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To the Winter Markets We Go! – TasteBerkshires

TasteBerkshires Winter Markets are here!
By Amelia Ritner

With all the current news hype about the dangers of GMOs and factory-farmed meat, I know I’m not the only one looking for places to buy safer food.  How much safer can you get than buying local meats, vegetables, and other products from farms near your own back door?

The Berkshires is host to an exceptional number of small farms, many of which will be present at the indoor Berkshire Grown Winter Market in Great Barrington on January 17th.  I went to the winter market in Williamstown last December, and was astounded by the variety…

Springtime Foraging and Culinary Inspiration

Berkshire chefs and home cooks are taking farm-to-table sourcing and sustainability to a new level of culinary inspiration, preparing locally available wild edibles in sync with the seasons.

Whether collecting ramps and fiddleheads on a mountainside deep in the Berkshire forest or searching for watercress along the banks of the Green River, expert and amateur foragers are on the hunt for local food long before the spring harvest of regional farms.

The gathering of wild edibles is as much an ushering in of spring as it is a restorative awakening. Ramps are the first green edible to emerge in our region and are…

Opening Day at Farmers’ Markets in the Berkshires

Spring is officially here and longed-for Berkshire farmers’ markets will soon be upon us. Typically open one day a week, farmers’ markets provide seasonal, locally grown produce and, depending on market size, some will also sell eggs, dairy, meats, baked goods and specialty food products, all of which are sourced from farms and artisan makers in the region.

Many farmers’ markets are set up outdoors so patrons can enjoy beautiful weather while shopping for food. Markets in the Berkshire region hold special events on opening day and throughout the season with fun activities for kids such as face painting, music and…

Get Outside – On the Road With Michelle

Outdoors. How can someone visit the Berkshires without enjoying the outdoors? People crave space and I’ve broken this blog down into the four essential elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Here are some launching points for your visitors looking to get out and enjoy:
Earth
Hiking is one of the activities that make the Berkshires a destination. We’ve got everything from beginner paths for young ones to more advanced trails to tackle with your dog, husband, wife, kids, family, or solo. My go-tos? In addition to the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, check out Berkshire Natural Resources Council or The Trustees…

March 2014 TasteBerkshires Spotlight

Featured Chef: Bjorn Somlo of Nudel

Bjorn Somlo is the owner and chef of Nudel restaurant in Lenox. Somlo started out busing tables at the county fair when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has worked in the kitchens of restaurants across the region. After living in New Orleans and New York City and working abroad, he returned home to the Berkshires. Somlo opened Nudel in August of 2009 and has been nominated one time for Rising Star Chef and three times for Best Chef: Northeast by the James Beard Foundation, in addition to this second nomination in 2013…

It’s Time to Picnic

With such beautiful weather, it’s the perfect time for a picnic. Throughout the Berkshires one can find unique delicious food at farmers markets, stores and farm stands.

Berkshire Mountain Bakery, in Housatonic MA, bakes a wide assortment of breads including a chewy Sunnyflax seed loaf, a mildly sour San Francisco loaf, spelt loaves with or without raisins, plus ciabattas with olives, cheddar cheese and jalapena peppers or chocolate. You can find their breads at the bakery and at farmers’ markets too. One unique treat is their Bread & Chocolate, which is a white-boule with Dark Callebaut Chocolate chunks.

Berkshire Organics, based in…

Cozy Pubs & Taverns

by Nancy Macy

The sign in front of Firefly Gastropub & Catering in Lenox says it best: “eat, drink, laugh…lounge.” Inside the newly renovated Firefly, cozy couch-style seating and a glowing fireplace offer a warm, welcoming vibe. The long mahogany bar curving through the center of the space offers the perfect setting for conviviality and casual conversation. Bartender Billy Jack Paul, who Firefly owner Laura Shack refers to as ‘one of the best mixologists in the Berkshires,’ serves up craft cocktails, craft beers and an extensive selection of wines.

In this location since 1993, Shack has reinvented the restaurant and its menu…

Northern Comfort: Dishes That Satisfy in Winter

As the darkness and chill of winter pick up pace here in the Berkshires, it’s time to fire up the stove, cozy up with a warm drink and take pleasure in some soul-satisfying food.
Every person has a favorite dish – one that evokes childhood memories and good feelings of yesteryear. The area you grew up in, the family you came from and your relationship with food helps define these much-loved comforts.
Comfort food takes on a different spin depending on which part of the world you hail from. Classics such as apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken and tomato soup…

November 2014 TasteBerkshires Spotlight

Featured Chef: Jeff Thompson, Wheatleigh

Originally from Colorado, Jeff Thompson’s love and passion for food and cooking began during his training at the world renowned Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. After this Jeff set out to work and travel to experience more. These travels led to stints working in Washington as executive sous chef at Sun Mountain Lodge and Virginia as sous chef and part of the re-opening team of The Williamsburg Inn and finally landing in the Berkshires at Wheatleigh. As sous chef at Wheatleigh Jeff worked closely with Michelin trained Chef Bryce Whittlesey and was also sent to Paris…

January TasteBerkshires Spotlight

Featured Chef: Ron Reda of Table Six at the Kemble Inn

“Chef Ron Reda’s menu selections at Table Six Restaurant in Lenox present fresh seasonal ingredients in clean presentations. Traditional and familiar dishes are respectfully re-introduced and offered alongside original creations for every day dining. Chef Reda’s team also caters in house special events at the Kemble Inn, where the restaurant is located.  Reda’s impressive career path to the Executive Chef position includes four years in the Bill Clinton White House, serving not only the first family’s daily meals but also the meals of 200 senior staff members. After the Clinton…

Dining Al Fresco in the Berkshires – TasteBerkshires

Pretty much, the most famous instance of Berkshires al fresco dining was the mountaintop luncheon of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. Today, the contemporary version is a dining experience on a terrace or patio, or at a charming sidewalk café, with the beautiful Berkshire hills and bucolic farms as the backdrop. As the season warms up and the Berkshires come alive with activity, there are a great number of outdoor dining options across the region.

In North County, the Freight Yard Pub in North Adams has a large 2,000-square-foot patio that highlights beautiful cherry trees and a fire pit….

Fall Festival Celebrations

By Nancy Macy

You can start at one end or the other, or somewhere in between. A drive through any part of the Berkshires in autumn is spectacular. Hillsides and valleys are ablaze with red, orange, and golden-yellow foliage. The cool air is clean and crisp. Every turn in the road presents splendid views and opportunities for family fun and adventure.

Fall in the Berkshires is as beloved by locals as it is by the travelers who visit this time of year from all over the world. In fact, this is a season of festivals that celebrate the bounty of harvest time…

Discover the Apple Orchards of the Berkshires

Fall is my favorite season. The leaves are changing colors, there is a cool crispness in the air, and the most delicious fruit is on the trees – apples.  In the Berkshires we are extraordinarily lucky for there are apple orchards nearby. Each week new apples are ripe for picking and tasting. Heirloom varieties plus the familiar ‘delicious’ apples are fresh, hanging from the limb of a tree, waiting to be gently released and eaten.

One of the best parts of picking apples is discovering a new kind of apple that you’ve never tasted before.  The first year that I tasted…

September 2014 TasteBerkshires Spotlight

Featured Chef: David Jordan of Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club

Chef David Jordan has been making magic in the Cranwell kitchen for years as the Sous Chef and now as the new Executive Chef. He first discovered his love of cooking after working in the kitchen at both Cranwell and Canyon Ranch through his high school co-op program. His years of experience are showcased in the brand new Wyndhurst Menu which features a variety of delicious flavor combinations. “I love trying new things out in the kitchen and put ingredients together that I know work well and compliment each other.”​

Featured Farm:  Bartlett’s Orchard

Bartlett’s Orchard is located in Richmond, MA….

Pick Up a Loaf – TasteBerkshires

Artisanal bread is an art form that’s been perfected by several small bakeries here in the Berkshires. Among them is Berkshire Mountain Bakery, whose riverside retail store in a former Housatonic mill is also home to their bakery. Crusty loaves, big buttery croissants, dense ciabattas, and some of the best sourdough pizza crust you’ve ever tasted are served and sold here and in their Pittsfield café.Berkshire Mountain also supplies some of the areas finest restaurants and grocers with the specialty breads and baked goods discerning bread lovers crave. A few of the many local places to find them are the

Berkshire…

Unrivaled Flavor – TasteBerkshires

There is nothing plain about the pure vanilla extract made in the Berkshires by Charles H. Baldwin & Sons. When you turn the cap on one of their bottles you open your senses to a fragrance that is as intense as it is sweet. Bakers traveling in the area seek it out, knowing that its rich flavor still holds true even when blended into a recipe.

The Baldwin family has been manufacturing its line of pure extracts and flavorings for generations. The formula, and the oak casks its aged in, have remained the same since the first ounce. Even the location…

Crack Open a Berkshire Brew

As winter approaches and the evening sets in earlier, we suggest savoring the season with a local brew.  The Berkshires’ selection of locally brewed beer and hard cider is extensive and tasty.  So why not follow a Berkshire Brew taste trail?  Your designated driver will not have to go far – local brews are available at on-site tasting rooms as well as at restaurants and pubs throughout the County.

At Hilltop Orchards in Richmond, award-winning hard cider is sold and brewed right at the orchard that provides the key ingredient.  Both of their varieties of “Johnny Mash” hard cider (classic American Cider and Dry Gold variation)…

Explore the Berkshires’ New Flavors

The Berkshires have long been on the map as a destination for food lovers. Combining a long agricultural history, unique perspectives on classic cuisine, and farm-to-table authenticity, culinary excellence is a huge part of the Berkshire brand. Here are a few of the newest eateries in the region and will add a tasty element to any itinerary:
Berkshire Palate is a family-owned, farm-to-table bistro on Main Street in Williamstown, offering a curated menu of hand-crafted modern American cuisine made with ingredients sourced seasonally from area growers and food makers. Owners Paul Brassard and his three sons Zach, Nolan, and Aaron all…

Setting the Stage for Summer Dining

Summer is indeed the most active and abundant season in the Berkshires. Glorious weather, nonstop cultural experiences, breathtaking outdoor excursions, endless entertainment and food. Glorious food! From farmers’ markets to farm stands and casual cafes to fine restaurants, visitors can tap into the bounty of the Berkshire hills at prime vacation time. Summer dining is one of life’s simple pleasures and Berkshire chefs are bringing some inspiring dishes to the forefront.

The fresh tastes of summer are already making their way to the table. As farms and markets showcase the vibrant greens, roots and early fruits of the season, excitement for…

June 2014 TasteBerkshires Spotlight

Featured Chef: Davide Manzo of Trattoria Rustica

Davide Manzo, chef and owner of Trattoria Rustica, was born and raised in Pompeii Italy. He is third generation of Cucina Napoletana. With Trattoria Rustica he has created an authentic Italian experience in the Berkshires: from the decor, built with his own hands, to the artful preparation of “Antichi Sapori”, the ancient flavors of Pompeii. Davide often engages in active dialogue with his patrons, sharing with them about his ideas, educating everyone who comes in the door in one way or another about the food, wine, people, music and traditions of Italy and especially…

Culinary Hot Spots from the Berkshires to Greece

The sophisticated food community in western Massachusetts’ beautiful Berkshires region is based on a rich agricultural heritage surrounded by world-class culture… read more.

   

The Heart of the Berkshires

May 2014

Lenox is your stepping-stone to the heart of the Berkshires with all that it has to offer – nature, culture, entertainment, relaxation, and fresh air. Centrally located in the region, Lenox is a great place to stay. Its award-winning lodging offers an unparalleled world-class range of choices, from family-friendly motels to exclusive spas and resorts properties. Well known for its restaurants, Lenox is part of the locally-grown food movement which is truly part of what makes the Berkshires a unique place to visit and to live.

The summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is Tanglewood, which spans both Lenox…

Where to Dine, Drink and Revel After the Show

When the dance performance, or play, or concert is over, several Berkshire restaurants and bars are still open for late night fare and drink, and even more entertainment.  From Great Barrington to North Adams, there’s a late night stop to be found and an abundance of wine, beer, and food options.  Whether you are looking for an historic inn setting or a contemporary vibe, or a combination of both, the Berkshires has it, even after hours.

Brava Wine Bar and Restaurant in the center of Lenox is a great choice for late night fun, both on classy and comfortable Brava is…

July 2014 TasteBerkshires Spotlight

Featured Chef: Peter Platt – Old Inn on the Green

A Chicago native, Peter Platt learned to love the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts while attending Williams College. He studied at Cordon Bleu in London and in 1985 he became the Executive Chef at Wheatleigh. In 2003 Chef Platt and his wife, Meredith Kennard purchased the Old Inn on the Green where Chef Platt acts as both innkeeper and chef. His restaurant consistently wins top ratings in Zagat and AAA and Open Table has named it among the 10 most romantic restaurants in New England.

Featured Farm: The Adamah Farm at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center

The Adamah…

Tea Time – TasteBerkshires

There’s something soothing about tea. Whether you’re drinking a delicate oolong, a robust black tea, or a grassy green, the time spent to stop and enjoy a cupful is also an opportunity to fully drink in the pleasure and peace of the moment.

Lisa Landry, tea importer and co-owner of No. Six Depot in West Stockbridge, says another benefit to sipping tea unhurriedly is that as it cools, more of its true character is revealed. To further maximize flavor, she recommends using loose leaf tea rather than leaves that have been compressed into bags. “Tea leaves need room to unfurl and…

Eat Your Winter Greens! – TasteBerkshires

“Eat your greens” has become such a common admonition that it’s moved into the realm of backlash. Kale has become the punchline of jokes.

But the truth remains: dark green leafy vegetables are, undoubtedly, among the healthiest items that we can eat. And hardly anything is more satisfying than being able to buy fresh, locally grown greens, in all their anti-oxidant-rich leafiness, during the winter.

Enter the Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers’ Markets. Six years ago the local, member-supported nonprofit Berkshire Grown started markets in November and December in Great Barrington and Williamstown, in order to extend the selling season for farmers’ beyond…

5 Great Late-Night Spots From North to South

Wondering where to go in the Berkshires for a late-night bite, beverage or live music? Here are five of the best after-dark hot spots that will not disappoint:

PUBLIC eat+drink, North Adams

Craving the fresh flavors of Berkshire farms and food artisans? You’ll find something for every appetite at Jared Decoteau’s industrial-styled nightspot in the heart of downtown North Adams. Try local cheeses or the house-made duck pate. Savor flavorful steaks, chops, fish, pasta, and flatbreads or order one of the best burgers in the Berkshires, and add an unforgettable side of mouthwatering, pecorino-topped truffle fries. On weekends, the kitchen serves until…

Locally Sourced Ingredients

Take a bite of Craig Bero’s planked brook trout in wild mushroom sauce and you’ll know why his Pleasant and Main café in the small village of Housatonic is worth taking a slight turn off the beaten path. What makes the food coming out of his kitchen so memorable is that Craig not only embraces the idea of using local ingredients in the food he creates, he often sources it himself. By that I mean he carefully picks it by hand, from the Berkshire landscape.

Craig is a forager. See that plank under your fish? It’s a piece of dried apple…

Digging Into Roots

While we wait for the sun to change its course and for spring greens and foraged foods to grace our plates, Berkshire chefs are adding panache to the root vegetable collection we know and love. Versatile and nutritious, the bounty of root vegetables available in the Berkshires allows diners to enjoy eating in season — with a bit of commitment and creativity. After many months of roasted, sautéed and puréed beets, carrots and potatoes, winter salads are a welcome alternative.

Two committed farm-to-table restaurants in our region are digging up their roots and putting the spotlight on sweet parsnips and black…

Berkshire Agricultural History -TasteBerkshires

When “America the Beautiful” was written in 1893, the “amber waves of grain” referred to wheat growing in Kansas, the heartland and the breadbasket of America. The author of the poem, Katharine Lee Bates, a professor at Wellesley College, had never beheld mile after mile of wheat stretching to the horizon, though if she had been around 100 years earlier, she would have found it in her own backyard.

In a recent appearance at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, the chef/author Dan Barber (Blue Hill in Manhattan, Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., “The Third Plate”) discussed his…

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