In the Berkshires holidays and food are a divine match, so when temptation and opportunity coincide, the cognoscenti give in. It’s not too early to plan for the table, tree and stocking, and two festive events mark the calendar in the coming months: A Thanksgiving or Christmas feast can be assembled in one day at the Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers’ Markets (Saturdays Nov. 22 and Dec. 13 at Monument Valley Middle School in Great Barrington, and Sundays Nov. 23 and Dec. 14 at the Williams College Towne Field House in Williamstown; details can be found on the Berkshire Grown website.
If you prefer to shop now, there are farms you can visit in person or find, online, shops that sell their products. Is aged artisanal cheese your passion? Try Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown. Their farm store features house specialties like Maggie’s Round and Maggie’s Reserve, both firm Italian-inspired raw cow’s-milk cheeses; Tobasi, semi-soft and buttery-smooth, is also made from raw cow’s milk (see a recipe for Potato Tobasi Gratin at cricketcreekfarm.com/blog); Berkshire Bloom, similar to Camembert, made from pasteurized milk; and chevre-like pasteurized Cricket Creek Fresh in five flavors. The store also carries homemade baked goods, butter, eggs and meat. If you can’t get there, their website provides other outlets.
Looking for gifts, treats and stocking stuffers? If you want maple sugar, try Sweet Brook Farm where sugaring has been going on for more than 80 years. In their Williamstown store you can find maple products (candy, cream and syrup) in ounces, pounds and gallons, available onsite or online. An unusual companion to the sugaring operation is alpaca, a kind of spinoff of varicolored sweaters, scarves, mittens, hats, dolls and yarn. If you haven’t met an alpaca, it’s a treat unto itself.
Honey products are the bee’s knees at the Mill River Farm in New Marlboro. The raw stuff right from the comb (plain, creamed, cinnamon); beeswax candles (rolled, molded, votive), and beauty products (moisturizer, lip balm, hand cream), can be ordered online at http://berkshirehoney.com. Prepackaged gift baskets are available, or you can create your own ensemble.
If you’re coming to the Berkshires soon and need ideas for all-in-one holiday shopping, there are many stores and farm shops that feature a variety of local products, from comestibles like cheese, baked goods, apples and cider, granola, pasta and sauces, preserves, maple sugar and syrup, elixirs, wine and beer, to seasonal decorations and stocking stuffers like soap, salves and herb sachets. Some favorite outlets include: Guido’s in Pittsfield and Great Barrington; Berkshire Organics in Dalton; Taft Farms and Windy Hill in Great Barrington; and Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Housatonic.
While you’re driving around, keep an eye out for handwritten signs advertising farm produce such as maple syrup and fresh eggs. The adventurous visitor may discover culinary gold just off the beaten path. Here are more shopping locales, you can find the perfect gift for you or someone else right here in the Berkshires.
Article provided by Berkshire Grown.