Berkshire Grown's Harvest Supper To Highlight Local Food
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Dalton Craft Beer Festival Draws Hundreds
Distributor Zach Moehle, left, and Brewmaster Jason Tsangarides of Coastal Extreme Brewing serve up samples of their flagship beer, Newport Storm.
Kelly's owner John Kelly said the festival this year was a huge success, culling more than 150 different beers from craft and European breweries and drawing guests from as far away as New Jersey to the event, which benefited the Dalton Community Recreation Association.
"We're celebrating my husband's birthday and he loves beer," Pittsfield resident Gwen Davis said, "[and] when we found out it was for the CRA it made it even better ... we're definitely coming next year."
Last year's festival battled against the oncoming Hurricane Irene, which dampened the attendance, bringing in only about 150 diehard fans, according to Kelly.
The idea for the festival was born six years prior when Kelly, at the time a Dalton CRA board member, thought of it as a way to raise money for the organization, promote his business, and showcase craft beer.
"We wanted to do an interesting fundraiser that promotes our business and helps the community," Kelly said.
The festival is expected to raise between $3,000 and $5,000 for the CRA.
"We are big into community," said Jason Kelly (no relation to the owners), the store's IT manager and cheesemonger. "The Kelly family recently received the Gib Kittredge Award and the Dalton CRA, schools, businesses, homes, and every person would give you a different story about what Kelly's means to the community or how they have been helped by the family."
He stressed that the festival required months of preparation. The beers were selected not only for the quality of the brew, but for diversity.
"Another goal of ours was to include the whole of beer drinkers," John Kelly said. So in addition to the more traditional beers available, several types of craft ciders were present and eight different gluten-free beers.
"We look at this as the wine industry was 25 years ago," said Kelly, who believes the wide diversity of beers and the excitement of beer fans are similar to the modern interest in wine in the United States.
Kelly's prides itself on obtaining beers that are rare, or unseen in the Berkshires, bringing in breweries such as Coastal Extreme Brewing Co. from Newport, R.I., which distributes in the Berkshires exclusively to Kelly's.
Music was provided throughout the festival by Lady Di & Her Knights.
Jeff Nardane, sales director for Mayflower Brewery of Plymouth, commented on the quality of the crowd.
"Great people. I do a lot of festivals and there are always a few knuckleheads. But here there aren't any," he said. "Usually, the most common question we get is 'which one has the highest ABV (alcohol by volume),' but there's been lots of great questions [here]."
His sentiment was echoed by Coastal Extreme brewmaster Jason Tsangarides.
"They want to learn about beer. They're not here to get drunk, they're here to enjoy a quality product," he said.
The festival also served as the release party for four beers, including from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, N.Y. Ommegang Regional Market Manager Mike Larson was at the festival handing out samples of new Scythe and Sickle Harvest Ale, which arrives in stores this week.
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Cricket Creek Wins In National Cheese Compitition
This is one of the highest honors a farmstead creamery can receive and brings national recognition to Massachusetts, and the Berkshires.
"Like so many small dairies, we are trying to grow the business through the sale of our value-added products," said Suzy Konecky, creamery manager. "It has been a winding road, but we have been time and again propelled by our local and regional customers — including chefs, cheesemongers, community members, and CSA — who have all made an outstanding commitment to this farm. We look forward to continuing to produce cheeses that nourish and sustain both our customers and our small farm."
The win came in the Farmstead Cheeses category for hard cow's milk cheeses. Maggie's Reserve is an extra-aged version of the popular Maggie's Round, a raw milk cheese with a natural rustic rind, inspired by the toma cheeses of the Italian Alps.
Cricket Creek is a diversified grass-based dairy with a herd of brown Swiss and Jersey cows, mixed heritage-breed pigs, a small flock of laying hens, and an on-site bakery.
"This farm is unique in that we have a steady flow of fresh creativity and passion from our dedicated and diverse group of apprentices who come work with us," said Konecky. "We are grateful to each one of them, and everyone who has left their mark on our farm and creamery."
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'Five Guys' Brings Famed Burgers & Fries to Pittsfield
Customers were lined up for the debut of Five Guys' famed burgers. Writer Joe Durwin was No. 90.
Nearly 100 customers were served in the first half-hour by a bustling staff of 15 workers. The establishment employs a total of 45, according to its manager, Tom Pierog.
"We just opened, but so far, so good," he said.
The restaurant's bright white and red interior is heavily decorated with signs advertising various awards and favorable reviews from publications areas around the country, such as the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Washington Post and GQ Magazine.
As its name suggests, Five Guys' simple menu consists mainly of burgers and fries, as well as hot dogs and veggie and cheese sandwiches. Burgers range in price from around $4 to $6, with fries running from around $3 to $5.
Five Guys began renovating the former Falcetti Music store location in late spring, but had encountered "issues" that lead to delay, according to Building Commissioner Gerald Gardner last month, who did not disclose the nature of those issues.
Since Five Guys began preparing the Merrill Road location, its nearest fast-food competitor, a Burger King franchise located next door to the plaza, has closed for business, along with two other area locations controlled by the same owner. While originally said to be temporary, the locations soon after had all Burger King signage stripped from the buildings in what appears to be a more permanent closure.
Customers surveyed leaving from the new restaurant's first lunch rush (and probably heading back to work) were short on words but big on enthusiasm. A number of "greats" and a couple of "yums" as they went about their way, while one young man flashed a dramatic thumbs up to this correspondent as he slid the last of his fries in his mouth.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries is open 11 to 10 seven days a week. The full menu and more information, including online ordering (but, alas, no delivery), can be found at www.fiveguys.com.
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North Adams Lakeside Cafe Offers Food With A View
Amy Whisenant is ready to take orders at the new cafe in the concession stand at Windsor Lake.
You'll still find the usual fare at Amy's Cafe on the Lake — chips, candy, soda, frozen treats and hot dogs and hamburgers. But Whisenant is spicing up the menu with pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, wraps, mocha drinks and egg sandwiches, and is planning more offerings down the road.
On a very hot Friday afternoon, a pot of New England clam chowder was simmering on the stove.
"They say if you eat something hot it's supposed to make you cooler," said Whisenant, with an infectious laugh that punctuates her conversation. "I want to add a New England dinner on Fridays — clam chowder, rolls, and fish and chips."
Whisenant has more than 30 years of catering experience and most recently worked at boys' high school in Connecticut. When she found out that last year's concession operator had decided not to return, she applied for the lease and arrived with her camper in a downpour on June 3.
She's rolled up her sleeves and, with some help from her father, Frank Whisenant, immediately began scrubbing, ripping up floors, painting, and fixing up the aged concession area. The dark walls are now bright white, screens have been repaired, there's new vinyl on the floor and plans in place to add a six-burner gas stove and a fryer.
"People are always asking me for fried foods ... Not yet!" laughed Whisenant.
Her efforts have made the Windsor Lake Recreation Commission reconsider the building's future. There have been discussions about demolishing the building, which also has bathrooms and changing rooms. Chairman George Forgea said it may be possible to repurpose it.
"She has done an incredible amount of work," he said last week. "The city has committed to putting in more kitchen equipment because it had nothing, basically."
The Alford resident (her sister is Susan Chilson, one of the lake managers) said her goal is not only to serve campers and beachgoers at Fish Pond and Historic Valley Campground but to create a place for downtown workers to get away for lunch or for people to call in for takeout.
"Look at this view," she said, nodding her head toward the lake, the mountains and the blue sky. "Can you imagine coming here for lunch?"
Whisenant takes an order in the refurbished concession. She's hoping to do more takeouts and add picnic baskets as well.
She's planning specials for the upcoming Concerts on the Lake and pre-ordered picnic baskets, and working the takeout aspect of the cafe, with a few lunchtime regulars already.
Prices range from about $1.50 for grilled cheese to under $4 for a vegetarian wrap. Whisenant said it was important to her to ensure the prices weren't too high. "I want to make it reasonable for people.
The cafe hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 to 8; Saturday from 10 to 8; and Sunday from noon to 7. The concession is closed Tuesday. For takeout, call 413-663-7928. The cafe will be open this Thursday during the lake's open house.
"This is my dream come true," said Whisenant, then laughed, "It was a fated thing."
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