Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

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June 2008

June 30, 2008

Heavy MTL Montreal

Here are some shots from the two day Heavy MTL Festival in Parc Jean Drapeau, Montreal CA.

For you web heads out there, the festival appears to have been named by virtue of the availability of a domain name "". I wonder what they paid for it.

Anyway, come take a spin in the pit with me!

Blogging Chew Chew Fest: Dessert

O.k...this post is a little belated, but what can you do?

After all of that savory, mostly meaty food I ate all afternoon, I decided to end the day with a few desserts. After all, I needed to use up all of my 36 tokens before leaving!

I started out with a "hot apple crispy" crepe (3 tokens) from the Skinny Pancake. The crepe was the perfect consistency — tender yet browned on the outside, and filled with sweet, tart apples. It comes with whipped cream, but I had to forgo that due to my lactose intolerance. I wish I could have had some.

Next I had a raspberry pecan bar (2 tokens) from New Moon, which was really dense, nutty and delicious. I wanted some of their cold-pressed coffee, too, but then I would have ended up with an extra token, so I  went for a trio of juicy strawberries covered in fudge (3 tokens) from Sam Mazza's.

Although in past years I'd been less than thrilled with some of the things I ate, this time around, I thought everything was really good. I attribute this to three factors: 1) Opting for a few reliable favorites, such as the Dismas House corn and lemonade, that are good year after year. 2) Hitting up eateries that please me on non-Chew Chew occasions. Although I'd never had a pig wing before I really like Big Fatty's, so it was a good bet that I'd be happy with it (and I was). Same thing goes for anything from the Skinny Pancake, a restaurant I enjoy quite a bit. 3) Forgetting about nutrition. In past years I've tried to build a balanced meal from the available offerings, and ended up disappointed with some of the "healthier" fare. This is only one meal on one day, after all, so if you want to eat beef and pork five different ways, I say "go for it."

Bon Appetit!

June 29, 2008

The Burlington Blogger BBQ

It was Saturday at North Beach, and I missed it.

I meant to go, but I worked all morning, then spent a few hours at the Chew Chew Fest handing out copies of 7 Nights, our free guide to Vermont restaurants and bars (that's how I described it all day). When I left at 2:30, it was raining, my 2-year-old was hyper and my pregnant partner was ready to head home. So...

If you want to know what it looks like when Vermont bloggers and politicians gather to eat burgers and dogs and talk turkey, check out Green Mountain Daily. Here's another post. And another. Maybe next year I'll come with two kids in tow.

June 27, 2008

Live Blogging Chew Chew Fest: Fruity Gazpacho, Samosa

Blurt Ed. Note: Food Editor Suzanne Podhaizer is live blogging the Green Mountain Chew Chew Fest today at the Burlington Waterfront.

3.5 hours in, it's raining, and I'm still going strong! My recent acquisitions included a refreshing, fruity gazpacho from Tilley's Cafe, a golden-brown, steak-n-cheese samosa from the Samosaman and an ear of grilled corn with butter, salt and lime from the Dismas House.

The chilled soup (3 tokens) was a great way to break up the heavier items that many places are offering. It had a hint of sweetness, but wasn't super sweet. I was really happy to have it.

Samosaman owner Fuad Ndibalema of Barre is on hand to sell his filled triangles (3 tokens), and he assures me that there will be curry and rice very soon. He's also got a beautiful sign and very cool aprons. You'll see them when I add the pictures!

And the corn, well, it's perfect: Slightly charred on the outside, with lots of butter and a wedge of lime to squeeze over it. The only problem is that it's hard to blog with butter all over your fingers.

Continue reading "Live Blogging Chew Chew Fest: Fruity Gazpacho, Samosa" »

Yes We Can! And Now Back to 'The Hills'

The campaign season is about to get a bit more abrasive, particularly for fans of TRL and Tila Tequila.

Just this week, MTV, the center of faux 'music' programming, lifted its ban on showing political ads, which had been in place since its inception in the early 1980s.

From TV Week:

As recently as the presidential primaries this year, MTV had refused all political ads, even as it has heavily promoted its “Choose or Lose” get out the vote effort.

MTV had held out while other MTV Networks siblings were willing to feed at the political advertising trough. VH1, Comedy Channel and Spike TV were willing to accept political ads, according to an MTV Networks spokesman.

Cable networks are attracting more political ads. The Bush campaign four years ago bought national cable on a dozen channels. This year most of the political ads on cable have been on cable news networks. One sought-after network—Lifetime—still declines to take political ads.

Now all the MTV Networks that aren’t aimed at kids will accept political ads...

Jeannie Kedas, EVP-communications for MTV’s music networks, said the change is effective immediately and reflects the importance of the youth vote.

The Hollywood blogosphere is already abuzz with certain annoying celebrities' (coughcoughScarlettJohanssonSusanSarandon) public endorsements of Obama and this looks to only amplify his youthful base support. From Jossip:

...MTV is going to cash in. Hard.

...[a]nd Obama, more so than McCain, understands how to reach the youth vote. He’s been doing it online for months. Now, with MTV ready to accept his bucks, he’ll do it on TV as well. In fact, Obama’s campaign already tried buying airtime on MTV, but was rebuffed because of their policy; MTV’s flip-flop all but guarantees Obama will spend some of his millions on TV time each month with the network, which is a win-win for everybody: Obama gets to reach his target audience, and MTV gets to subsidize some of the effects of the advertising recession we’ve been hearing so much about.

It's only a matter of time now before John McCain starts cashing in (or not) on Heidi Montag's support. Will MTV help or hurt Obama? Only time will tell.

Here's the first Obama ad shown on MTV:

Live Blogging Chew Chew Fest: Pakistani Kebab

Blurt Ed. Note: Food Editor Suzanne Podhaizer is live blogging the Green Mountain Chew Chew Fest today at the Burlington Waterfront.

At an event like CCF, I like to try foods that are a little out of the ordinary. I'm not very likely to get a ham & cheese sandwich or a burger when there are (slightly) more exotic options available.

My next stop was at the Pakistani Natural Foods table. I selected a generous beef kebab with a fresh, hot tomato chutney on the side. The kebab itself was made with a chewy but flavorful cut of meat, and the chunks were perfectly cooked; just slightly pink in the middle. Really, really good.

Over the years, I've wondered about the food safety angle and Chew Chew — particularly given that it's typically hot out during the event — and now I've got the scoop. This morning, I saw a woman from the Department of Health checking out each vendor, and telling them what changes they needed to make to be in compliance. In some cases, she offered (threatened?) to come back later to ensure that coolers have the appropriate amount of ice, staffers are wearing gloves, etc. So now you know!

Live Blogging Chew Chew Fest: Lemonade & BBQ Pork

Blurt Ed. Note: Food Editor Suzanne Podhaizer is live blogging the Green Mountain Chew Chew Fest today at the Burlington Waterfront.

I've been looking forward to hitting the M-Saigon table, since I adore Vietnamese food and I haven't eaten at the new Shelburne Road restaurant yet (it's near the post office, where Ming's used to be). So, I decided to make their BBQ pork balls on a skewer my third dish of the day.

But first, I snagged some tangy, fresh-squeezed lemonade from the Dismas House table. The lemonade (4 tokens) is a classic CC item, and I make a point of getting it every year. It's cool, has a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, and supports a good cause. I also love their grilled corn with lime.

The BBQ pork consists of three browned balls of ground meat on a skewer (4 tokens), and was offered up with a sweet and slightly spicy sauce. The meat is ground very fine, and is nicely seasoned. These taste good even without the sauce, but even better with it. Can't wait to try their pho!

By the way, I will be posting photos... I've got my camera, but I don't have the cord that connects the camera to my computer (silly me). I'll add 'em later, though!

Live Blogging Chew Chew Fest: Pig Wings

Blurt Ed. Note: Food Editor Suzanne Podhaizer is live blogging the Green Mountain Chew Chew Fest today at the Burlington Waterfront.

Don't think pigs can fly? They can at Big Fatty's BBQ! BFB's "pig wings" are tender, meaty pork shanks in a light, slightly sweet sauce. Clay, the owner, calls 'em "authentic redneck ossobuco." Hah!

They cost 3 tokens (by the way, the catfish taco was 4 tokens), and are definitely worth it.

Choosing what to buy here is definitely an art. I attempt to manage my tokens so that I don't have any left at the end of the day. Assuming I plan to spend $10 on tokens (18 total), I'll need to either get six 3-token dishes or three 4-token dishes and two 3-token dishes. Or, if you're not crazy like me, you can relax, get whatever you want and not worry so much about the tokens! 

Event organizer Rick Norcross mentioned in passing that there are 10,000 tokens from previous years floating around out there, so I guess most people take the latter approach!

Live Blogging Chew Chew Fest: Catfish Tacos

This weekend, a slew of Vermont restaurants are hanging out down at the Burlington Waterfront for The Green Mountain Chew Chew Fest and dishing up some of their hottest dishes.

Over the next few hours, I'll be sampling a bunch of small plates (and handing out copies of our beautiful, new 7 Nights Guide to Restaurants and Bars), and blogging about the chow.

Entry to the event is $2, and tokens are 9 for $5. All of the food items cost either 3 or 4 tokens.

For breakfast, I decided to have a catfish taco with spicy Creole sauce from Bueno Y Sano, and it proved a delicious choice. The catfish was crisp, the corn tortilla warmed through, and the sauce, well, spicy. The taco was topped with chunks of onion and tomato, as well as skinny strips of crisp lettuce and cilantro.

If you don't like hot stuff, ask them to give you a smallish squirt of the salmon-colored Creole topping. Mine came with a generous zig-zag, and my mouth is still tingling. On the strength of this item, I plan to grab lunch at Bueno y Sano sometime very soon.

More soon...

Skimmin' the Stormwater Surface

Sewer It sure has rained a lot lately in Burlington. But where, you ask, does it all go? Into 2000 metal grates is where — 800 of which drain directly into Lake Champlain. That was just one of the nuggets of info I picked up on Tuesday night at planning commission meeting at City Hall, courtesy of two reps from the city's stormwater task force.

Created in January 2007, the force has lately been chatting with Neighborhood Planning Assemblies and the city council's budget task force about how Burlington can better manage its stormwater. Stormwater isn't a new concern — Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources got Environmental Protection Agency authorization to implement a statewide s-water permitting program back in 2000. But it's still important, according a recent report given by city officials to the city council's budget task force.

Here's how runoff works, roughly speaking: When it rains, and droplets can't seep into the ground, that causes erosion. And, since stormwater collects pollutants such as oil and phosphorus on its way to the lake, runoff has adverse effects on Lake Champlain. That, in turn, spells trouble for such nearby aqueous bodies as the Winooski River and the Englesby Brook, not to mention all the fishies and humans who don't like swimming in icky-ness.

(Lake Champlain, by the way, may not be doing so hot, according to a January report released by ANR. The federal Environmental Protection Agency seems to agree.)

Burlington, which has 100 miles of pipes for processing sewage and s-water, has existing codes related to stormwater management. But they aren't up to date, the task force reported on Tuesday. Besides, said the force, the city should double the amount of money it invests annually in s-water management, from $300,000 to $800,000, and it should start imposing a tax on "impervious surfaces" — i.e., blacktop. The impervious-surface tax would run about $3 or $4 per 1000 square feet, per month. South Burlington, the only other Vermont town that levies a similar tax, charges $4.50, according to Scott Gustin, a senior planner at Burlington's department of planning and zoning.

And then there's the tiresome matter of making people actually obey the law. "Enforcement of this is pretty lax," Gustin told the commission on Tuesday evening. But if Burlington's city council approves the proposed changes, he suggested, "there would be inspections regardless." The force will present to the council sometime in August, Gustin told me yesterday morning.

At one point during Tuesday's meeting, the task force's powerpoint presentation displayed an unsightly image of brown sediment bubbling up into an otherwise blue Burlington Bay. Some of the members of the planning commission looked up from the brownies and grapes they had been munching on. "Maybe it wasn't such a good idea,"  said the commission chair, "for us to have food."

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