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Berkshire Tidbits: Berkshires Featured on Barefoot Contessa
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
02:24PM / Monday, December 14, 2015
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The Barefoot Contessa Episode
Featuring Berkshire Food Shops

Saturday, Dec. 19, 8 a.m.; Monday, Dec. 21, 4 p.m.

Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten and her husband, Jeffrey, came to the Berkshires with friends. They shopped, they filmed and the Barefoot Holiday episode that aired starting this past weekend.

Berkshire Mountain Bakery, the actual bakery in Housatonic, behind the scenes where all the work gets done, made the cut. And baker-owner Richard Bourdon offering his Bread & Chocolate bread.

Robin's Candy and Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers in Great Barrington are in the episode as is The Southfield Store.

Robin Helfand, owner of Robin's Candy, said they will be prominently featured. Her next-door neighbor Tune Street loaned her shop a large screen television to air the show for the public on Sunday at 1.

"We'll be giving away the treats that Ina Garten particularly liked when she visited. Candies she could not find anywhere else. I can't say, what, I do not want to give it away but, think 'Christmas.'"

Head baker Amanda Perreault made French toast for Garten at The Southfield Store.

Garten filmed at The Meat Market as well but they do not know whether they ended up on the cutting room floor.

Whoever made it into the episode, it will be fun to watch Berkshire fine and homey food featured on national television.

Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink!'
Weekly Cooking Demonstration
Thursday, Dec. 17; 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 17, will be the last "Manger! Boire!" of 2015 at Chez Nous French Bistro, 150 Main St. in Lee. This is the themed casual wine pairing and cooking demonstration dinner co-owners Franck Tessier and Rachel Portnoy, respectively chef and baker, present most Thursday evenings between November and February.
Rachel considers these evenings a help to the quandary of what to serve for dinner.
"Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink! is our way of contributing to a solution to this situation. What to cook? Give me a reliable recipe! Show me a new technique! I’m bored of my regular routine!" she said.
"Everyone needs some inspiration in the kitchen from time to time.
"We have lots of techniques and tricks of the trade to share, but rarely do we step out of the kitchen to talk about what we do. With Manger! Boire! Eat! Drink! we try to step out of comfort zone a bit to offer a great meal, a few wine pairing ideas, and recipes," she said.
"Every Thursday night excluding holiday weeks, we come up with a new theme, new recipes, a couple of, usually, new wines to pair and a new demonstration to share some new ideas, all with the idea of our guests taking the info home and giving it a try," she explained.
"We create our menus with a focus on diversity of ingredients and ideas, and cannot substitute or change items too much," Portnoy added.
Diners eat and drink as they would at any restaurant dinner but, in addition, they are usually seated at a large table with others so everyone spends the evening talking with each other about food in general, the evening's food and the recipes Tessier and Portnoy are making.
Portnoy said the couple want to finish the year by sharing a special meal.
"For our grand finale for 2015 we will prepare blini and smoked salmon, beef en croute, and a traditional French Buche de Noel."
For which, as is the custom and point of the evening, Franck will demonstrate making blini and wrapping the beef in a crust and Rachel will give everyone the recipes for each dish including her Buche de Noel.
Portnoy asks that people do not reserve online but, rather, call 413-243-6397 and specify that the reservation is for Manger! Boire! The price is $35 per person plus tax and tip.
The next Manger! Boire! will pick up after the New Year, on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016.
Music Soothing Diners
at Red Lion This Month

Musical programs from noon until 6 most evenings

Singers, pianists, guitarists and other musicians brighten holiday afternoons at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge during the month of December.

Guests and the public are invited to take a chair and listen. Get a festive drink at Widow Bingham's Tavern off the lobby and sip in front of the fire in the fireplace. It really does crackle.

Teresa Mango plays her harp Tuesdays through Saturdays, most often from noon to 3. John Sauer plays the piano Sundays from noon to 3 and Jon Hipps plays the piano on Mondays from noon to 3.

Other musicians include singer/guitarist Jeffrey Folmer, pianist Hilda Banks Shapiro, pianist Mike Schiffer who will play on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the inimitable David Grover who will play guitar and sing on Christmas Eve afternoon.

Many others will perform including vocalist Mary Verdi, guitarist Tom Carroll and guitarist Tom Savoy.

Food prepared under executive chef Brian J. Alberg has come to include locally sourced ingredients as a regular feature.

Lunch and dinner are served in the dining room and in Widow Bingham's Tavern every day. Pub dinners are served between 5 and 10 p. m. in the downstairs Lion's Den (between noon and 10 on Sunday when the Red Lion turkey dinner is always the special) and music begins at 8 every evening.

Santa will be at brunch in the dining room on Sunday, Dec. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Men are required to wear jackets and ties at holiday meals in the dining room at the Red Lion.

A four-course prix fixe Christmas dinner with choices, will be served between noon and 7:30 p.m.

Early New Year's Eve four-course prix fixe dinner with choices begins at 6 p.m. The five-course New Year's Eve Gala with choices, music, dancing and a champagne toast at midnight begins at 8.

Call 413-298-1690 or for dining reservations.

at Chocolate Springs
Chocolate Springs, the dreamily fine and numerous-award-winning chocolate shop in Lenox, 55 Pittsfield Road/Routes 7 and 20, 413-637-9820,, is spiffed up for the holidays.
Baker-chocolatier-pastry chef and owner Joshua Needleman is flat out filling orders and stocking his shop from floor to nearly ceiling with endless variations on chocolate Santas, bags of bronzed chocolate Hanukkah chocolates, angels, nutcrackers, Christmas trees, snowmen, chocolate barks and crunches including candy cane strewn. On and on.
There are Needleman's tablets and ganache-filled chocolate bars in such mouth-watering combinations as the gold-flecked Celebration bar which is champagne and cognac in dark chocolate ganache or the chili-sprinkled dark chocolate Sweet Fire bar infused with chilis or single origin cocoa bean ganache filling from Madagascar or Venezuela. As usual, only more sorts and more pieces, See for 33 -- but there are more kinds in the store itself.
There's the gelato and the sorbets and the pastries, cakes, cookies, French macarons, the bags of nibs and the hot chocolate which has its own fierce aficionados.
As a with it chocolate shop, Needleman also creates and carries sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan chocolates and other of his products.
For images and names — Practice Your Joy Unity Tea, Milk Chocolate Venus Rum, Raspberry Love, Madagascar Dancer, Dark Hazelnut Praline Crunch, Green Goddess, Dulce de Leche Chipotle — of nearly 60 of Chocolate Springs gorgeous and nationally famous bonbons/individual filled chocolates but…
Really, only a visit will suffice.
Berkshire Grown's Holiday Markets have grown in popularity. The final markets are this coming weekend in Williamstown and Great Barrington.
Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers Markets
in Great Barrington and Williamstown
Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 19 & 20; 10 to 2
Really! These have taken off!
The holiday farmers' markets are the perfect example of how Berkshire Grown keeps farmers farming. Its mission "to support and promote local agriculture as a vital part of the Berkshire community, economy and landscape" could not be more effectively achieved than here.
"The Berkshire Grown Thanksgiving Farmers' Markets in November were a tremendous success," said Executive Director Barbara Zheutlin. "Some 3000 shoppers spent over $75,000 on locally grown delicious food."
That was in two markets in eight hours over two days.
This coming weekend, there will be close to 50 vendors at each of the Farmers' Markets.
About half-dozen at each will be bakers including Berkshire Mountain Bakery from Housatonic, Clarksburg Bread Company of Williamstown, Naga Bakehouse from Middletown Springs, Vt., and Caroline's Scottish Shortbread out of Stockbridge.
There will be cheesemakers including Cricket Creek Farm from Williamstown and Chaseholm Farm Creamery from Pine Plains, N.Y.; meat and charcuterie producers including The Meat Market of Great Barrington and Raven & Boar from East Chatham, N.Y.; chickens, meat and eggs from Square Roots Farm in Lanesborough.
"It's extremely satisfying to be part of our neighbors' holiday seasons," said Ashley Amsden, co-owner and co-farmer with her husband, Michael Gallagher, of Square Roots Farm.
"There’s nothing like hearing about how someone's in-laws raved about the chicken or guests who couldn't believe the color of the egg yolks," she noted.
"We are in the small scale diversified farming business because we believe in sustainable communities, so being part of events at which people can purchase locally grown food — even in the winter — is really important to us."
Hosta Hill will bring their fermented foods — tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchee from West Stockbridge. Berkshire Wildflower Honey will bring their honey from Mill River. Yarn producers, artisans and crafters will bring items including cutting boards, jewelry, scarves, pottery, soaps, lotions, candles, dried flower arrangements, and wreaths just in time for holiday shopping.
And there still will be produce: greens and winter keeping vegetables like squashes, potatoes and carrots; and, perhaps, still some apples and pears. Jaeschke's Orchard from Adams will be in Williamstown. Maynard Farms & Orchards will come to Great Barrington from Ulster Park, N. Y. Trusted Roots Farm of East Chatham, N. Y., will be at both locations.
They said, "We will have yukina, arugula, mustard greens, potatoes, butternut squash, kombucha squash, kale, beets, carrots and eggs."
There will be maple syrup. There will be jams. There will be pies. Carr's Ciderhouse will bring their hard cider from Hadley to Williamstown.
Find the full list of farmers and producers at Berkshire Grown. And there will be lunch foods including wood fired pizza and locally grown and made grilled sausages, live music, kids' activities. A satisfying way to spend a pre-holiday morning and midday.
The markets will be held at Monument Valley Middle School, 313 Monument Valley Road in Great Barrington on Saturday and at Williams College Towne Field House, 82 Latham Street in Williamstown on Sunday. They will be equipped to process EBT cards/SNAP benefits on site.
Iredale Mineral Cosmetics and Williams College are major sponsors of the holiday markets. And there has been generous support from the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and the Berkshire Co-op Market, Downtown Pittsfield Farmers’ Market, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Kimball Farms, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Sweet Brook Farm, and the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College.
Berkshire Grown's Great Barrington winter farmers' markets will be held in January and February on the Saturdays of the Martin Luther King holiday and Valentine's Day weekends, Jan. 16 and Feb. 13, from 10 to 2 at Monument Valley Middle School.
Haven Café Serving
Weekend Dinners
Starting in January 2016
Here's a heads up for fans of the Lenox and Great Barrington bakery and café.
Owner Shelly Williams has revealed that the Great Barrington location will serve Friday and Saturday evening dinners starting in January.
She said, "We continue to be inspired by international flavors and are looking forward to an amazing new year starting with a wine dinner in January with food and wines from Spain."
I'll let you know when I learn more.

Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Pizza and Café

180A Elm St., Pittsfield; 413-464-9394

As of Nov. 23, Pittsfield's Berkshire Mountain Bakery has opted to open every day.

For the first year, they were closed on Mondays. A disappointment to their customers.

Now, you can get your breads and sweet treats, No. 6 Depot coffee, soups, sandwiches, salads, pizza and more anytime between 8:30 a. m. and 8 p. m.

Let's hear it for opening at 8 a. m. and staying open until 9, 10 on weekends.


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