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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer

December 01, 2008

This Blog is Retired


Thanks for reading Omnivore! For future foodie posts, read Suzanne Podhaizer's posts on Blurt: The Seven Days Staff Blog.

November 17, 2008

Healthiest City in the U.S.? Burlington

I just learned that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Burlington, Vermont is the "healthiest city" in America.

Apparently, 92% of Burlingtonians claim that they're in good health, exercise more than average and are less likely to be obese or have diabetes.

Seems like our various enlightened diets are getting some of the credit. According to an AP article: "And though college staples like pizza are common [in Burlington], healthier foods are also popular. Grass-fed beef is offered in finer restaurants, vegan options are plentiful, and the lone downtown supermarket is run by a co-op successful in selling bulk rice and other healthy choices to low-income residents."

October 16, 2008

Small "All Fired Up" Update

As you may already know, it seems that the more-than-100-year-old building that housed All Fired Up Tavern in Barre was a total loss, and has been torn down.

As far as I've seen, the best guess as to the cause of the fire is that it started in or around one of the wood-fired pizza ovens, but that hasn't yet been confirmed by the fire department.

I'll let you know if I learn more.

Here's a Times Argus article with lots of details about the process of fighting the fire.

October 15, 2008

"All Fired Up Tavern" on Fire, literally

I was dismayed to learn that All Fired Up Tavern in Barre, which got a snazzy face-lift and an updated menu just one year ago, caught on fire this morning. Apparently, firefighters throughout the region are working together to battle the blaze. The good news, if that is possible, is that so far, they believe nobody has been hurt.

So far, October has been a crazy restaurant month, what with Smokejacks closing, a marijuana bust at Chez Claudine, and now this.

Now, here's something strange to chew on...Many of the local restaurants that have caught fire in the recent past have had a flame-related word in the name, or a picture of fire in their logo. Case in point:

All Fired Up Tavern
The Rotisserie (fire in the logo)
Five Spice Cafe (fire-breathing dragon in the logo)


October 13, 2008

In Case You Missed It...Hardwick in the NY Times

When a  Vermont restaurant or farm makes its way into the Dining & Wine section of the New York Times, it's cause for celebration. Last week, a bunch of businesses in the Hardwick area made the grade. In her article "Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town," part-time Vermont resident Marian Burros tells the story of the Center For an Agricultural Economy, and how it is working to create a model of viable agriculture centering around high quality products and good business practices. 

Want to read more? Interestingly enough, I wrote about a similar topic in early September, after spending an exhilarating few days visiting a slew of businesses in Hardwick, Greensboro and Craftsbury, including Vermont Soy, Claire's Restaurant and Bar, Jasper Hill Farm and Pete's Greens.

Here are links to my articles: Hungry Hardwick and a review of Claire's.

October 01, 2008

RIP Smokejacks

When I arrived at the office this morning, I was greeted by my phone's blinking message light and a pair of emails informing me that Smokejacks (on the corner of Church and Main in Burlington), had closed, presumably for good, last night.

Political columnist Shay Totten saw some of the crew "drowning their sorrows" at the OP, and Seven Days staffer Colby Roberts reported that there's a big "for rent" sign on the restaurant's window. On Facebook, at least one employee has changed her status to indicate that she is now unemployed.

I'm working on getting the scoop, but for now, thought I should let people know.

I've got a personal connection to Smokejacks because it was where my husband and I had our first dinner date (pan-seared tuna with cucumber "noodles" and a pepper cracker, duck, a smoked pork chop, and lots of fun). Needless to say, the closing makes me pretty sad. I don't know what went wrong, but it's one of the few times in recent memory that Burlington has lost a real restaurant institution; one that was localvore before there was a word for it.

I hadn't eaten there since the new owner took over, so I can't say what the food has been like for the past few months, but my experiences at Smokejacks over the last few years were a (mostly positive) mixed bag. I occasionally tried something that seemed a bit too busy or was oversalted, but I also had some wonderful, unforgettable food. It was the first place a tried Humboldt Fog cheese, and that experience was a revelation. I will certainly miss the homemade sodas -- particularly the litchi and ginger varieties -- and the great brunch food, as well as the flavorful entrees.

I was also planning to use a fictionalized version of the restaurant in my culinary murder mystery novel...but that's another story.

As soon as I find out more, I'll let you know.

September 25, 2008

Double Nipple Ripple? PETA's Modest Proposal.

Let's get something straight: PETA and its members don't really want you to eat ice cream made with human breast milk. You've probably heard about the organization's recent letter to Ben & Jerry's, suggesting that the company replace milk from tortured, factory-farmed cows with human milk (in case you haven't, it's reprinted below). But the gross-out reaction it's getting from most media people is kind of missing the point.

PETA members don't see a nursing mother and think: "Ditch that baby and make me some Chunky Monkey." What the animal-rights group does want is for companies and consumers to think a bit harder about where the animal products they consume come from. And although their tactics are often pretty wild, I agree with them in principle, and strive to avoid purchases that support factory farming.

That said, they've provided us with an excellent opportunity for some linguistic fun. Yesterday, on my weekly spot on the Charlie & Ernie Show (620 AM WVMT, Wednesday mornings from 9:10 to 9:30), Charlie told me that their listeners had been calling in with suggestions for naming human-milk ice cream. Here are a few (If you're not amused by vulgarity, please skip down to the letter):

  • PETA Butter Crunch (vanilla and peanut butter ice cream with crushed animal crackers)
  • Double Nipple Ripple
  • Tutti Fruiti Booby
  • Choco Knockers
  • Chocolate Nips
  • Double D Crunch

My contributions:

  • Straw-bra-berry
  • Mammary Munch
  • T&A (Mammary Munch swirled with Ben & Jerry's Cinnamon Buns -- a real flavor)
  • Nipple Chip (if you put this atop a banana, it's a Nipple Chip Tit Split)
  • Peanut Butter B-Cup
  • La Leche League Dulce de Leche

The Letter:

September 23, 2008

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Cofounders

Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc.

Dear Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield,

On behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters, I'd like to bring your attention to an innovative new idea from Switzerland that would bring a unique twist to Ben and Jerry's.

Storchen restaurant is set to unveil a menu that includes soups, stews, and sauces made with at least 75 percent breast milk procured from human donors who are paid in exchange for their milk. If Ben and Jerry's replaced the cow's milk in its ice cream with breast milk, your customers-and cows-would reap the benefits.

Using cow's milk for your ice cream is a hazard to your customer's health. Dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies, constipation, obesity, and prostate and ovarian cancer. The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, America's leading authority on child care, spoke out against feeding cow's milk to children, saying it may play a role in anemia, allergies, and juvenile diabetes and in the long term, will set kids up for obesity and heart disease-America's number one cause of death.

Animals will also benefit from the switch to breast milk. Like all mammals, cows only produce milk during and after pregnancy, so to be able to constantly milk them, cows are forcefully impregnated every nine months. After several years of living in filthy conditions and being forced to produce 10 times more milk than they would naturally, their exhausted bodies are turned into hamburgers or ground up for soup.

And of course, the veal industry could not survive without the dairy industry. Because male calves can't produce milk, dairy farmers take them from their mothers immediately after birth and sell them to veal farms, where they endure 14 to17 weeks of torment chained inside a crate so small that they can't even turn around.

The breast is best! Won't you give cows and their babies a break and our health a boost by switching from cow's milk to breast milk in Ben and Jerry's ice cream? Thank you for your consideration.

Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

The B&J Response:

"We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child."

So do the folks from PETA, I'm guessing. Even when the mother in question is a cow.

September 22, 2008

Eatin' Down Under: Episode 1

No, I'm not in Australia noshing on Vegemite sandwiches; but my mother, Mary Elizabeth, is. Mom went to the land of the kangaroo late last month to catch the premier performance of her opera, Kiravanu. It's an environmentally focused childrens' opera co-created with composer James Humberstone: He wrote the music, she wrote the words.

I asked her to prepare some guest blogs about Aussie food. Here's one of 'em...

The Proper Way to Eat Vegemite

P1000624 Some would argue that Vegemite should never be eaten under any circumstances.
[ed. note: Suzanne is one of them, blech]

For those less adamant, here is some instruction from the Year Six girls and the co-Director of my opera, Kiravanu:

1) Make toast, and ensure that it is piping hot.
2) Spread it with butter, making sure that the butter melts fully.

At this point, the conventional wisdom divides. Some hold that one should spread the hot, buttered toast thinly with Vegemite and cut it into soldiers (thin strips), while others keep their toast in one piece and dot it with small dabs of Vegemite.

I took the second route, as you can see by the accompanying photo. It was certainly edible, if not something that will awaken me with cravings . . .

- Mary Elizabeth

September 15, 2008

Delicious Exercise: "Le Tour de Farms"

What could be better than eating a whole bunch of delicious local food and working off all of the calories with a scenic bike ride? Sounds like my idea of a good day. If it sounds like yours, too, you may want to attend the first annual Addison County "Tour de Farms" this Sunday. Here are the details, courtesy of Jonathan Corcoran, one of the localvore organizers:

Le Tour de Farms
: September 21, Shoreham Village green, 10:30 AM

Join us in Shoreham on Sunday, September 21 for the first running of "Le
Tour de Farms" in Addison County! Choose between a 10, 25 and 30-mile route.
Then sample fresh apples, roasted vegetables, lamb meatloaf, quiche, cheese,
wine, cider and milk, and bread and cookies at local farms along the way and
at the local inn. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful fall landscapes of
Shoreham by the lake while exercising in the fresh air.

Meet us at the Shoreham Village green -- rain or shine -- and check-in at 10:30
AM with your bike, helmet, and water (you can refill at any of the stops)
and wear comfortable clothes. Bring a raincoat in the event of wind or rain.
And bring a bag if you'd like to buy anything along the way from one of the
farms (or you can arrange with the farm to pick it up after the ride).

Please go to to view the routes and to pre-register
in advance. You'll also save $5 off the day-of price.

NOTE: ALL three routes will travel on rural dirt roads (Route 1: 50%, Route
2: 50% and Route 3: 30%) of varying roughness so a cross-bike or a mountain
bike (especially for Route 2) is recommended.

This is a brief description of the routes:

Route 1: A 10-mile loop over rolling hills and flat sections.
Route 2: A 25-mile ride on a mix of paved and scenic Class 4 back-roads for
the more adventurous rider. Cross-bike or mountain bike highly recommended.
Route 3: A 30-mile ride down to Orwell featuring more paved roads (70%)

Le Tour de Farms is presented by the Addison County Localvores (ACoRN), the
Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and Rural Vermont. Any proceeds
will benefit the ongoing work of all three organizations.

September 05, 2008

It's a Chocolate Circus!

"Nutty" Steph Rieke, Vermont's granola maven, asked me to pass on some info to you...

On Tuesday, September 9 from 3 to 6 p.m., Steph will celebrate the opening of her new chocolate factory in Middlesex with a "Chocolate Circus." You can the digs at Camp Meade, right off of I-89 (take exit 9).

The FREE event includes horse-drawn carriage rides, tarot readings, music, a bonfire, and hot dogs (made with meat from grass-fed animals) in Red Hen Bakery's sourdough buns topped with local sauerkraut. Mmm.

And, of course, there will be chocolate galore. Steph has been whipping up confections in 99 different flavors, including rum-cappuccino white chocolate and tortilla-cayenne-mango dark chocolate. Like your chocolate fruity? Steph's sensual specialties include "Pina Colada," "Jungle Fever," and my personal fave, "Tropical Intercourse."

In addition to the chocolate, visitors can buy fruits and nuts, and of course, granola.

Sounds like fun!

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