Bite Club | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Rising in Vermont: Backdoor Bread Launches With a Pop-Up Sale

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 11:57 AM

Loaves from Backdoor Bread - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Loaves from Backdoor Bread
After 18 years of building their Providence, R.I., bakery up to three locations plus a commissary kitchen, Lynn and Jim Williams sold Seven Stars Bakery and decided to move to the country.

“Now was the time to realize Jim Williams’ dream of being a whole-grain baker in a country barn,” wrote the Providence Journal, announcing the sale in November 2018 of the “iconic artisan maker of olive bread, durum sticks and pastries.”

Vermonters can thank motorcycles, mills and good schools for leading the Williams family to Charlotte, where they're launching Backdoor Bread with an afternoon pop-up sale on Monday, May 6, at Philo Ridge Farm.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Sweet Eats Kick Off Vermont Restaurant Week

Posted By on Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 6:15 PM

All the desserts entered in the 2019 Sweet Start Smackdown competition - STEPHEN MEASE
  • Stephen Mease
  • All the desserts entered in the 2019 Sweet Start Smackdown competition
Vermont Restaurant Week kicked off in super-sweet, sticky-sweet style on Thursday night at Higher Ground,  site of a friendly dessert competition.

The Sweet Start Smackdown pitted mocha cupcakes against lavender cookies, blueberry buzz buckle against chocolate vulvas.  In all, 10 sweet concoctions competed in the edible showdown with winners picked by the taste-testing, finger-licking crowd and a panel of three judges.

The Winners: Laura Johnson & Amber Corey from The Essex, Culinary Resort & Spa - STEPHEN MEASE
  • Stephen Mease
  • The Winners: Laura Johnson & Amber Corey from The Essex, Culinary Resort & Spa
Triple citrus mascarpone mousse from the Essex won first place. This treat stood out for its bright flavors and masterful technique. The orange mousse with lemon curd filling set on a basil-lime cookie  was  also notable for  ingredients it didn't contain: chocolate, caramel and gluten.

Laura Johnson, the 23-year-old pastry chef at the Essex Resort & Spa, said she was thinking of “spring flavors” when she conceived of  the dessert. “I’m not a big chocolate person,” Johnson said. “And I like the idea of triple citrus.”

Johnson won her first cooking competition at age 9, when her tropical sorbet was the victor at her elementary school showdown in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Triple Citrus Mascarpone Mousse Bite (GF): Orange-infused mascarpone mousse, with a lemon curd core, on a basil lime cookie. The winning dish from Laura Johnson & Amber Corey of The Essex, Culinary Resort & Spa. - STEPHEN MEASE
  • Stephen Mease
  • Triple Citrus Mascarpone Mousse Bite (GF): Orange-infused mascarpone mousse, with a lemon curd core, on a basil lime cookie. The winning dish from Laura Johnson & Amber Corey of The Essex, Culinary Resort & Spa.
Thursday night, Johnson and her co-worker triumphed over second-place finisher Birchgrove Baking of Montpelier. Birchgrove’s salted caramel almond cake packed a two-bite wallop of flavors and textures that crunched, popped, smushed, oozed and delighted. In third place was the seasonal offering of Eveleyne’s on Center in St. Albans: a sugarhouse cake dripping with maple and topped with whipped cream.

Despite the sugar highs that accompanied the event, the dessert crowd was a mellow one. Bartender Kris Hardy, who said he pours shots of whiskey and tequila nonstop at Higher Ground concerts, didn’t serve one shot Thursday night. It was a wine and seltzer kind of night, he said, with some vodka and sodas thrown in.

“It’s more relaxed and laid-back compared to the chaos of a rock and roll concert,” Hardy noted.

One attendee, Hannah Mills, stayed up past her bedtime to attend the Sweet Start Smackdown with her mother. A South Burlington second-grader, Hannah ate and rated every offering. Scoring the sweet eats on a scale of 1 to 10, she bestowed her highest mark — 8 — on the chocolate stout cupcake from Sweet Babu in Winooski.

Eating 10 desserts in one night is a lifetime record for Hannah, who described the activity this way: “It might be a bit much, but it was fun to try them all.”

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Dining on a Dime: Maxi's Restaurant

Posted By on Fri, Apr 19, 2019 at 2:52 PM

Soup and sandwich at Maxi's - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Soup and sandwich at Maxi's
In the half hour that I sat at the lunch counter at Maxi's Restaurant in Waterbury, I went from being called “sweetie” to “sweet pea.” To top it off, the waitress who brightened my day with these easy-flowing endearments was named Angie! (If there’s a better song than “Angie,” I can’t think of it right now.)

Angie did everything else right, too, with an assist from the sandwich maker who made my roast beef on rye with Swiss cheese. (If there’s a better cheese than Swiss, I can’t think of it right now. Why doesn’t anyone in Vermont make it? HMU if you do.)

But let’s back up.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Dolce VT Food Truck Owners Open New Restaurant, Poco, in Burlington

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2019 at 4:17 PM

Pork belly on pita (left) and Thai grilled chicken - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Pork belly on pita (left) and Thai grilled chicken
Fans of Dolce VT's truffle fries and fried chicken sandwich no longer have to eat outside the Maltex Building  on Pine Street in Burlington, where the popular food truck has often been parked in warmer months. The business has a new name, Poco, and a permanent location: 55 Main Street in Burlington.

Chef/co-owner Stefano  Cicirello opened his restaurant on April 11 in the space that most recently housed Doughnut Dilemma. He owns Poco with his sister, Susie Ely.

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Hissho Sushi Arrives at City Market's Two Stores

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2019 at 2:28 PM

Ryan Kang (left) and Phong Shin of Hissho Sushi - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Ryan Kang (left) and Phong Shin of Hissho Sushi
A new sushi concession will open at City Market, Onion River Co-op on Saturday, when Hissho Sushi launches its business at both locations of the Burlington food co-op.

Hissho Sushi, based in Charlotte, N.C., operates 1,400 locations nationwide,
according to Ryan Kang, the regional manager. The City Market locations are
the company's first sites in Vermont, he said.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Morning Light Bakery Opens in Winooski

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2019 at 11:55 AM


Left to right: Yu Fei Cheng and Ann Wong at Morning Light Bakery - COURTESY OF KEN LIU
  • Courtesy of Ken Liu
  • Left to right: Yu Fei Cheng and Ann Wong at Morning Light Bakery
Ken Liu’s parents will miss their son’s naturalization ceremony Thursday
afternoon in South Royalton. The couple is occupied with a milestone of their own: They opened a bakery Thursday morning in Winooski: Morning Light Bakery.

“It’s OK,” Ken, 21, told Seven Days before driving to Vermont Law School to
become a U.S. citizen. “I’ll take selfies and send them.”

Morning Light Bakery, at 106 East Allen Street, is a self-serve shop that
specializes in Asian pastries, sweet and savory. The bakery, at the site previously occupied by Dobra Tea,  is owned and operated by Ken’s parents, Ann Wong and King Chiu Liu. The family emigrated from Hong Kong eight years ago and settled in Essex Junction. (Ken's parents became U.S. citizens before their son did.)

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

It Was Raining Cones at Ben & Jerry's in Burlington

Posted By on Tue, Apr 9, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Left to right: Alivia Roth, Lissy Sumner, Lucy McLaughlin, Camryn Muzzy, Tess Barker at Free Cone Day - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Left to right: Alivia Roth, Lissy Sumner, Lucy McLaughlin, Camryn Muzzy, Tess Barker at Free Cone Day
Freezing rain was the topping du jour at Free Cone Day, the annual global event when Ben & Jerry's gives away ice cream cones to celebrate another anniversary.

The crowd that gathered Tuesday at about 2 p.m. at the scoop shop on Burlington’s Church Street seemed happy to overlook the weather — 31 degrees and a steady rain — in favor of what awaited at the front of the line.

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Dining on a Dime: Easy as Cake

Posted By on Tue, Apr 9, 2019 at 1:20 PM


Klobasnek and soup - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Klobasnek and soup
The menu prices at Easy As Cake, a café and bakery in Colchester, end in the number nine. A baby quiche is $3.99; a Greek salad, $7.99; pesto and tomato popover, $8.99, grilled cheese sandwich, $6.49,  French toast bake, $5.99.

The list slowed me down mathematically but revved up my appetite.  I stared at the chalkboard menu for a prolonged spell, doing addition in my head to put together a meal that came to $12 or less. (That’s the Dining on a Dime price limit.)

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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Vietnamese Street Food Coming to Downtown Burlington

Posted By on Sun, Apr 7, 2019 at 5:54 PM


Pho - COURTESY OF PHO SON
  • Courtesy of Pho Son
  • Pho
A Vietnamese restaurant will open in downtown Burlington next month, when Pho Son takes over the space at 213 College Street. The location was vacated last January by Bueno Y Sano.

Owners Son Le and Jennie Yee, a husband-and-wife team who live in South Burlington, will run the 40-seat restaurant together. Pho Son will specialize in authentic Vietnamese street food, said Le,  the chef.  Dishes will include pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup known for its rich and aromatic broth, banh mi, vermicelli with char-grilled meat, and stir fries with rice and seasonal vegetables.

“All the best recipes are from the family,” said Le, whose previous restaurant experience was in Montréal.

“For Vietnamese people, food is our life,” he wrote in an email to Seven Days. “We are forever eating, cooking and talking about food. Food is communication — food is culture.”

Beverages will include bubble tea, beer and wine. A full-service restaurant, Pho Son will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Friday, March 1, 2019

School Daze: A Throwback Dinner at Butch + Babe's

Posted By on Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 5:10 PM

Cafeteria-style dinner at Butch + Babe's - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Cafeteria-style dinner at Butch + Babe's
Preschoolers, school kids and grown-ups who thought their school-lunch days were a thing of the past dined on chicken nuggets, veggie tots and butterscotch pudding on Wednesday at Butch + Babe’s in Burlington.

The Old North End restaurant hosted a cafeteria-style dinner to benefit the Burlington School Food Project. The event raised $150 for the district’s food program, but its primary purpose was to raise awareness, according to Butch + Babe's owner Kortnee Bush, who is a former Burlington School District cook.

“Hunger is what this is about,” Bush said. “People don’t realize how hunger is a real problem in the state and locally.”

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