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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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November 2012

November 16, 2012

Grazing: Tequila Negroni

NegroniIt's days before Thanksgiving, and we're being clobbered with recipes for steamed turkey, curried brussels sprouts and complex squash purees. Yet, while Thanksgiving surely involves cooking for days — then devouring everything in under 30 minutes — it can also be rich with awkward distant-relative encounters. What better time to get liquored up?

Yes, Beaujalois and Pinot Noir and Riesling shine ever so on the Thanksgiving table, but sometimes you need a stiff cocktail to blunt the holiday's edges.

Since I've just had a particularly trying week, I've had plenty of inspiration to experiment with that simple but gorgeous concoction, the Negroni. In its classic form, the Negroni is a sweet-bitter blend of gin, sweet vermouth and the Italian bitter Campari. A bad one can taste like airplane fuel, but a great one is bracing, juicy and too easy to make. And, since all of the elements contain alcohol, it can also get you quite buzzed, quite fast. (One Negroni is really all you need; two could cause trouble.)

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November 13, 2012

Alice Eats: Vermont Pizza Company

IMG_4897201 Cornerstone Drive, Taft Farm Shopping Center, Williston, 878-5556

Decent New York-style pizza is hard to come by in the Green Mountains. When I find a new place to get it, it's time to celebrate.

Hooray, then, for the thin, cheesy slices at Vermont Pizza Company.

The address might be familiar. Until earlier this fall, the spot was known as Rocky's New York Pizza. John Howe, who has owned that place for a year and a half, was looking to carve out his own niche, hence the name change, major remodeling and new menu. The new, more open floor plan is decorated with close-up photographs of Vermont produce. I sat beneath a print of a bouquet of turnips.

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November 8, 2012

With Prop 37 Dead in California, Will Vermont Become the First to Label GMOs?


While a tide of blue helped push Barack Obama into a second term, legalize gay marriage in three states, and green-light recreational marijuana use in a few others, not all election results were cause for Democratic swooning this week.

In California, voters rejected Proposition 37 — a ballot initiative that would have required mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically-engineered ingredients. The measure, backed by organic farmers, natural food purveyors and people concerned with what they eat, was defeated by a margin of 53 to 47.

The victory for the No-on-37 supporters likely stemmed from their unrelenting media blitz in the state, such as the commercial above — it implies that the bill would financially burden farmers and result in higher food prices.

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Elegy for the Fresh Market Cookie

6a00d83451b91969e20168eb843627970c-800wiWhen they were warm, the chips melted like a kiss from heaven, like a mother's love. Even when the cookies at Cheese Outlet/Fresh Market were days out of the oven, the chips retained more than a hint of their almost liquid glory.

But I've eaten my last Fresh Market chocolate chunk cookie. Tony Blake, owner and founder of Burlington-based Vermont Commercial Real Estate, confirmed to the Burlington Free Press today that the market is no more.

Stressful days at the Seven Days food desk are bound to be slightly more stressful from now on. We'll be pining for the chewy cookies, with just a hint of crunch at their edges, as we report food news. When I've finished my feature for the week, I'll be looking around, confused, for a bite with just a few salt crystals to give it character and enhance the sweetness.

I can't say I didn't milk those cookies for everything they were worth: I almost always ate them in thirds, saving bites for after my next couple of work lunches.

I suppose that once I've packed away my mourning garb, the hunt will be on for Burlington's next best chocolate chip cookie. But for now, tears.

November 6, 2012

Highfields Pulls 'Hot Compost' Nude Calendar After Unexpected Heat

Image-176151-fullOn Halloween, about 2000 people received an email from the Highfields Center for Composting offering "New Rewards for Highfields' Heat Recovery Kickstarter Project!" The Hardwick nonprofit has been researching ways to better capture the heat generated by decomposing food scraps, and is in the midst of a $40,000 Kickstarter campaign to help fund a research center.

The two images that accompanied the email, though, were startling for some. In one, a smiling woman held up squash to obscure her naked breasts, while straddling a green placard with the word 'Compost' written across it. Another woman lay topless in a pile of dark humus, flinging some up with her left foot. Both models were volunteers for a 2013 'Hot Compost' calendar that Highfields' planned to offer as a reward in its campaign.

But the cheeky photos sparked a small but vocal backlash from customers and others who found the concept offensive and demeaning to women. Under pressure, Highfields scrapped plans for the calendar and offered an apology on its website and Facebook page, in which it called the concept a "mistake" and said it did not reflect Highfields as an organization.

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Alice Eats: Esperanto

IMG_4873131 Main Street, Burlington, 863-2244

Remember Glori Nori Market & Café? The take-out spot at 131 Main Street in Burlington closed almost a decade ago, but at the time it had a novel concept: To offer a mix of international foods, with an emphasis on Jamaican and Asian flavors.

Well, it's back — sort of. Esperanto, which occupies the very same space, feels like a blast from Burlington's past. It has a stoner vibe and a menu that cherry picks quick, casual dishes from all over the world.

But the new restaurant has had bad luck. Just after opening on September 29, construction workers descended on the sidewalk right in front, making it difficult for passersby to see the eatery was open for business. I went in last night to see if it was worth braving the construction.

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November 3, 2012

Grazing: Manchester Restaurant Week

578978_239216192873261_2024929830_nSince Seven Days held the first Vermont Restaurant Week in 2010, a spate of similar shindigs have sprung up around the region — including weeklong events in New Hampshire, Killington and now, Manchester.

This is clearly a welcome phenomenon for those of us who live to eat. Usually scheduled to coincide with slower times of year — i.e., mud season and stick season — restaurant weeks offer perfect windows during which to chow down at places hitherto unknown to the people of this area (to quote Frank Zappa).

At least a dozen restaurants are taking part in Manchester's first Restaurant Week, offering three-course, prix-fixe meals that cost $20.12 at lunch (clever) and $30.12 for dinner. For those who've never ventured there, the town is a food mecca, a liminal zone where top Vermont ingredients collide with the polished, classical techniques expected by tourists from points south. As far as I can tell, stick season is the only reason that some of the dining rooms in Manchester appeared half-empty last night, at least from the road; the two meals (!) I ate there were both spectacular, albeit in different ways. 

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November 2, 2012

Cupp's Baker to Appear on TLC Show

IMG_4182Earlier this month, Gretel-Anne Fischer teased on the Facebook page for her Winooski bakery, Cupp's, that she'd soon have a big announcement. "Any ideas on where [I've] been the past 7 weeks?" she wrote. "We can't spill the beans yet but once we do HOLY COW it's HUGE!!!!!"

Well, consider the beans spilled. On November 26, Fischer will make her national television debut as a contestant on TLC's "Next Great Baker."

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