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September 11, 2012

Alice Eats: The Mill Market & Deli

IMG_45981580 Dorset Street, South Burlington, 862-4602

It's apple season. While those with an interest in being outdoors go apple picking, I found a more passive way to enjoy the season's quarry. Right in South Burlington, the Mill Market & Deli has plenty of dishes that showcase the same local fruit the cider mill uses in its Chittenden's Sweet Apple Cider.

In early September, the Mill straddles the seasons. On my recent visit, locals were still hitting the creemee window, though the chocolate and (fresh berry) black raspberry machine was broken, leaving just vanilla and maple.

But I was there to pick up a meal. The counter girl told me they were out of sandwich menus, and the options aren't written on a chalkboard, so I had to go from my memory of the website. This lapse was representative of a general disorganization I encountered at the market. I was asked to repeat my order three times and even then, they still didn't make it exactly to my specifications. The employee helping me wasn't sure of the items' prices or even where the store might have napkins.

IMG_4597That said, it's a great little market, full of quirky specialty foods, from Island Ice Cream to local meats and snacks. I grabbed a bottle of green-apple Jones soda and a bag of sweet and lightly salted Danielle pumpkin chips to make a fall cornucopia of snack food flavors.

It was a pretty ideal match for the Cider Mill sandwich. Composed of Boar's Head maple-glazed honey ham, green apples, baby spinach and red onion on grilled wheat bread, the sandwich was a roundup of crisp, sweet early fall flavors.

But what really defined it was its condiments: apple butter and honey mustard. The two combined for a symphony of sugary, spicy and fruity tastes. A layer of cheddar calmed the aggressive flavors with a blanket of creaminess.

IMG_4599It was a well-thought-out sandwich. But the Thanksgiving Feast pizza was truly inspired. Like a teenager with a mohawk, uncommon pizza toppings all too often exist just for the sake of doing something different.

Not the case with this pie, which seemed as if it had always been waiting in some culinary heaven, and had only now sent its avatar down to us.

The homemade crust was thin and crisp, and the Thanksgiving Feast was host to two homemade sauces, a garlicky white sauce and a tangy cranberry one.

Mixed on the crust, they combined into a slightly creamy, slightly sweet concoction that played a surprisingly similar role to tomato sauce. Set in a layer of chewy mozzarella, thinly sliced turkey, spinach and onions showered with Parmesan added even more Thanksgiving flavor. I might have liked some chunks of butternut squash to add another dimension; my boyfriend proposed sage stuffing. But even unchanged, this is a $15.50, 16-inch pie we will certainly order again.

IMG_4601We finished lunch with a pair of homemade cider doughnuts so light that they'd gotten away from us several times in the strong winds at the Mill's picnic tables.

But once I bit in, I found the desserts to be more cakey than I had expected from their aerial acrobatics.

Though not as airy as I might have hoped, the flavor was excellent. A hint of apple imbued the cake. A crust of sugar and spicy cinnamon covered it with just the autumnal tastes I was hoping for.

It seems I discovered the Mill just in time to bring in the cool weather. Surely as the leaves turn and fall, I'll be enjoying another Thanksgiving Feast.

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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