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August 2010

August 31, 2010

Bob Bolyard (aka Drag Queen Amber LeMay) On Why He's Running for City Council

F-bolyard-hop Bob Bolyard has worn many hats over the 23 years he's lived in Burlington — justice of the peace, arts organizer, Lake Monsters announcer, drag queen — but city councilor has not been among them.

That could change come November if Bolyard (pictured) wins the race for the open Ward 3 seat on the Burlington City Council.

Bolyard — who is better known to some  Vermonters as drag queen Amber LeMay of the House of LeMay, or as the T-shirt-launching, on-field announcer at Lake Monsters' games — secured the Democratic nomination Monday for the council seat being vacated by Progressive Marissa Caldwell.

He will face Progressive Vince Brennan, a Ward 3 school board member, on Nov. 2. It's an ambitious gambit for a guy with no shortage of personality and pizazz: No Democrat has held a seat from Ward 3 in at least two decades, according to Burlington's Democratic chairman.

Photo by Jordan Silverman

Continue reading "Bob Bolyard (aka Drag Queen Amber LeMay) On Why He's Running for City Council" »

Alice Eats: The Barn Door Restaurant at 1824 House

2150 Main Street, Waitsfield, 802-496-7555

In Burlington, when a yen for handcrafted, farm-to-table fare hits, The Bluebird Tavern and The Farmhouse Tap & Grill are obvious options. Outside of the Queen City, the choices dwindle drastically. Whether you're near Waitsfield or not, I recommend that you hightail it to the The Barn Door.

The 1824 House, right along Waitsfield's main drag, was long known as the spot to hit for a formal, European-inflected dinner. Connie and Dean Mendell — of The Village Porch Bar & Bistro in Rochester —  re-opened the inn this June with a more casual restaurant that strikes both global and local chords. Ever since I saw the menu, I had been gasping to give it a try.

I wasn't disappointed. How could I have been, given that I showed up during "beef week?" Each week, chef Luke Stone — a protegé of Maura O’Sullivan and Charles Reeves of Penny Cluse Café — plans several specials around the goods from one local farm. A small sandwich board on the side of the road trumpeted this cycle's main ingredient: Beef from Orb Weaver Farm in New Haven. Though I was tempted by homemade spaghetti with herb and shallot meatballs and garlic bread, I decided to try a couple of menu staples instead, made with meats from 1824's regular suppliers.

But first, there were rolls. Oh, the rolls! Like wheat Easter eggs with a doughy inside and chewy crust. The spritz of butter alongside was the size of my (small) fist, and was not only eminently spreadable but wonderfully creamy and salty.

Burger The grilled bread on which the burger was served was similarly fresh, chewy, and best of all, buttery. The beef, from Gaylord Farm, was roughly ground in-house. If you don't like your burger a little chunky, this is not the patty for you. The beef flavor was strong and substantial. I would go as far as to say... manly. My first bite resulted in a gush of juice I had only experienced before when chomping on wagyu.

Though the beef was not from Orb Weaver Farm, the cheese was — the farmstead offering resembled a very mild and creamy cheddar. The cheese helped balance out-of-this-world maple-cured, house-smoked bacon and an assemblage of button mushrooms so crisp and salty that they existed merely as an extension of the bacon's awesome power.

A smattering of greens on top provided a refreshing zip, as did a trio of sweet, house-pickled gherkins. Fries were crisp and came with a container of the house ketchup. Not as fruity as the ketchups made in-house at other local restaurants, this condiment tasted mostly of tomato and onion with just a hint of spice. I also got some garlicky aioli on the side, presented in swirls, as if it had come out of a tiny pastry bag.

Sausage The house-made bratwurst came with sharp, grainy mustard, but I preferred to enjoy the well-rounded, beer-bolstered taste of the juicy pork on its own. The mild sauerkraut was also delicious and fresh-tasting. To further sweeten the deal, the plate was piled with grilled roots, including a perfectly round potato and a petite onion.

Though already full, I had to give a final salute to "Beef Week" in the form of dessert. Whenever possible, Stone tries to integrate the theme ingredient into a dessert: During cabbage week, there was cabbage and cherry strudel with Guinness-caraway ice cream. Another recent menu included candied tomatoes in vanilla syrup with lime ice cream and almond tuile. This week, it was rice pudding made with beef marrow, surrounded by ginger and anise-marinated melon. It was my duty as a food writer to try it.

Marrow Okay, it looked like brains. All rice pudding looks like brains. Get over it. Not all rice pudding tastes like beef fat. The flavor was right out of the barnyard, but still sweet and unquestionably a dessert. Did I like it? I have no idea. It was interesting. Either way, I can't wait to head back and try more Iron Chef-level creativity, using exactly what's at its prime that week.

August 30, 2010

VIDEO: Dubie Unveils His Jobs Plan, Democrats Unleash Attack

DSC07391 Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie unveiled his long-awaited jobs plan at a wind turbine manufacturer in Barre this morning, calling for lower taxes and less government regulation to jump-start Vermont's economy.

In response, three Democrats who fought for the right to challenge Dubie in the November gubernatorial election summoned the press to in Burlington, where they unleashed a blistering (at least by this election's subdued standards) attack on the GOP lieutenant governor. The Dems called it a "George Bush-style" plan based on fantasy numbers.

Dubie's vision for growing jobs in Vermont — which includes dramatic cuts in state spending — was presented at Northern Power Systems, where industrial wind turbines are manufactured and shipped all over the world. A crowd of reporters and business leaders attended.

"Pure Vermont: Blueprint for Job Growth and Economic Expansion" proposes holding the state budget to 2 percent inflationary growth after fiscal year 2012. Based on projected tax revenue for the next five years, that would produce a $240 million savings to taxpayers, Dubie estimates, which he wants to give back to Vermonters in form of income tax cuts, corporate tax cuts and lower property taxes.

Dubie said Howard Dean held the line on spending in the 1990s — proposing three level-funded state budgets — and said Vermont must cut back on spending again.

Continue reading "VIDEO: Dubie Unveils His Jobs Plan, Democrats Unleash Attack" »

Biking With Barack

"There's no way that was Michelle Obama." I had to twist around so my boyfriend biking behind me could better hear the argument. The presidential vacation was the furthest thing from our minds when Tim Ashe and I left Cape Cod last Friday for a day trip to Martha's Vineyard. We planned to cycle from Oak Bluffs to Gay Head, on the opposite end of the island — about 25 miles.

Halfway there, on a stretch of bike path surrounded on all sides by forest, we noticed an SUV coming toward us on the narrow ribbon of pavement. Lights on, New Hampshire plates. "Total idiots," was our shared assessment. We had to navigate around the vehicle — carefully avoiding the side mirrors — to get past the rig. 

About five minutes later, we passed the first bikers we'd seen in a while: an African American family… normal looking, except for the single white guy trailing behind them. "Whee," the mother exclaimed as they contemplated the steep downhill we were climbing. 

Once past them, I said to Tim, "God, everyone around here looks like Michelle Obama." Tim quickly concluded that we had just seen the First Lady, Sasha and two bodyguards. 

I was so busy disagreeing with him that I didn't even notice the oncoming entourage. Then I heard Tim intone, "Hi, Mr. President."  

Continue reading "Biking With Barack" »

Seven Days Hires Three Recent Grads

7D-Tyler-Machado 7D-Celia-Hazard7D-Megan-JamesI just sent this press release out to various Vermont media outlets and university public relations departments, so I'm posting it here, too.

You might recognize Tyler Machado (far right), deputy online editor, who has been posting a lot on this blog. He's also been managing our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and writing the Daily 7 newsletter most days.

A belated welcome to Megan, Celia and Tyler (pictured, in that order, from left to right)!


Vermont’s Largest Independent Newsweekly Hires Three Recent Grads

Seven Days, Vermont’s only alternative print and online weekly, has hired three recent college graduates for editorial, design and web positions.

Continue reading "Seven Days Hires Three Recent Grads" »

Shumlin, Racine and Markowitz Pledge to Work Together During Recount

DSC07273 Heeding calls for Democratic unity, the top three finishers in the Democratic gubernatorial primary are pledging to campaign together against Republican candidate Brian Dubie while town clerks across Vermont recount 70,000-plus ballots.

Peter Shumlin, Doug Racine and Deb Markowitz sent a joint email to their supporters on Sunday saying that Shumlin, who finished 197 votes ahead of Racine in the official tally, should campaign and fundraise as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

On Friday, Racine announced he would seek a recount, noting the margin of victory was "less than one vote per town in Vermont." Racine admitted the odds are against him, but said he owes it to his supporters, and to all Vermonters, to be sure the result is correct.

Meanwhile, Shumlin, Racine and Markowitz have pledged to campaign together until the recount settles who won the super-close election. Secretary of State Deb Markowitz said Monday the recount won't begin until this Friday, or next Tuesday, at the earliest, and could take until September 16 to complete.

Continue reading "Shumlin, Racine and Markowitz Pledge to Work Together During Recount" »

August 27, 2010

VIDEO: Racine Asks for a Recount; Re-Tally Should Take One Week

With only 197 votes separating him from victory, Doug Racine asked for a statewide recount today to determine who won Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Standing outside Town Hall in his hometown of Richmond, just hours after official tallies were released, Racine told reporters that the razor-thin margin of victory tipped the scales toward a recount for him. He said he owes it to his supporters and to all Vermonters to be sure the 74,634 Democratic ballots cast were counted accurately.

The official tally puts Racine 197 votes behind Peter Shumlin, who all but declared victory Wednesday after unofficial tallies put him 190 votes ahead.

"This is about making sure that all Vermonters know their votes were properly counted and that the outcome is the right outcome," Racine said. "It's on that basis — the closeness — that this race should be recounted. It's less than one vote per town in the state of Vermont."

Continue reading "VIDEO: Racine Asks for a Recount; Re-Tally Should Take One Week" »

Official Tally: Shumlin Beats Racine by 197 Votes

DSC07225 ***UPDATE: At a press conference this afternoon at the Richmond Town Hall, gubernatorial hopeful Doug Racine asked for a recount of the recent close election. Peter Shumlin bested Racine by just 197 votes, according to the latest tally. That is fewer than 1 vote per town, Racine pointed out, suggesting there could be at least that much error in the counts. Racine said he thought a recount could be completed within a week.***

The official results are in — and it's Peter Shumlin by a nose!

The Secretary of State's office released the tally by email at 1:55 p.m. Here's how it breaks down.

Peter Shumlin  18,276 (24.4%)

Doug Racine  18,079 (24.2%)

Deb Markowitz  17,580 (23.5%)

Matt Dunne  15,323 (20.5%)

Susan  Bartlett  3759 (5%)

The results put both Racine and Markowitz well within the 2% range for requesting a recount, though neither candidate has yet issued statements on their plans.

Racine is reportedly planning a 3:30 p.m. news conference to announce his plans. Racine had said he wanted to wait for official results because he'd found some errors in tallies reported by news outlets on election night. The official result seems to more or less agree with the Associated Press counts.

Dunne conceded he lost the race on Wednesday when unofficial results showed him trailing by more than 1000 votes.

The official results won't be certified, essentially a formality, until Tuesday morning.

Fringe Friday: Dennis Steele

DSC07304 For week three of "Fringe Friday," we feature independent candidate for governor Dennis Steele, a burly web-preneur from the Northeast Kingdom who says Vermont must secede from the United States — or else.

Fringe Friday is Seven Days' weekly web series about the independent and minor party candidates running for governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate — many of whom are pitching more radical ideas for bettering the lives of average Vermonters.

While "fringe" might seem disparaging, we don't mean it that way. Vermont has a strong tradition of putting independent and third-party candidates on the ballot, giving voters the option to choose from a wide menu of ideologies. Still, these candidates rarely garner more than 1 percent of the vote, perhaps due to their less traditional ideas, or poor organization or even lack of media exposure. As such, they remain on the fringes of the state's political system.

Continue reading "Fringe Friday: Dennis Steele" »

Racine: "There is Still Hope for a Victory!"

DSC07084 Doug Racine trails Peter Shumlin by almost 200 votes in the unofficial tallies, but he hasn't given up hope that the official vote count will crown him the winner of the closest gubernatorial primary in recent memory.

State elections officials are tallying vote totals from Vermont's 246 towns as we speak and expect to finish as soon as later today.

This morning, Racine sent out a email to his supporters with the subject line "Thank You" asserting that he isn't out of it yet.

The email:

Continue reading "Racine: "There is Still Hope for a Victory!"" »

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