Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Tasty Trip to Bennington

Do you have a hankering for some homemade chocolate chip raspberry pancakes? How ‘bout an omelet with apple and Vermont cheddar? Perhaps an open-faced Reuben with sautéed onions and melted Swiss? The next time you’re staying at the 1896 House, take a scenic drive up to the Blue Benn Diner in Bennington, Vermont to satisfy your appetite!

       The Blue Benn provides that authentic diner experience you’ve been craving. It still operates out of the original diner car that was assembled on-site in the late 1940s. Mini jukeboxes at all the booths add whimsy to your experience. You can sink your teeth into a gooey homemade cinnamon roll while the Andrews Sisters serenade you with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” You can sample a homemade blueberry corn muffin while Billy Joel sings “Only the Good Die Young.” Or maybe you’re looking for something a bit more mellow. Dig into some comforting turkey pot pie while the Beach Boys calm you with “Good Vibrations.” The musical options are almost as limitless as the food selection.

           The front wall of the diner is plastered with colorful pieces of paper advertising additional scrumptious items not listed in the printed menu. I highly recommend the California Benedict, which consists of poached eggs on an English muffin topped with tomato, avocado, sprouts, and a guacamole hollandaise! This fresh twist on a heavy classic is one of the Blue Benn’s many innovative takes on comfort food. The Cuban Pulled Pork Sandwich is not to be missed, either. The Blue Benn cooks liven up a generous portion of sweet pulled pork with melted cheese, roasted red peppers, and hot sauce. Don’t forget to save room for a slice of homemade pie! The assortment includes Blueberry, Raspberry, Coconut Custard, and Vermont Maple Pecan.

          The Blue Benn Diner is open seven days a week, serving breakfast all day. Wednesday through Friday the diner is even open until 8 p.m., providing locals and hungry travelers alike with a satisfying dinner. Check the hours of operation for each day on the Blue Benn’s Facebook page, and don’t forget to bring cash! That’s right, the diner only accepts cash. No credit cards here. And don’t forget the quarters to keep the tunes rolling as you chow down.
          To get to the Blue Benn from the 1896 House, follow signs for US-7 North toward Vermont at the Williamstown traffic circle. The pleasant twenty-five-minute drive will take you through Vermont farmland and historic downtown Bennington. Keep an eye out for the Apple Barn along the way. This large red barn is full of even more delectable goodies! Among the fresh treats to choose from are homemade apple cider donuts, sea salt caramel fudge, and maple soft serve ice cream! The shop also offers a selection of Vermont maple syrup, Vermont cheddar cheese, and Vermont hard cider. In addition to the selection of goodies, the Apple Barn offers apple-picking in the fall and berry-picking in the summer months. The Apple Barn is open daily from 8:30 to 5:00 p.m. during the summer and fall.

     After a day packed with so many Vermont treats, head back to the 1896 House to relax by the brook. Perhaps you should bring back an apple cider donut for a late night snack? Don’t worry, we won’t tell! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Landscape Worthy of a Painting

Are you traveling to Williamstown this summer to visit the newly renovated Clark Museum? If so, don’t miss the opportunity to hike the beautiful trails on the Clark property. Located behind the Clark, Stone Hill is a favorite spot for local dog walkers and hikers alike. The trails lead through a wooded hillside, as well as a lush meadow. If you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of the cows that frequent the meadow. They love to lounge, feast, and romp in the tall grass. Don’t forget to close all gates behind you so that the gentle spotted critters don’t get loose!

Dotted with birch trees, the Stone Hill meadow is surrounded by forest. It has a magical quality, as if a centaur or some sort of mythical creature will come strutting out from among the trees. From the summit of Stone Hill, you will be able to look down on the Clark Center with its new three-tiered reflection pool. In the distance you will see landmarks from downtown Williamstown peeking through the trees: the white steeple of the First Congregational Church, Thompson Memorial Chapel, and West College, the oldest building on the Williams College campus. West College was built in 1790 and at one time served at the dining hall, library, dormitory, and chapel for all of the students! You will also be able to see the Green Mountains of Vermont stretched out before you.

To access the trails, begin at the Nan path that leads to the Lunder Center at Stone Hill. As you walk along the path, follow the signs for the woodland trails, followed by the pasture trails. All trails are depicted on the maps of the Clark campus that you can pick up at the Clark Center. Don’t forget your bug spray and your walking shoes! You may even want to venture back to see Stone Hill in Autumn. You will be able to admire the flaming red and orange foliage of the forest and surrounding mountains.

The Clark is open daily through October 13th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Fridays in July and August, the galleries remain open until 7 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and is always free for members, children under 18, and students with a valid I.D. To see which collections and exhibitions the Clark currently has on display, visit Regardless of gallery hours, you can access the Stone Hill trails behind the Clark year-round from dawn until dusk.

It’s the ideal spot to get away from the bustle of city life and enjoy the natural beauty of Williamstown.