A field trip: The Berkshire Pilgrimage at The Beard House

It’s nice to have friends who do fun things.

And when one of those friends shoots you a text that says, “Hey wanna come hang out and help me sling hors d’oeuvres?” and that friend is Brian Alberg (Executive Chef at the Red Lion Inn and Eat on North in the Berkshires), and the event is at the Beard House, you don’t just say “yes.” You say “You bet! How soon should I be there?”

In the kitchen

On November 4th, I met Brian (don’t call him “chef”) and the rest of the crew in the Beard House kitchen. Known as The Berkshire Pilgrimage––the meal highlights produce and meat from western Massachusetts. It’s a collaborative effort managed by Berkshire Farm and Table and the Main Street Hospitality Group (The Red Lion Inn’s parent company).

Brian assembled a great group of Berkshires chefs: Adam Brassard, chef de cuisine at The Red Lion Inn (Stockbridge); Sean Corcoran, chef de cuisine at Eat on North (Pittsfield); Daire Rooney, chef of Mezze Catering + Events in the Berkshires; Dan Smith, chef-owner of John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant (South Egremont); and Adam Zieminski, chef-owner of Café Adam.

By the time I got there at noon, I felt like I was already behind schedule. The kitchen was buzzing with energy and good spirits. This a group that’s cooked together many times, and in a small space like the Beard House kitchen good interpersonal vibes are an essential ingredient. Brian threw me on fryer duty and I spent the rest of the afternoon channeling my deep-fryer mojo, labeling mise en place, and cutting up vegetables for family meal.

It’s a real pleasure to cook with a group like this. This dinner was the sixth Berkshires-focused Beard dinner that Brian has spearheaded, and his 12th visit to the House. As a result, everyone knew the idiosyncrasies of the space: where to find equipment, which burners run hot, where the paper towels are, etc. so we were all pretty relaxed and ready by 5:45, when we took a brief break to enjoy family meal with Beard House staff.

With the family fed and the first plates set to go out at 7:00, the kitchen started humming again immediately. Thanks to Clay Williams, we have plenty of pictures of the action, but here are some Instagram highlights of the multi-course experience:

Hors d’oeuvres (Brian Alberg, The Red Lion Inn and Eat on North)

  Sweet corn soup with mignonette peppers


Paddlefish caviar with apple butter and creme fraiche on a potato chip

Rabbit bratwurst with mustard

 Roasted vegetables and onion dip.

First course (Daire Rooney, Mezze Catering + Events)

Scallop crudo with Sweet Lightning squash, grapes, and a grape-habanero purée

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.12.57 PM


Second course (Adam Brassard, The Red Lion Inn)

“Pork and beans” Kielbasa, baked beans, smoked horseradish mustard, crispy onions


Third course (Sean Corcoran, Eat on North)

Duck confit, heirloom squash, maple gastrique, Farm Girl Farm greens

Fourth course (Adam Zieminski, Café Adam)

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.30.48 PM

Braised Lila’s Lamb stuffed cabbage with honeynut squash, crisped steel cut oats, pickled peppers

Dessert (Patrick Lacey, sous chef John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant who ably stood in for Chef Dan Smith, who was ill)

Kabocha squash cake, praline, ginger ice cream 

Ingredients for the dinner came from a multitude of producers across Western Massachusetts and just over the New York border. 

 Barrington Coffee Roasting Company

Berkshire Mountain Bakery

Berkshire Mountain Distillers

The Berry Patch

Big Elm Brewing

Farm Girl Farm

High Lawn Farm

 Hosta Hill

Ioka Valley Farm

Joshua’s Farm

Kitchen Garden Farm

La Belle Farm

Lakeview Orchard

Lila’s Farm 


Massachusetts 4-H

MX Morningstar Farm

Raven & Boar

Ronnybrook Farm

Taft Farms

Turner Farms

Windy Hill Farm

For more information about The Berkshire Pilgrimage and the Beard House visit:  http://www.jamesbeard.org/events/berkshire-pilgrimage

Berkshire Farm & Table promotes food culture in the Berkshires. The organization collaborates to cultivate tastemakers, produce events and foster dialogue in the media. By sharing the unique stories and expertise of culinary artisans, farmers and agritourism experiences, their work advances food as another reason to explore and savor the Berkshires. For more information, visit www.berkshirefarmandtable.org.


Edible Radio: More from Saveur's India Issue with Kellie Evans

saveur coverWe spoke with Kellie Evans, an Associate Editor at Saveur Magazine, about Saveur’s India Issue. As the hunter, gatherer and writer of recipes for Saveur she gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how recipes are produced for each issue.

On this podcast we talk about how recipes come together for each issue and the challenges of producing the recipes published in the India Issue and recipes for Caramel Lassi, Aamba Khatta (Sweet and Sour Mango Pickle), and Dosas.

Listen to our podcast with Betsy Andrews for more about the India Issue.  Visit the Saveur website to find the entire India Issue plus the stories that couldn’t fit into the magazine.


Recipes from this episode 

These links will take you to Saveur's website.

Aamba Khatta
(Sweet and Sour Mango Pickle) 





Palakoora Vepadu
(Andhra-Style Sautéed Spinach)


Aloo Masala
(South Indian Masala Potatoes)



 Ghanta Tarkari
(Mixed Vegetable Coconut Curry)


Caramel Lassi



Edible Radio: Saveur's Betsy Andrews Takes Us to India

BETSY ANDREWS HEDSHOTWe spoke with Betsy Andrews, Acting Editor in Chief of Saveur Magazine, about Saveur’s India Issue.  Join us on this podcast for a discussion of the culinary traditions of different regions of India. Betsy was a visitor at a wedding in Kashmir and tells us about the traditional wedding caterer (waza) and the 36-dish feast (wazwaan) he prepares. Enjoy the flavors of a Kashmiri wedding with Mirchi Qorma (Kashmiri Lamb in Chile Sauce).  

She also takes us to the Kashmiri city of Srinagar and together we visit its marvelous floating gardens and boat markets. 

Listen to the second podcast in this series in which we discuss the recipes in this issue. Visit the Saveur website to find the entire India Issue plus the stories that couldn’t fit into the magazine.  

On this episode, Betsy Andrews of Saveur Magazine describes her visit to the Kashmir region of India. As we recorded, in early September 2014, news reports describing the worst monsoon flooding and landslides in 100 years started to come out of the region. As of September 17, the current death toll from the floods in Indian Kashmir is estimated at over 200, and tens of thousands of residents are homeless. Our thoughts go out to the victims of the disaster.



Recipes from this episode 

These links will take you to Saveur's website.

Maacher Johl 
(Bengali-Style Fish Stew)


 Mirchi Qorma 
(Kashmiri Lamb in Chile Sauce) 


Sevaya Kheer 
(Vermicelli Milk Pudding)


Shahi Tukra 
(Royal Toast)


Smita Chandra’s Rasam 
(Spicy Tamarind Soup)