Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

« September 2010 | Main | November 2010 »

October 2010

October 27, 2010

Judge Orders State to Release Auditor Tom Salmon's DUI Video

* updated below *

In a five-page ruling issued late this afternoon, Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford ordered the state Department of Public Safety to release the roadside video of Auditor Tom Salmon's DUI traffic stop.

The state has until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to release the video to Burlington attorney John Franco. The state's attorneys could not be reached for comment about the ruling, or whether they will ask to stay the judge's order.

Franco, a supporter of Salmon's general election challenger Doug Hoffer, a Democrat-Progressive, ordered the DUI video from the DPS website back in early September. Initially the request was granted, and his credit card was charged $45 for a copy. Then Franco received word that his request had been denied by DPS Commissioner Tom Tremblay.

Franco appealed the ruling, was denied again — and then sued the state. First in federal court and then in state court.

Continue reading "Judge Orders State to Release Auditor Tom Salmon's DUI Video" »

Seven Days' Halloween/Election Cover

Cover-102710  Yes, those are gubernatorial candidates Brian Dubie and Peter Shumlin on the cover of this week's issue of Seven Days. Designer Diane Sullivan explains the cover concept:

This issue came out right before Halloween and the election, so we wanted to do a cover that combined both things. The same thing happened in 2008 with the presidential election. That year, I had an illustrator draw McCain and Obama at the door trick-or-treating with ballots in their treat buckets. I kinda wanted to give a nod to the McCain/Obama cover without it being too similar, so I got the same person, Kym Balthazar, to do this one. 

I was at my desk pondering (out loud, as usual) about the cover. I said something about having them both be Lady Gaga and Don [Eggert, Seven Days' creative director] told me that Lady Gaga and the cast from Jersey Shore were the two most popular Halloween costumes this year. For some reason, Dubie was the obvious GaGa. I was going to have Shumlin be "The Situation" guy, but then I thought they both should be dressed like ladies... and Snooki is pretty fabulous with that hair. 

Bingo, bango... a cover was born.


Independent Emily Peyton Withdraws from Governor's Race, Backs Shumlin

Emily Peyton Another independent candidate has dropped out of the super-competitive governor's race and endorsed Democrat Peter Shumlin.

Emily Peyton, a 51-year-old activist from Putney, told Seven Days today she is withdrawing effective immediately. She is the second candidate in as many days to back out of the race: Yesterday, Liberty Union Party candidate Ben Mitchell threw in the towel, saying he didn't want his votes to tip the election to Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who Mitchell calls "a far right ideologue."

Three other independent candidates — Dennis Steele of Kirby, Dan Feliciano of Essex Junction, and Cris Ericson of Chester — have all said they're staying in the race.

The departure of Peyton and Mitchell would seemingly help Shumlin as he battles Dubie for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Gov. Jim Douglas. A VPR opinion poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. earlier this month, showed Dubie getting 44 percent and Shumlin with 43 percent. Each of the five independent candidates were polling at 1 percent.

Continue reading "Independent Emily Peyton Withdraws from Governor's Race, Backs Shumlin" »

Agriculture Agency Denies Management Plan for Elk Farm

250-LM-moose21 The Vermont Agency of Agriculture has rejected plans to manage wildlife on a 700-acre Irasburg game preserve owned by Doug Nelson, whose herd of elk became famous this year when it was joined by a moose — Pete the Moose.

The agency said Nelson's 20-page proposal offered few details about how he planned to ensure that his captive animials would not mix with the native species. The proposal also failed to show how Nelson planned to accurately catalogue all of the animals currently penned inside his 700-acre Irasburg preserve, and it provided the agency with no plans for how it would manage the herds going forward.

In a separate letter to Nelson the agency did approve elements of his fencing plan, which includes adding a second perimeter fence around his game preserve as a way to keep native species out and nonnative species in. However, the agency asked him to add one electrified wire at 54 inches from the ground. Nelson has proposed only going as high as 42 inches.

The rejection is the latest in a nearly one-year saga that started when a national public relations campaign was launched to "Save Pete the Moose" from being killed by state officials. Nelson has been flaunting state authority for years, and the state was trying to force Nelson to find better ways to keep wild and captive species from mixing. Their fear? Chronic wasting disease, a brain disease that affects cervids in a similar way to how "mad cow disease" affects bovines.

Part of that plan included a culling effort to thin out the herds through controlled hunts.

The public outcry eventually led to a last-minute, secretive legislative deal that ensured that Nelson could ensnare, and eventually kill, all wild animals found on his property. Nelson also owns a private stock of breeding elk in Derby.

In short, Pete may have been "saved", but Nelson also got to keep all of Pete's friends to hunt at a later date. That outraged many hunters and wildlife advocates who believe the move violated the stae's public trust doctrine. How? By handing over a public asset— the wildlife — to a private individual to later for profit.

Continue reading "Agriculture Agency Denies Management Plan for Elk Farm" »

October 26, 2010

Video: Spooky Breakfast

Sitting in a room with a fog machine, a passel of twentysomethings in costumes and eating a breakfast of Halloween candy is not usually on my Saturday morning to-do list. I made an exception last Saturday, when Burlington's Spooky Society invited me to its "200th annual" Spookfast. Watch the video to see what I thought of the club's carefully prepared "zombie toes," "brains" and "spooky seeds."

Socialist Ben Mitchell Drops Out of Governor's Race, Endorses Shumlin

Ben MItchell Liberty Union Party candidate Ben Mitchell has withdrawn from the super-close governor's race and thrown his support to Democrat Peter Shumlin.

In an email sent to the media this morning, Mitchell calls Republican Brian Dubie a "far right ideologue" because he is pro-life, opposes same-sex marriage and "supports shutting down schools and libraries in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest one percent."

As for Shumlin, Mitchell writes, "Peter is not a socialist by any account, but his support for single payer health care reform, his effort to move public resources away from incarceration and back into the community, his unquestioned support for equal protection for all our citizens — these positions make Peter Shumlin best candidate for Governor in 2010.

"I encourage all Vermonters to join me in this support," he concludes.

Mitchell is a 43-year-old English teacher from Westminster and father of two. His father, Mark Mitchell, is a Democratic state representative from Barnard who endorsed Shumlin for governor.

Mitchell did not run an active campaign. In a profile for Seven Days, he described himself as "sitting around for office." However, he did join Shumlin, Dubie and three other gubernatorial candidates onstage for the Vermont Public Television debate on Oct. 7. Wearing a baseball hat, Mitchell's "show of hands" routine produced some of the best, but least talked-about, theaterics of the campaign.

Continue reading "Socialist Ben Mitchell Drops Out of Governor's Race, Endorses Shumlin" »

Alice Eats: The Tavern at the Essex

70 Essex Way, Essex, 802-764-1413

Since moving to Vermont 12 years ago, when I talked about heading to brunch I always followed up with the words "at the inn." The opulent buffet — complete with ice sculptures, charcuterie and made-to-order omelettes and waffles — reminded me of Sundays back in Greenwich, Connecticut.

When the New England Culinary Institute divorced from The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa last year, the buffet slowly dwindled to just a couple of tables, filled with fresh fruit and steam trays. Last month, my beloved Carbonara buffet went the way of the dodo in favor of an à la carte brunch menu. After giving myself some time to grieve, I gave the new regime a try last Sunday.

A single page of somewhat pricey brunch items was tucked inside the breakfast menu. The reasons for the higher than average charges were quickly obvious — $16 for a Benedict doesn't sound so bad when there’s lobster involved.

The first fun surprise was the "Wake-Up” drink of the day: A glass filled with fluorescent green honeydew-fennel juice. The sweet melon got a rich, earthy undertone from the fennel, but remained the delicious top note. The standard offerings of coffee and orange juice (literally) paled in comparison.

I don't usually associate pasta with brunch, but the "Deconstructed Carbonara" (right) made me rethink my position. The widest pappardelle I've ever seen was cooked to chewy perfection. It was swathed in sauce made from Twig Farm tomme, a darkly sharp raw milk goat cheese. Thick, crispy chunks of local bacon and slices of fresh scallion were scattered throughout. The yolks from a pair of poached eggs seeped into the sauce, "reconstructing" it as I broke into each one.

Waffle Better still was the chicken and waffles (right). I was expecting legs and wings on the bone, but was pleasantly surprised to find a single gigantic boneless breast. The meat was pounded to an even thickness, which allowed it to remain extraordinarily juicy and flavorful. The light breading had southern-style spicing that would make the Colonel proud.

The breast was covered in thick yellow gravy that turned out to be heavily flavored with mustard. The mini waffles on the side resembled the ones I'd enjoyed over the years at the Essex — lightly sweet, with an airy center and crispy crust. I had to ask for maple syrup to dress my waffles — mustardy gravy didn't cut it. I would not have objected to some fruit or a small salad on the plate to give it a little color... and nutritional value.

I certainly didn't get my vitamins from dessert. Not that I minded. The molten chocolate “s'more” used a chocolate lava cake as its base. Below the cake (and on the side of it) were pancake-y rounds of homemade graham cracker. A healthy-sized blob of marshmallow was stuck to one side of the cake, bruléed to perfection. The balance was not quite right for something advertised as a s'more, but it was a buttery, chocolaty delight.

Based on the length of the nap I needed after brunch, though, next time I may skip dessert.






October 24, 2010

VTIFF Report: 'I Killed My Mother'

Killed-my-mother I saw this movie Saturday night at the Vermont International Film Festival. Producer Carole Mondello came down from Montréal to talk to us, but only a handful of people showed up. Maybe the movie's title spooked them.

Shouldn't have. While you may be expecting a heavy metal song or a '60s pulp exploitation flick, J'ai tué ma mère has a completely different tone. SPOILER AHEAD: The film's teenage hero, Hubert Minel (played by writer-director Xavier Dolan, pictured) doesn't murder his mère, except metaphorically.

Given a school assignment to interview his parents about their careers, Hubert tells the teacher he never sees his dad (which is true) and his mom is deceased (which isn't). When Mom finds out, she shows up at school in a leopard-print coat with some choice words for him. Like many scenes in the movie, this leads to a confrontation that's painful, but also funny.

I Killed My Mother was made two hours away in Montréal, but it hasn't played in Vermont theaters, and as far as I can tell, it's not available on DVD in the U.S. It hasn't been reviewed much, either. I found out about it from festival coverage at the Onion AV Club, where one critic said, "the film makes you feel optimistic about the next generation."

Continue reading "VTIFF Report: 'I Killed My Mother'" »

October 22, 2010

New Political Ads Are All About "Choice"

McKenzie * updated *

Two days after Republican Brian Dubie dismissed women's reproductive rights as an important issue in the race for governor, the Republican Governors Association launched an ad featuring pro-choice women who support the lieutenant governor.

You can watch the RGA ad here.

The ad comes after Democrat Peter Shumlin and his allies — including  Planned Parenthood of Northern New England's Action Fund — have taken to the airwaves to assail Dubie's anti-abortion and social conservative views.

Though a recent Vermont Public Radio poll found that only 1 percent of voters ranked the issue of much importance to them when compared to the economy, the state budget and the enviornment, the issue has struck a major chord with women.

This Sunday, a pro-Shumlin, pro-choice rally will be held on Church Street in Burlington. At the same time, the Dubie campaign is having a pro-Dubie, pro-jobs rally at Battery Park.

Continue reading "New Political Ads Are All About "Choice"" »

October 21, 2010

Gingko Redux: Barfberry as Delicacy

IMG_3808 File under: Not everything that smells like a overflowing Dumpster in mid-August tastes like an overflowing Dumpster in mid-August.

Earlier this week, I received an email here at 7DHQ from a fellow named Rob who recently moved to the area. He wanted to thank me for a blog post I wrote last year about Gingko trees and their fruit, which I refer to as "barfberries" for their puke-like stink. Apparently, Gingko berries, or more specifically the nut contained inside, are a delicacy in Asia and our good friend Rob is quite the connoisseur. 

Rob writes that when he moves to a new place, he always searches out articles slamming the female Gingkos for their stankness. Those stories typically lead him to the source of the best nuts — in this case, North Winooski Avenue in Burlington. 

Continue reading "Gingko Redux: Barfberry as Delicacy" »

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684