This post is going to be short, but very important, so all you non-vegetarians pay attention: Bacon, dill pickles, and beer is the greatest snack combo ever. Really. I'm actually dead serious (and sober) as I write this; I ate dill pickles topped with strips of bacon earlier, washed down with beer, and it was perfect, truly perfect. All of it was local, too, which is a nice little benefit, harkening back to my appearance on a soap box, coming from:
Bacon: Bostrom Farm
Dill Pickles: Real Pickles
Beer: High and Mighty Beer Company Pas de Dieux Saison
Bostrom Farm and Real Pickles are located in Greenfield, MA, and High and Mighty is from Holyoke/Easthampton, MA (I'm not actually sure which one), I heard they moved recently out of Holyoke. All are fantastic, and Bostrom has a great meat CSA (community supported agriculture) share program, which I have a share in. At $300 for a total of 40 pounds of meat, 10 pounds a month for four months of mixed pork and beef, it's a good deal, since the meat is so much better than I'd typically get in the supermarket, even a decent one like Big Y.
I bought the pickles at Pekarski's in South Deerfield, MA, a polish sausage company that is so damn good and popular they don't even have a website; they simply don't need one. I also picked up some linguica and kielbasa, both of which are house made, while there, and both were incredible. I have recently made a few meals that were entirely local, from local lamb bought at a farm stand in South Deerfield to potatoes, corn, and tomatoes in both Sunderland and South Deerfield.
While I'm at it, a quick recommendation for the King Arthur Flour education center; for this most recent Mother's Day, my brother and I bought our mom a pass to a class there, and being the awesome son I am I agreed to go with her. We took the "Yeast Bread Basics" course, making our own white bread loaves and shaping a loaf of semolina flour bread prepared ahead of time by the course instructor in about three hours. The course was informative, and the instructor, Irene, was absolutely fantastic. She was friendly, informative, and best of all, she was supportive of her students. Instead of saying that things must be done her way, she told us to take what she taught us and then do what works for us; this was refreshing, as so often you get people teaching courses, whether it be baking or college class, or even trainings in emergency communications (my profession) who think their way is the only way. At only $65 each, this was well worth the trip, and both of us had a lot of fun.
Check us out on Facebook!