A blog about movies and the Sturbridge area, including The Brookfields, Brimfield, Charlton, Holland, Wales, and Spencer as well as adjacent towns.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rimscha Concert Series host members of Tanglewood Festival Chorus in an all Mozart program

This Saturday night, the place you want to be is the St. Joachim Chapel of St. Anne/St. Patrick Church in Sturbridge MA. The Rimscha Concert Series will feature members of the of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in and all Mozart program. This is another coup for the local program and you don't want to miss it.

If you have not yet been to a Rimscha concert, you are missing out. It is an area asset. From their webite:

The mission of the Rimscha Concert Series is to bring quality, professional musical performances to the Sturbridge area for the enjoyment of friends, neighbors, and community. We want to make this music accessible without requiring a drive to Boston or even Worcester or Springfield. All concerts are offered free of charge, and the concert series is funded through the generosity of our Sponsors, Supporters, and the community.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Win, Lose or Thai-Restaurant Review

Thai Place
371 Main Street
sturbridge, MA 01566
(508) 347-2999

When I worked in Worcester, two decades ago, there were a few up market Thai restaurants. It seemed the popularity of that Southeast Asian cuisine was flowing out from Boston. One of them was a lovely spot across the street from what is now the DCU Center. I dined there as a guest of the lawyer who handled my employer’s business. He had a financial interest in the place. It was an exquisite meal. Alas, the establishment has long vanished and its name escapes me. All that is left in the city that bills itself as the Heart of the Commonwealth is Racha Thai, and that is on the outskirts.

West of Worcester, however, has seen Siamese restaurants sprout in three towns. There is Thai Island in Holden, and the newly minted Thai House in East Brookfield. The Thai Place is the Sturbridge edition. It is just off the Main Street where one turns to go to Old Sturbridge Village, behind Crabtree & Evelyn.

On a winters afternoon my daughter and I decided to take in Thai Place. She has been to the Holden establishment and I have not had Thai food for too long. The restaurant has two rooms, one with a small bar and some tables. The other has tables and is brightened by a picture window. The decor can be best described as non descript.

The hostess brought us to a table in the bar section. The place was not busy and we should have been seated in the room with the window. My fault for not speaking up, but still not a considerate management practice.

Menus arrived and we proceeded to study the pages full of choices. Not at all systematic in our method, we must have driven the waitress crazy by the amount of time it took us to decide. After making all other choices, even glancing over at the dessert menu, we asked for the Bangkok Ravioli as an appetizer. I would have the Tamarind Duck and my daughter, the Massaman Curry with pork.

The ravioli was nothing like the Chef Boyardee I grew up on. It was perfectly crispy chicken dumplings that we happily shared. The duck dish had the flavor of tamarind and the vegetables were well prepared and tasty. The duck itself was not special. Though the pork and vegetables were tasty in the massaman curry, there was a dearth of potatoes. It could have been a bit spicier as well.

For dessert, we shared the Fried Banana. Maybe the batter fried foods are the forte of this place. They were tasty by themselves, but dipping them in honey hardly hurt.

So the verdict is the Sturbridge Thai Place while not world class is a fair value for the amount you would spend to eat. It is nothing like my first encounter with the cuisine. While at an army reserve intelligence course (don’t laugh), I dined at a Thai establishment outside Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The food had some of the similar tastes of the Thai Place with one big difference. The heat cooked into the food was spectacular. I had been eating hot and spicy since my previous government sponsored vacation in Louisiana so, high as the temp was, I could stand it. Still, it was a challenge. The food served in Bangkok would probably find few takers here in Nova Anglia. Of course, as popular as Mexican food has become, I doubt we get the same stuff up here that is served in Oaxaca or Vera Cruz. To attain popularity, ethnic fare has to be Americanized to an extent. Sort of a diversity without diversity.

The question is, is the Thai proliferation a chain? It appears not. The Thai Place does have a new sister operation in South Hadley. My guess is we are seeing a similar phenomenon with Thai as we saw in pizza several decades ago. At one time, pizza places were mom and pop and mostly Italian. Then Greek immigrants started opening shops all over and succeeded in taking a large market share. The Greek pizza phenomenon appears to have been a central restaurant supply company that provided product to the individual proprietors. It was and is a cookie cutter operation that combined economies of scale with local ownership. Something similar might be working with the Thai spots. The menus all are alike. You can get all your favorites from Pad Thai to Tom Kha Kai. If only it had more of a bite.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Will there be a West Brookfield Farmers Market?

The picture above is not of the West Brookfield Farmers Market, but of the Amherst Farmers Market. It is my friend John Spinetti taking a picture of me taking a picture of him.

There is nothing more fun than browsing at a lively farmers market. Okay, okay, a deep massage might be more enjoyable. Still, a farmers market is a good and pleasant part of a community when done right.

Amy Dugas wants to do it right. She is the moving spirit behind the Aspargus Festval every spring. We all know what a good time that is. Last Tuesday evening she spoke before the Selectmen and made a good case. They were sympathetic.

The question is will she feel some love from the Common Committee. What she could use is a lot of support from townspeople. So if you are from WB, keep watching this space.