As per usual, the Berkshires proved to be a welcome respite from all things city life. From the trip up the Hudson River to the breathtaking sunsets over vistas rich with undulating hills, this place reinvigorates and energizes the spirit. Why I waited so long since my last visit, I do not know. However, dinner at Blue Plate (Talking SCHOP! 7/9/15) began a “Welcome Home” holiday weekend for the ages.
Our first full day began with watching some third-round Wimbledon tennis while we mapped out our “to do” list. We needed to stock the fridge and pantry and pick up a couple of things for the weekend’s activity. I was excited for it all.
Our first stop was in Great Barrington, Mass., to have lunch and walk around town. There is only one place I want to go when I am there, Rubi’s! It sits right behind Rubiner’s (@CheeseMongers, 264 Main St., 413-528-0488, www.rubiners.com), the best cheese shop ever.
Rubi’s makes my favorite sammy, the Cuban, with porchetta, proscuitto, asiago and cornichons with this amazing housemade hotsauce. I get it every time. However, this food reunion would not be as our early arrival came before the hotsauce was made for the day.
Thanks to my food sister Lisa, I followed the pack with the Italian instead, featuring beautifully cut, thinly sliced, roasted proscuitto, mortadella, salami and speck with asiago cheese, spicy roasted peppers on a baguette and gently pressed to hot, melty goodness. I topped it off with a local IPA from Big Elm Brewerey (@BigElmBrewery) and black truffle and sea salt potato chips imported from Spain. Rubiner’s and Rubi’s would be a problem if I lived in Great Barrington!
Of course, we couldn’t leave the town without stopping in at SoCo Creamery (@SoCoCreamery, 5 Railroad St., 413-644-9866, www.sococreamery.com) to see what small batch ice cream flavors were in season. There were too many from which to choose so I tasted a handful. The dark chocolate? Yum! The maple bacon? Yum, with big pieces of bacon! Misson fig? Yeppers! But after beating back the urge to get a favorite combination of banana and chocolate in their banana brownie, I settled on … wait for it … coconut lemongrass ice cream. When I tell you this ice cream might have changed my life, please believe it. It was the perfect balance of flavors, sweet, bright and creamy. Hello!
We were now fortified to run our errands, which included grocery shopping, a trip to the plant nursery and stopping by a friend’s house to pick up a kayak and—after being welcomed by their free-range rented chickens who led us to their coop—a dozen or so fresh laid eggs to boot! We were now ready to take on the weekend, whatever may come.
The weekend menu would be mostly inspired by Lisa and Doug’s recent acquisition of the Big Green Egg, a ceramic cooking device that can be an oven, a grill or a smoker. It’s quite gorgeous in their outdoor kitchen and would be the home of an 18-hour smoked pork butt, of which we made pulled pork sliders, and some smoked salmon. But that is just the half of it.
Eat we did, from sun up to sun down! Surf (lobster tails) and turf (porterhouse steak) with grilled corn and green onions one night and Chicago dogs and guacamole for lunch, while a trip to the Berkshires would not be complete without Lisa’s famous blueberry lemon muffins in the morning with the sweetest summer fruit salad. I can’t forget our appetizer homage to Nola staple Drago’s charbroiled oysters! We will make those again.
Lisa and Doug, I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “Here’s to good friends!” Cheers!
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Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.