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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer

Tasty Events

September 15, 2008

Delicious Exercise: "Le Tour de Farms"

What could be better than eating a whole bunch of delicious local food and working off all of the calories with a scenic bike ride? Sounds like my idea of a good day. If it sounds like yours, too, you may want to attend the first annual Addison County "Tour de Farms" this Sunday. Here are the details, courtesy of Jonathan Corcoran, one of the localvore organizers:

Le Tour de Farms
: September 21, Shoreham Village green, 10:30 AM

Join us in Shoreham on Sunday, September 21 for the first running of "Le
Tour de Farms" in Addison County! Choose between a 10, 25 and 30-mile route.
Then sample fresh apples, roasted vegetables, lamb meatloaf, quiche, cheese,
wine, cider and milk, and bread and cookies at local farms along the way and
at the local inn. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful fall landscapes of
Shoreham by the lake while exercising in the fresh air.

Meet us at the Shoreham Village green -- rain or shine -- and check-in at 10:30
AM with your bike, helmet, and water (you can refill at any of the stops)
and wear comfortable clothes. Bring a raincoat in the event of wind or rain.
And bring a bag if you'd like to buy anything along the way from one of the
farms (or you can arrange with the farm to pick it up after the ride).

Please go to to view the routes and to pre-register
in advance. You'll also save $5 off the day-of price.

NOTE: ALL three routes will travel on rural dirt roads (Route 1: 50%, Route
2: 50% and Route 3: 30%) of varying roughness so a cross-bike or a mountain
bike (especially for Route 2) is recommended.

This is a brief description of the routes:

Route 1: A 10-mile loop over rolling hills and flat sections.
Route 2: A 25-mile ride on a mix of paved and scenic Class 4 back-roads for
the more adventurous rider. Cross-bike or mountain bike highly recommended.
Route 3: A 30-mile ride down to Orwell featuring more paved roads (70%)

Le Tour de Farms is presented by the Addison County Localvores (ACoRN), the
Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and Rural Vermont. Any proceeds
will benefit the ongoing work of all three organizations.

September 05, 2008

It's a Chocolate Circus!

"Nutty" Steph Rieke, Vermont's granola maven, asked me to pass on some info to you...

On Tuesday, September 9 from 3 to 6 p.m., Steph will celebrate the opening of her new chocolate factory in Middlesex with a "Chocolate Circus." You can the digs at Camp Meade, right off of I-89 (take exit 9).

The FREE event includes horse-drawn carriage rides, tarot readings, music, a bonfire, and hot dogs (made with meat from grass-fed animals) in Red Hen Bakery's sourdough buns topped with local sauerkraut. Mmm.

And, of course, there will be chocolate galore. Steph has been whipping up confections in 99 different flavors, including rum-cappuccino white chocolate and tortilla-cayenne-mango dark chocolate. Like your chocolate fruity? Steph's sensual specialties include "Pina Colada," "Jungle Fever," and my personal fave, "Tropical Intercourse."

In addition to the chocolate, visitors can buy fruits and nuts, and of course, granola.

Sounds like fun!

August 19, 2008

"Top Chef of the Champlain Valley," revealed!

Img_4490_4 It sounds like a nightmare: You're seated at a raised table in front of an audience a couple hundred people strong, and they're all watching you eat. And then, as you raise a forkful of risotto to your mouth, a big glob falls off your fork.

But it wasn't a dream. It happened yesterday evening during my stint as a volunteer judge for the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging's "Top Chef of the Champlain Valley" competition. My fellow judges -- Jozef Harrewyn of Chef's Corner, Eating Well's Carolyn Malcoun and food-sourcing expert Annie Harlow -- and I were tasked with tasting a series of dishes prepared by high-profile local chefs, and deciding whose cuisine would reign supreme. The MC, as it usually is at such events, was the ebullient Sean Buchanan, executive chef of Solstice at the Stowe Mountain Lodge.


The three contestants are all well-known and accomplished: David Hoene of Pauline's Café, Connie Jacobs-Warden of Chow! Bella, and Sam Palmisano of Pulcinella's. The secret ingredients they had to incorporate: oyster mushrooms and celeriac. They also got to "shop" from a beautiful bounty of local ingredients, such as Misty Knoll chicken, baby eggplant, heirloom tomatoes and artisan cheeses.

After the scores had been tallied and the judges conferred, we announced Sam Palmisano as the winner.

Why? First of all, he did the best job of integrating the required ingredients into his dishes. Each participant had to make an appetizer and an entrée. Sam's app was a celeriac and oyster 'shroom bisque, which was thick, creamy and delicious, and, as a bonus, was topped with the mushroom and strips of julienned and fried celeriac. For his entrée, he stuffed a chicken breast with oyster mushrooms and served it over chipotle-Gouda polenta and chard, in a puddle of mushroom jus.

Secondly, everything he and his team made tasted great. The polenta was creamy and savory, the chicken was nicely browned on the outside, but not overcooked, and each item was properly seasoned. (One of my Vermont dining pet peeves is the lack of proper salting in restaurants). 

Thirdly, he resisted the temptation to make things complicated. With so many delightful ingredients available, it would have been easy to pile bunches of them onto each plate, but that can easily lead to a muddle of flavors. It seemed that he decided what would best highlight his skills and the secret ingredients without getting distracted by the cornucopia of colorful fruits and veggies.

So, congratulations Sam!

* Photo: Sam Palmisano and a team-member

August 07, 2008

Eating at the Allbee's

Img_4479 I had a rather unusual dinner on Monday. It wasn't unusual because of the food, which was fresh and completely local (save the holy trinity of olive oil, salt and pepper), because that's how I eat nearly every day.

It was unusual because of where I was and with whom I was eating -- in Montpelier at the Secretary of Agriculture's apartment, with the Secretary and his wife, a few reporters and a handful of ag. experts.

Secretary Allbee and his wife wore matching Cabot aprons as they whipped up an extensive spread, using a great deal of produce from their garden supplemented with items from Farmers' Market and tons of local cheese. The idea was to kick off national "Farmers' Market Week" with a menu featuring the bounty of Vermont.

It was all part of a challenge Allbee proposed: “I would like to challenge all Vermonters, as well as people across the country, to eat local for a meal, a day or even the full week during National Farmers Market Week. When you buy local you can reduce energy costs and get food items that are harvested at the peak of freshness for better taste and nutrition. Eating local gives you a chance to know the people who grow your food and how it is grown. It also keeps money in our local communities.”

I wanted to ask how our embattled compost facilities and Intervale farmers' hoop-houses fit into the puzzle, but given the venue, I wasn't sure that would be appropriate.

Here's the menu:

~ Herbed iced tea
~ Cherry tomatoes on skewers with Maplebrook mozzerella and basil
~ Homemade crackers (two kinds) and homemade wheat bread with Cabot sour cream dip, Vermont Butter & Cheese chevre, Taylor Farms gouda, Cabot cheddar and Bonnieview's rich, tangy Mossend Blue.
~ Zucchini pancakes with creamy dipping sauce
~ Cheese pie with local bacon
~ Ratatouille
~ Roasted potatoes and green beans
~ Salad with blueberries, tomatoes
~ Raspberry sorbet served with fresh berries and maple shortbread cookies

Quite the meal, huh? And everything was really well-prepared: the ratatouille was cooked just the right amount, leaving the vegetables intact but tender; the roasted beans had a hint of brown on them; the rich cheese pie was studded with pieces of (local) bacon; and the shortbread was sweet, but not too sweet.

Because there were so many guests, I didn't get to ask the Allbee's a lot of questions about their everyday food habits, so I don't know if this localvore meal differs much from their typical diet (and despite my curiosity, I didn't ask to go through their cupboards). When the fridge was opened and closed during the course of the evening, I did spy lots of local stuff therein: mustard, cheese, beer, etc. Plus a few cans of Coke.

So many state officials are talking up "eating local" these days that I'd love to know what all of them are really eating. Do you think Jim Douglas would let me check out his fridge?   

June 27, 2008

Live Blogging Chew Chew Fest...See Blurt!

Hey there...I'm down on the Burlington Waterfront at Chew Chew Fest doing some live blogging of everything I eat. Check it out on Blurt!

April 11, 2008

Vermont's First Annual Jr. Iron Chef!

Jr_iron_chef_vt_08_logo_cropTomorrow, at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex, 30 teams of Vermont youth will go head to head to find out "whose cuisine will reign supreme."  Although there's no "secret ingredient," the youngsters were tasked with creating localvore dishes that can easily be replicated in a school cafeteria. Given that it's barely spring and the growing season is just beginning, this isn't as easy as it sounds.

The middle school competition will happen Saturday morning, while the high schoolers will compete in the early afternoon (I'm the head judge for the high school competition). Attending is really inexpensive, $2.50 for individuals and $5 for a family, and the money raised benefits the Burlington School Food Project and VT FEED. There's also gonna be a few food vendors, maple sugar on snow and live music.

You won't find Molto Mario or Cat Cora there, but there are going to be a few local celebs, such as Kathy O'Brien (of Survivor fame), Mark Bove, Anson Tebbetts (Deputy Secretary of Agriculture) and farmer/legislator Will Stevens. The M.C. will be Chairman Sean Buchanan, executive chef for Stowe Mountain Lodge.

It's for a good cause and it should be fun. Hope to see you there!

February 28, 2008

Chocolate and Scallops? Yeah Baby!

Didn't have the romantic, Valentine's Day dinner of your dreams? You can make up for it on March 5.

On that evening, Chef Aaron Millon of Montpelier's Restaurant Phoebe is teaming up with Nutty Steph -- the famous granola maker who recently added a chocolate factory to her business -- to present a 7-course chocolate pairing menu.

What the heck is a chocolate pairing? Think cocoa-dusted sea scallops with a coconut and potato "pave" and a rich elk steak with a chocolate-hazelnut glaze and sweet potato and cranberry risotto. Talk about swoon-worthy...and that's just two of the courses!

Alongside the savory stuff, of course, is dessert: hot "triple chocolate" with espresso crème, and white chocolate ice cream with passion fruit foam.

The evening promises to be playful, delicious and sensual, and completely out of the ordinary. I made a reservation as soon as I heard about it, so if you attend, make sure to stop by and say hello. I'll be the girl with the huge, goofy grin on her face...But I might not be the only one.

The meal is $55 a person, or $80 if you want the optional wine pairing, which includes five matching quaffs. Open seating begins at 5 p.m. Call 262-3500 for reservations.



February 05, 2008

Free Hot Chocolate Tasting at Lake Champlain Chocolates

Grandheart_homepageimage Recently, Good Housekeeping Magazine sampled 19 different dark chocolate hot chocolates and declared the All-Natural Old World Drinking Chocolate from Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington the "clear winner." Sweet!

This Saturday, they'll be hosting one of their free hot chocolate tastings from 12 - 4, and it will include the winning drink as well as their Organic and Aztec versions.

Attendees will be treated to music by the multi-talented Robert Resnick, who is also a mycologist, VPR host and writer. And he's the librarian responsible for the awesome culinary collection at Fletcher Free.

Another special feature: Chocolate-covered strawberries, which are only available around V-day.

* Photo from the Lake Champlain Chocolates website

January 21, 2008

Calabrian Tasting Menu at L'Amante

Last Thursday, D. and I went to the first of L'Amante's special regional dinners. Here's a snippet about these dinners from my Side Dishes column:

"It's a good time for lovers of Italian cuisine. For the fifth year in a row, the well-traveled folks at L'Amante will help diners survive the coldest weeks of winter by offering them samples of food from sunnier climes. Each week, from January 14 through February 21, Chef Kevin Cleary will create a three-course menu to showcase the specialties of a particular Italian region. This year he's featuring Calabria, Trentino, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont and Tuscany. Dinners are $35 a person, with optional wine pairing, and are only available on week nights. Valentine's Day week is an exception: L'Amante will revert to its regular menu for the occasion."

The meal began with a trio of crisp, deep-fried eggplant balls in a spicy tomato sauce (tomatoes are used in many Calabrian dishes). The sauce was an excellent accompaniment, and the whole was lovely and flavorful.

Next up: orecchiette with broccoli rabe. Bitter foods are tough for me to handle, and broccoli rabe is pretty bitter. However, the pasta had a great texture and the rabe was a fetching bright green. And I still managed to eat the whole thing.

Our final dish was roast pork with fennel stuffing served with mashed potatoes and spinach. The pork was perfect: amazingly brown and crisp on the outside but cooked just right in the middle. The sides were delicious, too. This one definitely blew us away!

Can't wait 'til the next one!

January 16, 2008

Bove's vs. Bobby Flay: Lasagna Throwdown (Updated)

I mentioned this before the holidays, but thought I'd "throw" it out there again...

The Food Network will air its lasagna throwdown, in which Bobby Flay is pitted against Mark Bove of Bove's, a few more times over the next couple weeks. They are:

February 2 at 4 p.m.
February 14 at 8:30 p.m.
February 15 at 3:30 a.m.
March 15 at 9:30 p.m.
March 16 at 12:30 a.m.

Watch 'em sling sauce and nosh on noodles as they crown the king of lasagna...Fun stuff. If you want to make the pasta dish yourself, Bove's has Nonna Victoria's Lasagna recipe on their website, but you'll need to purchase a couple bags of Bove's brand meatballs and two jars of their sauce to follow it. Clever, eh?

You can also read more about the Throwdown on the Bove's Blog.

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