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July 29, 2010

Combo Platter: CSB, Vermont BBQ, Sugarsnap Expands

Alice Levitt

Gluten-Free Grub

The trend of food businesses asking for community funding is on the rise. It's part of the claim to fame of The Bobcat Café in Bristol and Claire's Restaurant & Bar in Hardwick. Julianne Jones looked to a website called to raise $12,000 so she can open The Vergennes Laundry, a brick-oven bakery and coffee shop. Another, more specialized purveyor of baked goods is trying the same approach.

On June 30, Abby Knapp and Matt Tucker, owners of From the Ground Up, began selling gluten-free bread and pastries at the Old North End Farmers' Market. Two years ago, the couple cut wheat from their diets due to non-celiac gluten intolerance. Tucker had worked in kitchens and Knapp enjoyed baking at home, but neither had ever considered a career in the food industry. Nonetheless, they saw a hole in the market for gluten-free baked goods and make-at-home mixes.

Currently, From the Ground Up is about halfway to its $1,500 goal on, with thirteen days to go. The home-based bakery has another plan for keeping customers in pancake mix and frozen pizza dough: A CSB, or community supported bakery. The share officially begins on September 6, when members will pick up pre-paid cookies, muffins and popovers, among other offerings.

According to Tucker, From the Ground Up is also working with local farms on growing gluten-free grains. The bakery currently uses rice, millet, buckwheat and sorghum in its treats. Tucker hopes that growers such as Butterworks Farm will sell his business whole grains, which he and Knapp will process themselves in their trusty mill to ensure that the result is entirely gluten-free.

Ravenous for Results

There were no dramatic victories for the home teams at this weekend's Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue in Windsor. Top honors largely went home to Massachusetts, although a few local teams cleaned up in individual categories.

Chicken could have been the Vermont state animal on Saturday — three teams with Chittenden County connections made the top five in that category. Colchester's Green Mountain Smokeshack came in second. Eric Gray, of Burlington's Sweet Breathe BBQ, made the unconventional choice of serving chicken wings (instead of the thighs usually used in competition), lightly coated in raspberry-habañero sauce. It paid off: his rookie team came in fourth, and scored the prize for Rookie of the Year. Though Belted Cow chef-owner John Delpha's team, I Que, didn't take the competition, it earned an impressive title: "New England BBQ Society Team of the Year." I've got to agree, the smoked cha siu pork with fried rice they were selling at the fest was the standout dish among the 41 vendors innumerable options.

Snapping It Up

Earlier this month, Sugarsnap owners Abbey Duke and Rob Smart opened a new location in South Burlington's Technology Park, also home to the offices of Ben & Jerry’s, Fletcher Allen and Symquest Group, among others. Not only do the nearby workers benefit, the flagship Riverside Avenue location of the localvore takeout spot does, too.

According to Kimberley Hannaman Taylor, Sugarsnap's senior culinary team member, as well as manager and head baker at the Riverside Avenue store, much of the business' prep is now farmed out to the "gleaming, fancy new kitchen" in Technology Park. "All our savory items are being made there, in addition to all our catering" she says.

Hannaman Taylor will continue to do the baking at Riverside Avenue, where she says she's doing booming business in miniature cookies that she's been "babying into perfection." Look for them in flavors including lemon poppy and dark chocolate hazelnut. The baker is also working on a line of gluten-free baked goods and desserts sweetened without sugar.

With so much space in the South Burlington kitchen, both Sugarsnap locations will soon carry a range of five or six basic salads that are always available. The rest of the menu at both locations will continue to change depending on the available produce.

With the bulk of the dishes being prepared at Technology Park, Hannaman Taylor says that in Burlington, she's got time to play around with produce from Sugarsnap's own three-acre farm at the Burlington Intervale. She's created a dill pickle, which she calls "wildly popular." Hannaman Taylor adds that her team is also at work on a line of sauces and expanded dinner options. "Now we have the freedom to experiment so much more," she says.

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