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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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September 2012

September 28, 2012

Grazing: Drinking As If You're Still at the Harbor Hideaway

Grn_mountainLet's do some word association. If I say "boy," you might say "girl." If I say "sun," you might say "moon." And if I say, "creme de menthe," you say... "blech."

Who the hell uses creme de menthe anymore? Well, at the now-demolished Harbor Hideaway in Shelburne, it was a signature spirit behind the bar, and formed the basis for one of two drink "concoctions" listed at the top of the menu, at least in 1957: the Green Mountain Boy.

The ingredients of the Green Mountain Boy are few but wince inducing: "Heavy Dark Rum," creme de menthe and lime. "This One Is Masculine!" proclaims the menu. (The other drink, the Harbor Cocktail, calls for New England rum, maple syrup and lemon — a more palatable but less interesting drink).

Intrigued, I set out to re-create the Green Mountain Boy. I assumed the cocktail drew its name in part from green creme de menthe, which is a nature-defying neon. Unfortunately, I only had clear creme de menthe on my bar, a bottle that had been bestowed on me by a neighbor cleaning out his liquor cabinet. I've had it for three years and haven't used it until now.

At first, I tried a light, aged local rum. The result was truly disgusting. The bartender who created this was on to something: dark, chocolate-colored rum — such as the Cruzan Black Strap Rum I eventually used — is necessary to stand up to the minty force of creme de menthe.

With dark rum and a generous spritz of lime — and no modern bells or whistles — this drink is actually decent, wisps of caramel flavors from the rum jostling against the vibrating menthol of the liqueur. And once you whip up one of these, you might pair it with one of the other Harbor Hideaway specials, such as "Consommé Madrilene" (.35) or Barbecued Chicken with Exotic Sauce ($2.25).

Green Mountain Boy
Makes one drink

2 ounces black-strap rum
1 ounce creme de menthe
Juice from half a lime 

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake until blended. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with lime wedge (not shown) and serve.

September 27, 2012

Koffee Kup Can Make You a Man

Fall-Date-5Looking to impress the girl of your dreams? According to this blog post sponsored by Levi's, the secret to seduction is a box of Vermont-made doughnuts. 

Specifically, pumpkin ones from Burlington's own Koffee Kup Bakery.

Brian Carpentier, Koffee Kup's executive vice president of sales and marketing, was pleasantly surprised to hear about the ad, saying he was especially taken off guard to learn that the pumpkin flavor was featured, as it debuted only a few days ago.

But he's not surprised to see that others have discovered his product's romantic potential. "I guess we have a new dating thing going on, but I think doughnuts are good for everything," Carpentier says. "Anniversaries, birthdays, everything."

September 26, 2012

Will Misery Loves Co. Settle Down in Winooski? It's a Definite Maybe.

6a00d83451b91969e2015391bb251b970b-250wiWe first heard the rumor a few weeks ago: Misery Loves Co., mobile purveyor of calorie-laden delights, might go brick-and-mortar in the Winooski space where Don Pedro's Taqueria used to be. Since MLC's truck, Big Red, is parked behind our offices a few times a week, the next time I ordered a Saltie, I asked the proprietors about it. The question was met with a firm "no."

Flash-forward a few crisp weeks. This morning, a Winooski-ite wrote us to say she had seen white paper over the windows at 46 Main Street (the ex-Don Pedro's) and had wandered over to ask a few guys removing lettering if they were taking over the space.

Continue reading "Will Misery Loves Co. Settle Down in Winooski? It's a Definite Maybe." »

September 25, 2012

Alice Eats: The Whiskey Room at Rí Rá

IMG_4634176 College Street, Burlington, 860-9401

It was a rainy Saturday. After a full day of judging cupcakes at Northern Decadence, hanging with my pals at Pride and seeing the excellent Robot & Frank at Merrill's Roxy Cinema, it was time for some whiskey. Or, rather, a room full of it.

I prefer to leave the drinking to Corin, but when I recently passed by the Whiskey Room at Rí Rá, the menu popped. I was doubly surprised: Not only was there food, it sounded creative, with a local bent.

Once inside, I found the next surprise: The shadowy bar is as transporting as Rí Rá next door, and the dark wood is a far cry from Anything's Pastable. Around 9 p.m., only a couple of tables were free; most were filled with college-age drinkers perusing the fat notebook of whiskey selections.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: The Whiskey Room at Rí Rá" »

September 21, 2012

Grazing: A Slice of Pi in Woodstock

Pi_outsideDown in the Upper Valley, the restaurant scene is a little sleepier than up near Burlington, and any new opening is broadly noted. So when Pi Brick Oven Pizzeria opened in Woodstock a few weeks ago, it caused a few ripples in the UV pond. It was also a brave move in a town where the streets tends to be ghostly by 6:30 p.m., and on a block where, a few steps away, chef Caleb Barber turns out sublime pizza at osteria pane e salute.

It can be hard to get a seat at pane e salute, though, unless you reserve in advance. Not so at Pi, at least thus far; during a recent weekday evening, the restaurant was hushed inside — not exactly because it was empty but because the tables are pushed to the edges of a spacious interior whose center is curiously empty, almost like a dance floor or event space in waiting. 

The rest of the plush vibe is sort of a Vermont-Tuscany mashup: terracotta-colored walls, comfy banquettes, low pendant lamps, and stone arches across the back wall. A massive farm table fills one front window.

Continue reading "Grazing: A Slice of Pi in Woodstock" »

September 18, 2012

Alice Eats: Asian Gourmet

IMG_4607276 North Main Street, Barre, 477-7828

The influence of a dynasty is spreading around Vermont, and I'm not talking about descendants of the Allens or Chittendens. This power family includes Jerry Jiang, owner of the Asian Bistros in Winooski and Williston, and South Burlington's brand-new Hana Japanese Restaurant; his father, who owns Koto Japanese Steak House; and now uncle Jin Zhang, who has brought sushi to the Granite City with Asian Gourmet.

The space, last home to Lucia’s Italian Restaurant & Bar, is now decorated with wall hangings depicting traditional brush-painted carp. The bright setting feels appropriately austere, yet upbeat thanks to my eager server, Winki.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Asian Gourmet" »

September 17, 2012

Pumpkins With Personality At The Tunbridge World's Fair

My favorite part of any fair is checking out the award-winning pies, pickles and oversize gourds. I also have a soft spot for food that comes to life, possibly ignited by the iconic French's Mustard commercials of my youth. So when I dropped in on the Tunbridge World's Fair this weekend, I was pretty blissed out to stumble across an entire wall of pumpkins, squash and apples reanimated by kids. 

Continue reading "Pumpkins With Personality At The Tunbridge World's Fair" »

Call to Farmers: Mad River Valley’s Bragg Farm for Sale


If you dream of pulling brilliant orange baby carrots and candy-striped chioggia beets from a loam of your own, read on.


The Vermont Land Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization, has recently purchased the one-of-a-kind Bragg Farm of Fayston. This scenic and historic farm, nestled among the Green Mountains, including Sugarbush’s Mount Ellen and Lincoln Peak, was a dairy enterprise until 1973.

Now, through the VLT’s Farmland Access Program, the farm will be sold to a qualified, experienced farmer at its agricultural value. The new farmer will be chosen based on a variety of criteria.

Continue reading "Call to Farmers: Mad River Valley’s Bragg Farm for Sale" »

Sweet Talk With Joy the Baker

Joy the baker[This article was written by Seven Days calendar editor Carolyn Fox.]

If you don’t know who Joy the Baker is, we can only assume your life is sorely lacking in butter, sugar and flour.

One of the internet’s top food bloggers — as named by Forbes and Saveur, among others — Joy Wilson (aka “Joy the Baker”) is the thirtysomething California mastermind behind such unusual sweets as Avocado Pound Cake, Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Pretzel Brownies and Toasted-Marshmallow Milkshakes. She’s no slouch at savory recipes, either; Seven Days associate arts editor Megan James swears by her Kale-and-Sweet-Potato Soup.

But visitors to her site tend to drop in as much for her warm personality and self-effacing humor as for the food. A “self-taught/family-taught/taste-buds-taught baker,” Wilson exudes girl-next-door-charm and an affinity for words such as “bonkers” and “amazeballs.” She frequently interrupts her regularly scheduled recipes with posts about her life as a cat lady.

Wilson visits King Arthur Flour this Saturday, September 22, as part of its grand-opening celebration. We caught up with the blogger by phone to talk about her new cookbook, her brief time as a Vermonter and, of course, Ben & Jerry’s.

SEVEN DAYS: You’re no stranger to Vermont — you moved from California to Burlington right after high school. What brought you here?

Continue reading "Sweet Talk With Joy the Baker" »

September 14, 2012

Grazing: Fried Padron Peppers at Pistou, a New Favorite Thing

Pistou is just down the street from the Seven Days office, but I don't go there nearly enough. With so many places to hit up for work, and home more than an hour away, it's hard to return to favorites with any regularity. 

The other day,  though, I learned that Jason Zuliani of Dedalus Wine had a hand in the recent retooling of Pistou's wine list, and I was curious to check it out before heading to dinner elsewhere. (A glass of wine with a quick snack is my favorite pre-prandial sport.)

The list has an Old World focus, mingled with some new biodynamic and organic wines. Both are well suited to the fare here, which can be earthy and light, classic and eclectic at once. It was a warm night, so I picked out a 2011 Terres Dorees Beaujolais Blanc and turned to the menu. Fried padron peppers? I'd heard of them — were they like pimientos? The peppers came with an eggplant-garlic puree and "chickpeas." Trust in chef Max MacKinnon was called for.

What arrived was an almost sculptural arrangement of tiny, green, papery-looking things. Singed slightly on their edges and curled in on themselves, the padrons glistened with a touch of oil. They came from Intervale's Half Pint Farm, where Mara and Spencer Welton raise a mélange of heirloom and eclectic things most of us might not ever grow at home.

Each bite-sized pepper broke and burst in the mouth with smoky sweetness — but occasionally, one released a dose of heat. "I'm told maybe one in 10 are hot," said co-owner Maji Chien, who runs the front of the house. Alongside the earthy eggplant puree and topped with a nutty crumble from what looked like a chickpea fritter, each bite had percussive, jangling flavors. The crisp Beaujalois Blanc — a citrusy, steel-aged Chardonnay with deeper notes of hazelnuts and pear — was luscious on its own, but also stood up well to all the personalities on the plate.

Chien didn't know how much longer the peppers would last on Pistou's constantly changing menu. They'd been on two days, she reported, but who knows?

Padrons are as fleeting as this spectacular weather, so get them while you can. 


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