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VT Trip Oct.2012: A Week of Burlington Bliss (Long!)

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* = excellent **** = some of the best food of our trip

Penny Cluse-
This Burlington gem with its smiling, welcoming nature, amazing food, and generous low prices had a lot to do with wooing and conquering us so many yrs ago such that we became loyal Burlington fans and have visited 1-2x yr. ever since.

Blueberry Banana Smoothie*

Buckwheat Pancakes w/ Blueberries and Pecans*- unbelievably tender and moist and, if pancakes are usually too sweet for you, or just too white-flour, these are the thing for you. A deep nutty flavor brought on by the buckwheat flour. Adjust your own sweetness level w/ local maple syrup.

Apple Bread French Toast*

Curried Beet and Apple Salad ****

Mixed Greens w/ Cilantro Vinaigrette****

Chiles Rellenos with Ranchera Sauce and Black Beans and Tortillas****

Huevos Rancheros****

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Trattoria Delia-
Consistently top notch artisinal Italian food from Italian chef/owner. Handsome dark wood- beamed cellar room with fireplace and comfortable seating. Top notch professional and gracious service. Always packed, reservations a must. Easily equal to Boston's best Italian spots.

Saffron Porcini Risotto****

Zuppa di Pesce*

Osso Bucco****

Pasta Amatriciana*

Gelati

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El Cortijo-
Charming Historic diner with low lights and a soft glow of coral and turquoise. Limited booth and counter seating; busy bar and take-out scene. Friendly welcoming efficient female staff. Food a bit inconsistent but generally very good, with a variety of interesting sauces, quality meats and produce, a caring kitchen, good portions and reasonable prices.

Salsa and Chips (free refill)
Very Good Guac except way too much onion
Tortilla Soup w/ Chicken*

Arugala Salad w/ Beets and Citrus Vngtte

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Tacos filled with:

Smoked chicken*

Acorn Squash and Poblano Chiles*- Special taco of the day

Beef

Pescado- good quality fish (not flavorless tilapia) but too little fish, and cornmeal crust is too thick/overwhelms the fish.

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Pork Shoulder in Orange Chile

Refried Beans

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On the Rise Bakery, Richmond- Sesame bagels****- sold at the wonderful Healthy Living Market. Crunchy outside, and moist and chewy inside; my favs over any I've had in Boston these last 40 yrs.!

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Pizzeria Verita-

caesar salad

beet salad

marguerita pizza

sausage and mushroom pizza

We went to Verita on the last night of our trip, and while there's potential there, I really hope that the owner can get his chefs not to be afraid of their own oven. The servers all memorize the same schtick- special Italian oven....900 degrees...pizza cooks in 90 seconds. Well, imo, and yes, it is a very strong opinion, they need to leave those babies in at least double that time. As it is, they seem to think that 2 black spots on top- indicate a cooked-through pizza. Wroooong. Dough is underdone and chewy. No crunch to the crust. At all. The proof is that, even when brought to you promptly, the pizzas are served tepid -when they should be blistering hot/ blow on them a few minutes or you burn off the roof of your mouth. THAT is how a correctly cooked pizza should be.

Toppings were good. Quality ingreds, neat fior de latte option; mushrooms sauteed (hooray !)instead of flavorless/raw. But no roasted peppers or pepperoni???now that's just plain weird. (And, while not a mandatory, defining component, no chevre or chicken is just too bad.) Hopefully he'll get enough complaints to add those options; certainly would liven up the menu.
They also need to put more marinara on that crust (it's plenty thick enough to support it but they're afraid it's not.) And they need to remove oregano from any of their pizzas. Horrors and Tragedy, what WERE they thinking? And they need to learn that four small blackened/incinerated basil leaves do not a pizza make>> put the basil on AFTER baking the pizza.

All in all, i think Verita has the oven and ingredients to make some great pizza, but they seriously need some chef-training sessions to learn how to dress and properly cook that pizza. In a week of excellent Burlington area meals, Verita's was the only disappointing one.

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Mirabelle (Bakery and Cafe):

What can I say but that I would seriously consider doing a "deal with the devil" to have a Mirabelle's in Boston.( There has never been a sweets bakery of this caliber in the 40 yrs I have lived there.) You Burlingtonians have no idea how lucky you are!

Chocolate Dipped Almond Horns****

Ham and Cheese Croissant****

Biscuits

Popovers- giNORMous*

Creme Brulee Beignets

Lime Coconut Beignets

Maple Bacon Croissant Thing*

Sea Salt Caramels****

Almond Caramels*

Peanut Butter Cups****

Macarons*

Lime Coconut cake*

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Good Times Cafe, Hinesburg (facebook page but no website)-

(*Coming from the north, we missed the small sign in front of the modest white frame house, but returning from the South, the sign is painted on the whole side of the house- so we didn't miss it this time!) Bright sunny colorful room. Joe, the spunky ponytailed 'chef w/ a sparring nature' and a talent for flavorful down home cooking.
We really wanted the jambalaya (well known for their cajun) but they were out of it.
We were completely content and smiley-mouther with our:

potato chowder w/ corn, tomato, cumin*

caesar salad*

lasagna*

eggplant parm sandwich (on pizza bread)

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Starry Night Cafe, North Ferrisburg (1/2 hr. So. of Burlington, just beyond Shelburne)-

http://www.starrynightcafe.com/menu

Caramelized Leek and Celeriac Soup with Smoked Cheddar Crostini and Sage Oil

*Curried Sweet Potato Seafood Chowder of Scallops, Shrimp, Clams and Mussels with Ginger Lime Jasmine Rice Pilaf

****Pepita Seared Canadian Salmon with Ginger Lime Jasmine Rice Pilaf, Wilted Greens, green Beans, chile lime beurre blanc

A romantic candle-lit octagonal dining room, set in the back of the building and surrounded by lush gardens. Every dish was beautifully presented, abundant, robustly flavored, with attention paid to layered flavors and the importance of acid components in with the unctuous. The only flop was the one-note bland soup, which i remedied w/ some requested balsamic vinegar. Lovely warm house- baked French rolls. Particularly interesting choice of reds by the glass.

Great to see this be the 10th yr of success for SNC. The talented chef's GM wife is welcoming and warm, and a more stunning GM you are not likely to find. Excellent service.

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Vergennes Laundry, Vergennes (35 min. So. of Burllington):

Clean spare French country design; Lyon baker/owner.Odd hours. Located next to Black Sheep.

Chocolate Sables****- deep dark chocolate cookies with sandy texture

Creme Fraiche Truffles*

Canneles*- a rarely seen delight; small high-domed pastry: crunchy burnt sugar exterior with wet creamy pudding-cake type interior.

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Black Sheep, Vergennes-

Long a neighborhood gem,serves rich French food in prix fixe style in a comfortable country bistro space. Every table gets a bowl of garlic mashed potatoes and a cone of Frites with 2 aioli.

Garlic butter Escargots

Duck w/ honey glaze and green beans

Pork cutlet w/ chanterelle cream

wonderful local garden veggies- green beans**** fresh off the vine!

Maple Creme Brulee

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Ana's Empanadas, Rutland (1.5 hrs. So. of Burlington)-
A new place developing new locations and menus. We stopped by their Mall food court station.

Small pastries (2 1/2-3" crescents) but plump w/ delicious juicy filling. Best were the beef w/ olive and raisins; this filling was the most full and complex -flavored. The house- made chorizo filling was mild but lovely. Excellent bright green, house- made hot and mild condiment sauces.

(Sun's East Market, Rutland is supposed toi have excellent pork-only filled Spring Rolls but we missed them because they're closed on Sunday.

)

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Highlight activities during our visit:

Breakfast at Penny Cluse

The multi-wonders of the Shelburne Museum- Strolling back in time 100-200 yrs., seeing folk paintings, ships' mastheads, decoys, quilts, furniture. rugs, the Ticonderoga paddleboat, train station and train cars, carousel animals and displays, Monets and Degas., and so much more. All capped off with double rainbows and hail- at the end of a 70 degree late Oct. blue sky day!

Sunset and Sail boat Watching down by the lake on the park boardwalk; sitting on a swinging bench with a cool lake wind, the backdrop Adirondacks all multiple tones of plum and lilac.

Dog watching/ meeting on Church St. mall, lakeside, and in our dog- friendly inn.

Breakfast at Penny Cluse

Frog Hollow Crafts Store

Our one day of pouring rain- films at Palace 9 where seating rows have been removed to provide
great legroom, and the upholstered seats incline and have comfy head rests, and best yet, the film choices include consistently excellent art/indie/foreign films.

Our favorite scenery drive: down the valley with Rt 100 from Rt. 89, through Hinesburg (excellent lunch at funky Good Times Cafe), ending in Bristol at the beautiful, fascinating and peaceful Rocky Dale Gardens and Nursery.

Driving north through Stowe to Cady's Falls Nursery in Morrisville, our other favorite exceptionally beautiful Vt. garden and nursery, filled with unusual plant material, beautifully grown in an enchanting landscape of large perennial borders, woodland, and alpine displays, all interspersed with a huge collection of conifers and woody plants.

Breakfast at Penny Cluse

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We ended our wk of Burlington Bliss this morning and drove away with a car full of Mirabelle and Penny Cluse, El Cortido and On the Rise,so we are wicked happy campers ! Hats off and big thank you to the wonderful food people of Burlington!

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  1. What a week! Thanks for the thorough report. We don't get to VT often enough. Thanks for providing lots of incentives.

    1. Great report. You hit all our faves in my neck of the woods (Starry Night, Laundry, Black Sheep). But best of all you discovered Good Times. We go there a lot. GREAT food. Pizza is really good. My favorite dish there is the chana masala and also the sweet potato/black bean burrito (when they have it-its a special). Good Times is definitely a hidden gem - really popular with the locals but gets overlooked by visitors.

      1. Now THAT'S a food trip review! Great job.

        1. Cady's Falls is beyond magic. We've bought many of their plants, especially the native showy lady's-slipper orchids. Great value, and just a tremendous spot.