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ThanksgivingThanksgiving is about great food and family fun. For this festive time, we’ve tried to find some fun things to eat and to do in Vermont. Here are our top choices:
1- Forget all the hard work and try one of these restaurants… if you are in Southern Vermont. I am relying on this article of Suzanne Donahue, who is suggesting three local restaurants with nice food and wonderful settings: the Four Chimneys Restaurant in Bennington; Arlington Inn in Arlington and the Ye Olde Tavern in Manchester Center. Let us know what you think!
2- Discover the 19th century traditions of Thanksgiving at the Billings Farm and Museum. Enjoy a visit with costumed guides and watch their demonstration of the preparation of a traditional 19th century Thanksgiving meal in the 1890 Farm House.
3- Sunday November 30, 7 pm, at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. Attend a Gospel Choir concert in Montpelier… in the spirit of the Holidays. “The gospel choir and band combines soul, jazz, original and traditional gospel music to produce an exuberant sound”, they promise us.
4- Saturday November 29, 11 am in Randolph. Be kids again… or bring your grand-children to a delightful marionette show. The show “The Hobbit” is the newest production of the No Strings Marionette Company. The reviews are great!
5- Indulge with chocolate turkeys (for something new): Lake Champlain Chocolates has them for you.
6- Personally I prefer cheese to chocolate! Why not make your Thanksgiving supper special and discover some of Vermont artisan cheeses for the occasion? See our recent article for a list of Vermont award-winning cheeses.
7- And if you are in Putney, take part in the 30th annual Putney Crafts Tour, which happens there every Thanksgiving Week-end. The Vermont Shepherd cheese company is just one of the 27 participating “artists”!
8- And last, but not least, get some special wine for this Thanksgiving celebration. It seems that this “poor girl gourmet” blogger knows her wine and she is recommending the Apple Maple Wine and Cassis Wine from Putney Mountain Winery for Thanksgiving. Why not try it?

And on this note, happy, happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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cheese plateVermont cheese makers are getting a lot of recognition for their excellence recently! And they deserve it… So, we’ve decided to review some of the recent competitions and to identify the award winners among Vermont cheese makers.
With this knowledge, you may be interested in following the famous “Cheese Trail” we have mentioned before… possibly with the help of the new book “Vermont Cheese Book” which has followed that trail for the pleasure of all.

And if you don’t have the book, you can check this map of the Vermont Cheese Trail for the places which welcome visitors (check the little flags on the map). It has been put together by the Vermont Cheese Council.

The first competition – the 2008 World Cheese Awards – took place in Dublin, Ireland last September. Cheese makers from all around the world attended and Vermont came back with a few nice awards!

The Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. – five awards for its goat cheeses: Vermont Chevre, Vermont Fresh Crottin, Vermont Creamy Goat Cheese, Vermont Quark and Aged Cheese Bijou and one for its Vermont Quark.
Grafton Village Cheese Co. – two awards for its Grafton Maple-smoked cheddar and Grafton Classic Reserve Cheddar.
Cabot Creamery Cooperative – one award for its Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (aged at Jasper Hill)
Willow Hill Farm – one award for its Butternut.

The 2nd competition – the American Cheese Society’s Competition – took place last summer in Chicago.
And the winners are:

Blythedale Farm Inc. – Vermont Farmstead Brie
Bonnieview Farm – Ben Nevis
Cabot Creamery Cooperative – Cabot Monterey Jack Cheese; Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese; Cabot 3 Year Old Cheddar; Cabot Clothbound Cheddar Aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill; Cabot Extra Sharp Wheel; Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar
Consider Bardwell Farm – Pawlet; Manchester; Dorset
Dancing Cow Farmstead Cheese – Bourrée
Franklin Foods, Inc. – Hahn’s Neufchatel
Neighborly Farms of Vermont – Organic Jalapeno Jack
Shelburne Farms – Shelburne Farms Smoked Farmhouse Cheese
Thistle Hill Farm – Tarentaise
Vermont Butter & Cheese Company – Vermont Mascarpone; Vermont Feta; Vermont Fresh Crottin
West River Creamery – West River Creamery Marinated Feta

Other awards were received there for butter, cream cheese, creme fraiche, and cottage cheese.

The 3rd competition is the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest, organized by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, not truly international though.
Both Cabot and Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. received awards but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to say precisely for which product.
Cabot Creamery Coop. – medium cheddar, low fat cheddar and cottage cheese
Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. – Vermont goats milk feta

And last but not least, the cover story of the September issue of “Wine Spectator” featured picks for the world’s top 100 cheeses with 10 from Vermont… by cheese makers including Jasper Hill, Cabot, Shelburne Farms, Grafton Village, Thistle hill, and consider Bardwell Farms. I did not read the article, so if you have, feel free to leave a comment with the precise list of cheeses who made the list, that would be great. I just know from a press release that Grafton Village Cheese clothbound cheddar and premium cheddar were on that list.

Finally, at the Summer Fancy Food Show, last summer, Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. was recognized for “outstanding product line”… quite a year for this artisanal cheese maker!

Well, with all this information in hand, I just have to wish you nice touring and good shopping (Christmas is coming afterall!).
For directions to Vermont Cheese Makers: Cheese Trail map
For more information:
Vermont Butter & Cheese cheese reviews (scroll down the page at this link to see the reviews)

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Burlington, VermontPhoto: Courtesy of Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

Sarah Tuff Dunn, co-author of 101 Best Outdoor Towns, said: “Burlington has it all… a brick pedestrian marketplace, Vermont’s iconic white steeples and rolling hills that spill down toward a lively, green waterfront on Lake Champlain” when she explained Burlington’s selection as one of the 20 Prettiest Cities in America, by Forbes Traveler this month. It’s quite an honor. Burlington was definitely in good company among well-known towns such as Aspen, CO, Lake Placid, NY, Hanover, NH, Portsmouth, NH and Rockport, ME.
Church Street Marketplace, Burlington’s pedestrian outdoor mall, is definitely very popular and a wonderful spot to wander around on a week-end afternoon. A recent survey among Quebec visitors said that they loved the pedestrian street and its combined urban and small-town feel. Church Street Marketplace was also selected last month by the American Planning Association (APA) as one of the 10 Greatest Public Places in America. Other places honored in 2008 by the APA for their character, quality and planning included Central Park, NY, Santa Monica Beach, CA and Union Station, Washington DC. Another great honor for our lakeshore town!
And if you will enjoy your visit to Church Street, we are convinced you’ll also be impressed by the serenity of the lakeshore. Talk a walk on the walking path, sit down on the decks of some of the bars and restaurants (we like the Ice House ourselves!) and admire the lake, the boats, and the Adirondacks on the New York State side, across the lake.
And for more ideas about what to do during a week-end in Burlington, a great article was just published in the NY Times Travel: “36 hours in Burlington”.
I was personally intrigued to see their photo of the “Burlington Earth Clock” – a 43-foot sundial made of granite slabs. We’ll have to check it out!
In addition to ideas on “things to do”, the article also gives you a few great ideas for restaurants and places to have a drink or a coffee… Check it out.
Finally, our gastronomy lovers will be happy to know that there are indeed a few great places to eat in Burlington. The ones most commonly mentioned by “gastronomes” are:
– A Single Pebble (upscale Asian)
L’Amante (also mentioned in the NY Times article)
Trattoria Delia
– And finally American Flatbread (mentioned in our article on the brewpubs of Vermont).
Nice places for a special dinner event, not necessarily cheap but enjoyable…
So, if you come to Burlington for a visit, let us know what was your favorite place…leave us a comment…

Related article: Brewpubs of Vermont

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Decorated Halloween pumpkinsHope you had a nice Halloween! October came and went too fast this year… We are already in November… and winter is at our door! We even walk up with some white ground cover one morning this week.
This month, all Fall articles were pretty popular. So many fun things to do in Vermont in October: apples, pumpkins, foliage, all the excuses we need to enjoy the outdoors.
So, here were are most popular articles this month:

1- Samuel de Champlain’s Voyages
2- Enjoy Vermont Foliage… Differently
3- Lake Champlain… New France
4- Lots of “Pumpkin Fun” this Week-end!
5- A Week-end of Apple Festivals

Thanks for reading us!