Housy Rising 2

Hangin’ in Housy

Have you been to Housy? Housy (pronounced who-zee), a/k/a  Housatonic, is a gem of  a neighborhood that’s often overlooked by Berkshires weekenders & visitors. Housatonic is a village within Great Barrington that was formed in the early 1800s around textile & paper mills. The Housatonic River runs through the center of Housy and magnificent old brick mill buildings dot its landscape. You owe it to yourself to at least take a ramble through Housatonic (on Route 183, just off of Route 7, in Great Barrington), & experience it’s blend of natural splendor, the beautiful architecture & local arts vibe.

Housy Water Tower

Iconic

And, while you’re in Housy, be sure to stop in at these great spots:

Berkshire Mountain Bakery

Housy BMB

Berkshire Mountain Bakery (“BMB”), located at 367 Park St. (Rte 183), is one of the best bakeries – anywhere.  If you don’t believe me, stop in and try any of their breads – all made from grains milled right at the bakery. BMB also does amazing croissants & baked goods & has great seasonal homemade soups (my favorite is their butternut squash). Their chocolate bread is to die for & I love a special bread they make during holiday season. Aptly named Holiday Bread, it’s studded with dried fruits & has marzipan (almond paste) in the center. I like to toast it and then spread the marzipan over the warm bread. Nothing like a slice with a cup of hot coffee, in front of the fireplace, on a Berkshires winter morning.

BMB also makes a wonderful assortment of home made take-away pizzas that bake quickly in your home oven (they’ll cook them there too, if you prefer).  We have a tradition of calling in our take-away pizza order as we’re finishing up a day on the slopes at Ski Butternut – so it’s ready for pick up when we swing by on our way home. The pizzas barely make it out of our oven before they’re devoured by our kids and weekend guests.

Housie Market Cafe

Housy Market 2

Housie Market Cafe opened recently at 226 Pleasant Street & we just love it. They’ve got awesome meals & coffee & this place has a genuine, local vibe. They also sell staples such as milk, eggs, bread, etc. One of my favorite things there is the peanut butter & kimche sandwich. Yes, you read that right – peanut butter & kimche!  It’s the perfect mix of salty/spicy & sweet in a sandwich pressed on the grill & served warm. The kimche is from Hosta Hill  – made just a stone’s throw away, in Housatonic – & is some of the best I’ve had, anywhere. Housie Market also has plenty of more traditional items on its breakfast & lunch menu. And, as a bonus, they serve wine & beer too.

Brick House Pub

Housy Brick House

Brick House Pub, located at 425 Park Street North (Rte 183), is far more than a pub. Sure, they’ve got lots of awesome local craft beers on tap, but they also have a nice menu with great pub food including really good burgers & pizza. It’s a great place for a casual meal – even if you aren’t drinking.  And, they have live music most weekends (check their website or call for the schedule).

Pleasant & Main

Pleasant & Main, located at 1063 Main Street, recently opened in the former Jack’s Grill space, with former Manhattan restaurateur Craig Bero at the helm. The decor is super cool & they have a great breakfast & lunch menu. Pleasant & Main serves community suppers Thursday-Saturday.  The food is good & is very reasonably priced. Call or check their website for the nightly menu.  And, make sure to order the crepes for dessert. Our kids live for them.

Enjoy Housy!

 

 

Prarie Whale Front

Hanging in Great Barrington’s NoRo

Over the last year or so, NoRo – the northern section of Great Barrington’s Main Street has really taken off, with the opening of some super cool businesses & a really great restaurant.  I’m referring to the section of Main Street that’s just north of Rosseter Street (get it – NoRo?). To me, NoRo, with its new, fun & creative businesses truly embodies what’s been termed the New Berkshires.  Here are 3 of my favorite places to go in NoRo:

Prairie Whale Restaurant

If you’re looking for awesome farm-to-fork dining, Prairie Whale Restaurant, located at 178 Main Street, Great Barrington, is your place. Mark Firth (co-founder of Diner, Marlow & Sons & Marlow & Daughters, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) & wife Bettina Schwartz opened Prairie Whale in 2013 (it was originally called Bell & Anchor). Prairie Whale has been a huge draw to locals & weekenders alike. The menu has so many great great choices & includes awesome meat, poultry, seafood & vegetarian options. You can’t get more locavore than Prairie Whale. Many of the vegetables come directly from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden (when you’re there, walk out back & check it out) & from Mark & Bettina’s farm in nearby Monterey.  And, yes, they’re even raising their own lambs & pigs now. Our personal menu favorites are the Brick Chicken, Duck Confit, Burgers, Tuna Tartare & Kale Salad. Because everything is sourced locally, the seasonal menu changes frequently. The other night we had the crostini with local goat cheese, mint & roasted peaches as an appetizer – off the charts delicious! Their salads are also super fresh & tasty. And, they’ve got a great bar with seating that offers a full range of wine & cocktails along with several locally brewed craft beers on tap – including Wandering Star Brewing Company & Glass Bottom Brewery.

Prairie Whale Front

Farm to Fork in NoRo

What we especially love about Prairie Whale is that its got a super fun vibe. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, a ping pong table & yes, corn hole! (If you don’t know what the heck corn hole is, you’ll have to pay a visit & learn. No cheating & checking Wikipedia!).  We always bump into friends at the bar, some of them the very farmers who supply the restaurant’s produce or local artists who are part of the Berkshires burgeoning art scene. And, Prairie Whale also has live music some evenings (check the link above to confirm) by great local band The Lucky Five.

Griffin

When I first walked in to Griffin, located at 177 Main Street (across from Prairie Whale), I was super excited to see such a fun, stylish shop right here in Great Barrington. Owners Connie Griffin & partner (in life & business) Paul Giroux feature so many unique clothing items for adults & kids, great shoes & super cool, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. They’ve also got a nice vinyl collection for sale. And, while you’re there, be sure to check out their art gallery next door to the shop.

Griffin 4

Great one-of-a-kind clothing at Griffin

Griffin 3

NoRo’s Griffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LabSpace

What’s amazed me about the Berkshires since moving here is the number of amazing local artists with their fun, funky & often thought provoking work. In the past, the work of these artists was rarely exhibited or sold within the Berkshires. I’m happy to report that Susan Jennings & Slink Moss co-owners of LabSpace, located at 177 Main Street (across from Prairie Whale) are helping to change that with their new gallery, LabSpace. You owe it to yourself to stop into Lab Space – where you can admire work by super talented local artists like Huckleberry Delsignore or to catch one of their special events (check website above for schedule).

LabSPace

LabSpace’s Current Exhibit

See you out in NoRo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bike-n-fly-plane

Berkshires Bike N’ Fly This Weekend

One of the highlights of the summer in Great Barrington is spending the afternoon at the annual Berkshires Bike-N-Fly held at the Great Barrington Airport, located at 79 Egremont Plain Rd. The Bike-N-Fly takes place this year on Saturday, August 16th from 10-4. I always love taking guests by to see the airport, After all, it’s not every day that you get to watch private planes take off right over your head while being surrounded by lush corn fields and spectacular mountains.

If you like bicycling, you can start the day with your choice of a 20, 35 or 50 mile ride over the rolling hills of the Berkshires. I regularly ride the race routes & trust me, the scenery all around you won’t disappoint! The rides finish at the airport where you’ll be cheered & welcomed to the Fly-In with loads of fun activities for the entire family.

 

The Kids Flying High

Our Kids – Flying High in The Berkshires

There will be live music starting at 10am with bands including local favorite Emily Mure, a car show with lots of classic cars, balloon rides, airplane rides & helicopter rides too. You can even try your hand flying a flight simulator with the expert guidance of a flight instructor.  For the kids, they’ll have kids bike races, face painting, balloons & a bouncy castle. And of course, no one goes hungry in the Berkshires. There will be a variety of local food vendors including the always awesome home made ice cream from The Scoop in nearby Lenox.

Have an awesome weekend & enjoy the Berkshires Bike-N-Fly!

 

Meatballs 2

Great Berkshires Restaurants & Bars for Visiting Day Weekend

Some of you will be visiting your kids for visiting day this weekend at one of the many sleep-away camps in & around the Berkshires. Over the last several weeks, I’ve received numerous requests from sleep-away camp parents for Berkshires lodging & restaurant recommendations.  I’ve compiled a quick list of some of the restaurants here. Sure, there are plenty more great places to eat & drink here – but I wanted to give you a quick few in the event you’re in a jam & still haven’t booked reservations.

Great Barrington

Master Mixologist Walter

Walter: Allium’s Master Mixologist

Our go-to, favorite restaurant in the Berkshires is Allium, located at 42 Railroad St. in Great Barrington.  The food is locally sourced (i.e. “farm-to-table”) & is off the charts delicious. The nice thing about Allium’s menu is that it has rotating small plates, in addition to normal size entrees – so you can easily share a bunch of different dishes with your table. My wife & I just ate there the other night & among our usual small plates of fried pickled red onions with garlic aoli; farro with snap peas, radishes, pistachios, pecorino, arugula, basil, mint; & fish tacos with almond romesco & lime slaw – we had the striped bass.  The fish was prepared beautifully with a super tasty sauce on the side & the accompanying locally harvested carrots were unbelievably sweet & succulent. The vibe at Allium is really fun & the service is warm & attentive. Allium also has a terrific bar with master mixologist Walter at the helm. In the event Allium’s tables are all booked up by the time you call, it’s also nice to have dinner at the bar.

Egremont

John Andrews

John Andrews

One of our favorite restaurants in Egremont is John Andrews Restaurant, located at 224 Hillsdale Rd. (it also fronts Rte 23). John Andrews is another awesome Berkshires farm-to-table restaurant & always serves inventive, yet straightforward, outstanding cuisine. The owner & chef, Dan Smith, is so talented & the menu changes weekly – featuring the freshest, in-season produce from local farms. If you like lamb & the Berle Farm lamb is on the menu – be sure to order it! No matter what the style, Dan Smith is a man who knows knows how to prepare lamb! John Andrews also has an extensive selection of wines, cocktails & craft beers.

West Stockbridge

Truc

Truc Orient Express

One of the first things we sought out when we moved here from the NYC suburbs was good, authentic Asian food.  And, we found it, right in our own neighborhood, at Truc Orient Express, located an awesome Vietnamese restaurant located at 3 Harris Street in West Stockbridge (coming from Great Barrington, when you get to Main St. in W. Stockbridge, turn left onto Depot Street. Take a left into the driveway just past Rouge Restaurant & you’ll see Truc’s restaurant straight back). The food here is delicious & authentic & the co-owner, Louie, couldn’t be a sweeter guy.

Stockbridge

We love eating at Widow Bigham’s Tavern at the Red Lion Inn – located at 30 Main Street.  If you’re up for something more formal, the main dining room at the Red Lion Inn is also always a treat. Chef Brian Alberg’s creative & delicious creations never disappoint. Click here for my earlier post on Bigham’s Tavern. And, when your done eating, be sure to head downstairs for a nightcap at The Lion’s Den, which always has great live music.  If you happen to be here when Sun Mountain Fiddler is playing, get their early.  These guys are super talented, loads of fun & always pack the house.

Becket

Dream Away Lodge

Dream Away Lodge

For a one of a kind Berkshires dining & drinking experience, head to The Dream Away Lodge located at 1342 County Road in Becket. The food is great, the decor super funky & the place chock full of music history. In fact, back in 1975, members of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue—including Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez & Allen Ginsberg—dropped by the former speakeasy & brothel & ended up staying all day making music. The Dream Away is also a great place to grab drinks & hang out with  friends. They have an outdoor bar with a large firepit, plenty of seating & they usually have live music on weekends.  Check here for their live music schedule.

Lenox

Brava Wine Bar

Brava Wine Bar

Alta Restaurant & Wine Bar, located at 34 Church St. in Lenox is always great. Their menu has a wide variety of dishes, the ambience is really nice & they make great specialty cocktails.  And, Brava Wine Bar, located at 27 Housatonic Street is another great choice for dinner or drinks – with an awesome selection of hard to find craft beers on tap & lots of great wines by the glass.

So…have a great visiting day & an even better dinner afterwards!

 

 

 

 

Pillow

You’ve Got to Go To Jacob’s Pillow

During our vacations in the Berkshires, I’d often hear people rave about Jacob’s Pillow – the renowned dance festival that takes place every summer in Beckett. The Pillow is approximately a 35 minute drive from Great Barrington & this year, the festival runs through August 24th.

What’s always intrigued me about the Pillow is just how passionate people are about the place. Many people will tell you that their first exposure to a live dance performance was at Jacob’s Pillow & that ever since, they can’t get enough & now visit the Pillow many times each summer.

Last summer, my wife & I attended our first full length, live dance performance, at the Pillow, & like so many others, we too were smitten by the place. And, just last week, we took the kids to the Pillow for their first time – &, no surprise – they’re also hooked.

Pillow Kids

Strolling the Pillow Grounds

In the last week alone, we’ve seen 2 separate performances at the Pillow. The first performance was by the Trey McIntire Project – simply amazing. The second half of that performance was titled “Mecury Half-Life” & was set entirely to the music of classic rock band Queen – one of my son’s favorites. The second performance we took in was “Unreal Hip Hop” - super creative, high energy & lots of fun for both us & the kids.

An afternoon or evening at the Pillow isn’t just about the dance performance, but also about having lunch or dinner there, strolling the grounds & soaking up the spectacular setting & energy of the dancers & dance students from around the globe. If you arrive an hour or so before your scheduled performance, you’ll have plenty of time to picnic or dine at one of the Pillow’s 3 dining establishments – The Café at Jacob’s Pillow, The Barre at the Café & the Pillow Pub. We really like the Pillow Pub. It has nice sandwiches & a great selection of local, craft beers on tap.

Pillow Pub

The Pillow Pub

The Pillow also has many free outdoor performances throughout the summer – known as “Inside/Out Performances”  – set in an outdoor amphitheater with breathtaking mountain views. Not to be missed.

Have a blast at the Pillow!

 

Pink & White

Awesome Art & Dining in Columbia County

One of the great things about living & vacationing in the Massachussets Berkshires is that you get the triple benefit of not just the Massachusetts Berkshires, but also what’s often referred to as the neighboring New York Berkshires & Connecticut Berkshires. The NY Berkshires, in Columbia County, is chock full of arts & culture, outdoor activities & amazing food & restaurants. One of of our favorite Columbia County day trips from West Stockbridge is to the OMI International Arts Center in Ghent, with a dinner stop afterward in Philmont, NY.

OMI has a fantastic, fun & whimsical outdoor sculpture park & there’s nothing like walking around & exploring the the grounds on a nice day. While we enjoy all of the sculptures, our kids’ go-to favorite has been  “A Simple Network of Underground Wells & Tunnels” as they can actually climb down ladders into the sculpture & crawl through it. In addition to OMI’s sculpture park, they’ve got rotating indoor exhibits at the Visitors Center & Gallery  –  a stunning building that also features a great cafe.  And, if you’re up in the Berkshires this weekend, OMI is having its Season Opening Exhibition on June 13 & 14.

We're IN the sculpture!

Yes…we’re INSIDE the sculpture!

 

After you’re done strolling around the OMI grounds & have worked up an appetite, I suggest heading for dinner at one of our two favorite Columbia County restaurants  – both located in Philmont, NY.  Philmont is a short 15 minute or so drive from OMI.  The Main Street Public House Pub, located 12 Main Street (Route 217) has awesome pub style food with a great selection of microbrew beers on tap.  On the first Friday of each month, they serve a great fish & chips special. Their burgers, made with locally sourced beef from nearby Kinderhook Farm (another great place to visit – but I’ll cover that in a separate blog post) are also off the charts.  Note – the Pub takes cash only.

Main St. Public House

If you’re up for something a bit more upscale (yet not the least bit pretentious), I strongly recommend Local 111, which is at 111 Main Street, just up the hill from the Main Street Public House Pub. Josephine Proul, who’s been the super creative executive chef at Local 111 for the past six years just purchased the restaurant. The menu has something for everyone & covers the the rich bounty provided by the wealth of local farms in the surrounding Hudson Valley. Local 111 has a great wine selection & we just love the vibe & ambience there.

Local 111

Local 111

Enjoy your day in Columbia County & happy eating in Philmont!

 

Rawson Brook I

The Best Goat Cheese – Straight from the Farm, in Monterey

If you want a true Berkshires experience that’s fun for all ages & if you love goat cheese as much as we do, you owe it to yourself to visit Rawson Brook Farm, located at 185 New Marlborough Rd., in Monterey. The farm is tucked away, right off New Marlborough Road, which is the right hand turn just past the Monterey library. Rawson Brook Farms is where Monterey Chevre, the Berkshires’ fantastic award winning goat cheese is made.

 

Rawson Brook II

Hello kids!

When you visit, you’ll get to see all of the cute goats grazing & be sure to stop into the cheese kitchen/milking parlor to buy your super fresh goat cheese. They’ve got 3 delicious varieties –  plain, thyme & olive oil. My favorite is the olive oil. Just choose your bounty from the fridge & leave your money in the basket. Honors system here… Our kids love making the trip with us as they get to say hello to all of the goats. And, if you go late in the day, you might even get to watch the goats being milked. Have fun & happy eating!

Ava Ramps Cover

The Family that Forages Together…

There’s been lots of talk and social media posting by our foody friends about spring ramp foraging here in the Berkshires. So… during a family walk in our neighborhood the other night, my 9 year old daughter shrieks with excitement “hey, mom & dad, I think those look like ramps!”. She then reaches down and pulls a couple of weed looking plants up from the ground & voilà –  we’ve got beautiful, pungent ramps folks – and plenty of them!

Ramps Carrie

My wife & her babies

As a newby to foraging, I must confess there’s something very exciting & wholesome about the experience. And, the kids had an absolute blast digging up and gathering the booty. As soon as we got home, we cleaned the ramps and my wife made a delicious ramp frittata that we devoured within minutes. (check out our friend & Berkshires based cookbook author Alana Chernila’s recipe for ramp, asparagus & ricotta frittata. )

So, next time you’re up in the Berkshires in the spring, give me a holler. You never know – I might just share our ramp treasure map with you. Til then, happy foraging!

Mud Day

Don’t Miss Mud Day!

This Saturday, May 17th is Mud Day! What on earth is Mud Day, you ask?  Mud Day is a spring festival celebrating the Berkshires landscape & the environment. The festival is held at Muddy Brook Elementary School – 318 Monument Valley Rd., in Great Barrington, from 11am – 3pm.  The event is open to the public.

We went last year with the kids & it was a blast. It’s such a wholesome family event – no cheesy game booths & prize tickets for junky plastic toys that linger around your house for years.  Each class exhibits a project they worked on during the school year related to the environment & conservation.  And, the highlight (for the kids, at least) are several mud pits that the kids get to play in.  Our kids’ favorite was the tug of war mud pit. They’ll also have lots of fun craft activities for the kids.  Last year my daughter spun her own colorful jump rope that she still uses.

My daughter creating her own jump rope

My daughter creating her own jump rope

To top it off, there will be great food (from Prairie Whale, ice cream from The Scoop & amazing doughnuts from Home Sweet Home Doughnut Shoppe ), musical entertainment & plenty of mud for the kids to romp around in.  Important tip: bring a spare change of clothes for your kids & bring them to the festivities in clothes that you don’t mind them getting dirty.  Enjoy!

six depot @ TABLE

The Most Amazing Coffee – Right Here in West Stockbridge!

If you haven’t been yet, you owe it to yourself to visit Six Depot Café & Roastery located at Six Depot Street in West Stockbridge. They not only roast all of the coffee beans on site but also serve a full breakfast & lunch menu. I love the Chicken Mechado (the Miami salsa is amazing) & the egg sandwich is off the charts. My kids love the waffles with dulce de leche or Nutella for breakfast but I prefer the local Berle Farm yogurt with fresh fruit, granola & a touch of local honey on top. My favorite coffee is their Seck-Sie, Sumatra Three Ways Blend – but all of their coffees are awesome! They can do a pour over of any of their coffees– so tasty and fun to watch! They also have a large selection of teas. The design and décor of the space – by Adam Medina – is also awesome. And be sure to say hello to owners Flavio Lichtenthal & Lisa Landry who will happily share their vast knowledge & passion of all things coffee, tea & Berkshires with you.

Service with Smile!

Service with a Smile!

They’re also serving dinner on Friday nights now & be sure to check out the rotating exhibits & the concerts & tango dancing going on in their beautiful gallery space.  And, word has it they’ll be broadcasting the World Cup soccer matches in their gallery this summer!