Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Off the Map: Into the Woods, And Out of the Woods, And Home Before Dark

Bread and Chocolate -- Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Housatonic, MA
Berkshire Mountain Bakery

The list of things that would compel Vodka to make a journey into the mountains include... well, nothing.  So, to reword, the ONLY thing that would compel Vodka to make a journey into the mountains is a Bernadette Peters concert, which is how she finds herself winding around the hills of the Berkshires on the way to Tanglewood.
You're Welcome, Berns
So Many Trees... SO MANY TREES...
Now, the Berkshires, as we have come to understand them, is some sort of New York City/Boston institution.  People are obsessed with them.  Unfortunately, if you looked up "the opposite of Vodka's kind of thing" in the dictionary, a picture of its landscape would appear.  It is, after all, rather telling that she would one-hundred times rather vacation down the shore than within this hilly setting, being that she hates sun, sand, and swimming.  So suffice it to say that she is not exactly entering the borough of the Berkshires with an open mind.
An Open Mouth, Yes, But Not an Open Mind
However, never one to let a Best Thing I Ever Ate opportunity pass her by, Vodka and her enabling parents stop off en route to Tanglewood at the Berkshire Mountain Bakery, a place recommended by Gabriella Gershenson on the MESSY episode of the show.
The Day You Find Vodka Traipsing Through the Mountains in That Outfit Is the Day the World Ends
Clomping through the parking lot in completely inappropriate mountain attire, Vodka enters the bakery to find... no one.  Under normal circumstances, this may not have been a surprise, but being that there are no less the five cars inexplicably hovering in the parking lot, the emptiness of the place is a bit jarring.
Levain Bakery, This Is Not
Looking excessively like Two Fat Cats Bakery in Maine, Vodka approaches the completely nondescript counter and orders a bread and chocolate loaf.  The proprietor (who Vodka's mother correctly describes as being "barely alive") rings up the purchase with a completely affectless expression, clearly not a member of the Berkshires tourism bureau.
Let's Just Say We Weren't Told to "Come Again"
The bread itself is shaped like a squashed playground ball (it is apparently called a "boule") and is scattered with hearty pieces of dark Callebaut chocolate.
Freckled Bread
Cutting into the loaf at our lunch location, Vodka finds more chocolate hidden in the nooks and crannies of the bread itself (though strangely, it appears to be concentrated only on one side).
Um, Bakery Man - You Missed The Other Three-Quarters of the Loaf
At first glance, this bread and chocolate concoction proves promising.  At first taste, it joins the ranks of the Berkshires itself in Vodka's rating system.
In Other Words, It Is the Opposite of Her Kind of Thing
Indeed, the problem with this bread is that we so WANT it to be tasty.  For goodness sake, we love bread and we love chocolate, so what could possibly go wrong?
Oh, Let Us Count the Ways
Vodka determines that the main problem with this bread and chocolate is the bread itself -- dry and crumbly, it is not nearly spongey enough to integrate the chocolate well.  In contrast to a pain au chocolate, for instance, the two ingredients in this dish seem completely disparate to each other.
In This Case, If A = B and B = C, A Certainly Does NOT Equal C
In terms of taste, the bread is bland in flavor, and it has not been sweetened at all to make it more dessert-like.  Because the dark chocolate is downright bitter, the melding of the two parts is a bit of a disaster.
Let's Blame the Flavor on That Allegedly "Fresh" Mountain Water
Over the next few days, Vodka tries to improve this bread and chocolate in any way she can think of -- heating it, dousing it with sugar, spreading butter onto it -- and no alterations make her want to take even a second bite.  In the end, she is left with three-quarters of a loaf of disagreeable carbs -- one that does not seem suitable for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner -- and an even greater distaste for the place from which it came.
Moral of the story: go watch Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods, but don't go into the woods to see her perform.  Because even the First Lady of the American Musical Theatre cannot fully counteract the damaging effect of mountain roads, nature's bugs, and misguided baked goods.

Berkshire Mountain Bakery Bread and Chocolate: 2 stars


  1. I always thought this looked so good, but I'm allergic to chocolate so it's kind of good to know I'm not missing out on much. Maybe you could make French toast or bread pudding to improve it?

  2. Thanks Im pregnant and woke up craving this.... thanks for saving my husband a trip.