Beignets and hot chocolate at Leunig's Petit Bijou
Leunig's Petit Bijou opened New Year’s weekend in the petit kiosk on the corner of Church and College streets. Formerly home to Bluebird Coffee Stop, the spot now belongs to nearby Leunig’s Bistro & Café, helmed by co-owners Bob Conlon and executive chef Donnell Collins.
On December 1, Jessica and Ryan Bunce, the owners of Burlington's Barrio Bakery, launched their second business. The breakfast and lunch spot, One Radish, is located in Richmond, in the building that used to house Parkside Kitchen, and, before that, On the Rise Bakery. There, the Bunces serve typical, comforting fare made simply with great ingredients.
Lamb and cabbage sarma with sweet potato purée and crispy hen-of-the-woods mushrooms
Honey flows freely from the heart of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. It’s revered as much for its nuanced sweetness as it is for cultural indications such as happiness and health, vitality and divinity. It’s fitting, then, that Honey Road — one of Vermont’s first major restaurant openings in 2017 — is setting up in a small state with some 2,000 beekeepers and 11,000 hives.
The restaurant aims to open in downtown Burlington by late winter or early spring (the exact location will be revealed once permits are secured). The story of Honey Road starts with the powerful partnership of two restaurant stalwarts: chef Cara Chigazola-Tobin, former chef de cuisine of Boston’s James Beard Award-winning restaurant Oleana, and Allison Gibson, the operations director and drink expert behind Vermont’s Hen of the Wood and Doc Ponds, and former dining room manager at Shelburne Farms Inn.
One of the most fun meals I ate in 2016 was at Stowe's Picnic Social, which is located inside of Field Guide, a boutique hotel on the Mountain Road. In between bites of nearly everything on the menu, my guest and I played cornhole and tabletop shuffleboard. We joked around with the staff. Best of all, the food and drinks tasted great.
So, when I found out that the spot would be adding brunch on December 10, I couldn't wait to try it out. Just an hour after brunch service debuted, I showed up with a friend to sample the wares. Only one other party preceded us, but, as we ate, more and more folks trickled in.
Seasonal flatbread at Juniper restaurant in Hotel Vermont
Philanthropic psychologist Jen Shang says that Americans use nine words to describe a moral individual: “kind, caring, hardworking, compassionate, helpful, fair, friendly, generous and honest.” Extra points for “strong, responsible and loyal,” as well.
Come holiday season, bells ring for donation boxes, and charity gift drives mark the entrances of churches and grocery stores. Opportunities abound — both at the year’s end and past it. When and where do we act first?
“A Dish for Veterans,” a recent initiative by Juniper restaurant at Hotel Vermont, suggests that giving can start with a flatbread.
Last Thursday, the open flag flew outside 180 Battery Street in Burlington as Esperanza Restaurante welcomed guests for its first day of business. The restaurant is now open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.
Apple cinnamon piroshki and Anjou-Amaretto polenta cake
I usually say that I don't have a sweet tooth, but last Saturday, sitting on the ledge of the fountain at Burlington City Hall Park, I ate an apple-cinnamon piroshki from the Nomadic Oven stand. With the farmers market buzzing around me, I even closed my eyes, savoring the unfurling pastry curl by curl.
The insides of the Russian-style sticky bun were bloated with apples. Its hard-baked edges were laced with coffee cream. When I got to the core, I ate it in one slow bite — a ceremonious process akin to uncovering an artichoke heart.
I returned to the Nomadic Oven to chat with its baker-owner, Meghan Brickner. When I left her, it was with another piroshki and a slice of Amaretto-polenta cake dressed with Anjou pears.
At the Starving Artist Café, located inside the Davis Studio on Shelburne Road in South Burlington, hungry brunchers can dine on Whistler's Mother's Oatmeal, laced with brown sugar and pumpkin seeds, or dig into Matisse in Morocco — poached eggs with harissa-stewed tomatoes and homemade pita.
The studio, founded and owned by Teresa Davis, offers kids' art camps, as well as teen and adult classes in a variety of media, including millinery, fused glass, watercolor and photography. Originally, the on-site kitchen was used only to feed the artists and perhaps their parents. In early September, the café opened to the public, presenting a selection of snack plates, soup, salad and a build-your-own breakfast sandwich. Brunch, with dishes named after the masters, began on September 25.
On August 16, 1777, a rebel force of a couple thousand militiamen prepared for the Battle of Bennington. The American Revolutionary War was about two years old. General John Stark led the brigade, reinforced by a crew of Vermonters including Col. Seth Warner and Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys. Long story short: the Brits lost.
During the final year that I owned my Montpelier restaurant, Salt, I dispensed with regular menus. Instead, each night I prepared a tasting menu — a parade of small bites, designed to showcase the best of whatever was in season. While tasting menus allow chefs to be playful in the kitchen, which is a professional boon, I chose the format for several other reasons, too. For one thing, after I switched, I wasted so much less food.
Think about it: Customers expect restaurants never to run out of the dishes they want, but the only way to have enough scallops for everyone who might order them is to have more scallops than people are going to eat. And when you have one of those nights when nobody orders scallops? You make scallop chowder the next day. And all of the extra scallop chowder left at the end of that night? Trash. Compost. Bye-bye.
So, yeah, tasting menus. You only cook what you’re planning to serve. And you only order what you’re going to cook. What a concept! Tasting menus have been my favorite way to dine since long before I understood the behind-the-scenes reasons for their awesomeness. So, I was excited to receive an invitation to a tasting dinner at a pop-up restaurant called Elm, located in Philamena’s at 41 Elm Street in Montpelier.