When I learned that the Burlington Winter Farmers Market would be moving from the condemned Memorial Auditorium in downtown Burlington to the University of Vermont's Dudley H. Davis Center, I was skeptical that the new location would have the right vibe. My first visit to the market in its new location proved me wrong.
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.
I moved to Vermont in September 2015 with an English degree, a background in restaurant cooking and a lime-colored Dutch oven seat-belted in the passenger side of my Volvo. I drove past Drop-In Brewing in Middlebury and thought of a friend from Ireland, where I had spent four months at a cooking program on a hundred-acre farm in County Cork.
He was a New Zealand brewer-cum-chef; I was an aspiring American cook trying to emulate my brother’s homebrew talents. We brewed a stout and a dry-hopped elderflower pale ale in the green Dutch oven and stored the brews in a neighbor's broom closet. We bottled on Halloween after our herb and spice exam, and popped the bottles on Thanksgiving after a 13-hour day in the kitchen. The pale ale was terrible.
The Grafton Village Store shuttered in May 2015. Records from the Grafton Historical Society indicate that the town had relied on an operating general store since 1787. In 1841, a man named George Barrett erected his general store at 162 Main Street; 174 years later, it closed.
Enter June Lupiani and Alexandra Hartman, co-owners of the town’s newly revived country store dubbed MKT: Grafton. The longtime friends and business partners purchased the abandoned spot in June 2015, and embarked on a series of renovations on the nearly two-century-old building. Fortunately for hungry travelers and locals, updates included an expansive in-house café helmed by Lupiani, who is a registered dietician and restaurant-trained chef.
Bonus: Nearly everything on the breakfast and lunch menu, save for a $16 pantry board with local cheese and charcuterie, fits the “Dining on a Dime” budget.
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.
Costello's Market with holiday items and a framed Seven Days article
In the back parking lot of Middlebury’s Marble Works District, Costello's Market is dressed up with string lights and pine wreaths ribboned in Santa Claus red. Christmas music hums from inside — Darlene Love's “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and a smattering of Frank Sinatra.
The market was shuttered for two weeks around Thanksgiving for the owners’ annual trip to Italy. For me as a Midd local, it was a bleak 14 days of unquelled cravings. Now, with a fire newly flickering in the market’s wood-bellied stove, the place offers double relief: a Costello’s fix at a "dime"-worthy price.
As a bonus, I can do some holiday shopping while I wait for my food. Because, like me, my loved ones appreciate a present they can eat. (Another bonus: The store owners visited the Lombardy region and a town in Liguria known for focaccia and pesto Genovese. They brought back goods such as white chocolate and pistachio torrone.)
Kevin Toohey with a tray of truffles at Bijou Fine Chocolate
“Chocolate is more akin to glass than food,” says Kevin Toohey, master chocolatier and cofounder of Bijou Fine Chocolate in Shelburne. He pulls a sheet tray of truffles from a standing rack: squares of dark chocolate blanketing handmade almond marzipan. The chocolate is sleek and glossy. There's an unmistakable, deep-cocoa fragrance. It looks far more appetizing than glass.
Burlington’s Vin Bar & Shop quietly closed its doors last week. After more than three years of service, owners Kevin and Kathi Cleary — proprietors of the late, great L’Amante — will no longer be pouring glasses, sampling bottles or pairing meat and cheese plates at their spot on College Street.
“Running a bar is much different than running a restaurant in Burlington,” wrote Kevin Cleary in an email. “I think some people expected [another] L’Amante [from Vin], and that could not happen, because we didn’t have the kitchen and we never planned on putting one in.”
Common customer feedback relayed the opinion that people wanted more food with their sips, he wrote.
At 3 a.m. on Sunday, a long line snakes into the Saint Catherine Street location of Boustan, a Lebanese fast-food mini-chain with five restaurants in Montréal.
Hungry dancers and club hoppers wait, examining the menu or watching sports on a wall-hung TV, until they can reach the counter and place an order. Some grab bottles and cans from the cooler: soda, aloe juice or a strawberry drink dotted with basil seeds.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm useless without breakfast. And for the past few months, I've been on a breakfast ramen kick. On work mornings, I awaken to noodles, tinged orange with runny egg yolk and sesame-scented chile-miso broth. A kimchi kick punctuates each slurp.
I usually use packaged dry ramen because I can get it anywhere and it costs a quarter. But when I can, I'll upgrade to fresh ramen from Vermont Fresh Pasta (check the fresh pasta section at your co-op or supermarket). And — especially for folks who don't ferment their own kimchi — most of the other ingredients are readily available from local purveyors.