Blog Archive for July 2014

24 July, 2014 - by Corey Burdick

For the Love of Cheese! (and chocolate)

Category: Events

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For the Love of Cheese! (and chocolate)
Vermont summers are fleeting and as people who live here year round know, it's the perfect time to get out on the lake, marvel in sunsets, and savor as much warmth as possible. One of the tell tale signs that the season is in full swing, is the annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. This year, the festival marked its 6th year! If you've never attended the festival, as I hadn't until Sunday July 20th, then I highly recommend it! The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. And you really do need all six hours to completely experience the myriad cheese and artisan food vendors that dot the gorgeous Shelburne Farms landscape. 
The sun was bright and hot as people lined up at 9:45 a.m. to grab a commemorative bag and wine glass which would be used throughout the event to sample nineteen Vermont beer, wine, cider and spirits producers! A program in each bag highlighted not only the forty-nine cheesemakers, forty-one artisan food producers, and fifteen artisan products and services, but also provided a handy guide to workshops (counter intelligence, vertical tasting, sweet and stinky, and European vs. Vermont), seminars, and cooking demos (cooking with cheese and ales and cheese and chocolate) being offered throughout the event. Cheesemaking demos by Shelburne Farms staff and a demo by Chef Courtney Contos were also featured. 
I won't lie, the shear breadth of vendors was a little overwhelming, but in the best way possible! It seemed, at first blush that it would be quite the feat to sample each product, but I made a go of it! I even managed to make it into one of the packed workshops which were complimentary with admission. Sweet and Stinky was my workshop of choice given my affinity for strong cheeses. A panel featuring Eleanor Leger of Eden Ice Cider, Colin Davis of Shacksbury Cider, and Gail Albert from Shelburne Vineyards graced the stage. They discussed their sweet beverages' compelling ability to pair well with cheeses from Vermont Farmstead, Jasper Hill and Twig Farm. The side by side tasting left my taste buds tingling and begging for more, which fortunately, meant stepping just outside the classroom where my cheese, chocolate, and caramel tasting continued. 
My strategy involved skipping some of the tables with my favorite, often purchased cheeses, like Vermont Creamery and Taylor Farm and hitting some I hadn't tried before. Standouts included Parish Hill Creamery blue which was simultaneously creamy, grainy, and pungent as well a Sage Farm goat cheese. Crowley Cheese Company has been around for a long time, but somehow this was my first taste and the extra sharp as well as the chive coated my palette and lingered for a considerable time. 
After tasting a number of cheeses, it was time to hit the sweets! Big Picture Farm caramels have been a long time favorite and once again, they did not disappoint. Several dishes dotted their table with a variety of caramels to sample alongside rounds of their goat cheese. I also found a couple of new chocolates to add to my roster, such as Burke Mountain truffles. This company takes the Vermont philosophy of collaboration and incorporates it beautifully into their truffles. A white chocolate truffle used Eden Ice Cider as a flavor component and another was oozing with Fat Toad Farm caramel. But, the real standout for me in the chocolate department ended up being Laughing Moon chocolates. Wow! From their peanut butter fudge to their salted caramels. Their truffles had unique flavor combinations including cardamom and blue cheese. Even their salt and pepper chocolate bar was out of this world delicious. These satiating confections topped off my sweets consumption for the day! 
It was suddenly 3 p,m. and time to visit some of the animals that make all of these delicious cheeses possible. I met baby goats, Cider and Streudel and bottle fed a month and a half old calf named Charlotte. This is one of the many reasons the cheesemakers festival is so wonderful. One has the opportunity to meet the animals that produce the milk, interact with the cheese makers, and determine ideal spirit pairings all on the shores of beautiful Lake Champlain. It truly doesn't get much better than that!
 

Vermont summers are fleeting and as people who live here year round know, it's the perfect time to get out on the lake, marvel in sunsets, and savor as much warmth as possible. One of the telltale signs that the season is in full swing, is the annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. This year, the festival marked its 6th year! If you've never attended the festival, as I hadn't until Sunday July 20th, then I highly recommend it! The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. And you really do need all six hours to completely experience the myriad cheese and artisan food vendors that dot the gorgeous Shelburne Farms landscape. 

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Category: Events

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Marketing consultants have a question they ask: if your business / organization were a person, what would he / she be like? 
No idea.
How about if your organization were a person, where would it go for dinner? 
That's easy. That question I can answer for most of the groups I interact with on any given day. 
Vermont Public Radio is one Vermont organization that appears to, as an entity, have distinct food preferences. And, like many Vermonters, it's into fresh, local, high quality food (for some reason I also think of VPR as eating more vegetables than the rest of us. .. possibly because of their Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi).
Every week VPR explores food on-air with the VPR Cafe. Once a year they really get into the food scene with their listener's picnic. 
Or, I should say, they ". . .hold the listener picnic as a 'thank you' gift to the community" as Ty Robertson, the organizer for the picnic, explains. The thank you is first priority. Fortunately, indulging in a love of Vermont food is integral to that goal.
This year the picnic takes place at Lareau Farm Inn, home of American Flatbread. While many diners will associate American Flatbread with their Burlington restaurant, and perhaps their Middlebury outpost, many of us love the original  in Waitsfield, with it's outdoor seating, big campfire, and atmosphere that's laid back to the point of feeling more like you're hanging out at someone's casual summer get together than a restaurant.
Ty's rundown of the menu for 2014: "Plenty of fresh flatbread. [Lareau Farm] will be serving local beers as well. The Burger Barn of Jeffersonville will be on hand to provide local fare, and we may get to see Southern Smoke as well, they haven't confirmed yet. We've asked these businesses to take part this year because they feature local products. We'll also be joined by the folks at Switchel, Caledonia Spirits and Shacksbury Cider for tastings.
All of these vendors are stand out foods in their own right. Caledonia Spirits makes, among other spirits, gin from local honey that's lightly floral and perfect chilled with a twist of lemon for any summer afternoon. Shacksbury Cider is reintroducing traditional cider (dry and still)  not  from Europe as well as a hyper-local variety made from apples discovered during their Lost Apple Project - which scoured Vermont roadsides and field edges for abandoned trees with fruits perfect for cider making. Vermont Switchel has convinced many Vermonters, myself included, that Switchel need not be the sour medicinal drink we remember from childhood - it's refreshing, zingy, and old fashioned in a good way.
The food offerings and locations change each year. In 2012, VPR organized a mini-food festival with samples from 45 Vermont food and beverage producers to both thank listeners and welcome special guest Lynne Rosetto Kasper of The Splendid Table. Last year the picnic took place at Shelburne Museum with the Burger Barn again, homemade hot dogs from The Local Grind, and creative grilled cheese sandwiches from Say Cheese! 
Ty says VPR always has something a little different to share at the picnic. "Some years Cabot Creamery will send several big boxes loaded with assorted cheeses to serve to guests, other years local orchards have donated bushels of apples to give away. . . It depends on the time of year, and location of the picnic but we can always count on the community to take part."
Local food is not the only highlight of the event. There will also be live music from the Starline Rhythm Boys (I've got my cowboy boots ready for honky tonk dancing) and a story slam with longtime VPR contributor Willem Lange (I also have a story prepared). The event is free and open to the public, rain or shine. It goes 11:00 - 2:00 at Lareau Farm Inn on Rte 100 in Waitsfield. 
 
~Helen Labun Jordan is a commentator on Vermont Public Radio. You can find her commentaries and other food writing at www.discoveringflavor.com

What do you get when you combine storytelling, music, and great local food?  Must be the VPR Listeners Picnic.  Local food is showcased at many Vermont events and what better event than a picnic?  Grab a blanket, some great food and enjoy!

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9 July, 2014 - by Helen Labun Jordan

Fresh Food and New Decorations

 

I realize that fox gloves (the orange-pink flowers in with the purple-green beet greens) are not edible. The random white flowers from my backyard in with the tatsoi probably aren't either. That's because these are bouquets, not salads. And I chose what looked the prettiest to me. It's the only time when you'll see beet greens paired with fox gloves.  
I've never been much of one for "tablescaping" - ie making my dining table look better than my normal effort of clearing off 80% of the books and papers on it, then swiping at whatever crumbs I find underneath. However, I have trouble not bringing at least some of summer inside.
I also have trouble restraining myself at the farmers' market. Big bunches of kale, giant heads of lettuce, those beet greens - they take up a lot of room in the fridge. More room than, frankly, I have. Or, if I do cram things into the back corners, they lay there forgotten until they've gone too far past their prime to save. 
Now add in to this dilemma that we have farmers' market booths filled with the most gorgeous flowers. . .and I'll buy bouquets, but to really get my fill, I'd end up spending all my grocery money on the flowers not the food. 
Farmers' market bouquets solve all these problems. I can buy a bouquet made from stems of my favorite flowers, then stretch it into bright, cheeful decoration to fill the house. The greens stay relatively fresh in the water. I won't forget about them sitting there in the middle of the table. 
A morning at the farmers' market fills the house with fresh food and new decorations. The whole house is cheerful. And if the greens begin to wilt, just rinse them, put them in ice cold water to revive, then use them (since that was the whole point, wasn't it?). And reassemble the flower stems back into their own bouquet. Simple.

We are lucky to live in a state that has so many wonderful farmers' markets to choose from AND we are lucky that those markets provide us with many wonderful products to choose from...fresh produce, fresh flowers, cheese, meat, eggs, crafts, wine, beer, ice cream....the list goes on and on.  To find the market closest to you or to find a new market you've never visited before check out this list and enjoy!

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