Sunday, June 20, 2010

School's Out and I'm Just BEAT!

Can't seem to get back in a cooking groove since the Georgia trip and a crazy exam week/close of school.  I jumped at the sudden invitation from my brother to come down to the restaurant he manages out of the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield, MA. 
He's been there three years, and it's the first time we were allowed to come dine!  He's not in the kitchen any more, but his culinary influence as Executive Chef was very apparent. He's also the banquet manager and whatever else manager!  He's got a great chef, Hank, whose food was so good I never touched the salt or pepper.  To me, that's the sign of a good chef.

I had planned to photograph the main courses--yes, courses, as he brought out several dishes for us all to try--but we were so excited we dug in to each and every one before I remembered the photo!

First, we had tomato with fresh mozzarella and basil. The kitchen makes their own cheese. (The only thing that would have made it any better was if it was served with the organic tomatoes I got from Mighty Food Farm yesterday!) Then he brought out small tastes of his clam chowder, which had bacon in it, but I knew would be heavenly and actually broke my no food with meat in it rule.  

They also brought out other meat laden dishes that looked fantastic for the meat eaters:  clams with chorizo and a chicken panzanella salad.  The fish dishes were fabulous:  a mahi mahi with white beans and then a shellfish dish with handmade tagliatelle infused with chianti!

The kids decided all on their own to get dressed up. They looked absolutely precious. 

Kira was beside herself with the fresh mozzarella goodness, which she was able to have on a flatbread pizza.  It's nice to see her growing more comfortable with eating out. She's so particular, but if it's a good place, her refined tastes will be met!

Owen got a giant steak with hand cut fries. It was bigger than him.  He relishes being the hearty meat eater in the family.

It was great to see Lee in his element.  If you're driving through Pittsfield on Rte. 7, stop in at One West at the Crowne Plaza and have whatever's on special!!!

The next day we went to the farm and picked up our Mighty Food Farm share. Heavenly aforementioned tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, kale, eggs, snap peas, parsley, and lots of fresh basil.  Kira and I noshed on the flax grain bread we bought there, the greek olives imported by a local family, and aged sharp cheddar from Henry's Market down on East Main St.  A local lunch!

 Later, we ate dinner out on the deck at mom and dad's, which has undoubtedly one of the top views of the southwestern Vermont valley.  I made a pesto with the basil from MFF, and put together a pasta salad with the kalamata olives from the Kontoulis family, feta, sundried tomatoes, and artichokes. I kept needing to add salt and pepper--I'm always surprised how much salt I add to things, but I realize that when it's from scratch, there's no salt at all. It's still probably far less than prepared foods!

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