Chef Ouita Michel and her staff at Holly Hill Inn, 426 North Winter Street in Midway, have begun preparing for their annual Cassoulet Dinner on Nov. 15. Cassoulet is a French, slow-cooked, one-pot meal that takes weeks to prepare. Michel's traditional recipe uses local lamb, confit of goose, fresh-cured pork, garlic sausage and white beans.
"We make the confit two or three weeks in advance, then the lamb ragout, then get the pork belly ready," Michel said. "It takes an entire day to fill the casseroles and one day to bake. We crack the crusts and baste with goose fat all along. For me, the cracking of the cassoulet crust and a champagne toast are the kickoff to our holiday season. We start with cassoulet just before Thanksgiving, and finish with the Epiphany Feast on Twelfth Night in January."
Michel also makes a vegetarian version. The dinner menu also includes capriole goat cheese bites in pastry, local lettuces salad with Champagne vinaigrette, and apple galette by The Midway Bakery. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., dinner begins at 7 p.m. Cost is $45. To make reservations call (859) 846-4732.
■ The Press, 191 Kentucky Avenue, will give away free smoothies for children (17 and younger) from 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursday. Across from Woodland Park, the Press has juices, smoothies, salads and gluten-free baked goods. The Press is a new Better Bites partner and this event is sponsored by The Press and the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition. Visit Thepressjuicebar.com and Tweenslex.org.
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■ Bluegrass Distillers, 501 West Sixth Street, is having a grand opening 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 7. Founders Nathan Brown, Sam Rock, and Matt Montgomery will give tours, and have bourbon tastings and light appetizers.
■ Alltech's Town Branch and Distilled at Gratz Park, 120 West Second Street, are having a master distiller's dinner 7 p.m. Saturday featuring Mark Coffman of Town Branch and chef Mark Wombles. Tickets are $175 or $90 each; make reservations at (859) 255-0002.
■ The Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show announced the 2015 Best of Show winners: Best Sweet was MAM Candy; honorable mention, Spotz Gelato. Best Savory: Catrina's Kitchen; honorable mention, Cruxial Hot Sauce. Best Booth Display: The Comfy Cow; honorable mention, Nate's Coffee. People's Choice Award: Down Home Tea. Biscuit Alley Winner: The Real McCoy Catering.
■ Central Kentucky Riding for Hope has launched its annual gingerbread house competition. Pick up an entry form at St. John and Meyers, 400 Old Vine Street, until Nov. 9, then bring your gingerbread creation back for judging Nov. 10-28. Vote for your favorite house for $2, and put in a silent bid to take one home for the holidays. Proceeds benefit CKRH, which helps people with disabilities enjoy the healing power of horses. CKRH is located at the Kentucky Horse Park. Call (859) 231-7066.
■ Coba Cocina, 2041 Richmond Road, will feature Robert Biale Vineyards next in its Fine Wine Dinner Series Nov. 11 with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. The four-course dinner from chef Jonathan Lundy paired with Black Chicken Zinfandel, Like Father, Like Son Petite Sirah/Syrah and Basic Black, is $75 per person, including tax and tip. Call (859) 523-8484 for reservations.
■ Country Boy is teaming up with Merrick Inn, 1074 Merrick Drive, for a pairing of small plates and beer from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 11. Four small plates will be served paired with four Country Boy Beers, with a chef and brewer presentation for each course. Tickets are $35; available at the Merrick Inn bar.
■ Lexington cookbook author Barbara Harper Bach will be at the Kentucky Book Fair Nov. 14 with The Sweet Confections Cooking Clinic, Cookies, Candies and Other Fancies, and on Dec. 5 she will be at Unique Gifts and More in Georgetown from noon to 3 p.m. with samples. The book is available at Bluegrasscookingclinic.com for $25.
■ Marksbury Farm, 7907 Nicholasville Road in Lancaster, will be taking online orders for their holiday food items this year. You can order at Marksburyfarm.com and pick up your items at the store the week of Thanksgiving. Some of the products include 10-15 pound pasture raised turkeys, recipe packages for sausage onion dressing and buttermilk garlic mashed potatoes, whole pies and a Thanksgiving turkey and fixings dinner package that includes all of the above.
■ Indigo Salon & Wellness is hosting a charity festival at 333 East Short Street from 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 13 to raise money to fight pancreatic cancer. Local food trucks, vendors and bands are invited to come; e-mail Shawna Connors, the owner of Indigo, at Shawnrconnors@gmail.com if you're interested. The vendor fee is $25, which will be donated to the National Pancreatic Network and local fundraising efforts.
■ Doc Crow's Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar, 127 West Main Street in Louisville, will host Wild Turkey master distiller and 60-year whiskey veteran Jimmy Russell for a four-course bourbon dinner at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 11. The meal includes a flight of three handcrafted small batch and single barrel selections from Wild Turkey and Doc's Kentucky Spirit private barrel, and a bourbon cocktail with each course specially crafted to highlight the Southern flavors of the dish. Cost is $50 per person, plus tax and tip. For reservations, call (502) 587-1626.
■ Baltimore-based brewing company DuClaw is expanding into Kentucky this fall. Through Heidelberg Distributing, a variety of DuClaw's signature beers hit shelves Nov. 2. The first brews available include Sweet Baby Jesus, a chocolate peanut butter porter; Dirty Little Freak, a coconut caramel chocolate brown ale; and Neon Gypsy, a grapefruit and citrus-infused India pale ale. For Pete's Sake, an imperial peanut butter porter, will be introduced in December, in time for the holidays.