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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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July 2013

July 15, 2013

Grazing: The Happy Marriage of Vodka and Lemon Verbena

Lemon_verbenaCocktail writer Warren Bobrow uses the term "gartending" to describe the practice of using seasonal ingredients in cocktails. This is certainly my preferred method of mixing drinks, at least in the summer: Walk out the back door, grab a handful of thyme/basil/sage/mint/berries from the garden, them combine them into something simple, bright and delicious.

This no fuss, little muss, late afternoon method of cocktail-making doesn't always yield perfect results, but with ingredients grown yourself — or picked up at the farmers' market — the drinks are always scrumptious and fresh.

A loved one recently gifted me with a curly, fragrant lemon verbena plant, which I stuck in the ground of my kitchen garden. Though she suggested that I make tea with the leaves, the plant hasn't grown enough quite yet to cut it down for tea. A few sprigs for a cocktail? Well, yeah, that might work.

Lemon verbena is intensely, gorgeously fragrant, and a lemon verbena simple syrup — made by tossing a handful of lemon verbena leaves into a mix of equal parts sugar and water, then heating it until the sugar dissolves and then letting it cool — is a fairy-like elixir. As serendipity would have it, a few weeks after planting my lemon verbena, I also became the new owner of a bottle of is SILO Vodka from Windsor, distilled from local rye and so, so gently sweet and smooth.

Together, these things make lemony magic: SILO vodka, some lemon verbena simple, a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a splash of St. Germain (which someone I know recently called "MSG for bartenders.") 

The Lemon (Verbena) Drop

2 ounces vodka, such as SILO vodka
1/5 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon verbena simple syrup*
1/2 ounce St. Germain
Sprig of lemon verbena, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake until chilled, and then strain into a cocktail glass. (You can also pour this over ice and top with soda for a spritzer). Pour St. Germain over the top, garnish with lemon verbena, and serve.

July 9, 2013

Alice Eats: Feldman's Bagels

IMG_5940660 Pine Street, Burlington, 540-0474

Since it opened on May 1, it's been no secret that Feldman's Bagels has the best New York-style bagels around. (Of course, Myer's Bagel Bakery still dominates in the Montréal-style category.)

For this native of the New York City suburbs, the world is finally right again now that I have a chewy artisan bagel I can rely on. My colleagues agreed when they reviewed Burlington's rounded-bread scene.

I don't usually care for cream cheese, but I'll even go for that when there are options such as pickled jalapeño or local strawberry made with Green Mountain Farms dairy.

IMG_5943But finally, it was time to try the more substantial fare at Pine Street's pride.

First on the agenda: Order a Tab. Co-owner Roy Feldman told me that he and his daughter, Maddy, live on the stuff. Back in the 1980s when he owned Burlington Bagel Bakery, Feldman hosted a regular "Tab Hour" when the sodas were sold on tap for a penny.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Feldman's Bagels" »

July 7, 2013

Grazing: The Best Maple Creemee?

It's been so sticky these last few days that I've hardly been able to think straight. To stay cool, I've jumped in a lake (twice), showered twice a day and consumed Stracciatella gelato, Salted Caramel Pretzel frozen yogurt, strawberries with crème fraiche, guava sorbet and several glasses of rosé.

Another sure-fire way to cool down is to take a long ride in an air-conditioned car, especially if it's to obtain more frozen dessert. Today, that meant a 30-minute trek to the roadside stop on Route 107 just outside Bethel, Tozier's Restaurant. One side of this 60-year-old gem is a sit-down dining room where you can down Cobb salads, onion rings and Reubens; the other is a takeout window serving up plates of fried clams and ice cream, which people eat at a few picnic tables nearby. Almost any time from April to October, dozens of cars are parked in front and across the street.

Toziers2It was at Tozier's that I had my first creemee epiphany: When I interviewed owner Bill Campbell, a few years ago, he was rolling his own waffle cones. As I left, he filled one with maple creemee for me to take on the road. It was so monstrous that I thought I surely wouldn't finish it all.

Continue reading "Grazing: The Best Maple Creemee?" »

July 2, 2013

Alice Eats: Breakfast at Juniper

41 Cherry St., Burlington, 651-0080

Tomorrow morning (or today in the Bite Club newsletter), you'll be able to read my review of dinner at Juniper, the first restaurant to open at Burlington's brand-new, boutique-beautiful Hotel Vermont. To keep in step with the style of that piece, I offer you my first (and possibly last) roman photo blog post.

Think of it as a comic, but with photographs instead of drawings.

Saturday breakfast was host to a far quieter group than the bar crowd at dinner, but I still saw enough delicious-looking dishes pass by to get jealous. (As you can see, my boyfriend, James, was especially restless.)

He comforted himself with a cup of hot chocolate. Its latte-style art was pretty, but I wished it had tasted as chocolaty as it looked.

Food started coming out quickly. A big plate of hot gougères combined smoky bacon with gooey cheese curds. It was fun to dip them in a selection of three jams. And they were so filling that we took half of them home for the next day's breakfast.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Breakfast at Juniper" »

July 1, 2013

Cronuts Hit the Queen City

IMG_5830Usually Vermont is slow to see national trends, but not in the case of the "cronut." Dominique Ansel, pastry chef at the bakery of the same, debuted the croissant-doughnut hybrid on May 10. Since then, hungry New York fans have risen before dawn to wait in line or get on waiting lists, and even have scalped the breakfast sweets for upward of $100 apiece.

While the mania hasn't caught on yet in Vermont, the pastry has. For more than a month, Burlington's Mirabelles has been quietly selling its own variety of "cronuts." (Yep, Ansel has already acquired an international trademark.)

The pastries are available Friday and Saturday at the Main Street bakery in as many as four flavors each day.

Longtime Mirabelles baker Brian Cashman says that all the hype around the New York fad inspired co-owner Alison Lane to attempt her own version. After a few tries, the Mirabelles "cronut" was born.

Cashman fries rounds of the buttery, croissant-style dough, resulting in a puffy, doughnut-like body. He cuts each pastry in half and fills it with custard, then glazes the top.


Continue reading "Cronuts Hit the Queen City" »

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