Wednesday, February 29, 2012

the berkshires winter getaway, part 2

Just catching up? Here's part 1 firstWe woke up bright and early on Sunday morning to a little less blistering cold and a heck of a lot more warm sunshine.
One by one, we showered, got ready, and then bundled up to stroll over to the main building of The Porches Inn for breakfast.
There's coffee available almost all day, every day with the cutest fresh milk jugs. We were in need of sustenance though, and so we turned the corner to the dining room to find a continental breakfast spread that puts most, if not all, hotels to shame: fresh fruit, fresh bread, fresh baked goods, hard boiled eggs, local yogurt, an assortment of jams, and cheese, some of the best I've ever had. 
I helped myself to a little bit of everything and it was delightful.
Following breakfast, we explored the grounds for a bit. Such a quaint little place The Porches Inn is. 
But alas, the time came for us to check out. We packed up the car, said our goodbyes to North Adams, and continued on our way.
We wanted to get in quality hiking on some farm grounds before heading home.
It wasn't too strenuous of a trail, but it was a bit icy... which made the trek all the more exciting ;). With walking sticks in hand, we explored for about 45 minutes. 
felt better about 45 seconds in. The woodsy, wintery landscape was breathtaking.
A little after noon, we ventured back to the car, bid our cow friends and a tipi adieu, and drove into Williamstown for lunch.
Using trusty Yelp to guide us, we stumbled upon The Purple Pub. The service had gotten mixed reviews but the food sounded like a good bet. We took our chances.
Fortunately, although the wait for water nearly left us passed out on the table, once our orders were served, they were pretty delicious. In my occasional meaty ways, I enjoyed The Equinox Turkey Club (roasted turkey, bacon, tomato, lettuce, onion, avocado, and dijonnaise on grilled country bread) with fries and coleslaw.
Later on, we strolled through the surrounding boutiques to check out the antiques, cutesy souvenirs, and the sweet scents of coffee houses and ice cream shops.
Then we went back to campus and I was in collegiate bliss. If you've been reading danielle abroad for a while, you've probably gathered how much I loved my own college experience. I really did. So much so that when I find myself on another college campus (like I did in Madison and Ann Arbor), my heart nearly flutters. I'm not sure Anna and Katie quite understood how I felt about Williams College :).
I was also ridiculously impressed with their museum. My favorite of the current exhibitions were those which explored the cultural and sociological aspects of art, most notably these three: Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective (wide-ranging work of the Chicano performance and conceptual art group); African Americans and the American Scene (the role of African Americans in the visual and performing arts during the great Depression); and Don't Fence U.S. In: Crossing Boundaries in American Art (the many ways art expresses the power of boundaries: making, breaking, crossing, drawing, and erasing).
And that is that. We made one last necessary stop at this bakery before heading back to Westchester County and then Manhattan. The short but sweet trip completely exceeded my expectations. It was fun and active, relaxing and tasty, and therapeutic, too. Thank you, Anna and Katie, for ensuring it was so.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the berkshires winter getaway, part 1

On January 18th (yes, I scrolled that far back), Anna tweeted: Who wants to go to the Berkshires with me this winter and hit up Mass MoCa? I replied, and when we realized we were both very serious about the prospective trip, we moved the conversation to email. Once deciding on the perfect weekend for it, we also invited a few friends. Katie was the only invitee who could make it.
Last Saturday morning, the two of them took the train up to Westchester to meet me at my parents' house and thus at my car. It took us 3.5 hours through rain and snow (quite literally) to reach our destination: North Adams, Massachusetts.
Thankfully, we had our excitement and enthusiasm to keep us company. Along with a few muffins and snackiballs.
We arrived just in time for lunchtime, and boy were we hungry. We were advised to go to a popular casual neighborhood restaurant, the Hub.
Being as there was a bit of a wait, we opted to eat at the bar. And being that we were eating at the bar, we ordered beers as well. A beer just sounds so good when you're reminded what a truly cold winter feels like. Refreshing and warming.
To get a jump start on my vegetable count for the weekend, I ordered the Greek salad which was served with a generous amount of garbanzo beans, just enough feta cheese, and a delicious tahini dressing. On the side, I also helped myself to our shared appetizer: sweet potato tator tots with a raspberry "mumble" sauce.
After lunch, we wandered through town for a while. The buildings were charming and it was nice to be amongst locals as they were out and about for Winterfest. Anna even found a gift for her mom, and Katie, free butterscotch cookies for all.
Eventually, though, the winter winds drove us indoors, and so we followed arrows like this one to the museum that inspired the weekend getaway in the first place:
Made up of 26 factory buildings and industrial bridges and passages, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is honestly amazing on its own.
As are the art galleries within it, of course. We strolled through exhibits of work by Sol LeWitt (as you see above), 
in addition to those by Sanford Biggers (above right) and Nari Ward (above left). 
There were also individual pieces and collections by many other talented artists.
This experience alone would have made the drive worth it, but we had nearly 24 hours left by the time we'd exhausted ourselves with creative inspiration.
Plus, it was time to head back across the street to check into our room at the historic Porches Inn. It was cuter and much more spacious than I'd imagined:
We unpacked a bit, changed into more comfortable clothes, and each curled up with our respective books. Within an hour a so, we'd all fallen asleep for a nap.
In between curling up and falling asleep, we also enjoyed a complimentary chocolate chip cookie from the Porches Inn lobby. Then eventually, with a small glass of wine within and a few extra layers upon us, we headed out for dinner.
We decided upon PUBLIC. Within moments of observing its brick walls, dim lighting, and reasonably-priced menu items, I knew we'd made the right choice.
I had the lightly seasoned Cedar Plank Salmon with green beans and a fabulous few slices of ciabatta bread which I had so meekly requested and the waitress so generously brought us... warm, no less.
And when the time came for dessert, we obviously ordered that too. The Ice Cream Sandwich (made with house chocolate chip cookies and SoCO vanilla ice cream) was delicious. Katie's splitting skills made sure we each had our fair share.
The night technically ended there, though it did not. We retreated back to our cozy room and spent the next few hours drinking more wine and sharing more stories, secrets, and laughs. Ah, girlfriends. By the way, I'd asked them this earlier that day but now seems like an appropriate time to insert it into the recap: "Hey, guys. Guess what? [Pause.] We met on the internet." To be continued...