Photo: Maggiejumps, Flickr
There's no hunkering down for the winter for people who love food festivals. This month, you can catch strong libations, hot tamales, food fit for tony snowbirds, cookies worthy of a Christmas carol, and a New Year's Eve in a pickle.
Annual Holiday Ale Festival, Portland, Ore., Dec. 1-5: This sudsy soirée bills itself as the best beer-tasting event at which to cure the brrrs. With more than 50 beers offered this year -- among them Hopworks Urban Brewery Kentucky Christmas, a hometown strong ale -- things are sure to get merry around Pioneer Courthouse Square. On Sunday, Dec. 5, the 7th annual Beer and Brunch private event will include four exclusive brews not available during the rest of the festival.
Indio International Tamale Festival, Indio, Calif, Dec. 4-5: The tamale is a celebratory food, owing in part to its complicated production, one that families have mastered best. Since 1992, the city of Indio and its merchants have been feteing this Mexican food for feasts with a mariachi soundtrack. Make tracks for the best of the best tamales, an eating contest, folk dancers and carny attractions at what the Food Network calls one of the top-10 "All American Food Festivals."
Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival, Palm Beach, Fla., Dec. 7: South Florida residents and snowbirds aren't rubbing their beautiful climate in our faces They're just taking advantage of a good thing. This one-day event features participants and sponsors from the Sunshine State's favorite grocery, Publix; to the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach; Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar; and Four Roses bourbon as well as local celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein. Local master sommeliers, like Virginia Philip of The Breakers Palm Beach, will also be on hand for special presentations.
Currier and Ives Cookie Tour, Cheshire County, N.H., Dec. 11: The line from "Sleigh Ride" comes from somewhere, right? Winter scenes from nineteenth-century lithographers Currier and Ives were so iconic they made it to a Christmas carol. The company's legacy continues today. During this celebration of Santa's favorite Christmas Eve treat, attendees will be able to make 17 stops, at B&Bs and inns throughout the Monadnock region of southwest New Hampshire, among them locations in Fitzwilliam, Troy, Swanzey and Marlborough. At each stop, visitors will enjoy a homemade snack and refreshment. Folks who visit all the cookie-tour stops will be eligible to win a gift certificate worth more than a $100. And bring a storage box for easy traveling with your cache of cookies. You can only eat so many on the road.
New Year's Eve Pickle Drop, Mt. Olive, N.C., Dec. 31: And you thought food festivals would demure to Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest! The home of the eponymous pickle company, in operation for more than 80 years, this North Carolina town has its own end-of-the-year party. A lighted, three-foot pickle will descend the company's flagpole at the corner of Cucumber and Vine (no joke) at midnight Greenwich Mean Time (7 p.m. Eastern). The early time, the company says, is because Mt. Olive is a small town where the sidewalks are rolled up shortly after sundown. Until the pickle drop occurs, the 11th annual celebration will include the pickle polka as well as the dulcet tones of Dr. Alan Armstrong and his bagpipes.