From the Nose to the Tail

Have you ever asked “WHY is there so much PORK on this menu?!” If one animal is represented in a few different dishes on a menu, there might be a very good explanation for it. The reason can often be summed up by the concept of “Nose-to-Tail Cooking.” This practice advocates honoring the animal’s life and using as much of the animal as possible to avoid wasting any parts. Additionally it can offer a chef the opportunity to celebrate less common ingredients and cuts of meat.


Both Chef Joji Sumi of Mezze Bistro and Chef Daire Rooney of Allium employ a “nose-to-tail” philosophy for sustainability as well as culinary inventiveness. Our chefs work with local farmers to source whole animals that are butchered in house. This means that during any given week, the chefs are using many different components of a single animal that’s been raised locally. The presence of a ‘Pig Face + Trotter Torchon’ on the Allium menu is not meant to shock, but to introduce diners to delicious parts of the pig that are often overlooked. We are proud to have developed strong relationships with dedicated local farmers whose ideas about local, seasonal food are in line with our own. The nose-to-tail concept is a way to pay homage to both the animal and the farmer who raised it and allows chefs to make use of the bounty they’ve been given.

A few months ago, the Allium staff had the good fortune of participating in a butchering workshop led by Butcher Jake Levin of The Meat Market. The Meat Market is a locally sourced, nose-to-tail butcher shop and cafe located in Great Barrington. They buy directly from farmers within a 100-mile radius – at least 75 percent of the farms are within a 35-mile radius. They absolutely employ the same nose-to-tail philosophy that we do! Jake led the Allium staff through the process of butchering a whole pig from Kim Wells’ East Mountain Farm in Williamstown. From pork chops to ribs to ham cuts, the Allium crew learned a great deal and are continuing to employ those new skills every day.

To see some images from the event, continue reading. (Caution:  Raw meat images ahead!)

Continue reading “From the Nose to the Tail” »

All Is Full Of Love

Since the beginning of our courtship, my sweetheart (Kaya) has gifted me with beautiful and nostalgic mixes that always feature a handful of Scandinavian musicians.  Whether the songs are about romance, celebration, dreams or heartbreak they all evoke a sense of wonder.  I asked Kaya to create mix of entirely Scandinavian + Nordic artists in celebration of Valentine’s Day, to share with all of you here.  Both Mezze + Allium have been taking cues from Scandinavia to bring some light into these deep winter nights.  In addition to refreshing aquavit and smoked fish… these dreamy songs will help to keep you warm.

All is Full of Love from kaya.severson on 8tracks Radio.


1. Lead But Low — Honey Is Cool

2. All is Full of Love — Bjork

3. Two Boys — Sin Fang

4. Stars 4 Ever — Robyn

5. Oh Love — Ane Brun

6.  b — iamamiwhoami

7. Emmylou — First Aid Kit

8. Staralfur — Sigur Ros


Bonus Tracks!!! (Because where there are great songs, there are often great music videos)

The Lion’s Roar — First Aid Kit

When I Grow Up — Fever Ray


Happy Valentines Day! From, Kaya (left) and Sam (Mezze hostess with the mostest, and blogger)


The Communal Winter Table

Winter is about getting close and cozy, keeping warm, and sticking together. If any population knows how to approach colder temps with an unmistakable air of grace and style, it’s the inhabitants of Scandinavian countries. In Sweden, the depths of winter are accompanied by a sunset at 3 pm! Swedes are experts at bringing light and joy into those cold, dark winters. During February at both Allium and Mezze Bistro, we’ll be sharing elements of Scandinavian food, drink, design and music that we find inspiring.


In the interest of sticking together, we’ve teamed up with Deidre and Emma of VINTAGE and Connie of Griffin GB to redesign the Allium lounge area. We’re feeling very fortunate to be surrounded by local, creative businesses that share our spirit of collaboration and the desire to shake things up.

The new space is furnished with a nod to Scandinavian design and culture, but its main purpose is to bring people together. It’s fun to imagine the changing landscape of people that will come and go from the table along the windows. Whether strangers or friends, we hope that this area will allow people to enjoy the company of one another and take solace from the cold winter nights. Take a look…




Libbey candleholders and vintage antlers


A rustic workbench table with plenty of room



Emma (from VINTAGE) puts the finishing touches on our fish friend


Nancy (of Allium) sitting pretty on a simple, modern stool


Nice work, Deidre (of VINTAGE)

A big thanks to our friends from VINTAGE and Griffin GB who have transformed the space with their beautiful wares. Can’t wait to join them for a glass of aquavit around the communal winter table!

To stay informed of special Scandinavian-inspired menu items (think smoked + cured fish, pickled things, vodka and aquavit) at both restaurants, be sure to “Like” the Allium Facebook and Mezze Bistro + Bar Facebook pages. Stay warm!


Allium Restaurant + Bar Welcomes Chef Daire Rooney

 Allium Restaurant + Bar announces Daire Rooney, new chef to the kitchen and most well known in the Berkshires for her work as Executive Chef of the well-loved French bistro Brix Wine Bar in Pittsfield, Mass., where she managed the kitchen for four years. Since November, she has been changing up the Allium menu and creating delicious dishes with a direction toward gastro-pub style focusing on seasonal ingredients.
Photo by Maia Landau

Photo by Maia Landau

Daire is working on developing the Allium menu with more small plates and many healthy options to meet guests’ requests.  In January, with a cocktail focus on whisky, she is creating a series of fun burger options including short rib and brisket burgers accompanied by bacon jam from local pork belly. In February, when the bar highlights vodkas and aquavit-based cocktails, the kitchen will feature smoked fish, oysters and raw, cured fish options. In addition to tie-ins to the cocktail program, Daire also has plans for a series of wine and food pairing dinners.
Photo by Angela Cardinali

Photo by Angela Cardinali

On Friday, March 1, Rooney will be joining a group of Berkshire chefs at the James Beard House to present “The Berkshire Cure-All,” a dinner highlighting foods raised and produced in the Berkshire region in conjunction with The Red Lion Inn. You can read more about Daire’s background on our website.
Photo by Angela Cardinali

Photo by Angela Cardinali

A sample of Rooney’s menu can be found here.
Allium Restaurant + Bar is located at 42-44 Railroad Street in Great Barrington.  Please call 413.528.2118, or visit to make a reservation.

Local Food, Meet Local Music

Mezze Bistro + Bar is enthusiastically proud to present Winter Music Sessions featuring local chamber folk band The Wandering Rocks.


These very special evenings will take place monthly, on Fridays, and will begin at 9 pm, at the tail end of the dinner hour. The music series will kick off on January 11th with music lasting until about 10 pm. There’s no cover, but donations are appropriate for the talented musicians.

The setting will be intimate and the acoustics will be perfect. New songs will be introduced as the season unfolds, and you’ll be the first to hear them. Mark your calendars for the following Fridays:

January 11
February 15
March 15
April 19

Please RSVP on Facebook. If you’re planning on coming for dinner (and to get the best seats), reservations are recommended. To book, please call 413.458.0123 (or visit

Local music meets local food? Seems like a match made in heaven.

The Wandering Rocks “O” from Diana Walczak on Vimeo.

A Toast to Guido’s Fresh Marketplace

A big thank you to everyone who came out to Guido’s Fresh Marketplace for our December Cocktail Demo Days! The Allium bartenders were very happy to geek out over their favorite classic recipes. The belle of the ball turned out to be Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif that we served on the rocks with a wedge of blood orange (Guido’s sold out of their stock).

Here are some of our favorite images from the demo days…


Nancy Thomas, founder of Mezze Restaurant Group, sharing her love of Cocchi Americano


Billy the bartender stole the show with his sours + fizzes, converting many guests into egg white-cocktail enthusiasts!


In case you missed out (or sampled too many cocktails to remember ingredients or instructions), check out the two recipe cards below for details on how to construct some great classic cocktails at home.




31578_10151317957494600_569784924_nDolin vermouth never goes out of style


Something Sour, Something Sparkling, Something Classic… What will you be drinking on New Year’s Eve?!

Still figuring out your New Year’s Eve plans? Mezze Bistro + Bar (413.458.0123) and Allium Restaurant + Bar (413.528.2118) have the answer! Both restaurants are still accepting reservations for the special night — coming soon! We’ll be serving up festive additions to the regular menu and since we’re open at 5 pm, you’ll have plenty of time to fuel up before heading to that glamorous late-night party. Give us a call for more information, or visit Open Table to make a reservation.

Whether you’re hosting a raucous house party to celebrate the world avoiding apocalypse in 2012, cozying up in front of the fire to peacefully welcome 2013 or ringing in the New Year accompanied by some amazing farm-to-table cooking at Mezze or Allium… one singular burning question remains…



Sure, there’s something undeniably classic about popping a bottle of champagne as the ball drops in Times Square. But what to sip during the countdown? Or in the wee morning hours, with your dancing feet surrounded by confetti?

Here are three great options to diversify your holiday beverage plan:

A note about sours: the classic recipe calls for egg and citrus to be introduced to the spirit. The ingredients are first shaken “dry” (meaning, without ice) — this step allows for the egg white to emulsify, creating the iconic frothy texture that’s associated with sours. Since you’re probably burnt out on eggnog by now (thanks, Christmas), the Aperol Sour will put your leftover eggs to good use. Since Aperol is an aperitif, this light bittersweet cocktail will get along famously with hors d’oeuvres. It almost tastes like a very refined, adult version of orange cream soda. Incorporating egg into your bar regimen may sound intimidating, but if you already know how to separate an egg and shake a cocktail, you’ll do just fine.

3 oz Aperol
0.75  oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
1 egg white

Add all ingredients into a shaker glass, cap and dry shake without ice vigorously for 10 seconds.  Fill shaker with ice and shake another 10 seconds. Strain into a collins glass with ice.

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 8.04.31 PM

These cocktails honor the effervescence and celebratory quality of champagne, but also add another dimension of flavor that’s exciting and somewhat unexpected. Sparkling cocktails are wonderfully drinkable, and pretty universally appealing. Since each cocktail only uses 1 oz. of the corresponding liqueur, a single bottle can go a long way. These sparkling cocktails are incredibly simple to assemble which makes them an easy choice while hosting a large group (and a friendly option for the novice bartender).

Kir Royale: 1 oz. Mathilde Cassis liqueur topped with sparkling wine

Sparkling Pear: 1 oz. Mathilde Pear liqueur topped with sparkling wine

Elderflower Cocktail: 1 oz. St. Germain topped with sparkling wine

This drink is elegant, period. Which is a little surprising, considering it’s named after a cannon. Legend says that it packs a punch that’s comparable to being hit with the intensity of a French 75 mm field gun.  The French 75 offers another chance to incorporate the sparkly stuff but this time its livened up with dry gin and lemon juice, plus simple syrup for a little sweetness. If cocktails wore clothing, this one would be rocking something tight, vintage and glittering gold.

1 oz London Dry Gin
0.5 oz simple syrup
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz sparkling wine

Fill shaker glass with ice and quickly add gin, simple syrup and lemon juice. Shake to chill (10 seconds.) Strain into a coupe glass or champagne glass. Pour 3 oz of sparkling wine on top. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 9.38.25 PM

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If you’re looking for a little more than a recipe to follow, we’ve got your covered. The Allium bartenders will be in residence at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Great Barrington again on Saturday, December 29, from 12 – 2 pm, offering demonstrations and tastings of all the above cocktails (as well as the Negroni and the Hemingway Daiquiri!)

Luckily, Guido’s has everything you’ll need to create a fabulous cocktail menu featuring something sour, something sparkling or something classic for your New Year’s Eve shindig. And just in time! Please feel free to chat up the Allium bartenders about their favorite recipes and taste, taste, taste.


If you decide to mix up any of the cocktails featured here, please share your pictures and stories with us by e-mailing or post to Allium’s or Mezze’s Facebook pages directly. We’d love to see what you’ve whipped up for the holidays.

Have a very happy and safe New Year’s Eve and a wonderful New Year!

VINTAGE: A Cocktail Party Inspired by Classic Cocktails + Vintage Style

This holiday season I’ll be harkening back to the past for inspiration. I’ve always loved clothing and furniture from distant ages, spending years sorting through piles at antique malls, charming vintage boutiques and garage sales. Objects designed and constructed in the past usually have far more staying power than modern-day products. I love the concept of giving new life to something that was created long ago, and the simplicity of passing well-made items down throughout generations. With so many beautiful old things in the world, it’s hard to rationalize always purchasing the brand new. 210 The appeal of vintage style absolutely translates to the bar. Classic cocktails offer a connection to history and highlight well-made ingredients. Also, who wouldn’t want to fantasize about the glamour of days gone by? The music was lively, the drinks were strong and the ladies looked great!  This year, I’ll be serving the Hemingway Daiquiri to anyone who will let me get near them with a cocktail shaker. Here’s how you can follow suit:

The Hemingway Daiquiri

2 oz. White Rum

3/4 oz. Lime Juice

1/2 oz. Grapefruit Juice

1/2 oz. Maraschino Liqueur

1/2 oz. Simple Syrup

Shake and strain over ice into a rocks glass.


The Hemingway Daiquiri. Photo by Angela Cardinali.

If you’re a vintage fan like myself, visit allium restaurant + bar (42 Railroad St., Great Barrington) this Wednesday for a special cocktail party. We’ve teamed up with two amazing local shops, griffinGB (177 Main St., Great Barrington) and VINTAGE (1695 North Main St. Route 7, Sheffield), who have decked out the allium lounge area with beautiful vintage furniture and goods.


Decked out lounge at Allium Restaurant + Bar, thanks to GriffinGB and VINTAGE

Come for the classic cocktails and stay for a vintage fashion show (featuring clothing from both stores and fabulous models from our local community) and retro tunes from DJs Adam Post and Scott Clark. Here are all the details: VINTAGE: A Cocktail Party Inspired by Vintage Style + Vintage Cocktails Wednesday, December 19th at 7:30pm at allium restaurant + bar (42 Railroad St., Great Barrington) with special thanks to…




Griffin New Logo


that coat!- at griffinGB


December Cocktail Demo Days at Guido’s in Great Barrington

The act of multi-tasking is an undeniable saving grace during the wild winter holiday season. Luckily, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace has everything on your December grocery list covered. Where else can you pick up organic produce, free-range chicken, beautiful flowers for the holiday dinner table and an arsenal of homeopathic remedies to cure your post New Year’s eve “cold”?  In addition to gorgeous fruits, veggies and natural foods, Guido’s also carries a wonderful selection of beer and wine suitable for any celebration (find beer + wine in the Pittsfield location, and travel down to Great Barrington if you’re looking for spirits as well).

Photo by Angela Cardinalli

If you’ve been hoping to elevate your holiday beverage offerings this year, you’re in luck. Allium Restaurant + Bar is teaming up with Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Great Barrington to offer demonstrations on classic cocktails that are perfect for holiday entertaining. Allium bartenders Walter, Billy and Adam will be stationed throughout the GB store mixing up aperitif-based cocktails, classic cocktails and sours, collins + fizzes for your sipping pleasure. They’ll be sharing all of the necessary techniques, advice about ingredients and tips for stocking your holiday bar.

This year, embrace the virtue of multi-tasking (shopping, drinking and learning… wow, we really outdid ourselves this time!) Join Allium Restaurant + Bar’s special guest bartenders at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Great Barrington for December Cocktail Demo Days on Saturday, December 15th and Saturday December, 29th, from 12pm-2pm. For more information, visit the December Cocktail Demo Days event on Facebook.



Behind The Bar: Shake, Stir, Classics, Sours

As more people become curious about the food on their plates (where it comes from, how it’s prepared and why), curiosity naturally spreads to the contents of their glass. Enter the craft cocktail. Beautifully constructed and drinkable, a classic cocktail honors the integrity of its ingredients while providing a connection to history and a sense of ritual.

Take the Negroni, for instance. Bitter and aromatic, the cocktail made its debut in 1919 when Count Negroni (an Italian nobleman) requested gin in his Americano instead of the standard club soda. Mary, bartender here at Mezze Bistro + Bar, counts the Negroni as one of her favorites to make (and drink). “The campari brings out the bitterness of the citrus, but the sweeter aroma stays… it actually smells like a big glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice,” she explains. Refreshing and perfectly balanced.

1 oz. gin
1 oz. campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth

Stir, pour over a chunk of ice + garnish with orange peel. It’s that simple!

With simple techniques and a small collection of essential ingredients, dynamic cocktails like the Negroni are within reach for even the most amateur mixologists.

We’re offering a chance to become a master of the classic cocktail, just in time for holiday party season! Join us for Behind the Bar: Shake, Stir, Classics, Sours — a small, hands-on cocktail class at allium restaurant + bar in Great Barrington — on Wednesday, December 12th at 7:30 pm.

We’ll advise on how to stock your bar with booze, mixers and garnishes for entertaining at home. We’ll suggest the essential tools to make great cocktails and will demonstrate mixing with different methodologies — stir/shake classics, sours, fizz, rocks or up. The class will whet the palate with aperitifs and aperitif-based drinks and will be followed by recipes and hands-on mixing of six delicious cocktails.

The cost is $40 per person, with limited space available. Reservations are required by phone or email. We hope to see you there!

42 Railroad Street, Great Barrington