MORE BLOGS: Off Message (News & Politics) | Live Culture (Arts) | Stuck in Vermont (Videos)

Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

« December 2012 | Main | February 2013 »

January 2013

January 29, 2013

Alice Eats: The Hungry Dutchman

IMG_516934 Park Street, Essex Junction, 876-7431

An important part of my job as a food writer is listening to the recommendations of others. I would have been unlikely to try this hole-in-the-wall in downtown Essex Junction if a family member and longtime line cook hadn't wholeheartedly endorsed it.

But for all their good intentions,recommenders sometimes lead me astray. Unfortunately, I was not as taken with the Hungry Dutchman as I had hoped to be.

Much as I would have loved some pannekoeken or Indonesian curry, the "Dutchman" only refers to the brothers who own it, Timothy and Thomas Roorda. They run the kitchen, while an older woman genially takes orders. 

IMG_5170Instead, the menu offers a wide selection of American favorites: pizza, subs, fried appetizers and comfort-food dinners.

There were so many options, it was difficult to choose dishes that I felt might do justice to the place, so I stuck as much as possible to what had been recommended.

That meant wings were right at the top of my list. Specifically, the Caribbean jerk wings, which my friend had said were among the best he'd ever tasted.

The chicken itself was perfectly crisped, but for me, the sauce ruined the petite wings. It was gloopy and oversweet, it reminded me of General Tso's chicken, without a hint of the Caribbean. Kudos, though, to the Roordas for making their sauces in-house. There are about a dozen different ones for the wings alone.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: The Hungry Dutchman" »

January 25, 2013

Grazing: A Dedicated Fish-and-Chips Shop Opens in Brattleboro


If you know nothing about World's Most Delicious, let your nose be your guide: As soon as you enter the dimly lit space, the smell of malt vinegar wallops you in the face.

Brattleboro's newest place to eat may be tiny, but it's also colorful and gutsy: They serve fish and chips (and Belgian fries), and that's pretty much it. The compact menu is even painted onto the wall behind the register, suggesting it will change rarely, if ever. With fish availability ever shifting, though, the market prices for each night's supper are scrawled on a nearby chalkboard: $12 for eight ounces of fish and a basket of fries; $10 for half that.

"We only use hake," says Sam Scott-Moncrieff, who opened WMD with his Dad, a Scottish filmmaker, in December. "It's less oily." And, he adds, it's plentiful, which allows them to keep prices down. A nearby cooler has bottles of beer arranged in neat rows: Belhaven Scottish Ale, Old Speckled Hen, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Trout River Rainbow Red.

I order a half supper and settle in at one of three picnic tables adorned with salt, pepper, vinegar and a metal flower made from a spigot handle. On a small stage in the window, a musician named Brooks Letchworth strums on his guitar, taking part in WMD's "ing For Your Supper deal  — perform for an hour and WMD comps you a full fish dinner.

Continue reading "Grazing: A Dedicated Fish-and-Chips Shop Opens in Brattleboro" »

January 22, 2013

Alice Eats: Asiana Noodle Shop

IMG_515088 Church Street, Burlington, 862-8828

"How can you guys do a 'soup survey' and not hit Asiana Noodle House?" asked reader Bridget O'Connor in a letter to the editor in Seven Days' January 9 issue. "They will out-soup anyone for miles around!"

While Asiana Noodle Shop — not to be confused with Pearl Street's Asiana House — didn't fit into our December 19 survey of Burlington cafés and bakeries that serve soup, it was clear that it was time to pay the Church Street restaurant its due. Especially with a string of weather that will certainly be necessitating a steaming bowl or two of noodle soup.

One of my favorite things about the cozy restaurant is its space. The slightly cramped surroundings that long held Paradise Burrito feel just as a casual noodle shop should.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Asiana Noodle Shop" »

January 19, 2013

Eat Like You've Been Elected!

ShummyMaybe you're a member of the Vermont congressional delegation. Maybe you have tickets for the Obama swearing-in ceremony and an extra $100 to throw around on top of your round-trip ticket to D.C.

Either way, on Sunday you might find yourself at the Vermont State Society's 2013 Inaugural Reception in our nation's capital and enjoying a menu prepared by members of the Vermont Specialty Food Association.

And if you're staying home, consider this a recipe for a congressional-worthy meal all your own. 

Start with a cheese plate. In D.C., Shummy and co. (shown above at the ribbon cutting for the Mad River Food Hub, where a number of the featured foods are prepared) will be slicing into blocks of 2-year-old maple-smoked cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese, as well as selections from Cabot Creamery and Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery.

Those playing the home game will want to get out their fondue pots. The Washington delegation will be dipping into melted versions of the above cheeses with roasted potato cubes, Empire apple wedges from Champlain Orchards and vegetable crudités.

Food-pastaIf that's too fancy for you, apps will also include bags of chips from Gringo Jack's with the Manchester company's own salsa. Be sure to keep your fingers clean by using a fork when digging into pickles from Lyman's Specialties.

The main course includes a pasta bar with vodka and pesto sauces from Bove's and Vermont Fresh Pasta (right) as well as spicy satay sauce from Vermont Harvest Specialty Foods in Stowe. A carving station features Misty Knoll Farms turkey, sausage from Vermont Smoke & Cure and pork from Vermont Salumi. Those wishing to go vegan and gluten-free can grab a bowl of Thai curry squash soup from Joe's Soups at Screamin' Ridge Farm. A range of Vermont dressings will top salads, including the aforementioned satay. Clearly, the lesson is that the Thai peanut sauce goes on everything.

Foodnews-cider_0Vermont-made (though no longer Vermont-owned) Ben & Jerry's tops the list of desserts, along with apple pies from Ma Bean's Vermont Pie Company, a variety of slices from Vermont Cheesecake Company and Liz Lovely cookies.

But, of course, what really matters is the liquid courage. Whether you're getting up the nerve to talk to one of our representatives or just steeling yourself for the work week, local liquors will be in full force.

The hard stuff comes from from Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey and Vermont Spirits Distilling Co. A wide selection of beers includes sips from Long Trail Brewing Company, Otter Creek Brewing, Magic Hat Brewery and Trapp Family Lodge Brewery. Cider from Essex's Citizen Cider (right) joins wine from Snow Farm Vineyard and Honora Winery.

But when it comes to free-flowing nectar, perhaps it's best to party at home, near a couch and far from lawmakers.


January 18, 2013

Grazing: A Reimagined Hot Toddy, With Barrel-Aged Apple Brandy

FlaghillFor the last few days, my throat has felt like a slow-burning coal fire. I don't think I'm alone; hacks and sniffles and woeful looks are so plentiful that it's a miracle anything is getting done.

Trying to drink a bug away can work (almost magically), or it can make the ailment much, much worse. It depends on quality as much as quantity. The release of a new batch of barrel-aged apple brandy from New Hampshire's Flag Hill Distillery seemed an ample excuse for me to test out my theory.

Flag Hill, in Lee, produces wines from cold-climate grapes as well as spirits made from local fruits and grains — vodka, gin, grappa, white whiskey and a range of fruit liqueurs among them.

The company also distills apple cider from Concord's Apple Hill Farm into its own form of Calvados. This one is named for a New Hampshire physician, judge and signer of the Constitution, and his visage graces the bottle.

Josiah Bartlett ages for four years in oak barrels, and, like the guy from which it was named, it's elegant and restrained with waves of apple, pear, vanilla, caramel and maybe even a hint of cardamom that glide across the back of the tongue. Despite all the toastiness, it seems kind of feminine, somehow.

And the drink is as smooth as silk in a hot toddy, for which I usually prefer orange to lemon and only the slightest hint of honey. If this doesn't chase the bug away, at least it numbs the pain.

Josiah Bartlett Hot Toddy

3 ounces hot water
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 ounces apple brandy
Orange wedge, and slice for garnish
Cloves, optional 

In a glass mug, pour water over a spoonful of honey and stir to dissolve. Add brandy and squeeze in the juices from the orange wedge, then garnish with orange slice. Add cloves if desired. Sip slowly.

January 16, 2013

Vermonters Mount Impassioned (Online) Defense Of State Cheese

Food-cidercheeseYesterday, a pithy post appeared on pointing out that Vermonters have more cats per capita than any other U.S. state. But as the post wends its way around social media, it's not comments about felines, but rather cheese, that is riling the 802 rank and file. Specifically, this line:

"Vermont's previous accomplishments include the production of not-as-good-as-Wisconsin cheese and Brigham Young."

The writer, Madeleine Davies, might as well have fired a cannon over Cabot's bow. In the fiery comments section, Vermonters of all stripes have sprung to their state's defense. Some highlights:

Continue reading "Vermonters Mount Impassioned (Online) Defense Of State Cheese" »

January 15, 2013

Chef Michel Mahe to Open New Eateries in Vergennes and Middlebury

Grillingthechef-mahe-MTChef Michel Mahe has found a novel way to make the grey winter months pass quickly: He's working on two new eateries, one each for Vergennes and Middlebury, that will open in coming months.

In Vergennes, Mahe — who already owns three restaurants, in Shelburne, Bristol and Vergennes — is busy transforming the former Park Squeeze on Main Street into a 60-seat burger, flatbread and local-beer joint that he expects will be open by April under the same name.

The place will be similar in feel to his Bobcat Café & Brewery in Bristol, sans an on-site brewery. "I think what the Bobcat has shown me is if you create a local place that is affordable, accessible and casual enough, people will show up in droves," he says. "This will be a sort of 'let's go out and not make a big deal about it' kind of place." He'll leave up the Park Squeeze's iconic neon sign, with its yellow arrow guiding people in.

Though a menu is still a few weeks off, Mahe emphasizes that the fare will be limited to local-beef burgers and "flatbreads with flair." The upstairs bar — which will share the same antique Irish feel of the Bobcat — will offer local brews on tap and be a replacement of sorts for Vergennes' Up Top Tavern, which Mahe closed two months ago.

Continue reading "Chef Michel Mahe to Open New Eateries in Vergennes and Middlebury" »

Alice Eats: Seoul Chako and Kamela Restaurant

IMG_5129It's been a while since I've shared cheap-eats picks from Montréal. Following a weekend in the city, I'm ready to reveal a double dose of deliciousness from a very full Sunday of eating. And, of course, both of my recommendations have no equivalent in the Green Mountains.

Soeul Chako, 1824 rue St-Catherine Ouest, Montréal, QC, 514-989-8886

Seoul Chako is downtown's latest addition to the world of all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue.

IMG_5127Sunday at noon, the restaurant, sister to all-you-can-eat Crescent Sushi, was packed with large parties grilling up meats, downing sushi and slurping soup for a single price of $14.99. On weekdays, lunch is a dollar less. Dinner brings more choices and a higher price — $21.99 on weekdays and $23.99 during the weekend.

Guests are presented with a numbered menu and a pile of sheets on which to scribble their choices. Getting a server to take the filled sheets was a struggle, however. And waiting for the food to come was even more difficult. I ordered hardly any cooked food, but items still dribbled in after 20 to 30 minutes.

The spicy gam ja tang soup was delicious, one of the tastiest versions I've had in Montréal, if sorely lacking in meat. Typically this soup comes with a pork neck bone floating in it, but this one didn't; it was far too tiny. However, the single strand of sesame-flavored pork in this potato-filled potage was a crown jewel.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Seoul Chako and Kamela Restaurant" »

January 11, 2013

Grazing: No Breakfast-Food Rut at Stowe's Café Latina

Having the same weekday breakfast over and over again can be a drag. How many egg-and-cheese wraps or bowls of oatmeal can one person eat in his or her lifetime?

Yet when it 16772_312826265488596_598934453_n-1comes to breakfast, Americans seem caught in their own particular egg-cheese-bacon box. Which is why Stowe's Café Latina is so refreshing. Yes, they serve breakfast sandwiches and burritos, but those can be dished up with chorizo or pork carnitas. There's also yogurt parfait, but it comes layered with coconut and mango coulis.

Here, guests might be surprised to encounter gallo pinto —  traditional Costa Rican rice and beans — which appears as a hulking plate of rice, black beans, red peppers and onions, seasoned with hearty amounts of cumin and red pepper, showered with minced cilantro and topped with two poached eggs. Anything topped with a poached egg is scrum-worthy, but gallo pinto, with its spicy-earthy appeal, was especially cosseting; a dose of Vermont Pepper Works hot sauce spiked it up nicely.

Cafe Latina's owner, Karen Nielsen, lived in Costa Rica for many years before moving to Stowe to open this place, and warmth infuses everything, from the colorful interior  — complete with gas fire and comfy red chairs — to the Latin-inflected food.

As filling as gallo pinto was, I didn't stop there; I also opted for some jalapeño-sesame beef tenderloin tacos, and they were delicious — the beef succulent, a subtle sweetness (from honey, apparently) infusing the entire thing.

Nielsen is committed to importing and selling coffee beans sourced directly from Costa Rican farmers, and while I couldn't quite enjoy one of her lattes — it was too late in the day for caffeine, at least for me — Café Latina's Aztec hot chocolate was creamy, dark, spicy and complex. Nielsen is also committed to gluten-free baked treats, and the peanut butter cookie with which she sent me packing was rich and sinful, and left tiny oil spots on the bag in which I transported it.

Café Latina is at 407 Mountain Road and serves the breakfast-and-lunch menu until 2 p.m. every day. 

So Long, Noble Pig; Hello, Local Grind

PigSarah Moran and Luke Stone, owner and chef, respectively, of Cloud 9 Catering, have formed a sister company.

It's called Vermont Feed Company and is the parent organization for the pair's mobile eateries.

Late last year, I reported that their Noble Pig hot dog cart might have to change its name. Indeed, a cease-and-desist letter from Noble Pig Winery in Oregon has forced the cart to adopt a new moniker, the Local Grind, making a collector's item of the snazzy shirt Stone is sporting above.

Continue reading "So Long, Noble Pig; Hello, Local Grind" »

Email Newsletter

Fill out my online form.
All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684