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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

Locavore Movement

September 3, 2013

Alice Eats: Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant

IMG_61851428 Millbrook Road/Route 17, Fayston, 496-2322

The Mad River Valley has more than its fair share of dining destinations. Venues such as the Mad Taco, the Common Man, the Sweet Spot, Bridge Street Butchery and even Maynard's Snack Bar have all earned places in my rotation — driving the better part of an hour be damned.

With a fusty reputation, the Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant was never on that list. Until now.

Earlier this summer, Bruce Hyde Jr., a graduate of Cornell University's hotel school, came on board and remade the comfort food served at the restaurant and tavern to showcase local ingredients. Really local — most of the food comes from within a mile or two.

The crowd was mostly of the blue-haired variety when we arrived in the dark dining room on Saturday evening. I overheard several recalling the room's previous tenant, Zach's Tavern, part of the Snuggery Inn, which closed in 1987. Its logo graces the background of the current menu.

The antique-filled room recalls an even earlier time. With its petite table lamps and padded leather chairs, it reminded me of visiting my great-grandmother's house.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant" »

August 29, 2013

Meet the Cuke-O-Melon

Earlier this week, I was speeding through the aisles just before Healthy Living Market closed for the night, when I spied these:

As a great appreciator of cute food, I found this a must-purchase. I had my first bite in the car on the way home. With a slightly thicker skin than your average gherkin, the berry-sized "Cuke-O-Melon" really did offer a suggestion of eating a tiny watermelon. But the flavor was that of a cucumber with a hint of sour bite.

IMG_6180So what the heck are Cuke-O-Melons? I called Tangleroot Farm's Adam Reed to find out. His vegetable farm is in Gansevoort, N.Y., not far from the Healthy Living market in Saratoga Springs.

It turns out, the little melons aren't bonsais, but a species of their own called Melothria scabra. They're more commonly known as Mexican sour gherkins, cucamelons and, most adorable of all, "mouse melons."

Reed says he found out about them this past spring through a friend who was planning to plant them. "There was very little research that went into them," he says.

He says that many customers claim they've been popping the mini-cukes "like M&Ms." I've done some of that, but have also halved them and thrown them in with cherry tomatoes and chopped local mini-peaches in a salad.

And, lucky for me, Reed says he just harvested three more cases to send to Vermont today.

August 23, 2013

Locavore Korean Cuisine Comes to Cabot

Frieddumplings_2013You know that a restaurant is intensely anticipated when it gains more than 100 followers in its first 24 hours on Facebook. But not every restaurant is the brainchild of Elena Gustavson, the program director at the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick.

Gustavson's social-media presence may be blowing up, but she doesn't plan to open DownStreet Eats at 3075 Main Street in Cabot until mid-September.

Gustavson's locavore pedigree is enough to get many diners excited, but the chef-owner admits that she hasn't yet reached out to many of her farmer friends in the Cabot and Marshfield area to source the new restaurant — though she plans to.

Locally focused restaurants are a dime a dozen in Vermont these days. But Korean food is not.

Continue reading "Locavore Korean Cuisine Comes to Cabot" »

August 20, 2013

Guild Fine Meats Opens Tomorrow in Burlington

The Farmhouse Group's Guild Commissary has been up and running for more than a month. Tomorrow, the ultimate fruit of master butcher Frank Pace and chef Tom Deckman's labors will be unveiled with the official opening of Guild Fine Meats at 111 St. Paul Street.

IMG_6150Today, the staff at the new butcher shop and deli is getting used to the space with a soft opening.

But sorry, meat lovers, you'll have to wait until tomorrow for a look at the good stuff. The butcher case is papered over.

Co-owner Jed Davis says that a full menu of sandwiches and salads will be available within a few days, with the majority rolling out tomorrow.

Continue reading "Guild Fine Meats Opens Tomorrow in Burlington" »

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.

Continue reading "Vermont Fresh Network Announces Restaurants Receiving Gold Barn Honor" »

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.

Continue reading "Guild Fine Meats Prepares to Open in Burlington Next Month" »

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" »

June 24, 2013

What's With All the Carrots Downtown?

CarrotIf you've been seeing carrots on the streets of Burlington, you're not imagining things.

The roots have been stenciled on sidewalks from Church Street Marketplace to the Intervale Center to trace the very short distance separating Burlington restaurants from the farms that produce their fresh ingredients.

The carrots will lead the way this Thursday, June 27, when, at 5 p.m., foodies will make the trek from the intersection of Church and Pearl streets to the Intervale.

The walk celebrates the season's first Summervale event; even more notably, it marks the Intervale Center's 25th anniversary. "The Carrot Walk is really celebrating 25 years of sustainable agriculture in the Burlington city limits," says Joyce Cellars, the Intervale Center's community relations manager. Bikers are also encouraged to join the fun — they're calling it the Carrot Ride.

Though the official treks are taking place only this Thursday, Cellars says staff from the Church Street Marketplace and the Intervale Center will continue to touch up the sidewalk carrots throughout the summer.

Besides the route to the farms, sponsoring businesses that use Intervale produce are also marked with carrots. Cellars says she hopes the bursts of color on the sidewalk will encourage community members to eat at participating restaurants, have locavore spa treatments and make the walk to Summervale events each week until its season ends on August 29.

April 30, 2013

Gorging at the Black River Produce Food Show

IMG_5612The restaurant business is a brutal one. Cripplingly long hours, injuries and physical and emotional stress are just some of the hardships restaurateurs and chefs endure, only to cater to the capricious whims of the dining public.

But one bright spot to the biz, at least in Vermont, is a close-knit community of producers with great food. Today's sixth annual Black River Produce Food Show is a culinary Candyland — without the presence of Gloppy the Molasses Monster or Lord Licorice. Some requisite out-of-state distributors make the trip, but the reason most Vermont industry folk come out each year is to see what's happening on the local scene.

Here are a few of my favorites:


One of my favorite cheeses, finally made in Vermont by one of my favorite producers, Maplebrook Fine Cheese. The semi-soft, nutty fontina that I tried was the first official batch, but Italy had better take note. The Green Mountains can make our own earthy fontina just fine, thanks.

Continue reading "Gorging at the Black River Produce Food Show" »

February 14, 2013

One Federal Opens a Diner

PhotoMaple season is fast approaching, but in St. Albans it will arrive at 7 a.m. on Thursday, February 21.

That's when Maple City Diner opens at 17 Swanton Road, the home of Athena's Diner since 2011.

The owners of the new eatery are familiar faces in the Maple City itself — Marcus and Erika Hamblett, the owners of One Federal.

Erika Hamblett says that she and her husband will take over the space tomorrow and close for minor cosmetic changes, then reopen for seven-days-a-week service on Tuesday.

Those changes include vintage photos of local sugar houses. Soon, wood booths will replace the conventional diner booths for more of a sugar-shack feel, says Marcus Hamblett.

6a00d83451b91969e2011571485023970bThe menu, prepared by chef de cuisine and One Federal alum Stephen Young, also takes a cue from sugaring time. Breakfast includes a bacon waffle topped with maple butter; brown-sugar-pecan French toast; and skillets such as "the Vermonter," with apple, caramelized onion, bacon and cheddar over home fries and eggs.

Lunch features classic diner fare such as hot open hamburg and turkey sandwiches and a variety of burgers and clubs. Dinner brings seared pork loin and chicken topped with cheddar, apples and bacon. One Federal's popular house maple vinaigrette will top salads.

As at the Hamblett's 4-year-old restaurant, nearly everything will be made from scratch and locally sourced.

Though Maple City Diner will serve a full menu from the beginning, the owners have plans for growth in months to come. New England Culinary Institute grad Marcus Hamblett envisions a grab-and-go counter similar to the one at the defunct Burlington NECI Commons. There, freshly made breads, sandwiches and prepared salads will be available to-go, along with homemade pies, cakes and other pastries, including "big maple cinnamon buns."

Doughnuts will also be a big part of the fun. A doughnut machine will soon be popping out fresh desserts, including a bacon version.

Maple lovers of the world, unite and take over.

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