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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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May 2013

May 31, 2013

Grazing: House-Brewed 'Heifer-Wisen' (With a View) at Whetstone Station

Whetstone1A deck overlooking the Connecticut River. A glass of house-brewed hefewiezen. Some mahi-mahi tacos. Blinding sun. These things defined my last May afternoon.

Brattleboro's Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery opened just about a year ago, but since Brattleboro is at the opposite end of the state from Burlington, I hadn't yet made it — until today, a 90-degree scorcher that feels more like late July.

Fortunately, Whetstone has a breezy deck — two, in fact — with plum views of the Connecticut River, which resembles an estuary here. On May 6, Whetstone finally began brewing its own beer in a cozy brewhouse just off the main dining room. The bar taps one of these at a time, and the first — a pale ale called SMaSH Pilot Batch #1 — apparently kicked pretty quickly.

Lucky for me, today brought another fresh beer: Heifer-Wisen, so named for Brattleboro's Strolling of the Heifers, which takes place next weekend. Brewed on May 20 using organic malt from Valley Malt of Hadley, Mass., and New York-grown hops, Heifer-Wisen flows "unfiltered, unpasteurized, and served straight from the fermenter," as the menu says.

Continue reading "Grazing: House-Brewed 'Heifer-Wisen' (With a View) at Whetstone Station" »

May 30, 2013

Alice Eats: African Safari Store and Deli

IMG_568378 North St., Burlington, 658-0004

An exceptional lunch yesterday necessitated that I write a very special Thursday Alice Eats today. Tomorrow, you should give African Safari Store and Deli a try.

Perhaps, you say, I shouldn't pin my hopes on 78 North Street. I got very excited at the beginning of the year about the Panamanian food being served at Cool Runnings. Both that and the store were soon gone, but I'm praying that African Safari sticks around.

Why? It's the only place other than farmers market to get prepared Somalian food. It's also the only way, save Tuesday Ethiopian nights at ¡Duino! (Duende), to eat finger-licking, teff-flour injera bread.

IMG_5685And everything I tried yesterday, including the injera, greatly exceeded my expectations.

I usually expect injera to have a spongy, fluffy texture not unlike an edible towel. This bread was stretchier and softer than what I'm used to, but retained the little jab of acid at the end of every bite.

And there were three folded rounds of the stuff. More than enough for one meal.

That was despite how voraciously I downed the goat stew. The curried meat was on the bone and coarsely butchered, but so tender in the delicious, mild sauce that I sopped up every bit of it and the accompanying lentils with my injera. I had been losing hope for the popularity of goat in Burlington, but if locals get a taste of that stew, the meat might still gain wider acceptance.

I was equally impressed with what the cook behind the counter told me was jerk chicken. The boneless pieces were dark enough to be the Jamaican dish, but upon first bite it was obvious that this was a very different bird. The tender fowl tasted more like intense, slightly spicy tandoori chicken than a fiery jerk marinade.

The whole meal was $10. With flavors that dwarf the prices, you can be sure I'll be on safari again very soon.

Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to alice@sevendaysvt.com.

May 28, 2013

Alice Eats: Bluebird Coffee Stop at the Innovation Center

IMG_5660128 Lakeside Avenue, Burlington, no phone (yet)

A workday lunch that regularly attracts two food critics is something to celebrate. If only the Seven Days offices were in the high-tech, LEED-certified Innovation Center.

But luckily, Corin and I don't have to go far to get a taste of one of Burlington's best new lunch options.

And despite the name, coffee is never the main attraction for us.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Bluebird Coffee Stop at the Innovation Center " »

May 27, 2013

Grazing: Rhubarb-Orleans Daiquiri

Rhubarb_staksAnother year, another exploding rhubarb patch. With so many stems and no real talent for baking, I sometimes use the tart stalks for a nefarious purpose: drinking. Last year, I gave a bundle of stalks to an acquiantance to make bitters, which he returned to me a few weeks later; I also paired a rhubarb simple syrup with raspberries, rum and mint for this juicy little number.

This year, I'm armed with an Omega juicer, a masticating monster of a machine. I fed some rhubarb stalks into it over the weekend, and their fibers proceeded to get tangled around the auger — but some rosy-pink juice trickled out, too. Its tartness was even more powerful than I expected.

I tried blending this juice with tequila (ick) and shook it together with vodka (which was just OK). Though I had forgotten that it was Smugglers' Notch Distillery Rum that worked so well last year, it's the very place I ended up again this year.

I dribbled some rhubarb juice together with this smooth, oaky rum, as well as with some Orleans Bitters, grapefruit and lime juices, mint and a few spoonsful of rhubarb simple syrup to balance out the tartness. It sounds like a strange combination on the surface, but it yielded a silky drink whose pretty pink color belies its potent, tart-bittersweet flavors.

With its combo of sugars, rum and citrus, this drink resembles a daiquiri, but barely. You could serve this over the rocks and top it with sparkling water for a spritzer, too; I simply shook the drink until it was really cold and then sipped it from a dainty vintage cocktail glass, garnished with even more herbs.

I'll probably finesse it over the next few weeks. But version 1.0 is pretty quenching. See recipe after the break.

Continue reading "Grazing: Rhubarb-Orleans Daiquiri" »

May 24, 2013

Burlington's Uva Wine Bar Changes Name

Vin logoLess than two months after opening, the owners of Burlington's Uva Wine Bar have changed its name due to a trademark objection from a similarly named restaurant in New York City.

Starting this week, Uva — which means "grape" in Italian — will instead be known as Vin Bar & Shop

Kevin Cleary, who opened the bar with his wife, Kathi, says the brand change had stalled their initial marketing plans. "It was disappointing to have to change the name, as we had put a great deal into it before we had opened," wrote Cleary in an email. "That being said, it's better that this happened now as opposed to two years from now, when we would have had much more invested in the name and brand." 

Vin — which is steps away on College Street from L'Amante Ristorante, the couples' decade-old Italian eatery — is a combination wine bar, retail store and education center.

May 22, 2013

Magic Hat Defends #9 Against a Beer Named 6

486828_10151439770029067_1296824877_nBack when he was an assistant manager at Magic Hat Brewing Co., 7D music editor Dan Bolles and his then colleagues tried to push a fictional Magic Hat #6 on April Fools Day. "The joke was that it was a light version of #9, with one-third fewer calories," writes Bolles. "We even had fake logos made up with the number six mimicking the #9 artwork."

Bolles' prank was eerily prescient. Last week, Magic Hat filed an injunction against a year-old Kentucky craft brewer, defending one of its flagship beers, #9.

The complaint against West Sixth Brewing Company alleges that that brewery's beers, branded with the numeral 6, have a mark that's "confusingly and substantially similar" to #9, a beer Magic Hat has been making since 1995.

West Sixth was founded by four friends in spring 2012. Cofounder Ben Self, who lived in Vermont briefly during Howard Dean's presidential campaign, says his company wasn't trying to imitate Magic Hat. They chose the name because their brewery is located on, well, West Sixth Street. "We worked on it for a long time," he says of the logo, which features a swirly, encircled number 6 next to a star dingbat. It was created by the Lexington company Cricket Press. "From the beginning, we were very comfortable with our logo design," says Self.

Continue reading "Magic Hat Defends #9 Against a Beer Named 6" »

May 21, 2013

Anatolian Grand Bazaar Opens

IMG_5655
Don't feel like cooking tonight or packing lunch tomorrow? Nazan Bozkurt will take care of you. She and son Efe Çimrin opened the doors to their Turkish food store, Anatolian Grand Bazaar, on Monday, though Çimrin is just calling it a soft opening for now.

IMG_5657Today, the airy, all-white shop at Burlington's 163 Pearl Street was filled with just a portion of what's to come, said Çimrin.

That includes a sampling of his mother's hazelnut-filled Turkish delight, coated in coconut instead of powdered sugar for a far more grown-up, almost chocolaty version of the usually sticky-sweet dessert.

And, like any good mother, Bozkurt is cooking for her customers' health. Her wide variety of packaged meal kits are filled with mixed vegetarian and vegan Turkish appetizers.

The aptly named "The Turkish Mom" is packed with falafel, gorgeously green pistachio-based hummus, spinach borek, feta-filled sigara borek and a stuffed cabbage dish called sarma.

Healthy bags of soups and stews also fill the case, but you may want to look to its right. That's where Bozkurt's baklava is kept. It's sold in a variety of different sizes and flavors, including her legendary pistachio version. Just be sure to eat your veggies first.

Alice Eats: Superb Cupcakes

5 Taft Corners Shopping Center, Williston, 871-5941

Have you ever been outsmarted by a cupcake? It could happen.

Though ice cream, macarons, doughnuts and now even cronuts have come and gone in bigger cities, cupcakes have had the staying power of a cockroach in and around the Queen City. It could be declared Vermont's official dessert.

IMG_5649And there's a reason: Cupcakes are good. Especially cupcakes like the Root Beer Float from Superb Cupcakes in Williston.

It was that delectable dessert that got the better of me. Somehow, baker-owners Joseph Emmons and Hannah Lenehan crammed every bit of flavor from the sugary drink into a baked form.

Forget the chocolate cupcake and its pleasantly spongy bounce. It simply blends with the buttercream on top, intensely flavored with root beer, then glazed with even more of the stuff. Inside, fluffy vanilla cream approximates a bobbing scoop of ice cream. Save the drastic temperature difference, you will be fooled.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Superb Cupcakes" »

May 20, 2013

Maker of Woodchuck Cider Sues South Burlington Coffee Roaster

Woodhuck_logosOnce upon a time, Vermont copyright infringement cases tended to originate with out-of-state conglomerates — think Chick-fil-A versus Eat More Kale or Monster Energy Drink versus Rock Art Brewery.

Maybe it was inevitable that a Vermont brand would get big enough to feel the need to defend its trade name against its smaller, in-state brethren. So it is with Vermont Hard Cider Company, maker of Woodchuck Hard Cider, which last week filed a complaint in U.S. District Court seeking monetary damages against the owners of South Burlington’s Woodchuck Coffee Roasters.

In the complaint, Vermont Hard Cider — which is registered in Delaware but has its headquarters in Middlebury — is described as having invested a “substantial” amount of money in building the brand name it has held since 1991, and trademarked in 2001. Not only do the name and furry rodent — holding an apple — adorn its cider bottles, but they appear on licensed products as diverse as key chains, playing cards, lip balm, umbrellas, suspenders and even “hydropacks,” according to the complaint — a testament to just how vertical brands can be these days.

Continue reading "Maker of Woodchuck Cider Sues South Burlington Coffee Roaster" »

May 17, 2013

Grazing: Waitin' On A Plane at the BTV Skinny Pancake

Foodnews-skinnyThis post probably appears just above one from earlier this week announcing that the Skinny Pancake on Burlington's Lake Street will double in size by July. Does that mean that the third Skinny Pancake — the much-anticipated one at Burlington Airport, which opened just over two months ago — is already old hat?

Not for me. Without plans to fly anywhere, this rustic-looking kiosk remained off limits from behind a wall of TSA glass. With some local craft brews on tap, a cocktail menu that draws heavily on local spirits, and a section of the menu devoted to crêpe-less dishes — panini, a Vermont Salumi sandwich, even a burger — I was curious about what I couldn't have.

Until this Wednesday, when I was booked on a flight to DC. I arrived at the airport early to get my Skinny Pancake on.

Continue reading "Grazing: Waitin' On A Plane at the BTV Skinny Pancake" »

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