After 18 years in Lenox, Shack says, she cooks what she likes, incorporating comfort foods like meatloaf or baby back ribs into her more sophisticated repertoire.
By: Susan Leigh Sherrill
In the summer months, the Berkshires is a beautiful and busy place, with sold-out concerts at Tanglewood, scores of shoppers in Stockbridge, packed outdoor cafés in Lenox and the occasional James Taylor or Kevin Bacon sighting (both are local residents). But autumn, when the days are flecked with sunshine through brilliantly colored oaks and maples and the nights are crisp and cool, is also an ideal time to visit this varied region.
The Berkshires, named for the low mountain range that rises up from the Housatonic River valley, extends the length of the western edge of Massachusetts, from Connecticut to the Vermont border. Easily, and prettily, accessible by car from Bergen via the Taconic State Parkway, the southern Berkshires—home of Norman Rockwell and Edith Wharton—takes less than three hours each way, making it an ideal weekend trip.
Start your stay in Lenox, a charming village chock-full of hip restaurants and galleries, surrounded by historic homes that are now either hotels or museums. The center of town is dominated by The Curtis, a former grand hotel with shops and offices on the ground floor and apartments above. On the porch you might find Karen Romeo Leger preparing crêpes at her stand outside the chic tableware shop, A Table, which she owns with her French-born husband, Pierre.
For a seated meal centered on crêpes or other Gallic café specialties, visit funky Baroods, just a year old and owned by another Frenchman and his wife—Sylvain and Melissa Noel. If the weather is fine, enjoy a snack on the large outdoor terrace, pleasantly situated under the trees, where on a Sunday morning, locals linger happily over café au lait, reading The Berkshire Eagle, dogs at their feet.
Lenox's Church Street is lined with eateries, all of them popular and busy. A fun and casual way to spend an evening is at Chef Laura Shack's cozy and contemporary bistro, Firefly. With a curved mahogany bar fronted with copper, deep wall colors of pumpkin, wine and chocolate and amber-globed lights made by a local craftsman, Firefly exudes warmth. So does its owner, a petite and bubbly Manhattan native who exemplifies the good life that draws creative people to settle in this part of New England. After 18 years in Lenox, Shack says, she cooks what she likes, incorporating comfort foods like meatloaf or baby back ribs into her more sophisticated repertoire. This includes signature dishes such as the roasted garlic plate with sun-dried tomato goat cheese, caramelized onions, marinated olives and peppers; an unusual grilled Caesar salad; or crispy duck with tangerine-pomegranate sauce.
As one would expect, pleasant B&Bs abound in the southern Berkshires. One that offers a different approach is the Inn at Richmond, situated just north of Lenox. Innkeeper Carl Dunham has created a refuge for both humans and horses at the inn with the Berkshire Equestrian Center, which includes two large barns and a state-of-the-art indoor ring, complete with viewing gallery and steam room to soothe the muscles of tired riders. The inn is also ideal for families, who will find comfortable accommodations in cottages separate from the main house, and a common game room with pool and poker tables and a large-screen TV. In the inn itself, a wood-paneled library makes a cozy spot for reading by the fire, and wine and soft drinks are always available in the sun room, which looks out over the paddocks.
From casual cocktail parties to elegant and formal dinners, Firefly offers catering services for a wide range of events. With menu choices to delight all palates and options for every budget Firefly will make sure your event is truly memorable. Contact Firefly today to start planning your celebration.