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skiing in Stowe vermont
Photo: Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort.

According to Ski Magazine readers, Vermont has some of the best ski resorts in the US and even in North-America, whether you are looking for downhill skiing or cross-country ski or simply want to enjoy great après-ski and dining. In each of these categories, Vermont ski resorts are making Ski Magazine’s list of the “Top 10 Ski Resorts”. And others have also recognized Vermont ski resorts as… some of the best! (See where they are all located on this map of Vermont ski resorts).

Top 10 ski resorts for après-ski (Ski Magazine)
For the best après-ski, Ski Magazine readers selected 2 Vermont ski resorts in the top 10.
Here is their “top 10” list:
1. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
2. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
3. Heavenly, California
4. Killington, Vermont
Killington truly has a number of fun places to enjoy after a long day of skiing: the Mahogany Ridge bar at the K-1 Lodge, the Long Trail Pub at the Snowshed Lodge, and the Bear Mountain Lounge at the Bear Mountain Lodge, the Wobbly Barn or the Lookout Tavern. Lots to choose from. And for the very best BBQ, our personal choice is The Back Behind Saloon on route 4 and 100 S.
5. Tremblant, Quebec
7. Park City, Utah
8. Breckenridge, Colorado
9. Whiteface, New York
10. Stowe, Vermont
There is definitely an established tradition of bar hopping after a day of skiing at the Stowe Mountain Resort. There is even a name for it: it’s the “Mountain Road Crawl”! You start by warming up and having a drink at the Fireside Tavern right at the mountain, then drive down the road a little and stop at the Matterhorn Bar. Pool tables, music and great food (appetizers, pizza, etc.) are all there for you. The bar also has a dance floor. Then, The Shed and the Rusty Nail are further down the road. The Rusty Nail also has a great space and pool tables upstairs. Lots of places for lots of fun! And to make sure to stay safe, take advantage of the shuttle which will take you from one bar to another, yep, no kidding!

Top 10 ski resorts for dining (Ski Magazine)
For dining, Stowe is ranking number 10. A very respectable score. Indeed, the whole road from the Mountain to Stowe village and to Waterbury has restaurants of all kinds and all budgets, as well of course B&B and little inns. Some are fun and relaxed, some are fancy and gastronomic in quaint historic homes. We’ll just name a few: the Whip Bar & Grill, located in the Green Mountain Inn, the Blue Moon Café, the Swisspot (in town), the Cliff House Restaurant (at Mt. Mansfield), and Mr Pickwick’s at the Ye Olde England Inne. Waterbury is close as well and hosts some award-winning restaurants, such as Michael’s on the Hill, and Hen of the Wood (our previous article).

For your curiosity, here are Ski Magazine’s “top 10 ski resorts” for dining:
1. Aspen, Colorado
2. Deer Valley, Utah
3. Tremblant, Quebec
4. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
5. Sun Valley, Idaho
6. Vail, Colorado
7. Park City, Utah
8. Beaver Creek, Colorado
9. Telluride, Colorado
10. Stowe, Vermont

Top 10 ski resorts for off-hill activities (Ski Magazine)
And when it comes to off-hill activities, it’s Smugglers’ Notch which is the favorite station in Vermont. Smugglers’ Notch has the FunZone for kids, video arcades, snow tubing, ice-skating at SmuggsCentral, massages, and more…

Ski Magazine’s top 10 list includes:
1. Whiteface Mountain, New York
2. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
3. Heavenly, California
4. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
5. Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
6. Park City, Utah
7. Tremblant, Quebec
8. Vail, Colorado
9. Breckenridge, Colorado
10. Deer Valley, Utah

Top 10 ski resorts for romantic cross-country skiers (that’s a niche!) (MSNBC – February 2006)
MSNBC has selected the Mountain Top Inn. The photos on its website seem fabulous… with the view on Chittenden Reservoir. We will have to check it out!

MSNBC’s top 10 list includes:
• Callaghan Country at Whistler, British Columbia
• Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, in Alberta
• Garland Resort in Lewiston, Michigan
• Lone Mountain Ranch at Big Sky, Montana
• Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York
• Mt. Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods, in New Hampshire
Mountain Top Inn in the town of Chittenden, Rutland County, Vermont
• Royal Gorge in Soda Springs, California
• Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, Washington
• Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

And last but not least:
Top 10 ski resorts for family in New England (Family Ski Trips)
The Family Ski Trips website listed 6 Vermont ski resorts as the best ski resorts for family.
Wow, well done Vermont! And it’s nice to know that many of these ski resorts have timeshare rentals available through their owners which are spacious enough to fit the whole family comfortably.

Okemo, Vermont
For its lesson programs…
Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
For the “most innovative instruction in snow country”, its beginners’ slopes on Morse Mountain, its kids’ ski camp and day care, and all the activities in the Village from the Fun Zone to snow tubing.
Stowe, Vermont
When the kids grow older: “your kids can night-ski while you dine at the European-style Cliff House” restaurant.
Killington/Pico, Vermont
For Bear Mountain which is dedicated to freeskiers and riders, with parks and pipes; for its Winter Adventure Center with snowshoeing, tubing and dog sledding; and for the less intimidating Pico resort. Killington also has several video arcades.
Suicide Six, Vermont
Ascutney, Vermont
Ascutney has a lot for kids of all ages: Young Olympians ski and ride camps for ages 4-12, and a Bumps Center for teens. Note that the Duckling Daycare will not be open this winter.

Other ski resorts in New England which made the list:
– Bretton Woods, NH
– Sunday River, ME
– Jiminy Peak, MA and
– Sugarloaf, ME

On that note, I hope we’ll see you this winter in Vermont… on our mountains or off the slopes. The snow is already here waiting for you.
Related article: 2009 Best Ski Resorts and Ski Hotels

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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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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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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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Chimney Point historic siteRoute 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!

Related posts:
Sunset on Historic Chimney Point
Brewpubs of Vermont
Enjoy Vermont foliage… Differently

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vermont culinary classic

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

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Michael\'s on the hill
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.

Links to their websites:
http://www.michaelsonthehill.com/
http://www.henofthewood.com/