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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Cheers to The Hub


Comfort food served in a cozy setting surrounded by familiar faces of family and friends, what’s not to love?

That’s exactly what The Hub on Main Street in downtown North Adams offers patrons each time they step foot in the door. Owned and run by a family for all families by Kate and Matt Schilling, a duo with the help of Kate’s mom and aunt, the hub has become a staple of North Adams, and come to be known by many as the “Cheers” of the Berkshires.

Matt, originally from Florida, and Kate, from North Adams, met while living in Bar Harbor, Maine. As the couple began to get to know each other, Matt’s intentions of moving back to Florida were put on pause as they decided to make a life together. Luckily for lovers of The Hub, that decision would bring them from Bar Harbor to North Adams and a culinary gem would be born.

Bar Harbor is a seasonal getaway in the summer months, bringing lots of customers for lobster rolls and steamers. But for those living there year-round, the seasonality makes it hard to maintain business during the off months. So even though Kate and Matt’s intention was to open a restaurant together, they quickly realized that would be difficult to do in a summer tourist town.… Read the rest

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Caramelized Onion Chutney

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, peeled and julienned
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup vegetable stock or water

In a large sauté pan, add oil and onions sauté over medium heat until browned and caramelized, about 15–20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Once onions are caramelized, add remaining ingredients. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and pulse mixture in a food processor until chunky, being careful not to over process.

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Hops and Vines

Two ways to enjoy great food


With a limited number of restaurants in Northern Berkshire County, it could be hard to find one that strikes the perfect balance between casual and upscale dining, but that’s just what Hops and Vines in Williamstown is doing.

Hops and Vines opened in 2011 with an original idea: to offer two separate restaurants in the same location. On one side, the “hops” restaurant would offer a casual atmosphere and menu. A larger adjacent room, the “vines” restaurant, would offer a fancier dining experience with a focus on fine dining. Both restaurants would operate out of one kitchen. With the plan set, the restaurants launched, but it was quickly realized by the management team that something wasn’t working very well.

The dining concept was not allowing diners to experience the best of both menus, depending on where the diner chose to sit. Because they were operating from the same kitchen, they quickly combined the two-menu concept into one cohesive menu. Hops and Vines gave customers the chance to eat what they’d like, regardless of where they chose to dine.

On any day, you will find people of all backgrounds sitting down to a delicious meal or handcrafted cocktails.… Read the rest

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Chez Nous

A Gift that Keep on Giving


It really is hard to articulate how incredibly intensely we worked in the kitchen at Le Gavroche in London. At the time, 1998, my now-husband, Franck Tessier, having been promoted to sous-chef upon his arrival from the States, with me in tow to work as pastry chef.

There were about 16 of us in the kitchen—I never picked up my head long enough to get an exact count—and people did come and go at an alarming rate, but there was only one among us who seemingly had everything down. Franck ran, sang, chatted and cooked all at the same time in that kitchen.

It was the kind of place where to not hear anything about your work was a good thing. No comment meant that you were doing things properly, actually doing a good job, though that was impossible to imagine.

Though there was little or no praise from owner Chef Michel at Le Gavroche, when Franck’s birthday came around the chef offered a generous gift for all of his hard work: dinner for two at any Michelin-starred restaurant in London. We chose Nobu, owned by the Japanese Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Chef Michel’s favorite restaurant.… Read the rest

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Public Eat & Drink

Shaking up the art of enjoyment


North Adams, Massachusetts, is home to a renaissance of creativity with an amazing landscape of art and design.

A former industrial center and mill town tucked away in the northern Berkshires, North Adams is now home to painters, photographers and performance artists. It is considered one of the most affordable small cities to live for young artists.

Spearheading this creative growth is one of the largest contemporary art museums in America boasting 600,000 square feet of potential space. Mass MOCA has over 300,000 square feet, currently occupied by exhibition space, galleries, art fabrication facilities, performing arts theaters, a natural amphitheater, two performance courtyards, an outdoor concert space and production support space.

As artists descend on a community, eventually so does gentrification. One restaurant that’s carving its own niche in this blossoming cultural mecca is Public Eat + Drink in downtown North Adams.

Public, which opened in 2011, is the brainchild of owner Jared Decoteau, a native of North Adams, who saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between high-end tablecloth restaurants and casual pubs. His goal was to present creatively plated food at a reasonable price, while offering the casual atmosphere mirroring the culture of North Adams.… Read the rest

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HEIRLOOM MEALS: Jo Murko’s Cream Puffs


By Chef Carole Murko, Heirloom Meals

Christmas season was all about the baking when I grew up. My most vivid memory, however, is not the actual baking—it’s of Nana’s hospitality table.

Each December the old wooden round folding table with a quilted top made its way out of the attic and into the dining room. My nana would adorn the table with a green wool felt cloth that she made.

She prepared her tiered stand with lace-cut doilies and a tray of cordials. Underneath the table was tin upon tin of cookies. The largest tin was piled high with our famous sugar cookies and other tins were filled with so many different cookies from fruitcake cookies to chocolate-dipped almond fingers.

My brother, sister and I would sneak in and “steal” a cookie from the tin whenever we thought the coast was clear. I am sure this brought pure joy to Nana and Mom, who knew we were filching the cookies. But what was best about the hospitality table is it was a beacon for visitors.

Family and friends would drop in and out came the cookies into the tiered stand, the coffee percolated on the stove and the cordials were poured.… Read the rest

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Everyone has their own unique place or environment where the best version of themselves suddenly shines through. As a kid, mine was always the farm.

By 6 years old, I could stand up to an ornery goat without getting charged. At 8 years old I could take a blow from the spurs of the meanest rooster and cuddle the aggression out of him. At the farm, I felt like the Steve Erwin of goats and chickens: able to handle anything. At the farm, I felt like me.

Unfortunately this feeling had a way of fizzling out the second I walked through the doors of my eighth grade. That specific year, every girl in my class decided that I would be the one they chose to bully.

In school it didn’t matter how comfortable I was staring down an aggressive goat because in the face of a mean 13-year-old girl I cowered like a chicken at the bottom of the pecking order. The meanest of roosters has nothing on the viciousness of eighth-grade girls.

It began halfway through September. Brittany Johnson was the ringleader and I rarely spotted her without a group of girls hovering around her. On the bus she would snicker to her friends about me, calling me ugly, stupid and, most commonly, “dumb blonde.” These comments traveled to the classroom where the rest of the girls soon joined in.… Read the rest

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Preheat oven to 450°F.

1 cup water
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of flour
4 eggs

In medium saucepan, combine water, butter, salt and sugar.

Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, add vanilla and flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to form a ball. Place dough in a bowl of a stand mixer and set aside.

In a small bowl lightly beat 3 eggs. Separate 4th egg and place the white in a small dish and beat lightly; reserve yolk for filling. With the mixer on low, gradually add egg mixture with flour mixture. Once all in, increase speed to medium, until combined and you have smooth dough. Stop mixer, test dough—make sure it is supple enough to hold its shape but not pasty. If it is too stiff, add the egg white.

On a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, place teaspoon-sized balls a few inches apart. Using a spritzer, lightly spray with water. Place the sheet 1 up from bottom rack in oven, lower the temperature to 425° and bake for 15 minutes.


After 15 minutes, open the oven and pierce each cream puff with a toothpick to let steam escape; this helps dry out the inside.… Read the rest

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Stout Braised Short Ribs


By Executive Chef David Slick of Public Eat + Drink

Serves 4

4 pounds short ribs (Chef sources from Vermont’s Family Farm, Enosburg Falls, VT.)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large Spanish onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cups stout (Chef suggests Gerry Dog Stout Bourbon Barrel Aged from Big Elm Brewing, Sheffield, MA.)
2 cups beef stock
12 medium carrots, peeled
4 purple-top turnips, peeled, medium chop
1 pound fingerling potatoes
6 cloves fresh garlic
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stem and chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed from stem and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup demi-glace

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Season ribs with salt and pepper. Place oil in cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven on high heat until almost smoking. Sear ribs to golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side, being careful not to crowd pan. Remove ribs from pan and reserve.

Add onions and celery to pan. Cook until onions are translucent. Add stout of your choice and reduce by half.

Return reserved ribs to pan, add beef stock and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, cover with lid or foil and place in oven. Roast until meat is tender but not falling off the bones, about 3 hours.… Read the rest

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