“Happy” in the Berkshires!

The old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words is only a cliché because it’s so true. With thousands of words we could tell you how “Happy” the Berkshires are, tell you about The Mount, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts, The Clark Art Institute, Tanglewood, Canyon Ranch, Jacob’s Pillow, Bash Bish Falls, the unique towns and villages, and so much more, but thanks to the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, you can now experience “Happy in the Berkshires” for yourself. Sit back and tap your toes or get up from your computer and dance!

Posted in Berkshires, Summer, Tanglewood, The Berkshires |

The Most Requested Recipe This Year

Blood orange recipes

Blood Orange Olive Oil makes roasted pears extra special!

Whenever we serve Blood Orange Roasted Pears with Pumpkin Seed Crunch as Birchwood’s fruit course at breakfast, nearly everyone asks for the recipe. This is our version of Roasted Pear Crumble that appeared in the October 2013 issue of Bon Appetit, and it’s most assuredly a winner!

 

Serves 4.

2 ripe firm Bartlett or Anjou pears

2 teaspoons blood orange olive oil

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons oats

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

1/4 cup marscarpone

Mint leaves for garnish.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut pears in half and core with a melon baller. Spread the cut side of the pears with the blood orange olive oil. Place the pears, cut side up, on a baking sheet, and bake on the upper rack of the oven for 20 minutes, until soft but not mushy.

Mix the pecans, pumpkin seeds, brown sugar, oats, salt, and the extra virgin olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Toast the crumble mix on the lower rack of the oven and stir occasionally until golden, about 12-14 minutes. Mix in the sesame seeds and let cool. (We make up a triple or quadruple batch and refrigerate so that we always have some on hand.)

Place each pear on a plate. Spoon the marscarpone into the center of each pear. Top with the pumpkin seed crunch. Add a mint leaf and serve… to rave reviews.

 

 

Posted in Dining, Food, Recipes, Summer | Tagged , , |

Celebrating the Bard! Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

 Shakespeare & Company 2014 season

 

With this year being Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, Shakespeare & Company has planned a joyous, thrilling, and powerful season celebrating the Bard’s life and work.

This magical season aptly includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a jazzy 30s’ twist, set in the mysterious mangrove forests of the Mississippi Delta. (June 21-August 30) And if you really would like to honor the Bard, indulge in an evening cocktails, dinner, theater, and dancing at the Midsummer Night’s Gala on June 28.

For this season’s celebration, Shakespeare & Co. are bringing back — finally – the very hilarious medley of mayhem, comedy, and lunacy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Fast-paced and devilish, this popular parody is a cornucopia of naughty laughs. (July 4-August 24) Even Quinn, who accompanied me several years ago, was mesmerized and delighted!

Let’s get serious about this, shall we? Henry IV, Parts I and II, brings power and rebellion as well as Prince Hall and Falstaff to the Lenox stage. (August 2-31) It’s amazing to consider that these plays have continued to endure for more than four centuries!

The old adage that behind every successful man is a woman so we must include Anne Hathaway is this celebration season. Shakespeare’s Will, a sensual tale full of passion, humor, and mystery, explores with song, dance, and poetry the tumultuous life of Will’s wife. (May 24-August 24)

For most of us, our introduction to Shakespeare was in sophomore year of high school when we studied Julius CaesarCaesar, Portia, Cassius with his “mean and hungry look,” and Brutus will all be familiar in the “bare Bard” production. (June 27-August 30)

The Tony Award winning play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike makes its Berkshire premiere as well — a comedy with a dose of mayhem. (August 6-September 14)

And Shakespeare & Company returns to The Mount, a most romantic setting for Romeo and Juliet, in a “bare Bard” production. (July 17-August 23)

And more! Come celebrate Shakespeare’s incredible legacy!

PS Birchwood Inn, only a mile from Shakespeare & Company, by the way, boasts an authentic replica of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in our library, compliments of my high school friends who created it when we were high school sophomores in 1961!

 

 

 

Posted in Berkshires, Theatre | Tagged , |

Lenox is Harmony

Romantic Berkshires Getaway

Imagine summer picnics while listening to Boston Symphony concerts at Tanglewood with mountains and lakes as the backdrop.

Harmony. If I had to describe Lenox in one word, it would be this.

Of course, Lenox being the summer home of the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood with as many as six concerts a week in the summer it’s only natural to think of musical harmony. But harmony in Lenox is more than musical.

It’s culture and the arts, such as Shakespeare & Co., in harmony with nature — our mountains, lakes, and nature trails at Kennedy Park and Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

It’s culinary harmony with our renown restaurants in harmony with Berkshire grown and produced fruits and vegetables, cheeses and meats.

It’s the past, as evident in our historic homes such as Birchwood Inn, Ventfort Hall, and author Edith Wharton’s elegant restored estate The Mount, in harmony with our unique boutiques, from antique shops and handcrafted art — wearable and decorative — to the latest fashions.

It’s the harmony of the seasons with downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing in winter to hiking, cycling, and water sports in warmer months. It’s fireflies in summer, foliage in fall, blossoms in spring, and firesides in winter.

Harmony is in the residents and visitors from around the world, many of whom become residents.

Yes, Lenox is harmony.

Posted in Birchwood Inn, Concerts, Hiking, Lenox MA, Music, Picnics | Tagged , , |

Why Birchwood Inn Is the Best Bed and Breakfast in Lenox and the Berkshires

best place to stay in the Berkshires

Let’s get in the car and go to Birchwood Inn!

When we meet visitors at an area restaurant or at Tanglewood, they will often ask us, “Which is the best bed and breakfast in Lenox? Where is the best place to stay in the Berkshires?” Although we aren’t exactly objective, we like to think that it’s Birchwood Inn.

Quinn and Charley say that they know why:

  • Our comfortable elegance sets the scene for romantic getaways;
  • Our historic 1766 mansion is the oldest home in Lenox;
  • Our nine fireplaces create a warm ambiance;
  • Our breakfasts have won numerous awards and accolades, including “Best Breakfast in New England;”
  • The inn’s front porch is spacious and breezy, a welcome oasis in summer for lounging and afternoon tea;
  • Our New England stone fences enclose rapturous gardens;
  • Our eclectic library overflows with books you actually want to read;
  • Location! Location! Location! Birchwood is two blocks from the downtown historic Lenox,  across the street from the 450+ acres of trails in Kennedy Park, and just minutes away from Tanglewood, The Norman Rockwell Museum, Edith Wharton’s restored estate The Mount, Kennedy Park, lakes, ski slopes, horseback riding, biking and hiking, museums and galleries, wineries and breweries, unique boutiques, wild life sanctuaries, spas, and renown restaurants;
  • Birchwood is a great starting point for exploring fall foliage;
  • Our staff and their commitment to service, cleanliness, and warm and welcoming hospitality;
  • Us! Not only are we the sweetest and cutest pups in Lenox, our inn is dog friendly!
  • Or maybe it’s Ellen’s chocolate chip cookies.

 

Posted in Berkshires, Birchwood Inn, Lenox MA, Tanglewood, The Berkshires, Travel | Tagged , |

Warming Up from the Inside Out with a Hot Toddy Recipe

My grandfather would mix bourbon, hot water, lemon juice, and honey for a cold so my perception of a hot toddy was that it was something you took when you were sick.

Thanks to a recent winter wedding at our beautiful Lenox inn, I discovered that you should not wait until you didn’t feel well to enjoy a hot toddy. In fact, this is too good to waste on a winter bug. The wedding guests loved our hot toddies so much that they asked for seconds.

With the temperatures dropping from Maine to the Gulf, enjoy this hot toddy recipe and the hell with winter!

Hot Toddies RecipeHot Toddy Recipe for Two

  • 3 ounces     bourbon
  • 4 ounces    hot cider
  • .50 ounces    honey
  • .50 ounces    lemon juice
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling
  • Cinnamon stick for the garnish

Mix the bourbon, cider, honey, and lemon juice and pour into a mug or heat-proof glass cup. Sprinkle with cinnamon and garnish with the cinnamon stick. Light the fire, sit back, and warm up!

Would you like me to make you one?

Posted in Recipes |

Peppermint Bark

lenox ma inn holiday recipes

Peppermint Bark

During the Christmas season, Peppermint Bark is a Williams-Sonoma perennial favorite here at our Lenox, MA Inn. Nearly $30 plus shipping. But it’s so easy — but exactly inexpensive — to make your own.

1 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies, crushed or smashed into small pieces

2 pounds white chocolate, broken into chunks

1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring (optional)

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot but not boiling water, stirring frequently. When the chocolate is completely melted, stir in the peppermint candy and flavorings.

Spread the peppermint/chocolate mixture onto the cookie sheet and refrigerate until solid (at least 45 minutes.)

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and break the bark into irregular pieces. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three weeks — if it lasts that long!

If you’re looking for a cozy Lenox, MA Inn where you can enjoy more treats – during the holidays or year round – we would love to have you stay with us.

 

Posted in Birchwood Inn, Christmas, Food, Holidays, Recipes | Tagged , |

GET AWAY TO LENOX FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

It’s the INN thing to do!

At holiday time, Lenox becomes a scene from Currier and Ives. This year, the quintessential New England village, sparkling in it’s holiday attire, celebrates HOLIDAY WEEK 2013 with inn tours, outdoor fun, entertainment, wine tastings, culinary delights, and historic mansions.

New England Christmas

Birchwood Inn, along with several other inns and bed and breakfasts, is offering New England Christmas special packages, which will include “Holiday Spending Money.”

At our Lenox inn, choose from a two- or three-night holiday stay package, featuring

  • Lodging with our award-winning breakfast  (save $25.00 per night)
  • Tours of inns, dressed in their festive finery (Sat., Dec. 28, or Mon., Dec. 30)
  • Complimentary cross-country skiing at Cranwell Resort
  • Gift certificates toward wine tastings, gourmet dining, theater, and outdoor adventures.

December 26-30, 2013

Snuggle in Front of the Hearth

Posted in Christmas, Festivals, Winter | Tagged , |

Quinn Enjoys Retirement

Hi! Sorry I haven’t written in a long time. Thank you for all of my 14th birthday greetings last month! I am so lucky to have so many friends and admirers!

Many of you have asked how I am and how I am enjoying retirement. At first, I must admit that it was kind of a downer to stay home and not go everywhere with Ellen, but I have gotten used to being at our Berkshires inn anymore.

I get to sleep in … a bit. Rather than having to jump out of bed, fully awake, to awaken Ellen at the sound of the alarm, I now lounge in my bed and leave all of that energetic stuff to young Charley. I still get my wake-up call cookie, but I get it in bed! Not a bad deal. And then I take my time coming down the stairs and going to the inn.

Charley naps in his crate during breakfast, but I still get to be in the dining room at breakfast time. The guests know not to feed me, but I like making them feel guilty by looking longingly at their plates. Ever the optimist – you just never know what will fall on the floor.

Those great treats (sometimes I help Ellen bake dog biscuits for Charley, the guest dogs at our pet friendly Berkshires inn and me!) keep coming. I keep an eye on Charley, and when the store timer goes off or Ellen’s cell phone rings, Charley alerts Ellen and we both get cookies. So Charley acts as a hearing dog for Ellen and for me! Maybe he’s not so bad after all.

I don’t miss having to get in and out of the car at every supermarket, green grocer, and farmers’ market. I don’t think Ellen would miss food shopping either!

I do get out of the inn, just not as often. I visit my friends at the post office and at Glad Rags regularly, and sometimes I go with Charley while Ellen enjoys lunch on Church Street Café’s porch. I love it because everyone is so glad to see me!

I am getting around really well for 14. I think that Charley is partially responsible for this. He just won’t let me loll around in the garden because he likes to chase me.

And I’m still getting good press! The September/October issue of Yankee, suggests Birchwood Inn as a great place to stay in the Berkshires, and notes that “Quinn, an elderly golden retriever, and Charley, a little ‘bichoodle mix,’ are you canine hosts.”

I even took a vacation with Ellen and Charley – to Ithaca to see my friend Lynnette at The William Henry Miller Inn. I was so excited that I panted in Ellen’s face all the way there and back! She’s used to my doggy breath by now! But mostly I wait and have my friends visit me at the inn.

So please come see me. I would love to see you and put my head on your lap once again.

Pet Friendly Berkshires Lodging

Posted in Birchwood Inn, Charley, Hearing Ear Dog, Quinn | Tagged , |

Jumping Rocks’ Captures Our Soul

The KissStunning food photographyB&B Photography by Jumping RocksBerkshires Bed and BreakfastMany of you have remarked on the incredibly magical photographs on Birchwood Inn’s website. Now meet the two exceptionally talented men responsible for the photography – Matthew Lovette and Mark Smith of Jumping Rocks Photography.

Mark and Matthew have this uncanny ability to capture the soul, the essence of the more than 200 inns they have photographed. And they do it with a passion!

They get it. They understand inns and innkeepers as they are former innkeepers themselves – having owned The Woolverton Inn in Stockton, NJ, a Select Registry property. For the past 23 years, they have been business and life partners.

Matthew is a native of South Carolina, with a background in fine arts and eons of experience in photography. His photographs have been published in innumerable national and regional publications.

Mark developed the décor for The Woolverton and often consults with other inns on interior design. He brings these skills to styling and conceptualizing Jumping Rocks Photography.

Mark and Matthew have been doing Birchwood’s photography for many years. Sometimes they have rearranged furniture for a photography session, and we have been surprised (though we shouldn’t be) how much better the room works.

And they are so much fun! Photo sessions can be exhausting – for them and for innkeepers – but all of us have a great time.

They are on the road most of the year, in great demand among bed and breakfasts. I’ll bet if you find an inn website and think the photos are terrific, you’ll discover that it’s the magic of Jumping Rocks. Check out their website (www.jumpingrocks.com) or following them on Facebook and experience their photographic adventures!

 

Posted in Birchwood Inn | Tagged |
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