Author Archive | Michael Ballon


A Good Veggie Burger Amounts to a Hill of Beans


One of the more common idioms in English to express contempt or derision is to say that something doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, as if a hill of beans isn’t worth very much.

On the contrary, in many parts of the world a hill of beans is the staple of life, and the major source of protein. So many Americans regard meat as the major source of protein, when in fact beans provide a plentiful amount.

I have been pleased and surprised to see that the new Southwestern Black Bean burger we have been serving in the Café has been so popular. The number of diners forgoing meat increases every year, and restaurant menus need to evolve and change with the times

In addition to being vegetarian, this black bean burger is vegan and wheat free, and there has been an enormous increase in diners who are vegan and/or avoid gluten. The entire dish is Southwestern in style, and rather than a roll it is served on a crispy corn tortilla, with both a green tomatillo sauce and a more traditional tomato salsa with cilantro, all topped with guacamole

The sauces are essential, because they provide both moisture and sharply contrasting flavors.… Read the rest

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Something to Chew on

In the Global Age, the top superstar chefs now have empires stretching from both coasts of this country, with an additional obligatory outpost in Las Vegas. We are now on a first-name basis with many of these star chefs, like Nobu, Mario and Jean-Georges. There are no outposts of superstar chefs in the Berkshires. Instead, there is an unusual number of chef-owned restaurants, where on a daily basis working chefs filet fish, make sauces and cook the food you eat. On any given night, you can be fairly certain that the chef has actually prepared your meal.

When we think of culture in the Berkshires, we usually think of the area’s exceptionally diverse offerings of classical music, modern dance, classical and modern theatre and art museums. This is what enriches our lives, and why many of us are attracted to living here. The Food Culture in the Berkshires is likewise strong and deep. The quality of both farms and restaurants in the county is unusually high. How many other communities have a local dairy that bottles and delivers its own milk? Where else would a former newspaper publisher start a new venture that makes world-class blue cheese? How many other communities of similar size have as many highly reviewed, independently operated chef-owned restaurants?… Read the rest

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