The Purple One and Mellow Gold at Foam Brewers in Burlington
My first taste of Foam Brewers was a mauve-colored pour of the Purple One, a black currant saison that’s lush, dry and extraordinarily bright with fresh berries. Its gentle sourness and effervescence countered the soupy August humidity clinging to foreheads and water glasses outside. I took my draft to a shaded corner of Foam's patio, letting the breeze from the nearby waterfront cut the heat of a 90-degree afternoon. For the first time, I was in love with a fruit beer.
Before Foam, I’ll admit I wasn't into fruit-forward brews. My avoidance was probably sparked from a room-temperature cup of Pêche Mel' Bush sipped sometime during college, when the resident Belgian beer devotee popped a bottle of the strong, syrupy ale sent from a brother living abroad. It was poured in a red plastic cup, and subsequently followed by an equally tepid glug of a framboise lambic that tasted a bit like an opened bottle of Manischewitz. Did I mention it was warm?
Those dual sips left me believing that fruit beers were too cloyingly sweet for my taste. The sentiment held true until Dani Casey gave me a taste of the Purple One while helming the bar at Foam.
Making pesto is one of summer's most joyous pleasures. It's a snap to prepare — the recipe below takes 15 minutes — and eating it is always a special treat.
I'm a fan of the classic Italian blend of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan. But taking that recipe as a basic equation — green leaves + (garlic) + oil + nuts + (something creamy) + (a splash of citrus) + salt — opens up endless combinations of deliciousness.
So ask yourself: What green leaves do I have on hand, and what would they combine well with?
I’m a toast person, though it must be thick-cut — that’s my only requisite. Toppings might range from a rubbed clove of garlic and a couple fried eggs to a smear of peanut butter (creamy) and jam (raspberry). Depending on my mood and the weather, the toast may be decked with butter and honey or kept plain to dunk in coffee and cream. It’s a breakfast staple I’ve clung to since elementary school, when I’d eat white-bread toast — center first, crusts last — before the early morning walk.
Lately, my favorite way to dress a slice is with a few spoons of tender, homemade ricotta curds. I learned how to make ricotta from a friend’s Sicilian grandma, and it’s dead simple. There are just four factors: whole-fat milk, salt, acid and heat. After that, you need a saucepan, a cheesecloth and 20 minutes.
If you have ever tasted supple, just-made ricotta curds still warm in their cloth basket, you most likely understand their power to propel you out of bed faster than the promise of dark roast.
Most mornings, my breakfast involves one egg and a huge pile of sautéed greens, plus a handful of fresh salad greens. Sometimes I'll add a bit of cured pork product — I'll take any excuse to eat sausage, bacon or ham — and tortilla or grilled bread.
Serpentine strips of shiitake mushrooms are fried beyond recognition and shellacked with ginger-scallion soy sauce that’s both addictively salty and cloyingly sweet. It’s fat, sugar and salinity, and it’s good with a beer. Yet it’s not the best thing on the menu. And at $11 per plate, the dish is a bit steep.
I ordered the mock eel to see what all the fuss was about, but the deep-fried strands of shiitake were forgotten when the cha shao buns landed at the table.
I ordered beets from Elmer Farm in Middlebury and opened up a box of jewels. Spiraled orbs of Chioggia beets, garnet-hued red beets and golden beets so vivid they might have swallowed our summer sun whole.
I didn’t want to steam or roast these gems, fearing they would lose their color. Instead, I took inspiration from a dish I worked one night at Zuni Café in San Francisco. That evening, one of the chefs, Joe, created a gorgeous spread of slivered beets layered with circles of grapefruit and navel orange, the plate garnished with nothing more than a pinch of flaked salt and a thin float of Prosecco. It was striking. Those colors had come straight from the ground — no dyes or droplets, just a hit of red, orange and gold on a white café plate.
For a town of 902 people, Worcester has some big things going for it. Located on Route 12 between Montpelier and Morrisville, the burg is famous for its July 4 celebration — which features exceptional fireworks — and it boasts a robust community lunch. Worcester is home to Kettlesong Farm and Good Heart Farmstead (where I reside), among other agricultural operations. And, it's got a gas station that offers grocery items from India.
Ever meet a dilly bean you didn't love? Well, you can pickle peas, too. One of my girlfriends made lactofermented snap-pea "pea-kles" last summer, and they're still flavorful, crispy and sour a full year later.
So, with a few pounds of extra sugarsnaps on my hands, I threw some into jars with fresh onions from Cedar Circle Farm, a little wild chamomile (also called pineapple weed, this grows all over my driveway, and in compacted soils everywhere) then covered them in salty maple brine.
Lactopickling is super simple — my pea-kle ordeal took about 30 minutes including boiling and cooling the brine — but it's critical to follow a few important rules.
From Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better
You might remember chef Sara Moulton as one of the Food Network’s original celebrities during its first decade of television. Maybe you recognize her from her current show, "Sara's Weeknight Meals," which is set to air its sixth season in January 2017. Or perhaps you own one of her best-selling cookbooks. Her latest, Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better is an opus of home cooking, relevant to those with and without experience in the restaurant world.
With more than 30 years of culinary experience, Moulton’s other distinctions include being a protégé of Julia Child, executive chef of Gourmet Magazine, cofounder of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, and a member of the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage.
On July 9, I had the privilege of meeting the acclaimed chef at the 2016 Grafton Food Festival. Moulton and I settled into two armchairs at the Grafton Inn to talk about Child, culinary media and Vermont's influence on the food world.
In the upper Connecticut River Valley, everyone goes to Whippi Dip. Located in Fairlee village, the longtime snack bar is favored by groups from nearby summer camps, where counselors use it as a bribe (Be good campers, and maybe we'll go to Whippi Dip later). Locals use it for a quick, cheap lunch or dinner (almost everything is priced $3 to $10) or evening ice cream.
And, while the service varies from speedy to deathly slow, the food is fresh, thoughtfully crafted and, by snack-bar standards, relatively healthy. Sure, there are the usual burgers — made with local beef, turkey or black beans — fried seafood and ice cream. But Whippi Dip's menu also offers tacos ( pork, beef, fish or veggie), breakfast burritos, salads (Mexican, Asian or garden) and sandwiches stuffed with house-smoked brisket or pulled pork.