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Locavore Movement

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chewing the (Local, Organic) Fat With Alice Waters

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Alice Waters - GILLES MINGASSON
  • Gilles Mingasson
  • Alice Waters
Alice Waters will be visiting Vermont early next month. She'll speak at Sterling College's Dunbar Hall on April 3 at 6:30 p.m. But she isn't just a celebrity chef, restaurateur and Slow Food pioneer passing through on a press tour. Waters has New England connections: Her daughter, Fanny, attended the Mountain School in Vershire, and Waters herself has an honorary degree from Dartmouth College. 

Most importantly, she has friends in Vermont. The first leg of her tour will be under the guidance of famous food writer and sometime Northeast Kingdom resident Marian Burros. After her visit to Sterling, Waters will tour Burlington's Intervale Center with its community relations manager, Joyce Cellars.

Spearheading such events has been Cellars' job when other luminaries, such as Mark Bittman, came to town. But this visit will be special. According to Waters, "[Cellars] came to work at Chez Panisse when she was very young. She was my right arm."

Waters is not only a restaurant luminary but an activist: Her Edible Schoolyard Program has gained traction in bringing real food to K-12 schools, and she hopes to see the movement expand to schools and hospitals across the country. 

In anticipation of her whirlwind tour, we checked in with Waters about Vermont cuisine, food ethics and eating shoes.

SEVEN DAYS: What brings you to Vermont?
ALICE WATERS: I think there are a lot of things that bring me to Vermont. Sterling is certainly a place that I’ve heard about for a long time from Marian Burros. She just wants me to see the way the curriculum works, the way food is served, and I’m very, very interested in that, of course. 

I also have a very, very good friend, Joyce Cellars at the Intervale. She is connected with Slow Food Vermont, and they're very excited to have me come and sign books and talk the talk.

I guess I always have these big visions of what can happen there. I’ve thought for a very long time that Vermont is the state that is really ready for edible education in the public schools — to officially get [to a point] to feed all children real food for school lunch would be an irresistible model for this country. 

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Alice Waters to Speak at Sterling College

Posted By on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 11:50 AM

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"60 Minutes" called her "the mother of Slow Food." Foodies know her as much for her work with public policy as her groundbreaking cookbooks. Yep, we're talking about Alice Waters,

With a recent surge in big names including Sandor Katz filling the instructor lists for sustainable food programs at Sterling College, it's not a big surprise that a talk by Waters, the woman behind Berkeley, Calif.'s world-famous Chez Panisse, is the college's latest coup.

Waters will appear at Sterling early next month as part of the school's Vermont’s Table Speaker Series. Past speakers have included ecologist and ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan and The Art of Fermentation author Sandor Katz. He'll teach a course in fermentation at Sterling in July.

Will Waters be Sterling's next visiting professor? It's unlikely, given the restaurateur's busy schedule of running her legendary restaurant and writing cookbooks such as The Art of Simple Food and In the Green Kitchen. Waters is also known for pioneering the Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr., Middle School. That program led to the School Lunch Initiative, a national program that has influenced Vermont's own push for local food in schools.

Vermonters can see Waters on April 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Sterling's Dunbar Hall. The event will be free, but tickets must be presented at the door. Slow Food lovers can reserve seats and learn more about the event at sterlingcollege.edu.


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

And on the (James Beard Award) Beverage Front...

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Steve Wood - COURTESY OF FARNUM HILL CIDERS
  • Courtesy of Farnum Hill Ciders
  • Steve Wood
While it's always exciting to read about the chefs and restaurants nominated for James Beard Foundation Awards, I'm particularly piqued by the bar programs, wine programs and beverage professionals who receive nods from the judges.

So it was both wonderful and gratifying to see Steve Wood, the owner of New Hampshire's Poverty Lane Orchards and Farnum Hill Ciders  nominated this year as an "Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional" semifinalist.

Wood is well known within the cider industry for his revival of heirloom apples, his exquisite hard ciders, and his boundless generosity with aspiring growers and cidermakers. More than one cidermaker has told me how Wood shared his knowledge freely with them — and it is extensive, honed over decades of running an orchard. Even though Wood might be thought of primarily as the owner of Farnum Hill, his invisible influence extends throughout the cider industry. Would we have as robust a New England cider scene without him? I doubt it.

Disclosure: Though I don't know him well, Wood is also my Poverty Lane neighbor, so I get to partake of his cider often. He has some stiff competition amongst the other 19 nominees: drinks writer/educator David Wondrich and Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman among them. We hope he makes the second cut. Go Steve!

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sandor Katz to Teach Fermentation at Sterling College

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 6:22 PM

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When Sandor Katz, author of the James Beard Foundation Award-winning The Art of Fermentation, spoke at Sterling College last spring, he attracted a standing-room-only crowd. Now he's returning to the institution, this time as a teacher.

Katz, also known as Sandorkraut, will be at Sterling from July 7 through 18 to teach "Fermentation with Sandor Katz."

According to Christian Feuerstein, Sterling's director of communications, "He is going to be available to [help students] learn fermentation one on one." Topics covered will include vegetable fermentation; making tonic beverages; culturing molds; and fermenting oils, legumes, grains and nuts. Of course, the New York Times-bestselling author of Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved will include his namesake sauerkraut among the foods in which he shares his expertise.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Alice Eats: A Busy Winter Weekend

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 12:36 PM

In Good Taste, St. Albans

It used to be that January was the Vermont dining nadir. Everyone was light on both product and motivation to do much besides try to lose weight gained over the holidays.

Clearly, times have changed. I spent the weekend going to a different culinary event each night. If you missed out, keep these breaks from the winter doldrums in mind when they next appear.

Friday: In Good Taste, St. Albans

I could never have anticipated the crowd that clogged the St. Albans City Hall on Friday night. Clearly, Franklin County was starving for a good food event. The evening began at 5 p.m. By the time I got there after 6:30, 20 tasting tickets for $10 had been discounted to $5. According to the folks selling tickets, so many vendors had already sold out that it was only fair.

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But there was still lots to learn.

I started with a sip of cucumber-flavored TreTap. The supplemented water is made from the byproducts of maple sugaring at Branon's West View Maples. Basically, it's SmartWater with a Vermont edge. It didn't taste like cucumber, but the ultra-pure liquid was a nice palate cleanser before feasting.

Nearby, students from Northwest Technical Center's culinary arts program were preparing a piquant steak tartare using meat donated by Highgate Center's Choiniere Family Farm.

I ended the evening with a flight of five different ice ciders from from Hall Home Place of Isle La Motte.

Surprisingly for this nondrinker, my favorite was the Sweet Six, which its makers describe as having a "brandy-like finish." What I liked more than the burn was the ideal blend of sweet and tart. The acid of some apples cut through the sticky sweetness of others. Too bad the six apples change each season. I may never taste a blend quite like that one again.

Saturday: Ramen Cook-Off, Shelburne

The following evening, my buddy Jack Thurston and I judged the first of three annual cooking contests held at Chef Contos Kitchen & Store, owned by another pal, Courtney Contos.

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Since the store is small, entries were capped at seven. To keep things fair, we tasted each bowl anonymously labeled with a number. Three were Thai curry soups, not ramens, so, while tasty, they simply couldn't win.

One soup stood out clearly from the pack. It had the lip-glossing slick of collagen I was looking for in a well-salted broth. Just as the truck drivers in Tampopo insist, the balance of broth, noodles and meat was spot-on, too. And it turned out the winner had a familiar face.

Suzanne Podhaizer of Salt in Montpelier, former Seven Days food editor, turned out to be the ramen's creator. I hadn't realized at first taste that the soup was made not from pork but from goose, including braised meat and cracklings from the animals she helped raise (and slaughter) herself at a farm called Gozzard City in Cabot.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Help Maple Wind Farm After Last Week's Fire

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 6:11 PM

The destroyed barn Richmond last summer

Before most of us were awake on Monday, January 13, Beth Whiting and Bruce Hennessey of Maple Wind Farm had already received some very bad news. Just an hour and a half after the fire department arrived, their historic barn was declared a total loss.

Though the pair's home farm is in Huntington, an expansion in the summer of 2013 meant adding a Richmond property, including the barn that was destroyed.

The damage amounts to about $200,000, including refrigerators, washing tools, office space and 10,000 pounds of frozen vegetables.

Reached by phone this afternoon, Whiting was surprisingly upbeat. No people or animals were harmed in the fire and the farmers were able to sell their wares at the Burlington Farmers Market last weekend. Whiting says that although some poultry processing equipment was damaged in the fire, the farm remains on track to pass USDA inspection this winter. She calls the ability to rebuild to their own specifications a "silver lining."

Selling their own products will help cover some costs, but friends are helping out, too. David Zuckerman and Rachel Nevitt of Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg are supplying organic pork and vegetables for a fundraiser at Hinesburgh Public House on January 28. The dinner, served from 5 to 9 p.m., will consist of three courses, all for $25. Ben & Jerry's is donating dessert.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Flooded Intervale Farm Finds a New Home

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 4:26 PM

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Vermont farmers will be in our thoughts tomorrow as we tuck into our Thanksgiving meals. And just in time for the holiday, Amanda Andrews and Mike Betit of Burlington's Tamarack Hollow Farm have something to be thankful for — they're moving to higher ground.

In a story last summer about the pitfalls of farming on the Burlington floodplain, Andrews articulately outlined the “urban farm adventure" on which she and her husband embarked after moving their farm from Wheelock in 2010. As of August, Tamarack Hollow had lost more than $100,000 this year alone to the flooding that crippled the growth of both plants and animals from the start.

Andrews was at her limit, even considering a career change. “What does seven years’ farming experience get you in the real world?” she wondered at the time. “You look through the job postings, and what you’d be qualified for is pretty slim.”

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The New Café Shelburne Is Serving BYOB Dinners

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM

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A cute rabbit standing back-to-back with a giant chef's knife. The new logo makes it clear that this is not your grandmother's Café Shelburne.

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And you can get a taste of the locally focused French fare now. New chef-owners Bill Iliff and Weston Nicoll (right) began their soft opening last weekend. The restaurant is now welcoming diners, as long as they bring their own wine. Café Shelburne will open officially, complete with wine list by Lauren Taratoot, by November 15.

The wines will focus on bottles from the Loire Valley, which the chefs compare to Vermont, but with a warmer summer that allows the grapes to grow more delicious. The wines are predominantly biodynamic, but Nicoll says this is because "the small producers we want to get, that's just how they're doing it. That's how their grandfathers did it — there's just a word for it now."

Continue reading »

The New Café Shelburne Is Serving BYOB Dinners

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM

img_6573.jpg


A cute rabbit standing back-to-back with a giant chef's knife. The new logo makes it clear that this is not your grandmother's Café Shelburne.

img_6572.jpg

And you can get a taste of the locally focused French fare now. New chef-owners Bill Iliff and Weston Nicoll (right) began their soft opening last weekend. The restaurant is now welcoming diners, as long as they bring their own wine. Café Shelburne will open officially, complete with wine list by Lauren Taratoot, by November 15.

The wines will focus on bottles from the Loire Valley, which the chefs compare to Vermont, but with a warmer summer that allows the grapes to grow more delicious. The wines are predominantly biodynamic, but Nicoll says this is because "the small producers we want to get, that's just how they're doing it. That's how their grandfathers did it — there's just a word for it now."

Continue reading »

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Slow Food Vermont Awards its First 'Snails of Approval'

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 3:58 PM

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Slow Food Vermont's membership drive just ended with tiny Vermont among the top four chapters in Slow Food USA to attract the most new members. But that's not the organization's only big news. Local restaurants are going slow with a new designation and a series of dinners.

Last year, just before the biennial international food conference Terra Madre, in Turin, Italy, Slow Food Vermont announced it would introduce the "Snail of Approval" to award to Vermont restaurants. The first two have finally been chosen.

The symbol at right is used worldwide to denote restaurants that adhere to Slow Food's ethic of "quality, authenticity and sustainability." The first two restaurants in Vermont to gain the honor are Mary's Restaurant at The Inn at Baldwin Creek and Hen of the Wood—Waterbury.

According to Mara Welton, Slow Food Vermont leader and Slow Food USA regional governor for New England, the restaurants were selected using an extremely exacting process. "That’s the point," says Welton. "We’re not just handing these out willy-nilly. We spent an enormous amount of time vetting."

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