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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer


July 30, 2008

The Big Cheese (Awards)

Img_3477_2 Each summer, the American Cheese Society holds a conference and competition, and awards prizes to the, umm, crème de la crème of dairy products. This year, 1149 cheeses were entered by cheesemakers across the country (and a few from Canada, too).

All of the Green Mountain winners are listed below . . .

One prominent producer is missing from the winners’ roster: Willow Smart, of Milton’s Willow Hill Farm, decided not to enter her sheep’s milk cheeses and yogurt this year, after winning more than 30 ACS awards in the past. Why? Money. Entering involves shipping five to seven cheeses for judging, which Smart estimates would have cost around $500. That’s in addition to the $190 yearly ACS membership fee. “Our company is so small,” Smart says. “It really wasn’t an option.”

Mascarpone – Made from Cow’s Milk
: 3rd place. Vermont Butter & Cheese “Vermont Mascarpone”

Brie Cheese Made from Cow’s Milk: 3rd place. Blythedale Farm “Vermont Farmstead Brie”

Monterey Jack – Cow’s Milk: 2nd place. Cabot Creamery Cooperative “Cabot Monterey Jack Cheese.”

Monterey Jack with Flavors – Cow’s Milk: 1st place. Neighborly Farms of Vermont “Organic Jalapeno Jack. 2nd place. Cabot Creamery Cooperative “Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese.”

Open Category Made From Cow’s Milk: 2nd place. Consider Bardwell Farm “Pawlet.”

Mature Cheddars: 2nd place. Cabot Creamery Cooperative “Cabot 3-Year-Old Cheddar.”

Cheddars Wrapped in Cloth, Linen (Aged up to 12 months):
2nd place. Cabot Creamery Cooperative “Cabot Clothbound Cheddar Aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill.” 

Cheddars Wrapped in Cloth, Linen (Aged over 12 months): 3rd place. Cabot Creamery Cooperative “Cabot Extra Sharp Wheel.”

Feta Made From Goat’s Milk: 2nd place. Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. “Vermont Feta.”

Fat-Free and Low-Fat Cheeses: 1st place. Cabot Creamery Cooperative “Cabot 75% Reduced-Fat Cheddar.”

Light/Lite and Reduced-Fat Cheeses: 1st place. Franklin Foods, Inc. “Hahn’s Yogurt & Cream Cheese Heavenly Plain.”

Flavor Added: Spices, Herbs, Seasonings, Fruits – All Milks:
2nd place. Franklin Foods “Hahn’s Yogurt & Cream Cheese Blueberry Dream.” 2nd place. Franklin Foods “Hahn’s Yogurt & Cream Cheese Strawberry.”

Cheeses Flavored With Herbs, Fruits, Vegetables, Flowers, Syrups – All Milks:
2nd place. Franklin Foods “All Seasons Kitchen Salsa Cream Cheese Roasted Garlic.” 3rd place. Franklin Foods  “All Seasons Kitchen Salsa Cream Cheese.”

Smoked Cheddars:
1st place. Shelburne Farms. “Shelburne Farms Smoked Farmhouse Cheddar.”

Farmstead, Open Category Cow’s Milk Cheeses: 3rd place. Thistle Hill Farm “Tarentaise.”

Farmstead, Open Category Goat’s Milk Cheeses: 2nd place. Consider Bardwell Farm “Manchester.”

Farmstead, Open Category Sheep’s Milk and Mixed-Milk Cheeses:
2nd place. Bonnieview Farm “Ben Nevis.”

Fresh Goat Cheese – Hand Shaped, Formed or Molded into Pyramid, Disc, Drum, Crottin, Basket or other shape: 1st place. Vermont Butter & Cheese Company “Vermont Fresh Crottin.”

Marinated Cheeses, Open Category Made From Cow’s Milk: 3rd place. West River Creamery “West River Marinated Feta.”

Cultured Products Made From Cow’s Milk: 1st place. Franklin Foods “Hahn’s Yogurt & Cream Cheese.” 2nd place. Cabot CC “Cabot Cottage Cheese.” 3rd place. Franklin Foods “Hahn’s Neufchatel.”

Crème Fraiche Made from Cow’s Milk: Cabot Creamery Cooperative “Cabot Crème Fraiche.”

Salted Butter Made from Cow’s Milk with or without Cultures:
1st place. Vermont Butter & Cheese “Vermont Cultured Butter with Sea Salt.” 2nd place. “Cabot Salted Butter.”

Unsalted Butter Made from Cow’s Milk with or without Cultures:
1st place. Vermont Butter & Cheese “Vermont Cultured Butter, Unsalted.” 2nd place. Cabot Creamery Cooperative "Cabot 83 Unsalted Butter.” 3rd place. Cabot Creamery Cooperative “Cabot Unsalted Butter.”   

Washed Rind, Open Category Made with Cow’s Milk:
2nd place. Consider Bardwell Farm “Dorset.” 2nd place. Dancing Cow Farmstead Cheese “Bouree.”

February 23, 2008

Béquet Caramels

Awards Today, while shopping for lunch at the Fresh Market on Pine Street in Burlington, I discovered a brand of caramels I hadn't seen before. Called Béquet, the sweets are made in Montana and come in flavors such as maple, salt-chocolate, "soft" and "chewy."

I opted for a trio: chipotle, espresso and salt. All three were delightful: soft, buttery and sweet, with just the right amount of chile, coffee and salt. I highly recommend these to caramel fans.

If you wanna learn more about the company, check out this article.

* The photo is from the Béquet website

January 12, 2008

Neal Pollack: A Funny Food Blogger

I read a wide variety of food blogs each day thanks to Google Reader, and while I discover lots of amazing recipes and fun foodie facts, there are very few writers who make me laugh aloud. In fact, only one has done so in my recent memory: Neal Pollack of Epi Log, the blog on And he's done it twice in the past two days, so I thought it was about time to send you his way.

Here are links to the posts that made me crack up...

~ Excitable Boy
~ A Loveless Morning

December 01, 2007

Favorite Restaurant Dishes (thanks BFP)

Last week, the Burlington Free Press ran an article about their food writers' favorite restaurant dishes. Not "I love chicken pot pie" but "I love the chicken pot pie at Restaurant X."

I thought the piece was pretty interesting, although I disagree with Candace Page's claim regarding the primacy of restaurants' veggie dishes over those made with meat: "While a chef can certainly ruin a good pork chop, there's not much he or she can do take make it the Ultimate Memorable Pork Chop," Page suggests.

I have access to vegetables just as luscious and fresh as those used in restaurants (I buy 'em from the exact same farmers). Same goes for butter, cream, artisan cheese, etc. I even have a French mandoline for slicing potatoes and root veggies paper thin. Unless a vegetable dish is made with demi-glace, truffles or some other premium ingredient that I can't get my hands on, I usually feel that I could turn out something similar, given the time and the inclination.

But the best pieces of meat and seafood generally go to restaurants, and aren't always available to consumers. Thus, in a restaurant, those are the things I lust after, to the dismay of my vegetarian readers. Of course, this only applies at restaurants that bother to source the best ingredients...most places serve fairly run-of-the-mill meat. At The French Laundry, I ate several such dishes, one which included meat that had been braising for days. At Barbara Lynch's restaurants in Boston; B&G Oysters,  the Butcher Shop and No. 9 Park, I ate (respectively) baby scallops with miniature Brussels sprouts and pancetta in pear butter, house-cured salami and escolar sashimi that I'll never forget.

Despite this difference in opinion, though, I found that several of my favorite local restaurant dishes were the same as those listed by the BFP folks. Here's my list, in no particular order.

I've starred dishes that were also mentioned in the Free Press article. With the exception of a couple recent discoveries, I've eaten all of these dishes numerous times. I've included links to the restaurants' listings in our 7 Nights Guide to Restaurants and Bars so you can see what other people think.

~ Pho Dang: Beef Pho with brisket and rare beef (*)
~ American Flatbread: the signature salad and the Belgian-style beers (*)
~ Ground Round: Wood Creek Farm burger on Red Hen brioche with Shelburne Farms Cheddar (*)
~ Junior's Italian: pasta Bolognese and pasticciotti (my favorite Italian pastry)
~ Red Onion: the Red Onion sandwich. I can't seem to order anything else when I go there.
~ New World Tortilla: Thai chicken burrito, unwrapped.
~ L'Amante: Gnocchi with braised pork and cherries. I've only seen it on the menu once. It was sublime.
~ Green Room: Smoked trout quesadillas, anything Chef Pratt does with smoked duck or foie gras
~ Penny Cluse: chorizo and egg tacos, the tofu scram with peanut-ginger sauce, and the salad with lime-cilantro dressing.
~ Chef's Corner: smoked salmon eggs Benedict
~ Big Fatty's: smoked chicken (no bbq sauce required), brisket, collards and the unique baked beans
~ Dobra Tea: pita Dahab (with feta, olives, tomatoes and a sprinkle of cardamom), all of the tea
~ Asiana House: O'toro sashimi,  Kiss the Dragon roll, lots of other maki.
~ Sonoma Station: Blue Seal steak frites
~ Cheese Outlet/Fresh Market: chicken, pasta and olive salad; potato, bacon and leek salad; spicy green beans with cashews; angel kisses. And there was a dish they had years ago (in 1999 or 2000) that they no longer have, made with grilled chicken, mango and red onion, that was just fantastic.
~ Smokejacks: seared tuna with cucumber noodles, ginger or lychee soda, cheese plate, and a lemon ginger bread pudding they once had.
~ FolkFoods (at Farmers' Market): the Ruby (with one of their awesome veggie patties, apples, cheese, sauerkraut and a yummy sauce)
~ Tamale Girl (at Farmers' Market): any tamale, I'm a sucker for dishes made with corn
~ Rookie's Root Beer (at Farmers' Market): root beer
~ Krin's Bakery (at Farmers' Market): coconut cupcakes, macaroons

I could keep going (or expound further on these delightful dishes), but I won't...

What are your favorites?

August 24, 2007

Great 863-TOGO Experience

I don't usually delve into my personal life on this blog, but I have to say that Wednesday was a crappy day. In fact, this whole week has been downright depressing.

So when my car broke down just after the Richmond exit on I-89, as I was on my way to an interview in East Montpelier, it was the last straw. After chillin' on the shoulder for a while, getting towed to my mechanic and calling my mom to get a ride home, I was in desperate need of some comfort food. For me, this is either comprised of fatty meats (preferably smoked), any number of potato dishes, soup or Asian food.

Since I couldn't go anywhere distant and didn't feel much like walkin' at that point, I decided to give the online version of the 863-TOGO delivery service a shot. Basically, you go to their website, select a restaurant (Winooski's Pho Dang, in this case), click on the items you want, and they deliver your food. I can be a skeptic sometimes, so I decided to pay cash, just in case they never showed up.

Right after I ordered, I received a confirmation e-mail telling me that my food would arrive by 9:20 p.m. (I'd placed the order at 8:20). At 8:45, the delivery man knocked on my door with a piping hot container of pho, some veggie rolls and my favorite, weird Vietnamese dessert. 25 minutes!! Wow. Not only that, a special request I'd included was honored (I wanted to make sure I got bean sprouts, herbs and lime wedges with my pho). And the restaurant packaged the rice noodles apart from the soup, so they wouldn't get soggy.

The dinner made my night.

July 06, 2007

The Food Timeline

Did you know that Fig Newton's have been around since 1891, and were most likely invented in Newton, Massachussets? Or that the Yukon Gold potato didn't exist until 1981? I learned both of these tidbits from the Food Timeline, created by a reference librarian named Lynne Olver who hails from Whippany, NJ. Olver and co. also answer culinary questions on far, they claim to have responded to 16,476 such queries.

I've visited the site a bunch of times during various culinary research projects, but it was just today I got the bright idea of telling you about it! Silly me.

June 07, 2007

That's Life Soup

I love soup. It's one of my favorite things to cook, and I'll eat it whether it's a sub-zero day in December or sweltering July. I especially like soup for breakfast -- nothing like starting the day with a steamy bowl of goodness. The Japanese agree with me on this.

Perhaps because of my affection for soup, I've been thinking lustfully about eating at Montpelier's That's Life Soup ever since my first visit last year. Each time I go to Montpelier I ponder stopping by, but I just haven't been able to fit it into my schedule...until yesterday.

First of all, I really appreciate the arts & crafts-style decor. Beautiful. And the fact that my lunch cost under $10, but I still got to use a cloth napkin.  And then there's the soup. I tried a southwestern chowder, which came with a basket of crusty wheat bread from La Panciata. The broth, augmented with cream, was super flavorful, and filled with corn, potatoes, peppers and a generous amount of sausage. The "small" serving size wasn't small at all, and between the soup and the bread, I was pleasantly full. Well, maybe I stuffed myself just a little!

Another great thing is the "souper" variety. According to this article in the Boston Globe, owner Pam Root cycles through over 200 recipes. If I lived in Montpelier, I'd be apt to develop a bit of a soup habit. 

Compared to many other places that serve primarily soup, sandwiches and salads, the folks at TLS seem to pay a great deal of attention to the details and really focus on aesthetics. I'm a big fan.

Although I'm not at home and thus can't count them, I'm pretty sure I have around five cookbooks devoted to soup. Now that I think about it, maybe I'll make some soup this very evening! 

May 30, 2007

Viva Viva

On my way to an interview this morning, I stopped in at Viva Espresso and snagged a fruit smoothie. was delightful. The smoothies come in berry, mango and strawberry/banana flavors, and can be made with milk, soymilk or organic yogurt. I had the berry made with soy and was quite pleased.

I also found that Viva's now offering local egg sandwiches made from Lucky Lady eggs and medium Cabot cheddar on Myer's bagels! I'd already eaten breakfast, but I felt it was my obligation to try one for the sake of my blog readers...somebody's gotta do it! The flavor of the cheese was a bit overpowered by the herbs on my bagel, so next time I'd probably opt for sesame instead. Other than that, it was great. They heat the sandwiches on a panini grill, and mine was nice and hot when it was delivered to my table. Guess I'd better skip lunch today!

Gotta run to my interview now...more blogging later!

May 22, 2007

Farmers' Market, weeks 1&2

My love for the Burlington Farmers' Market is so great that I teeter on the edge of bathos when I attempt to describe it. So I won't. I will say that I'm having lots of fun reconnecting with the farmers/vendors and with fellow customers I haven't seen for a while.

I will also mention the new format, in which vendors are spread out across the park instead of facing each other across narrow sidewalks. I think it's a great improvement. The market is now more wheelchair and stroller accessible and feels expansive in a way it didn't before.

Here's a list of the produce I've seen so far: asparagus, spinach, scallions, carrots (overwintered), chives, thyme, microgreens, lettuce and wild mushrooms.

On Saturday afternoon, I whipped up a dish to bring to my sister's college graduation party. I took two bunches of Pomykala Farm's asparagus, chopped it roughly and sautéed it in olive oil: I always throw the big pieces from the bottom of the stalks into the pan first, then add the mid-sized pieces a minute or two later, and finally, throw in the tips. I finished the asparagus with salt, pepper and a couple squeezes of lime. Then scooped on a good amount of Doe's Leap chêvre. It was simple and yummy, and disappeared pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, I'm going to miss FM this weekend. I have an obligation in Stowe beginning at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday. 

May 07, 2007

Checking out "Cake Mania"

Over the weekend, I tried out a computer game called "Cake Mania" in order to blog about it -- tough job I have, eh?  Apparently, I was the only person with a PC in my home who didn't already know about it (it doesn't work on Macs)  -- 35 million people have downloaded the game, which, after a tantalizing, 60 minute free trial, costs about $20 bucks to own.

At first I thought the gameplay was a little too simple. The main character is a culinary school grad trying to raise money so that she can take back her grandparent's bakery from an evil, Walmart-like corporation that bought them out. How does she do it? By baking cakes, of course.

But as the levels increased, cooking, frosting, decorating and delivering cakes to the proper customers got more and more tricky. It was a rollicking 60-minutes of silliness. Then I removed the program and downloaded it from a different site for another dose.

Cake Mania would be a great test for someone applying for a job that requires efficiency and multi-tasking. Although I never got to the point where I was struggling to complete levels, I know that I would have soon.

As fun as the game is, though, I didn't immediately buy it. Honestly, I didn't even consider it. Perhaps that's a function of my financial situation. If I were rolling in the dough, so to speak, I might have done so without even thinking twice. I find food-related games really appealing (yes, I still love Candy Land), so that aspect was a big turn-on. Maybe someday...

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