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what says 'Vermont' to you?

Planning a dinner party for ten next Saturday, and planning to do a Vermont theme (my hometown!) I want to showcase Vermont foods - items grown/raised/produced there - AND would like to stay 'season appropriate' (i.e what's available NOW in Vermont, not necessarily in the middle of August). I'll be in Middlebury/Burlington this coming weekend and want to use the time to pick up supplies.

So, what tastes or specific products just scream 'Vermont' to you??

My thoughts so far:
braised lamb shanks - maple syrup/rosemary glaze
root veggies - def. potatoes - what else?
cheese course - ideally the ones people won't really know - willow hill, vt shephard, lazy lady, etc
apple tart/pie, ice cream

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  1. One word... "diners." There are a number of classic deco era diners here, the one near the Burlington airport has a nice mid east twist.
    Vermont makes passable cheese, if you're going through Burlington stop by Market Fresh (or Fresh Market, I can never remember the exact name) on Pine St near Howard, they have a wide selection of VT cheeses and other VT products, the perfect place to provision a picinic basket Boo Boo. A baguette, a bottle of micro brew (avoid Magic Hat,) some aged chedder, and some McKensie Ham would do the trick.
    It is the wrong season for cider, all you will find might as well be from concentrate, but when in season it is a fine thing. Damn Ottawalla for dooming us all to pasturized juices.
    If it wasn't such a poor ice fishing season I would add lake perch to to the list as well, but unless you're willing to risk thin ice forget that one.

    1. I think your menu sounds awesome and very reflective of some of VT's culinary strengths. I'd recommend a little VT cheddar on top of the apple pie...
      Root vegie recommendations would be rutabagas or turnips. I'm sure you can find some recipes for those, even in combination with potatoes.

      p.s. I complete disagree that VT has "passable cheese." Some of the cheese makers mentioned by the OP that I'm familiar with are truly artisanal. Specifically, the woman who makes the Lazy Lady cheeses trained in France and her goat cheeses are some of my favorite cheeses of all time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bri

        Not just any turnips, if you please,
        Wardsboro,Vermont's own Gilfeather turnips. :-)

      2. How about a tuna wiggle appetizer--served on saltines of course. (a specialty of the Miss Newport Diner--now sadly defunct.)

        1. Here are my thoughts:

          1. A stop a Shelburne Farms will yield some tasty treats, especially world class cheese
          2. Vermont wine is not worth drinking, but, some Wooodchuck Cider makes a nice pairing with cheese/fruit plate
          3. There are a few Vermont Farms that butcher meat. Misty Knoll chicken is excellent and Laplatte beef is also excellent. Shelburne Supermarket (Shelburne Village), City Market (downtown), and Healthy Living (Dorset St.) are good sources for many of these items.

          I'm not sure how readily available produce will be but the aforementioned root vegetables and a nice homemade apple crisp/pie with B&J Ice Cream would be nice. I would round out the night with a glass of Porto and some Lake Champlain Chocolates.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TonyO

            I had ordered some Lake Champlain chocolates for my SO at Valentine's day. Wow! They were wonderful!

          2. Yes, VT = Craft Beer

            In Middlebury, stop at the Otter Creek Brewery, take a tour, drink some samples, and take home some delicious beer - Wolaver's organic beer is made there too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LStaff

              Otter Creek Copper Ale is one of my all-time favorite session ales and probably my favorite Vt. brew period.

              Btw, Magic Hat's been dissed by a couple of posters and, for the life of me,
              I don't know get it. Fat Angel and #9, for example, are both well regarded by many, many beer-geeks, myself included.

            2. On my last drive past Man Of Kent on the way to VT, it didn't look open and there may have been a "for rent" sign. I'll give it a more serious look next time past. BTW, on that same road well east of Brunswick there is a fantastic place "Epicurean". Baked goods, cheeses, impressive looking salmon preps, sandwiches, breakfast items TNTM (all prepared fresh on site by someone in the kitchen who knows how and seems to enjoy doing it. I've been there twice in the last month both alone and with friends and they also had positive reactions.

              2 Replies
              1. re: feelinpeckish

                I think the spot that's for rent is the other restaurant that was, heading towards VT, just a mile or so before MOK. I can't remember the name of it, but I noticed it was closed recently.

                1. re: dukegirl

                  That is most assuredly correct dukegirl. It's 'the other place", The Olde Dane's that's closer going towards Troy. It's been closed for sometime now.

              2. Speaking of Vermont by way of the New York, Marian Burros wrote a piece in the Times last October about artisanal Vermont cheeses . Her faves were Orb Weaver Farm and Crowley Cheese. She also liked Cabot's cave-aged, cloth-bound cheddar.

                Oh, and for that gourmet touch, adding peas to tuna wiggle elevates it to another level: tuna PEA wiggle.

                1. Maple Syrup and Pancakes!!! we had them for dinner often

                  1. Thanks for the suggestions... and the interesting tuna wiggle commentary... hmmmm - sometimes I guess I'm glad I moved out of VT when I did! :-)

                    Suddenly had a flashback last night to the roasted garlic soup at Mary's in Bristol, so am thinking I might try to recreate that to start.

                    For cheese, will def. stop at Fresh Market, also the Cheese Outlet to see what they have.

                    Is there ANY good wine in VT? Have had Snow Farm & wasn't impressed. Woodchuck Cider would be great with the cheese plate, though.

                    Anybody have any suggestions for the lamb? Can find a good butcher, if need be, but would love to get it from a farm itself, even if it's frozen.

                    My stepfather (7th gen Vter) is a huge fan of maple syrup drizzled on vanilla ice cream - yum!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: jdubboston

                      I'll try to get you a name/number for Vermont Lamb.

                      1. re: jdubboston

                        I really like Big Barn Red (a Vermont bordeaux). I'd second the roasted garlic soup....maybe some extra sharp cheddar and common crackers with that?

                        1. re: jdubboston

                          I get my lamb from Meetinghouse Farm in Lincoln. Ruth Shepherd (!) at 802-453-4786. It's the best.

                          1. re: jdubboston

                            This is really south of where you are, and not quite what you mean by wine- but the winery in Jacksonville makes a lovely apple and maple syrup dessert wine (that you can serve warm as well- mmm...) and has a very dry but good rhubarb wine. Definitely Vermont.

                            1. re: wmassnative

                              The North River Winery, six miles from my cabin, most certainly is Vermont and a very nice success story, as well. Specializing in fruit wines, think Nashoba Valley, they've expanded from the original Jacksonville location. Currently they include tasting rooms in Bennington, Manchester and, seasonally, at Hogback Mt. in Marlboro, Vt. In addition, they also own Outtauquechee Valley Winery in Quechee, Vt. Grape snobs need not apply but for the rest of us this is good stuff;


                          2. A true Vermonter would head out to the garden and dig up a few of those delicious frost sweetened over-wintering parsnips. Just cut them like franch fries and braise em with a little maple syrup -a favorite up here in the Northeast Kingdom!

                            1. Since you're going to be in Middlebury, I suggest stopping at the Middlebury Coop. They have tons of delicious local veggies/fruit, bread, cheese, butter, meat, you can definitely make your whole dinner just on local foods! I do! As for Mary's Cream of Garlic Soup, you could possibly get some to take home. I'm not sure, but they might be able to accomodate you!

                              Good luck, sounds like a great idea for dinner!

                              1. You may want to check out 'Middlebury Natural Foods Co-Op' They carry an amazing selection of VT product including, cheeses and meats. Also I believe that Shaws build a brand new store in Middlebury (within the last year or so) with lots of VT goodies to choose from. Good luck.

                                1. I was also going to mention cheese. I like VT cheddar and smoked cheeses. Check out the maple smoked gouda from http://www.taylorfarmvermont.com/. There are also VT products available at http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/. You could look around on their site to get some ideas.

                                  My favorite maple (dinnner) recipe is maple-citrus glazed salmon. You can probably do a web search and come up with some recipes.

                                  I like a few of the VT microbrews. I'm not a huge fan of Magic Hat (#9), but I like Long Trail (http://www.longtrail.com/), which I can get locally. If I'm in VT, I look for Whitetail Ale from Rock Art Brewery.


                                  1. I second Big Barn Red as a wine choice - yummy! And for me, I think Dakin Farm cob-smoked bacon when I think of Vermont. That would make a very tasty garnish for your garlic soup. Or... you could try making maple-candied bacon - two great tastes in one!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Aliza_M

                                      Oh yes - maybe I'll stop at Dakin Farm en route from Burlington down to Midd on Saturday. I also heard about a place to get great honey place just south of there, in the same complex as the Starry Night restaurant. Might be the perfect 'gift' for everyone to take home - a little diff. than the normal maple syrup... Anybody been there?

                                      Doing parsnip 'fries' is a great idea - maybe I'll do that with the aforementioned Gilfeather turnips as well!

                                      Who makes the Big Barn Red?

                                      1. re: jdubboston

                                        Big Barn Red is from Boyden Valley. See my post below re: Vermont wines.

                                    2. Hi jdub,
                                      I'm planning a seasonal and locally-sourced dinner for Saturday too, but I live here.

                                      This is what I have been able to find for locally grown produce: shallots, parsnips, beets, sunflower and sweet pea sprouts, carrots and turnips. You might be able to find celeriac, and I think city market in burlington has vt potatoes (they did a couple of weeks ago), but hunger mountain coop in montpelier does not. Neither store has vt winter squash available.

                                      My menu has changed as I have discovered what I can and cannot find!! I would highly recommend choosing your store (either the coop in Midd or Healthy Living or City Market in Burlington are good ones) and calling ahead so you can plan your meal around what you can get. You should be able to find local (frozen) lamb at those stores, but it makes good sense to check ahead.

                                      so this is it so far:

                                      pre-dinner nibbles:
                                      dilly-pickled green beans and carrots (which I put up this summer)
                                      beet chips with curried sour cream dip
                                      local cheeses with homemade crackers (using locally grown and milled cornmeal)

                                      the meal:
                                      roasted golden and crimson beet salad with sunflower sprouts
                                      blue cheese souffles
                                      cornmeal panfried tempeh (after marinating in maple syrup and soy sauce)--veg guests
                                      roasted carrots, parsnips, shallots with cider-sage glaze

                                      mixed berry shortcakes on cornmeal scones with maple whipped cream (mixed berries harvested and frozen last summer)

                                      we are serving vt wines though I hear they are no good. I think Champlain cider is still good, and local beer is not really local (made from ingredients not grown here) but we're going to serve it anyway...gotta have something to wash the yucky wine down with!! I like Rock Art's single chair ale (I think it is a barley wine type beer, very strong!!)


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: amyamelia

                                        amyamelia - have been thinking about you -- how was the meal on saturday? would love a report of what worked & didn't. and how were the wines? I am entering into final menu planning & shopping for my shindig...

                                        1. re: jdubboston

                                          Hi jdub
                                          thanks for asking...
                                          my meal went well although I would have enjoyed it more if I had prepped a bit before. As it was I cooked the whole time my friends were here, but they are good friends so they didn't really mind.

                                          They brought a bottle of white (Seyval) and red (marechal Foch) both from Grand View Winery (with the tasting room and shop at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury). Both were good, but I really liked the Big Barn Red from Boyden that I picked up on rec above. We also had some beer (Wolaver's) and cider (not sure, I don't really like the stuff).

                                          The menu was really good, but I knew that it would be because I had tested everything. I made crackers and bought some farmstead (Taylor farm??) Gouda to go with, along with Jasper Farm Blue (that went in the souffles, as well). I also switched out my carrot and parsnip recipe to use Marcella's braised carrot recipe that I had been reading raves about on the Home Cooking board...and I added parsnips and used a touch of cider and maple syrup. The only disappointment was the dessert. For some reason my scones didn't come out right (for berry shortcake) I think because my sourdough started has been severely neglected in the recent past. They had a kind of slightly bitter aftertaste, but we had all had so much wine that I didn't notice until I split and toasted one the next day for breakfast. They rest became birdfood.

                                          Be sure to report back on your dinner. What's on the menu? Did you find your lamb?


                                      2. Regarding Vermont wines: most of them are execrable. Two vineyards, though, make some very good wines. Boyden Valley produces the aforementioned Big Barn Red, which I have not tried, but have had their Leon Millet Red and found it VERY good. For whites, Shelburne Vineyards makes a good Riesling and their Cayuga White is quite drinkable.

                                        1. Your menu sounds great. Perfect for the barrage of snow we are expecting this week. How about starting with a warm cheddar cheese soup. Simon Pearce makes one of the best and the recipe is on their website. For your cheese tray, try Vermont Coupole, made by the Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. It's an artisnal goat cheese that melts like a ripe brie.

                                          1. the one thing i think of but didnt see you list is cider. ive been really into cider braising this fall, and cider-braised cabbage might be a good addition to your menu.

                                            1. Thanks to all of you for the suggestions & ideas - here's the final menu as it stands as of tonight, I'll report back on Sunday!

                                              to start:
                                              pickled carrots
                                              beet chips (thanks to amyamelia!)
                                              goat cheese (Lazy Lady)
                                              WoodChuck Cider & Wolavers Brown Ale

                                              main meal:
                                              cider braised lamb shanks w/ honey & rosemary glaze
                                              mashed turnips w/ VT Shephard cheese & crispy shallots
                                              whole heads of roasted garlic
                                              whole grain bread

                                              apple tart
                                              b&j vanilla ice cream w/ maple syrup drizzle
                                              fromage blanc
                                              pears & blue cheese (Jasper Hill)

                                              post meal:
                                              Lake Champlain chocolates

                                              2 Replies
                                                1. re: amyamelia

                                                  thanks again for everyone's input! generally the gathering was a great success, with some pluses & minuses, as with any party... let me start with the fact that the crowd was, unfortunately, not really a 'foodie' one, so I think I was the only one at the table really into the whole VT theme, tastes, textures, seasons, etc. Bit of a bummer, but oh well! :-)
                                                  the lamb was incredible, really tender & flavorful and the turnips were quite yummy. at the last minute, I also roasted some onions, in order to have another veg on the table... (this was my husband panicking!)
                                                  I never was able to get the beet chips to really 'crisp' up, so they were less like potato chips than I would have liked.
                                                  people LOVED the cider. I ended up having woodchuck and original sin - the original sin is dryer, which we all liked a bit better than the sweetness of the woodchuck.
                                                  all in all, pretty good!

                                              1. The menu sounds like it was wonderful! I loved reading all these posts from everyone. Did not know about Big Barn Red.. will have to give that a try. Here's an unusual reccomendation: Dry Blueberry Wine from Charlotte Village Winery. Sounds weird but it's actually quite good (as long as you're not expecting it to taste like a big, red wine).

                                                Another item not to be missed for the next VT dinner party: Gerard's bread. The best bread made in VT! Thursdays are the days he delivers to the Richmond Corner Market and sadly they are usually gone in 1 day.