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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

February 7, 2014

Grazing: Fortifying With Chicken Tikka Masala From City Market

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Some office lunchtime smells can be gnarly — leftover shrimp scampi, for instance — while others are contagious. Barbecued meat, fries and curries all fall into this latter category. One whiff can alter your own lunch plans. Earlier today, when the spicy aromas from a coworker's chicken tikka masala wafted through the office, my lunchtime fate was sealed.

"Where'd you get that?" I asked. Not from an Indian place, it turned out, but from City Market, which my coworker praised for serving up consistently delicious grab-and-go meals.

I'd have to agree. City Market is like the sleeper of the Burlington lunch category, the place where I turn when I'm in a rush but totally indecisive. When I get there, I know there will be sandwiches and feta boreks and empanadas and peanut noodles and sometimes even tagine to choose from. An army of talented cooks of all backgrounds works behind the scenes there — and a secondary army of talented producers delivers ready-made meals each day.

It's easy to take the place for granted. After I procured my own $7.99 tikka masala today — and tucked into cardamom-scented rice, tender pieces of meat and a creamy, coriander-flecked, slow-burn sauce — I thought about how many times City Market had saved what I thought might be a "sad lunch" day. The only thing I needed to add was my own off-the-cuff raita, with cukes and yogurt from — you guessed it.

February 6, 2014

Pushing 'Good Food' at Vermont Law School

LoquiturIt's no secret that food sells, especially when it comes to magazines. Yet the striking blueberry pie that appears on the cover of Vermont Law School's Loquitur — as well as the picture of dean Marc Mihaly sautéeing a veggie omelette — promise something different than recipes within. 

The entire Winter 2013 issue of Loquitur, VLS' alumni magazine, is devoted to food — "Good Food," as the cover promises — as well as the people who work to grow, make and protect it.

“We focused this issue of Loquitur on food for several reasons," writes Peter Glenshaw, VLS' director of communications, in an email. "Our faculty and alumni are actively engaged in this sector, and with the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law, we are now seeing a new generation of students express a deep interest in the topic."

Besides the usual alumni news, this Loquitur highlights VLS graduates who have become farmers or food producers; a piece about how the legal needs of the farmers and producers might create a new crop of law-related jobs (written by Ben Hewitt, author of The Town That Food Saved); and a profile of VLS' one-year-old Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, which is developing food-ag curriculum for students and advocacy and policy guidance for farmers and food producers.

"Food offers a good platform to convey the importance of legal education and the power that law has on something we do every day — eat!" adds Glenshaw.

Continue reading "Pushing 'Good Food' at Vermont Law School" »

February 4, 2014

Alice Eats: Parkway Diner

IMG_72451696 Williston Road, South Burlington, 652-1155

This weekend, I fell in love. Diner love, one of the most important kinds in my line of work, right up there with eros, agape and sushi.

Coming from the New York City suburbs, where diner food is a proud regional tradition, I have taken nearly 16 years in Vermont to find a diner that I considered completely acceptable. But it's finally happened. And best of all, the Parkway Diner is right in my neighborhood.

You might be thinking, It's just diner food, what's the big deal? One thing is the enviable freshness of the product, very clear in the above-average salad at right. And that's in the off season. Owner Corey Gottfried says he plans to source local ingredients come summer.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Parkway Diner" »

January 31, 2014

7 Questions For: Richard McCarthy, Executive Director of Slow Food USA

Richard McCarthy_Headshot_MediaThis weekend, the brand-new executive director of Slow Food USA, Richard McCarthy, will tour some of Burlington's culinary hotspots — the Farmers Market, the Intervale South End Kitchen and Hen of the Wood among them.

Why is he here? This year, Slow Food Vermont was one of the top four U.S. chapters in terms of new membership; McCarthy's visit is a reward of sorts.

"I have been so proud of our chapter for the past five years, coming up with good, clean and fair programming for all in Vermont," writes Mara Welton, co-owner of the Intervale's Half Pint Farm and the leader of Slow Food Vermont. "I'm in awe when I reflect on the growth of our chapter, the awareness of Slow Food increasing, and all of our events having such an amazing response. It will be really wonderful to share that with the man himself."

Slow Food USA is a branch of Slow Food International, an organization founded in Italy in 1989 with the goal of preserving local food traditions — or, in Slow Food's words, "to counter the rise of fast food and fast life."

Millions of people worldwide now count themselves as Slow Food members, even as the organization has gone through growing pains with regards to its mission.

McCarthy joined Slow Food in 2001, a few years after working with neighbors and growers to create New Orleans' Crescent City Farmers Market in 1995.

On the eve of his visit, McCarthy took some time to answer a few questions.

Continue reading "7 Questions For: Richard McCarthy, Executive Director of Slow Food USA" »

January 30, 2014

Midweek Swig: Cidre Bourgeois From Citizen Cider

Cidre_bourgeoisThis week: Cidre Bourgeois from Citizen Cider

Cost: $11.99 for a 750-ml bottle at Healthy Living Market in South Burlington

Strength: 6.2 percent abv.

The pour: Almost clear but faintly tinged with gold. There's no head to speak of, just a few lazy bubbles bobbing around the glass. It's barely aromatic, with just the subtlest whiffs of green apples and maybe lemon.

The taste: Light, crisp, a touch tart, drying. The label calls this "floral," but I tasted lemon and quince, with hints of lemon curd around the edges. The finish is puckery and the texture is akin to that of an effervescent white wine such as vinho verde.

Drink it with: I thought this would go well with an aged goat cheese, but I was wrong — the heft and character of aged cheddar (in this case, Grafton Cave-Aged Clothbound Cheddar) makes this cider seem lusher and rounder. I'd also drink it with sole meunière or shrimp scampi. (Now I'm hungry).

Backstory: For this "bourgeois" quaff, the guys at Citizen Cider culled heirloom apples from New Haven's Kent Ridge Orchards. It's a limited release, and lower in alcohol than the rest of their ciders.

Verdict: This is much drier than the company's flagship drink, Unified Press. With its brightness and faint effervescence, it's very food friendly. It's a shame Cidre Bourgeois might run out soon, though, as it would be perfect to sip on a warm, late-spring day. I'm socking a few bottles away until May.

Midweek Swig tackles a new liquid release each week. If you have suggestions for something to sample, send them to Corin at corin@sevendaysvt.com.

January 29, 2014

Sandor Katz to Teach Fermentation at Sterling College

SandorWhen Sandor Katz, author of the James Beard Foundation Award-winning The Art of Fermentation, spoke at Sterling College last spring, he attracted a standing-room-only crowd. Now he's returning to the institution, this time as a teacher.

Katz, also known as Sandorkraut, will be at Sterling from July 7 through 18 to teach "Fermentation with Sandor Katz."

According to Christian Feuerstein, Sterling's director of communications, "He is going to be available to [help students] learn fermentation one on one." Topics covered will include vegetable fermentation; making tonic beverages; culturing molds; and fermenting oils, legumes, grains and nuts. Of course, the New York Times-bestselling author of Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved will include his namesake sauerkraut among the foods in which he shares his expertise.

Continue reading "Sandor Katz to Teach Fermentation at Sterling College" »

January 28, 2014

Alice Eats: A Busy Winter Weekend

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In Good Taste, St. Albans

It used to be that January was the Vermont dining nadir. Everyone was light on both product and motivation to do much besides try to lose weight gained over the holidays.

Clearly, times have changed. I spent the weekend going to a different culinary event each night. If you missed out, keep these breaks from the winter doldrums in mind when they next appear.

Friday: In Good Taste, St. Albans

I could never have anticipated the crowd that clogged the St. Albans City Hall on Friday night. Clearly, Franklin County was starving for a good food event. The evening began at 5 p.m. By the time I got there after 6:30, 20 tasting tickets for $10 had been discounted to $5. According to the folks selling tickets, so many vendors had already sold out that it was only fair.

IMG_7151But there was still lots to learn.

I started with a sip of cucumber-flavored TreTap. The supplemented water is made from the byproducts of maple sugaring at Branon's West View Maples. Basically, it's SmartWater with a Vermont edge. It didn't taste like cucumber, but the ultra-pure liquid was a nice palate cleanser before feasting.

Nearby, students from Northwest Technical Center's culinary arts program were preparing a piquant steak tartare using meat donated by Highgate Center's Choiniere Family Farm.

I ended the evening with a flight of five different ice ciders from from Hall Home Place of Isle La Motte.

Surprisingly for this nondrinker, my favorite was the Sweet Six, which its makers describe as having a "brandy-like finish." What I liked more than the burn was the ideal blend of sweet and tart. The acid of some apples cut through the sticky sweetness of others. Too bad the six apples change each season. I may never taste a blend quite like that one again.

Saturday: Ramen Cook-Off, Shelburne

The following evening, my buddy Jack Thurston and I judged the first of three annual cooking contests held at Chef Contos Kitchen & Store, owned by another pal, Courtney Contos.

RamenSince the store is small, entries were capped at seven. To keep things fair, we tasted each bowl anonymously labeled with a number. Three were Thai curry soups, not ramens, so, while tasty, they simply couldn't win.

One soup stood out clearly from the pack. It had the lip-glossing slick of collagen I was looking for in a well-salted broth. Just as the truck drivers in Tampopo insist, the balance of broth, noodles and meat was spot-on, too. And it turned out the winner had a familiar face.

Suzanne Podhaizer of Salt in Montpelier, former Seven Days food editor, turned out to be the ramen's creator. I hadn't realized at first taste that the soup was made not from pork but from goose, including braised meat and cracklings from the animals she helped raise (and slaughter) herself at a farm called Gozzard City in Cabot.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: A Busy Winter Weekend" »

January 23, 2014

Alchemist to Expand With New Tasting Room

1470150_683772101657746_495050057_nOn November 5, 2013, the owners of Vermont cult brewery the Alchemist announced they were closing their tasting room to the public. Now, Jen Kimmich, who runs the company with brewer husband John, has announced the plan to add a new property that will hold a second brewery, a tasting room and a retail shop.

Jen Kimmich says she has been looking at properties in the Waterbury area, and down the Route 100 corridor into Stowe. "We've had tons of people contact us who want us to go to Rutland or Barre or Colchester, but we don't want to drive that far," she says.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Kimmich described finding what she and her husband thought would be the perfect addition, before learning it wasn't zoned for retail. After a busy day hunting on Wednesday, she tells Seven Days she still hasn't found the perfect complement to their small brewery, which turns out 9,000 barrels of Heady Topper each year. "We have a few options," Kimmich says.

Continue reading "Alchemist to Expand With New Tasting Room" »

January 21, 2014

Farmhouse Group to Open New Restaurant in nika Space

Food-nikaNika, the Mediterranean restaurant that opened at 83 Church Street last March, closed suddenly earlier this month. On Tuesday, Seven Days learned that the company behind Farmhouse Tap & Grill, El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina, Guild Tavern and Guild Fine Meats is planning to open a new restaurant in the former nika space.

"We're planning a new, casual Italian restaurant," says Kristina Bond, director of marketing for the Farmhouse Group. "We don't have anything else to report at this moment other than we're super excited!"

Nika opened on March 25, 2013, replacing Three Tomatoes Trattoria, which had turned out wood-fired pizzas and pasta dishes for 21 years in the Church Street basement restaurant space. The restaurant was originally called Sweet Tomatoes.

By opening nika, Three Tomatoes owners Robert Myers and Jim Reiman hoped to appeal to a broader clientele. Though that culinary experiment is over, the two still own Three Tomatoes restaurants in Williston, Rutland and Lebanon, N.H.

Bond says that more details will emerge as work progresses on the Farmhouse Group's latest restaurant. But Farmhouse Group co-owner Jed Davis is no stranger to the space. He was once director of operations for Three Tomatoes.

 

Alice Eats: The Hawker Stall

IMG_7123Wednesdays at ArtsRiot Kitchen Collective, 400 Pine Street, Burlington, 540-0406

Just as it should, the ArtsRiot Kitchen Collective has continued to morph since I visited every pop-up dinner for a week in November. Last week, I made it to the Hawker Stall, which debuted its Wednesday night dinners last month.

But the man behind the Hawker Stall isn't new to ArtsRiot. Jeremy Bernozzi was Richard Witting's sous-chef at the space's short-lived Chinese café.

Now Bernozzi is bringing his vast knowledge of Asian cuisine to Wednesdays, with a new stop each week. He works with Misery Loves Co. vet Andrew Burke, who adds fine dining experience to Bernozzi's street food. Every other week, Burke's menus prevail with more upscale offerings, such as "inauthentic Japanese" tasting menus.

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Rojak

Last week, I made it to one of Bernozzi's nights. He was focused on the neighborhoods of Kuala Lumpur, a destination that I've long had on my wish list. And I hadn't experienced Malaysian food since I was a kid in New York City.

Clearly, I wasn't alone in my excitement. By the time I arrived, about 7 p.m., the kitchen had already sold out of daal fritters and beef stew. I ordered coconut ice cream, but the counter help forgot to include it in my order and that, too, was gone by the time I realized it.

This isn't the Hawker Stall's fault, but careless counter service seems to be part of the deal at ArtsRiot, and the one thing that keeps me from being a regular.

But Bernozzi and Burke's food was worth it. I had never had anything quite like their rojak before. The salad featured cubes of pineapple, sour mango and apple sweetened with tamarind and palm sugar. A touch of shrimp paste added salt, while bird's-eye chiles gave it heat. Cilantro cooled it, and tofu skin, peanuts and sesame gave the dish varied texture. The deceptively complex flavors were as bright and beautiful as the salad looked.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: The Hawker Stall" »

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