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New Chef at Champney’s :: Meet Ameer Whitmyer

rampsWe are pleased to announce that Chef Ameer Whitmyer has joined us to head up the kitchen team for Champney’s Restaurant & Tavern at the Deerfield Inn. Chef Ameer has extensive cooking experience, having worked on both the East and West coasts, focusing on establishing buyer relationships with local farmers and purveyors. As both a specialized meat and fish chef, Chef Ameer’s passion and knowledge, with the help of his sous chef Joshua Rock, is being conveyed to their team in the kitchen in a careful, inspiring, and articulate way.

Ameer was raised in a stream of cooking culture, and his mentor Chef Typhun Yolak showed him the importance of how cooking connects to everything in a very powerful and contemplative way, how it is primal and visceral, but also artistic and thoughtful. As Chef Typhun demonstrated to him, Chef Ameer believes that what flows through his hands flows through life – from the front of house, to family, to the kitchen: it is all connected and food is the translation of that togetherness.

Ameer’s adult experience began at Whitefish Lake Restaurant in Whitefish, MT, an upscale steak house considered the best restaurant in Montana in the early 2000’s. Next he moved to The Phoenix House in Ashland, OR, focusing on local ingredients and French techniques with an Asian flare. His journey in cooking took him to the East Coast where his family was located, and he worked in Doris & Ed’s Classic & Contemporary Seafood Oasis, in Highlands, NJ – a James Beard Award of Excellence and Gourmet Top Tables List restaurant – until this establishment was utterly destroyed by our nemesis Hurricane Irene. From there he went on to Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, NJ, a 4-star restaurant and among Gayot’s Top 40 in the US, and then he worked at the Mumford’s Culinary Center, in Tinton Falls, NJ, where the team maintained a 1.5 acre garden growing produce for the kitchen. Ameer studied under Chef Chris Mumford, an early pioneer of the fresh and natural cooking style. His last position before joining Champney’s was at Navesink Country Club in Middletown, NJ, a private club rated among the best in its class in the NY/NJ area.

Chef Ameer has also participated in farm internship programs in the Bay area of northern California and in southern Oregon, and spent a season commercial fishing to understand first hand more about the food source process.

It is important to Chef Ameer to look for variety based on availability and creativity to keep it to the moment. He describes his cuisine as New American, and he interprets that as meaning that America is a place of blended cultures, so while he celebrates tradition here in Deerfield, he also celebrates the flavors that are on hand and available here now. Lemon grass, ginger, piquant peppers, were not grown then, but are grown here in this valley today, and that is New American to him – the blending of the best flavors of the traditional and the new.

Chef Ameer does not really have a signature dish because he says often that means relying on one thing year upon year. He is as happy making a meal of a big bowl of soup and a platter of grilled sandwiches with his family, as he is bringing well-loved favorites back into the kitchen, but his favorite dish is the best of the now and of today.

We hope you come back soon to try the new spring menus. The porch is now open when the weather is fine, and good dogs are welcome to sit there with you while you eat after your stroll. There are fresh, light, seasonal cocktails on the constantly changing wine and beer list, and Kathleen is always coming up with new dessert ideas.

You can make a reservation online, or you can call us at 413-772-3087.

Cheers!

Ghosts of Massachusetts :: Deerfield Inn Visitors

Chocolate Cupcake Recipes

IF we have ghosts, they are just marshmallow puffs!

Ghosts of Massachusetts –

They say we have had a passel of ghosts here at the Deerfield Inn for hundreds of years. At least two of them are pretty active still. One is a bit bossy and inquisitive, one is mischievous and gets excited when children are staying. No doubt a load of cobblers, but we do have people who stay here, people who work here, who are very sensitive to energy and auras, and the same activities keep repeating themselves from time to time – tissues on the floor, pinch on the bottom, tug on the pillows, things being moved from one spot to another, a knock on the door late at night…

We are not saying what has been happening these past weeks has anything to do with anything, but it is odd. Things that have been in one place one minute have gone the next. We wait a bit and that object is suddenly back again. The sign for the front desk, for example, that has a little owl on it and says “Owl be right back”: It hangs on a brad right where we can snag it and put it out on the desk if we have to step away. Carrie put it out, went to help with a TV problem, returned, put the sign back. It is a routine reflex. Then she got another call later at night, reached out for the sign – and it was gone. When she came back – bingo, there it was hanging where it should have been. This little tease has been going on for a fortnight now.

That is perhaps not as strange as a whole series of oddities just the other day – Champney’s Assistant Manager Nikki is no newbie at service. She very seldom makes an error, and she certainly has never tipped an entire bowl of soup towards herself as she was placing it on a table! Eric went to get a replacement, joking to Nikki it must be Herschel, and as he approached the table he felt his serving arm being flipped up towards him….

Nobody hurt, consternation mixed with amusement all around. You are probably thinking we were just being clumsy. One server maybe, but not two of our very, very best!

Eric then felt for his pad where he keeps it in his back pocket to take an order. It wasn’t there, so he relied on memory. As he went into the server pantry to replace his pad with another, he found his pad back in his pocket…. Huh. He filled his plastic water beaker, placed it on the coffee station counter, and pushed it towards the back. Matt called, “Service!” and Eric went to pick up. As he went by the counter, he and Matt saw, out of the corner of their eyes, the beaker slide from the back to the front of the counter, and splash to the floor.

All very strange. Who knows?

Spring Activities :: Hampshire County, MA

Massachusetts Pottery Studios

With thanks to visithampshirecounty.com, this blog is to let you know about a couple of activities that you and your family might find fun in Hampshire County this spring. We have family-friendly connecting rooms, and there is still space available on crisp April nights before the May Commencement and Parent Weekends.

Bees, Butterflies, and Bugs: Starting April 7, you can explore The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (April 7 through August 30). As a child, Carle became very interested in small animals, a curiosity sparked by his father, who would take him on walks in the woods and fields, exploring the tiny creatures that lived there. Carle says “I remember the excitement of lifting stones or peeling back the bark of dead trees to discover the living things that crawled, crept and scurried about there.” The exhibition celebrates the wings, stings, and crawling things that have appeared throughout Carle’s work, ranging from allergy tab advertisements he created in the late 1960’s to perennial picture book favorites including The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Grouchy Ladybug.
Bowls: Nine western Massachusetts pottery studios open their doors to visitors on Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26, for the 11th Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail. This free, self-guided springtime event showcases both the work and the work spaces of a group of nationally-known local potters, along with 12 guest potters from around New England and as far away as Oregon State. In barns, reclaimed factory buildings, and even a converted Airstream trailer, visitors will find much more than bowls along the trail: tableware, garden sculpture, architectural tile, and decorative pieces in a range of styles and prices. All nine studios will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days with work for sale, and several of the studios will offer demonstrations during the weekend. This is one of the most gorgeous and interesting trails ever.

Gay Friendly Massachusetts Bed and Breakfast

lesbian-weddingSo on our website we have a proud multi-color flag at the bottom because we mean it. Also on our website we can enable a really cool feature that allows us to see where visitors to our site are going. That flag gets clicked so often it is a bright red blob on the heat mapping program, but clicking the flag has not led anywhere until now. I put it there because for us it is a symbol of absolute and unconditional acceptance, as natural as breathing in and breathing out. I put it there because, distressingly, guests have felt the need to call us up to ask if they would be welcomed here. Read the rest of this entry »

Back in the Day :: Stories of Historic Deerfield, MA

Joan Harlow in Deerfield, MAWe are always interested in oral history of the Inn’s past. We have heard stories of historic Deerfield from a woman on a coach group trip from a senior center who told us of the summer months when she was a little girl visiting her grandmother, the cook at the adjacent Stebbins House. Another guest told us that when he was just a lad, he remembers cages of songbirds in the fireplace lobby!

Recently we met Joan Harlow whose parents were innkeepers here for fourteen years from 1950. She grew up in Deerfield until she went to Emma Willard, and the home her parents built is the current administrative offices of Historic Deerfield behind the firehouse. When they first arrived they lived in the Pratt House just to the south of the inn, which was once where brooms were made and is now the Museum Store.

Joan remembered when Eleanor Roosevelt arrived very humbly by taxi – no limo for her with flags fluttering. Jack Harlow was a staunch Republican, but he was charmed by Mrs. Roosevelt’s passion to preserve Deerfield as a gateway to the past.

The restaurant menu was the same for an entire week, and until Joan’s mother Ruth could persuade the Flynts to let them eat in their own small private dining space, they would have a choice of baked ham, broiled chicken, tinned Sexton’s vegetables, and a relish tray with cottage cheese, pickles, and spiced crabapples day in, day out, in what was a very formal dining room until the flood of Irene gave us the opportunity to change all that. On Sunday it was roast beef for all, and on Monday the weekly menu would be in place again.

There was no elevator then, and no keys to the rooms, which unnerved metropolitan guests. The Deerfield Inn was the call center for fires, and Joan was filled with trepidation every time that red phone rang.

When Samuel Chamberlain came to take photographs for Historic Deerfield: Houses and Interiors by Henry N Flynt, Joan was allowed to watch him at his work and hold up the camera lights.

Joan also had a memory of being asked to run, run like the wind, back to the inn to “get the Ballantine’s out of the fridge.” She brought back a bottle of ale, not knowing it had to be chilled scotch for a certain somebody I shall not name!

How what we eat has changed. How odd to open tinned vegetables when this valley is bursting with produce! Anybody else have any recollections of Deerfield that I can add to my memory bank? I would love to hear your stories…

Deerfield Spring Sampler Craft Fair :: March into Spring

tools to create jewelryThink ahead beyond this snow to the promise of spring. The Old Deerfield Spring Sampler Craft Fair is held in West Springfield at the Big E on March 7 and 8. Extraordinary crafters, free demos for DIY ideas, music, good eats, and the chance to win $50 shopping certificates. If you have ever been to the Craft Fairs held here in Old Deerfield, you will know that these fairs organized by PVMA are juried, and considered by Yankee magazine to the be among the best in New England. Four free passes to the first four to book a room on this weekend!

BUT WAIT – there is more! You can check out The Jurassic Roadshow on March 28 and 29 at the Clarion Conference Center in Northampton. The Western Mass Mineral, Jewelry and Fossil Show will be there as well. This is your chance to come and stay with us at the Deerfield Inn and bring your small fossil or dinosaur fans with you. (We have family-friendly guest rooms.) You can check out the gems, rocks, and jewelry, and little ones can see local fossil dinosaur footprints, insect trails, and more. And you can bring your own fossils to have them identified by a professional geologist or paleontologist! Cool!

The Great Snow :: New England Winters

New England Historical SocietyWe think it is absolutely freezing and the worst ever, but almost 300 years ago, in 1717, so much snow fell in New England that for generations afterwards people would talk of events as before or after the Great Snow.

According to The New England Historical Society, drifts were as high as 25 feet so houses were entirely covered with just a wisp of smoke showing their location.

The deer population was decimated, and much livestock perished, but many farm animals survived under the snow. It seems that hens could live a week, turkeys for almost three weeks, and cows were also dug out and incredibly restored to health.

Being a fan of pigs, it was good to know that it was recorded that a couple of pigs lived together under a snowbank for 27 days, munching away on tansy, a herb grown to repel insects, delay spoilage when rubbed into meat, and as a dye of golden-yellow. (In Europe we still put tansy out on windowsills to keep ants and flies away.) Go pigs!

People made tunnels and paths through the snow from house to house, and according to the abolitionist Joshua Coffin in The History of Ancient Newbury, Abraham Adams walked three miles to visit his new bride Abigail who had had to hole up with her family to wait out the storm. He was able to clump right in through the window on the second story, and guess what – their first child was born just about nine months later.

So really the snow in Deerfield is not so bad in comparison. Come on over for a while and Date Your Mate!

Hospitality at the Deerfield Inn is a Relationship….

Greenfield Hotel

Debbie in the Harry Potter room!

…not a transaction.

We were recently at a conference in a hotel. They did a fantastic job with food and service, but I have some thoughts about why you might like to choose an inn such as ours over a hotel venue if you are planning a small retreat.

We have those dispensers of product in the bathrooms, too, but we also have more than one bar of soap, as well as eco-friendly cornstarch bottles of body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, baggies of Q-tips, makeup remover pads – all free.

Our fresh filtered well water in the room thermoses is free, not $9 a bottle. The cream for your Keurig wake-up coffee is not powder in a packet, but real and local. Our towels are also soft – but bath sheet-sized. The fridge is free for your insulin, baby formula, or packs of local cheese you might have bought, not $10 a day.

Wifi is free, parking is safe and free – no $13 a day surcharge. The cozy robes and the umbrella in the closet are free for your use. The candies and cookies in your room are for you to enjoy at no additional cost.

Free: the loan of cufflinks and ties, or boots and sweaters if you have forgotten something or are taken by surprise by the whacky New England weather. We draw maps to show you how to get to a local farm stand or apple orchard, we sew on your buttons if you don’t know how, we put plasters on your boo-boos, take photos for you so nobody is left out of the snap. The DVDs in the cabinet are yours to borrow, the books are yours to take if you haven’t finished what you started. Skype is loaded on the guest computer so you can call home.

All this and our tremendous appreciation of you as our guest in our beautiful Greenfield area bed and breakfast.

Call Alicia at 413-774-5587 or email her at agraves@deerfieldinn.com if you have a meeting in mind. You get what you can get at a hotel, but you also get so much more!

Staying at the Deerfield Inn is Good for Your Health!

Fireplace + relaxation = lowered blood pressure and good for your health! The soothing, soporific effects of sitting by an open fire during the depths of winter have long been established. Now it seems the very idea of a log fire helps to lower blood pressure.

A study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, says: “Findings confirm that hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a multi-sensory, absorptive, and social experience.”

In the research, 226 adults were shown a video of a fire along with sound effects. The subjects’ blood pressure was taken before and after viewing the fire for different periods of time. Scientists said the results “indicated consistent blood pressure decreases” across the participants. They appeared to become more relaxed the longer they watched the Relaxing getawayfootage.

The lead researcher, Christopher Lynn, who is an anthropologist at the University of Alabama, believes that the modern-day calming effect is evolutionary and may be traced back to the Stone Age. Early humans relied on fire for heat, safety, illumination, and cooking.

When we were designing Champney’s, here at the Deerfield Inn, after the flood we read in books on restaurant psychology that one of the things that causes guests an uneasy feeling, although they are not sure why, is having darkness outside while there is brightness within, leaving them exposed in some atavistic memory to the circle of predators beyond the camp fire. Solution: café curtains we can pull across on brass rings as dusk falls! Huh! Who would have thought it?

Dogs, on the other hand – we all know that they are four-footed therapy and beneficial to blood pressure! Real fire, real dog, real food. It’s all here for you through the cold months ahead! Check out our specials for some real deals and give us a call at 413-774-5587.

Give Thanks Before Thanksgiving

fire tedThanks to guests who have booked rooms to the left and right for a couple of days, but not in the middle, we have rooms orphaned betwixt and between and anxious to accommodate you! With rates as low as $133 from 16-25 November, we offer friendly quiet, cozy comfort, afternoon tea and cookies by the wood fire, a breakfast you can feel good about enjoying with eggs from happy chickens, hormone-free milk, nitrite-free bacon, fair trade coffee air-roasted locally, our own yoghourt and granola, and breakfast pastries from Kathleen.

You can feel good about an impulse getaway with the one you love – free Wi-fi, free admission to the museum houses, free to kick back and have the delightful down time you deserve. Call us at 413-774-5587, or reserve on line