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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Melissa Pasanen's Summer Food and Drink Bucket List

Posted By on Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 7:30 AM

Canteen Creemee in Waitsfield - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Canteen Creemee in Waitsfield
The Vermont summer is far too short for most of us. Every year, I make an ambitious list of things to do that can only be done during the warm, green and (sometimes) sunny season. But, invariably, I check off only a few items.

This year, I decided to go on record with my food- and drink-related summer bucket list, both here on Bite Club and in audio via our partnership with Vermont Public Radio on VPR Café. I figure this will make me accountable for maximizing the food fun I can squeeze into this summer.

Hope to see you up a mountain before you head to lakeside pizza or the creemee stand, quaffing a cold one after a bike ride, or strolling the grounds of a national historic landmark fueled by an excellent breakfast.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

'Blended Burger' Tempts in Northfield

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 1:41 PM

Blended burger and  beer at Cornerstone Burger Co. in Northfield - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Blended burger and beer at Cornerstone Burger Co. in Northfield
Driving 96 miles round trip for a burger to celebrate its sustainability is probably counterproductive, or at least not a very practical idea. But that's what I did Saturday night when I drove to Northfield to eat a "blended burger" at Cornerstone Burger Co.

The blended burger mixes ground beef with mushrooms to reduce the amount of meat consumed and add whatever benefits are conferred by a little mushroom filler.  The burger ($13) is on the menu through July at Cornerstone, which is participating in a nationwide contest organized by the James Beard Foundation.  The idea behind the Blended Burger Project, in its third year, is to help the planet (and yourself) by limiting beef consumption, and to win the competition by making the top-rated blended burger. (The public votes.)

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

First Bite: Shepherds Pub in Waitsfield

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 3:43 PM

The fireplace at Shepherds Pub in Waitsfield - SUZANNE PODHAIZER
  • Suzanne Podhaizer
  • The fireplace at Shepherds Pub in Waitsfield
Above the fireplace at Shepherds Pub in Waitsfield hangs the head of an animal, its dark eyes watching the dining room. But this trophy is no triumph of taxidermy — it's a puffy, fabric sheep head, a faint smile on its sewn-on lips. It's a cute, innocuous nod to Vermont's hunting culture.

It's also an indication of the restaurant's theme. Located in the same building as the Mad River Woolery — a mini-mill that processes small batches of local fleece into felt and yarn — the spot, which opened last December, serves up lamb and beef from nearby farms in its signature shepherd's pie.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sweet Stuff: Sampling the Vermont Maple Festival in Saint Albans

Posted By on Sun, Apr 30, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Vermont Maple Festival - SUZANNE PODHAIZER
  • Suzanne Podhaizer
  • Vermont Maple Festival
I had my muck boots on and was prepared to forage for fiddleheads when my phone rang. A group of friends — including Ed, who grew up near L.A. and had never tasted pure maple syrup — were getting ready to head to St. Albans for the 51st annual Vermont Maple Festival. Did I want to join them?

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Grazing: Last Bites

Posted By on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Today has been one of those glamorous workdays when I eat lunch at my desk — specifically, half of a day-old turkey wrap from the Pine Street Deli (which had been delicious when fresh) and some stale popchips. Such is the last day of production on 7Nights, our annual, 136-page dining guide, which shipped to the printer early this afternoon.

This is a momentous day for another reason, though: It's my last one at Seven Days. I joined the paper in January 2011, and over the past three-plus years have chalked up enough culinary and liquid adventures to fill a book (or at least generate hundreds of articles and blog posts). I've also gotten to know some incredible people (coworkers, chefs, farmers, brewers, distillers and others), eaten innumerable kale Caesar salads from Bluebird Coffee Stop at the Innovation Center, and gained a well-earned 12 pounds. (When I see my family or distant friends now, they say, "You look ... healthy."

My last week in and around Burlington hasn't been all desk lunches, though. In fact, it's been filled with some peak moments, and a reminder of how much I'll miss. To wit:

Citizen Cider
Earlier this week, Citizen Cider launched its new Pine Street tasting room with a series of soft openings; on Monday night, that meant I got to convene with a room full of food- and ag-world peeps while sipping a glass of crisp, wonderful Cidre Bourgeois. I'm bummed to leave Burlington just as this place opened. Le sigh.

Lunch at Lucky Next Door - CORIN HIRSCH
  • Corin Hirsch
  • Lunch at Lucky Next Door

Lucky Next Door
I sit in a portion of the 7D office known as "the nook," and the four of us who occupy it (or have occupied it) call ourselves "ladies of the nook." We convened for lunch early this week at Lucky Next Door, the sister eatery to Penny Cluse Café. I blissed out over a bowl of tender beef-and-pork meatballs and piles of broccoli rabe in garlic-heavy brown gravy. It was truly a perfect lunch — made even more so when the kitchen sent out a ramekin of silky caramel custard. Once you've tasted it, you may wake up in the middle of the night craving more (as I did).

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Grazing: Fish-and-Chips at the Knotty Shamrock

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 8:37 PM

The Knotty Shamrock - CORIN HIRSCH
  • Corin Hirsch
  • The Knotty Shamrock
The first time I crossed St. George's Channel from England into Ireland — aboard a ferry — I immediately noticed a shift in people's temperaments. While the English were crisply polite and helpful, the Irish seemed brusque, beleaguered and indirect yet poetic. I had the sense they didn't give a sh*te that I was visiting their country, and looked upon most tourists with bemused resignation. "Irish, are ya?" they'd ask, bored, convinced I was (like every other American) in search of my roots.

Their tartness didn't bother me — possibly because I have Irish blood, possibly because I don't mind being left alone, and possibly I appreciate obliqueness.

My experience with Northfield's Knotty Shamrock Irish Pub and Grill reminded me of all this. Since it opened more than two years ago — and I heard then pub owners John Lyon and Kevin Pecor had plans to brew their own beer — I've made little headway in writing about the place. I called a few times to find out more but never heard back. I waited a few months and called again. Then months flew by, and finally I made it to Northfield to check out the Shamrock in person.

Judging from the late Friday afternoon throng at the bar, the Knotty Shamrock is a beloved locals' hangout. Both without and within it resembles a typical Irish-American pub: lots of dark wood, green accents and a billowing Irish flag next to the front door. Everything seems neat, though — fresher and better kept than some of the Irish watering holes in which I have passed hundreds of Guinness-soaked hours.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Grazing: Going Paleo (and Devouring Pumpkin Flatbread)

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Pumpkin flatbread - CORIN HIRSCH
  • Corin Hirsch
  • Pumpkin flatbread
Last Monday night, as I was driving home from work on a slushy, dark Interstate 89, this text popped through from my friend Helen: "pretty scrumptious locally raised pork chop here with your name on it! green chili sauce and spaghetti squash too." 

Usually when I'm tired, I reach for carbs — pretzels or pasta or roasted potatoes — yet this starch-less dish sounded like it had descended from heaven. For the last few months, I had felt sorry for what Helen had been eating, not because she's a terrible cook (she's fabulous) but  because she and her husband had "gone paleo." The first time I met them after their conversion, I finished off a plate of cubed cheese and bread while they nibbled on shrimp, and I secretly mourned that she and Dave might never again enjoy the pleasures of crusty bread, cheese or, better yet, cheese melted over bread.

The paleolithic diet has been around since the 1970s when gastroenterologist Dr. Walter Voegtlin began promoting the idea that the human body does best on the foods we ate as hunter-gatherers— basically, fish, grass-fed meat, eggs, nuts and fresh vegetables and fruit. On its surface, the paleo diet appears to be a modern take on the low-carb Atkins diet of the ’90s, but with an emphasis on pasture-raised meats and the total exclusion of grains and dairy. By cutting these things from our diet — which we never should have been eating in the first place, according to Dr. Voegtlin — we can slim down and keep all kinds of nasty diseases at bay.

Why paleo has gained traction of late, I'm not sure, but I know at least four people who have gone paleo/primal in the past year. Helen has lost 14 pounds since she began, and her husband has lost 10; my colleague, Alice Levitt, has lost 30 pounds since last summer, and says she doesn't miss eating grains at all (when she's not working, that is).

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Grazing: Fortifying With Chicken Tikka Masala From City Market

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 4:17 PM


Some office lunchtime smells can be gnarly — leftover shrimp scampi, for instance — while others are contagious. Barbecued meat, fries and curries all fall into this latter category. One whiff can alter your own lunch plans. Earlier today, when the spicy aromas from a coworker's chicken tikka masala wafted through the office, my lunchtime fate was sealed.

"Where'd you get that?" I asked. Not from an Indian place, it turned out, but from City Market, which my coworker praised for serving up consistently delicious grab-and-go meals.

I'd have to agree. City Market is like the sleeper of the Burlington lunch category, the place where I turn when I'm in a rush but totally indecisive. When I get there, I know there will be sandwiches and feta boreks and empanadas and peanut noodles and sometimes even tagine to choose from. An army of talented cooks of all backgrounds works behind the scenes there — and a secondary army of talented producers delivers ready-made meals each day.

It's easy to take the place for granted. After I procured my own $7.99 tikka masala today — and tucked into cardamom-scented rice, tender pieces of meat and a creamy, coriander-flecked, slow-burn sauce — I thought about how many times City Market had saved what I thought might be a "sad lunch" day. The only thing I needed to add was my own off-the-cuff raita, with cukes and yogurt from — you guessed it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grazing Atop Killington

Posted By on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 5:27 PM

For skiers, slopeside food options have long been the culinary equivalent of a barren tundra: curly fries, hot dogs and nachos. Then again, as Killington Resort president and general manager Mike Solimano quips, "People say they want health food, but they keep buying cheeseburgers and fries."

Last night, 150 or so people who took the K-1 Gondola at sunset up to the resort's new peak lodge — a years-long project that opened just before Christmas — listened intently to Solimano as they also munched on the chowder, sliders, shrimp cocktail and mac-and-cheese boats that make up the new frontier of Killington lunch fare.

The challenges of building a six-sided lodge at 4000-plus feet aside, Killington's food and beverage staff worked to include as much local food as possible in the new menu.

Instead of cheese fries, the skiers lounging on leather couches or gazing out the lodge's floor-to-ceiling windows can tuck instead into bowls of creamy seafood chowder topped with smoked bacon (pictured); zesty chipotle-apple turkey chili; specials such as roasted swordfish and sautéed scallops; and, yup, cheesburgers, albeit made with locally raised meat and topped with Vermont cheddar. Or, they can belly up to the bar for a pint of Shed Mountain Ale or a hot cocktail of ginger brandy, orange slices and cinnamon.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Grazing: Blood Orange-Cranberry-Lemongrass Mocktail

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 11:22 PM

Alas, the time for copious holiday drinking has passed. Cleansing teas, fresh juices and water have taken the place of bracing Manhattans and boozy egg nog — at least for the first few resolution-rich days of the new year. 

Yet staying healthy doesn't have to be boring. Mocktails, or alcohol-free cocktails, are refreshing, easy to make and user-friendly for drinkers, pregnant women and 12-steppers alike. 

This week I repurposed some leftover holiday cranberries to make a cranberry-lemongrass simple syrup, then blended it with fresh-squeezed blood orange juice and sparkling water for a juicy, tart-sweet, non-alcoholic tippler. Yeah, it has some sugar — but I needed to come down from the holidays easy. Recipe below.

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