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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Downton Abbey Was Inspire by Lenox Author

Downton Abbey Julian FellowesDownton Abbey fans — and aren’t we all? — are you aware that Historic Lenox, MA has ties to the series to which we are all addicted?

According to Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, his writing is very much influenced by author Edith Wharton, who lived and wrote in Lenox (I’m quite sure that most of you read Ethan Frome in school). Her restored home The Mount is at the top of my must-see in Lenox list I share with my guests.

Says Fellowes, “I think I was in my thirties when someone gave me a copy of The House of Mirth (which was written at The Mount) and I was instantly impressed by the extraordinarily contemporary feeling of Wharton’s writing. Her dialogue was so immediate, her understanding of emotional predicaments was so vital.”

Fellowes is the recipient of the 2012 Edith Wharton Lifetime Achievement Award. He suspects that the reason for the success of Downton Abbey is that he “is kind to them in their weaknesses, kind to them… in the error of their ways.” If he has achieved this, Fellowes went on to say, “It is a lesson I learned directly from Edith Wharton… I feel most fortunate to have made her acquaintance.”

You, too, can experience Wharton’s aura and era by visiting the home and gardens she designed when The Mount reopens in the spring on your next trip to our Lenox, MA bed and breakfast.


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The Berkshires: One of the Top 10 Unexpectedly Romantic Places

Looking for a romantic getaway? For Valentine’s? For an anniversary? Birthday? Proposal? Elopement? Head for the hills, the Berkshire hills of western MA.

The most recent issue of Forbes Travel Guide, Discover the Most Outstanding Places, named The Berkshires one of the 10 unexpectedly romantic places. Intimate restaurants. Cozy bed and breakfasts. The Boston Symphony in summer and fireplaces in winter.

The Berkshires love lovers all year round. And of course Valentine’s Day is especially romantic.

Strawberries - Berkshires B&B Valentine's DayThis year many of us are celebrating “Chocolate Berkshires,” with chocolate-themed events hosted by local businesses throughout February. Here at Birchwood Inn, February is Chocolate Passion Month, with totally decadent chocolate on every menu.

Since the way to one’s heart is through the stomach, our renown chefs are pulling out all stops to create memorable Valentine menus.

What could be almost as romantic as chocolate? Paris, of course! The Clark Art Institute — admission is free!!! all winter — opens its winter exhibition, Exposition Universelle, this month, focusing on City of Light’s most romantic period, the turn of the century.

Barrington Stage Company hosts 10X10 Upstreet, a new play festival Feb. 14-March 3, with a new play every 10 minutes.

There’s laughter galore at The Colonial Theatre, with The Official Blues Brothers Revue, Feb. 17, and Popvich Comedy Pet Theater (Charley and Quinn are looking forward to this!), Feb. 19.

Put on your dancing shoes and head to Castle St. Cafe for a Valentine dinner-dance.

There’s a romantic double feature with two of my all-time favorite films at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, An Affair to Remember (watch out for the taxi!) and Sleepless in Seattle.

Of course, you can cuddle up by the fire, snowshoe, or ski. And this is just a sampling. No wonder the Berkshires are in the top 10 of unexpectedly romantic places. Join us in our Berkshires bed and breakfast.


http://www.berkshires.orgBirchwood Inn - Berkshires B&B Chocolate Mug










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Tanglewood in Lenox, MA Adds Etheridge, Warren Haynes, Boston Pops, Jerry Garcia Music

The Tanglewood Lenox, MA Pre-Season concerts are going to be hot! hot! hot!
The Boston Symphony has announced that rock singer-songwriter, Grammy and Oscar award-winning Melissa Etheridge will be performing at Tanglewood, Lenox, MA on Friday, June 21.
The following night, Saturday, June 22, Keith Lockhart conducts the Boston Pops. The BSO announced that this concert is a “ground-breaking orchestral adventure” and it showcases new settings of Jerry Garcia’s original music and more.


This event features vocalist-guitarist Warren Haynes (Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band), adding what the BSO calls his “soul-soaked, introspective blend of rock, blues, R&B, and jazz” to Garcia’s music.
Friday, June 21, 7 pm and Saturday, June 22, 8:30 pm in Tanglewood’s Shed.

Tickets ($23.50-$79) are available starting at 10 am on January 27 through www.tanglewood.org or 888.266.1200.

Get your tickets, reserve a room at Birchwood Inn, and plan a picnic. It will be a hot time in the old town of Lenox and the Berkshires in June!


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Raves for Eggnog Croissant French Toast Panini

Birchwood Inn in Lenox, MA, guests loved the Eggnog Croissant French Toast Paninis we served on Christmas Day. But why wait for Christmas?

Recipe serves 8


8 large cEggnog French Toast at a Lenox Bed and Breakfastroissants
4 cups eggnog
1/4 cup bourbon
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
10 large strawberries plus 10 for garnish
Whipped cream
Maple syrup with a shot of bourbon, heated

For the batter, whisk the eggnog, bourbon, eggs, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Slice the croissants in half horizontally. Spread the cream cheese on the middle. Slice strawberries and place on the cream cheese. Close the croissants and set aside.

Preheat the panini press.


When the press is hot, dunk two croissants in the batter and cook for approximately 4 minutes.
Top with whipped cream, a fanned strawberry, and powdered sugar and served immediately with the maple-bourbon syrup.

Enjoy this incredible eggnog French toast recipe.

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I Saw Charley Kissing Santa Claus in the Berkshires!

Charley Kissing Santa Claus in the BerkshiresSays Quinn: My little brother Charley gets all the laughs! And I think all of us need a laugh this week whether you’re in the Berkshires or anywhere else in the US. It’s been a rough week for all of us!

This week Ellen bought him a Christmas collar with little, really quiet bells. What did Charley do? He hid under Ellen’s Charley hiding eggs in the Berkshiresdesk at our Berkshires bed and breakfast. It took all of us awhile to figure out that this little Fearless Fosdick aka Curious George is afraid of his collar!

Charley just loves his little stuffed “eggs.” He has turtle eggs that were hiding inside a turtle that is now in shreds. Charley is really hard on toys. He also has dinosaur eggs although the dinosaur is no more. And for Christmas, I know he’s getting a fish with fish eggs. That fish won’t be swimming for long. And I think that Charley is getting his holidays wrong. Just yesterday he hid a few eggs under bushes in the garden. Hey, Charley, wake up! It’s not Easter!

He went to the movies for the first time with Ellen. Forget the story, but the moral is: If you don’t want to share your popcorn, don’t take Charley to the movies!

And then there was Santa Claus. Most young ones sit on Santa’s lap and face the camera, either smiling or crying. Not our Charley. He jumps on Santa’s lap and gives him a big kiss and nearly took off Santa’s beard.

Yes, Charley gets all of the laughs, but I still don’t think he’s funny. Ridiculous? Maybe. But not funny at all.

Happy Charley Days!



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Travels with Charley: from Lenox MA to Paris

travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to ParisI am just back from France. Will Paris ever be the same?

I loved my first plane ride. I curled up under Ellen’s seat and slept all the way to France. First escalator? A piece of cake!travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to Paris

I walked my little paws off! Wow, the City of Lights is enormous, especially considering that I am used to Lenox, MA, with a population under 5,000. And I made new friends, including Ellen’s son Eric, a musician who lives in Paris. Eric wasn’t really a dog person, but we hit it off right away. Cute works every time!

Where did we go? Everywhere! Our apartment was on the Left Bank, around the corner from Notre Dame, and dated from the 16th century. I really liked trying to catch the cats. Being so close, we just had to visit Notre Dame. Awesome!

travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to ParisWe crossed Pont Neuf to get to The Louvre. I really liked the fountains, but Ellen wouldn’t let me swim in them. The lines were endless — it was a school holiday — but we discovered that anyone with a disability (remember Ellen’s hearing problems) goes to the head of the line, and entrance is free. We liked that a lot, especially considering that neither of us are great at lines.travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to Paris

The cafes, bistros, and restaurants were all excellent, but Ellen particularly liked a little hole-in-the-wall that had two long tables crowded into a room only slightly larger than our powder room and served only foie gras and oysters. I liked the patisseries best, especially ones that had macaron (not really at all like our macaroons) crumbs on the floor.

My godmother Lynnette arrived, and we spent lots of time in Foodie Heaven, aka Bon Marche. They even have a caviar bar! You don’t find that at Stop and Shop or Guido’s!

travel with Charley: from Lenox MA to ParisWe walked everywhere, not an easy feat considering that it was during the two-week school holiday, but while the food traffic was something I have never experienced (after all, I live in Lenox, population barely 5,000!), it sure beat the gridlock on the street. We discovered the Batobus, a water taxi that picks up and drops off people at all of the Paris “must-sees.” What a great idea!

My friends Yvonne and Ian arrived, and the next morning we left Paris and took the train to Nimes. But that’s a story for another day. I can’t wait for our next adventure, but I am happy to be back home at our Lenox MA bed and breakfast!



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Berkshire Deals: Save 25% as Birchwood Takes the Chill out of Winter

Berkshire dealsBIRCHWOOD WINTER SPECIAL: Book any two nights between November 27 – December 20, 2012 (as well as January 1-31, 2013 OR March 1-April 30, 2013) and SAVE 25%! Some restrictions apply, such as you must mention “The Birchwood Winter Special” when reserving online or by phone. This winter special is not valid with any third party gift certificates or any other special, and our Berkshire deals are always subject to our minimum stay policies.

During the holidays, our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast is reminiscent of a Currier and Ives painting. All dressed up for Christmas, the holiday lights sparkle, brightening the dark winter days while the wood-burning fireplaces take the chill off of winter. Popcorn and cranberries on the soaring tree, snowflakes twinkling from above, hot mulled local cider. Join us this holiday season and experience a truly old-fashioned Christmas. And save!

Quinn and Charley would love to welcome you home, our home, this winter.

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Charley, the Dog, Travels to France: The Prologue

Charley travels to France

Is there room for Mrs. Hedgehog?

Thank you, Quinn, for letting me use your space as I moved to Birchwood Inn earlier this year and Quinn has been very good to me.

My bags are packed; I’m ready to go! I’ve had all of my shots. My paperwork is completed. I’ve packed my favorite turtle “egg,” Woofgang Pup pizza, and my soft soccer ball because… I am going with Ellen to Paris to see my “Uncle” Eric and then to the south of France with six of the Eight Broads in the Kitchen!

I have lots of questions before we leave:

Can I hold it from Boston to the nearest patch of grass in Paris? I certainly hope so!

Will I mind my service dog manners? Well, there may be a lapse or five.

Will I like the French dog biscuits? Mais oui!

Will I come home barking with a Parisian accent? Bien sur!

Will I be able to blog from the iPad? To be determined.

Stay tuned for the further adventures of Travels with Charley.

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Top 10 Things To Do in the Berkshires in the Fall!

Cider Doughnuts make the top 10 things to do in the Berkshires

Governor Patrick’s favorite cider doughnuts.


Quinn woofs that fall is her favorite time of year in the Berkshires. The autumn light. The Berkshire blue sky. The leaves to romp in and especially any Apple Cider Doughnut crumbs that land on the floor!!!


Yes, foliage is the star attraction at this time of year, but there are also a cornucopia of festivals, theater, recreation, and harvest foods to enjoy.




With Quinn’s help, we have put together our TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS TO DO IN THE BERKSHIRES THIS FALL:

1. BRILLIANT FOLIAGE – take a hike or drive up Mt. Greylock, MA’s highest peak. From the summit you can see five states.

2. FESTIVALS GALORE! – Lenox’s 21st Annual Tub Parade, 9/15, the re-enactment of the Gilded Age “cottagers'” farewell to the summer season. Lenox’s 232rd Annual Apple Squeeze Weekend, 9/22-23, celebrating autumn and the harvest. The Berkshire Art Festival, 9/28-30, Lenox.

3. THEATER – Hitchock’s 39 Steps,Shakespeare & Co., Lenox. “The Puppetmaster of Lodz,” 9/13-10/7; Dr. Ruth, All the Way, 9/19-10/7;  and The Lord of the Flies,10/3-21. The Berkshire Theatre Group.

4. SPOOKY! Melville, Haunted, 10/4-7, Arrowhead, Pittsfield. Friday Fright Tours,” The Mount, Lenox, through 10/26.

5. IN PERSON Brel in the Berkshires, 9/20-23, Kenny Rogers, 9/27, Sandra Bernhard, Oct. 20. The Berkshire Theatre Group, Pittsfield.

6. FAIRS! – Country Fair at Hancock Shaker Village, 9/29-30, Pittsfield, celebrates the simple things, agricultural demos, local and regional crafts, a harvest of quilts, horse-drawn carriage rides and more.

7. THE ARTS – Museums and galleries abound, including the Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio, Thurs/Fri/Sat through Columbus Day, modernist home of two celebrated abstract artists.

8. APPLE PICKING Hilltop Orchards and Bartlett’s Orchard, Richmond.

9. APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS – MA Gov. Patrick’s favorites at Bartlett’s Orchard, Richmond.

And, we saved the Best for Last….


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