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Long weekend in the Berkshires


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While not a food destination, there were enough enjoyable bites so that I came back a couple of pounds heavier. :blink: Maybe it's the humidity.

 

We left a day earlier than we originally planned and went to the races in Saratoga. We had wanted to go the night before, to take advantage of a breakfast/racetrack tour offered first thing in the morning, but there wasn't a hotel or motel room to be found, so we'll have to wait until next year. A number of stands on the grounds offer a delicious, fresh-squeezed lemonade, the perfect accompanment to an order of Saratoga chips -- the original, thick, potato chips -- right out of the fryer. Potato chips , as we know them, were invented in Saratoga Springs.

 

We finally found Berkshire Mountain Bakery. I should say, we finally realized that the place we had driven by so many times was Berkshire Mountain Bakery. We bought three loaves -- a ciabatta, a French peasant loaf and a crusty, chewy one with lots of seeds.

 

In Williamstown, I had a light, but tasty ice cream cone in a flavor new to me: burnt sugar and butter. It sounds like butterscotch, but it wasn't.

 

Ranitidine was extraordinarily pleased with his duck at From Ketchup to Caviar in Lee. (I'm embarrassed to write that.) The mostly French food is better than one would guess from the restaurant's silly name.

 

We filled the long weekend with visits to the Clark Museum and Williams College's own museum, Jacob's Pillow, Tanglewood (sitting in the shed Friday night instead of on the lawn Sunday afternoon, as is our custom) walking in the woods, up Lenox Mountain and on the Appalachian trail, and doing a little shopping. I picked up Shirley Corriher's Cookwise at the Yellow House bookstore in Great Barrington.

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I love the Clark too, although I thought the current exhibit was just so-so. The Clark often has a blockbuster in the summer that attracts tourists by the droves. Not so this year, and we did see many vacancy signs. The Times review of the show appeared when we were up there.

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Long weekend in the Berkshires, redux, 2005

 

Left New York last Thursday and arrived with a bang. Yes, a blowout. All we could do by the time we finished finding and buying a new tire was to have a mostly unsatisfactory dinner at Cafe Zinc before going to our evening concert, a piano recital by Leon Fleisher at Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood. Fleisher is a painist who has the skill to pull power and nuance out of the instrument without trying to remind everyone how hard it is. He simply walked onto the stage, sat down, used his bottle of water to prop open the music, and played, without any visible pyrotechnics. Very impressive.

 

The best dish at dinner was the cheese course: five bites, with accompaniments, arranged in a wreath on the plate. We were intstructed to eat them in a certain order: Robiola - Italy, with candied pistachios, Romao - Spain, with quince paste, Shropshire - Scotland, with spicy port reduction, Humboldt Fog - U.S., with red berries and Epoisse - France, with ale and caraway compote. In the middle of the plate was a mound of micro greens and dried mango that would have been dressed with hazelnut vinaigrette.

 

Friday - Wandered around Great Barrington, then to the Berkshire Museum which had a show of local landscapes that was much better than it sounds. Attempted to have lunch at a promising bbq place in Pittsfield that had just opened in January. I don't know if it was a matter of undercapitalization or if the owner was sent suddenly into the witness protection program, but the place was shut down when we arrived, with potential buyers looking over the property. We ended up at the Pittsfield Brew Works where I had a bratwurst and some kind of apricot-honey ale. R. had chicken fajitas -- a serving large enough for three or four people. Dinner was a cookie at Jacob's Pillow that night, where we saw the Trey McIntyre Project. He's a ballet choreographer who pulled together a pick-up company using dancers he's worked with in the past. I'm eager to see more of his work. Inside/Out (a short, outdoor performance before the main events) was a group of Indian classical dancers.

 

Saturday - Williamstown - The Clark's summer show was some late work by David, "From Empire to Exile." He's undeniably great, of course, but something about classical history painting tends to leave me cold. There were some portraits, as well, but as a portraitist, he can't compare to the best. I enjoyed another show, "50 Favorites for 50 Years." Throughout the Museum, the 50 favorites, chosen by ballot from curators, townspeople, schoolchildren and others, were identified, with comments from the voters. Numero uno, was, of course, Fumee d'Ambergris, the museum's signature painting.

 

After the museum, we saw Tom Stoppard's "On the Razzle" at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The festival has a new, very comfortable theatre, with excellent sightlines and acoustics for all. The play is not one of Stoppard's most notable, however.

 

Dinner at Elizabeth's, in Pittsfield, where, I am sorry to say, I found a couple of lumps in my polenta. R. loved his rigatoni.

 

Sunday - A stay in Tyringham is not complete without a walk on the Appalachian Trail, which we did in the morning. Breaking with our usual practice, we left Berkshire County for Litchfield County, CT to go to Music Mountain, where we heard the Raphael Trio in air-conditioned comfort.

 

Back to MA for dinner at John Andrews in Egremont -- by far the best meal of the trip. I'll write it up on the geographical forum.

 

Monday -- A quick look in at The Mount, Edith Wharton's home, to see how the restoration is going.

 

A walk along the Housatonic in Great Barrington on a new path, Riverwalk, that so far extends only the equivalent of a few blocks, but is very beautiful.

 

Antique-ing in Sheffield, (no buying) and dinner on the way home at a bbq place, The Cookhouse, in New Milford, CT. We each had a sampler. Both of us had ribs, but I had andouille sausage and brisket; R. had chicken and pulled pork. I ate all my ribs and took home half the sausage and brisket to make two additional lunches.

 

A very nice weekend, although much hotter and more humid than it normally is in the Berkshires, or should I say, than it used to be. We used AC every night. By Monday the weather was what we normally expect, but we were on our way home.

 

In addition to the heat, I was upset about the cheap, plastic, bright blue, fake shutters the new owners had applied to the vinyl siding of our B & B, made worse by the fact that they still haven't done anything about the peeling paint and dry rot on the wooden window frames. I'm afraid that replacement vinyl frames are next. With every "improvement" comes further erosion of character. (n.b. The "character" was, to be sure, not everyone's cup of tea. Many people will prefer the more coherent, if more generic, renovation.)

 

Tyringham remains lovely, a real-life Brigadoon.

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Shropshire - Scotland

They haven't invaded again, have they?

That's what it said on the menu. :lol:

 

The restoration of the Mount is moving along slowly. The rooms on the piano nobile have been more or less restored, but most are filled with furniture from a decorators' showcase held last year. They will probably remain that way until more appropriate furniture can be found. Edith Wharton took her furniture with her when she moved to France and it was dispersed after her death. This year's project was the re-planting of the gardens. Next will be the restoration of Wharton's bedroom suite.

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Shropshire - Scotland

They haven't invaded again, have they?

That's what it said on the menu. :lol:

 

The restoration of the Mount is moving along slowly. The rooms on the piano nobile have been more or less restored, but most are filled with furniture from a decorators' showcase held last year. They will probably remain that way until more appropriate furniture can be found. Edith Wharton took her furniture with her when she moved to France and it was dispersed after her death. This year's project was the re-planting of the gardens. Next will be the restoration of Wharton's bedroom suite.

Oh, I'm pleased to hear about the gardens. They were very sad when we were there, fifteen years ago? But I'm a bit surprised it's taking so long to get the place into order, given the vast amount of money generated by the interior decorating industry.

 

clb

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