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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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January 2013

January 8, 2013

Pistou 'Grapes Up'

Food-pistouOn Pistou's Facebook page, the Main Street restaurant says that it's "closed for winter vacation." Nuh-uh — don't believe it.

Pistou may be closed for a week, yes, but it's hardly a vacation. On the other side of those enormous windows, a lot is going on — namely, changes that may make the corner eatery more of a mecca for wine geeks.

That's because the restaurant has two new partners, Jason Zuliani (of the nearby Dedalus wine shop) and his wife, Emilie Paquette. (Former partner Maji Chien has left to pursue other interests.) As Zuliani and chef Max Mackinnon got to know each other over the past year or so, they had ongoing conversations about how a menu might respond to wine, and vice-versa.

"We've talked about what we want to do with food and wine, and this is an opportunity to do that," says Zuliani, who was the wine director for the New England Culinary Institute prior to co-owning Dedalus, where he'll continue to work. "It's really going to come into focus."

While Zuliani is finessing a list that will render grapes even more front-and-center than they are now, Mackinnon is reimagining the menu to render it more flexible for pairing with the "99 percent French" wines that Zuliani is curating. "We don't want people to necessarily think about appetizers and entreés," says Mackinnon, whose French-inflected, James Beard-nominated approach (thankfully) won't change. "This will be a place you can come to share a bunch of plates. It will be a little more freeform," and will likely include some bar snacks, too.

Orienting a wine list toward a menu is nothing new, of course. But a glimpse at the wines — with a section devoted to the elusive bottles of the Rhône's Domaine Gramenon, for instance — suggests that it will encourage diners to do more than absently order whatever to wash down their seared scallops.

Pistou will also have a "killer" beer program, says Zuliani, while its cocktails — contrary to current bar trends — will fade to the background.

Paquette will manage the front of the house, where, also this week, the seating is getting rearranged, the colors refreshed, and the on-site market phased out. (Sadly, though, lunch is not part of the new equation, much to the chagrin of this South Champlain Street neighbor. Just wanted to put that out there.)

Pistou reopens on January 16. We'll be interested to see what's pouring.

Alice Eats: 3 Squares Café

IMG_5093221 Main Street, Vergennes, 877-2772

Perhaps you miss Burlington's Waiting Room. Or you just want to gobble up breakfast prepared by a NECI-trained chef who also happens to have worked in the kitchens of New York's Rainbow Room and Boston's Aquitaine.

3 Squares, an unassuming little café in Vergennes, is the place. Though I'd been blown away by his Mexican and French bistro-themed dinners during Vermont Restaurant Week, I'd never had the pleasure of trying chef Matt Birong's regular fare — until last Sunday.

Birong and co. are excellent at updating their specials each day on the 3 Squares website, so I already suspected I was in for a treat.

IMG_5088But first, some regular menu items.

Birong recently replaced his longtime standard of huevos rancheros with a breakfast tostada.

I asked our server to let the chef choose the style of egg, usually prepared however the customer wants them.

The over-easy yolks I was served lent a decadent touch to the otherwise relatively virtuous breakfast choice. Of course, when breakfast is served until 3 p.m., there's always a slight feeling of indulgence.

Chorizo that was eminently flavorful but not spicy dominated the taste of the combination of black beans, lettuce and pico de gallo, topped with tangy green-chile-tomatillo salsa and Mexican sour cream. I loved the crunch of the crispy corn tortilla that divided the contents of the plate.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: 3 Squares Café" »

January 4, 2013

Grazing: Smoothies, Lattes and a Haircut, All in One Place

Juicebar1With electric-blue walls, shelves filled with skin products and the buzz of a juicer mixing with house music, Eco Bean and Juice defies categorization — other than its focus on healthy (and sometimes caffeinated) insides.

Justin Cruz, who used to run Salon Cruz on Saint Paul Street, opened the salon-slash-juice bar in December in a cavernous space that was most recently a Meineke Car Care Center.

On one side of the space, Cruz and his staff run a salon and sell organic and natural beauty products; on the other is a kitted-out juice and coffee bar with an exhaustive menu featuring wheatgrass shots, fresh vegetables juices, and even house-made almond milk for lattes and mochas, all dreamt up by Cruz and barista Angela Talbert.

"There was no place in Burlington to get wheatgrass shots," says Cruz, though I reminded him of the Juice Bar in Burlington Mall that offers them on Wednesdays. "All week long," he clarified. Cruz also wanted to offer organic milk from Kimball Brook Farm for his coffees, which are brewed with organic beans from Ozo Coffee Roasters in Colorado.

 Juicebar2Among the imaginative coffee drinks are a Zebra Mocha with both white and dark chocolates, an Americano Florentine coffee with raw cacao, and a frothy, tropical-tasting, totally delicious Coconut Latte (pictured).

Juices range from $6.50 up to $11 and are filled with various blends of greens, herbs and veggies; a Minty Green combines celery, mint, spinach and apples, while a Hot Rocket pairs those same apples with cilantro, coconut water and jalapeño.

I walked out with a bright-red Careberry smoothie — a blend of orange and apple juices, frozen raspberries and carrot juice, which lent the whole thing a sweet earthiness. I took my first sip while standing in the slushy parking lot outside, and it made the afternoon seem a few degrees warmer.

Eco Bean and Juice, 688 Pine St., Burlington, 861-2789. Open seven days.

January 2, 2013

Eat Less Kale? ConAgra Foods Spoofs Bo Muller-Moore's Iconic T-Shirt

First Chick-fil-A, now ConAgra Foods. In the advertisement above, a fad dieter finds her salvation in Healthy Choice's new Greek Frozen Yogurt. "I used to hide a secret stash of kale in there," says a tearful actress, indicating her yoga mat. "Now I use it to do yoga."

But what is played merely for laughs isn't so funny to Bo Muller-Moore. The artist behind the "Eat More Kale" logo is none too pleased about the kale cleanser's T-shirt, which sports the very words that made him famous. Muller-Moore had nothing to do with the shirt, which uses a different font from his iconic bubble letters.

Continue reading "Eat Less Kale? ConAgra Foods Spoofs Bo Muller-Moore's Iconic T-Shirt" »

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