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August 12, 2010

Combo Platter: Middlebury Melts, Milton Moussaka

Midchoc Middlebury Melts

When one picks up a truffle at a chocolate shop, it's often not made on-site. When Middlebury Chocolates opens on Sunday, the rustic chocolates will not only be made in-house, but rolled and coated in freshly roasted cacao nibs and spices to order.

The store's owners, Stephanie and Andy Jackson, already sell Stephanie's unique truffles at Carol's Hungry Mind Café, 51 Main at the Bridge and online at Current flavors include classic dark chocolate with a hint of balsamic vinegar and "Trio of Peppers," flavored with marinated guajillo and chipotle chiles, green peppercorns, Ceylon cinnamon and other spices. All of the truffles are vegan, with the exception of cheese-y Lemon Chèvre and Maple Mascarpone.

The café itself will seat just ten people, but out back, there's plenty of seating overlooking Otter Creek Falls. Jackson hopes customers will grab a seat for robust coffee drinks, tea from Vermont Tea and Trading Company or hot cacao. The latter is composed of the store's rich ganache mixed with steamed milk and cacao nibs, then topped with hand-whipped cream. Jackson says that the hot chocolate will be available in any of the six rotating truffle flavors. Nervous about trying the classic salted truffle? Cardamom-vanilla may be a more approachable alternative.

For those fearing cacao-overload, Middlebury Chocolates will offer a range of other desserts. Since Andy suffers from celiac, and Stephanie and their two young children are also sensitive to gluten, everything — from torte to tiramisu — is gluten-free. Jackson is particularly fond of her recipe for airy Mexican tres leches cake. "You could eat a few pieces of that pretty easily," she laughs.

Milton Moussaka

These days, social media can make or break a restaurant’s business. Plenty of Burlington hot spots, including August First and Handy’s Lunch, have gotten the word out on Twitter. Not Bob Campolungo: “I’m not a Facebook, Tweeter person,” he says.

Despite that, his business, the Apollo Diner in Milton, has been drawing notice on Twitter and Foursquare. The eatery, which is co-owned by Bill Maglaris of Henry’s and Arcadia Diner, opened in May with little fanfare, after problems with the building pushed its expected opening date forward from December.

On July 31, @sullivaninfo tweeted that she enjoyed the spot's Greek food. “Repeat visit for sure,” she added. Perhaps that’s because of the slow-roasted gyros. The staff makes the chicken and the mixed beef and lamb versions from scratch.

Diners seeking a taste of the Mediterranean can also dig into a plate of moussaka or chomp skewers of pork souvlaki. Campolungo, formerly a rep for food supplier Sysco, says that when he ran pastitsio as a special last Saturday, “Within 45 minutes we were out.” The kitchen staff also makes red sauce from scratch for Italian specialties, such as baked ziti and eggplant and chicken Parmigiana.

Then there's the traditional American fare. On Foursquare, Tara L. recommends as the potato skins as “just the right mix of crispy, cheesy, and onion-y.” And, Campolungo says, “We roast four 30-pound turkeys a day." The birds come from Adams Turkey Farm in Westford. Plus, all the classic hot open-faced sandwiches, including the turkey, roast beef and hot hamburger, are slathered in freshly made gravy. Now that’s something to type about.


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