Foliage, fun and food at Fireplace

A kaleidoscope of crimsons, yellows and plums substantiates all the glowing rhetoric about fall foliage in New England. Bike it, car it or commuter rail it, but head west to the Nashoba Valley for urban escapism in the form of end-of-season leaf-peeping.

Nashoba is farm country. It’s apple- and pumpkin-picking country. It’s country, all right — something Chef Joe Brenner uses to full advantage in his new spot at the International Golf Club and Resort in Bolton. Brenner spent 15 years opening Todd English restaurants from Boston to along the Mississippi, and oversees everything from breakfast in the International’s lodge to weddings in the event building. But it’s in the Fireside Room where he’s making a culinary impact, albeit quietly.

All-natural steak and pork, as well as seafood and fish, form a comfortable menu core to standouts like a perfectly under-seasoned wild mushroom stir-fry, which is as humbly named as it is perfectly gorgeous. This isn’t some wok quickie meal. Big chunks of giant oyster mushrooms and huge chanterelles are pan fried al dente, boldly highlighted with thyme and then ladled on top of creamy polenta. Shaved Parmesan is Brenner’s final gentle edit. But, mostly, he lets nature tell its own story.

The Fireside, which overlooks lovely woodlands, opened to the public for the first time this year. City-escapees and locals grab a bite while watching the sun sink, briefly blasting the rusting foliage with Technicolor light.

Brenner’s one-off apple tasting dinner on Oct. 27 includes Macintosh apple and parsnip soup, porcini mushrooms with Cortland, seared jumbo sea scallop with green apple, roast heirloom pork loin with Fuji and an apple cider reduction as well as a spiced ginger bread with an unusual Mutsu apple sauce. 


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