beard House with tags , on February 7, 2011 by Chris Amendola

Our Snout to Tail Dinner was Friday night at the James Beard House in NYC.  Six Berkshire farm-to-table chefs, including myself, prepared a multi-course dinner using an entire hog grown specifically for this event.

Berkshires Farm and Table was posting pictures and videos of us throughout the night on Facebook. Be sure to check them out.

We started with canapes. These are house made corn dogs that Brian Alberg, Chef of Red Lion Inn, did up for this event.

Next, bacon bloody marys. These were made by Matt Duley, Sous Chef of the Red Lion Inn. Other canapes included braised trotter and tail croquettes made by Nick Moulton, Sous Chef of Mezze,  chorizo with local heirloom potatoes made by Lester Blumenthal from Route 7 Grill and I did pork rinds with ranch powder.

Here is Nick’s first course. He did porchetta di testa with house made pickles. This came out awesome, it was the perfect balance of fatty cured pork and acidity. For those that don’t know what porchetta di testa is; it is a pigs face terrine. The whole face is deboned, then rolled and cured, then cooked very slowly.

This was Lester’s dish. He made pulled pork with a smoked corn puree, cilantro oil and crispy onions. The contrast in colors was awesome. The corn was bright yellow and the oil a vibrant green, very nice. The corn, from Taft Farm, was preserved last summer.

This was my dish. I did my version of South Carolina BBQ; 48 hour sous vide spare rib, mustard kimchee and SC style BBQ sauce.  I was very happy with the way my dish came out, tasted like I was back in the South.

None of my pictures of Brian’s dish came out. I will hunt around for a good picture of his dish from some of the others pictures. He did maple cured pork loin with hominy and braised kale.  It was great; a nice mix of flavors and textures.

The picture above is Matt’s dish. It is house cured bacon with a deep fried egg, house made cheddar bread and arugula salad. Awesome dish as well, I love deep fried eggs.

This is Dan’s dish. Spiced chocolate cake with bacon caramel and coffee ice cream. Several of my favorite foods all on one plate, needless to say it was really good.

This is the view from my hotel room. One thing I really love about being in NYC are the views from places like this.

Overall the dinner went really well. The guests thoroughly enjoyed their dinner and we had a blast doing it. Thanks again to Brian for inviting us along with him on this dinner.