Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Taste of Vermont

Every experience I've ever had in Vermont has been a good one.

Every gorgeous season I've ever visited (which is all four of them) and every place I've ever stayed (from B&B's to hotels to Just Wingin' It types of establishments) has been totally awesome. What's more, as Vermont has a great support network for small food producers, there's no shortage of culinary delights to enjoy throughout the state.

Take, for instance, several years ago, when I was in a country store way upstate in the Northeast Kingdom: I discovered a beautiful bottle that contained something called Eden Ice Cider. It was gorgeous and intriguing. I'd never had it, but it sounded wonderful. "Buy it!" my oldest son said.

"But, I've never tried it," I said.

"So what?! It's probably good," he said.

So I bought it. Their promotional material said they gave tours. I called the number.

"We're not really open on Sunday," the woman said. "but, we're bottling. Would you like to see that and come for lunch?"

(Excuse me??! Is this a normal thing in Vermont?)

 "I have my 3 boys with me." I said.

"That's fine," she said.

She gave me directions. "...Then turn right by the crappy trailer."

Enter right. Another wow. Up the hill, a newly constructed home, in its finishing stages, and a company in its infancy. Fine china set on the dining room table and a gorgeous luncheon before us - for me, my kids, and our host. Chicken, salad, fresh bread, and a bar of Eden Ice Ciders just waiting to be tasted.

Made from locally grown, fresh heirloom variety apples.
The juice is naturally cold-concentrated outdoors in our cold Vermont winter weather.

Two weekends ago we had the chance to get away for the Maple Syrup Celebration. We stayed in Quechee and visited Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock.

The folks at Sugarbush know what they're doing. And they've been doing it since 1945. The employees and family of this farm are super-friendly. They know how to welcome people and it's obvious that they love what they do. A visit to the sugar house and the owner's excellent explanation of their maple syrup process made for a great time.

In their house, they give you lots of tastings of syrup and cheese. Wander into the other rooms and you're on your own to try a variety of other products like jams, savory spreads, and sausages. If you can't go there, visit their online store. I recommend the smoked onion cheese, blue cheese, pepperoni, blueberry bourbon jam, and maple butter. Yum.

 Another stop on our mini-vacation was the King Arthur Flour campus in Norwich. Get inspired by watching bakers at work, browse the well-stocked, gorgeous store, and enjoy a bite to eat at the cafe. I was inspired by a curried chicken sandwich I had there and created this delicious version below.

3 cups cooked chicken breast - cut up or shredded
3-4 TB mayonnaise or yogurt
Curry powder to taste
1-2 tsp. Vermont maple syrup to taste
Himalayan sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 TB chopped walnuts

Romaine lettuce leaves and sliced apple for garnish.

Mix all ingredients together, season to taste. Place in pita bread and tuck in lettuce leaves and apple slices. Makes 2 sandwiches.