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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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July 2013

July 30, 2013

Alice Eats: Dharshan Namaste Asian Deli

IMG_6018212 Main Street, Winooski, 654-8000

Have you ever gone to an Asian market and seen beautiful ingredients you didn't know how to use? Bishnu Gurung had that experience over and over at her Winooski store, Namaste Asian Market. So she decided to take the guesswork out of her exotic foods and prepare them for diners herself. The result is Dharshan Namaste Asian Deli.

Gurung says that her current menu is only temporary and that more items are coming soon, but on a recent visit I was already a little overwhelmed by her deli's embarrassment of inexpensive pan-Asian riches. 

The banana lassi and "mango pulps with ice" that I ordered to drink had both run out, but I was more than satisfied with a banana-flavored grass jelly drink. The usually vaguely sludgy soft drink had just the right amount of banana taste to conceal the grassiness and create an effect more like bubble tea in a can. I'm hooked.

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July 29, 2013

Vermont Fresh Network Announces Restaurants Receiving Gold Barn Honor

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 3.27.51 PMFor years, diners in the know have looked for a Vermont Fresh Network sign or window sticker to assure them that a restaurant is making a commitment to serving Vermont-grown food.

But VFN executive director Meghan Sheradin realized there were some restaurants that were really raising the bar.

"All Vermont Fresh Network chefs have to know their farmers and serve products from Vermont, but there are some chefs whose commitment to Vermont-grown products is exceptional," she says.

Now, the VFN is introducing a designation to recognize the best of the best.

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July 26, 2013

Grazing: Blueberry Tom Collins

Blueberry_collinsFloat the idea of a gin cocktail when you're out with friends, and some might wince. "I hate that stuff!" a coworker told me just yesterday with a shudder.

I've never understood this. For me, gin is the (alcoholic) essence of summer — vegetal, herbaceous and gently creeping into my shoulders after one or two sips. Contrary to the maxim, gin has never made me cry — though perhaps I've never drunk enough of it.

Gin also loves citrus. Enter the Tom Collins. This exquisitely simple gin recipe was supposedly born in the late 1800s at the hands of a London bartender who blended the then-ubiquitous Old Tom gin into a refreshing mixture with sugar, lemon juice and fizzy water.

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July 23, 2013

Alice Eats: The Dutch Mill Family Restaurant and Creemee Bar

IMG_59944309 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, 985-3568

I've tasted the Eggs Fred, but this summer, the Dutch Mill has gone beyond its old-timey breakfast fare to become a snack bar — kind of.

I looked in vain for the snack-bar window on Sunday. It turns out, the "snack-bar-style menu" is served inside. After about 10 minutes of being ignored in the early-afternoon rush, I was seated near the creemee machine.

I was disappointed to learn that the snack-bar menu is only served from 2 to 9 p.m. But my old-school waitress — who referred to everyone in the restaurant as "sweetie," when she wasn't digging her face into a baby's belly — was able to convince the kitchen to make me a snack-bar basket of the house specialty, the barbecue pulled-pork sandwich.

IMG_5995A smoker out front augured well for the sandwich. It's not every day a diner offers real 'cue.

But it turned out, the fancy equipment was immaterial. The pork was cooked beyond recognition into mushy strings. Those were covered in a corn-syrup-flavored sauce that obscured any hint of smoke that may have existed in the meat. The sammie's only redeeming quality was a fluffy egg-washed bun.

The fries didn't help matters. They managed the near-impossible feat of being burnt and limp at the same time. I wasn't much more impressed with the side of coleslaw, which was pleasantly crisp, but seemed to be seasoned with nothing but mayonnaise and pepper.

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July 19, 2013

Grazing: Raspberries Everywhere — And How Not To Bake A Raspberry Tart

Now that the rains have rolled away, we're left with blinding heat and a surfeit of berries. Well, not strawberries, which suffered through our wet spring and whose season is over anyway. Raspberry and blueberry bushes are drooping with fruit (a picking list is below) — including at Poverty Lane Orchards, which is just down the street from me and where I picked some earlier this week. In a sunny field given over entirely to raspberries, there was fruit in every state of being — hard and coral colored, bright red and sweet, and some berries so dark and ripe that they were melting on the bush. I watched a toddler sit down in he grass and eat his family's entire harvest when they weren't looking. It was a raspberry idyll.

With a pile of berries on my counter, I resolved to bake — never a good idea for me — and tried to decide between a simple French-style tart or the more cake-like English model. I looked in cookbooks, at websites and blogs, and even called a cousin. Since I hate following recipes to the letter — and hence, am an awful baker — I combined the finer points of all of those recipes in my head for (what I thought would be) the perfect raspberry-peach-almond tart. 

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Scalpers Are Selling Bogus Tickets to Vermont Brewers Festival

Screen shot 2010-07-27 at 1.12.09 PMDesperate to join the pack for an orgy of brewed goodness? You're probably not alone. The Vermont Brewers Festival sold out just 34 hours after tickets went on sale back in May.  But if you're willing to shell out, scalpers are finding ways to help beer geeks soak in the suds. But watch out — some are selling bogus tickets.

A quick Craigslist search turns up a slew of tickets, with price tags of as much as $85 per person. This may seem like a steal to some — one person posted an ad saying they were willing to pay $100 for a ticket. But for those who scooped up legit tickets from the festival, that's a $55 markup. And the tickets might not even be real.

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July 18, 2013

Will Trader Joe's Anchor South Burlington's 'New' Downtown?

For those anxious to get their mitts on frozen turkey meatballs and pecan pralines, this week brought welcome news: South Burlington's Development Review Board finally gave the green light to a Trader Joe's on Dorset Street by voting unanimously to approve the store's final plans — as reported in the Burlington Free Press.

Soon, developer Malone Properties will break ground on the roughly 13,000-square-foot store, tentatively slated to open early next year. Across a pedestrian plaza will be another, slightly larger building that will eventually house a blend of retail stores, offices and and possibly a restaurant. 

With all of the popular support behind the project, why has it taken so long for approval? Because plans for a Trader Joe's landed in a sort of development limbo created by the development freeze known as 'interim zoning' adopted by SoBu in February 2012, and plans to create a new form-based code and city center project.

To wit, the facade of the Trader Joe's will abut the street, with parking behind the building. "We are certain the diversity of mixed-uses proposed, a pedestrian plaza, and the existing Healthy Living store will provide the gateway the city is envisioning here to South Burlington's city center district and look forward to seeing the project under construction soon by Malone Properties, wrote Paul Simon, project manager at real estate investment firm White + Burke, in an email this morning.

The project comes with a caveat, at least for those who live in three renter-occupied houses at 192, 196 and 200 Dorset Street: those will be demolished as part of the plan, with no replacement housing planned. 

July 17, 2013

Sneak Peek of the Vermont Brewers Festival

BeerIf you don't have tickets for the sold-out Vermont Brewers Festival on Burlington's waterfront this weekend, you might want to stop reading — unless you're a glutton for punishment. As usual, the line-up is amazing, and the few thousand people who were on point enough to buy tickets (they sold out in 34 hours) will soon be marinating in liquid goodness. Some highlights:

The festival virgins

Of the 43 breweries taking part this year, at least four began brewing in the last year: Covered Bridge Craft Brewery in Lyndonville; Foley Brothers in Brandon; Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville; and Whetstone Pub & Brewery in Brattleboro. Covered Bridge is offering up what they're calling "the result of a one night stand between a blonde and a pale ale." Foley Brother's Ginger Wheat is brewed with Vermont-grown Cascade hops. And tart, German-style gose (among other brews) will flow from both Lost Nation and Whetstone.

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July 16, 2013

Guild Fine Meats Prepares to Open in Burlington Next Month


In this week's paper, we share the news that the Guild Commissary, which will supply all the restaurants in the Farmhouse Group with meat and baked goods, is now open. That means delicious things for the Farmhouse Tap & Grill, El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina and Guild & Company.

But when we spoke with chef-partner Phillip Clayton, he also had lots to say about the forthcoming Guild Fine Meats butcher shop on St. Paul Street in Burlington.

The goal is for the store to open next month.

Clayton says that now that they're moved into the 5000-square-foot Winooski commissary, master butcher Frank Pace and chef Tom Deckman are perfecting products in three categories. First, there will be raw Vermont meat, including hand-selected grinds of more than one cut or animal, such as meatloaf mixes.

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Alice Eats: Southern Smoke


If you think the only way to get chef Brian Stefan's mobile Southern specialties is braving the crowds at the weekly South End Food TruckStop (right), you've been missing out.

IMG_5973Southern Smoke has become my Wednesday ritual when it parks behind the Seven Days offices at Maglianero. But last week, I missed the boat (er, truck) and needed to get my fix at the South Burlington Farmers Market on Sunday after picking up beautiful garlic scapes, cilantro and lettuce from Lewis Creek Farm.

It turns out, Stefan was feeling keen on scapes, too. He used them in the creamy mint-green sauce that painted his fish tacos in a light wash of garlic flavor. The chef has a way with fresh sauces. I still drool when I think about his lamb and quinoa burrito with spicy cucumber-leek sauce.

But these tacos were wonderful in their own way. Finely sliced zucchini melded with chopped yellow tomatoes beneath a sturdy slab of mild pollock. I usually prefer corn tortillas to flour ones, but with the fish, the skin-like softness of this one was a sensuous treat.

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