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Mark & Monks

Side Dishes: Two food events open minds this weekend

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Could bacon be the key to raising awareness of communication disabilities? Jaquelyn Rieke, owner of Nutty Steph’s Granola & Chocolate Factory in Middlesex, hopes so. On Saturday, April 28, from 6 p.m. to midnight, Rieke will host a fundraiser for a film project by Mark Utter of Colchester (profiled in the April 11 Seven Days cover story) to kick off her Bacon Night on a Saturday Benefit Series.

Utter’s planned 25-minute film is entitled I Am in Here: A View of My Daily Life With Good Suggestions for Improvement From My Intelligent Mind. The writer, who speaks through a computer-assisted method called facilitated communication, will start the Nutty Steph’s event by conversing with guests one on one. “I’m sort of thinking about it like in “Peanuts,” when Lucy would have the sign that says, ‘The doctor is in’” says Emily Anderson, Utter’s facilitator and “celebrity bacon server.” “You can come visit with Pascal [Cheng, a communications specialist at the HowardCenter] and Mark and talk to Mark.”

The menu, says Rieke, is what fans have come to expect at her regular Thursday Bacon Nights. Diners can order five different varieties of local bacon, with optional caramel, chocolate or honey for dipping. There are local cheese plates for vegetarians, too. One hundred percent of the proceeds from food and drink — including all Rieke’s chocolates — will help fund the film.

Rieke hopes to make these benefits a quarterly tradition, if not a more frequent one. Last weekend, she hosted a last-minute ’do for the Black Mesa Free Clinic, a Vermont-based charity that helps indigenous residents of northern Arizona fight relocation and the coal industry.

A monastic meal may sound austere, but Tenzin Dorjee says it’s far from it. The owner of Himalaya Restaurant in Plattsburgh, N.Y., has enlisted a team of four Tsawa monks from Gaden Jangtse Monastic College in southern India to make lunch this Sunday, April 29, from noon to 2 p.m.

Admission is by donation only, as is customary for Tsawa monks, says Dorjee, who suggests diners leave $25 to help the group with its continued travels. He also asks that guests reserve a place ahead of time so he and his wife, Yangchen, know how much food to buy for the buffet-style meal. The fare will include meat, though the monks themselves rarely eat it.

What else will be on the menu? “That’s gonna be a surprise,” says Dorjee. “Basically it would be comprised of rice, some form of curries and noodles.” It’s up to the monks, he adds, who won’t even tell him which ingredients to buy until the morning of the event. “In Plattsburgh, everything is last minute,” says Dorjee with a chuckle. Even a meal fit for a lama.

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