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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sugar High! Meet Hen of the Wood's Pastry Chef

Posted By on Tue, May 3, 2016 at 3:22 PM

From left: Nick Frank, Laura Schantz, Kevin Sokal - COURTESY OF HEN OF THE WOOD
  • Courtesy of Hen of the Wood
  • From left: Nick Frank, Laura Schantz, Kevin Sokal

I can recall all of the times I’ve had cornflakes in my dessert: once, last week at Hen of the Wood in Burlington.

The dessert was a brown-butter cake with peanut butter ice cream and apple granita, all topped with slightly crumbled cornflakes. It hit just about every taste and texture possible. The cake was light, the peanut butter ice cream salty and a bit rich; the apple added a bit of pucker, and the cornflakes gave it crunch. The dish was equal parts delightful, complicated and playful.

We ordered two of them.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sugar High! Talking Dessert Wines With Jason Zuliani

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 2:29 PM

Last week, Dedalus Wine co-owner Jason Zuliani and I sat on squishy cube chairs at Maglianero Café in Burlington for a chat about dessert. That is, dessert wines, what pairs well with them and, of course, what wines go best with chocolate.

In general, Zuliani said, your wine should be sweeter than your dessert if you’re going to pair the two. Think about toothpaste, he suggested. Ever brushed your teeth and then tried to eat fruit? It tastes much more sour than normal. Zuliani said this has to do with the high level of sugar in toothpaste. Same goes for pairing dessert and wine.

Chocolate is the one exception. Zinfandels, he advised, tend to go really well with chocolate.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sugar High! Goat's Milk Caramels From Big Picture Farm

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 3:27 PM

Ginger and Junebug, Big Picture Farm goats - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Ginger and Junebug, Big Picture Farm goats

A few weeks ago I took a trip to Big Picture Farm in Townshend. There I met owners Louisa Conrad and Lucas Farrell, as well as their 30-plus goats. 

Conrad had sent a box of caramels to Seven Days that caught my attention. The goat's milk caramels came in creative flavors including wild coconut mint and brown-butter bourbon. Our box contained maple cream, sea salt and vanilla, cocoa-latte, and chai. The chai was intense — just like drinking a chai latte — and its flavor lingered on the palate. The maple cream version was delightfully light.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sugar High! Sweetness in Brattleboro

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 2:51 PM

Cherry pie, Vermont Country Deli - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Cherry pie, Vermont Country Deli
Last week, fellow food writer Hannah Palmer Egan and I took a road trip to Brattleboro. Over three days and two nights, we ate our way through the city, looking for its best gems. It was a wonderful whirlwind trip, and I wished I had packed a suitcase filled with eating pants. What we found was that the little city well to the south of Burlington has a lot to offer, including handsome old brick buildings, a scenic river and friendly people . You can read that story here

Should you be planning to pass through Brattleboro — or maybe adding it to your upcoming Vermont Restaurant Week itinerary — here are some recommended sweet treats to keep in mind.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sugar High! Sweet Babu at Incubator

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 9:26 AM

Spicy tequila caramel corn - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Spicy tequila caramel corn

Last Friday night, Misery Loves Co.'s Incubator hosted an event featuring childhood sweets paired with grown-up drinks. Local baker Shana Goldberger of Sweet Babu brought the sweets, and MLC provided the alcohol. Like many things that happen in the Winooski pop-up space that formerly housed MLC's bakeshop, this was a special, one-time event.

Friday’s menu included duos such as lemon-lime soda cake and Lost Nation Mosaic IPA; shoofly pie and a Manhattan made with maple sap; and a chocolate brownie sundae with smoked salt and hot fudge paired with Mayflower Porter.

My dining partner noted that the caramel corn reminded her of Yankees games with her family while she was growing up. At first we combined it with a margarita, which was nice. But Zero Gravity's Green State Lager really brought home the baseball nostalgia. The popcorn’s spicy edge and lingering, growing heat gave it a grown-up twist.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sugar High! Flambé Bombe at ¡Duino! (Duende)

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 4:29 PM

Flambé Bombe at ¡Duino! (Duende) - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Flambé Bombe at ¡Duino! (Duende)

 When I'm served something like the item in the photo above, my expectations tend to be high. They certainly were when I ordered the Flambé Bombe at ¡Duino! (Duende) in Burlington last weekend.

Even before I saw it, the description was alluring: "A thin layer of flourless chocolate cake with fig compote & local chocolate chip vanilla bean ice cream, topped with fresh meringue, served en fuego."

I’m a fan of chocolate and ice cream, and both these things on fire — why not?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sugar High! Lemon-Lavender Teacakes

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 4:41 PM

Lemon-lavender teacakes at Barrio Bakery - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Lemon-lavender teacakes at Barrio Bakery

Ryan Bunce, 35, co-owner of Barrio Bakery in Burlington’s Old North End, doesn’t quite understand why people go crazy about his teacakes. I mean, a faintly lavender, fluffy, muffin-like creation with icing oozing down the sides. It sounds terrible. That is, if terrible is code for “I need a dozen of these.”

When Bunce and his wife, Jessica, took over the bakery in 2010, it went by a different name, Panadero Bakery. The operation was squeezed into a space half the size it is now, the kitchen partitioned from customers with a curtain. The couple would bring their sons in with them early in the mornings. At first patrons would come in loudly and wake up the little ones, Bunce says, but regulars soon learned to slip in quietly.

The Bunces brought more than kiddies to the bakery; they soon put their own stamp on the place, changing the name to Barrio and adding pizza in the evenings. The current operation supplies baked goods to coffee shops and restaurants around town, including Speeder & Earl's Coffee, Tight Squeeze Coffee Shop  and Juniper in Hotel Vermont.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Sugar High! Homemade Peach Pie

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 4:41 PM

Peach pie with bourbon-maple caramel drizzle - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Peach pie with bourbon-maple caramel drizzle
This week’s Sugar High! column is a celebration of pie. And for good reason: Today is when the calendar aligns with the first three digits of one of the world’s most enchanting numbers: pi. Actually, if you round up 3.14159 you get 3.1416 or  3/14/16, making today's date very special indeed. 

Vermont has many, many wonderful pie makers. I've sampled a few, but I decided to make my own pie this time. On this 3/14, I will be eating a slice of peach pie with a mound of Vermont-made Wilcox vanilla ice cream, drizzled with a bourbon-maple caramel sauce.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sugar High! Mango and Sticky Rice

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Mango and sticky rice at M-Saigon - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Mango and sticky rice at M-Saigon

There’s a place in Burlington's South End known for its $3.75 banh mi sandwiches. The eatery, M-Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant, is located on Shelburne Road,  across the street from the end of Flynn Avenue, and shares a parking lot with Union Jacks, among other businesses.

The mango and sticky rice here is a dish not to miss. Five dollars and change gets you a hefty glob of rice and half a fresh mango, the fruit chopped into bitesize pieces. Both are covered in a sweet coconut sauce that has just enough salt to contrast with the sugary flavors. Black and white sesame seeds dot the top and add crunch.

While the rice is "sticky," it comes apart easily enough. The stick is sufficient to bind the grains together, and not the kind that leaves food glued to the top of your mouth for hours. This texture is the result of soaking the short grain sweet rice for five hours before cooking, according to owner Khoi Nguyen. Otherwise, there's no fancy technique. After its long bath, the rice is cooked on the stove for 30 minutes, he says.

This is a dessert, but it's almost enough to make an entire meal. Every bite delivers sweet, salty, sticky, crunchy and soft. I’ve had the banh mi and thought it was fine, but the sticky rice is memorable.

Sugar High! is a weekly exploration into the Vermont dessert scene. It features everything from chefs to recipe tips to the best sweets on Vermont menus. Got an idea for something you'd like to see in Sugar High? Email [email protected].

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Sugar High! Gelato at Sotto Enoteca

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 12:24 PM

Chocolate gelato - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Chocolate gelato
Walk a few steps up St. Paul Street from Trattoria Delia and you’ll find Sotto Enoteca. Same menu, same kitchen staff, different ambiance. Last Friday, I visited the cozy Burlington wine bar for an early dinner. I sipped WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey with a single square ice cube. Whiskey because my appetizer was chocolate.

To be specific, it was a profiterole — chocolate-covered, gelato-filled pastry. Think éclair but filled with Italian-style ice cream. Mine was stuffed with the vanilla version of the frozen treat. I found this to be a nice balance with the chocolate. However, halfway through the mountain of dessert, I still had to call in reinforcements. I couldn’t finish it alone.

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