Food Finds: Southern Berkshires

Once a food writer, always a food writer. Note taking is an integral part of my meanderings, and cell phones make documenting finds all the easier.

A weekend at the southern edge of the Berkshires threw many culinary wonders across my path. Most of my time was in and around Hillsdale NY, where I encountered lots of folks with a style and mindset that could have come from Brooklyn or Portland. (Quite different from the wilds of northern New Jersey.)

First stop: a couple of craft brews in the rustic courtyard of the Roe Jan Brewing Company.

The Crossroads Food Shop, at the center of town (basically…an intersection), warranted two breakfast visits. The open dining room is sunny and minimalist, the menu a blend of intelligent turns on pancakes and eggs (with smoked fish! kim chi!) and tauntingly tempting baked goods.

Down the road a piece, the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market had me happily draining my bank account. Besides the usual local produce and meats, baked goods and takeaway food stalls, three vendors stood out.

Vine Gate Lavender Floral Farm waited just inside the gate with a cornucopia of lavender-stuffed and scented wares. I walked away with wool balls for the dryer, lavender-stuffed sachet bags for the dryer, dresser and pillow case, body salts and an eye pillow.

Coopers Daughter Spirits stopped traffic with infused vodkas (cacao maple went home with me), black walnut bourbon, and lilac or rose liqueur. Each was smooth and seductive. Bonus points: stark, sleek design; aging in barrels made on site at an 1805 distillery facility; and ownership by women.

With a name like TNT Bitters and dynamite packaging, how could I not strike up a conversation? The handcrafted bitters are as advertised, each awakening the tongue in distinctive ways. Espresso is the keynote of Napalm in the Morning, poblano peppers of Fire in the Hole. Smoked grapefruit goes by Pink Mist, and Alibi is aromatic and citrus. A Better Name Than Kamikaze features horseradish and ginger (which owner Anna, seen smiling below, suggested as an addition to the Party Out of Bounds signature drink, and the drink creator agreed with her idea). (He also got a dynamite sampler pack.) Plus, the humans here are so damned friendly. Anna was manning the booth with her mom, who stepped out of the way for the photo. I’ve been following them on Instagram since. And also dribbling bitters into tonic, happily.

.Exploring then took me to Great Barrington, MA, where the heavily attended farmer’s market was more for buying actual kitchen provisions. The streets were filled with delights. An ice cream parlor checking IDs, on account of cannabis within. Unicorns and happy masked bear images. Rainbow painted crosswalks. A store with vintage glassware, relocated here a few years back from NYC.

My reason for being in the area? A private event with dazzling celestial decor, music-themed drinks (A Brown-Eyed Girl!) and food to match. Exhibits A and B below.