Epicureans everywhere agree that winter’s most glorious aspects are of the culinary persuasion. In the depths of the seemingly endless cold, festive foods can do wonders to boost your mood. Now is the perfect time to indulge your appetite at one of the following mouth-watering food events—from a historical feast at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park to a chocolate and ice festival in Salem—that are all easy to reach without a car.

What: Pies on Parade
Where: Rockland, Maine
When: January 31, from 1-4 pm
Why: Pies on Parade is an all-American celebration of flaky crust with luscious filling. Several dozen local businesses serve heaping portions of homemade pie, with 100% of the proceeds going to a local food bank. Pie is liberally interpreted to include everything from whoopie pie to lobster pie to pizza pie, so there’s a taste to satisfy all. Your $30 ticket buys you a recyclable fork and all the pie you can handle. If your craving is still not satiated, book a room at the Berry Manor Inn. Overnight guests are privy to a pantry stocked with delectable pies made by the innkeepers’ mothers. For more ideas on things to do in the area, read oM’s story on Rockland.

What: Third Annual Beefsteak
Where: The American Bounty Restaurant at the CIA, Hyde Park, NY
When: February 6 at 6 pm
Why: The Beefsteak banquet originated in 19th century New York City. Male diners sat on crates at a communal table and consumed an all-you-can-eat, utensils-free feast. Beer, beef and the sounds of a brass band enhanced the total gluttony.  The Culinary Institute of America has revived this tradition with women and silverware as welcome 21st century refinements. Take a bite out of history and reserve your seat at the table for $150; all food, drink and entertainment is included.

What: Chocolate Expo at the Maritime Aquarium
Where: Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk, CT.
When: January 31, 10-7 pm
Why: Shop for gourmet sweets among the sharks, seals, sea turtles and other marine life at this fabulous aquarium. Forty of the regions best chocolatiers set up shop with candy displays sprinkled around the animal exhibits. They’ll be offering tastes as well as selling their finest products just in time for Valentine’s Day. A bevy of celebrity chefs will be concocting chocolate-infused delights. Cozy up to chocolate-covered bacon, chocolate-drenched waffles and chocolate-scented bath soap while enjoying the aquatic wonders. It’s an easy day trip on Metro-North that’s perfect for families. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for kids.

What: Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate and Ice Festival
Where: Salem, MA
When: February 5-7
Why: Salem is a historic coastal town with a dynamic food scene. The February festival is a weekend-long cold weather celebration anchored by the Chocolate and Wine Tasting on February 5. You’ll sample wine, sweets and other tasty tidbits from Salem’s premier purveyors. The village will be aglow with giant ice sculptures that add whimsical flair to the pedestrian-friendly streets. If you want to dive deeper into this town’s culinary happenings, book a guided walking tour with Salem Food Tours. Owner Karen Scalia will show you the village’s every yummy nook and cranny. For more ideas on things to do in the area, read oM’s story on Salem.

What: Wilbur’s of Maine Hands-On Chocolate Factory Tour
Where: Freeport, Maine
When: January 30 from 11-2 pm
Why: Wilbur’s is a family owned business that specializes in high quality chocolates and confections. They’ve won numerous awards for their efforts to incorporate sustainable practices into the candy-making process. From old-fashioned favorites like fudge to newfangled flavors such as a seductively spicy Mexican meltaway, it’s a fantasy for anyone with a sweet tooth. Visitors may tour the factory and lend a hand making sweets, sampling the goodies along the way.  The tour costs $4.50 and kids are most welcome. For more ideas on things to do in the area, read oM’s story on Freeport.

What: Saratoga Chowderfest
Where: Saratoga, NY
When: February 6, 11-4 pm
Why: Scores of dining establishments open their doors to the public, serving up steaming mugs of hearty chowder for only a buck. Live music, face painting and a variety of soul-satisfying soups assure tasty fun. Special doggy chowders will be served, so bring the four-legged members of your clan. For more ideas on things to do in the area, read oM’s story on Saratoga Springs.

Photo: CIA


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