As I made my 165th trip down the Mass Pike on my way to the Berkshires, I did what I always do: made a mental “must purchase” list of some of my favorite Berkshires-only goodies. After so many visits, I have acquired quite the stockpile of specialty, made-in-the-Berkshires-must-haves, and it dawned on me that others might like to be let in on the secret of my treasured imports (most can be ordered online too). If Oprah can share her favorite things, so can I:
As a wheat-free consumer, I love the sourdough spelt bread and pizza crusts from Berkshire Mountain Bakery. They are so flavorful; I would eat them even if I weren’t trying to avoid wheat. I like to spread basil pesto as a base, and then layer on toppings like goat gouda cheese, dried figs, fresh plums, turkey bacon and sautéed kale–all of which become crunchy once baked. Order by Sunday and they will ship on Tuesday. Bonus: it’s not on the site, but if you prefer a thin crust you can request it. I order both sizes and use the thin ones to make my own version of focaccia by adding some herbs, olive oil and a little Parmesan cheese.
The Flavor of Love
Many moons ago I went on the beet and vanilla ice cream diet–don’t ask! I can’t remember if I lost weight but I know I lost the desire to ever eat beets or anything with vanilla. That is until I went on the Paleo plan and started cooking recipes that call for vanilla, which are all delicious: almond-meal pancakes, breads and granola. I first heard about Baldwin’s vanilla extract from Martha Stewart. I keep coming back to it as I have never been able to find anything quite like their dark, rich 100-year old barrel flavor.
The dawn of a new day has become much more tolerable thanks to Barrington Coffee Roasters. Right now my favorite is the Gold medium blend espresso. Bola Granola (also gluten-free) is another favorite morning ritual. It’s loaded with nuts and seeds for added fiber, texture and protein and the taste hints of brown sugar and salt.
On a Personal Note
To me, nothing says “I love you” more than the inconvenience and expense of handwriting a card, buying stamps and walking it to the mailbox. I do it often and willingly for those nearest and dearest to my heart, and that keeps me on the lookout for deals on unique cards. I first heard about Museum Facsimiles in Pittsfield because their fine art prints, frames, and letterpress-style greeting cards are sold by Neiman Marcus (my alma mater). Of course I was thrilled to discover they have an outlet store where you can buy an eight-count box of letterpress cards for $8.
One of my happy places is my small, mostly shade urban garden. I am not too modest to admit that I love it when people comment on the beautiful and eclectic plants and flowers. My secret: I find the most unusual and healthy offerings at the annual plant sale at the nonprofit Berkshire Botanical Garden. Without fail, I always find something that will add an element of surprise for those who pass by. For example, two summers ago I bought a chenille plant (red-hot cat tail) and watched as people tried to pet it as they walked by.