photo courtesy of CrankyCakes
So we have been here officially on the homestead for less than a month, and already I have had the great opportunity to meet some awesome people, as well as reacquaint myself with some that we have met on previous trips to the area. I have certainly learned that people in Vermont love good food, and care about where their food comes from, they also care about their fellow Vermonters.
Vermont has just come off Restaurant Week . It is a big deal here – participating restaurants offer special, prix-fixe menus showcasing their chefs’ greatest dishes. Those menus will feature discounted, three-course “tasting-style” dinners (e.g. appetizer, entreé and dessert) priced at $15, $25 or $35 per person. 10% of the proceeds from event admissions, sponsorships and restaurant participation fees will be donated to Vermont Foodbank.
(Inside Sugar Snap, checking out the produce at City Market, with Cheryl outside of Sugar Snap and City Market!)
To celebrate Restaurant Week and all the fine food that Vermont has to offer, Burlington resident, fellow food blogger, Vermont Fresh Networker and all around Vermont local food expert Cheryl from Cranky Cakes offered to take Roberto and I to all her favorite foodie spots in and around Burlington, ending with dinner at Bistro Sauce in Shelburne, a participant in Restaurant Week, which I will talk about in an upcoming post . We were in for quite a day!
We started the tour off at Cheryl’s Residence, Burlington Co-Housing. It is such an interesting place, the grounds are full of acres and acres perfect for wildcrafting and gardening. She took us on a tour of the grounds where plants, berry bushes, and everything in between are growing, all over the place. Her partner Greg told us that at the height of summer, it likens to a real life Hobbiton with everyone outside working the grounds. All they need are some livestock running around, and I can totally see it!
But the tour must go on, so we headed out in Cheryl’s car. Car conversations revolved around food in the front seat, while in the backseat between Roberto and Greg, major comic drawing and illustrator geekness abounded. It was the perfect arrangement! Geeks unite!
photo courtest of CrankyCakes
Our first stop on the tour was Sugar Snap – an awesome little takeout joint, serving lunch and dinner. Situated right at the beginning of Burlington’s REAL Food Hub, The Intervale . Before hitting the ‘Vale, we needed to fortify ourselves. We hadn’t had lunch yet, so I went with half of their secret recipe chicken salad sandwich on sourdough. Roberto had the Dark and Stormy – ham, mustard sauteed portabellos, on a delicious roll. Cheryl and Greg shared goat cheese quiche. It was a very good start to the tour.
We took a drive through the Intervale, home to many of Burlington’s small farms and community gardens. It was once full of cows, then became more of an industrial center, but is now finding it’s roots again in the natural world. This is where Cheryl and Greg’s CSA, Intervale Community Farm (the second largest CSA in Vermont) is located. The Intervale has a lot of interesting events throughout the year, including Slow Food tastings on Thursdays…sounds like another reason to go to Burlington.
After that we drove through the Old North End, home to many ethnic restaurants and groceries – everything from Middle Eastern and African to Himalayan. This part of town is also home to the Sustainability Academy , in partnership with Shelburne Farms , is the nation’s first K-5 magnet school with a sustainability theme. From their website: “The goal of the Academy is to prepare students to be responsible citizens and agents for change, in their community and beyond. The Academy is an international model for using sustainability as a lens for place-based education and service learning. We maintain the highest expectations for academic and personal growth for all of our students and embrace the rich economic and cultural diversity of our community”. WOW. If I could only go back in time to be a student there!!!
(Roberto and Greg chatting it up in Bulk Foods – but likely not ABOUT bulk foods….Photo courtesy of CrankyCakes)
From the North End we headed to City Market a fabulous co-op full of local, organic and fair trade foods. Kind of like a Whole Foods, but owned by the community – even better in my book! I got some lovely and tasty souvenirs, including cheese from Doe’s Leap. Doe’s Leap, who recently broke my heart. It is a sad tale, indeed. They advertised a most incredible internship opportunty on their website- teaching interns about raising goats, goat healthcare, artisan cheesemaking and training herd dogs – all the things I want to learn. But unfortunately they are not offering the program anymore. BOOHOO!!! So I drowned my sorrows in goat cheese from their farm, instead.
I was also able to get some lovely local non-GMO cornmeal from Butterworks Farms, and some black turtle beans from another local farm, both in City Market’s extensive Bulk Food section! After all the shopping efforts, we needed a pick me up, so we left with some amazing Serchan’s Potato salad – a Nepali potato salad, made by one of Cheryl’s neighbors…of course! I swear she knows everyone who has anything to do with good food in Burlington!
(Lambs at Shelburne Farms, a delicious pit stop at August First, Red Wagon Plants, and Sicilian donkeys at Shelburne Farms)
We drove into downtown Burlington for a stop at August First, one of Cheryl’s favorite bakeries. We had been hearing about how wonderful their breads are, from Cheryl and Greg all day, so we were lucky enough to get the LAST baguette of the day to taste. We were lucky enough that they were already out of iced coffee, since the owner Phil then had to improvise by giving us a shot of delicious espresso, that we filled halfway with filtered water and then topped off with cream. YUM. I told him he should always do iced coffee this way. I put a drizzle of honey in mine and it was so good. We decided to catch our breath on their beautiful outdoor patio with the iced coffees and a chocolate, apricot and hazelnut scone, which was out of this world. The name August First comes from the traditional date for the early European harvest festival called Lammas, which celebrates the annual wheat harvest. Way cool.
At this point Greg had to leave the tour to go back home and draw…ah, the life of an artist…so the three of us dropped him off and continued on our way. First stop, plant heaven – Red Wagon Plants , purveyors of heirloom and specialty plants. It was perfect, since Roberto, this family’s resident gardener, had been wanting to go there anyway! We met the fabulous owner, Julie, and then took a tour of their greenhouses looking at all the beautiful flowers, and smelling the best chocolate mint ever! Going back there this weekend to get some for our garden, because we can’t stop talking about it!!!
(photo courtesy of CrankyCakes)
Then we walked over to the neighbors, Family Cow Farmstand , a raw milk farm. They sell their milk to the community and also have home dairy making courses. They had two sweet calves in the barn that after a bit of coaxing came up to sniff and lick us. Their tongues were a bit like a cat’s tongue – a little rough. But their fur was soft and thick. We spent a few minutes checking out their beautiful views and breathing in the fresh farm air.
(The Intervale, view driving through Shelburne Farms, The “Barn” at Shelburne Farms, The Inn at Shelburne Farms)
Our last stop before dinner was Shelburne Farms . This is truly an incredible place, and if you come to visit, a definite stop on our tour of Northern Vermont. I think at this point Cheryl was realizing what a lover of farm animals I am, so she knew that no matter how tight our time was, we had to make this stop.
(photo courtesy of CrankyCakes)
Shelburne Farms is an amazing place that we literally just touched the surface of. Our main focus on this trip was the animals – cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens and donkeys. We met some really cute friends along the way . So cute that if we had brought our truck, I might have had to smuggle! Shelburne Farms offers cheese tours, wagon rides, snowshoeing in the winter, hiking trails in the summer, a sugar shack, a farm store, a farm eats stand and even an Inn – where you can stay or enjoy a rather swanky meal. I will certainly enjoy going there time and again.
I hope you enjoyed the first leg of the tour with me. Join me next time for dinner at Bistro Sauce in Shelburne. If you still want more, and believe me, you so do, you can check out Cheryl’s take on the day here, at Cranky Cakes. She has a great blog!