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Seconds of Summer

Monday, August 24, 2015

Seconds of Summer: First Annual Breakfast on the Farm

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 5:30 PM

Veldma the cow at Nea-Tocht Farm - STACEY BRANDT
  • Stacey Brandt
  • Veldma the cow at Nea-Tocht Farm
As I polish off a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and write my final post for Seconds of Summer, I can't help but think about how much there is to do during the few moments of sun (and rain) that Vermont calls summer. My late-night snacking isn't completely unrelated to my post this week. Last weekend, my friend Mikaela and I traveled to a Vermont dairy farm for breakfast to see who really makes the milk for our cookies and the cream for our ice cream.

Saturday, August 22, was the first annual Breakfast on the Farm held at Nea-Tocht Farm,  a 500-cow dairy owned by the Vander Wey family. The breakfast honored the Vermont dairy industry and welcomed hundreds of dairy lovers like myself to see where our beloved milk-based products originate.

Before the breakfast, I spoke with event co-organizer Dr. Julie Smith, an extension dairy specialist and associate professor at the University of Vermont. She expressed her hopes that the free breakfast and self-guided farm tour would become a learning opportunity. "We want people to ask questions," Smith says. "I've heard rumors of people that think milk comes from the back of the store. It really is a natural product that comes from cows."

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Seconds of Summer: Stowe Brewers Festival 2015

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 5:55 PM


Last Saturday, I drove to Stowe for the second day of the first annual Stowe Brewers Festival. The fest sprawled out across a rain-drenched field filled with brewers, cider makers, food carts and lots and lots of beer-thirsty enthusiasts. Co-organizers and Stowe locals Lisa Senecal and Nina Atkinson promoted an eco-friendly and community-conscious event with initiatives to be plastic-bottle free, use compostable containers and donate to local charities.

Three hours of beer crawling led to brew companies from near and far, but it was the new guys on the scene that had me (and many fellow drinkers) back in line for multiple rounds. First-year Vermont-based breweries Bent Hill Brewery, Frost Beer Works and Paine Mountain Brewing Company all proved to be as good as the bigger brew dogs at the event.

As I traveled around snapping photos and chatting up the crowd, it was really all smiles and "cheers." During my encounters with brewmasters, beer geeks, chefs and shiny college students, everyone seemed happy with being outdoors, with the people around them and, of course, with the suds in their cups. Even the rain held off, which was reason enough to raise my glass.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Seconds of Summer: Goat Appreciation at Green Mountain Girls Farm

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 10:31 AM

Mari Omland sipping a goat's-milk latte with Ingrid Bergman, the goat - STACEY BRANDT
  • Stacey Brandt
  • Mari Omland sipping a goat's-milk latte with Ingrid Bergman, the goat
It's a simple yet easily overlooked idea that what we eat takes time, effort and meticulous patience before it reaches our plate. Last week was Open Farm Week in Vermont, a six-day celebration of farms, farmers and everything related. Like a lot of people attempting a locavore lifestyle, I go to farmers markets and buy what is fresh every week. It had been a while since I'd actually gone to the source.

Last Thursday, I went to Green Mountain Girls Farm and got up close and very personal with some of our barnyard friends. 

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Seconds of Summer: PYOB at Charlotte Berry Farm

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 4:47 PM

Berries for sale at Charlotte Berry Farm - STACEY BRANDT
  • Stacey Brandt
  • Berries for sale at Charlotte Berry Farm
We're right in the sweet spot of blueberry season, and I've been craving the little guys ever since summer hit. Sure, it's great to buy a carton at the grocery store or local farmers market for snacking, baking and whatnot,  but it gets pricey, and the quality definitely varies. The only way to ensure that you're getting the most blue for your buck is to go PYO (pick your own). Last Saturday, a friend and I took a stretch of Shelburne Road down to Charlotte Berry Farm to check out their blueberry stash and sample a couple of the farm's homemade concoctions. 

The view on the way to the farm was alone worth the 25-minute drive from downtown Burlington. Storms were imminent and huge white clouds ballooned into fragments of blue sky over the mountains. We were heading for a grayer area, though, and what appeared to be large sheets of rain in the distance. All we could do was hope for the best as we turned off the highway and hopped out of the car in front of a large, wooden farm store.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Seconds of Summer: Select Sessions VIII

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 8:45 AM

Josh Panda at Select Sessions VIII - VICTORIA CASSAR
  • Victoria Cassar
  • Josh Panda at Select Sessions VIII
What do you get when you take some of Vermont's most talented musicians, put them onstage together and watch them shred some classics? Answer: Select Sessions. A collaboration of Select Design, Signal Kitchen and Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, last Thursday's iteration — the eighth — of the concert series was a tribute to some of Motown's greatest.  Luckily for me, the concert featured some soul-healing comfort food as well as music, and I surrendered to it all. 

As most of my food excursions begin, two friends and I biked a good ways down Pine Street Thursday evening with a cool breeze at our backs. After a quick peek at a smoky sunset at Oakledge Park, we followed the road back up to Select headquarters, just of Flynn Ave. A few guitar licks and muffled runs from a female vocalist escaped from a giant white tent, where the band was still tuning up. It was enough to get us excited for the night. We decided to head straight for the food trucks, hoping to fuel up for some funky dance moves later on. 

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Seconds of Summer: All Hail Summervale

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 2:33 PM

Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band gettin' down at Summervale - VICTORIA CASSAR
  • Victoria Cassar
  • Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band gettin' down at Summervale
If you can't find it, it's probably right under your nose. That's how I felt last Thursday as I sped down Intervale Road on my bike with a gang of four friends cruising behind me. It was 5:30, most of us were just off work, and we were looking for somewhere to grab dinner and some drinks and sit outside — maybe a little background music.

I thought this might be too much to ask for. I had just recently heard about Summervale, Intervale's series of summertime festivities. Being a music fan and a pesto person, it didn't take much convincing for me to attend the celebration, which featured Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band and a make-your-own pesto table. 

It was only about a 15-minute bike from downtown Burlington, so I barely had time to imagine the scene before we pulled into a grassy lot. There, a circle of tents enclosed what looked like a rather large crowd. We had followed some conveniently placed signs that advertised free, secure bike parking and checked in our vehicles.Upon entry, I showed my ID, got a cool stamp of a carrot and access to the Zero Gravity and Citizen Cider kegs. Now I was ready for the full Summervale experience.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Seconds of Summer: Star-Spangled Barbecue at Juniper

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2015 at 6:05 PM

July 3rd fireworks spectacle at Burlington's waterfront - VICTORIA CASSAR
  • Victoria Cassar
  • July 3rd fireworks spectacle at Burlington's waterfront
For some, patriotism may boil down to yearly, July 4th festivities. What better way to celebrate our independence than with burgers, beers and explosives (a few of the things that make America great)? This year, I did it a little differently.

Instead of drinking the day away down by the lake, I kicked off the evening of July 3 at a pre-fireworks extravaganza put on by Hotel Vermont. It was the first annual Cherry Street BBQ on the terrace between Juniper restaurant of Hotel Vermont and Bleu of the Courtyard Marriott. I looked forward to some good, American-style grillin'  as my friend and I walked toward the waterfront squinting into the five o'clock sun. 

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Seconds of Summer: Clover Mead Café & Farm Store

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 10:23 AM

Captain Steve Pond approaching Port Kent, N.Y. - STACEY BRANDT
  • Stacey Brandt
  • Captain Steve Pond approaching Port Kent, N.Y.
When my colleague Hannah Palmer Egan told me about North Country Creamery, a dairy farm in Keeseville, N.Y., I couldn’t have been more excited. Popping across the lake for an afternoon and biking three miles to the creamery’s little café seemed like the ideal Seconds of Summer getaway.

I invited numerous friends on this little excursion, all of whom had elaborate excuses, such as “I’m working,” or last-minute mishaps such as “I can’t find my cat,” which prevented their participation. So I, the lone traveler, awaited my maiden voyage across Champlain. With my sights set on North Country Creamery and its homemade frozen yogurt, I couldn’t imagine what else was in store for me as I pulled my bike up to King Street Dock and bought my $9 pass to board the ferry.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Seconds of Summer: A Tasty Tour of Jazz Fest

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 11:24 AM

Pat Markley Group at Light Club Lamp Shop - VICTORIA CASSAR
  • Victoria Cassar
  • Pat Markley Group at Light Club Lamp Shop
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival had a dampened opening with Friday night's downpour. With the skies much less ominous on Saturday, a friend and I mapped out a rough score for the night. It sounded pretty good: three venues that would satisfy our appetites for food, drink and music. First up was the Daily Planet to sample its new summer cocktail menu, then down to the American Flatbread outdoor patio for pizza. To cap it off, we planned for some late-night dessert at the Light Club Lamp Shop.

At about 8, my friend and I waded into the candle-lit lounge at the Planet and seated ourselves at a low table among a small crowd. Hot Pickin’ Party, a bluegrass trio and DP regular, crammed onto a tiny platform raised against the back wall and played powerfully from the shadows. We were happy to be sitting by the big, open bar front and thanked the rain gods that had graciously taken the night off.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Seconds of Summer: Burgers & Babes at Bread & Butter Farm

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 5:42 PM

Clothesline of order slips at the Burger Night pick-up table - STACEY BRANDT
  • Stacey Brandt
  • Clothesline of order slips at the Burger Night pick-up table
"When the weather's nice like this, it gets a little intense!" spirited farmhand Bekah Gordon told me. She was quite unfazed by the line of least 50 that filed down the dirt driveway at Bread & Butter Farm in Shelburne. It was Friday at B&B Farm, and in the summer that means Burger Night. 

At about 5:15, my pal and I pulled into an overgrown, grassy parking lot. A woman wearing an incredibly large sunhat seemed to be the harbinger of the warm weather we'd all been waiting for. We strolled behind a group of families toward a gleaming silo under a cloudless sky and a slight haze. The smell of freshly cut grass and a tinge of manure reminded us of cow country. A sweet twang of  country music drifted out from behind the hill. The night was young, but we did not yet realize how young. 

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