Author Archive | Caroline Alexander

Mazzeo’s: Good Product, Good Service Runs in This Family for Generations

mazzeo

Story and photos by Caroline Alexander

Rudy and Michael Mazzeo are two chips off the old butcher block.

“My father was a butcher and so was my grandfather,” says Rudy, who runs the Mazzeo’s Meat & Seafood Department inside the Guido’s Fresh Marketplace store in Great Barrington, along with his brother Mark. Michael, his brother, does the same at the Guido’s in Pittsfield.

Their father, Rodolfo, and their uncle, Pasquale, started Mazzeo’s Market in Pittsfield in 1960. That classic Italian market had the romantic charm so characteristic of family-run Italian markets. The brothers extend their family’s history of service and commitment to their customers.

Always excellent, always fresh, Mazzeo’s offers exceptional and extensive variety: 18 types of homemade sausages, eight kinds of stuffed chicken, marinated lamb, pulled pork and many cuts of steaks and roasts. They get high marks from professional and well as visiting celebrity chefs shop there as well.

Seafood is delivered fresh several times each week. The salmon comes from the Faroe Islands, and wild salmon and halibut are FedExed direct from Alaska. Most everything else is brought in from Boston or New York.

The butchers behind the counters are a knowledgeable, dedicated team, rich in personality and warmth, probably knowing most people in Berkshire County.… Read the rest

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A FARMHOUSE RESTAURANT

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Photos by Caroline Alexander

Nestled on the side of the road on Route 23, heading west, just before the NY border, is a welcoming refuge for hungry locals and visitors. John Andrews: A Farmhouse Restaurant, has been around for so long, it’s an indigenous part of the landscape in the Berkshires.

Dan Smith, chef/owner, grew up on a farm in Iowa, then worked briefly as a sous chef in Florida before relocating to Salisbury, CT, in the late 1980s. He and his former wife purchased a two-story house—at the time, Sebastiani’s Restaurant—in 1990 on the outskirts of South Egremont, MA, and named the restaurant after his then father-in-law, John Andrews.

When Dan started out, his menu was American, with Northern Italian influences, and it’s still that way. But, his connection to local farmers has developed and deepened over time. As Dan’s culinary expertise evolved over the years, so has his menu. It is deeply rooted in local soil, imparting fresh flavors unique to the area; his style is sophisticated but simple. Here’s a typical pick off the menu: House- Made Fettuccine, Barefoot Farm Sweet Peas, Duck Confit, Berleberg Cheese. Or this: Grass-Fed Ribeye, Zinke’s Scallion Butter, Lyonnaise Potatoes, Local Broccoli.

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Chef Dan Smith

Early on, Dan developed close professional relationships with local farmers, like the Stosieks of Markristo Farm, located just down the road on Route 23.… Read the rest

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SUMMER HYDRATION: THE BAR SCENE

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Photos and details by Caroline Alexander

With summer upon us, restaurants and bars in the Berkshires are expanding hours and opening up lovely patios to al fresco dining.

Many chefs look forward to this season for its abundance of locally raised vegetables and meat, and they pride themselves on sourcing ingredients from farmers they know well. Farms are often listed on menus here, and you’ll see these farmers at the farmers markets.

As you tour the Berkshires, we hope you’ll stop in one or more places for a drink and have a taste of the local cuisine. Chances are the vegetables were just recently pulled from the ground right here.

Many bars listed are restaurant bars, and unless otherwise noted they serve meals or light fare at the bar. It’s a great way to taste our local cuisine and enjoy a beer from the region or a restaurant’s signature infusion cocktail. We hope you enjoy the offerings!

Here’s a brief overview of bars in the Berkshires, driving from southernmost Berkshire County, near the Connecticut border, to North County, near the Vermont border. All venues offer cocktails, wines by the glass or bottle and draft and bottled beer, unless otherwise noted. Most have websites, so check online for the latest updates.… Read the rest

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High Lawn Farm

Cream of the Crop for Three Generations

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High Lawn Farm’s Jersey cows are NOT from the Garden State. The breed originates from the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel, and they are easily distinguished from other cows because of their beautifully dramatic heads, with large eyes surrounded by contrasting shades of beiges and browns.

When you taste 100% Jersey milk, cream or butter, it has a rich sweetness that is exceptional. Chefs in the Berkshires know High Lawn’s milk and cream well— they’ve used it for years and rave about it:

  • Peter Platt (chef/ owner, Old Inn on the Green): “I have used High Lawn dairy products exclusively for over 25 years. The low-temperature batch pasteurization preserves the exceptional flavor of the 100% Jersey milk.”
  • Brian Alberg (executive chef, Red Lion Inn): “Knowing where my food comes from and how it is produced is very important to me and to my guests. That is why I use High Lawn cream. It is made from Jersey cows that produce a higher butterfat that makes for a richer more flavorful cream.”
  • Michael Ballon (chef/owner, Castle Street Café): “High Lawn Farm cream makes the best frosting for wedding cakes—and I wouldn’t dream of using anything else.
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cattle

History on the Hoof

Milking Devon arrived with Pilgrims, lovingly bred in Berkshires

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It’s all connected … the landscape, the farms, the cows and the food. It’s all right here in the Berkshires, and the customer base is smart and eager to support what’s locally grown. They’re getting less timid about buying meat farmed in the Berkshires, as well as the traditional staples of vegetables and artisanal breads.

Jen and Phil Leahey raise heritage cows and pigs on their farm in Lee, and they attend the farmers’ market in Great Barrington each week, selling pasture-raised beef and pork, all hormone- and antibiotic- free. Jen and Phil manage the Leahey Farm full-time. The farm has been owned and operated by Phil’s family since 1889, and they’re committed to making it work for the long-term future.

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The extended Leahey family has held onto the farm for generations, and even while many in the family work in small engine repair, carpentry, construction and excavation, they all live on the farm. Phil’s father, James, grew up on the farm and was actively involved in the dairy and the raising of work horses. He witnessed the decline of farming and became a veterinarian of “minor” (heritage) breeds. But the extensive acreage on Reservoir Road in Lee stayed in the Leahey family, and now Jen and Phil are dedicating themselves to making it a sustainable, working farm.… Read the rest

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Pot Roast with the Leaheys

Pot Roast Meaty soup bones, chuck steaks, short ribs and shanks are ideal cuts for slow cooking. While grass-fed meat may cook differently from corn-fed meat, recipes are easily available online.

The Leaheys chose a beef chuck roast, bone in, for this recipe. After searing the meat in a Dutch oven, garlic, onions, parsley, thyme and bay leaves are added. The ingredients are generously covered with beef broth, with a bit of tomato paste stirred into the broth, then cooked with the pot covered for about 4 hours.

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