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!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Large

Fly Like a Butterfly in Housatonic

I’ve driven past Project-Native Gardens in Housatonic countless times – always making a mental note to stop by the next time I go by. I’d recently read about Project Native’s Butterfly House & when we had NYC house guests over this past weekend, we decided to visit Project Native with the kids.

Project Native & its Butterfly House is a great destination for adults & kids alike. There’s no admission fee –  though as a not-for-profit, they accept donations. The Butterfly House is a screened-in 35-by-55-foot structure with lots of native plants &, you guessed it, native Berkshire butterflies! Project Native’s mission is to promote, restore & sustain native habitats in the Berkshires. It’s located at 342 North Plain Rd. (Rte 41), just 4 miles north of Great Barrington.

Butterfly House

The Butterfly House

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by cheery Dylan, a recent Oklahoma State University graduate who’s working at Project Native this summer as an Environmental Education Intern. The kids immediately took a shine to Dylan & she took us right to the Butterfly House. As the butterflies flitted around us, Dylan not only identified each one, but also enthralled the kids (& us) with colorful explanations about their life cycle, what they like to eat, the different breeds that are native to the Berkshires, etc. The kids peppered Dylan with questions & she patiently answered each one. The kids couldn’t get enough of the butterflies & it was so awesome hearing their giddy laughter each time a colorful butterfly landed on them. My daughter & her friend were lucky enough to have several butterflies land right into their waiting open hands.

butterfly group

In the Palms of Our Hands –  Just Where we Want Em’!

After a half-hour or so in the Butterfly House, Dylan asked the kids if they wanted to go outside for a butterfly safari around Project Native’s grounds. Surprise, surprise – all of the kids responded in unison with a resounding YES!  Project Native’s grounds have glorious mountain views & 22 acres of meadow for butterflies, insects, ground nesting birds & hummingbirds. Dylan outfitted each of the kids with their “safari gear” –  butterfly nets & bug boxes – explaining that all of the butterflies the kids caught would be brought into the Butterfly House & then released by them for other visitors to enjoy. The kids ended up catching a bunch of butterflies & were so excited as they released each one into the Butterfly House. To say the kids (& we) had a blast would be a gross understatement. In fact, when lunch time arrived & our adult stomachs started grumbling, the kids begged to stay longer – in spite of our promises of ice cream for dessert at SoCo Creamery.

Butterfly Safari Girls

Shhh! Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet. I’m Hunting Butterfwies!

Needless to say, we’ll be back to Project Native very soon – especially since they’re expecting even more monarch butterflies in the coming weeks. So, next time your driving on Rte 41, stop by & visit Project Native. Have a blast with the butterflies!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Richmond Pond

We’ve Got the Kayaks!

One of our favorite outdoor activities in the Berkshires is kayaking. Kayaking can be a great cardio workout or you can just take it slow & soak up (sorry, couldn’t resist) the beautiful surroundings. I find being out on the water early in the morning or at dusk so magical & peaceful. There are so many great lakes in the Berkshires where you can just drop in your kayak from the boat launch, paddle away & explore. Some of my favorite lakes for kayaking are Richmond Pond in Richmond (great fishing & we’ve spotted bald eagles and beavers there too), Stockbridge Bowl  (there are boat launches in both Stockbridge & Lenox) & Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington (just up the hill from downtown).

My son kayaking & fishing on Richmond Pond

My Son – Living the Life on Richmond Pond

Thinking of buying a kayak? Well, kayaks were one of our first purchases when we moved to the Berkshires. We found the employees at EMS in Lanesboro (at the Lanesboro Mall) to be extremely knowledgeable & helpful with our search. Be sure to ask if Nate, the store manager, is going to be in when you go, as he’s super knowledgeable on kayak & paddle choices. And, he’ll also help you choose & install the appropriate car racks for your car. If fishing is your thing, Nate can also set you up with a fishing rod holder that easily clips on to your kayak so the rod doesn’t get in the way when you’re paddling.

If you’re not quite ready to purchase a kayak but still want to give kayaking a try, you can rent kayaks from the Arcadian Shop in Lenox. For an extra fee, they’ll even deliver to the public boat launch at Stockbridge Bowl and Decker’s Landing on the Housatonic River (in Lenox) with pickup at Woods Pond.

Happy paddling!

Hancock Shaker

Baby Animals & More – Hancock Shaker Village

If you have never been, you owe it to yourself, your kids or your grandkids to go to Hancock Shaker Village for their annual Baby Animals event. The special tour price includes a hay ride, photo of your family holding some of the baby animals and a behind the scenes tour with a chance to hold bay chicks, ducklings, pigs and lambs! We take our kids every year & it never gets old. And when you’re their be sure to have a chat with Laura a/ka the “Chicken Lady” who can not only answer all of your questions about the baby animals but also share her passion for chickens with you.

Ava Pig

Cute little piggy – aye?

And, they’re holding a Backyard Beekeeping Workshop on May 17th.  How cool is that?

Have a blast at Hancock Shaker Village!

Ice Glen Main

Hiking Ice Glen & the Perfect Post Hike Dinner

Looking for a really fun hike, suitable for all ages and right next to downtown Stockbridge? Then be sure to check out the Ice Glen Trail in Stockbridge (trailhead is on Park Road) . The entire hike will take you +/- 1 hour and you’ll have a blast climbing in & out of the boulders. And, when you’re done and have built up an appetite, stop by Widow Bingham’s Tavern inside the Red Lion Inn.  Chef Brian Alberg & his crew create amazing dishes from the farm fresh produce that surrounds us here in the Berkshires.

Bighma's Tavern Desert

Birthday Dessert at Bingham’s Tavern

My son loves all of the old world charm & nostalgia of the tavern & claims their burger (with farm fresh egg on top, of course) is the best in the Berkshires.  And, as you can see, he never skips their delicious desserts!  He loves the Belgian chocolate mousse with salted caramel & my favorite is the pear creme brulee with smoked almond biscotti.  Bingham’s Tavern has lots of kid friendly options too.

Have an awesome hike & we’ll see you at the Red Lion!

 

This is the caption.

Bachman’s in the Berkshires!

This past August, my wife & I, two kids (9 & 11), traded our suburban NYC life for one in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts.  How many times have you asked yourself while vacationing somewhere amazing: Why does our time in this awesome place always have to end? My wife & I found ourselves asking this so often while vacationing here that it got us thinking: Hmm….maybe it doesn’t. And, after much debate & discussion, we decided to take the leap & make the move. I’ll continue to work as a realtor here, at Sotheby’s, helping people buy & sell their dream weekend home in the Massachusetts Berkshires & neighboring Columbia County, NY (for my realtor site, click here).

Our Kids Skiing at Butternut

Our Kids Skiing at Butternut in Great Barrington

We’re loving our new life in the Berkshires for so many different reasons. For us, it’s the perfect blend of country relaxation & city sophistication. The natural beauty alone creates a more relaxed pace of life – being surrounded by majestic mountains with tons of hiking & biking trails & crystal clear lakes with soaring hawks & bald eagles. At the same time, the area is chock-full of interesting, creative people, first-rate cultural offerings & an endless array of year-round outdoor activities. Plus, we get to enjoy & experience the evolution of what’s been dubbed the “New Berkshires”, characterized by fresh, innovative arts & haute yet humble locavore cuisine. After a few cups of incredible locally roasted coffee, dinner at one of the many outstanding farm-to-table restaurants or a visit to the world renowned Mass Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), we almost forget that we’re not in NYC anymore. If it weren’t for the rolling farmland right outside our window, we totally would. Let’s just say this definitely is not your father’s Berkshires.

So many of the people & places here have fascinating stories, & I’ve hand-picked the most unique of those stories to share with you.  Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway, a second home purchase or a permanent move here, let Bachman’s Berkshires be your go-to resource for the New Berkshires.  And, be sure to sign up to receive regular email updates.

Thanks for joining me on my adventure!