Pera Mediterranean Bistro

Shaan is a rising senior and wants to study biology. Shaan prefers small liberal arts schools in the northeast and doesn’t want to attend college or university below the Mason-Dixon line. So this summer, we toured Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, while on a trip to pick up Kiran from a ten-day summer wilderness retreat in Vermont.

We stayed overnight in the Massachusetts border town of North Adams and drove to Williamstown the next morning.

It was strange seeing my last name on many t-shirts and college brochures. Williams is the 3rd most common last name in the United States, so I shouldn't be surprised that there would be a town somewhere with that name. But still. We spent some time in the Williams College gift shop looking for the right shirt with Williams on it. We didn’t want purple or the word college. Just Williams. We bought four grey T-shirts with the words Williams printed in white. It will be fun twinning with the kids — is that the right word?

Spring Street is the main “downtown” area for students of Williams College. It’s a bit longer than Princeton’s Spring Street and has a few more shops, but it seems to be the only shopping/dining area within walking distance of the campus. Princeton has the advantage of multiple streets.

One side of Spring Street has the Williams College gift shop, a Mexican restaurant, the Purple Pub and a few other shops, including a consignment store. At the end of Spring Street is an ice creamery, Lickety Split.

On the other side of Spring Street is the Pera Mediterranean Bistro. The shot was not planned. I was walking along with the tour guide and saw this elderly couple stopping to look at the menu. I love the look of brick and the ivy and the sidewalk dining. For me, this evoked images of my college days when we would drive up to Boston and hang out on the streets of Harvard.

Bright Ideas Brewing

Name: Bright Ideas Brewing
Location: North Adams, Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Recommended Beer: Bright IPA
Notes: Located in the MASS MoCA courtyard. Taproom open for pints, flights, growler fills, merchandise and crowlers to go. Outdoor seating in the summer. Outside food allowed. Parking is on the street or a nearby deck.

My wife and I were in Vermont twice this summer. Once to drop our daughter Kiran off at Sky Meadow Retreat for a wilderness camp and again to pick her up. We visited Burlington on our first trip and Bennington on the return trip. We also decided we would use the opportunity to do some college touring with our son Shaan at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts so booked a room in North Adams, Massachusetts to visit the college campus the next day. On the drive to North Adams, we stopped and had dinner and sample the ale at Madison Brewing Company in Bennington, Vermont. Bhavana and I sampled one ale each. I had the JU-C Double IPA which the brewery describes as a “super juicy, super smooth Double IPA utilizing Mandarina Bavaria hops and Summit for a distinct orange hop presence and finished off with delicious blood orange juice”. I was expecting more of a fruit-forward ale similar to what would be found in a West Coast Style IPA. I think the citrus flavours were too subdued.

On our way out of Bennington, we stopped at a beer retailer and picked up some more Vermont beer to bring back to New Jersey. We enjoyed the Cone Head by Zero Gravity Brewing on our visit to Burlington, so we bought two six-packs of Cone Head, a four-pack of Tribute by 14th Star Brewing Company, a four-pack of Nawch Hoppa Double IPA and Limited Access by Rock Art Brewery. We would have bought more Vermont ales back with us but we did not have any more space in the small cooler.

North Adam is just 30 minutes from Bennington so once we were checked into the hotel, it was still early. We left the kids to watch Steven Universe and we took the opportunity to visit downtown, North Adams. Bhavana had a chat with the bartender at the hotel restaurant and discovered that our hotel was walking distance from a beer garden at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA).

We had a pleasant walk over to Bright Ideas Brewing while enjoying the art painted on support poles of the overpass. We were at the brewery until closing. We chatted with a wonderful bartender couple (the place was quite busy so our conversations were sporadic) while sampling (2 ounce pours) every ale in the brewery. The gentleman bartender is from Connecticut and his wife is Australian. Before we left, we purchased two crawlers — canned growlers — one of the Bright IPA and the other of Bright Wheat. I enjoyed watching the canning process. The Bright Wheat has lemongrass and blood orange.

Vermont has excellent breweries and excellent beer. Try them all.