The 2008 dates are July 26th and 27th. And it definitely seems like great fun. Nothing less than 40 teams are competing and they are coming from everywhere in New England and as far as Texas. But if you want to participate as a competitor, you’ll have to wait until next year, because all the competing spots are already filled. So when the weather is warm and a cold beer and nice BBQ seem like the best thing you get, we imagine that Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition must be the place to be. We’ll be there for sure and we suspect this could become one of our favorite summer events in Vermont. It should make our upcoming Vermont Top Summer Events list if it lives to its expectation. One thing for sure is Harpoon Brewery – one of the top micro-breweries here in Vermont – always seem to have the greatest ideas for fun and well-organized events! We were already there a couple of week-ends ago for the 150-mile bike race (all the way from Boston to Windsor where their headquarters are!), and despite the heavy rain at the end of the afternoon, we definitely enjoyed seeing all these great athletes arriving at the site and sharing a nice cold beer with us! (Yep, we were the lazy ones, just there for the beer!). As usually, if you attend this event in July, we would love to know what you think about it!
More on Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition.
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More on Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site
Last week-end – June 14-15 – Vermont Days were our excuse to drive around. The weather was gorgeous as we drove through the beautiful hills and farm lands of central Vermont. Every road seemed more of a “scenic drive” than the previous one! Aren’t all roads in Vermont “scenic drives”? On Saturday our exploration took us from Sharon (exit 2 on I89) to Woodstock, the President Coolidge House, in Plymouth (with a quick stop for a famous Vermont maple cremee!), the Eureka School House and finally to Windsor and the Old Constitution House. On Sunday, we enjoyed a long visit of the Justin Morrill Homestead, in Strafford and finally a nice trip back on the very, very picturesque Route 100 all the way to Montpelier.
We’ll describe our visits in the next couple of postings, but for now here is our traveler’s tip of the week: our favorite sites were first the President Coolidge House and second the village of Strafford and the Justin Morrill Homestead. In both places, you should plan to have a good 3 hours if you want to fully enjoy the place without feeling rushed.
The President Coolidge House has lots to offer: the visit of the buildings relating the history of the site at the time of President Coolidge; the gorgeous surroundings where you can enjoy a nice walk or picnic; its restaurant in an old brick house and finally the cheese factory which is still operating (on week days) and which you can visit (and where you can buy the local Plymouth cheese.
The Village of Strafford is no doubt one of the most picturesque villages in Vermont (and the most photographed it seems!). With its white Town Hall standing high above its green common, it has been frozen in time since the 19th century… no sign of any restaurant or gas station here! In the village, still stand the house where Justin Morrill was born, the store where he worked and made his fortune, and the cemetery where he is buried… and of course the homestead he built before becoming Senator Justin Morrill. There we can appreciate both his love for horticulture and farming as you walk the grounds and his love for architecture during a delightful visit of his house…
So make sure to read our next postings for more details on these sites!
Route 17 is not frequently listed among “scenic drives” but it definitely has a stunning view from the top of the Green Mountains at the Appalachian Gap (great during the foliage season) and lots of sweeping views of the Lake Champlain Valley. It will be enjoyed by people who love far away views and the immensity of the valley (and may be less by people who love the cozy valleys with mountain backdrops, which you find in Central Vermont on the famous route 100).
Route 17 is also very interesting by the great diversity of its landscapes, from the end of Lake Champlain, to the valley, the hills and finally the top of the Green Mountains.
You start at the shore of Lake Champlain (literally!) at “Chimney Point” state historic site (a wonderful spot unto itself). The first half of the drive, about 45 minutes, has you cruising across fabulous farm country in the Champlain Valley with sweeping views to the north and to the south across the flat and rolling farmlands. You can see the Green Mountains in the distance getting closer. The local scenes of farms and landscape are really classic Vermont.
Then, you hit Bristol, and start the “transition” to the Green Mountains. Bristol, itself, is just a perfect example of a 4-block long “Main Street”. The town is very vibrant with stores and restaurants. When we took the drive, last week-end, we enjoyed dinner and a “cold frosty one” at the Bob Cat Brewery (we will be back!).
Within seconds of leaving the town’s main street area heading east, we were into the hills and soon the Green Mountains, rapidly gaining altitude and enjoying the scenery as we headed up the very windy turns (no views there though).
Within 20 minutes, you finally cross through Appalachian Gap which has a very nice panoramic view to the West (fabulous sunset view!).You pass over the Long Trail at over 2,300 feet and then quickly head down the other side. A couple of minutes later, you get a glance of a ski lift. You are at the top of Mad River Glenn Ski area (how many times have you actually driven by the TOP of a ski lift?!). A few more minutes and you pass the bottom of the ski slope and quickly follow the wonderful river shores down towards Vermont’s famous Route 100 and the end of your Route 17 journey…
Pick a great day this summer to do it. Start around 5, stop in Bristol for dinner, and you should be perfectly timed to see the sunset at 8pm from Appalachian Gap.
Post-scriptum: Later this summer, I have done this drive again, but from route 100 to the lake this time… I actually prefer it in this direction. For the first few miles, before you start the climb, the Green Mountains are unbelievably impressive, truly rising as a wall in front of you… Later, Bristol is again a surprise at the end of the descent… and arriving at the lake at Chimney Point is precious. Enjoy!
10 days of delightful gastronomy experience in the Stowe area! You cannot miss it if you enjoy food and wine. You can taste wines, beers, cheeses or all-natural chocolates, learn to make bagels, take a 2-hour cooking class with Vermont 2007 Chef of the Year Michael Kloeti, have a “farmer’s lunch”, visit cheese farms and have a “cheese dinner”, enjoy some fancy dinners all made with local farmers’ products, etc. The list of events and activities is almost endless! The brochure for the program includes location and prices for each event. Some are pricy but I am sure everyone can find something to enjoy. Don’t wait, the kick-off is today!
And don’t hesitate to give us your comments on your favorite event!
For more information, visit their website: www.vermontculinaryclassic.com or download their brochure at: http://www.vermontculinaryclassic.com/2008Brochure.pdf
Related post: Waterbury award-winning restaurants
Illustration copyright – Sarah Dillard
Something to write down in your agenda: this week-end, June 14th and 15th, all the Vermont State Historic Sites and the Vermont Historical Society Museum offer free admission. Isn’t it the perfect excuse for a great road trip through the wonderful Vermont countryside? Weather should be collaborating: warm with just some isolated thunderstorms…Come on, get out, enjoy the sun and the fresh air, and take one of these wonderful scenic drives up and down the green Vermont hills (there are so many of them!)… President Coolidge House, the old Constitution House, Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and the other sites will be all waiting for your visit. State Parks are also free… with free ice cream! And on Saturday, it’s also free fishing.
So, if you see a little blue VW Cabrio driving around, it might be us… we’ll definitely be going from place to place! And we will report on our favorite visits next week… Psst! Don’t forget to tell us which was YOUR favorite place!
For a complete list of the Vermont State Historic Sites, visit: www.historicvermont.org/sites.
Two award-winning restaurants in Waterbury! Or rather two award-winning Chefs I should say – to be more accurate.
The first one is Michael Kloeti, from Michael’s on the Hill. In 2007, Michael was awarded Vermont Chef of the Year by the Vermont Hospitality Council. His restaurant is charming, located in a farmhouse dating from 1820, up on the hill, with views of the Green Mountains and his innovative food is simply delicious. It has that perfect blend of European and American Regional influences with a strong focus on local and fresh products. And, on top of it, Michael is a wonderful person. If you have the chance to attend one of his cooking classes, don’t miss it, you won’t regret it. Michael, with his warm Swiss accent, can talk to you for hours about his passion for cooking and his passion for fresh, organic, local ingredients. What is his background? Well, Michael is native from Switzerland, where he started his cooking training and first work. He then moved to New York and joined Gray Kunz at Lespinasse Restaurant, restaurant which received four stars from the New York Times. He has also worked as Sous Chef at the Lodge at Koele Resort in Lanai, Hawaii, and as Chef de Cuisine at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. He and his wife Laura, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, finally moved to Vermont to raise their family and opened their restaurant Michael’s on the Hill in 2002. They also offer catering services, and it is quite a privilege to have Michael prepare your wedding dinner for instance!
The second chef is Eric Warnstedt, from Hen of the Wood. He is one of ten chefs from all over the U.S. to have received the 2008 Best New Chef award from the prestigious Food & Wine magazine, and will be featured in their July issue. The award recognizes up-and-coming chefs in America who are “innovators with a distinct culinary style and vision creating exceptionally delicious food”. Definitely a restaurant we need to check out. We are sure it must be quite an experience, with such recognition, and the setting seems wonderful – the restaurant is located in a historic 19th century grist mill. And finally, like Michael Kloeti, Eric Warnstedt likes to cook with the best local ingredients. Native of Florida, Eric worked previously at the Wildwood Restaurant in Portland, Oregon; Mark’s in Fort Lauderdale; and Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. That is nice to see local gastronomy getting this kind of recognition. Vermont is the place for great outdoors, maple syrup, great cheddar and of course Ben & Jerry’s world-renown ice-cream… it can now add “fine gastronomy” to the list of great things to enjoy here!
And if you have dinner in one of these places, drop us a comment. We would love to know what you thought.