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May 2012

May 15, 2012

Alice Eats: Cheese Outlet/Fresh Market

IMG_4092400 Pine Street, Burlington, 863-3968

For as long as I've worked at Seven Days, I've known the nearby Cheese Outlet/Fresh Market for one thing. It's the site of the best cookies on Earth. I'm not exaggerating.

Ideally balanced between chewy and crunchy, with nary a hint of cakiness, some bizarre alchemy ensures that the chocolate chips remain slightly melty long after the cookie has cooled. The desserts are also sizable enough that I can usually only eat a third at a time. Unless, that is, I get it right out of the oven. Then the slightly salty cookies simply prove too irresistible not to inhale all at once, my ensuing loginess be damned.

IMG_4099Given my over-the-top devotion, it's strange that I'd never gotten lunch at the spot that's just a few minute's walk from my desk.

The prepared-food case offers a glut of options, but luckily Seven Days calendar editor Carolyn Fox was there to help me choose. We brought a veritable buffet back to the office at a  cost of $25 and change.

We started with still-hot macaroni and cheese. A crunchy, light, breadcrumb-covered crust yielded to a creamy, mild cheese sauce speckled with pepper. Even though I tend to prefer sharper cheeses, it was difficult to discern this from the one I make at home. And I didn't have to cook or clean up!

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Cheese Outlet/Fresh Market" »

State Archivist Gregory Sanford to Retire

Gregory SanfordGregory Sanford, the affable Vermont state archivist with the long gray beard, is retiring.

Sanford's boss, Secretary of State Jim Condos, spilled the beans on Saturday at a meeting of the Democratic State Committee and Sanford confirmed Monday that his last day on the job will be August 1.

First hired as the "editor of state papers" in 1982, Sanford became Vermont's first official state archivist and spent a 30-year career modernizing the way the state preserves and manages its official records. He oversaw the opening last year of a new state archives building in Middlesex; under legislation passed this year, the building will be named in Sanford's honor.

A frequent witness at legislative hearings, Sanford earned a reputation as a strong voice for improving public accesss to government records and was recognized for the work in 2011 with a Vermont Press Association First Amendment Award.

Sanford, 65, says he is retiring "largely for personal reasons." Sanford's partner, Ondis Eardensohn, is battling stage-four breast cancer. She was the subject of a 2011 Seven Days story about how a nationwide drug shortage is affecting critically ill patients in Vermont and elsewhere.

Sanford's successor as state archivist will be his longtime deputy, Tanya Marshall, who is presently in charge of the record analyst unit.

"It's hard. I love what I do. I've still got a gazillion ideas," Sanford says of retirement. "But every once in a while you have to have enough self awareness to say, 'Maybe it's time to hand it off to people who can take it up to another level.'"

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May 11, 2012

Grazing: Raspberry-Rhubarb Mojito, aka Drinking the Garden

RhubarbBehind my house is a rhubarb patch in its prime, with floppy deep-green leaves and stalks the color of bubblegum. I'm not much of a baker, so rhubarb crisps and crumbles and clafoutis won't appear in my kitchen anytime soon. I am, however, an enthusiastic drinker, and rhubarb can lend a racy tang and vegetal pucker to cocktails, as well as a bouncy, rose-colored hue.

Adding bits of rhubarb stalk to your drink won't do much of anything — a rhubarb simple syrup is the key to liquifying its charms. Boiling sliced rhubarb with sugar and water for about 15 minutes renders a rosy-pink syrup that smells like lemon candy, as well as a mush of rhubarb pulp that's delicious spooned over vanilla ice cream or yogurt (yum).

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Burlington Couple Busted For Gardening Structures in Front Yard

DSC02504Burlington homeowners Michael Rooney and Susan Dorn built greenhouse-style hoop houses in their front yard two years ago to extend the growing season. Instead of harvesting salad greens in May or June, the couple now picks knee-high Swiss chard, kale and red mustard in early March.

"We want to control our own food as much as we can," says Rooney, who lives on South Willard Street near Champlain College. "Sustainable living. We live in Vermont. Grow your own food. All that stuff —– we believe in all of it."

But last month, the couple got a notice from the Burlington Code Enforcement Office that their gardening structures were a code violation and would have to come down to avoid penalties. The code office received an anonymous complaint anonymous complaints — three of them — about the homemade hoop houses.

Rooney says he was told that, under city zoning regulations, hoop houses qualify as "stable structures" and that the couple's raised garden beds qualify as "retaining walls" — both of which require permits from city hall. So does a two-foot-high metal fence that lines the garden to keep out hungry rabbits.

"This is ridiculous," Rooney says on a recent spring day.

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Movies You Missed 38: Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

Tim-ericThis week in movies you missed: A comedy Roger Ebert hated so much he pretty much just said, "Screw it" and stopped writing his review half way through.

What You Missed

Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are the creators/stars of the cult sketch-comedy show "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" (seen on the Cartoon Network from 2007 to 2010). In their feature film outing, they play themselves, and various famous guest stars who've appeared on their show turn up.

Billion Dollar Movie starts from a premise not dissimilar to the real-life case of Mac Parker — OK, that's pushing it. This premise could never have happened in reality anywhere.

A Hollywood-ized Tim and Eric (pictured) have been given the titular sum to make their first film. They produce a cinematic opus that suggests a 12-year-old boy's idea of Oscar bait, complete with Paris, faux poetry and Johnny Depp. It runs three minutes, and the star turns out to be a Depp impersonator. The rest of the billion was used to retain Tim and Eric's personal guru (too briefly played by a peevish Zach Galifianakis) to the tune of $10K per week.

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T.J. Donovan Launches Campaign for Attorney General (VIDEO)

Calling himself the "underdog," Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan formally launched his campaign to unseat 15-year incumbent Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell at the St. John's Club in Burlington on Thursday. Donovan and Sorrell — each from different clans with deep roots in Queen City politics — will square off this August in a Democratic primary that has become the race to watch this election year.

Here's video of Donovan's stump speech before a capacity crowd at the St. John's Club. Part 2 is after the jump.


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Rutland Treasurer to Challenge Pearce for Vermont's Top Money Job


Updated below with new comments from Progressive candidate Don Schramm

One of the more interesting and unpredictable races shaping up this campaign season is over who will control the state’s cash.
On Monday, Rutland city treasurer and former state senator Wendy Wilton will formally announce her long-rumored campaign for state treasurer, pitting her against a relatively unknown and electorally inexperienced incumbent, State Treasurer Beth Pearce. Wilton is a Republican and Pearce a Democrat.

“I think the state will have the choice between two qualified people. It’s a matter of whose vision they like the best,” Wilton said Thursday afternoon.

Wilton, an outspoken opponent of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposed single-payer health care system, has served as city treasurer since March 2007. She was elected to one term as a Rutland County state senator in 2004, but lost a re-election bid in 2006 when she finished fourth for the three-seat district.

Wilton says that in the five years she has served as city treasurer, she has turned around Rutland’s financial management practices, resulting in the city’s first clean audit opinion in 32 years.

“When I took office here, nobody wanted this job,” she says. “It’s a pretty sad history. The city’s financial operation was in complete shambles.”

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May 10, 2012

Side Dishes: Hot Dog Lady's Last Hurrah & German Gospel Brunch

Hot+Dog+LadyThought you'd had your last frank from Church Street's famous Hot Dog Lady? Not if you can make it to Burlington's Starr Farm Nursing Center tomorrow between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thanks to donated hot dogs from McKenzie, Lois Bodoky will serve up her last dogs in Vermont before moving to California next week.

The blue-eyeshadowed, bouffanted glamour girl retired her cart in 2005, but she wanted to serve one of her classic meals to benefit her old stomping grounds, the Church Street Marketplace. Each $3 lunch will include a hotdog, drink, chips and a cookie.

The plaque pictured here is located on Church Street near Homeport.


Looking for another quirky meal this weekend? Nutty Steph's Granola & Chocolate Factory and Red Hen Bakery & Café, which share the building at 961 Route 2 in Middlesex, are partnering on a brunch concept new to Vermont. The Camp Meade Gospel Brunch is Nutty Steph's owner Jaquelyn Rieke's solution to the demand for another eating and drinking event at her store. Bacon Thursdays have proved so popular, she says, she's had no choice but to expand. She kicks it off just in time for Mother's Day.

Gospel brunch brings together two of Rieke's passions: Old school gospel music from artists such as Otis Redding and Al Green (played on tape decks, of course), and German-style brunch, which Rieke labels "the perfect spread."

The $10 brunch consists of cheese, fruit, plenty of condiments, loaves of fresh, crusty Red Hen bread and meats including smoked salmon, ham, roast beef and prosciutto, set on buffet tables on both sides of the building. Fine pastry and espresso will also be available on the Red Hen side, while Nutty Steph's side and the outdoor patio will serve a range of mimosas with fresh slices of organic citrus fruit.

This Sunday is the kickoff, but look for Gospel Brunch to be a permanent part of the Nutty Steph's and Red Hen schedules.

Vermont Gets Its First State Craft Education Center

IMG_0276The big, red, Fairfax barn that houses Vermont Woodworking School was abuzz yesterday celebrating its new designation as Vermont's first State Craft Education Center.

VWS joins the ranks of the state's other official craft centers, Frog Hollow in Burlington, Artisans Hand in Montpelier and Gallery at the Vault in Springfield.

The designation is largely symbolic; it doesn't secure the organizations any extra funding or perks (besides a flashy decal to place in the window and a listing on the state's website). But the nod lends a dose of prestige to the school, which is still relatively new.

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Brock Solicited Money From Lobbyists During Session, Campaign Staffer Calls Mailing "Mistake"

Brock BearRepublican candidate for governor Randy Brock solicited campaign money from numerous registered lobbyists while the legislature was still in session, Seven Days has learned, in apparent violation of campaign-finance law.

Three different registered lobbyists provided Seven Days with copies of a two-page fundraising solicitation dated April 18 that was addressed and mailed to their offices in Montpelier. One lobbyist also shared two emails the Brock campaign sent to his work email address during the session containing news on the campaign and links to the "donate" page on the Brock for Governor website.

"I'm working hard to raise $5000 a day to fully fund my campaign budget and make sure we have the resources for TV and radio advertising, web ads, voter contact mail, and yard signs," Brock's letter reads. "But I cannot do it without your help. ...Can I count on you to make a contribution to my campaign of $100, $250, $500, $1000 or $2000 today?"

Brock, a former state auditor, is vacating his Franklin County state Senate seat to take on first-term Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in November.

Vermont law bans political candidates from soliciting money from registered lobbyists or lobbyist employers while the legislature is in session. Lawmakers adjourned on May 5 but may come back into session anytime before May 22 to deal with vetoed legislation.

Darcie Johnston, Brock's senior adviser and fundraising consultant, said the campaign tried to purge its mailing list of registered lobbyists and said that if some were left in, "it was a mistake."

"If it arrived at lobbyist offices, that was a mistake," Johnston said. "We tried very hard to make sure they were out. The disclaimer was there."

Brock's April 18 letter contained a disclaimer at the bottom that read: "This letter is not intended for any lobbyist or lobbyist employer registered with the State of Vermont. If you are a lobbyist or lobbyist employer registered with the State of Vermont, please notify the sender that it was improperly delivered and return the original document to 97 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05602."

That disclaimer is almost identical to one the Shumlin campaign added to its emails last year after coming under fire for soliciting lobbyists during the session (which former Seven Days political columnist Shay Totten cleverly dubbed the "burn eyeballs after reading" approach).


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