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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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January 2014

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" »

January 20, 2014

How to Help Maple Wind Farm After Last Week's Fire

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The destroyed barn Richmond last summer

Before most of us were awake on Monday, January 13, Beth Whiting and Bruce Hennessey of Maple Wind Farm had already received some very bad news. Just an hour and a half after the fire department arrived, their historic barn was declared a total loss.

Though the pair's home farm is in Huntington, an expansion in the summer of 2013 meant adding a Richmond property, including the barn that was destroyed.

The damage amounts to about $200,000, including refrigerators, washing tools, office space and 10,000 pounds of frozen vegetables.

Reached by phone this afternoon, Whiting was surprisingly upbeat. No people or animals were harmed in the fire and the farmers were able to sell their wares at the Burlington Farmers Market last weekend. Whiting says that although some poultry processing equipment was damaged in the fire, the farm remains on track to pass USDA inspection this winter. She calls the ability to rebuild to their own specifications a "silver lining."

Selling their own products will help cover some costs, but friends are helping out, too. David Zuckerman and Rachel Nevitt of Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg are supplying organic pork and vegetables for a fundraiser at Hinesburgh Public House on January 28. The dinner, served from 5 to 9 p.m., will consist of three courses, all for $25. Ben & Jerry's is donating dessert.

Continue reading "How to Help Maple Wind Farm After Last Week's Fire" »

January 17, 2014

Grazing: Country-politan with Boggy Meadow 'Switchel' Cider Vodka

Switchel_vodkaVodka is the most infused of spirits. Berries, orange peel, citron, black pepper, chili peppers and vanilla beans all meet their ends in its clear depths, and drinkers never seem to tire of these infusions. Until now, though, no one (as far as I can tell) has thought to blend the clear spirit with apple cider and ... vinegar?

Yes. Vodka infused with vinegar may sound gross, but it actually echoes a drink that harks back hundreds of years. During the long haying days of the 1600s and 1700s, New England farmers often supped on blends of ginger, apple cider, spices and vinegar. This drink was known as "switchel," and it's undergoing something of a revival.

Boggy Meadow's cloudy, ochre-colored "Switchel" cider vodka is definitely unorthodox, but may not be so unusual two or three years from now. I've tried it in myriad vodka-cocktail ways — in a traditional martini with a twist; in a sherry martini; in a bracing Black Magic, with coffee liqueur and a spritz of lemon juice. All were delicious.

Its smoothest incarnation, though, may be a locavore riff on the Cosmopolitan. Switchel cider vodka lends a tangy twist to this blend of vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry and fresh-squeezed lime juice. It's a softer, brighter and more distinctive version of the original Cosmo — especially when blended with local cranberry liqueur. I've dubbed it the Country-politan.

Recipe below.

Continue reading "Grazing: Country-politan with Boggy Meadow 'Switchel' Cider Vodka" »

January 15, 2014

South End Kitchen to Open Next Week in Burlington

South_end_kitchen
After a yearlong, multimillion-dollar renovation of the former Sondik Supply building at 716 Pine Street, the staff of Lake Champlain Chocolates will unveil their bold new culinary center next week.

The colorful, 45-seat South End Kitchen at Lake Champlain Chocolates — bedecked in golden-rod tiles, filled with wooden tables and adorned with a stone hearth — anchors the 8,500-square-foot space. It's flanked on either side by an airy education kitchen and a glassed-in production area for Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker.

"It's a unique space, and it was fun to take an old warehouse" and transform it, said Jim Lampman, LCC's founder, who worked closely with his son, Eric, and architect John Anderson on the project. Architect Donna Church of studioblue Architecture created the design, which was partly funded by $1.3 million in financing from the Vermont Economic Development Authority.

Continue reading "South End Kitchen to Open Next Week in Burlington" »

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