the return of a local institution

For many years, a favorite destination in our area has been the Cider Mill. Every year, from August sixteenth through December first, they make doughnuts and cider for sale. On weekends, they make plain, powdered sugar, and cinnamon doughnuts, and on weekdays, they add chocolate frosted with or without chopped peanuts, maple frosted with or without chopped walnuts, and vanilla frosted with or without shredded coconut. They also sell pies, cookies, jams and jellies, and, once they are in season locally, candy apples, winter squash, and many varieties of apples.

When they are pressing cider, you can walk back and observe them prepping, crushing, and pressing the apples to extract the cider. There is a chalkboard telling which types of apples and in which proportion that day’s cider contains.

In a bit of a strange twist, the Cider Mill is also home to a local professional theater company. The former apple storage space has been transformed into a cabaret-style performance space which mounts a seven-play season with each play running for three to four weeks.(People especially love concessions at the fall plays because they can get fresh cider, hot or cold.)

While the opening day is supposed to be August 16, most years the owners try to get ready and open earlier.

Daughter E, who, mind you, is five thousand miles away in Hawai’i, told daughter T yesterday that Cider Mill was opening today. Note: she is much more attuned to social media than her mother.

So, today, for the first time ever, T and I went to the opening day at Cider Mill. It was amazingly busy with long lines and separate areas for ordering and checking out.

Of course, we bought fresh cider and doughnuts.

Because they were so busy and because it is quite warm and humid, the doughnuts were being frosted and sugared when they were still quite warm. I put our doughnuts out on a rack in the kitchen so that they can finish cooling and so that the frosting didn’t adhere to its neighbor.

Once they are throughly cool, I’ll put them back in their waxed bakery bag to await tomorrow’s breakfast.

Although chocolate or maple frosted doughnuts also make a mighty fine dessert…

SoCS: food!

It’s Saturday morning and I just now looked at Linda’s prompt. I was so excited that the prompt was “food”!  Maybe Linda is psychic, because it is exactly what I would like to write about today.

B and I are on a getaway for a few days and food was a very important part of the plan. On Thursday, we travelled to Deerfield, Massachusetts to stay at the Old Deerfield Inn. We had never stayed there before because it is pretty pricey, but we had discovered that on a weeknight in the off-season, it was affordable.

We had, however, eaten at their restaurant, Champney’s, before, and that was a big factor in deciding to go there. B had chicken piccata , which was a special that night, and I had a steak and ale pot pie, which was made with a local beer and local root vegetables. It was totally amazing. And very hot, because it came baked in its own little iron deep-dish. It took a long time to eat because it stayed very hot.

One of the reasons we love to eat at Champney’s ,though, is that they make an excellent Indian pudding. As people who read Top of JC’s Mind may recall, we have a thing for Indian pudding. It’s a tradition in B’s family and I have even written poetry about it!  (Poems here, here, and here with recipe here.) Being pretty full after our main course, B and I savored a serving of Indian pudding together. Amazing!

Like most inns, breakfast in the morning was part of the deal. I had fresh local yogurt with fruit and homemade granola and a half order of French toast with local maple syrup. B had French toast with scrambled eggs. Then, we ambled out for the day.

We were heading to Lenox and went via Northampton, where I attended Smith College. We had some lovely soup in Thorne’s market – potato leek for me and sausage lentil for B – but then moved on to the real place I want to eat – Herrell’s Ice Cream. Herrell’s was new to Northampton when I was at Smith in the late ’70s – early ’80s and makes astonishingly good ice cream, or, as New Englanders are wont to say, wicked good. I chose malted vanilla, which is one of my all-time favorites. I was afraid B, who is lactose intolerant, would have to settle for sorbet, but they had a couple of “no-moo” flavors, so B got to have peanut butter no-moo. Yum!

We proceeded to Lenox to stay at the Cornell Inn, where we have often stayed on getaways. We had made a dinner reservation at Alta, one of our favorite places in Lenox. B and I shared a salad that featured candied pecans and fried Brie and moved on to our main courses. I had trout, which was excellent. B thoroughly enjoyed pork cheeks braised in cider and served over squash and other seasonal vegetables. If it weren’t a Friday in Lent, I would have sampled it. He said it was great. We wondered if they were really pork cheeks, but I think they must have been as Alta is very particular about all of their menu items.

This morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the Cornell Inn. Breakfast is a highlight of any trip here, as there is always a lovely variety of homemade options. Today’s selection included broccoli fritatta, berry crisp pancakes and cinnamon french toast, mixed berry and oatmeal blackberry muffins, and fruit plate with yogurt on the side. So good!

Now, I am writing this post, but, in a bit, we will check out and head up to Williamstown to stay with a high school friend. Her husband is a (mostly) retired chef, so more great food is on the agenda!

Hope I didn’t make anyone hungry. (I also offer apologies to all my vegetarian friends for rhapsodizing over meat-containing dishes.)
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week was “food”!  Yum!  Join us! Find out how here: 

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SoCS: still away

I am still away on a long weekend trip with B to celebrate our Third of a Century wedding anniversary. We had to be apart on the anniversary date in June, so we – okay, I – came up with this commemoration plan instead.

We had a lovely breakfast at the B&B this morning, featuring fantastic apple cider pancakes and a maple apple crisp that was one of the most delicious things ever. The innkeeper joked that because they didn’t serve it with ice cream, it was a breakfast food rather than a dessert. Of course, we agreed. As native New Englanders, we know things like fruit pies are perfectly acceptable breakfast foods!

Not sure what else we will be doing today. I still wanted to participate with SoCS, but didn’t want to devote much time to a long post.

Can you blame me?  😉
This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. The prompt this week is “still.”  Join us! Find out how here:

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GIANT Hawaiian pancakes

After Sunday mass, B, E, and I went out for brunch. E suggested we go to Mac 24/7 at the Hilton just down the street from our hotel for pancakes.

While they do serve regular size pancakes, they are known for their Mac Daddy Challenge, which involves one person eating three 14″ pancakes with toppings in 90 minutes.  A friend of E’s did it – as a hungry teenager – but, with none of us in that category, we decided to split the order among us.

We opted for the pineapple coconut macadamia topping. Here is what our platter looked like after we each had a helping. (For perspective, the spoon is a serving-size spoon and the knife is pretty hefty, too.)
Mac Daddy pancakes

Not pictured is the pitcher of coconut syrup that we poured on our servings on our individual plates. There was maple-flavored syrup, too, but a) I don’t think maple goes with pineapple coconut macadamia and b) coming from New England, anything less than 100% pure maple syrup gives me the willies.

The pancakes were delicious. Even with three people, we did not finish them, though. After we each had seconds, there was still enough left for B and I to have breakfast the next day. Fortunately, we already had a bottle of coconut syrup in our hotel kitchen refrigerator.

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