butterfly in net

A Whimsical Wonderland

Festival of Trees 2017

We’ve cultivated a bit of an annual family tradition taking in the Berkshires’ Festival of Trees. Every year, there’s a theme – this year’s was Whimsical, Wonderful and the entire exhibit was augmented by an accompanying fine art show of Morgan Bulkeley’s 1-,2-, and 3-D art.

Ten different rooms were filled with trees decorated by various area organizations and businesses. Some of the favorites are below, including Interprint’s tiny universe-in-a-tree-trunk, the tree-sized Grinch, a nod to the Berkshire’s literary history by Arrowhead (which includes Ilvermorny atop Mount Greylock), and a diorama of the solar system called Cosmos, made out of ball ornaments and sponsored by Berkshire County ARC and Zip N’ Sort.

Juli’s favorite was ‘the blue one–‘ actually a mermaid tree complete with tails poking out of the branches. We also played a little ‘I Spy,’ finding hidden objects in each tree as listed on our programs for the first time this year, like ‘a whisk’ or ‘a girl on a swing.’ There were both simple and harder objects to find, to cater to kids of all ages.

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11 of the Best Foodstagrammers in the Berkshires

I think most people are past the ‘Why would I want to see what you had for dinner?’ criticism of social media by now … right?

Even if that phrase is still relevant in some circles, it never made much sense to me. I, personally, would love to see what you had for dinner — or breakfast, lunch, midnight-snack, whatevs.

To that end, I follow a lot of ‘Foodstagrammers’ — culinary content creators who aren’t just posting pictures of plates but also recipes, ingredients, reviews of new eateries, dispatches from farmers’ markets, and more. In order to serve a manageable portion, I’ve listed 11 of my favorite Foodstagrammers who hail from my own backyard, in the Berkshires. It doesn’t hurt that food is one of our things up here in The 413.

So, let’s start with dessert …

SoCo Creamery

(Great Barrington)

SoCo stages professional food photo-shoots featuring their homemade ice cream and gelato, but doesn’t shy away from crowd-pleasing, recurring content like Throwback Thursday or Wisdom Wednesday.

 

MedicMeals 

(Lenox)

Two medics bring the fire to the EMT kitchen, and the results are amazing. They have particular talents in the Benedict bay, and a fun collection of coffee mugs.

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Irish eggs Benedict #DontBeASaltyBitch

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Chocolate Springs 

(Lenox)

Regularly updated images of the latest creations by chocolatier Joshua Needleman and his team, including candies, cakes, and specialty coffees.

 

James Massey

(Great Barrington)

Chef Massey shares his own creations, but always promotes his fellow Berkshire foodies on the side. The result is a great place to find somewhere to go on a Friday night for the eats, even if it’s your own kitchen.

 

Chez Nous Bistro

(Lee)

A savory stream of photos from the kitchen and other nooks of the restaurant, manned  — or should I say, womanned — by Chef and co-owner Rachel Portnoy. Chez Nous is also great about using the link space in their profile to promote upcoming events.

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Crabcake oouhouhouhou

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The Marketplace 

(Pittsfield, Sheffield, Great Barrington)

The Marketplace team – which operates not just the Instagram stream linked above, but this one, too – has a knack for showcasing their artful cups of coffee, mouth-watering sandwiches, and catering options. Their accounts are as much digital specials boards as they are pure, straight-up food porn.

 

Alchemy413

(Pittsfield)

The Alchemy Initiative’s mission is to use “food as the foundation for creative community building,” so it stands to reason that their Instagram stream would be rich with incredible, edible images. Alchemy is also a constant presence at local farmers’ markets, sharing some of the harvests of the month and where to find them.

 

Brian Alberg

(Stockbridge)

A glimpse into the life of a chef: plated dinners, kitchen candids, ingredient spotlights, and plenty of photos of friends and family make for a balanced diet of content from Chef Brian Alberg, Executive Chef/ Vice President of Culinary Development for Main Street Hospitality and The Red Lion Inn.

 

Robin’s Candy

(Great Barrington)

The go-to stream for dizzyingly colorful displays of vintage, international, and hard-to-find candy items.

 

Rubiner’s

(Great Barrington)

Get your cheese on with Rubiner’s savory snaps… frequent photos and information about the finest fromage and other culinary joys.

 

Mountains of Sugar

(Lenox)

Delectable pastries and plenty of process shots from Kimberly Watson, Pastry Chef at Blantyre Resort & Spa.

One last thing … my list is woefully low on North Berkshire County establishments. Share your favorites from that corner of the world in the comments – let’s make this list a baker’s dozen!

The Read My Writin’ Round-up

I’ve been able to write a lot about where I live, recently – in the Berkshires of Massachusetts – so this shameless round-up of my own work is pulled together with a Berkshire County theme.

First, the latest; I wrote a ‘Parents-Eye Review’ for Berkshire Family Focus, upon the opening of the new Berkshire Carousel. Juli was my intern on this project.

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Next, on to the world of corporate spa retreats…an actual thing, apparently, and growing in popularity. I used two world-class resorts in the Berkshires to illustrate the trend of spa retreats as part of workplace health and wellness packages.

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Finally, a look at the entire region from the point-of-view of the visitor’s bureau and the owner/managers of some attractions in the area, including outdoor recreation spots as well as theater venues (two of the biggies in these parts).

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The Food Truck Rodeo Round-up

IMG_0337After the Winter that Wouldn’t End, it seems like years since last spring. But today was the first Official Really Good Day of 2015 in the Berkshires; the sun shining, the breeze blowing, the tourist season yet to peak. Perfect.

Regardless of the weather, the Family Rags had its plans set. We were heading out to the Spring Shindy and Food Truck Rodeo at Shire City Sanctuary in Pittsfield, an artisans’ space (or makerspace) that includes a screenprint shop, a sewing lab, and a commercial kitchen. At this event, artists, farmers, and others sold their wares inside Shire City Sanctuary (formerly Notre Dame Church) while the adjacent parking lot was packed with a horseshoe-ring of food trucks, beer tents, a band, and a magician with a particularly fun green Viking hat.

To the trucks, though… A great mix of many different kinds of nosh, as it should be. Traditionalists could get their steamed hot dogs and burgers, adventurers could grab a wild boar sandwich, and kids of all ages could enjoy a shaved-ice treat in a color-changing cup.

The line-up:

How We Roll, the local favorite, wrapping comfort food into egg roll wrappers.

Aurora’s Gypsy Cafe game meats and traditional Romani fare.

Kona Ice the aforementioned ice concoctions.

The Hungry Traveler Big ole’ sandwiches, burgers, and soup.

The Chuck Wagon Caloric atom bombs including beer-dredged Bratwurst and deep-fried peanut butter, banana, and fluff sammies.

The Farm Mostly vegetarian farm-fresh sandwiches, salads, and quesadillas.

Chanterelle Upscale farm-to-table goodies.

Flavors of Lebanon Greek and Lebanese noms.

…plus two local-brew beer tents, Wandering Star and Big Elm. 

We ended up with two egg roll creations from How We Roll — Your Own Personal Mac n’ Cheesus (self explanatory) and a Thank You Easter Bunny, a fried Cadbury Creme Egg egg roll — and a bison burger from The Chuck Wagon, plus one beer each from both tents… to be fair, of course.

Read more: WAMC

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