Dear Tanglewood Food & Wine Classic,
Thanks for the wonderful memories!
I had skirted around the Berkshires of western Massachusetts before, and I have probably flown over them a number of times, but this was my first real immersion into the area. It is easy to see why many people make the annual pilgrimage from many miles away. The region reminds me of the Ozarks: similar topography and roads, surprisingly similar vegetation and houses. The residents were welcoming, with many of them volunteering to make the Classic a success.
We arrived in Lenox a little too early for check-in so we spent most of the midday using the Cranwell Resort’s spa facilities; it was easy to see why our townhouse was not vacated early: one would want to prolong a stay as long as possible.
My first order of business was to check on Friday evening’s cheeses, each of them sourced from Massachusetts cheesemakers: a Fig Burratta, A Barndance, and Berkshire Blue. All three were in place at the Seranak, the gorgeous venue for the evening’s dinner. The cheeses for Sunday’s seminar were also there – a sigh of relief was granted. Friday’s dinner was grand and the cheese course was the closing act; no dessert course to weigh it down.
We took in a marvelous dress rehearsal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Saturday morning -Tchaikovsky’s Seventh Symphony, which fit into the area’s scenery perfectly. This was followed by the Grand Tasting. One couple said they came for this part of the Classic alone, all the way from south Florida. The tasting featured several chefs’ signature dishes, wines from all over, and a few fresh and lovely Massachusetts beers. As if this three-hour event were not enough on its own, we were invited to an evening crew party which included a veritable gourmet smorgasbord.
Anticipating a busy Sunday morning, I chose to retire early that evening. Sunday’s weather could not have been more spectacular, made all the more enjoyable by the professional Tanglewood staff. I brought out the seminar’s six cheeses for tempering first, went over a few details with the severs, saw that everything was on schedule, then began the process of preparing the individual plates. The fresh baguettes were cut, water was poured, collateral set at every setting, the wines were poured at their ideal temperatures, then the cheese plates were set. The view from the Seranak porch was fabulous.
Of the four Rutherford wines, the Arroyo Chardonnay and the Predator Zinfandel were the standout partners for the cheeses. Not one single “miss” was noted with either of these wines.
The Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon were fine too, just a little more particular with each of the cheeses. The cheeses: Garrotxa, Kunik, Manchego, Hannahbelle, Mahón and Bailey Hazen Blue. Rutherford’s Pam Gallagher joined me in presenting the seminar, and was proud of how well the wines showed, even a little surprised at how well the Chardonnay lined up.
A little Yo-Yo Ma rounded out the early afternoon, then departing Tanglewood for Brooklyn with a stopover in Connecticut. The Tanglewood Culinary Program Director, Debbi Otto, orchestrated a tremendous festival from her end. Full of energy, hard work and dedication, exuding remarkable grace through all the complex and concomitant food and beverage events. A big round of applause for her!
Then, Monday’s final leg to Brooklyn was delayed three hours by our car’s broken distributor.
After this spectacular weekend, I did not mind one bit.