The Hippo


Jun 3, 2020








A lamb rack dish featured in Colby Hill Inn’s first Wines of the World dinner last month. Courtesy photo.

Colby Hill Inn wine dinners and cooking classes 

The inn is at 33 The Oaks St., Henniker. For more information or to register, call 428-3281 or visit 
Wines of the World dinners are held the first Thursday of every month at 6:15 p.m. Next dinner is Jan. 19. $65 per person. 
Global Cooking with Local Ingredients classes are held one Monday every month at 5:30 p.m. Next class is Jan. 16. $115 per person. 
January’s featured wine region is Austria and Eastern Europe. See website for the full 2017 schedule. 

A world of wining and dining
Inn offers global wine dinners, cooking classes

By Angie Sykeny

 You can experience wines and cuisines from around the world or learn to make your own globally inspired meal at the new wine dinner parties and cooking classes offered at Colby Hill Inn in Henniker. 

The inn’s Wines of the World series is held on the first Thursday of every month and includes five- or six-course menus centered around the cuisines of various wine regions and paired with wines from those regions. The Global Cooking with Local Ingredients classes are held one Monday a month year round and include hands-on instruction for preparing three- or four-course dinners based on cuisines from the same regions featured in each month’s wine dinners. 
The wine dinners and classes come as part of the inn’s new ownership under Jeff Brechbühl and Chef Bruce Barnes. 
“Since we took over last February, we’ve had a lot of interest from people about cooking classes,” Brechbühl said. “There were already some classes here before we took ownership, but they were sparsely attended and only held at certain times of the year, so we wanted to make our own mark and do classes all year with a regional focus.” 
The dinners and classes coincide with the concept for the inn’s restaurant, The Grazing Room, which is to marry globally inspired cuisine with locally sourced farm-to-table ingredients. Additionally, the menus for the classes often mirror what is on that month’s menu in The Grazing Room, so participants have the unique opportunity to learn how to prepare some of the dishes featured in the restaurant. 
Wine regions highlighted throughout the year will include the Mediterranean, the Iberian Peninsula, Australia and New Zealand, Italy, France, South Africa, Patagonia and Switzerland, as well as wine regions in the U.S., including Virginia and Maryland, the Pacific Northwest, California and New England. 
Barnes develops the menus for each wine dinner and cooking class himself, drawing inspiration from his culinary background. 
“Having worked [as a chef] at the World Bank in D.C. for nine years, I was exposed to many cultures, and prior to that, I’ve always had an interest in global cuisines,” he said. 
Each cooking class begins with wine and cheese served in the parlor, where Barnes gives participants an overview of what the class will entail. Then, everyone heads to the kitchen, where they can continue to drink wine and prepare a series of dishes under Barnes’ instruction. When cooking is complete, everyone moves to the restaurant dining room, which is closed to the general public on class nights, to enjoy the dishes they made, along with wine pairings selected by Barnes. Class sizes are kept small — around eight participants — to ensure that everyone gets individual attention. Private cooking classes for groups are also available. 
“People who come usually don’t have a lot of [culinary] experience but they definitely have an interest in learning more,” Brechbuhl said. “They’ll learn a lot of food facts and food history and those sorts of things, too. Bruce really makes it interesting and makes it a conversation.”  
Most people sign up for individual classes that interest them rather than attending them all consecutively. For the wine dinners, however, Brechbuhl said he encourages people to think of them as a “tour” of the wine regions of the world, and to attend multiple dinners if they can to get the full experience. 
Guests can even earn a stamp in a “passport” for every dinner they go to and may receive special prizes for “staying on the tour.” 
“We’re hoping the wine dinners will encourage people to join us regularly throughout the year,” Brechbuhl said. “We’re trying to get away from being the kind of place that people only come to once a year for their anniversary.” 
Each wine dinner begins with a welcome hour in the parlor, where guests can enjoy an amuse bouche and aperitif or sparkling wine while Barnes gives an overview of the wines and foods being featured. Then, everyone moves to the dining room, where three or four tasting-size courses and a dessert are served with wine. With the arrival of each course, Barnes discusses the wine that’s paired with it. 
“We’re bringing in wines that some people never thought of trying, and we’re exposing them to other options so that they don’t always have to go with the same California chardonnay or Australian sauvignon blanc,” Barnes said, “and I think people can learn to appreciate new wines a lot more once the wines are paired properly with food.” 

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