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Lenox, MA: Tanglewood Picnic

Lenox, MA: Tanglewood Picnic
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Book excerpt: Tanglewood: A Group Memoir

For music lovers, there’s no more enchanting venue than Tanglewood in the summer. For more than seven decades, the members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (and a host of friends) have been switching to white summer tuxes and creating beautiful music in the dreamy surroundings of the Berkshire Hills in Lenox, Massachusetts.

On Friday and Saturday evenings and on Sunday afternoons, the BSO’s outdoor concerts fill the air with captivating symphonic music. On various weeknights and select Sunday evenings, guest artists take the stage.

And on any given summer day, the orchestra’s various music camps and classes are in session–not to mention BSO rehearsals. No better spot for a loaf of bread, a glass of wine …

“When we came from the city, where we took advantage of the music, restaurant, and art scene, we were mildy anxious that there wouldn’t be enough to do,” says Matthew Rubiner, referring to the move he and his wife, Julie, made from Boston to the Berkshires eight years ago. “[But] we couldn’t keep up with all the cultural activities–it’s that fertile here. We still can’t believe we actually live here.”

In what was once the lobby of a bank in Great Barrington, Matthew owns and operates Rubiner’s Cheesemongers & Grocers, a place for people who love to eat and cook. Smoked and dried peppers from Spain, salt from Wales, honey from Sardinia. And cheeses from everywhere cheese is made. But as much as Matt loves to travel and find great products, he’s just as happy when he can buy from his neighbors. “We came here to be close to the sorts of producers we’ve dedicated our career to represent and champion,” he notes.

“We love to picnic–we’re in the cheese business–and we love the lawn at Tanglewood, so we try to take advantage of the amazing foods we have on hand, coupled with the world-class music program,” Matthew explains. “The first time we came here, we were blown away by the lengths that people go to when planning a lawn picnic. Our jaws dropped when we saw candelabra, linens, fine china, parasols, and the elaborate menus.”

Matt and Julie had brought a brown bag with sandwiches, some cheese, a bottle of wine, and some plastic cups. “We ate well and we soaked in the beautiful musical performance,” Matthew remembers. But he wanted to do it right, so he had a closer look at how people had put together their fancy spreads. He realized that it had taken some planning, but wasn’t so hard: He had all the ingredients in his shop, and the decor was a matter of folding some linens into a tote bag.

Not to be outdone, Matthew gathered a few favorite foods off his menu, called some friends, and produced a sumptuous spread worthy of the live music coming from the Shed, as well as an impromptu private performance by a few of the summer orchestra’s finest.

Recipe idea: Cold Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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