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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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Vermont Granite Museum - BarreWith Fall approaching, the buzz here in Vermont is definitely about foliage, but we’ll have a special article on foliage activities in the next few days.
For this week-end, still lots of things to do for the pleasure of all:

11th annual Barre Granite Festival – Barre – Saturday September 13, 10am – 3pm – Stone carving, music, history lectures, photography exhibit, Chicken BBQ lunch, tours of the Hope Cemetery are all on the program! We are definitely going to check it out! Afterall, people come to Barre from far away to see the delightful granite sculptures of the Hope Cemetery and the granite quarries. And Barre is – to our knowledge – the only Vermont county with a published article in National Geography!
More information at: Vermont Granite Museum – Granite Festival

7th Annual Small Farms Food Fest and apple picking – Shelburne Orchards – Sunday September 14, 11am – 5pm – You can enjoy 80 acres of apple trees, 10 acres of which have organic apples, you can enjoy the panoramic views of Lake Champlain, and you can enjoy the special activities on that Fest day: live music, haybale maze and special foods. Sounds like a fun Sunday afternoon!
More information at: Shelburne Orchards and Small Farms Food Fest

14th Annual Burlington Latino Festival – Burlington – September 10-14 – Lots of Latino music. The main event is Saturday 13, at the Boathouse, downtown Burlington, starting at 10am, with music bands from 6pm to 10:00pm and even a boat cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen III at 10:30pm to 12:30am!
More information at: Burlington Latino Festival

42nd Annual Bennington Car Show – Bennington – September 12-14 – 100 acres of antique and muscle cars for antique cars’ lovers!
More information at: 42nd Annual Bennington Car Show

Puppets in the Green Mountains – 10 locations in Bellows Falls, Putney, and Brattleboro – September 12-21 – Looks like an amazing event. It is the 6th edition of this international festival of puppet theater, with 8 groups from 7 countries – Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Sweden, Taiwan, and Vermont – 22 performances in total!
More information at: Puppets in the Green Mountains

Vermont Humanities Council events – Windsor – Sunday September 14 at 3pm – For history lovers like me, the Vermont Humanities Council is presenting 400 Miles Down the Connecticut River by Michael Tougias, author of fourteen books about New England.
More information at: Vermont Humanities

Lake Champlain through the lens – Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – September 6 to October 29 – A juried photography exhibit with participating professional and amateur photographers. Admission is included in the admission to the museum.
More information at: Lake Champlain through the lens

Hey, don’t forget to write to us with your comments!

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Bob Cafe Brewery
This article is a special contribution from Kurt Staudter, Vermont Brewers Association

The idea of pairing beer with food is perhaps the oldest preoccupation of mankind, but only in Vermont has the art reached its zenith. Greg Noonan of the Vermont Pub & Brewery in Burlington is credited with being a brewpub pioneer, and for almost twenty years is still on the cutting edge of blending great food and interesting brews. Just down the block is the Zero Gravity Brewery at American Flatbread where in addition to their own beers, they have a fantastic selection of other offerings in their Burlington Taproom. If you’re looking for a game of pool, another great brewpub in the Queen City is Three Needs.
Outside of Burlington along the spine of the Green Mountains, we have The Alchemist in Waterbury, The Shed Restaurant and Brewery in Stowe, The Bobcat Café in Bristol, and Stonecutters Brewhouse in Barre. All have many exciting menu items to pair with creative craft beers.
On either end of the state you can get a craft brew with award winning food: In the Northeast Kingdom in Lyndonville, The Trout River Brewery serve up flatbreads on Friday and Saturday night, and in Bennington Madison Brewing declares that they are a great restaurant that happened to brew beer. Windsor County boasts three great places to have a meal and a fresh brew: The Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners, a little more upscale is the Jasper Murdock’s Alehouse at the Norwich Inn, and lighter fare can be found at the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor.
Another Vermont original is McNeill’s Brewery in Brattleboro, where locals and visitors gather at long shared tables, and can snack on light finger food over a pint of one of their award winning ales. Hours of operation for all the pubs can be found at www.vermontbrewers.com.
So if you’re hungry and want some of the best craft beers in the country, visit one of the many extraordinary Vermont brewpubs. You’ll quickly understand why Vermont is the place where the good things to eat and drink come from, and as they say “Vermont brews Best!”
Related post: Harpoon Brewery – BBQ Competition

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Vermont Summer Festival Horsehow

Another month has gone by… and it’s time again to share which were the most popular articles in August. Interestingly, some of our July articles were still very popular.

1- Fun things to do in Vermont
2- Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow – July 9 – August 17
3- Things to do in Vermont – August 1-3
4- Labor Day Week-end – Things to do in Vermont
5- Things to do in Vermont – August 22-24
6- Who Makes the Best Maple Creemee?

No doubt, you love our “things to do” articles, and with the upcoming Fall season, we’ll continue to bring you our small and big discoveries – with pleasure and passion!

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Morse Farm

That is indeed an essential question: who makes the best maple creemee in Vermont?
Essential because you cannot come and visit Vermont without trying a maple creemee. It has to be part of the experience!
The creemee is a soft serve ice cream (also seen spelt creamee or creamie) and people agree that a great maple creemee uses real maple syrup rather than flavoring. Many people say “Morse Farm” on County Road, just outside Montpelier has the best maple creemee, and indeed it’s good… It is one of these little pleasures of life, right after supper to go there for a creemee, sit down in one of their Adirondack chairs, watch the valley and the mountains far into the distance… and if you’re interested, visit their shop and their sugarhouse…
I don’t think that all sugarhouses necessary have great maple creemees though. I have had some with little taste (cheap on the syrup I guess) and on the other hand, I have seen little ordinary soft serve ice cream stands have top-class maple creemees (like Simply Subs on Main Street in Barre… I am hoping they continue to use as much maple syrup as they now do… their creemee is really good…).
One thing for sure is that it seems impossible to declare a winner… you’d need to try them all at the same time and I have not heard yet of such a competition… may be I should make the suggestion to the Harpoon Brewery group… to add a maple creemee competition to their BBQ competition next year
In the meantime, here are some tips from maple creemee lovers on the best place to get one!

  • Maynard’s on rte 100 between Waitsfield and Moretown
  • Bragg Farm, Route 14 North, East Montpelier
  • Strafford Organic Dairy farm
  • Dakin Farm in Ferrisburgh on Route 7

Where is YOUR best place?

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Swimming - LakeThere are lots of fun things to do in Vermont in the summer. Here is for starters:
– Go to one of the 89 swimming holes – ponds and rivers – listed on this website. Make sure to watch their slideshow, it gives you a great idea of the look of the different places (names are on the photos). Great for a hot day!
– Go to one of many outdoor concerts of the Vermont Mozart Festival or the Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival;
– Watch antique cars at the 51st Annual Antique & Classic Car Meet, in Stowe on August 8-10;
– Eat a maple cremee: you got to have one if you are in Vermont in the summer… Make sure you get the ones made with real maple syrup and not just the flavor! We’ll give you some addresses soon, but for now, let’s mention Morse Farm, up County Road, near Montpelier, that’s the place everyone knows;
– Go to the Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition in Windsor on July 26-27; 40 teams from all the country will compete!
– Get a Vermont Brewery Challenge – Official Passport and visit all 18 great micro-breweries in the state of Vermont; Get a stamp at each and you can win prizes!
– Go and watch the Challenge Race at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, near Vergennes on July 20; it’s a 3-mile race of around 50 small boats. Should be fun. Around 200 spectators usually attend. And may be even more fun, on Saturday 19 (today!) there is a duct tape boat construction and race there!
– Attend your first Thunder Road night in Barre (not NASCAR racing but close!) – every Thursday and occasionally on week-ends;
– And if you are into American Revolution history, go to one of the reenactments/encampments which take place at different historic sites along the summer: the Battle of Hubbardton early July, Mount Independence encampment this week-end, Bennington in August…
What do you think? Fun enough?… Anything fun we should add to this list, leave us a comment and tell us about it!!

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Hen of the WoodThe Hen of the Wood was again noticed last week, and by noone else than the Mark Bittman, who writes for NY Times’ dining section. Nice!
The title of his article definitely caught my attention: “Revitalized Eating in Vermont”. Seems like some other gourmets agree with our team (see our posting on “Waterbury award-winning restaurants“), and believe that there is now some nice gastronomy in Vermont!
I will let you read the article but in summary, he mentions “3 wonderful eating experiences” he had in Vermont last week-end:
– the Hen of the Wood,
Clotilde, a 70-family community supported agriculture operation,
Ariel’s in Brookfield.
Ariel’s? Interesting… The owners have another restaurant in Montpelier called Ariel’s Riverside… We were there the other day, and were actually disappointed that the owners had decided to change the menu from the BBQ place we loved (Finkerman’s Riverside) to this fancy, somewhat expensive, undifferentiating menu… oh well…

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President Calvin Coolidge Homestead
This posting has been moved to: http://christineseclecticlife.com/president-coolidge-house/

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