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RI Archives: Food

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Hotel on North

Haven Cafe & Bakery

Baba Louie's

Windy Hill Farm


Berkshire Coop

Guido's Marketplace

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The Greening of the Red Lion Inn

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Chef Brian Alberg is rocking the Red Lion by focusing on local foods

Like the rock band Wilco playing at Tanglewood (on August 12), Brian Alberg’s running the kitchen at the Red Lion Inn is a case of cultural dissonance.  Like many old guard Berkshires institutions, the Red Lion wants to maintain beloved traditions while developing a modern sensibility. Even as the venerable Stockbridge hotel innovates from the inside out by becoming greener (winning the Good Earthkeeping Award from the Massachusetts Lodging Association and buying as much food as possible from local farmers), many guests still crave the familiar. “The Inn’s signature dishes are roast turkey and prime rib,” says Alberg. “But they’re not mine.” They certainly aren’t. Alberg’s ever-changing repertoire depends a great deal on what local farmers are harvesting, and he’s proud to say that he spent more than $300,000 last year purchasing milk, cheese, beef, pork, bread, beer, vegetables and fruits from suppliers within a 100-mile radius of his kitchen. His current offerings include dishes such as Moroccan spiced Hudson Valley poussin, Steamed organic salmon Nicoise, and Medirerranean lamb ragout with polenta (as well as the obligatory turkey and prime rib.) The menu has the de rigueur list of credits where Alberg acknowledges the farms and producers who’ve made your meal possible: Equinox, Markristo, Bella, High Lawn Dairy, Stonehedge, North Plain, Farm Girl, Ronnybrook, Old Chatham Sheepherding, Rawson Brook, Blue Moon Shrooms, Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Cricket Creek, Jasper Hill, Bacon on the Side, and Hilltop Orchards.

This week, Alberg has designed a prix-fixe menu that celebrates local food in honor of Berkshire Grown Restaurant Week. From June 8 - 12, member restaurants will be offering a special three-course $25.08 menu for Berkshire Grown members. (A Berkshire Grown community membership is $40 and can be purchased online or at the restaurant where you’re dining, and it allows you to order two of the prix-fixe dinners.)  Alberg’s menu for restaurant week:: Equinox arugula salad with Rawson Brook goat cheese and Bella Farms duck confit;  Braised North Plain pork shoulder with Cricket Creek mac and cheese; Ronnybrook vanilla ice cream.  Cooking with local ingredients isn’t as easy as it sounds because of the short growing season and the high costs, but Alberg likes challenges. (An avid motorcyclist, he leads bike tours of farms called Roaring Rambles a few times a year for Red Lion guests.) In order to be able to serve grass-fed lamb and beef affordably he does braises and ragouts with the less-expensive cuts of meat. He raises heritage-breed pigs on his farm in Columbia County, and their diet includes scraps he brings home from the Red Lion’s restaurant. “I make my own bacon,” he says. And if you’re wondering how he can claim there’s native corn in a dish this time of year, you should know that last fall he froze the kernels from 1,500 ears of local corn. He still has a few bags in his freezer, which will see him through until this summer’s corn harvest.
Berkshire Grown Restaurant Week Participants
Note: Restaurants will most likely be keeping their regular hours; reservations are advised.
Allium, Great Barrington
Baba Louie’s, Great Barrington
Cafe Latino, North Adams
Cafe Reva, Pittsfield
Castle Street Cafe, Great Barrington
Gramercy Bistro, North Adams
Helsinki, Great Barrington
Jack’s Grill, Housatonic
John Andrews, Egremont
Mezze Bistro + Bar, Williamstown
Napa, Great Barrington
Pearl’s, Great Barrington
Pittsfield Brew Works, Pittsfield
The Old Inn on the Green. New Marlborough
Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge
Route 7 Grill, Great Barrington
Stagecoach Tavern, Sheffield
Swiss Hutte, Hillsdale
Viva, Glendale
The Williams Inn

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 06/05/08 at 07:38 AM • Permalink