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June 2012

June 29, 2012

Grazing: Juicing on Bank Street

Juicer3It's Wheatgrass Wednesday on Bank Street, and despite the off-putting prospect of juice squeezed from grass, a steady trickle of sippers sidle up to the Juice Bar for a hit. A wiry, khaki-clad guy (and wheatgrass virgin) knocks back his very first shot at the stand. "I'm going to have this every morning instead of Starbucks," he enthuses as he sets down the empty glass.

With every fresh order, Steph Steeves — for two years the juice-bar supervisor at Healthy Living — turns and grabs a handful of freshly cut grass from a Ziploc bag and stuffs it into the funnel-like top of her press. Then she hand cranks out the frothy, forest-green juice, which she decants into a beveled apéritif glass.

It's been a few weeks since Steeves and her partner, Mike Winters, built a solar-powered stand from repurposed bicycle frames and set it up as a juice bar along Bank Street, against the parking garage. "It's a ball. We get to hang out and chat," says the buoyant Winters, who left a Middlebury law firm to start peddling juice (and health, as they like to say) to unsuspecting Burlingtonians.

Continue reading "Grazing: Juicing on Bank Street" »

Movies You Missed 45: Sound of Noise

Sound-noiseThis week in movies you missed: Music terrorists battle a lover of silence in Sweden.

What You Missed

Amadeus Warnebring (Bengt Nilsson) was raised by musicians. His dad was a conductor, his mom a concert pianist, his brother a musical prodigy. He is tone-deaf.

As an adult, Warnebring heads an antiterrorism police unit and avoids music. But when he hears a suspicious ticking from inside a crashed van, he — unlike his fellow cops — knows it's not a bomb, but a metronome.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed 45: Sound of Noise" »

June 28, 2012

Church Street Merchants Aren't Digging Construction Project

Church street tear up 012Sweetwaters owner David Melincoff has been watching with trepidation as a disruptive Church Street Marketplace construction project creeps toward his restaurant's front door. And now he's fighting to delay the dig that's scheduled to rip up the pedestrian mall's City Hall block for much of August.

Melincoff collected more than 700 signatures in less than a week on a petition he's circulating — on the social action website, no less — that calls for the lower-block portion of the project to be postponed for a month.

He fears that the noise, dust and unsightliness associated with the electrical rewiring work will hit Sweetwaters hard.

"August is our busiest month of the year," Melincoff explains. It accounts for 17 percent of the restaurant's annual sales and 32 percent of its net income, he calculates. And a majority of summertime diners choose a table on the Church Street portion of Sweetwaters' sidewalk cafe, he says.

"What's happening, in effect, is that they're jackhammering our dining room," Melincoff declares.

Sweetwaters' business will be off by as much as 50 percent as a result, he warns. And that will whack the wait staff right in the wallet, with employees' combined income likely to drop by $60,000 or more, Melincoff says.

Marketplace director Ron Redmond says city officials are striving to mitigate the project's effects up and down Burlington's four-block-long retail epicenter, but suggested it was unlikely the project would be delayed. He notes that work on the Church Street trench stops each weekday at 4 p.m., and construction fencing is scaled back at that time, which means "the outdoor restaurants should be fine for the dinner hours." Construction directly in front of individual outlets on the Marketplace does not last for more than seven business days, Redmond adds.

Continue reading "Church Street Merchants Aren't Digging Construction Project" »

Soundbites Extra: Polka Edition

Some weeks, there are simply too many nifty music tidbits to fit in our li'l weekly music column, Soundbites. And sometimes, said nifty tidbits just come in way past deadline. (Friday, people. Friday.) 

In any event, to fill the void and keep you up to date on all the news that didn't fit for print — or came in late … FRIDAY, DAMMIT!— here's a quickie extra edition of Soundbites.



The July 3 party at Speaking Volumes has become something of an Independence Day-ish tradition in Burlington. And with good reason. Now entering its sixth year, the annual bash behind the eclectic secondhand shop on Pine Street is a great off-the-beaten-path alternative to the madddening throngs along Waterfront Park and other locales around the Queen City, and a cool spot to catch the imitation bombs bursting in air.

Also, the party routinely features some great local musical talent, with this year no exception. Rocking for freedom this time around are danceable Afro-pop outfit the Move It Move It, vowel-challenged EDM duo Principal Dean & Snakefoot Are FRNDS, spacey apparitional popsters Parmaga and — always a crowd pleaser — "special guests."  

Continue reading "Soundbites Extra: Polka Edition" »

Vermont Politicos React to Health Care Ruling

SCOTUSThe news is in: The federal Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare") is here to stay, according to the much anticipated ruling the Supreme Court handed down today.

SCOTUS Blog is reporting that the court upheld nearly the entirety of the ACA in a 5-4 ruling, including an unpopular individual mandate that requires virtually every American to carry health insurance. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding swing vote. 

Click here to read the actual opinion. Click here to read the excellent analysis of people who know more about these things than we do.

How are Vermonters reacting? Here's a smattering of comments gleaned from phone interviews and written statements.

Republican candidate for governor Randy Brock summoned reporters to the Hilton in Burlington less than an hour after t he ruling came out. Brock said he was less concerned about "Obamacare" than about "Titanicare" — his term for Gov. Peter Shumlin's "Green Mountain Care" single payer health care plan.

Today's Supreme Court decision only postpones the day of reckoning for Governor Shumlin's Titanicare health care law. Federal dollars can now temporarily plug the huge holes the Governor's plan will generate in Vermont's budget. Let's be frank about this: Titaniccare will sink and take all of us with it. It's just going to sink a teeny bit slower with this subsidy and nobody, not even Governor Shumlin, believes the subsidy will last forever. Vermonters better start asking the Governor and his allies in the legislature to explain before this upcoming election how they're going to rescue us passengers.

Full steam ahead?

Continue reading "Vermont Politicos React to Health Care Ruling" »

Basin Harbor Club Bonanza

LobstahTuesday night, Seven Days partnered with the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes to host a special event for members of the 7 Nights Bite Club. To spread the word that dining at the luxe resort is open to the public and not just guests or members, the Basin Harbor Club invited 50 diners to Vergennes for a free, eight-course dinner prepared by new chef Rodney Rehwinkel.

Winners were chosen from among nearly 300 Bite Club members who learned about the contest through the June 19 Bite Club newsletter.

At 5:30, guests began arriving for a cocktail hour and tour of the resort's picturesque grounds. Dinner began at 6:30 with an amuse bouche of a hard-boiled Cavendish quail egg and lobster medallion in Champagne emulsion, pictured at right.

Then the meal started in earnest with a peppered Vermont bison carpaccio with Parmesan-Reggiano.



Continue reading "Basin Harbor Club Bonanza" »

June 27, 2012

More on Toxic Clover that Burned an Essex Horse's Face

Alsike clover flowerhead a 7.17.08 Randolph aVermont horse owners are breathing a collective sigh of relief today upon news that the facial injuries sustained by "Nellie," a 13-year-old paint mare in Essex, were caused not by some wanton act of animal cruelty but by the animal consuming a type of clover (photo right) found throughout Vermont.

As Seven Days reported in this week's Animal Issue story, "Whoa, Nellie! Essex Equine got Burned By Unlucky Clover, Not Battery Acid," on May 16 Nellie's owners went to their barn and discovered the horse’s face covered in a gel-like substance. They assumed someone had attacked the animal with a caustic chemical that caused its skin to peel and permanently blinded its left eye.

However, a vet at Vermont Large Animal Clinic Equine Hospital in Milton later determined the burns were the result of a photosensitivity caused by the horse consuming a toxic plant: a common variety of clover that often grows in New England horse pasture called alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum), a close relative of both white and red clover, the latter of which is Vermont's state flower.

After deadline, we learned more about the toxic clover (and got these helpful pictures) from Sid Bosworth, an Extension agronomist and instructor in the plant and soil science department at the University of Vermont. 

Continue reading "More on Toxic Clover that Burned an Essex Horse's Face" »

In Email to Board, VPIRG Head Slams Shumlin Over Lite Gov Candidate


**Update below with reaction from Gov. Peter Shumlin at Wednesday's press conference**

In an email to the Vermont Public Interest Research Group's board of directors, executive director Paul Burns slammed longtime ally Gov. Peter Shumlin, saying the gov "should be ashamed of himself" for encouraging a VPIRG employee to run for lieutenant governor.

As reported in this week's Fair Game, Democratic lite gov candidate Cassandra Gekas (pictured) says she was fired on the spot by Paul Burns when she informed him of her candidacy. Burns maintains that Gekas resigned her position as VPIRG's health care advocate.

After Seven Days went to press, we obtained a copy of an email Burns sent his board two weeks ago — shortly after his conversation with Gekas and the day she filed to run for office. In the email, Burns says he was "sickened" by Gekas' move, which he calls "utterly unprofessional and dishonest."

Far more notably, Burns rips Shumlin a new one and suggests that members of the board — which includes a number of prominent Shumlin supporters and donors — let the gov know their displeasure.

"I believe Cass was talked into this by the governor and others," Burns writes. "He should be ashamed of himself. I hope he has a nice job waiting for her after she loses a race for which she is completely unprepared, but it's no excuse. He deserves to hear from others who don't appreciate this self-serving political move."

(Complete text of email after the jump).

Continue reading "In Email to Board, VPIRG Head Slams Shumlin Over Lite Gov Candidate" »

June 26, 2012

Say Cheese! The Cabot Labeling Saga Continues

CabotWelcome to Cheesegate: Cabot Creamery's decision to change its logo is still making waves (or should we say wheyves?) in the Green Mountain State.

In case you missed the kerfuffle last week: Cabot dropped the state, and name, of Vermont from some of its packaging. The company says it began quietly making the change about a year ago to better comply with state rules. The rules stipulate that three-quarters of a dairy product's main ingredient must come from Vermont in order for a company to use the state in its marketing.

Now, instead of imposing Cabot's name over an outline of the state of Vermont, the new logo features the silhouette of a green barn and the words, "Owned by our farm families in New England and New York since 1919."

The change ruffled more than a few feathers. As the Burlington Free Press reports today, the logo change churned up a fair share of political debate. Gov. Peter Shumlin is bemoaning the change, saying in a news conference last week, "I believe that when we have the Vermont label on Vermont Cabot, that's a good thing for Vermont farmers and a good thing for Vermont's value-added food products." Meanwhile, challengers for the attorney general's office played the Cabot card in accusing AG Bill Sorrell of pushing too hard on one of Vermont's iconic brands — to which Sorrell responded that Cabot made the label change on its own. 

Adding to the quagmire is this latest accusation, from dairy farmer Karen Shaw of Hardwick: Shaw says the new label is still inaccurate. She claims that, contrary to popular belief, Cabot's parent company isn't really a farmer-owned cooperative. Although Cabot was originally a Vermont dairy cooperative, the beloved cheesemaker hitched its wagon to the multistate Agri-Mark cooperative in 1992. (Agri-Mark is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Massachusetts.)

Agri-Mark collects milk from dairy farmers throughout New England and New York. While Cabot still operates processing plants in Vermont, much of the creamery's milk crosses state lines, and some products (such as Cabot butter) are made out of state. 

Continue reading "Say Cheese! The Cabot Labeling Saga Continues" »

Alice Eats: The Noble Pig

IMG_4250142 Hegeman Avenue, Colchester, 655-7370.

A hot dog cart is a hot dog cart, right?

In the "dirty water" milieu of big cities, the options tend to be limited to Sabrett or Hebrew National. But we're not in a big city.

Thanks to Cloud 9 Catering, the folks behind the Noble Pig, my summer is looking up — cured meat product by cured meat product.

Since the cart debuted in Colchester at the end of May, I've been making as many trips as I can. Last week my trip got easier when the cart began spending Thursdays parked at the Burton Snowboards lot, at 80 Industrial Parkway in Burlington.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: The Noble Pig" »

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