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Great Casual Berkshire Restaurant for Lunch or Dinner

Listening to guests rave about the pizza they had for lunch at Baba Louie’s Sourdough Pizza today reminded me to post some pictures I took there recently. Here is the colorful exterior of the original casual restaurant on Main Street in Great Barrington, MA. There are now also sister restaurants in Pittsfield, MA, and Hudson, NY.

Great Casual Berkshire Restaurant for Lunch or Dinner

These restaurants are not pizzerias, but it is all about their pizza, and wonderful fresh salads. I describe the pizza as artisinal. No trite pepperoni and red sauce here. Instead, expect wonderful combinations of fresh and atypical ingredients like baby whole potatoes, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, figs, caramelized onions, mozzarella, roasted butternut squash, Asiago cheese, chicken, caramelized onions, Gorgonzola and hot sauce. My favorite is the Puttanesca which includes shrimp, capers, and anchovies (can you tell I like salt?)

The thin crusts are made from the organic, sourdough flour from Richard Bourdon’s Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Housatonic, MA. In fact, he was the original owner of the restaurant. You can still buy pizza directly from him as well at his Housatonic bakery, and I often stop there to pick up a frozen pizza to have on hand. Be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner on your next visit to the Inn at Green River.

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Just a short drive from the Inn at Green River, there are two great antique shops in Hillsdale, New York, where my guests have found many a treasure over the years.

Red Fox Antiques for Antiquing

Red Fox Antiques, just north of the junction of Routes 22 and 23 in the center of Hillsdale, is run by Marilyn Simon, shown here with my guest who has found a teapot he decided needed a new home. Marilyn always has a good assortment of tramp art, paintings, furniture, china, pottery, and glass.

Hillsdale Barn Antiques
Just three miles from the Inn,  down Route 22, is Hillsdale Barn Antiques,
run by Frank and Rose Marie Francis. You can’t miss the large three
story white barn set in the beautiful valley just south of Dodd’s Farm
where the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival takes place each July.

Hillsdale Barn Antiques

This shop specializes in American country furniture, folk art, hooked
rugs, quilts, baskets, and stoneware, all artfully displayed. There is a red table displayed with red hanging shelves above it that is on my wish list!

Hudson is of course, the most famous place for antique shopping in our area, and in another blog post I will share some of my favorite shops there, but as you can see there are lots of great antique shops to explore in other parts of the county, so on your next trip to Columbia County, or to Hudson, leave some time in your schedule for wandering around our beautiful countryside, hunting for treasures, and be sure to ask me for a map and directions to my favorites!

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Dugway Road

Here in the New York Berkshires, we are spoiled by the beauty of our rural area, and sometimes forget how glorious it is for our guests who are escaping from large cities. Hiking, biking, and just plain strolling are pastimes that help them unwind while visiting us.

One of my favorite places to send them is just a 1/4 mile from the Inn at Green River, a wonderful dirt road, called “the Dugway” by the locals.  It is a lovely place to walk or jog, every season of the year. Cranse Creek, which is the stream that runs behind the Inn, and joins the Green River just south of the Inn, runs along Dugway Road.

Dugway Road

Because of the stream, and the fact that there are very few houses on this dirt road, you will have a chance to enjoy the wildlife, and listen to the birds. One damp morning I found several small orange newts (small salamanders) which I hadn’t seen since I was a kid in New Hampshire. On this walk, I photographed a Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly, enjoying a dandelion, next to the wild strawberries. He seems to have had some damage to part of his wing, but it hasn’t affected his appetite!

Dugway Road

For more suggestions of places to hike while visiting, go to the Inn’s Things to Do page for links to state and national parks, museums, historic homes and much, much more.

 

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I have been working on Google Maps to help my guests navigate up here in Columbia County, New York, as signage in our beautiful scenic area is not great. We don’t want to block the views. Here’s a map to direct you to Catamount Ski Area and Forest Aerial Adventure Park, an easy and beautiful 15 minute drive from the inn, either down Route 71 into Massachusetts, and over some wonderful back roads(as the Google Map below shows), or just straight down Route 22 South through a very scenic valley, and east across Route 23. Whatever the season, you will enjoy down hill skiing and snow boarding in the winter, or zip lining (is that a verb?) through the trees in spring, summer, and fall. The forest aerial adventure park is open Saturday, Sundays and Memorial Day until June 10, 2012, then open daily beginning on June 16th through September 3rd. In September and October, the park is open on weekends only. Check back with us in November for snow reports and opening day for skiing and snow boarding.

A Map to Catamount for Skiing and Zip Lining

Plan a trip to the Inn at Green River soon!


View Directions to Catamount Ski Area and Forest Aerial Adventure Park in a larger map

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In my beautiful rural region, Columbia and Berkshire counties, straddling the New York/Massachusetts state line, there are many former dairy farms, now thankfully being reborn as organic farms, CSA’s, goat and sheep farm/cheese making operations, wineries, and much more. I’ve heard restaurateurs describe Columbia County as the Napa of the Hudson River Valley. There is more open farm land and more great restaurants here than in any other part of the Valley.  Our restaurants take advantage of this and craft their menus around this wealth of locally grown products. One of my favorites, John Andrews Restaurant in South Egremont, even has a mid week Farmer’s prix fixe menu which changes each week, and is created to showcase a particular vendor, whether it is the mushroom grower, the organic dairy, the cheese maker, or the home grown beef/lamb/duck, etc. The result is great food for you to enjoy.

My Favorite Southern Berkshire Restaurants
Stage Coach Tavern in Sheffield, Massachusetts

Here is a map showing the way to my top five recommended South County restaurants. John Andrews and the Old Mill are in the Massachusetts town of South Egremont; Stage Coach Tavern is in Sheffield; and Fiori is in delightful Great Barrington which was just recently chosen one of 20 best small American towns by Smithsonian Magazine.


View Innkeeper’s Top 5 Berkshire South County Restaurants in a larger map

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Shaker Round Stone Barn
photo courtesy of Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, MA

Imagine my surprise when I spied a round stone barn just like the one near the Inn at Green River, at the wonderful Hancock Shaker Village, but in Sandwich, Massachusetts, 3 and 1/2 hours east! I was on Cape Cod for a PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) Conference, and a group of innkeepers had arrived at the Heritage Museum and Gardens for dinner and a tour. The museum has built a beautiful replica of the Hancock Shaker barn, the only noticeable difference being that the wooden cupola portion at the top is painted white, whereas it is yellow at the Shaker museum here in the Berkshires.

Shaker Round Stone Barn

In it there was a wonderful exhibit of antique classic cars, some of the best I have ever seen. And works of art from the Norman Rockwell Museum (also near the Inn at Green River) were part of a traveling exhibition on display.

Remember the wonderful Rockwell painting, Going and Coming, showing the family in the station wagon heading to the beach and later coming home? A 1940’s car just like the one used in the painting was part of the exhibit.

Shaker Round Stone Barn

The Rockwell Museum always has a side exhibition on another illustrator, in addition to the Rockwell paintings being displays. This season it is Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscovered, and runs from June 9 to October 28, 2012

Shaker Round Stone Barn

I was very impressed by this wonderful 1930 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Coupe, considered by many connoisseurs to be among the best cars ever made in this county. This Cadillac cost $6,900 in 1930, at a time when the average annual income was $1,388!

Shaker Round Stone Barn

And you can’t top the colors on this car!

Whether you are heading to Cape Cod, or coming to the Berkshires, all three museums are well worth a visit. And the Inn at Green River is just a pretty 20 minute drive to the Shaker and Rockwell museums, so consider staying with us when you are visiting!

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Cheese Making Classes at Hawthorne Valley Farm

Love cheese? Try your hand at making some.  Hawthorne Valley Farm, which is just a short drive from the Inn, is offering several cheese making classes taught by their cheese maker, Peter Kindel. This Saturday, April 28, from noon to 3 pm, you can experience the process of making Camembert, my favorite soft cheese! The class is $40 per person. Call 518-672-7500 x232 to register, or call the Inn, and I will register for you. And Saturday, May 19th,  another cheese class about making feta will be offered.

Cheese Making Classes at Hawthorne Valley Farm

Our county is also home to another well known maker of cheese, Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. Their products include an award winning Camembert. Their cheeses are made from sheep’s milk, while I imagine the Hawthorne Valley cheese is made from cow’s milk.

You can visit the Old Chatham farm which is located down a picture perfect country road, and see the sheep being milked every afternoon at 3pm. And the beautiful red Shaker barns are worth seeing, too.

You can also schedule a mid week cheese making class through the inn with Twin Maple Farm in Ghent, NY. You will spend the morning with their cheese maker, and leave with a 1 lb. wheel of their award winning Hudson Red, which just scored 97.25 pts at the World Cheese Championships! See the Inn’s Specials page for details.

 

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Bicycle Auction

If you are a “Copake Bicycle Auction widow/wife” – ie. your husband comes
each year to the auction, and heads out the door at 5 am on Friday
morning for the swap meet, and wants to spend the day wandering around
and discussing bicycle parts esoterica with other guys – then you need to
make sure you have booked a room at the Inn at Green River for the
event! Here, the wives always enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then I drive
them down to the swap meet to join their partners. This year, we started
the morning with coffee and ginger scones at the inn, then moved on to
breakfast at the excellent CrossRoads Food Shop in Hillsdale (my treat,
of course). The scrambled, free range eggs and hominy grits were excellent.

Next we did a little shopping! First to the Hillsdale General Store,
which offers all sorts of chic items for country living, with the
emphasis on local. My guests came away with some wonderful local jam.
One of those hand made brooms is on my wish list. Then on to Passiflora right next door.

Purchases here included candy, cards and this great hand knitted dog toy made in Kenya.

 

Having done our bit to help the local economy, we headed on down to the swap meet around noon, and found one husband, happy with both his purchases – this adorable (my word, not his) child’s tricycle – and sales – he had sold a c.1890 adult’s treadle tricycle.

Bicycle Auction

The swap meet takes place in the field behind the auction house, and the participants drive their vans and trucks in at 6 am (although they have been waiting in line even earlier to get the best spots) and set up the items they wish to sell or trade.

Bicycle Auction

Meanwhile the preview inside the auction house continues, and the actual sale happens on Saturday. This year, it was standing room only, and buyers from over two dozen countries were represented, either bidding on the phone, or in person.

Bicycle Auction

It is the Copake Bicycle Auction, but includes all sorts of related ephemera. Here my guest poses with a fabulous French Art Deco poster she bought at today’s auction. Hmmm, now how to get that home!

Bicycle Auction

The auction takes place each year in mid April. Next year, book your stay at the Inn at Green River, and I promise both bike collector and supportive partner will enjoy the event even more than before!

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During my quick getaway to southern California, I covered a lot of territory, and had some great food. Many of my guests have had the fantasy about wanting to run a bed and breakfast. Hand in hand with that fantasy is the one about owning a restaurant, one which I always had. I think what both fantasies have in common is the desire to design a space, create an atmosphere, and provide a great experience. Here were some memorable ones for me.

Innkeeper's Restaurant Picks in Southern California

As the friend I was visiting is a long time resident of Laguna Beach, we had to have breakfast one morning at Zinc Cafe. I had also just had two guests from Laguna Beach several weeks before, and they, too, recommended Zinc. There are also Zinc Cafes in Solana Beach and Newport Beach, both of which I saw!

Our breakfast was simply two poached eggs on toast and a large latte
bowl of tea, elegantly served with the tea bag attached to a sliver of
wood that sat across the lip of the bowl. Here is a photo of that
breakfast, lifted from the restaurant’s web site. They also have beautiful pastries, food to go, and some enticing retail items. The interior was nicely designed with high ceilings, and the space is divided so as to provide different seating areas, yet still have an open, airy feeling.

On the other end of the spectrum, we had Mexican food one night at
Adolfo’s, a local favorite that has been run by the same family for 27
years. The staff is very friendly, the food is good, and the prices are
quite inexpensive. There is a nice little outdoor seating area. Inside,
the wall murals were done by the owner, and are quite colorful!

Another day we drove north to Pasadena. I had never been to that city, and really know of it only because of the Rose Bowl Parade. I was astounded at the beautiful homes in the older residential section near the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, and the beauty of the stark contrast between residential streets lined with tall palm trees, and the San Gabriel mountain range jutting up just north of the city.

I spied a little white and green awning shading an interesting sign,
“Pie ‘n Burger”. We decided to give it a try. What a find! Turns out Pie ‘n Burger is a Pasadena institution, in business since 1963, and
really, nothing has changed.

Diner ambiance with formica counters, open
kitchen with its enormous stove and grill right in front of you, the
wooden painted menu signs on the wall, and the food which is still made
the same way, 49 years later. The burger was really pretty great, cooked medium rare as
requested, with grilled onions, cheese, bacon, lettuce, and thousand
island dressing on top which ordinarily I don’t like, but it all worked!

I am afraid we had no room left for pie. And I didn’t indulge in an ice cream soda.  So I have an excuse to make another trip!

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Off on a busman’s holiday, the innkeeper is enjoying a vacation in southern California, staying in Laguna Beach with a friend and former Inn at Green River guest. One of our excursions was down to San Diego and over a beautiful bridge to the peninsula of Coronado, where we met friends for lunch at the “Del”, the famous Hotel Del Coronado. This wonderful c. 1890 resort hotel was made doubly famous as the setting for the shenanigans in the 1958 Billy Wilder movie, “Some Like It Hot” with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

We enjoyed a great lunch in the Babcock & Story bar/restaurant. From our table by French doors, we looked across the front lawn and gardens towards a little brown house called the Dutchess of Windsor,  which is now a private club. The house was apparently owned by the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor. Divorcee Wallis Spenser Simpson was from Coronado, and legend has it that the Prince of Wales may have first met Wallis at the Del. He later become King Edward VIII before abdicating the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis.
From that front garden, the Pacific Ocean is just a stones throw away, across a beautiful white sandy beach, and one can see
Mexico to the south west. See the mountain range in the distance across the ocean? That’s
the Baja region of Mexico.
Although all bright white paint and red roof on the outside, inside, one
enters the hotel through a grand lobby with an enormous chandelier
lighting all the dark wood paneling and coffered ceilings. There is a sitting area with easy chairs and tables – reminded me of the Algonquin Hotel in New York City which I always thought was a great place to meet for drinks after work.
Quite impressive. I highly recommend a visit!