The quest for gluten, part II: Our brilliant B&B

Hi all, hope you’re all well!

I had an impromptu and short summer break – flying to Jakarta via Munich and back – which it itself produced a whole set of new stories, some of which I will share with the WWW in the next blog entry.

In the meantime, however, I do need to continue my tale of gluten hunting…

To recap, at the end of June, Alex and I went to the Berkshires, Massachusetts, to search for normal bread that I could eat. Normal here would be defined as “containing gluten”, i.e. containing that protein that turns dough all stretchy, allowing air bubbles to expand and stay trapped within bread and giving it that fluffy, airy texture.

And so…off went Alex and I, in our convertible with its new car smell, up north along the Hudson to the wee and twee town of Egremont, where our B&B – The Inn at Sweet Water Farm – is located. We didn’t really know what to expect, except that the Berkshires is a beloved summer destination of New Yorkers and Bostonians, and that our inn had great reviews on Trip Advisor.

The first thing that greeted us when we arrived were the chickens. Our hosts Lynda and Andrei keep a flock and use their eggs for breakfast. Now that was unexpected. Healthy and robust, the chickens showed off their fluffy plumes like stars at a fashion show. The main man, named “Pretty”, sports feathers around his legs which make it look like he’s wearing hammer-style pantaloons. Brilliant. Pretty has his own harem of equally pretty hens, and they ran around the grass and in the bushes by the buildings being, well, chickens. We immediately took to the place.

We dropped our bags off in our rooms, afterwhich we were offered chilled decaf mint tea, home-brewed beer (for Alex), and a plate of walnuts and cherries as a refreshment. “Would we like some?” asked Lynda. “Uh, yes please!”

Energized by food and drink and in need of some movement, we then took a walk around the neighborhood and explored. We saw very neatly organized farms, rolling hills, open fields, wide vistas, and many trees. I’ve never really seen many American farms before, and they have a surprising and sparse aesthetic to them.

It ended up being quite a walk, and when we finally got back to our B&B, we decided to stay in and not go out. We lounged in the common living room, playing with our phones, reading and chatting. As we sat, rhythmic chopping and sizzling sounds, followed by delicious smells, emanated from the kitchen. And not much later came Lynda, bearing plates and a cutting board laden with lovely gluten-free snacks of dates, ham, pecans, cheese and cherries. We had told her earlier that we planned to grab something to eat, and seeing that we somehow did not manage it, she made an evening snack, just for us, just like that. Wow.

The spoiling of the greedy guests continued the next morning. We were given a menu from which we could choose a breakfast item, which is then made to order. I ordered quinoa with poached egg and herbs, with a side of bacon, and Alex picked the omelette. And, having asked me the day before whether or not I liked rhubarb, Lynda had also prepared a gluten-free  rhubarb compote, which was waiting on the side table for me, along with croissants for Alex. And so it went the whole weekend. There were always chilled drinks in the fridge, water in the room and downstairs in the dining room, and extra gluten-free treats for me for breakfast. The next morning, instead of compote, I got Salvadoran breakfast cakes.

So really, just being at the inn, we already loved the Berkshires. It was so nice, I almost forgot what we came there for. What was it again? Ah, yes, gluten…

But, we did go to the bakery and we did meet Richard the baker himself! And what an encounter that was.

However, it’s getting late. I didn’t realize when I started writing that this post would end up being an ode to Lynda and Andrei, but that’s what it is, in the end. Because they deserve a mention. With many businesses focusing solely on profit and efficiency and what have you, it’s important to highlight an experience where it wasn’t just about that. It’s lovely to go somewhere and be truly welcomed and be treated like old friends. No?

I do promise to post about our meeting with Richard in the next entry. I do I do. Quickly – did we buy bread? Yes! Did I eat some? I did indeed. And how did I react to it? Well, that is still an on-going exploration, and I will write about that one next. With some photos of Richard, and the raccoons. I promised to post pictures of the raccoons last time, and I haven’t forgotten.

In the meantime, wishing you all a happy weekend! And a happy long Labor Day Weekend to those in the US : ).

Below, pictures of Pretty, some of his brood, Lynda our hostess, the inn, and food!










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