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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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December 2013

December 27, 2013

Alice Levitt's Best New Restaurant Dishes of 2013

Fried chicken was hot from Stowe to Montgomery Center. After last year's glut, pizza was on the wane. A couple of stinkers in smaller cities made the term "gastropub" seem a whole lot less cool.


But my favorites this year triumphed over the trends. I ate so many delightful dishes in my travels around the state and beyond, it was nearly impossible to choose, and I'm sure as soon as this is published, I'll have regrets.


I'm a little bummed that so many of my picks seem to have landed in the Burlington area this year. Which means one thing: In 2014, I'm expecting big things from the rest of the state.


Marzipan bagel from the Bagel Place

The Bagel Place

In a bagel-icious year, the clear winner for both weirdest and most delicious o-shaped creation was the marzipan bagel at South Burlington's the Bagel Place.

The sticky layer of sweet, baked almond paste was countered by a plain bagel, which ensured that the treat wasn't saccharine. Until the Lithuanian owners start serving up šašlykai and bigos, this taste of Eastern Europe will have to do.

Misery Loves Co.

Few western chefs understand the value of making you work for a dish the way Asian cooks do. Luckily, the chefs at Misery Loves Co. in Winooski understand such rewards.


Their Chinatown Pig Tails left diners rooting around with their chopsticks for all kinds of tasty morsels: peanuts, bok choy and, most importantly, cross-cut sections of a pig's furthest reaches. The big flavor of ginger, smoked cayenne, hot long red chiles, cilantro and vinegar ensured that I wouldn't stop digging until every bite was gone.



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December 18, 2013

14th Star Brewing Takes Over St. Albans Bowling Alley

Food-beerguys_1Just 18 months after opening, the owners of St. Albans' 14th Star Brewing are moving from their cozy Lower Newton Street digs into a far vaster space — the former St. Albans Bowling Center.

Co-owner Steve Gagner and his partners have signed a 20-year lease (from Pomerleau Real Estate) on the bowling alley at 133 North Main Street, which opened in 1958 and closed last July. The 14th Star crew plans to open a 2500-square-foot taproom and a 13,000-square-foot brewery in the space by next summer. "The plan is to have a place where people can come and enjoy some of the world's best beers," says Gagner, who will devote a few of the pub's 24 or so taps to other beers from around the state.

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Midweek Swig: Steven Sour

Steven_sourThis week: Steven Sour, a "sour IPA" collaboration of Magic Hat Brewing Co. and Vermont Pub & Brewery.

Cost: Sample provided by Magic Hat, but 22-ounce bottles are for sale for $4.99 throughout Vermont (the beer is also on tap throughout the state).

Strength: 5.6 percent abv.

The pour: A murky, burnt orange with a faint head that quickly dissipates. The beer has little to no aroma, but if you try hard you might smell apricots.

The taste: There's zestier carbonation than its appearance suggests, and each sip bristles and roughs up the tip of your tongue before rolling across the middle with the slightest hint of sourness. It's quenching, with dry, lingering wisps of grapefruit — but it's also ever so chalky.

Drink it with: This made me want to start whipping up a chicken curry with almonds and apricots — or maybe just a plate of Comté, sliced baguette and quince paste.

Backstory: Two Vermont brewing heavyweights got together to brew this beer in celebration of VPB's 25th anniversary, and it's only for sale (in bottles and on tap) in Vermont.

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December 17, 2013

Alice Eats: Family-Style Sunday at nika

Food-nika83 Church Street, Burlington, 660-9533

I was first introduced to family-style dining when I visited Pennsylvania Dutch country as a kid. Sharing a table with overweight Southern tourists tearing into my dumplings and shoofly pie wasn't my idea of acceptable dining, even at age 8.

Recently, I've had to get over my heebie-jeebies for the term. Luckily, in Vermont, it means only that you have to share with your own party, and from Misery Loves Co.'s meat-and-three suppers to roasted chicken Sundays at Guild & Company, I'm loving the trend.

Earlier this fall, nika introduced its own version of the concept with three courses of well-thought-out Mediterranean fare for $20 a person. And it's not just snack-size portions, either.

It's all part of a new set of deals available at the Church Street restaurant: On Mondays, restaurant and bar employees get 20 percent off their meals, along with $5 wine and $4 draught beer. Tuesday, every pizza on the menu is $10, including upscale specialties such as a pie topped with lemon-dill swordfish, fried capers and olives. On Wednesday, Flights & Bites night means $10 for a flight of three wines and $15 for six small plates — $20 for both.

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December 12, 2013

Maglianero Closed — But Not for Long

Mag_coffeeCaffeine seekers who have shown up at Maglianero Café in Burlington the past few days may have been disappointed to find a locked door. They should fear not: The coffee mecca is not gone, just in the process of being moved to the street-facing gallery space upstairs at 47 Maple.

Manager Corey Goldsmith is knee-deep in the renovations — as in, doing much of it himself — putting together "a more integrated, clean, modern look" that he designed. That includes solid ash wood counters built by Vermont Farm Table, but it also means less seating. At least for now, there will be three seats at the new brew bar, plus three tables with four seats each.

And while Maglianero will still have Wi-Fi, the laptop army won't find outlets near those tables — an adjustment for the legions who love to camp out at Maglianero for hours.

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December 10, 2013

Alice Eats: Hostel Tevere

IMG_6973203 Powderhound Road, Warren, 496-9222

It's no secret that I'm a Jewish American Princess. I normally wouldn't be caught dead in a youth hostel. But Hostel Tevere is different. Even the bathrooms are clean, bright and decorated with hipster art that is more funny (if misspelled) than obnoxious.

The hostel's restaurant has become a major destination in the Mad River Valley, and for good reason. The small dining area, filled with communal tables, feels like a cool update on a 19th-century tavern, complete with a craft beer list that's heavy on Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery, as well as local names such as Lawson's and Lost Nation.

IMG_6966But the real attraction is the food. Local and handmade, yes, but more importantly, the menu is highly eclectic and the dishes are prepared with great care.

We started with a pair of kielbasa corn dog pops, as did, apparently, everyone else dining on Saturday night. How could you not, when each is only $1?

The kielbasa lent a stronger, tangier taste to the pop, but in the end, they were still just very good (tiny) corn dogs. But the Dijon aioli that came on the side ended up playing a key role with our other starter, the house salt-and-vinegar chips.

Though the warm chips were suitably salty, they could have used more of a pucker. But dipping them in the tangy sauce hit the spot. We nearly demolished the large bowl before our entrées arrived.

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December 6, 2013

Grazing: Open-Faced Grilled Cheese Sandwich With Robie Farm Toma & Cider Jelly


The raw milk cheeses of Robie Farm are intense. In fact, the entire place is kind of intense, in its own bucolic way: a 140-year-old dairy farm on a windswept plain in Piermont, N.H. (just across from Bradford, Vt.).

The family ages and hand-turns their cheeses on white-ash-tree planks, and then sells them inside a rustic, generally unmanned farm store that's also stocked with raw milk, eggs and frozen cuts of pork and veal (including swoonworthy bacon). The dairy case holds tangy, powerful cheeses with names such as Piermont, Swaledale and Echo Hill Gervais, an herbed, spreadable, pungent and scumptious cheese made in collaboration with neighboring Bunten Farm.

Sometimes you'll run into chatty cheesemaker Mark Robie inside the shop; otherwise, you leave your cash or check on the honor system, which is still pretty common across the Upper Valley.

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December 5, 2013

Midweek Swig: Noonan Black IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Black_IPAThis week: Noonan Black IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Co., Portsmouth, N.H.

Cost: $1.55 for a 12-ounce bottle at Lebanon Health Food Store, Lebanon, N.H.

Strength: 5.7 percent a.b.v.

The pour: Inky and almost syrupy, like a porter, with a foamy head that holds its form for up to 10 minutes. The beer smells vaguely like a Dove Dark Chocolate Promise dipped in pine resin. 

The taste: Hoppy-ho, this is bittah! At least to my wino palate. It's dry but substantial in the mouth, with coffee-like edges, hints of smoke and a roasty undercarriage. It lingers a looooong time on the back of the tongue.

Drink it with: I would love this with a plate of chicken molé, a sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwich (on Harpoon miche from King Arthur Flour — I'm just sayin') or hunks of Callebaut chocolate. As it was, I sipped it on its own.

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Should Vermont Lift the Ban on Happy Hours? Thinks So

A website called has published an article suggesting that the Vermont ban on happy hours — selling drinks at lower prices during certain times — is economically illogical.

Writer Jon Street quoted the owner of Burlington's Ake's Place, Ronnie Ryan, who suggested that the state should allow bars to lure in customers with occasional happy hours.

“Burlington is so rich in young professionals and college students, I’m confident it would help business, and if it helps our business it also helps the state as it will generate more money in taxes,” he said.

Bill Goggins, director of education, licensing and enforcement for the Vermont Department of Liquor Control, broadly explained the role of the state government in keeping people safe, while a fellow at the Cato Institute lamented, “Why should Vermont insert itself between deals that please restaurants and customers alike?”

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December 4, 2013

Québec Microbrewery Stirs the Pot With Questionably Named Beers

UrlA microbrewery in the northern Québec burg of Lévis — just across the Saint Lawrence River from Québec City — is garnering unwanted attention from branding a few of its beers with names and imagery that is less than flattering to women.

This summer, Le Corsaire produced a beer called La Tite Pute, which translates to "the little whore/slut," and was advertised as "easy and fruity." Another beer, Le Perruche, means "the parrot" in French but features a label of a naked woman in a birdcage. Yet another beer is named the Hooker.

Julie Miville-Dechêne, president of Québec's Council on the Status of Women, told the CBC why this was not OK.

"The name La Tite Pute disgusts me," Miville-Dechêne said. 

“[Prostitution] exploits women. There isn’t a lot of choice involved, there is a lot of exploitation, a lot of violence. It’s not something we should be laughing about,”she said.

In the meantime the brewery's owner, Martin Vaillancourt, has explained to various media sources that he intended no harm, and chalks up the names to bad taste. Rather than a slur, for instance, the term "La Tite Pute" is more reflective of the easy-brewing and easy-drinking nature of the blond ale, he explained.

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