Eating our way around Vermont

This past weekend was Yom Kippur. Considering I don’t have a great track record of keeping fasts (flashback to freshman year, when I went straight from Hillel services to the New England Dessert Showcase…), I didn’t even attempt this year. In fact, I pretty much did the complete opposite. Instead of laying in bed thinking about food for the majority of the day, I drove 2 hours north to VT on a touristy food adventure with two of the other interns #worstjewever (…Except maybe not? Stereotypically I was just doing what Jews do best?).

Being the OCD planner I am, I mapped out a plan so we could be as efficient as possible with our time. Though the drive was rainy, it was absolutely gorgeous driving there as the leaves are changing. There is nothing like fall foliage in New England.

Our first stop was brunch at King Arthur Flour’s bakery/store/cafe, which broke up our trip because it was an hour away. From the cafe area, I bought a ham and cheese croissant, cappuccino, and two flourless chocolate walnut cookies to go.

Joyful indeed.

Joyful indeed.

The factory

The factory

That’s right. I bought FLOUR-LESS chocolate cookies at King Arthur FLOUR. Oops.

Amen.

Amen.

We then walked around the store a bit. I obviously wanted to buy everything in site, but I resisted. The store has a full demo kitchen with employees making food nonstop for shoppers to enjoy; the garlic rosemary foccacia was delicious, fresh out of the oven. I ended up settling with a not-too-expensive purchase: a pumpkin cookie cutter (I figured with Pumpkinfest coming up soon, I’d probably want to make pumpkin-shaped cookies at some point) and a King Arthur Flour popover kit. I’ve never made popovers myself so I’m excited to try it soon.

History and stuff

History and stuff

Queen

Queen

Garlic rosemary foccacia fresh out of the oven

Garlic rosemary foccacia fresh out of the oven

From King Arthur, we continued north to Waterbury, the home of Ben and Jerry’s. As it was a rainy Saturday in a touristy area, it was packed. The tour wait was an hour, so we bought our tickets and wandered around a bit, paying a visit to the ‘Flavor Graveyard.’ This was such a creative touristy gimic I loved everything about this morbid ice cream personification.

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The rain really fit the mood

The rain really fit the mood

They all sounded pretty delicious to me :(

They all sounded pretty delicious to me 😦 #RIP

We still had a half hour to kill and it was too crowded to just hang out and wait inside, so we got back in the car and drove a mile up the road to our next destination, the Cabot cheese annex store. We spent the next 20 minutes waiting in line to try about 20 different cheese cubes, and then had about 4 minutes to stuff our faces with tiny cubes before racing back to the car (literally, running in the rain) to get back to Ben and Jerry’s in time for our tour. Our timing was perfect and we began our tour of the ice cream factory.

cheese on cheese on cheese

cheese on cheese on cheese

Unfortunately, they don’t actually make ice cream on Saturdays, so after watching a 10ish minute video about the company’s history, we learned about the ice cream making process from our tour guide while overlooking the silent, motionless factory. After this educational part, we went into a tasting area (the best part obviously) for some Q&A and samples. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to choose the sample flavor (it changes every day so you get what you get), but it was strawberry cheesecake which I liked and is a flavor I would never actually buy myself at the store, so it was good to try something new and different (as in, not my usual B&J Half Baked froyo). I didn’t complain. There were leftover samples after everyone had gotten their’s, so I took one for the team and got a second sample cup #noshame.

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yum

yum

Strawberry cheesecake :)

Strawberry cheesecake 🙂

With the B&J truck!

With the B&J truck!

We got back in the car and, once again, drove to Cabot because the first time was too rushed to thoroughly enjoy the store and actually shop around. I bought a block of cheese (one of the flavors I had tried from the sample area) because I couldn’t not. It was hard to just pick one. Of course, their cheese is sold at all the grocery stores around Keene, but I wanted to buy Cabot cheese actually from Cabot. The store also sells cheese ‘accessories,’ if you will, such as wine, beer, crackers, cheese plates, etc.

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Next to Cabot is Lake Champlain Chocolates (they even share a parking lot). I hadn’t heard of this company before, but I am not one to turn down a chocolate shop. The chocolates were pricey so I limited myself to a tiny 2-truffle box and settled on a pumpkin-filled truffle and a white chocolate raspberry truffle. They lasted less than 24 hours and were delicious. If and when I see their chocolates in stores around here, I would definitely buy their products in the future.

<3

❤

Our next stop was Cold Hollow Cider Mill, yet another short mile down the road. Again, it was packed with the same tourists we had seen at Ben and Jerry’s and Cabot, but enjoyable nonetheless. We were definitely disappointed by the cider donuts; we had been very much looking forward to them (you can smell the delicious cinnamon-sugar fried goodness from the parking lot) and they just weren’t as good as it smelled (the cider donuts from Alyson’s 3 weeks ago were way better). I did, however, enjoy a free sample of cider, watched the cider being pressed, and bought a half gallon of cider to take home with me. And, bonus–it’s pasteurized!

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Free samples YAY

Free samples YAY

At least at the Cider Mill they were actually making cider on the weekend (cough cough B&J...)

At least at the Cider Mill they were actually making cider on the weekend (cough cough B&J…)

Not so yummy donuts, but fun to watch anyway.

Not so yummy donuts, but fun to watch anyway.

Rainy apples

Rainy apples

Our last stop was the Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center. The building looks like an old train station that was converted into a coffee shop–very cool. We walked around a bit, listened to a short tour video (that we definitely didn’t pay for…whoops), got some samples, and headed back to the car for our 2 hour drive back to Keene.

Caffeinating before our drive home.

Caffeinating before our drive home.

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Green Mountain coffee IN the Green Mountains!

No shame–I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hungry by the time I got home…

Outside the Box

There are so many benefits to living in a city. Public transportation (ehhh…), shops, internship/job opportunities, and FESTIVALS.

I know this seems random, but seriously–one of the perks of city living is simply the amount of random festivals that take place. Free Shakespeare performances in The Common? Sure, why not? Free Selena Gomez concert at Government Center? Well okay then.

There are so many that I feel like most of the time I don’t even know about them. Or I find out after the fact on Boston.com. But lucky for me, there was one this weekend that I thankfully did not miss out on. Earlier in the week, my friend Nikki sent me a link to this event called “Outside the Box” that would be taking place over the weekend–perfect timing especially considering my sister was in town visiting. It consisted of 9 days of free music and performing arts.

Live music while we dined.

Live music while we dined.

One portion of the event (catch the food pun?), though, was specifically targeted toward the foodies out there. Stationed in Government Center plaza, the Fork Lift Food Festival (“a festival within a festival”) consisted of live music, cooking demos by local and celebrity chefs, and dozens of tents with gourmet single-portion tastings.

Celeb chef Todd English casually setting up his demo 10 ft away from us.

Celeb chef Todd English casually setting up his demo 10 ft away.

It worked like a fair: you purchase a number of tickets and different items at different tents cost you varying quantities of tickets. We decided to be strategic in our plan. Because food is serious business to us (amiright Nikki/Corinne?!). We first walked around to see what each chef was offering, taking copious mental notes for our upcoming go-round.

Once we’d walked around in a full circle, it was time to buy our tickets. It was $1 per ticket which kept things simple. We decided $15 each would hopefully be enough to allow us to try everything we really wanted to, and we could always go back and buy more later if we so chose. And then we were off on our second round, this time actually ordering the small plates that had looked so good a half hour before.

Nikki and Corinne toughing out the heat for the sake of good eats.

Nikki and Corinne being troopers through the insane heat, all for the sake of some good eats. My kind of people.

The portions were mostly sample size, costing between 1-4 tickets. I really appreciated how local and seasonal the dishes seemed–many including lobster and other New England-y things. Also, considering it was well in the 90s outside, I was grateful for the lighter dishes especially.

Needless to say, between the three of us, we tried a lot of awesome food. Though portions were tiny, because the food was clearly high quality, we all felt the $15 was well worth it. Also a plus, for some reason it wasn’t crowded (probably due to the heat) so there were no waits whatsoever. I’m just upset I missed out on seeing some of the famous chefs’ cooking demos and book signings. But one could only stand that heat for so long…

Now to the fun part, the food…

1. Legal Seafood: New England clam chowder

Nikki proving that it is, in fact, never too hot for clam chowdah when you live in Boston.

Nikki proving that it is, in fact, never too hot for clam chowdah when you live in Boston.

2. Carly Cakes: Lemon raspberry mini cupcake

Corinne's excellent dessert choice.

Corinne’s excellent dessert choice.

3. Salvatore’s: Arancini caprese strollers

Arancini are simply fried risotto balls. Cheesy, salty, warm, and with a perfectly fried and crispy coating. Props to Corinne for finding the best ‘bang for your buck’ item offered–this portion was significantly larger than all the others.

Arancini. Corinne's a happy camper.

Arancini. Corinne’s a happy camper.

4. Barrio Cantina: Spicy chicken tacos

Chicken tacos.IMG_9056

5. Batch ice cream truck: salted caramel & cinnamon ice cream

The perfect way to try to cool down.IMG_9053

6. Tresca: Heirloom tomato and watermelon gazpacho

Gazpacho, one of my favorite summertime dishes, was the perfect light, refreshing, cool dish to sample. The addition of watermelon was a unique touch. Also, as a bonus, they gave anyone who came over for a taste a gift bag containing a $20 gift card. Sooo who wants to dine with me in the North End…?

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7. Bokx109: Pear and mascarpone sacchetti

Although the portion was tiny (an amuse bouche, if you will), this pasta dish was very well done. The baby fork may have been a highlight, as well. Sacchetti is simply a tortellini-like pasta meant for stuffing. Mascarpone is a type of spreadable Italian cheese. You may recognize it as the cheese typically used in making tiramisu.

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8. Artisan Bistro: Lobster sausage with johnnycake, brown butter, and corn

Never before had I had lobster in the form of sausage! Luckily, the chef hadn’t ground it and there were still decently sized chunks of lobster (ground seafood seems a bit strange to me) held together by some mixture of binding agents. It paired beautifully with the savory pancake and made for the perfectly balanced amuse bouche.

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9. Kowloon: saugus wings

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I’m not much of a wings person but Nikki seemed pleased. Also, decent portion size was appreciated.

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10. Society on High Les Zygomates Sorriso: Lobster martini with avocado puree and plantain chips & fig tart

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11. Chart House: Crab crake with remoulade & avocado, crab, and mango stack

Corinne went against our rule and ordered crab outside of Maryland, but it was actually very decent (despite the fact that it’s in pancake form, not cake form).

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Food festivals FTW.