The Berkshires Blog

Cookbooks that Bring Home the Taste of the Berkshires

Tanglewood in Lenox, MA, photo credit Stu Rosner; photo courtesy of Berkshire Visitors BureauTickets for the Tanglewood summer season, which went on sale in January, are not only a pass to hear world-class music performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and other perennial favorites such as James Taylor and Garrison Keillor. Concertgoers also have access to the spacious grounds, often arriving hours before the opening note is played to lay down a blanket and savor a picnic on the Lawn.

“A picnic at Tanglewood is the quintessential Berkshire summer experience,” says local author Gina Hyams, creator of The Tanglewood Picnic, a gift book coming out in June that captures the magic of breaking bread with friends and family as music and gentle breezes waft through the crowd on warm summer days and star-filled evenings. “This book is a joyful celebration of that tradition.”

The Tanglewood Picnic is a compilation of patron photographs from the last 80 years and sumptuous recipes from local chefs and picnic fare purveyors including Blantyre, Wheatleigh, Cranwell Resort, and Spirited in Lenox, the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, and Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield and Great Barrington. The foreword is written by local food writer, Alana Chernila, author of The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making.

Innovative recipes from award-winning innkeeper and chef Ellen Gutman Chenaux of the Birchwood Inn in Lenox are featured in Breakfast at Birchwood and the recently released Eight Broads in the Kitchen, a cookbook collaboration of friends who own bed and breakfasts around the country. Her Fun for Foodies gourmet adventure packages explore the region’s chefs, artisans, and abundant selection of locally made food and drink. 

Great Barrington’s Castle Street Café chef-owner Michael Ballon has been creating seasonally inspired dishes made with local ingredients for more than 25 years. His Castle Street Café Cookbook and more recent memoir/cookbook A Chef’s Life: Farm-to-Table Cooking in the Berkshires are filled not only with recipes but also reflections on working closely with area farms and suppliers and musings on food trends and the restaurant’s place in the community, where customers return again and again for sustenance on many levels.

As you shop, dine, and stay in the Berkshires, watch for other locally authored cookbooks from innkeepers, food writers, and chefs who share a passion for presenting memorable food experiences that you can re-create in your own kitchen when you return home.