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Archive for the ‘vermont’ Category

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For one of our last dinners in Vermont we went to Mary’s Restaurant at the Inn at Baldwin Creek. Mary’s menu uses ingredients sourced from small local farms as well as their own garden. They serve dinner from Wednesday to Saturday, and Sunday breakfast. Mary’s Chef, Doug Mack, was a founder and first president of the Fresh Network, an organization that encourages farmers and chefs to form partnerships. Needless to say, I was excited for the meal.

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Once seated, we were presented with some crackers and white bean olive oil spread. Both were delish.

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This was followed by Mary’s rustic, home baked bread. I could have made this bread my entire meal. It was delightfully crisp on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. Slathered with butter, it was a slice (or several) of heaven.

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To start, I had the summer salad: watermelon, feta and pine nuts over fresh-picked garden greens, drizzled with honey-herb vinaigrette. I wanted more watermelon in my salad, but enjoyed the fact that it came in tasty little globes, reminding me of my childhood when I used to make fruit salad with my mother’s melon baller.

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Dave’s dad ordered the beef speidini: olive oil and herb marinated beef and bread skewers paired with rosemary skewered cherry tomatoes. I’m not a fan of things skewered on rosemary, but the dish was beautifully presented and my father-in-law seemed happy with the meat.

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Dave and my mom both went with the cream of garlic soup, voted “best soup in Vermont,” by Vermont Magazine. I didn’t have any, but the consensus was that it was good but heavy. It was a bit too creamy for my mother, but right up Dave’s alley, though he couldn’t finish it, a rarity.

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Moving on the entrees. My mother and my mother-in-law had the sea scallops: grilled scallops and grilled red onion-tomato relish with lemon-garlic vinaigrette; sided with couscous salad. I found the presentation of the entrees to be quite artful, as evidenced by the scallops. The portions were also quite generous.

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Dave and his dad both had the flank steak: Boyden Farm flank grilled and sliced; served on mashed potatoes with pepper-onion relish and bruleed Jasper Hill blue cheese. Dave described the meat as tender and the vegetables as flavorful. The blue cheese, which comes in a large chunk that is falling apart thanks to the brulee, paired excellently with the meat.

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I went with beet gnocchi: tossed with chopped beets, crispy sage and walnuts; sage brown butter. I was a bit disappointed. First off, I found it too oily. Second, the gnocchi itself lacked flavor, though I did enjoy the pieces of roasted beet that came mixed in.

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Dessert didn’t have many takers, we were all quite full. Dave’s dad ordered the crepe with strawberry and chocolate sauce. Somehow I think that orange was involved too, maybe in the crepe.

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Dave went for the peach shortcake with fresh whipped cream. Again, I was a bit disappointed. The shortcake lacked flavor and was way to spongy to be called a shortcake. The peaches were stunning in their own right, but weren’t enough to redeem the dessert in my opinion.

All said, the ingredients are the star at Mary’s. Set in the corner room of a cozy inn, it’s the perfect spot for a nice quiet dinner with family. You can even take a stroll in the garden before dinner and see where some of you meal comes from. It was worth the 35-minute drive from Waitsfield.

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Dave’s parents came up for our last few days in Vermont. The six of us went to a Waitsfield institution, American Flatbread. I had been once before last ski season and was excited for more fresh-out-of-the-wood-fired-clay-oven creations. The lines at Flatbread are notorious (they don’t take reservations), but as long as you show up early you should be seated without much delay. I’ve never had to wait more than five minutes for a table, but now that I just wrote that, I’ve probably jinxed it.

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The oven is the centerpiece of the restaurant with all the tables around it in a semi-circle. Their hours vary based on the season, and they are only open for dinner. During the afternoon, they make the flatbreads that are frozen and sold all over the country (here’s a list of where to find them). What many people don’t know, is that while they are not formally open for lunch, if you arrive during production and are willing to eat whichever kind they happen to be baking, they will sell you one. My parents did this one afternoon and sat outside on the picnic tables. Just bring your own drinks as they will only sell you the flatbread.

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The six of us decided to share three flatbreads. We went with the two special flatbreads of the day, and one oldie but goodie. First to arrive to the table: Haley’s beef and pork meatballs, our own cauldron tomato sauce, Maple Brook Farm‘s fresh mozzarella, spinach from Vermont Herb and Salad Company.

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Next came: Roasted tomatillo salsa, Elmer Farm‘s black beans, Hartshorn sweet corn, poblano peppers, queso fresco, and cilantro gremolata. This flatbread is the best one I’ve had, to date. It made me realize that coming in the summer is better as so much more is in season. The corn and peppers were delicious, and the beans added a surprisingly good touch. I want to try to recreate this at home someday.

We also ordered a Revolution: tomato sauce, caramelized onions, domestic mushrooms, blend of fine cheeses and herbs. I thought this was the weakest one we ordered, but in no way bad. It was a little too doughy. I didn’t taste the sausage one myself, but Dave and my dad were raving about it.

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I don’t think that they put that much energy into their desserts, and why should they. They feature Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as well as brownies and pie. That night’s pie was peach blueberry, we ordered two slices for the table. I only had a small bite, as I was stuffed with bread, but I wasn’t that impressed.

At American Flatbread, dessert doesn’t matter. By the end of dinner you should be stuffed with delicious, cheesy goodness topped with local, seasonal, delicacies. I dream about them.

American Flatbread on Urbanspoon

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I didn’t realize this, but a few Google searches later, it seems that the search for the best maple doughnut in Vermont is akin to that for the best bagel in NYC. I can now officially contribute to the discourse and say that I have found it, at the Big Picture Theater and Cafe in Waitsfield. The doughnuts are made by the Very Small Donut Company, which used have its own storefront that closed. Each doughnut is three to four (two if you’re Dave) bites of pure pleasure. The fact that they are small makes for the ideal ratio of crisp exterior to soft interior, and the maple glaze is indescribably good. You can easily eat three in one sitting. They are dangerous. Dave and I brought home a few for everyone. The next day, we upgraded to the box of a dozen.

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BigPicture Theater & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Lobster for five

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During the summer, Timbers restaurant (at Sugarbush resort) hosts a lobster dinner on Wednesdays and Thursdays. For $25, you get a 1 1/4 pound lobster, steamed mussels, red bliss potatoes, and summer corn. And it all comes in a bucket. Compared to NYC prices, this is a steal.

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One of my parents friends, Bobbie, was up visiting, so the five of us decided to check it out. You do have the option of ordering off the regular menu, but we all went for the lobster. Something about the combination of a tin bucket spilling over with strands of kelp and clean white tablecloths is funny.

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Add to that some plastic bibs and you’ve got yourself a really good time. I’m always ready to eat with my hands. I think food tastes better without the middle man of silverware.

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My dinner: this plate plus a bunch more mussels from the bottom of the bucket, and one more potato. The lobster was clearly cooked in very salty water. This made it so that you didn’t even need to use the butter, it was so flavorful on its own.

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The end. Five very satisfied customers, lots of empty shells.

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We had to drive back to NYC for one night so that I could work at the restaurant. On our way home, we stopped by the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Store in Norwich, Vermont. The Norwich campus houses both the store, their flagship, and the education center where they offer a wide array of baking classes. Several friends have taken classes there and they all rave about them. Someday I want to take one too. Above you can see all the flour I bought while there. I made a tasty fruit tart with the almond flour and the rest is in my freezer waiting for me.

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Yes, we did the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour. When in Vermont…

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Our $3, 20-minute tour started in front of these two boards: their economic mission and a wall of flavors.

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We watched a short video detailing the history of the company, which is no longer owned by Ben and Jerry, and proceeded to an area from where we could view the factory (no photos allowed, lest we be spies.) They make two flavors a day. As we watched, the pints just kept rolling by. I wasn’t that impressed by the tour, but I suppose I got my money’s worth when we proceeded into the “FlavoRoom” for…

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That day’s sample was sweet cream and cookies, and boy was it good. I suppose the distance between production and the sample room is short enough to make this ice cream some of the best Ben & Jerry’s I’ve ever had. At the end of the tour we passed by this board. In case you’re curious, here are the top ten flavors according to supermarket pint sales.

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The sample merely whetted our appetites, so we got in line to buy some cones at the scoop shop that is built into the side of the factory. I was disappointed that they didn’t have my favorite B&J flavor (mint chocolate cookie), but it forced me to branch out and try something new.

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Clockwise from top left: Dave’s Phish food, my dad’s chocolate chip cookie dough, my mom’s mint chocolate chunk, and my oatmeal cookie chunk. Delicious.

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Obligatory tourist shot outside the factory. My parents do not look pleased. After this photo was taken we visited the flavor graveyard on the way to the car. The graveyard contains headstones with old flavors on them and a pithy explanation of why the flavor didn’t make it. Some examples:

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We decided to spend Dave’s last week before school in Vermont with my parents. Having only seen the town of Waitsfield under several inches of snow, I was pleasantly surprised at how charming it is. I had made it my goal to cook a lot while in Vermont, to get back on track after our California trip. That said, we did eat out a few times to explore the local offerings. Our first full day there we had a lovely lunch at The Green Cup.

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We took a table outside (Kuma was with us) and I went inside to order. I was about to order a sandwich, when I saw the frittata of the day sitting on the counter. Filled with potatoes, tomatoes, and leafy greens, it called out to me. It did not disappoint. I am used to frittatas with a higher ratio of eggs to vegetables, but was happy that this one was mostly potatoes and greens.

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Everyone else went with hot pressed sandwiches. My mom had the Thai style shrimp, mint leaves, cabbage kimchi, and chili marinated radish. From bite one she could not stop raving about it. In fact, my parents went back a few days later and both got this sandwich. My dad ordered his go-to: chicken salad (not pictured).

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Dave had an avocado, Vermont bacon, romaine lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Do you see Kuma’s head? Always begging for food that dog; finding him in this photo made me smile.

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We ended the meal with another treat I saw when I was inside: a hearty slice of peach cake. We all shared it, though Dave and I did the bulk of the cake eating. It was dense, buttery, and just what I wanted. Savory and sweet, I can’t have one without the other.

Green Cup Cafe on Urbanspoon

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