Bascom Lodge: Dinner with a spectacular view

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ADAMS — Bascom Lodge atop Mount Greylock offers "food with altitude."

Like its patrons, staff and supplies must travel up the long and winding road to the 3,491-foot summit to Massachusetts' highest peak, where the War Memorial Tower beacon illuminates the 1930s red spruce and stone rustic lodge.

At Bascom Lodge, chef John Dudek describes his "farm to summit" cuisine as "the ethnic roots that flavor the American palette." He uses mostly local farmers market ingredients to create his rotating three-course prix fixe dinner menu with steak, scallops, chicken and more, plus vegetarian options such as vegetable strudel and spinach and cheese crepes. Aided by a small seasonal staff, the restaurant serves three meals a day from May to October, with 45 seats in the dining room, and 40 more on the sunny enclosed porch with dazzling sunset views.

Dudek cooks dinner nightly, while Brad Parsons conjures up cakes, pastries, pies and ice cream.

They have been life partners for 40 years, and together — with Dudek's brother, Peter, who takes care of the building and events — were awarded 10 years ago a 25-year Historic Curatorship to restore the nearly 90-year-old lodge and feed 150,000 annual visitors, including Appalachian Trail hikers. Parsons, a textile designer by trade, decorated the welcoming space — once voted "Best meal with a view" by Yankee Magazine — with Stickley furniture and warm amber mica light fixtures.

Parsons is also the lodge baker, taught by Dudek, a former pastry chef at New York City's three-star Hubert's and Duane Park Cafe.

"I've spent my whole life in the food industry," said Dudek, who still caters for private clients in the off-season.

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At the lodge, Parsons plans the menu. "I know what [Dudek] likes to cook and what he does well," he said.

"Everything at the lodge is homemade," said Dudek.

Some years ago, the couple visited Tangier, returning with saffron and a heightened appreciation for the country's cuisine.

"We've always wanted to do different types of ethnic influences," Parsons said. "We've been to Italy, Spain, Morocco and Portugal, bringing back ideas to put on the table, here. And we use authentic recipes."

On Saturday, June 29, Dudek will offer a special Moroccan feast, one of several themed dinners held each month at the elevated establishment.

The $39 prix fixe menu will begin with salad — a popular dish in North Africa — made with carrot and beets over watercress, dressed with shallots, mint, honey and ginger. Entree choices include a Lamb Tagine topped with toasted sesame seeds that owe its savory sweetness to prunes and its name to the traditional Moroccan clay cooking pot with a conical lid. Berber-style Swordfish represents the abundant seafood of this Atlantic coastal nation and is marinated in Chermoula sauce — olive oil, garlic, cilantro, parsley — then braised with tomatoes, olives and house-preserved Meyer lemons. For vegetarians, Tagine of Moroccan Vegetables includes sweet potato, eggplant, bell pepper and more, served with Tfaya caramelized onions, golden raisins and chickpeas. Diners should specify this option when making reservations.

Distinctive Moroccan seasonings abound — Ras el Hanout spice blend, Harissa hot chili pepper paste — as well as ginger, saffron and cinnamon. Entrees are served with couscous and green bean tagine.

For a sweet finish, there will be a pistachio, apricot and orange blossom cake with orange creme anglaise, followed by coffee and tea. Moroccan Syrocco Syrah wine is suggested to complement the meal.


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