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What's On the Menu? - Delectable Home-cooked Meals

Set against backdrops of gently sloping fields, meadows and scenic back roads, local inns and B&Bs are a throwback to a nostalgic era of comfort and style, affording travelers an escape from everyday routines. Lean back in a rustic rocker on a wrap-around porch, luxuriate in a four-poster canopy bed heaped with cozy feather pillows. Let your hosts pamper you with old-fashioned hospitality and - a specialty which innkeepers take great pride in - traditional home-cooked meals.

Berkshires innkeepers present their guests with mouth-watering meals, often following a specific theme or cooking style such as country cooking or international cuisine. Whether they're serving a romantic three-course candlelight breakfast (The 1896 House) … specially baked Dutch pastries (The Wainwright Inn) … or delivering breakfast to your room in a meal pack fashioned after the boxes Victorian workers used to carry (The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA), they like to get creative, giving the meal their own distinctive, personalized touch.

You'll also find seasonal specialties, including summertime drinks, fruits, and desserts - often brought back by popular demand when repeat visitors request their favorites. We'd like to give our readers a sneak-peek at what's being served at local lodgings this season. Here's just a sampling of the delectable home-cooked meals you'll find at local inns and B&Bs. To learn more about what's on the menu in the Berkshires this summer, contact any of the inns and B&Bs listed in our Lodgings and Bed and Breakfast sections…

European chefs at the Orchards Hotel in Williamstown prepare a variety of continental and world cuisines. The most recent Orchard luncheon menu included a crispy crab cake entrée served on an orange jam cilantro sauce with marinated avacados. Top it off with a dessert soup - orange blossom tarragon soup with risotto quenelles. For dinner, guests enjoy a delicious selection including domestic rack of lamb with potato cheese gratin, eggplant compote and kalamata olive jus.

The menu at Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge features contemporary regional cuisine served with gracious New England hospitality. A recent dinner at the inn included first courses of ginger spiced carrot soup and caramelized Georges Bank sea scallops, followed by roasted rack of Colorado lamb and scalloped root vegetables in a thyme sauce. They also offer traditional favorites like New England clam chowder, roast turkey and apple pie.

At the 1896 House Inn in Williamstown, the Colonel Bullock's Tavern dinner menu offers a wide range of cuisines, from "Fine Yankee Cookery to Eclectic Fusion." In addition, at the inn's new luxury "Barnside Suites" guests are treated to the aforementioned three-course candlelight breakfast. Enjoy a refreshing fruit course, followed by a home-baked pastry and a hot entrée, One favorite is the Ham & Egg Boat Florentine - scrumptious Virginia ham and eggs, served with a muffin and half-baked tomato atop a nest of spinach.

At the Cranwell Resort in Lenox, you'll discover three restaurants with a variety of menus and settings. At Wyndhurst and The Music Room, both located in the 100-year-old Tudor style mansion, you'll savor the Roasted Salmon in Rice Pepper with a Saki marinated white bean and mint risotto, Ajiso and carrot vinaigrette. Sloane's Tavern features a casual atmosphere with a lighter, pub style menu. Since the opening of The Spa at Cranwell, Executive Chef Carl DeLuce has added some innovative and delicious health-conscious meals to all three menus. Christine's B&B in Housatonic provides guests with an assortment of special lodging/dining packages to choose from. A particular favorite with travelers is the late afternoon tea and dessert offered each afternoon. This summer, mid-week guests at Christine's will enjoy Tea Time specials that include Strawberry Shortcake on Tuesdays and ice cream socials on Wednesdays.