ethan_allen_cruise_190Photo: Lake Champlain from the Spirit of Ethan Allen III cruise boat.

Fall is a great time of the year to explore Vermont’s waterways!
In fact, Vermont’s rivers and lakes have been enjoyed for generations! There was a time when it even was the only way to travel in the region.
As leaves are turning red particularly quickly this year, don’t wait to come and enjoy the scenery while canoeing or kayaking, or taking a lake cruise in Vermont.

Some ideas and tips of things you can do:

– Last year, we mentioned canoeing or kayaking the wild and scenic Missisquoi river, part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and offering some of the best flat-water paddling in Vermont. It is bordered by a large silver maple forest. It is definitely recognized as a natural resource of particular interest.
More information at: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail

– Another good option (for the less sportive) is to enjoy a nice cruise on the lake: Carillon Cruises in the Southern part of the lake (across from fort Ticonderoga) offers special foliage cruises for a few hours, the Spirit of Ethan Allen III will take you out on Lake Champlain, from Burlington waterfront, and the Moonlight Lady offers overnight cruises, in one of its 16 cabins.
More information at:
Carillon Cruises
Spirit of Ethan Allen III
Moonlight Lady

amazon_kayaker_guide_100– For more ideas, you can always consult a new book “A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake Champlain – Exploring the New York, Vermont and Quebec Shores”, which has received good reviews. It has caught our attention as a very practical guide, as each of the 50 chapters describes one day’s paddle, with route description, navigational charts, table of information with distances and launch points. We have not read it yet, but are definitely planning to put our hands on it. See it on Amazon.

Vermont foliageFall is definitely here in Vermont! A couple of fresh nights this week and the first maple trees turned red and tonight frost will have more leaves turn red, no doubt. A nice premise for a nice week-end.
And to celebrate Vermont foliage season so dear to all of us, there are many things to do here. Of course you can go canoeing and kayaking on lakes and rivers (I will write about it next week) or hike or do a lot of other outdoor activities. But there are also some special events and festivals this week-end:
Apple picking : You are invited to participate to the annual contest « Apples to iPods » which takes place in many orchards again this year. If you find a wooden iPod in a tree at one of the participating orchards, you’ll win a real iPod. More info at: Vermont Apples.
Vermont Life Wine & Harvest Festival – Mount Snow Valley –September 25-27, 2009: It’s the second year of this event, where you can participate to cooking demonstrations by local restaurants, wine and cheese pairing presentations, wine pairing diners at some local restaurants, etc. Specialty food makers, cheesemakers and craft artists will show their products. And of course, there will be music, jazz trio and acoustic roots band… Don’t miss a Vermont style breakfast on Saturday or Sunday morning, with maple syrup (I am sure) and products (bacon and sausages) from local company Vermont Smoke and Cure, or the BBQ and Blue Grass diner on Friday night. The event is listed as one of the top ten Fall events by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce this year. More info at Vermont Life Wine & Harvest Festival.
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Annual Fall Foliage Festival – September 27 – October 3, 2009 – Towns and villages of the region offer a variety of activities during this week : food events, visits, music, etc. More info on the site of the Chamber of Commerce.
5th Annual Burlington Book Festival – September 25-27, 2009 – A book fair in Burlington is always a good excuse to come and wander the nice streets of this nice little Vermont town we all like (see our last year’s article on Burlington). Many authors will be there, there will be new and used books, free appraisal of rare books and more. More info at Burlington Book Festival.
6th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture & Woodworking Festival – September 26-27, 2009 – In the Southern part of the state, woodwork and nice furniture lovers won’t miss this event. More than 50 furniture makers and woodworking artists are expected. You can even watch Barre Pinske carve a bear on site. More info at Vermont Fine Furniture & Woodworking Festival.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – Archaeology Week-end – September 26-27, 2009 – South of Burlington, near Vergennes, it is the annual archaeology event at the museum. You can do a tour on the lake to see a shipwreck (Saturday 1pm), or enjoy presentations, movies and more. More info on the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum website.
Biking tour – South Hero and Grand Isle – September 26, 2009 – And for cycling amateurs, the Montpelier Section of the Green Mountain Club organizes a 25-mile loop in this beautiful region of Lake Champlain Islands, north of Vermont. For more info, contact: Mary Garcia at (802) 229-0153 or Mary Smith at (802) 505-0603.
– And don’t forget to read the last issue of Vermont Life magazine (we are not paid to promote it), for more info on a lot of outdoor activities you can do this Fall here, or just for the pleasure of looking at the beautiful photos they have throughout the magazine! Vermont Life Magazine Current Issue.

vermont-institute-for-artisan-cheese-575Photo: Courtesy of Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese.

We have to confess: we like cheese and Vermont cheese! Last month, we brought the news to you about the Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival. It was unfortunately sold out so we’re glad to tell you that you can still attend an evening on Cheese and Wine Pairing, at the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, at 255 Carrigan Wing Building, University of Vermont: it’s on September 22nd from 6 to 9pm.
More information at: Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese website.
To learn more about Vermont cheeses, you can also listen to the recent Vermont Public Radio interview of Allison Hooper, from Vermont Butter and Cheese Company and Paul Kindstedt, from the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese. They are both authors of books on cheesemaking. You’ll learn the definition of artisan cheese, farmstead cheese and much more!
And finally don’t forget that cheesemakers in Vermont always welcome you to visit them: you can consult the cheese trail map or read “The Vermont Cheese Book” to plan your visit.

Related articles:
First Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
Award-winning Vermont Cheeses

cheesemaker_festival_575It’s this Sunday, August 23, 2009 from 10am to 5pm.
A great looking event which unfortunately is… SOLD OUT!
So clearly everyone noticed the quality of the activities presented (seminars, cooking shows, cheesemaking demos, over 100 cheeses to taste, etc) and of the presenters… and the tickets went like hot cakes!
The organizers were planning for 500 to 1000 attendees and 85 people maximum for each of their seminars (Cheesemaking 101, Cheese Pairing Beyond Beverages, Cheddar and Beer Tasting, Cheese and Wine Pairing, Explore Shelburne Farms) and every seminar and general entry ticket is sold!
But you can still enjoy the Vermont Artisan Foodmakers Open Studios, on Saturday, August 22 (the day prior to the festival). On that day creameries, wineries, breweries and artisan foodmakers across the state will be open for special tours and tastings. A map showing location of all the participating foodmakers as well as all website addresses can be seen on the event website.
And for the festival, as the organizers say: “See you in 2010”.
Related articles:
Award-winning Vermont Cheeses

Harpoon Brewery barbecue competitionJuly 25-26, 2009 – It’s the week-end of this very popular annual event, an event we attended last year and really enjoyed: definitely great food, nice beer, nice music, and a nice setting to sit down and enjoy a beer… if the weather cooperates. Enjoy!
See our article from last year:
Harpoon Brewery – BBQ Competition
Harpoon Brewery web page on the event: Harpoon Championships of New England BBQ

wine_tasting_575There are a lot of food events to enjoy in Vermont in June. If you are looking for things to do during your stay here, think food festivals!

June 13, 2009 – Cabot Creamery Visitors’ Center – Cabot
This Saturday, Cabot celebrates its 90th anniversary by opening its plant. They’ll serve food, have some music, entertainment, in order to raise money for the Cabot School’s Performing Arts Center.
Time: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location: Visitor Center, Cabot Creamery Visitors’ Center, Cabot, VT
For more information: (802) 371-1265

June 14, 2009 – GNAT-TV Culinary Experience 2009 – Hildene, Lincoln Family Home – Manchester
It seems like a nice fund-raising gala night at Lincoln Family Home.
It starts at 6pm, it will be Champagne hour with hors d”oeuvres, cheese, champagne and jazz. At 7pm, these 22 chefs from the area will have the “Grand Tasting”. There is also live music with the “Don’t Leave Band” and a Grand Prize Raffle of all the dinners for two donated by the chefs.
Location: Hildene, 1005 Hildene Road, Manchester
Tickets: $60; $25 for raffle tickets.
For more information:
GNAT-TV Culinary Experience
Chef’s Circle: The list of 22 participating chefs

Hildene, Lincoln Family Home

June 19-21, 2009 – 11th AnnualStowe Wine & Food Classic – Stowe
Several nice events over these three days to celebrate wine and food.
Friday night – 4 to 6pm: Wine tasting at the West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park. Tickets are $75.
Saturday night – 6pm: Gala dinner, Live Auction & Dance at the Trapp Family Lodge. Gastronomic five-course meal, prepared by the Trapp Family Lodge’s renowned chef with wine pairings, presented by M.S. Walker. Followed by dancing with Penny Arcade.
Tickets: $150 per person. $185 per person for the Saturday/Sunday package.
Sunday – Noon to 4pm: Grand tasting & Silent Auction: Enjoy culinary demonstrations by regional chefs, including Eric Warnstedt, one of Food & Wine’s Top Ten Chefs of the Year, in 2008. Attend wine seminars. Taste up to 100 wines. Participate to a silent auction of fine and rare wines.
Tickets: $60. $185 per person for the Saturday/Sunday package.
Location: Trapp Family Lodge
More information at: List of events of the 11th Annual Stowe Wine & Food Classic
Related article: Waterbury Award-winning Restaurants

June 26- 28, 2009 – 24th Annual Green Mountain Chew Chew – Food & Music Festival – Burlington
It’s a family-oriented event, with food, entertainment, live music, which showcases a number of restaurants, caterers and food producers. At every booth, you can taste three unique food items. Lots of fun!
Location: Waterfront Park, Burlington
Time: Fri & Sat: 11am to 9pm; Sun: 11am to 6pm.
More info at: Green Mountain Chew Chew

pirates_lake_champlain_575Lots of events for this first week of June in Vermont, from food and music to sports, for adults and for kids.

Monday June 1, 2009 – David Byrne – Shelburne Museum
David Byrne
(formerly of The Talking Heads), a Grammy and Oscar recipient, will perform songs from his new album while taking in a beautiful sunset over Lake Champlain. His long collaboration with Brian Eno has resulted in ethereal, world-music influenced musical landscapes. The Shelburne Museum, a gorgeous venue, hosts this show on “The Green” as part of Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Green series.
Time: Doors open at 6:30pm, concert at 8:00pm.
Location: Shelburne Museum, 5555 Shelburne Road (US7), Shelburne.
Tickets: www.highergroundmusic.com.
Cost: $45 in advance; $50 day of show.

Thursday June 4, 2009 – “Three Girls and Their Buddy”, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin & Buddy Miller – Shelburne Museum
Folk, bluegrass and country from this quartet with Emmylou Harris, who sang on the soundtrack of “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Buddy Miller.
Time: Doors open at 5pm, concert at 6pm.
Location: Shelburne Museum, 5555 Shelburne Road (US7), Shelburne.
Tickets: www.highergroundmusic.com.
Cost: $50-54.

June 5-14, 2009 – Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, in its 27th year, features concerts at the Art Deco Flynn Theater, with headliners like Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis and Pink Martini – as well as day-long music in the streets. Ticket prices vary, and some events free.
For the complete schedule, visit www.discoverjazz.com.

Some of the concerts of note for the week of June 1 to 7:
Friday June 5, 2009 – Anat Cohen Quartet (double bill with Esperanza Spalding) – Flynn Center
Tenor saxophone and clarinet, Anat Cohen has thrilled audiences throughout the US and Canada. She is said to be “one of the brightest, most original young instrumentalists in jazz”.
Bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding, is a remarkable performer who has played and been acclaimed on world’s stages. Her 2008 album incorporates the rich traditions of jazz, soul, Latin, R&B and world music.
Time: 8pm
Location: Flynn Center for the Arts,153 Main Street, Burlington
Tickets: $34, $27, $21; www.discoverjazz.com.

Sunday June 7, 2009 – Diana Krall- Flynn Center
Pianist and singer Diana Krall, recipient of two Grammys, doesn’t need any presentation. Millions of people have already enjoyed her vocals, her rhythmic music, her remarkable stage presence and unmistakable piano interpretation.
Time: 8pm
Location: Flynn Center for the Arts,153 Main Street, Burlington
Tickets: $99, $69, $49, www.discoverjazz.com.

June 5-7, 2009 – Strolling of the Heifers Weekend – Brattleboro
Only in Vermont – it seems – can you see a parade of 100 heifers on Main Street. What’s a heifer” may you ask. Well, it’s a young cow which has not yet had a calf of her own. Parade is at 10am sharp on Saturday June 6. It will be followed by by a dairy festival that includes the Future Chefs of Vermont tent, a Children’s Farm Fun Tent, a Royal Farmer’s Feast, and farm tour. Don’t miss as well the Great Vermont Grilled Cheese Cook-off, on Friday June 5, at River Garden, on Main Street, a contest with the aim of discovering the best grilled cheese sandwich recipes in Vermont.
More information at: Strolling of the Heifers

June 4-7, 2009 – Vermont Dairy Festival – Enosburg Falls
It’s also dairy festival time at Enosburg Falls, for the 53rd year – a family event with rides for the kids, crafts, baking contest, food vendors including ice cream and cheese, a parade on Saturday and stage entertainment all weekend.
More information at: www.VermontDairyFestival.com.

June 6-7, 2009 – Kid’s Pirate Festival – Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – Vergennes
Who doesn’t like to play pirates? Kids will love to come in costume, participate in activities, including a treasure hunt, enjoy live performances of pirate comedians.
Location: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Road.
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: adults, $10; youth 5 -17 and under, $6; children under 5, free.
More information at: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

And last but not least, for the more athletic crowd:

June 4-7, 2009 – 2009 National Life Group VerMontreal Tour – from Burlington to Montreal
As part of the events for the 400th anniversary of Lake Champlain, groups of 40 and 60 cyclists will ride 139 miles in 3 days or 210 miles in 4 days. The journey will take them from South Hero to Montreal, where they will join the 30,000 cyclists, participating in Montreal’s famous day-long Tour de l’Ile. Tour includes fine hotels, full breakfasts, support vans, nightlife, historical and culinary highlights. Note: we are confirming with the organizers that this tour is indeed still happening.
More information at: Local Motion

laurence_coffin_open_studio_week-end_575Photo Courtesy: Emile A. Gruppe Gallery, watercolor from Laurence Coffin, displayed as part of the Vermont Watercolor Society Spring Show.

Vermont’s natural scenic beauty will be enhanced this weekend, as nearly 300 artists and craftspeople across the state open their studios to visitors. The 17th annual Open Studio Weekend, May 23-24, is a statewide celebration of the visual arts and the creative process.

Open Studio Weekend gives you access to the workshops of glass blowers, jewelers, printmakers, potters, furniture makers, weavers, ironworkers, painters, sculptors, quilt makers and wood carvers.

The Vermont Crafts Council publishes a free map booklet with directions to participating sites.
These maps make it easy to tour the state – and meet the people behind the artwork you may have admired in shops and galleries.

With hundreds of artists to exhibiting their work, it’s difficult to choose. Here are some ideas:

Southern Vermont:

The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, in Plymouth Notch, opens for the 2009 season on Saturday, May 23, and will host several exceptional artisans as part of the Vermont Craft Council’s Open Studio Weekend.

Over the years, the President Coolidge Homestead has become an Open Studio “hub,” where Vermont artisans temporarily relocate their studios. This year, Irene Ames of Derby will demonstrate basket making in the Sweetser family tradition.

Also on site will be members of the local chapter of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration: Dolores Furnari of Brandon and Pat Lacy of East Wallingford will offer stenciling activities for children, and Mary Perry of Salisbury, New Hampshire will demonstrate reverse painting on glass.

More information on President Calvin Coolidge Homestead.

Central Vermont:

In Montpelier, The Artisans Hand Craft Gallery is a gallery showing sophisticated crafts, including prints, photographs, textiles, and some sculpture from a number of participating craftspeople.

One of the gallery’s best known artists is Lochlin Smith, whose bronze jewelry is popular throughout New England. Lochlin will be welcoming people to his studio in Montpelier.

Look, too, for Mary Stone’s clay whistles – hand-formed, musical clay sculptures – and fiber artist Karen Henderson’s weavings and fabric pieces. Yarn-maker Denise D’Abramo will hold an informal Natural Dye Workshop in her Plainfield workshop.

At the gallery, you can see who your favorite artists are, and get directions to visit their own studios nearby.

More information on its website: The Artisans Hand.

Northern Vermont:

Drive along the spine of the Green Mountains as you tour studios and galleries, beginning with the Emile Gruppe Gallery, in Jericho. This historic building hosts the Vermont Watercolor Society Spring Show, which includes local artists, as well as out-of-towners. More information on the exhibit: Vermont Watercolor Society Spring Show.

Pick up maps, directions and descriptions of area artists’ work at the gallery, and follow the festival’s yellow road signs onto roads with names like Brown’s Trace, Governor Peck, and Nashville.

Founded in the 1940s, the Shelburne Art Center (formerly known as the Shelburne Craft School) is a nonprofit institution offering dozens of art and crafts classes in a range of media, taught by some of Vermont’s most talented artists. More information on the Shelburne Art Center.

Finally, from the Shelburne Art Center, you can visit artists and artisans working on Lake Champlain – including oil painter Mary Ellen Manock’s Kingsland Terrace studio, and watercolorist Katharine Montstream’s Main St. studio. Both take in views of the water while making the most of Vermont’s largest city.

The 32-page Vermont Studio Tour Guide (with maps) is available at Vermont Information Centers, and at individual studios and galleries, or can be downloaded as a PDF at: Open Studio Week-End Guide.
More information and maps at: Vermont Studio Tour Guide.

Related article
: President Calvin Coolidge Homestead – Historic Site

laughing_moon_chocolates_575
Photo Credit: Paul Rogers.

Known for culinary delights such as maple syrup and specialty cheeses, Vermont also has its share of superb chocolate makers.

Lake Champlain Chocolates
The state’s largest chocolate producer, based in Burlington, started small. In 1983, restaurant owner Jim Lampman began making hand-rolled truffles for his staff and select patrons. Demand was so great he soon turned to chocolate full time.

The company now owns three shops and cafés in Vermont, and sells its wares – truffles; raspberry, orange and cherry creams; hazelnut pralines; peanut butter cups; and Chocolates of Vermont (Belgian chocolate combined with rich local ingredients) – in over 1,200 independent specialty stores across the country.

The selection is diverse and delicious, but don’t take our word for it. Watch their chocolates being made, and enjoy discounts on factory “seconds” – slightly imperfect chocolates – at their factory store in Burlington.

In winter, the cozy, sweet-smelling café is THE place to sample the company’s four varieties of hot chocolate. And don’t worry, there’s a comparable summer ritual: locals and visitors welcome warm weather with a scoop of their sublime chocolate ice cream.

Laughing Moon Chocolates, Stowe
Owner and chocolate maker Leigh Williams has been creating artisan chocolates and old fashioned sweets in Stowe for over fourteen years, with an increasing commitment to local ingredients and the environment.

Hand-rolled truffles incorporate all kinds of rich liquor: Boyden Valley Wines, Green Mountain Distillers Sunshine Vodka and Maple Liquor, Flag Hill Farm Pear and Apple Brandys, and Rock Art Vermonster Beer. Their popular chocolate cookies, covered with milk, dark and white chocolate, come from the Sweet Crunch Bake Shop in Hyde Park.

And Laughing Moon makes more than chocolate – they recently started to candy fresh organic orange slices in Honeygardens of Vermont honey.

Tom & Sally’s Handmade Chocolates
Tom and Sally (yes, those are their real names) arrived from Manhattan nearly 20 years ago to live their dream of making chocolate in beautiful southern Vermont. Their line of sweets includes hand-crafted Luxury Chocolates; chocolate bars wrapped with vintage art; and old time pleasures, peanut brittle and almond toffee.

Our favorites are the 100% Organic Skinny Bars – rich in flavor, low in fat. These single serving size dark chocolate bars, made from 100% organic dark Belgian chocolate, with cocoa contents ranging from 66 to 78%, are infused with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, ginger root, peppermint leaves, and raspberry.

The yummy confections weigh in at 1.5 oz, and average about 200 calories a bar – which you can burn off in the one-hour guided factory tour in their Brattleboro headquarters.

Touring the state?
Visit these other Vermont chocolate makers, located a bit more off the beaten path:
Snowflake Chocolatiers, in Jericho
Daily Chocolate, in Vergennes
Vermont Chocolatiers, of Northfield
Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, of Grand Isle
Nutty’s Steph’s Chocolate Factory, of Montpelier

And last but not least, discover these fine chocolate makers – and others – at the Chocolate Festival, the 3rd Annual Festival of Sweets, Nov. 21-22, 2009 at the Doubletree Hotel in Burlington.

black_fly_festival_575This article is a special contribution from Montpelier’s local resident Karen Kane, owner of Paris by design and Montreal by design.

Forget about fiddleheads, peepers, or maple sugaring. Blackflies are the real harbinger of spring in central Vermont!

And excitement is building as the residents of Adamant, VT, a rural village near the state capital of Montpelier, prepare to host the 7th Annual Adamant Blackfly Festival on Sat. May 16th, 2009.

Adamant is a small, unincorporated village, situated on the town line between Calais to the north and east Montpelier to the south. There is no true boundary to define the village, and as such there is debate as to what constitutes residence. This is, however, purely theoretical as there is no legal, governmental or commercial status associated with residence.

The general wisdom is that “Adamant is a state of mind.”

The Blackfly Festival exemplifies an important aspect of the small community’s state of mind: creativity. Its inhabitants, many of whom are artists, are resourceful and fun-loving. The festival is the brainchild of Adamant resident Cindy Cook, whose family timed a trip to Ireland to avoid the small flying creatures, one year.

“They bite, draw blood and leave welts,” says Cook. “I can’t go outside the house without a head net when they’re out. Creating the festival was one way to keep us from going insane.”

With any luck, the guests of honor won’t be in attendance this year.

The Blackfly Festival has two purposes: to benefit the Adamant Co-op, which is the oldest food co-op in Vermont, and to have some serious fun. The event brings together the entire community – and visitors from across the country – to celebrate, in Cook’s words, “the bug we love to hate.”

The day’s events take place at the Adamant Co-op. The oldest food cooperative in Vermont was incorporated in 1935, when eleven families contributed five dollars a piece to provide working capital. Since then, the coop has functioned as a small, community-run general store and post office. It is a place where folks stop to get a few groceries, pick up their mail, and find out what’s new with their neighbors. The store is the heart and soul of Adamant.

There is a parade at 3pm featuring eclectic costumes, impromptu music, synchronized bug zappers, a local Ferrari, and farm equipment. Past parades have been described as “campy,” “a whole lot of fun,” and “the Macy’s Day Parade of the Insect World.”

The Blackfly Pie contest at 1pm is expected to draw out the competitive spirit in local bakers. Categories include Best Tasting, Best Appearance, and Most Creative. Judges include chefs from the nearby New England Culinary Institute, one of the finest cooking schools in the country.

The grill fires up at 11am. Music throughout the day will be provided by several bands, including Earthman Band, with local musician Pitz Quattrone playing the digeridoo. And there is much more to discover…

For more information, visit Adamant’s Blackfly Festival. And to see a video of the festival, click on this link.

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