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Monday, September 14, 2020

Home on the Range: Five Spice Café Sesame Peanut Noodles

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 4:56 PM

Homemade version of Five Spice Café sesame peanut noodles - MELISSAS PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissas Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Homemade version of Five Spice Café sesame peanut noodles
Spanning more than two decades starting in 1985, Five Spice Café on lower Church Street built a fiercely dedicated fan base for its pan-Asian menu.

Beyond iconic dishes like Evil Jungle Prince curry redolent of coconut and kaffir limes leaves, the restaurant was known for jazz memorabilia, dim sum brunch and the outsize personality of co-owner Jerry Weinberg.

Weinberg and his business partner (and ex-wife) Ginger Hobbs sold their restaurant in late 2006 to Samuel Palmisano. Shortly thereafter, Five Spice was gutted by a devastating fire and Palmisano decided to move on to start his own Italian restaurant, Pulcinella's in South Burlington.

Regular customers continued to dream of menu classics like cold sesame peanut noodles, Siu Mai dumplings and Five Spice fritters — described as "four fat little pancakes made out of scallions, onions, leeks, cilantro, eggs and bread."

Weinberg passed away in January 2019. For several years before that, Weinberg and Hobbs' daughter, Cheryl Herrick of Burlington, worked with her dad to occasionally stir up batches of some of the restaurant's signature sauces for sale under the label Dragon and Daughter.

Other than that, fans were out of luck — until now.

A new blog Five Spice Café: Recipes from the Vault, launched last month to help those who still crave their Five Spice favorites and are willing to tackle the recipes in their own kitchens.

John Canning, a longtime fan and friend of the Five Spice family, has been adding recipes gradually from a box of several hundred that survived the fire.
"The goal is to put the recipes into the public domain, so that people can enjoy them!" Canning wrote in an email.

(Canning spins a funny tale about winning the recipes from Palmisano in a game of strip poker. He admitted that was not exactly how it happened, but rather a nod to Weinberg's sense of humor.)

Like many restaurant recipes, the ingredients, quantities and professional kitchen shorthand do not always translate easily for home cooks.

With the assistance of Hobbs, Herrick, Palmisano and former Five Spice staff, Canning has been working his way through the recipes to make them accessible for all.

"It took quite a bit of trial and error to figure out how many cups of mushrooms were really in a 'bucket,'" Canning said, referring to the recipe for Siu Mai dumplings made with pork, shrimp and Chinese mushrooms and "secret spices," which turned out to be peanut butter.

Of those posted so far, Canning said, the Southeast Asian chicken curry and sesame peanut noodles have been the most popular. Five Spice fritters and Siu Mai are close behind.

"My mom and I are delighted, if quite nostalgic, about the recipes [being shared]," Herrick wrote in an email.

Many have quirky details , she said, like the  fritters, which call for French rolls in the written recipe. For the restaurant, she divulged, "Mike Williams of Kountry Kart [Deli] gave us the bread ends from sandwich-making."

Herrick did concede that it feels a little
Ingredients for Five Spice Cafe sesame peanut noodles - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Ingredients for Five Spice Cafe sesame peanut noodles
 weird to see the recipes her father guarded so closely go out into the world. But, she said, she and Hobbs are "very glad to get more people more happy with access to delicious food."

Five Spice Café Sesame Peanut Sauce for Noodles

Makes about 4½  cups (can be halved)

  • ¾ cup light soy sauce (not low sodium but traditional light soy sauce versus dark; standard supermarket soy will work)
  • ½ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup neutral vegetable oil (the recipe calls for soybean oil)
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons hot chili oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic (this is coarser than garlic powder, but you can sub the latter; use a little less and add more to taste)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup tahini
  • ¾ cup hot black tea

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, water and vegetable oil.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, hot chili oil, sugar and garlic until the latter two are dissolved.
  3. In a food processor or stand mixer, blend the peanut butter and tahini. Add in the hot black tea and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. With the machine running, add the sesame oil mixture until blended.
  5. With the machine running, gradually add the soy mixture until fully incorporated.
  6. To use for cold noodles, cook fresh or dried egg noodles, or pasta of choice. Drain  and toss with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking and coat with some of the sesame peanut sauce. Once cooled, toss with more sauce to taste. (Extra sauce can be refrigerated or frozen. You may need to re-blend to emulsify it.)
Note: This is the version on the recipe card, though Ginger Hobbs notes that Jerry Weinberg used red wine vinegar rather than rice wine vinegar, and chopped fresh garlic instead of granulated garlic. Also, he omitted the chili oil, so that customers could add hot sauce to taste.

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Burlington Farmers Market Announces Changes for Winter Season

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 4:19 PM

COVID-19 guidelines posted at the entrance to the first summer Burlington Farmers Market on June 6, 2020 - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • COVID-19 guidelines posted at the entrance to the first summer Burlington Farmers Market on June 6, 2020
The Burlington Farmers Market, whose summer schedule runs through Saturday, October 17, is planning for a “very different winter season” in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, market director Mieko Ozeki told Seven Days.

Given the market’s scale and the risk associated with large indoor gatherings, “An indoor market doesn’t make sense for us this year,” she said.

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Monday, September 7, 2020

Lion Turtle Tea Opens in Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Sep 7, 2020 at 5:25 PM

Tim Williams (left) and Jace Jamason, co-owners of Lion Turtle Tea - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Tim Williams (left) and Jace Jamason, co-owners of Lion Turtle Tea
After nearly two years of popping up around Burlington, Lion Turtle Tea has a permanent home at 135 Pearl Street. The teahouse opened on September 1 in the space that most recently housed Papa John's Pizza.

Co-owners Jace Jamason and Tim Williams found the spot half a block from the top of the Church Street Marketplace this spring, after a previous location didn't work out.

"Our timing was super unintentional," Jamason told Seven Days. "We were able to get in here in May, so we knew the pandemic was already happening. But we've been working on opening for about two years, so we were like, 'OK, let's do this.'"

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Dining on a Dime: Honey Road

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2020 at 3:10 PM

Eggplant and corn grape  leaf pie - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Eggplant and corn grape leaf pie
Some food is made to be eaten, not photographed, and I’d throw Honey Road’s eggplant and corn grape leaf pie into that category.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the picture of this food. But sound effects would serve a better purpose here than a photograph: The sound of me OMGing when I took my first bite.  (And without a photo, we can all start eating faster.)

Still, if I remember correctly — and I’m no Donald Trump (eggplant, corn, dill, grape leaf, labne) — it was a photograph on Instagram that alerted me to Honey’s Road inventive dolma. The price ($12) was a draw. The ingredients, which I can still rattle off  (eggplant, corn, dill, grape leaf, labne, lots of it!), clinched it. Plus jasmine rice. (Try six items next time, prez.)

A mound of vegetables is always going to excite me. When eggplant is part of the mix, sweet local corn is featured, and the meal is set on a grape leaf, it’s enough to make me leave home for the takeout window. (BTW, is a grape leaf a fruit, a vegetable or just a wet vine?)

For us uninventive types who think a stuffed grape leaf  is supposed to look like a cigar, what a revelation to come across one in the shape of a hockey puck. Slap shot. Score.
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:

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Monday, August 31, 2020

Home on the Range: Zucchini-Herb Butter

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2020 at 10:02 AM

Zucchini-herb butter - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Zucchini-herb butter
Late-summer zucchini is the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables. It gets no respect.

As in, "Make sure you lock your car doors and barricade your front porch against neighbors trying to rid themselves of  green monsters that balloon to the size of baseball bats overnight."

In truth, really huge zucchini are not good for much. They tend to be spongey, seed-filled and so mild in flavor that they don't add anything to whatever recipe you try desperately to hide them in.

But merely large zucchini are well deployed in this unctuous zucchini butter. Coarsely chopped zucchini (and summer squash if you like) is stewed slowly in olive oil with a touch of butter, along with generous amounts of garlic and fresh herbs.
Cooking down zucchini and summer squash - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Cooking down zucchini and summer squash

The resulting soft spread has a million uses. It can be smeared on toast and dotted with fresh goat cheese to make bruschetta, tossed with roasted cherry tomatoes and pasta, used as a base sauce for homemade pizza, slathered on veggie or meat burgers, or used to top grilled salmon.

The best part is that the recipe reduces two pounds of zucchini to one pint of concentrated goodness. Divide it into smaller jars, which are way easier to sneak into your neighbor's car and I guarantee will be appreciated.
Mashing cooked zucchini and summer squash - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Mashing cooked zucchini and summer squash

Zucchini-Herb Butter

Makes 2 cups (2 half-pint jars)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 2 large zucchini (about 2 pounds), coarsely chopped (remove seeds if they're very big)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • Finely chopped leaves from 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme (slivered basil would also be good)
  • Couple splashes dry white wine, optional
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice, optional
  1. Set a large skillet over medium heat and melt the olive oil and butter.
  2. Add the garlic, zucchini, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini starts to soften, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the thyme leaves.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is completely soft, another 25-30 minutes. (I like to use a potato masher to coax it along.) If the zucchini starts to stick, add a splash of white wine or water.
  5. When the zucchini is cooked, taste and add a little more salt and a squeeze of lemon juice, as desired.
Source: Adapted from Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan (Running Press, 2014).
Got cooking questions? Feel free to email

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Farmhouse Tap & Grill Closes for Two Days Due to Customer COVID-19 Test

Posted By on Sun, Aug 30, 2020 at 7:32 PM

Farmhouse Tap & Grill burger - COURTESY OF FARMHOUSE TAP & GRILL
  • Courtesy of Farmhouse Tap & Grill
  • Farmhouse Tap & Grill burger
The Farmhouse Tap & Grill in downtown Burlington has closed Sunday and Monday this week after learning that a customer who ate there on Wednesday, August 26, had since tested positive for the coronavirus, owner Jed Davis said. The patron called the Farmhouse on Saturday night to tell the restaurant about the test result.

“The customer was kind enough to call us,” Davis told Seven Days Sunday afternoon. “I definitely appreciated it. It’s not a call you want to receive, but you’re thankful to receive it.”

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Dining on a Dime: M-Saigon

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 5:42 PM

Chantalle Nguyen - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Chantalle Nguyen
My daughter and I are typically winter customers at M-Saigon restaurant on Shelburne Road, where we're fond of the pho with tofu and vegetables and drunken noodles with chicken.

So I hadn’t been thinking about the Vietnamese restaurant in Burlington’s South End until I went to the post office the other day and noticed the neighboring restaurant in the strip mall is open. The right spot for Dining on a Dime, I thought.

But the noodle dish is $12.95, just over this feature’s $12 price limit. And it’s summer — I wasn't in the mood for soup.

How lucky for us that considerations of price and season pushed us to look anew at the menu. My daughter chose grilled lemongrass honey chicken with vermicelli ($11.95). I got chicken dumplings ($5.95) and lemongrass tofu banh mi ($4.95). For $22. 85, before tax and tip, we shared a very good and satisfying meal for two.

(Unsolicited tip advice: Tip at least 20 percent, like the good old days of restaurant dining, picking up  food to-go or buying a beer at an outdoor bar. If a business, like Lawson's Finest Liquids, is collecting money for a local nonprofit rather than accepting a gratuity, contribute a comparable amount.)

Back to our regularly scheduled content: The generous portion of vermicelli at M-Saigon was served with a medley of vegetables — cucumbers, bean sprouts, daikon, carrots and shallots — and crushed peanuts. The dish came with two pieces of grilled chicken.

I probably hold sandwiches to the highest standard of any food group, and the banh mi was terrific. Served on a housemade baguette, the sliced tofu was garnished with cilantro, a crunchy wedge of cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots. The restaurant held the house mayo at my request and added sweet chili sauce (their idea). It was hard to believe this hoagie-sized banh mi, with ingredients we're not likely to pull from our refrigerator, cost $4.95.

M-Saigon closed in mid-March  in compliance with Vermont's coronavirus shutdown order. The restaurant reopened on July 6, according to Chantalle Nguyen, daughter of chef/owner Khoi Nguyen.
  • Seven Days/File ©️ Seven Days
  • Banh mi
A 20-year-old psychology major at the University of Vermont, Nguyen will balance restaurant work with soon-to-start fall classes. Her studies and her job are altered due to the pandemic: Classes will be online and M-Saigon is open for takeout and curbside business only.

Nguyen was in elementary school in 2008,  when her parents opened the restaurant. Her favorite items on the menu are crispy pork banh mi and grilled lemongrass pork on vermicelli, she said.  As a new fan of the tofu sandwich, I’m planning a return trip for the Nguyen-recommended pork one ($4.95).

“I grew up eating this food,” Nguyen said. “A lot of the food that is on the menu we cook at home on a regular basis, for regular dinners.”

M-Saigon is open Monday through Friday 11:30  a.m. to 7 p.m.
Dining on a Dime is a 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:

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

ArtsRiot to Reopen Friday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2020 at 4:36 PM

ArtsRiot on Pine Street - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • ArtsRiot on Pine Street
ArtsRiot, which closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, will open under new ownership for patio service at 400 Pine Street in Burlington on August 21, according to general manager Kelly Keen. The South End restaurant and bar, known for its live music, 400 burgers and summer food truck  gatherings, was purchased July 1 by Burlington entrepreneur Alan Newman.

The restaurant will offer beer, cider and cocktails, including the house frozen mojito, Keen wrote in an email to Seven Days. Pingala Café, a vegan restaurant at the Chace Mill in Burlington, will prepare food out of the ArtsRiot kitchen through Columbus Day, according to Keen. Pingala’s broccoli bar was a mainstay at the ArtsRiot Truck Stop.

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NOFA Grants Expand Food Access

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2020 at 1:18 PM

VYCC farm stand in Richmond - COURTESY OF JEREMY GERBER
  • Courtesy of Jeremy Gerber
  • VYCC farm stand in Richmond
For almost a decade, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps has grown organic vegetables on its Richmond farm for Vermonters who otherwise might not have access to local, healthy food.

A CSA program founded by the VYCC in 2012 today provides weekly produce,  at no cost, to more than 400 Vermont families through the Health Care Share.  The “farm-to-hospital” program is a partnership between the VYCC, which runs a 10-acre farm, and health care providers around the state.

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Monday, August 17, 2020

Home on the Range: Breakfast Popsicles

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2020 at 4:00 PM

Vermont berry breakfast popsicles - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Vermont berry breakfast popsicles
Yes, you can eat popsicles for breakfast. And yes, the recipe below for those breakfast popsicles might just be your wildest childhood dreams come true, as Shelburne-based food blogger Lee Corbett puts it.

Corbett's blog, the Rogue Brussel Sprout, aims to create a resource for healthy fruit and vegetable-centric recipes. When she read Seven Days' story about Arealles Ortiz of Curly Girl Pops in Montpelier, Corbett recognized a kindred culinary spirit with a similar mission to combine the delicious with the nutritious.

She reached out to Ortiz and the resulting collaboration is these super-flexible, maple-sweetened berry and banana popsicles made with whatever berries and plant-based milk you have on hand.

Popsicles in process - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Popsicles in process
The recipe does call for a high-power blender, and although mine is pretty strong, it definitely took some patience — and some extra coconut milk — to get it all blended smoothly together. If you don't have a really strong blender, I suggest trying the unfrozen banana option.

The pair's goal, Corbett said, was to come up with a recipe that is nutritious, easy and fun for all ages.

My current houseful of twentysomething "kids" helped a little in the making and a lot in the taste-testing. Needless to say, the popsicles earned a big thumbs up.

Berry-Banana Breakfast Popsicles

Makes 10 small popsicles

  • 2 cups frozen berries (I used about ⅔ blueberries and ⅓ cranberries)
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into pieces, or fresh banana if your blender is not very powerful
  • ½ cup unsweetened plant-based milk (I used coconut milk and needed about another 3 tablespoons to get everything to blend together)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Optional add-ins: ground cinnamon, fresh herbs, fresh grated ginger (I used about 1 tablespoon for mine), dollop of unsweetened yogurt, dollop of nut butter
  • Optional toppings: unsweetened yogurt plus  granola, chopped nuts, seeds or drizzle of nut butter (I used maple yogurt with unsweetened coconut flakes and granola)
  1. Combine berries, banana, plant-based milk, maple syrup and any optional add-ins in a high-power blender. Blend until the mixture is creamy and smooth, adding more plant-based milk as needed.
  2. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or paper cups. (I used 3-ounce paper cups and filled them about ⅔ full.)
  3. Freeze the popsicles for about 60 to 90 minutes until you can insert the popsicle sticks about ⅔ way in and they stay centered and upright.
  4. Freeze overnight until fully frozen. If using popsicle molds, run the molds under hot water for 30 seconds to loosen them. If using paper cups, snip or tear at the rim before pulling them gently off.
  5. If desired, dip the frozen popsicles in yogurt and then dip or sprinkle them with optional toppings. Re-freeze for another hour.
  6. Popsicles keep in a tightly sealed container in the freezer for about a week.
Source: Adapted from the Rogue Brussel Sprout and Curly Girl Pops.
Got cooking questions? Feel free to email

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