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.

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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?

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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.


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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

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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!


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Read Any Good Books Lately? Yes, I Have!

When I was growing up, one of my favorite places was the old Barron Library in Woodbridge, NJ. The architect had built churches but never a library so the Barron looked like a church. But it smelled deliciously like old books.

Step into Birchwood Inn’s spacious library, and you instantly know I’m a life-long avid reader. I love books. I love authors. And my tastes are eclectic – literature, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, biographies, autobiographies. Science fiction? Not so much. And I always have book or Kindle with me.

Read any good books lately? I just so happen to have read, am reading, and will be reading a number of excellent books in the past few weeks. Here are a few of my summer reading recommendations:

If you think you have/had an unconventional family, think again. Blood Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton, the owner/chef of Prune in Brooklyn, had a most unusual childhood and a unconventional young adulthood, which all comes to together to create this acclaimed chef and writer. Gabrielle’s “story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.”

review of the novel The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Ayana Mathis, a treasured guest, has written her first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, which could also be entitled The Twelve Trials and Tribulations of Hattie. This story of a black mother of 11 children in Philadelphia was Oprah’s second Book Club 2.0 selection. Each child is unique and troubled yet engaging in his or her own way. Hattie begins with a tragedy and ends on somewhat of a hopeful note. Ayana truly has an elegant way with words – dead leaves hanging like bats from the trees, and I can’t wait to re-read this book,  just as I can’t wait to see Ayana and her partner Nikki at Birchwood Inn again.

Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Sitting on my night table is my next read. Another extra-special guest is J. Courtney Sullivan, whose third novel, Engagements, is just out. Her first novel, Commencement, was set at her alma mater Smith College. Her second, Maine, was selected by TIME as one of the 10 best books of the year. Engagements captures four unique marriages and the different reasons people marry.

My childhood friend Marc Mappen has written five books on New Jersey, and his latest book, Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation, has a wider focus – those fascinating gangsters of the Prohibition era.

What are you reading? What’s on your night table?






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The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming! Again!

Beep! Beep! The annual British Motor Car Festival is one of the most fun weekends of the year, even if you’re not a car enthusiast! And it’s coming this weekend, June 14-16.

The event, based at Shakespeare & Co., gets its motor running with a fun rally on Friday afternoon. This self-guided back roads driving tour takes motorists through the scenic Berkshire Hills.

Street party time! Many of these polished and buffed British autos, old and new, will travel in a procession to downtown Lenox around 6:15 pm and line the village’s main streets so that we can all ogle and drool, but not on the cars, please. A live British tribute band and street vendors will add to the festival ambiance.

The main event takes place on Saturday with the Concours d’Elegance, a judged competition that attracts exceptional show cards 15 years old and older. Come on out and see if you can pick out the winners.

The Berkshire British Motorcar Festival concludes on Sunday with a 60-minute morning scenic driving tour at 8:30 a.m., with a 1947 Bentley in the lead. And don’t miss the

Berkshire car show

John Parker, who honeymooned at Birchwood Inn in 1952, visits with the 1921 Roll Royce he restored himself.

Tailgate Picnic Competition, with awards for “most elegant,” “most creative,” “most British,” “best tasting,” “most humorous,” and “most Shakespearean.”

The Friday evening street party is free while the cost for general public admission is $15.00 for a two-day pass, inclusive for both Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend head for the Berkshire hills and Birchwood Inn for lots of fun!








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Not Just Another Pretty Place :: Best New England Breakfast

Birchwood Fruitinis are a cornucopia of freshly picked fruit.

Birchwood Fruitinis are a cornucopia of freshly picked fruit.

Excuse us for tooting our own horn but we just can’t resist…

Sure, Birchwood Inn with its gracious porch, colorful gardens, New England stone fences, elegant library, 19th century dining room, comfortably decorated rooms, and nearly 250 years of history is beautiful.

But beauty goes only so far. There has to be substance, or in this case, sustenance. And that’s why at our Berkshires bed and breakfast we take great pride in our award-winning breakfasts.

Our daily fruit course always includes the freshest pickings, local in season, with imaginative twists – such as Watermelon Benedict, Honeydew Gazpacho, Fruitinis, and seasonal Crisps. In the summer, the raspberries and some of the blueberries are picked in our garden just before putting the coffee on.

The main course, sweet and savory on alternate days, also reflect our “farm to table” commitment and creativity – from Fondue Florentine Soufflé, Bacon-Wrapped Polenta, and Frittatas to Peach Croissant Panini French Toast, “Waffles of Insane Greatness, and New Jersey Cheese Blintzes.

And we bake our own breads, both sweet breads and breads for toasting.

A number of years ago, our guests voted Birchwood the best New England Breakfast two years in a row (in “Arrington’s Magazine,” which is no longer published).  And then Ellen’s San Francisco Bay Mud Pie – made with homemade chocolate chip cookies, homemade chocolate and coffee ice creams, and luscious lava-like fudge sauce – won first place in the green grocer’s Mud Pie Contest, making her the Mud Pie Queen of the Berkshires.

But we don’t rest on our laurels!

In April Birchwood and bedandbreakfast.com facebook friends voted our “Kiss My Grits” as the best savory recipe in the Great Breakfast Recipe Tournament 2013. We combine Carolina stone ground grits with Italian turkey sausage, cheese, eggs, and our inn-grown herbs to create this prize-winning dish.

And then just a couple of weeks ago, The Daily Meal website published its Top 50 Bed and Breakfasts for Food, with Birchwood Inn, yes, us, at #7!

Add in, of course, our Fun for Foodies’ packages and our enthusiastic participation in the Eight Broads in the Kitchen’s blog and you’ll know why we like to think that we continually and consistently put the “and” in bed and breakfast.

Quinn and Charley note: Whatever drops on the floor in the kitchen is ours, and it is always heavenly!


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The Berkshires are Blooming :: Lenox MA Weekend Getaways

…and not just with a blaze of spring colors but also bursting with festivals, dance, theater, music, races, exhibitions, and more! There is no shortage of temptations to sneak away for Lenox MA weekend getaways!

Author Edith Wharton's Restored Estate

Author Edith Wharton’s Restored Estate

One of my favorite signs of spring is the opening of The Mount, author Edith Wharton’s Close Encounters with Music presents Nordic Lights – Grieg Revival, at Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, with special guest Tina Packer as narrator. www.cewm.org

Norman Rockwell Museum’s summer feature is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – The Creation of a Classic, June 8-Oct. 27, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Disney’s pioneering feature-length animated film. This exhibition offers a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of this classic. The Rockwell is the only other than the Walt Disney Family Museum to present this exhibition. www.nrm.org

The Mahaiwe presents the Paul Taylor Dance Co., featuring the New England premiere of Perpetual Dawn. Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-26. The Mahaiwe presents London’s National Theatre in HD The Audience, starring Helen Mirren, June 13. www.mahaiwe.org

Shakespeare & Co.’s Summer Season opens with Master Class, Terence McNally’s Tony-Award winning play based on the infamous Maria Callas, starring company favorite Annette Miller, May 24-Aug. 18. Heroes takes the stage June 13-Sept.1, winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, and is an irreverent story of three WWI veterans confined to a nursing home in their twilight years. www.shakespeare.org

The Clark focuses this summer on Winslow Homer: Art, Making History and provides an opportunity to appreciate the full range of Homer’s artistry through the lens of the Clark’s more than 200 works by one of America’s most important artists. Opening June 9. Clark Remix immerses you in a gallery filled with paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts objects from the Clark’s permanent collection. It’s both a physical reality and a virtual space, featuring a dynamic salon-style installation and two new digital applications that offer exciting ways to engage with the collection. Now through January 2014. www.clarkart.edu

Berkshire International Film Festival, May 30-June 2. The 8th annual event brings the best of world’s films to the Berkshires. Four days. 70 films – documentaries, shorts, and features – from 15 countries. It just keeps getting better and better. At Great Barrington’s Triplex and Pittsfield’s Beacon Theaters. www.biffma.com

Memorial Day Marathon Races: May 25-26. www.memorialdaymarathon.com

Rhubarb Festival: Rhubarb Pies, Rhubarb Chili Contest, fun and games for all in Roche Reading Park, next to the Lenox Library. May 25. www.lenox.org

Berkshire Cycling Event: June 9. www.lenox.org

Lenox British Motor Car Show

One of our guests found this vintage Austin Healy in her father’s garage,restored it, and drove up to Lenox for the festival.

The Third Annual Lenox British Motor Car Festival: Back by popular demand! June 14-16. Join the hundred of residents and guest ogling (no drooling, please!) the brilliantly polished British cars, old and new, Mini-Cooper to Rolls Royce, lining Lenox, MA’s main streets near our Berkshires bed and breakfast. Last year’s Best in Show was Birchwood Inn guest Dave Hutchinson and his red 1961 Triumph Italia 2000 Coupe. www.lenox.org

And summer is just around the corner:

Tanglewood: www.tanglewood.org

Shakespeare & Co.: www.shakespeare.org

Williamstown Theatre Festival: www.wtfestival.org

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival: www.jacobspillow.org

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center: www.mahaiwe.org

MASSMoCA: www.massmoca.org

Berkshire Theatre Group: www.berkshire theatregroup.org


Call us today to reserve your favorite room at our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast. We look forward to seeing you soon!





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Yummy April Fool – No Joke!

I’ll admit it — for me, food is fun! And as the first of April is nearly here, it’s time for one of my favorite — and easiest — Afternoon Tea recipes at our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast. April Strawberry Fool.

A fool is an old English dessert made by mixing pureed fruit, whipped cream, and sugar. Traditionally rose water or another flavoring agent is added.

According to Joy of Cooking, long ago the word “fool” was “a term of endearment,” and the dessert (or foole in its original spelling) dates back at least to 1598 and possibly to the 15th century. It’s not clear why the dessert is called a “fool,” although some think it may be from the French verb fouler, to crush or press.

Gooseberries were originally the most common fruit fool. Although today fools incorporate any seasonal fruit, in the UK gooseberry fool remains the perennial favorite.


Wash and cut two cups of luscious strawberries. Add two tablespoons of granulated sugar and mix. Let the berries macerate for 10-15 minutes. Whip two cups of heavy cream and fold the cream into the strawberries. For a bit of a “kick,” you may wish to add a couple of tablespoons of kirsch, brandy, or port. Chill well.

What can be easier and more delicious! No joke!


I haven’t seen gooseberries at the green grocer, but here at Birchwood Inn, our favorite is strawberry or raspberry fruit fool.


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