July 30, 2016 by WhiteStone
Two groups of middle schoolers came over to the inn recently. They are part of a summer school program that has a session on Architecture and Culture. During the second unit they were studying food and culture, exploring different regions and seeing how restaurants design their menus and their spaces to reflect where they are located. At the end of all of this, the students will have to present a vision of what kind of restaurant they would create, and what the menu would look like and why.
It was an interesting study to reflect on why we do what we do and to articulate that; to explain why we designed Champney’s as we did; and why buying local is as important to us as running a scratch kitchen.
We are not sure if these students fully understood about reducing the environmental impact, keeping the farming community vibrant, preserving genetic diversity, putting taxes to good use, investing in the future, buying what is in season so there is less waste. We said we like to buy what we want and not what a food conglomerate wants us to buy; that for us it was morally, ethically, philosophically, the only way – that growers, the land, animals, should be treated with respect and appreciation.
We told them we buy local draught beers, bringing in many different ones and supporting new brewers. We buy local gin and vodka, and we make our own infusions for the clarity of taste, supporting area growers when we can for those infusion ingredients.
We spoke of the opportunity we had after tropical storm Irene to create two warm, inviting, gathering spaces within the footprint of the old hall-like dining room of the inn, to put in fireplaces, a dining bar, well-padded seating, sound-absorbing carpets and café curtains, and bring modern comfort and operation into a space that still honored the past and sense of place with its color choices, period reproduction wallpaper in the restaurant side, and seeded glass windows.
We showed them that the restaurant and tavern have pictures on the walls that reference this village that owes its very existence to the rich land around it, the rivers, orchards, and fields. It all speaks to community, place, past and present.
We told them that even the name of our restaurant and tavern have significance for us; that James Wells Champney was a Deerfield resident who was an ardent abolitionist, a champion of women’s suffrage, an innovator in photographic techniques, and an early impressionist painter. Above all there is much testament in the Memorial Libraries to his kind and generous heart, and a good heart is greatly valued here. You can learn to be a server, but you can’t learn a caring heart, and the authenticity of the desire for folks here to make sure you are well and happy is a delight to experience.
We are not sure the students got all this: The compare and contrast restaurant was a fast food chain –and, when asked, they said the difference between that menu and ours was that the chain restaurant’s had pictures, but it was an interesting exercise for us to articulate to a rising generation how the Chef has designed the menus and how our spaces reflect this village where we are located, and the importance to us of authenticity in produce and products, in preparation, in ambiance, and in service.
Then they all shared a plate of local cheeses with strawberry-rhubarb compôte and we told them how that pairing of a “jam” with cheese was a very old culinary tradition and gave them tasting notes – and then, finally, it was all about the food.
April 22, 2016 by WhiteStone
The Deerfield Inn and Champney’s Restaurant & Tavern is bringing back its Bring Something to the Table initiative that we rolled out in December to invite guests who come to enjoy a meal here to leave a donation of any amount in an envelope for members of our community who are in need of our kindness and help. Obviously folks do not just need help during a single fund-raiser and on high days and holidays, so through the spring and summer, starting in May, we will be supporting four different and extraordinarily worthwhile, valuable, organizations that do so much good for those who neighbors who need our help.
Come by to Champney’s on a Sunday in May to August, gather with friends, with family; bring a date; and slip something in the envelope in the check holder. Every single dollar helps, and if you can bring more than that to the table, then good on you.
At the end of every month we will draw out a donor name and give someone an overnight stay at our Massachusetts bed and breakfast along with a $50 VIP card to spend in Champney’s when you come for your sleepover. Afternoon tea and Kathleen’s cookies, a full country breakfast, free Wi-fi, $4 off each adult museum ticket, and 10% off in the store as well.
You can come by as often as you want on any Sunday you please, leave some more for those in need of a hand up, and enter the raffle again.
May – New England Learning Center for Women in Transition, NELCWIT, to assist the safe house ad its carers, and protect, feed, clothe, and help the residents through their transitions. Women and children find a haven here where they can be given safe passage, warmth, kindness, and a respite from aggressions and fear while they rebuild their life.
June – Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter run by the upbeat Deputy Colucci and her compassionate staff and volunteers. Unwanted dogs, lost dogs, the shelter cares for them all with medical care, good food, walks, and strokes of love. Sheriff Donelan’s office can provide only a stipend, and this shelter is kept going by the hard work and endeavors of the Friends, and more aid is always needed. We need to keep this shelter here because so many people finding a lost dog are reluctant to go all those miles down to the shelter in Springfield, and many dogs will not find the safe and fostering way station they need until they are found or adopted.
July – The Franklin County Community Meals Program. We think you agree that it is just not right that people in our neighborhood do not have enough to fill their tummies. It is especially not right that many children go to bed hungry. FCCMP serves over 20,000 meals a year and they need our continued help to keep this level of sustenance and support going.
August – The Literacy Project – with its commitment and outreach to teach adults and young people, 16 and up, to read, to grow existing skills, to gain a GED, in safe, non-judgmental, caring classes with the knowledge that being literate and having the basic building blocks of education, give one the empowerment to engage in society, to find employment, to gain inner confidence and to find a positive voice.
So please share the bounty with the county and help spread the joy of a good meal, a safe haven, a more positive future, and a forever home. We appreciate you and we look forward to you being the one who might get a gift (beyond the gift of giving) and will win the monthly raffle.
April 14, 2016 by WhiteStone
One of our favorite culinary quotes is by Yogi Berra – “You better cut the pizza in four pieces,” he reportedly said, “I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
And the lovely Sophia Loren has supposedly claimed that, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” If only it could be that simple to be gorgeous!
Well, we don’t have any recipes for pizza to offer you, although fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and sun-dried tomatoes are an awesome topping, and the secret for the deliciousness of our thin crusts is heritage grain flour from Northfield’s Four Star Farms.
Instead, here’s a recipe for the totally delicious Mint Chocolate Meltaways that we have had out at high tea showers:
Beat 2 sticks butter with 1t vanilla, 1t peppermint extract, ½ cup powdered sugar until soft and fluffy. Beat in 2 cups flour and pinch salt. Spoon into pastry bag with no. 4 star tip. Pipe cookie shapes onto sprayed baking sheet. (About 2½” long) Bake in 350° oven until golden – about 12-15 minutes. Cool on paper towels.
Bring generous ¼ cup whipping cream + 2 extra T and ¼ stick butter to simmer in pan. Add 9oz good imported white chocolate chopped. Stir until smooth. Add 1t peppermint extract. Refrigerate until firm enough to spread. Spread on flat side of cooled cookies. Refrigerate until ganache is firm.
Melt 9oz quality bittersweet chocolate with 1T vegetable shortening in top of double boiler until smooth. Dip one end of cookie into chocolate. Hold cookie on sides and dip ganache side into bittersweet chocolate. Place cookies on foil-covered cookie sheet. Chill until chocolate is set.
March 25, 2016 by WhiteStone
Our need is such that we cannot just buy local Black Angus and Duroc pork. Farmer Prudence, for one, only raises so many pigs a year, so Chef Ameer began to look for product that would be a match for what he purchases now for Champney’s. He was looking for heritage breeds, respectfully raised in open pasture, and respectfully dispatched according to Grandin principles of humaneness.
He found an area supplier that buys in Black Angus beef and Duroc pork from small family-owned farms in the Midwest, with traceable DNA to the specific single farm they came from. These animals are raised on fresh grain and some corn, never from grain stored in silos, so there is no chance of any mold, bacteria, or animal by-product in their feed. This all-natural feed leads to a consistency in quality and a juicy tenderness.
Pigs that are fed from a garbage pail and given unsorted scraps will have a different quality of flavor, and this Duroc heritage breed is so pure that it can actually be cooked to a done-ness and be delicious!
You know we source as locally as we can with menus changing as the seasons bring new produce, and the day’s specials will often change on the fly as foragers and farmers bring us baskets to the back door.
Just because we cannot source local beef and pork in the quantities we need, does not mean that the same standards and food philosophy are not met. And of course the meat for our burgers continues to be sourced from Deerfield’s Yazwinski Farm, just a few buildings north of us. Got to eat the view so we can keep the beauty of the farmland and pastures in this part of western Mass for generations to come!
January 12, 2016 by WhiteStone
We are often asked why our restaurant and tavern here is named Champney’s. Everything on the walls in Champney’s references and acknowledges this building and this small, unique town. James Wells Champney is part of that history.
He was born in July 1843 and raised in Roxbury. Sketches show evidence of very early artistic leanings, and he studied at the Lowell Institute, where Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes taught his life and anatomy classes. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Champney joined a drilling club, and later fought with the 45th Massachusetts Volunteers in the Battle of Gettysburg where he contracted malaria and was invalided out.
1865 found Champney teaching drawing at the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Lexington, MA where he met and fell in love with the “Madonna-like face” of the “exquisite” Elizabeth Williams from Deerfield – his future wife.
Lizzie had gone on to graduate from Vassar, and her parents – abolitionists and temperance crusaders had moved to Kansas to help free the state from slavery. They arranged an engagement between the spirited Lizzie and a well-heeled farmer, but when Champney followed her there in the spring of 1873, she gladly eloped with him – “an unexpected and unspeakable happiness”. Champney was a mere artist, and the Williams were not thrilled despite his awards and recognition, especially when the couple decamped to Spain and then France to pursue exhibitions and commissions.
In 1876 the couple returned and moved in to the Williams Homestead in Deerfield. Champney built a studio, named the house “Elmstead” and added the still existing “Colonial” features such as the gambrel roofed ell, including the doorway from Alexander Hamilton’s house in New York City.
Champney became Professor of Art at Smith College in 1877, where he was one of the founders of the art gallery. He was still teaching there in 1884 when the Deerfield Inn was built.
Champney was endlessly expanding his artistic knowledge – from oils to pastels, from etchings and engraving, from pencil sketches and watercolors, into photography. He painted society ladies, illustrated books – in particular those written by his independent wife and ones related to social issues of the time, designed murals and stained glass windows, and was one of the first American artists to apply the French Impressionist theory of values to his work.
With their son Frère and daughter Maria, the Champneys split their time between New York and Deerfield, where in the summer he gave art classes by the Deerfield River and in the meadow by his house. Apparently “the old town always seemed to come alive” when he was in residence.
James Wells Champney died in an elevator accident in 1903 when he was in Manhattan to give a lecture on photography as a legitimate art form. His new-found discoveries in photograph techniques enabled him to get one of the earliest-known moving images showing two people jumping. He is said to have experimented with nighttime photographs, using the flash of a pistol shot for lighting.
We chose the name Champney’s because – beyond his close connection with this village, we admire who he was as a person. He was an abolitionist, an adventurer, an innovator, and a supporter of women’s suffrage. He was genial and sympathetic, and we here all highly value kindness. (Once he bought the house of an elderly Deerfield couple having financial difficulties, fixed it up so it was in good repair, and gave it to the couple to live out their days in.)
The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association records say of Champney that “he loved his work, and loved his play, there were no dull hours with him.” We love that James Wells was known as “a genial host and charming guest”. This so perfectly captures for us the essence of the hospitality that is the gathering place named for him. It is also a tribute to Deerfield that, no matter how distant and varied his travels were, he always came back here where he found his greatest contentment.
November 5, 2015 by WhiteStone
One day recently I saw three people in matching t-shirts in the living room when I emerged from my work space behind the fireplace. The T-shirt was very cool with a white squirrel on the move. Got to talking, and it turned out they are new brewers from Boston with a European style lager with 5 grams of protein! Mighty Squirrel Original is complex with bready, caramel, and citrus notes, plus a hint of honey. Mighty Squirrel Light is clean and crisp with citrus and honey notes and only 109 calories!
On Saturday, November 14th, the Mighty Squirrel team will be here at Champney’s at about 4:00 pm for you to sample their brew and tell their story. We are the only bar in western Massachusetts carrying their product, so come on by to be among the first to try the latest microbrew in our line-up.
This is what will be in store:
• A free Mighty Squirrel pint glass to every customer that orders Mighty Squirrel beer
• The taste profile of Mighty Squirrel beer described – its brewing process, and its history to anybody who is interested in learning about it
• 2oz tasting samples of Mighty Squirrel to customers who want to try Mighty Squirrel before ordering
August 17, 2015 by WhiteStone
We had a jaw-dropping incident here recently where some dinner guests used racial epithets towards one of our wonderful servers. Appalled guests at nearby tables apologized to him. (We did not know about this at that moment, because nobody wanted to disturb us while we eating here ourselves with family and friends as we celebrated a special occasion of our own.) In 28 years we had yet to see people like this come in here. No – hang on, 27 years. In our first year as innkeepers I received a special unsigned letter that wondered if I had wetted my finger and stuck it into an open electrical socket. Remember big 80’s hair?!
The Deerfield Inn is a place of kindness, care, and warmth. Your happiness is important to us and we care about you, but we have no tolerance for intolerance. This is not a place for prejudice. If you are the kind of person who has cruel and unkind thoughts and words about the people you see around you, you may not express them here. If you do, we will be glad to show you the door. We welcome everybody of any gender, ethnicity, and creed, but haters will never be welcome in this building.
July 30, 2015 by WhiteStone
Come and join us with your friends for any of four fun & informative tastings with four fun and informative guys. Every Thursday in August from 5:30-7:00.
- August 6, scotch tasting with the kilted dude, Mike Walsh. $25 for five tastes
- August 13, beer with Charlie “blue eyes” Olchowski, president of the oldest home brew club in New England. $15 for nine tastes
- August 20, wine with wine guy and bon viveur, Dave Abbott. $20 for eight tastes
- August 27, talking tequila with muy chido Sean Barry. $25 for five tastes
Call us at 413-774-5587 ext 173 and buy your tickets now!
Check out these deals:
Buy one in the series, or get all four for the special price of $75
Buy six tickets for any one tasting and get 10% off
Stay for supper and get a 10% discount coupon.
(Remember we have the super prix fixe deal on weeknights for $33)
Read more on our SPECIAL EVENTS PAGE
Complementary snackerels with the tastings, of course.
Call us at 413-774-5587, ext 173 or come on by and ask at the inn’s front desk.
July 13, 2015 by WhiteStone
Stoneman Brewery in Colrain, with brewmaster Justin Korby (aka Stonaman) will be providing our latest local offerings. Not on draught, but in glorious 22oz bottles. Stoneman Brewery is a small farm brewery located on a 74-acre farm in Colrain, MA. Their beer contains nearly 100% locally and regionally sourced ingredients, which is just what we like best at Champney’s! We will be getting a variety, based on availability, and maybe some of the following:
Tractor Ryed IPA 5%
Peacemaker Pale Ale 6.3%
Not So Blonde Ale 6.2%
Old Mutton Ale 5%
Very Wizeman Ale 6%
Zzz IPA 6.5%
Honey B Belgian Ale 5.8%
Monk Light Belgian Style Ale 6.3%
Sellout IPA 10% abv
Ghost Hog Imperial Brown Ale 9%
Sazzy Saison 6.4%
Red Eye IPA 6.3%
Rusty Hoe Farmhouse Ale 5.5%
Dragon Beam IPA 5.5%
Maggie’s Summer Farmhouse Ale 5.4%
Jolly J IPA 6%
Pig City Porter 5.5%
The batches are small 1-barrels. Most of the grain comes from Valley Malt of Hadley and the hops come from Four Star Farms up in Northfield where we buy our flour. The water for the brewing process comes from a mountainside spring-fed well. Each month Justin releases an extremely limited truly local beer that is a one-time recipe.
AND any day now six piglets will be arriving to Justin’s farm to be well taken care of and fattened up on all their spent grain from the brewery, as well as garden and kitchen scraps. Stand by, carnivores, for some particularly fine local pork at Champney’s!
June 10, 2015 by WhiteStone
The Mind Unleashed tells us that these are some of harmful ingredients that are commonly found in beer:
- GMO Corn Syrup
- GMO Corn
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Fish Bladder
- Propylene Glycol
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Natural Flavors
- GMO Sugars
- Caramel Coloring
- Insect-Based Dyes
- & lots more!
So, they say, when it comes to beer you have to be very careful. Your best option is to find a microbrewery that you can trust. As with everything, try to avoid cheap, low-quality products. Bars may offer Coors Light, Miller Lite or Budweiser specials, but they are cheap for a reason. The rest of the world is banning GMOs everywhere, while the USA is lagging years behind, and only several states offer GMO labeling laws. Choose organic or locally-crafted beer! European beer is most likely to be safe from GMO ingredients, and we have a plethora of bottled choices for you, but unfortunately most other beer contains GMO artificial ingredients, stabilizers, grains, HFCs, and preservatives.
Luckily for beer drinkers, we have a range of really excellent choices in western Massachusetts, and you can find many on tap at our bar. Can’t decide? Have a taste before you buy, or choose a flight.
Make a note that we will be on the Valley Beer Trail on September 10, starting at 5:30!