Edible Berkshires

BRAVA WINE BAR & RESTAURANT

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Chef Ashlin Ploss, left, owner Whitney Asher, right

A cozy wine bar and restaurant in downtown Lenox, Brava reminds one of a small tapas bar in Spain, a trattoria in Italy or an authentic Belgian beer bar.

Open every evening, and serving food until midnight, Brava attracts a diverse crowd of all ages and kinds. Out-of-town visitors and summer music lovers come in for a drink before dinner or a meal before a show.

After Tanglewood performances, the place gets packed with symphony musicians and concert-goers. In the late-night hours year-round, the place is a regular haunt for hospitality industry veterans unwinding after other kitchens and bars have closed for the night.

The wine list won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2014 and includes over 100 wines, of which approximately 40 are available by the glass. Brava offers almost 85 craft beers from all over the world, and … Read the rest

Thai Food by Jem

Wok Star

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Thai roots, thirst for innovation make Jem a gem

Edible Berkshires met Jem and Robin Ezinga at the Lebanon Valley farmers’ market, located at Windswept Farm in New Lebanon, New York.

It was, the scent of Jem’s wok cooking wafting across the grounds, not to mention the market-goers standing in line to order, that caught our attention.

Growing up in Thailand, one of a daughter’s duties was to help prepare the six meals a day that the family would eat. Jem admits her love of food and a thirst for learning has sent her on a quest to discover new techniques, flavors and food preparations.

In 2006 she took her first professional job with Chef Tommy Carlucci, chef and kitchen manager at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, New York. Chef Carlucci grew up in lower Manhattan and has been cooking all of his life. So Jem got a … Read the rest

Guido’s Fresh Marketplace

A Family Affair

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Christopher Masiero was born into a large Italian family in Boston’s North Shore in the small town of Manchester-by-the-Sea. With seven children who were always hungry and a mother who was a fabulous cook, the art of cooking reigned supreme. Chris has followed his passion for food since he was a teenager. Through much diligence and dedication, he has turned his heritage into a life of food-centered success.

He began his work in restaurants at the age of 15, working his way up to running kitchens by the time he was 22. Along the way, he earned his professional chef credentials at Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.

In the meantime, his brother Matthew graduated from Wentworth Institute in Boston. As a young man Matt had worked in produce stores; after graduation, he hoped to open his own produce store in the Berkshires. Renie Masiero, … Read the rest

NATURALLY CATERING + TAKEOUT AT BERKSHIRE ORGANICS

Legacy of Respect for Food Lives On Naturally

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Introduction by Chef Aura Whitman

I have my mother to thank for my love of preparing food and caring where it came from. This happened long before the current wonderful—hopefully not trendy— movement of connection to the quality and sources of what we are eating.

Growing up, we always had gardens, goat cheese hanging in cheesecloth, bread proofing, something being canned, and we ate no meat unless it came from our stock.

I learned from many great chefs in my career. I always took the best from each of them. A highlight was meeting Julia Child when I lived in Paris for a year attending Cordon Bleu. We catered her 83rd birthday and appeared on “Good Morning America” the next day.

I traveled a lot as a child. We lived in Israel, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and California, exposing me to all … Read the rest

CASTLE STREET CAFÉ

A Good Veggie Burger Amounts to a Hill of Beans

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One of the more common idioms in English to express contempt or derision is to say that something doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, as if a hill of beans isn’t worth very much.

On the contrary, in many parts of the world a hill of beans is the staple of life, and the major source of protein. So many Americans regard meat as the major source of protein, when in fact beans provide a plentiful amount.

I have been pleased and surprised to see that the new Southwestern Black Bean burger we have been serving in the Café has been so popular. The number of diners forgoing meat increases every year, and restaurant menus need to evolve and change with the times

In addition to being vegetarian, this black bean burger is vegan and wheat free, and there … Read the rest

THE HUB

Cheers to The Hub

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Comfort food served in a cozy setting surrounded by familiar faces of family and friends, what’s not to love?

That’s exactly what The Hub on Main Street in downtown North Adams offers patrons each time they step foot in the door. Owned and run by a family for all families by Kate and Matt Schilling, a duo with the help of Kate’s mom and aunt, the hub has become a staple of North Adams, and come to be known by many as the “Cheers” of the Berkshires.

Matt, originally from Florida, and Kate, from North Adams, met while living in Bar Harbor, Maine. As the couple began to get to know each other, Matt’s intentions of moving back to Florida were put on pause as they decided to make a life together. Luckily for lovers of The Hub, that decision would bring them from Bar Harbor … Read the rest

Caramelized Onion Chutney

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, peeled and julienned
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup vegetable stock or water

In a large sauté pan, add oil and onions sauté over medium heat until browned and caramelized, about 15–20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Once onions are caramelized, add remaining ingredients. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and pulse mixture in a food processor until chunky, being careful not to over process.… Read the rest

Hops and Vines

Two ways to enjoy great food

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With a limited number of restaurants in Northern Berkshire County, it could be hard to find one that strikes the perfect balance between casual and upscale dining, but that’s just what Hops and Vines in Williamstown is doing.

Hops and Vines opened in 2011 with an original idea: to offer two separate restaurants in the same location. On one side, the “hops” restaurant would offer a casual atmosphere and menu. A larger adjacent room, the “vines” restaurant, would offer a fancier dining experience with a focus on fine dining. Both restaurants would operate out of one kitchen. With the plan set, the restaurants launched, but it was quickly realized by the management team that something wasn’t working very well.

The dining concept was not allowing diners to experience the best of both menus, depending on where the diner chose to sit. Because they were … Read the rest

Chez Nous

A Gift that Keep on Giving

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It really is hard to articulate how incredibly intensely we worked in the kitchen at Le Gavroche in London. At the time, 1998, my now-husband, Franck Tessier, having been promoted to sous-chef upon his arrival from the States, with me in tow to work as pastry chef.

There were about 16 of us in the kitchen—I never picked up my head long enough to get an exact count—and people did come and go at an alarming rate, but there was only one among us who seemingly had everything down. Franck ran, sang, chatted and cooked all at the same time in that kitchen.

It was the kind of place where to not hear anything about your work was a good thing. No comment meant that you were doing things properly, actually doing a good job, though that was impossible to imagine.

Though there was … Read the rest

Public Eat & Drink

Shaking up the art of enjoyment

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North Adams, Massachusetts, is home to a renaissance of creativity with an amazing landscape of art and design.

A former industrial center and mill town tucked away in the northern Berkshires, North Adams is now home to painters, photographers and performance artists. It is considered one of the most affordable small cities to live for young artists.

Spearheading this creative growth is one of the largest contemporary art museums in America boasting 600,000 square feet of potential space. Mass MOCA has over 300,000 square feet, currently occupied by exhibition space, galleries, art fabrication facilities, performing arts theaters, a natural amphitheater, two performance courtyards, an outdoor concert space and production support space.

As artists descend on a community, eventually so does gentrification. One restaurant that’s carving its own niche in this blossoming cultural mecca is Public Eat + Drink in downtown North Adams.

Public, which … Read the rest

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