Eagle Ayes: Bests from the newsroom and friends


You know the feeling of finding a new place you can't believe you've never tried before and wanting to tell everyone you kow -- and maybe everyone you don't -- that they've got to try it? Or sharing it with someone you care about, like a gift?

We do.

From all of our wanderings about the Berkshires, here are a few of all the many places we enjoy. We are always glad to hear about yours too.

Happy explorations, everyone!

Best place to get a sandwich without mayonaise or tomatoes

Bilzalion's ham and cheese baguette with cornichon pickles and French butter (Route 7 in Great Barrington) holds a close tie with On a Roll's blue cheese and bacon hamburger on a home-made sourdough bun with sweet potato fries.

And as a Williams alum I have an old and deep fondness for Papa Charlie's in Williamstown -- and they'll make a Frank Langella with cranberry sauce.

Best muffins

Brew Ha Ha's selection, especially the pumpkin chip, almost across from Mass MoCA in North Adams.

Best Turkey Croqettes

Blue Benn Diner, Bennington -- the old-style dining-car diner with juke boxes has a menu that expands to cover the walls with specials.

Best bizarre local food

I'm not sure if they still have them, but Chez Nous in Lee was the first place I got to try frog's legs.

-- Jenn Smith, community engagement editor

Best place you have not yet stayed for a weeknd getaway but want to

The Old Inn on the Green, New Marlborough.

I have seen the Inn from the outside in lilac season while waiting for an exhibit of John Manikowski's steel artisan knives to open at the Meetinghouse next door. The inn was built in 1760, and in cool weather the dining rooms are lit by candle light.

134 Hartsville-New Marlborough

Road, Route 57,

(413) 229-7924


Best pancakes

Gould Farm's Roadside Café in Monterey gets most of their ingredients from the farm across the way -- and serves their blueberry pancakes as big as dinner plates, with real maple syrup.

Route 23, Monterey

(413) 528-1804


Best ‘it could only happen in the Berkshires' moment

This year, it has to be the day I walked into The Bookstore in Lenox, and Jane Kasten behind the counter said "your friend Amanda bought you a book and asked us to give it to you the next time you walked in."

Amanda Korman was my first intern at the Eagle, and she's now finishing her MFA in fiction at UVA. Some weeks before she had come to town to visit -- and chosen Verlyn Klinkenborg's "Several Short Sentences abut Writing" and asked them to keep it for me.

And I found her gift at about the time Klinkenborg himself generously met me for coffee at Haven to talk about an upcoming reading in Spencertown.

Emus getting loose in the town of Dalton. It's happened at least twice in my time.

-- Jenn Smith

Best encounter with wildlife

Walking a trail not far from Berkshire Sanctuaries, the Mass Audubon property in Lenox, with Thom Smith and a friend -- we were knee-deep in yellow Ladies' Slippers, and they said "luna moth" and pointed. And there by my knee a pale green moth with a wingspan wider than my hand sat absolutely still while we stared.

Best sense of June in the hills

"It began in the night. I wakened around midnight to the sound of the gurgle in the downspout. Lying there awake, I heard the soft rain-sound in the big apple trees, whose leaves were talking quietly to the raindrops. I listened for awhile and went back to sleep, lulled by those welcome rain songs. I can't think of a pleasanter sound in the night than the patter of rain on the roof and the conversation it has with the trees. Especially when the fields are parched with drought." -- Hal Borland, "Hill Country Harvest"

Best place to find Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in vinyl

Toonerville Trolley has a record collection I can only compare to my old collge radio station, collected with encyclopedic knowledge.

Route 43


Best encounter with ice cream

Discovering Maple Valley's peanut butter chocolate ice cream at the Wild Oats co-op in Williamstown definitely cheered a spring evening. It's a close tie though with savoring a coffee oreo So-Co Creamery cone from Scoops, in Lenox, on a bench in Lilac Park on my way home from an evening at Gould Farm, when they invited me to dinner to talk about their 100th year (and to walk around the farm and meet the piglets.)

Best natural high

Dancing -- contradancing to Raz de Marée in Lenox, feeling the rhythm of African drum from Williams College (Kusika and the Zambezi Marima band, Sankofa step team) to the top of Mount Greylock, or kicking back at a street festival or at the Inside/Out stage at Jacob's Pillow.

Best summer treat

Pick-your-own berries, closely followed by corn on the cob. I've enjoyed pick-your-own strawberries at Mountain View Farm -- and cherries, raspberries and apples at Lakeview Orchard -- in Lanesborough. For blueberries, Windy Hill in Great Barrington has given me a hand. And I've found fresh corn at Whitney's and at Chenail's in Williamstown.

Best memory at a Berkshire restaurant?

The Hub: Its where I had my first date with my fiancé. When you walk in you feel at home and are greeted like you are part of the family. They always have great food, great atmosphere, and not to mention the best waitstaff and bartenders in Berkshire County. -- Christine DiLorenzo

Gazing into the fish tank at the now closed Debbie Wong Restaurant in Pittsfield. -- Jenn Smith

Tom Ellis, the proprietor at Elizabeth's in Pittsfield, reading aloud from Henry Beston's "The Outermost House" to a lng tableful of guests at a joint birthday party comes high on the list (along with his Moroccan shepherd's pie).

More recently, it may be Edie Meidav inviting me to Baba Louie's along with Roxana Robinson, Helen Benedict and Sabina Murray after a Berkshire Festival of Women Writers event -- with organic pizza, Greek salad and a conversation linking Henry James, Colm Toibin and the 1960s. For me it felt like a night out of grad school, a bunch of writers spinning ideas and jokes around a table.

The Berkshires Week and Shires of Vermont team pooled their ideas and asked the Eagle staff and our readers for their thoughts. These Bests are our own, separate from the Reader's Poll, but meant in the same generous spirit.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

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