Hexmarks Abound

Years ago, I wrote an article about The Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass., named as such for the mark on its front door handle — a hexmark, also known as a Salem Cross.

Hexmarks were placed on doors across New England during the Salem Witch Trials, as a way to ward off evil spirits and the government, unless that’s redundant.

Upon relaying this tidbit to my mother while visiting home (a 1786 farmhouse on Cape Cod), she said nonchalantly, ‘Oh, we have those.’

Here’s a photo of my parent’s garage door, and the front door at Salem Cross:

Who knew.

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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Rest, Relaxation, and ROI

According to the “Global Spa & Wellness Trends Forecast” published by Spafinder Wellness Inc., workplace wellness is one of the top 10 trends in the spa industry for 2016.

The study suggests that this is a direct response to a growing number of businesses across the country taking the well-being of their employees more seriously, for the health of both their teams and their companies’ bottom lines. I was recently able to look into this trend for a freelance article, and while it’s not one that is taking off as quickly as some spa professionals would like, it’s gaining popularity and acceptance in both offices and resorts.

Read more: http://ow.ly/zm6c300QoxC

Photo: Cranwell Resort spa, JCS