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February 28, 2012

Alice Eats: American Flatbread Burlington Hearth

IMG_3596115 St. Paul Street, Burlington, 861-2999

This week, I continue my mini-series of Burlington artisan pizza surprises.

If you live practically anywhere in Vermont, you know and love American Flatbread for its chewy, almost pretzel-like crust and fresh, local ingredients. But what you may not know is that the St. Paul Street restaurant serves a kick-ass brunch — all on a pizza.

Before I could dig into my pie, I had to find a morning replacement for a mug of Zero Gravity. And did I ever. In fact, I have a new favorite soda.

IMG_3598Readers, meet China Cola. My server described it as tasting like herbaceous Coke, but that did it no justice. Known as "Future Cola" in China, this elegant tipple is distributed in the U.S. by the folks at Reed's, Inc., the company behind the spicy ginger beer also served at Flatbread.

Though there are some vaguely cola-like notes, China Cola tastes more like a sachet of potpourri, minus that pesky dryness. Top ingredients include Szechuan peony root, cassia bark, Malaysian vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, licorice and cardamom. The complexity makes each sip a unique experience, delicious in a way that may never be repeated. Imagine a floral, herbaceous Everlasting Gobstopper and you've got the idea. And, yes, it goes just fine with pizza.

IMG_3600But first, I had to nourish myself with last Sunday's special salad.  I eschewed the classic "Evolution Salad," with its Asian flavors of seaweed and ginger, for a good ol' Vermont-style beet salad.

As always, eating seasonally had its benefits. The beets were juicy and flavorful, although I wouldn't have minded a little more seasoning.

A light balsamic vinaigrette was an apt dressing for the good-quality greens, but the star of the dish was unquestionably the fluffy, tangy local goat cheese. Go, Vermont!

IMG_3602Finally, it was time for the main event. The eggs Benedict pizza was every bit as sexy as it looks. The large size was indeed very large, but you will want to eat the whole blasted thing yourself. Let me explain why:

First, there's the Salumeria Biellese capicola. The New York salumiere may not be local, but the cured meat tastes rustic enough to have been made in a Vermont barn. It's salty and slightly tangy with a very light hint of musk at the finish.

Over-medium Vermont eggs melt with the gooey, saline mozzarella. The chef slices the pizza immediately before serving it, releasing the runny  yolks. They combine with a creamy and addictively puckery Hollandaise. Tomatoes and a sprinkling of fresh parsley, oregano and marjoram lend the pizza a hint of fresh flavor amid the orgy of delicious salt and fat.

This is one of the best eggs Benedicts you'll eat in Vermont, and one of the best pizzas. You will need a nap after lunch, but it will be worth it, for you will have tasted greatness. And that's worth a lazy Sunday.

 Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to [email protected].

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