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September 2011

September 30, 2011

Grazing: Sushi & Beer in Waterbury

Stebu_sushiYes, this is a crappy iPhone photo, but see the beer in that glass? That's Hill Farmstead Amarillo single-hop ale. And the nigiri sushi in back? Those are curls of nairagi — or striped marlin  — and yellowtail, topped by dollops of roe.

Sushi as a bar snack is a brilliant stroke, and happily it's served within 10 minutes of my house — at Blackback Pub & Fly Shop, Rick Binet's subterranean pub on Waterbury's Main Street.

A ripple of concern passed through fans of Stebu Sushi when they saw that the tiny eatery was closed early this summer. Over the past year and a half, chef Stephen Shaefer had built up a fervent following for his imaginative rolls composed of raw fish shipped weekly from Hawaii — mahi-mahi, pumpkin swordfish, kaku (open-water barracuda) and barramundi, among others. Though one could order all of the standard bearers here — salmon, eel, avocado, carrot, etc. — what made Shaefer's sushi doubly creative were the unusual accouterments he wielded, morsels such as mango, shiitake mushrooms and pickled vegetable, or fukujin zuke.

Continue reading "Grazing: Sushi & Beer in Waterbury" »

Movies You Missed 6: Carlos

Carlos This week in movies you missed: terrorism, '70s style, in one of the most highly acclaimed films of last year.

Each week I review a brand-new DVD release picked for me by Seth Jarvis, buyer for Burlington's Waterfront Video, where you can obtain these fine films. (In central Vermont, try Downstairs Video.)

What You Missed

A five-and-a-half-hour globe-trotting action adventure movie without a hero. Director Olivier Assayas (also known for the more sedate Summer Hours) crafted this epic for French television. It chronicles the exploits of notorious left-wing militant Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, aka "Carlos the Jackal" (played by Edgar Ramirez), who terrorized Europe with bombings, murders and hostage takings in the '70s and '80s.

This is not a standard biopic. It doesn't start with Carlos' formative years (he was born in Venezuela and educated in the Soviet Union), and it takes a certain poetic license in depicting his career. A disclaimer notes that, because of "controversial gray areas" in Carlos' life, the film involves imagined scenes and dialogue and should be taken as fiction. This didn't stop the real Carlos, currently imprisoned, from bringing lawsuits against the filmmakers. Having failed to stop the film's release, his lawyer argued he should receive royalties.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed 6: Carlos" »

Gov. Peter Shumlin Snubs Entergy's Post-Irene Donations

Donation_jar Gov. Peter Shumlin recently thanked a host of private companies for their generous cash donations to state and local flood relief efforts, but there was one major omission: Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee.

The owner of the state's lone nuclear power plant has donated more than $130,000 to Windham County and Brattleboro relief efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

Pro-VY blogger Meredith Angwin first noted the oversight on her blog Yes Vermont Yankee.

Shumlin praised numerous "corporate angels" (see list below) during a glad-handing event at National Life in Montpelier last week — including several that donated far less than Entergy. The media, naturally, were invited, but not the gov's nuclear nemesis. We're assuming that ENVY stills resides on Shumlin's "corporate demons" list.

The $130,000 in donations makes Entergy one of the more generous corporate donors to private and public relief efforts, along with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (which donated $250,000) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont ($150,000). At the top of the list is Vermont Public Radio, which raised more than $625,000 in a single-day fund-raising drive.

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September 27, 2011

Sluts on Parade in Burlington (UPDATE with photos)

If you missed the inaugural SlutWalk Burlington last Saturday (we did because we don't like to get wet), here's what it looked like, courtesy of Fed Up Vermont, the organization that coordinated the march. No word on how many folks braved the rain to come out and rally for women's sexual rights (including the right to not be blamed for your own rape), but it looks like they had a good turnout despite the weather. Kudos, sluts! Keep on SlutWalking!

Did Burlington Miss Out on Its Share of a $650 Million Investment in Carbon War Room?

CovershotDid Burlington just miss out on a slice of $650 million in commercial investment? A recent New York Times story makes you wonder.

Lockheed Martin announced last week that it is partnering with Barclay's bank to help lead a $650 million investment to make commercial buildings more energy efficient in Miami and Sacramento. The investment is a result of Lockheed's role in the Carbon War Room, an international effort that brought Lockheed to Burlington in late 2010.

"It is the most ambitious effort yet to jump-start a national market for energy upgrades that many people believe could eventually be worth billions." crowed the New York Times.

The news of Lockheed's largesse comes just weeks after the weapons maker backed out of an agreement with the city of Burlington thanks, in part, to a lengthy and emotional debate over whether the progressive-minded Queen City should get into bed with one of the world's largest weapons makers.

Could Burlington have been right there alongside Sacramento and Miami in reaping some of this investment in helping to develop model energy efficient buildings?

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Alice Eats: The Village Cup

IMG_2784 30 Route 15, Jericho, 802-899-1730

There aren't many places to get brunch after 2 p.m. There are even fewer once you eliminate diners that serve breakfast all day, every day. Driving through Jericho this weekend, I hit the motherlode for late-rising, brunch-craving folks like myself. Especially if those brunch-craving folks want a hearty baked good at the end of the meal.

For a first-timer, the brunch procedure at the Village Cup is a little confusing. There's table service at dinner, so I stood around inordinately long before realizing I was supposed to order at the counter. A server brought the food to my table when it was ready.

IMG_2781 The single-page menu, which changes each weekend, offers plenty of tempting choices. The French toast stuffed with blueberry-and-honey cream cheese, and the Benedict with smoked salmon, lobster mushrooms, and kale sounded good, but I chose the old-timey "eggs in a frame."

This version, topped with tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella was a far cry from the Wonderbread recipe I've seen in 1950s cookbooks. Thick slabs of baguette held seemingly cantilevered eggs in a hollowed-out nest. 

While the dish was visually stunning, not to mention an impressive feat of engineering, it also necessitated I do something I have almost never done at a restaurant — add salt. Even the mozzarella tasted under seasoned. Once I added a pinch, though, the sweet tomatoes, almost entirely absent of acid, really sang with the basil and egg yolks, which burst into their own sauce.

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Farmer Dinner Raises Some Bucks for Intervale Farmers

IMG_6248 I know what you're thinking: if I hear one more thing about an Irene benefit, I'm going to flip. And it's true, there has been a deluge of benefit dinners, concerts and lemonade stands since Irene, um, deluged our brave little state. But stick with me here. Andrea Todd's dinners to benefit flooded Intervale farmers are worth spilling a little ink over.

Todd, 34, is a jill of all trades. She is a self-employed private tutor and landscape designer. She's also a damn fine cook. For the past eight years, she's been hosting weekly dinners at her home during Vermont's short growing season. These dinners, called Café 51 after her house number, began as a way for Todd to use her farm share instead of having to dump half of it in the compost because she forgot about the turnips or arugula sitting in the back of her fridge.

At first, Café 51 was just a dinner party for friends. Then it was friends of friends. Last year it got to be so big, Todd began asking for donations to defray the extra cost of the meals. Todd, who studied studio art in college, says the dinners are a way for her to channel her creativity.

After Irene hit and laid waste to many of Todd's farmer friends' fields, she felt she needed to do something. "It was like, what can I do?" she says. "It just sort of clicked — I can host dinner parties to highlight the food." And so she has. 

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September 26, 2011

Love It or Not, Panera Bread Has Arrived

Photo In a city where eating local is close to a religion, the opening of Vermont's first Panera bakery-café this morning — smack in the midst of Church Street — probably evoked something close to a collective groan.

At least, you might like to think so. By 11 a.m., though, dozens of people had already made their way across an outdoor patio festooned with balloons, past a clutch of managers and a flickering gas fireplace, to form a line at the bakery counter. Judging from the casual certainty with which some ordered their choices — a cinnamon-crumb coffee cake, for instance, or a spaceship-shaped pumpkin "muffie" — many Burlingtonians are pretty familiar with the chain already. They may know it either from traveling or from having lived in some other American exurb where Panera is a popular — and sometimes the only — place to fortify oneself with "quick-casual" fare while feeding off free Wi-Fi.

In the Upper Valley, for instance, practically every coffee shop (including those in Hanover, N.H., the most uncollegiate of college towns) closes by 6 p.m, rendering Panera the only place to nurse coffee and your computer after dusk. It's always bustling.

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At Montpelier Rally, Shumlin Voices Support For Climate Change Protesters Jailed at White House

Spa star rally The 1000-plus people who biked, hiked and bused to Montpelier for a climate change rally on Saturday may have been asking one another afterward, “So, did the planet move?”

It might well have, but Vermont’s mainstream media wasn’t on hand to report on it. By ignoring this spirited gathering on the Statehouse lawn — one of more than 2000 worldwide "Moving Planet Day" events organized by a coalition of groups including, Oxfam, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace — the daily papers, wire services, and radio and television outlets missed at least two important stories:

• Vermonters are accelerating the momentum on climate change issues that got going in August when Middlebury’s Bill McKibben led a series of civil-disobedience sit-ins at the White House gates.

• Peter Shumlin gave a tub-thumper of a speech that surely qualifies him as the most radical of the 50 governors on environmental and clean-energy concern.

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September 24, 2011

Movies You Missed 5: The Kennedys

Kennedys This week in new DVDs: Katie Holmes impersonates Jackie Kennedy. A nation doesn't bother to weep.

Each week I review a brand-new DVD release picked for me by Seth Jarvis, buyer for Burlington's Waterfront Video, where you can obtain these fine films. (In central Vermont, try Downstairs Video.) And this week, with Netflix apparently poised to transform its streaming service into the new Blockbuster, distancing itself from customers who like to watch the broader selection only available on disc, may be a good time to appreciate your local video stores.

What You Missed:

Last Sunday was the Emmy awards. The "Breaking Bad" episode that followed obliterated my memory of every single thing that happened during that ceremony, save one: Controversial miniseries "The Kennedys" received a bunch of nominations. Barry Pepper, who played Bobby Kennedy, took home Outstanding Lead Actor.

This was kind of a surprise, since up till now "The Kennedys" has mainly been known for the controversy that got it kicked off its original network, the History Channel. A board of historians had pointed to factual inaccuracies in the screenplay for the eight-episode dramatization of the JFK presidency, produced by "24" creator Joel Surnow. Result: The History Channel, which we all know is scrupulously dedicated to historical accuracy, pulled the plug.

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