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Monday, July 13, 2020

State Allocates Millions for Hunger Relief Program Operated by Restaurants

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 5:53 PM

ShiftMeals at the Skinny Pancake commissary in Winooski - COURTESY OF SHIFTMEALS
  • Courtesy of ShiftMeals
  • ShiftMeals at the Skinny Pancake commissary in Winooski
In late March, about a week after Gov. Phil Scott ordered restaurants to close to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the Skinny Pancake turned its commissary kitchen in Winooski into the cooking site of a program called ShiftMeals.

The initiative was designed to provide free meals to restaurant workers, musicians and other Vermonters who lost their jobs during the pandemic and were in need of food assistance.

ShiftMeals then formed a partnership with the Vermont Foodbank to expand its reach. The program currently has 18 distribution sites around the state and has provided 50,000 meals to Vermonters in need, with a goal of distributing 100,000 meals by year's end, according to ShiftMeals director Jean Hamilton.

Now ShiftMeals is serving as a model for a statewide initiative, backed by $5 million in government funding, in which restaurants around the state will use their facilities and employees to help feed Vermonters who are experiencing food insecurity. The new program, called Everyone Eats, was announced Monday morning at a press conference outside the Skinny Pancake’s Lake Street restaurant in Burlington.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Sharp Increase in Reported Poisonings From Ramp Look-Alike

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2020 at 8:01 PM

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) harvested in late April (not be used for ID purposes) - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Ramps (Allium tricoccum) harvested in late April (not be used for ID purposes)
Reported cases of serious illness due to people mistaking highly poisonous false hellebore (Veratrum viride) for a prized wild edible, ramps (Allium tricoccum), have more than doubled in Vermont over last year's number: to 22 so far, according to Dr. Karen Simone, director of the Northern New England Poison Center.

"It makes you wonder: Are people just having more time on their hands, or are they going back to nature because of all the things that are happening?" Simone said. "It's hard to know, but it's definitely a big increase."

The Poison Center, based in Portland, Maine, serves Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire; it typically receives from zero to eight reports of false hellebore poisoning per year across all three states. The total number of cases to date is 25. All but three of those have been reported in Vermont, mostly in May. 

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Hill Farmstead Top Brewery in the World for Fifth Year

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2019 at 4:13 PM


The team at Hill Farmstead, founder Shaun Hill standing fourth from left - HILL FARMSTEAD BREWERY
  • Hill Farmstead Brewery
  • The team at Hill Farmstead, founder Shaun Hill standing fourth from left
Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro was named the best brewery in the world for the fifth straight year by RateBeer,  which announced its annual ratings on Tuesday. The brewery on a dirt road in the Northeast Kingdom beat out more than 34,000 breweries  to win the 2018 title,  according to RateBeer.

"At this point, it's kind of like we really hope we get No. 1," said Phil Young, who works in production and retail at Hill Farmstead.  "If you're at the top, there's nowhere to go but down, so you want to stay there."

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hen of the Wood Restaurateurs Buy Prohibition Pig

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 3:22 PM

COURTESY OF PROHIBITION PIG
  • Courtesy of Prohibition Pig
Prohibition Pig is closed Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. When it reopens on Thursday, the restaurant will do so under new ownership: Eric Warnstedt and Will McNeil, co-owners of Hen of the Wood and Doc Ponds, purchased the Waterbury brewpub on Tuesday, Warnstedt said.

The business partners purchased Prohibition Pig — a restaurant/bar and affiliated brewery and tasting room — from Chad Rich, finalizing the deal at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday.  With the new acquisition, Warnstedt and McNeil own four restaurants — two in Waterbury, where Warnstedt founded the original Hen in 2005; a second Hen on Cherry Street in Burlington, and Doc Ponds in Stowe.

“I’ve been buddies with Chad since before all this,” Warnstedt said. “It was an easy transition to think maybe we’d be partners one day. And then it came to the idea of him maybe wanting to make some changes, and I was the logical option without shopping it.”

Warnstedt, who grew up in Florida and North Carolina, said the prospect of running a restaurant that serves Southern-style food appeals to him. Prohibition Pig features smoked meat plates, barbecue sandwiches, burgers and other pub fare.

Eric Warnstedt, right, with William McNeil - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Eric Warnstedt, right, with William McNeil
“I’m really excited,” Warnstedt, 43, said. “I’m born in the South, and this is everything in the world I’ve wanted to play in. Here we can play in our local world  but with this whole southern spin, which is right up my alley.”

There are no plans to make changes at the Waterbury brewpub, which employs about 50 people, Warnstedt said. The acquisition brings to 160 the number of people employed by the restaurateurs.

“It’s really just getting to know everyone,” Warnstedt said. “The Pig has been doing great for six years; let’s set up for another six years. It’s really about building up the foundation so we’re setting ourselves up there to be successful in the long term.”

Prohibition Pig occupies the space at 23 South Main Street in Waterbury that was the original home of the Alchemist, a brewpub founded in 2003 by John and Jen Kimmich. The  couple later moved out of the downtown space to launch a cannery in Waterbury, where they brewed Heady Topper. In July 2016, the Kimmiches opened a brewery and visitor center in Stowe.

“I feel like we’re really carrying the torch of what’s been happening there, from the Alchemist to Prohibition Pig to our version of Prohibition Pig," Warnstedt said.

Since Tropical Storm Irene damaged homes and businesses in Waterbury in August 2011, the town's rebuilding  efforts have come to include a revitalized downtown. Waterbury has become a food and beverage hub of the region.

“For me, I live here,” Warnstedt said. “I’m not going anywhere. I feel like I want to double-down in Waterbury. We can do a lot more to the town through the Pig. It’s bigger [than Hen-Waterbury]. There’s more going on. It’s the center of the town, physically and spiritually.”

The Burlington Free Press reported the news of Prohibition Pig’s sale earlier on Tuesday.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Dining on a Dime: UVMMC Garden Atrium

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 4:25 PM


Carrot fritters and roast vegetables - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Carrot fritters and roast vegetables

A voluntary trip to the hospital is not a bad thing. Such an outing comes with benefits if the destination is the Garden Atrium café at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Cost and personal choice are two of the pluses. Local and fresh are two more. With a longstanding commitment to sourcing local ingredients, UVMMC purchases food from more than 70 regional farmers and producers, according to its website.

But let’s start with cost. Some hospital trips — let’s say for a mammogram or a tetanus shot — include a mystery about the price of the service. Even after the bill arrives.

At the Garden Atrium, prices are listed on a blackboard. And they’re low. I got three carrot fritters dressed with feta and a tangy cranberry vinaigrette and served with a side of greens for $4.25. My side of roast vegetables was $1.25. The only thing cheaper was the free parking because I was in and out in an hour.

Let’s move to choice. There was plenty. I was tempted by the soup of the day – mushroom, bacon and kale for $2.95. New England crab cakes ($6.25) came on arugula sautéed with maple-brined bacon, and served with a side of pickled root vegetables and remoulade. Ravioli ($7.25) had everything you’d cook it with at home — roasted red peppers, spinach, garlic, white wine, shallots and more — plus stuff you’d want at home but wouldn’t have (artichokes and mascarpone). I’m stilling thinking about the passed over red pepper and white bean hummus ($3.75) with olive tapenade, dill and toasted naan. The list goes on.

Raised-bed gardens at UVMMC - SALLY POLLAKL
  • Sally Pollakl
  • Raised-bed gardens at UVMMC
Options extend to the dining area where seating includes a big chair with attached desk-top that faces raised-bed gardens, spots around the gas fireplace in the center of the room or traditional dining at a table. Wherever you sit, meals are delivered.

Many trips to the hospital are inconclusive and this one was, too. The lingering question concerns the third vegetable in my side of roasted veggies. The menu listed carrots, cauliflower and asparagus but I’m pretty sure the orange food in my bowl was sweet potatoes. For $1.25 and lots of garlic, who cares?
Dining on a Dime is a weekly series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: food@sevendaysvt.com.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

An Heirloom Tomato Salad With Mystery Tomatoes

Posted By on Wed, Jun 6, 2018 at 3:59 PM


Heirloom Tomato Salad at Rí Rá - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Heirloom Tomato Salad at Rí Rá
The salad on the menu at Rí Rá Irish Pub in downtown Burlington is called Heirloom Tomato Salad. The first ingredient listed in the description is “Half Pint Farms [sic] heirloom tomatoes.”

But Half Pint Farm hasn’t harvested tomatoes since the fall of 2017, and the first harvest of this season will be in about six weeks, said Mara Welton, who owns and operates the farm at Burlington's Intervale with her husband, Spencer Welton.

Mara Welton handles farm deliveries herself, transporting produce to about 30 restaurants in Chittenden County. In the 13 years  that Half Pint has been growing tomatoes, Welton said she has never delivered them to Rí Rá.

“I’m infuriated. This is something that's been happening regularly," Welton said, meaning beyond this instance and this restaurant. “It happens on different levels and it erodes our brand, and I think it erodes every farm’s brand that is being used this way.”

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Dining on a Dime: Mad River Taste Place

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 5:05 PM

Cheese board at Mad River Taste Place - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Cheese board at Mad River Taste Place
Before dining on a dime in Waitsfield, I sat on a nickel.

On a made-in-Vermont swing through the Mad River Valley, I stopped for a peek at the Bundy Modern. Wow!  The stunning hillside gallery in a private home in Waitsfield is exhibiting the work of southern Vermont artist Johnny Swing through September 10.  (Read the Seven Days review here.) Many of Swing's pieces are made of money, including a low-slung couch of welded nickels that I sat on gingerly — mindful of the $150,000 price tag. Swing's chair of pennies is listed for a cool quarter mill.

With those prices in mind, I felt like I hit the bargain basement when I got to the Mad River Taste Place.  The priciest cheese, Sunrise from Mt. Mansfield Creamery, sells for $31.99 a pound. Most are in the $16 to $20 per pound price range, and all are made locally.

The Vermont specialty shop opened two months ago in a former bank in a strip mall off Route 100.  A big rock at the end of the driveway blocks people from driving up to the erstwhile teller window. But you can enter by foot through a door at the back side of the building.

The high-ceilinged shop is filled with Vermont products including chocolates, breads, birch syrup, honey and booze.  The old bank vault stores a new set of valuables: cheese and beer.  Cheese, in fact, is the main product at the Taste Place, which has a rotating, seasonal cast of about 55 Vermont cheeses in its deli case out of 80 total varieties.
Cheese case at Mad River Taste Place - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Cheese case at Mad River Taste Place
Though the business is mostly a retail shop, you can eat a cheese and charcuterie board in-house. My friend and I shared the $13 plate and it was plenty of food for two — with three types of cheese, hard salami, a small bowl of jam, and matzoh from Patchwork Farm and Bakery in Hardwick. Customers can select their own cheeses, almost a daunting task, or get guidance from the welcoming and well-informed staff.  We paired our late-afternoon meal with a lovely saison from 1st Republic Brewery in Essex Junction.

For leaf peepers looking for  a Vermont snack, Mad River Taste Place is a fun place to pull over. Just steer clear of the old drive-through lane.

Dining on a Dime is a weekly series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: food@sevendaysvt.com.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

The Big Feed at Shelburne Farms: Vermont Fresh Network Dinner

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 4:01 PM

Vermont Fresh Network fundraiser at Shelburne Farms - SOPHIE X. POLLAK
  • Sophie X. Pollak
  • Vermont Fresh Network fundraiser at Shelburne Farms
The Vermont Fresh Network held its annual gala last Sunday evening at Shelburne Farms.  The occasion is billed as a "forum," but it's perhaps better described as a mass feeding.

About 400 people attended the sold-out fundraiser for the VFN — a statewide nonprofit that connects food producers and restaurateurs, and works to strengthen partnership between the groups. The network's membership includes 113 chefs and 140 farmers/food producers.

Sunday night at the Coach Barn, farmer-chef connections were on display in a delicious and creative array of mini-meals, from  complex (smoked beef with pickled blueberries and radishes, garlic-chili aioli, basil and mint) to simple (ham and butter on baguette).

To honor the event, we recognize seven contributions:

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Friday, February 3, 2017

The Simmering Bone Sells the Nourishing Power of Broth

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Beef broth from the Simmering Bone - COURTESY OF THE SIMMERING BONE
  • Courtesy of the Simmering Bone
  • Beef broth from the Simmering Bone
After Rachel Collier had her first child, she researched best practices for introducing solid foods to little ones. In the process, bone broth — which is made by simmering bones slowly over a long period of time to extract as many nutrients as possible — came up again and again. Now, it's not only a part of her family's daily diet, it's also the basis for her business, the Simmering Bone. "It's pretty amazing stuff," she explains.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tilt (Finally!) Opens in South Burlington

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 10:21 PM

1983 game Tapper isn't in the house, but its bartender is, attending to E. Honda and Darth Vader
  • 1983 game Tapper isn't in the house, but its bartender is, attending to E. Honda and Darth Vader
There was no escaping the heat last night. But inside Tilt Classic Arcade and Ale House, it was practically a sauna. The air conditioning shorted out earlier that day, leaving the restaurant steamy by its 7:30 p.m. opening. The system will be fixed on Thursday morning, but the throngs at last night's opening sweated to the oldies nonetheless. 

Anticipation had built to a fever pitch since Seven Days announced the upcoming "adult" arcade in March. The usual new-restaurant holdups ensued, slowed by the major renovations to the space involved in creating Tilt's two floors of arcade games in just 12 weeks

"It's been a series of unfortunate events," says co-owner Thom Dodge, of the weeks and days that led up to opening.

Last week, the fire department was called to the space to help with wiring concerns in the hood system. Following a longer-than-expected wait for approval from the fire marshall, Tilt opened at last evening after a brief false start of a promised 3 p.m. debut.

What did gamers find? 

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