A Taste of the Berkshires Culinary Scene

I was sitting in one of my favorite little out-of-the-way dining spots recently. I was on my second or third bite of a terrific turkey rueben when it hit me. The food and beverage scene has come a long way in what was once the sleepy little Berkshires. There are a lot of reasons why. The explosion of locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine in the area. The influx of restauranteurs, chefs and demanding foodies from major food centers across the country. The bottom line is you won’t find better dining this side of NYC. To give you a taste of what our food scene is all about, I’ve put together a one-day itinerary to help you get a feel for why dining is one of our favorite pastimes. Take a day and hit them all or pick just a few to get you started

1. BERKSHIRE MOUNTAIN BAKERY - HOUSATONIC & PITTSFIELD

Rise early and sample some of the freshest bread in the county at this award-winning European style bakery. While you’re there, pick up a couple of loaves of their sourdough bread. Incredible. Great pizza café in Pittsfield, as well. Perfect place for bread loving foodies (and I confess I’m one).

2. TAFT FARMS - GREAT BARRINGTON

Had your fill at the bakery? Then head over to Taft Farms for a great example of where our locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine comes from. This family farm, now in its 55th year, practices pesticide free, sustainable agriculture. The farm is also famous for their signature tuna sandwiches which start with delivery of a 70-100 pound Atlantic tuna caught off the coast of Cape Cod. Talk about going to great lengths for freshness and flavor!

3. NO 6 DEPOT - WEST STOCKBRIDGE

Time for that mid-morning coffee break. And there’s no better place for that cup of Joe than right here. The best in the Berkshires – bar none. Small-batch coffee roastery & art gallery is located in the oldest train station in the Berkshires. A coffee house with a surprisingly gourmet vibe. Breakfast and lunch too.

4. SEEDS CAFÉ AT HANCOCK SHAKER VILLAGE - PITTSFIELD

Seeds Market Cafe highlights the spirit and nature of the Shaker’s authentic living heritage and is a true locally sourced, farm-to-table experience. Their fresh-picked menu items celebrate Shaker-inspired, neighborhood-grown food. It’s located at the entrance to the historic village. Open every day, for coffee, snacks, lunch, and sometimes dinner for special events. And since you’re there, spend some quality time exploring this living history museum.

5. HILLTOP ORCHARDS & FURNACE BROOK WINERY - RICHMOND

Apple picking. Hayrides. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. And some of the finest wine in the Berkshires. This 200-acre historic property is also home to the most tasty cider donuts you’ll find anywhere. Hilltop Orchards is currently the largest producer of fresh pressed cider in the region. Award-winning Furnace Brook Wines are made from Northeast and California varietals and produced here at Hilltop Orchards. The French style Cidre’, Johnny Mash hard ciders and new Apple Ice Wines are all made from estate grown apples. Wine and cider tastings available.

6. SOCO CREAMERY - GREAT BARRINGTON

Time for an afternoon sweets break. Located on Railroad Street – the retail and dining center of GB, SoCo is home to all-natural handcrafted ice cream, sorbet and gelato that is made from scratch. Recipient of the Best of MA Ice Cream award. Try the Ginger, Mission Fig and my favorite – Mexicali Chocolate.

7. BERKSHIRE MOUNTAIN DISTILLERS - SHEFFIELD

Busy day. Now it’s time to relax with a sip of bourbon, whiskey, gin, vodka or rum at BMD. The New York Times voted Berkshire Gin the best craft gin in the country. Try BMD’s wildly popular Cask Finished Bourbon project – which involved beer makers such as Samuel Adams, Ommegang, Terrapin and Founders. Tastings and tours
are available. Call for more info.

8. SHIRE BREU-HOUS – DALTON

Located in the basement of the revitalized Crane Stationery Factory, Shire Breu-Hous is a seven barrel brew
pub that serves a mixture of domestic and craft beers, including homemade brews that are made with an on-premises brewing apparatus located behind the bar. The space has lots of rustic character, high-end pub food and live music on some Thursdays and weekends. Showcase beers include Fireman’s Red Ale, Coolanta Mooie, Policemen’s Porter, Pioneer Pale Ale, Byron Weston Berliner Weisse - Mill Series and their Shire Summer Saison.