Rob Burbank's Outdoors with the AMC: Global dining in Pinkham NotchBy ROB BURBANK January 05. 2018 8:02PM
A longtime antidote for cabin fever in the White Mountains, the Appalachian Mountain Club's International Dinner and Adventure Series returned to Pinkham Notch for its 28th season this past Wednesday with a celebration of Greek culture and cuisine, highlighted by a slide presentation by AMC's Vice President of Outdoor Operations Paul Cunha.
Typically and traditionally, AMC adventures and explorations take place outdoors, which is only fitting for the nation's original conservation and recreation organization. With the International Night series, the model is tweaked a bit to allow local residents and far-flung outdoors enthusiasts to gather indoors on winter Wednesday evenings to experience worldwide destinations vicariously through the images and tales provided by guest speakers, and culinary specialties evocative of those distant places prepared by AMC chefs.
Cunha's presentation recalled a recent trip to Greece with a presentation entitled, "Touring Greece-From Crete to the Meteora." Diners feasted on several courses, including a starter course of a fried Feta cheese with fresh lavender and honey salad and a main course of lemon garlic chicken. All dinners in the series feature several courses, typically including appetizer, soup or salad, bread, entrée, vegetable, and dessert.
The series runs through March 14 each Wednesday evening (excluding Feb. 21) at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in the White Mountain National Forest on Route 16 between the towns of Jackson and Gorham.
Dinner is served family style at 6 p.m. sharp, but one needn't purchase dinner to take in the cultural program. Programs are free and open to all, and usually start around 7:30 p.m.
"International Nights are a great way to enjoy the camaraderie of your neighbors and to make new friends," says AMC's Pinkham Programs Manager and Senior Naturalist Nicky Pizzo, who plays a major role in putting the series together. Presenters often come from the local community, or have participated in the AMC Adventure Travel program, which features guided trips in distant locales.
"I seek out program presenters who have traveled to interesting places and encourage them to share their experiences with our guests. Other times, people who have attended the series, or have heard of it, seek me out and offer to present," she says. "Then, I share the program list with our culinary staff, and they design menus and prepare delicious dishes featuring delicacies of the featured countries."
Some of the dishes to be featured this season include German pot roast (Germany), Chicken Puri Puri (South Africa), Paella (Spain), and Alsatian-style sauerkraut with sausage and pork (France). Vegetarian entrees are also offered.
For those traveling from outside the area, or for locals seeking an extended adventure, AMC offers a special lodging package, starting at $49, plus tax, that includes International Dinner, the cultural presentation, overnight accommodations at the on-site Joe Dodge Lodge, an all-you can-eat breakfast, and a trail pass for use at nearby Great Glen Trails for cross-country skiing or tubing that Thursday.
"We encourage people to come on out and experience the culture of other countries through our International Dinner and Adventure Series," Pizzo says. "It's another way AMC helps people make a closer connection to the outdoors."
Upcoming programs in the 2018 series include:
. Jan. 10: "Cinque-Terre-The Five Lands" with Jack Holmes (cuisine of Italy)
. Jan. 17: "The Rhine River-A Lowland View of Southwest Germany" with Jed Edward Eliades (cuisine of Germany)
. Jan. 24: "Hiking off the Beaten Path in Africa" with Bruce and Doreen Bolnick (cuisine of South Africa)
. Jan. 31: "Backcountry Skiing in Iceland" with David Lottman (cuisine of Iceland)
. Feb. 7: "Malta - Familiar and Exotic with Jack Holmes" (cuisine of Malta)
. Feb. 14: "Rock-Climbing in Spain from Catalonia to Valencia" with Chelsea Kendrick (cuisine of Spain)
. Feb. 28: "A Walk in France - The Tarn Gorges" with Suzanne and Pete Madeira (cuisine of France)
.March 7: "Sunrise on Top of Yellow Mountain" with Stan Tupaj (cuisine of China)
. March 14: "Trekking in the Tatra Mountains" with Larry Garland (cuisine of Poland).
Menus can be found here.
Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling (603) 466-2727. Programs follow dinner and are free and open to all.
Rob Burbank is director of external relations for the Appalachian Mountain Club (outdoors.org) in Pinkham Notch. His column appears monthly.