Vermont Part I
From Maine, Velma the Viper and her crew continued exploring New England by heading west to Vermont. Jeremy and I both wanted to visit Burlington. Neither of us had ever had the chance to see this amazing city on the shores of Lake Champlain.
Vermont is a state known for its food culture and local focus. If, when you think of Vermont and food, the first image that pops in your head is a pair of tie-dye clad hippie guys with a pint of ice cream between them, that's ok. You are not alone. It was ours, too. We kicked off our Burlington area stay with a trip to Ben & Jerry's for a factory tour!
Ben & Jerry's was founded in 1978 in Burlington and remains headquartered there, with its factory operations nearby in Waterbury, VT. After completing an ice cream making correspondance course from Pennsylvania State University's Creamery, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened an ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in downtown Burlington on May 5, 1978. In keeping with the Burlington ethos, Ben and Jerry have long been engaged in their community development and beyond. Ben & Jerry's one year anniversary was marked in 1979 with its first ever free cone day, a tradition that continues today. In 1989, they began advocating for use of rBGH-free milk in the dairy industry. Although they were recent acquired by Unilever, the Ben & Jerry's team maintains an independent Board of Directors so they can continue their social impact.
Aside from over-the-top flavors, I love Ben & Jerry's witty naming of their frozen treats. Hazed and Confused; Coffee, Coffee, BuzzBuzzBuzz; Chocolate Therapy; What a Cluster. I'm usually a mint chocolate chip gal, but when it comes to Ben & Jerry's I go more for the chocolate, peanut butter, swirly, fudgy, caramelly flavors. My current favorite is The Tonight Dough (sorta kinda 'cause I also have a crush on Jimmy Fallon). How can you resist the "caramel & chocolate ice creams with chocolate cookie swirls & gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough & peanut butter cookie dough", though? You can't. I promise. Jeremy's go-to flavors when we make a pint run at the grocery store are more traditional, with Phish Food winning out slightly over Cherry Garcia.
Once we had our dairy fill for the day, we wandered down further into Waterbury, VT and visited Cold Hollow Cider Mill. We were in search of some apple cider donuts, but we ended up walking away with a great experience and a lot more delicious food! As soon as you get out of your car in the Cold Hollow parking lot, the smell of apple cider donuts is in the air. They are so popular that the donuts are constantly being cranked out. You can watch the whole process take place near the cash wrap once inside. During peak season, they make up to 800 donuts a day!
There is also a press viewing room inside the Cold Hollow building. The website mentions between mid-September and mid-December, they're pressing seven days a week, but we must've just missed them that day because the press was silent. There are plaques placed around the press explaining the process so you can learn yourself without a formal tour, and there is also a large sample tank that was still eeking out some fresh pressed cider when we were there. Perfectly bright and so refreshing, we absolutely snagged a bottle of cider to take back with us.
Along with apple cider and donuts, Cold Hollow is home to hundreds of other Vermont made foods. Pancake mixes, jams and jellies, savory snacks, and nearly anything else you can think of for Vermont made goods. Fat Toad Caramel is something that's been on my foodie-radar ever since Sydney from Crêpes of Wrath shared a recipe for Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Cookies with their caramel. (Yep, I've been dreaming about Fat Toad Caramel for over TWO YEARS.) So of course when I saw it on the shelves, I had to pick up two mini jars to save for some future baking fun or ice cream treats.
We grabbed lunch at Cold Hollow Cider Mill's Luncheonette, which is also on the same property as the Mill's main building. The luncheonette is a great casual spot that serves soups and sandwiches and uses as much local and seasonal produce as possible. Jeremy liked the chili they had on special, and the sandwich I chose hit the spot. I also went with the blood orange kombucha they had on tap - something that would be much harder to find. The kombucha was great! It was a bit sweeter than the bottled versions I usually have, but it made for a great lunch time refresher.
Having stuffed ourselves lately on great, seasonal and local foods, we went searching for something a little more out of the ordinary for dinner. We found it on the Burlington waterfront in a nondescript building housing the Yangser Dorjee's Himalaya Restaurant. I had had Nepalese food once before in New York City. All I could remember about the cuisine were these perfectly plump little pillows of dumplings called momos. Jeremy and I are up for trying pretty much anything food-wise - especially if it combines Chinese and Indian cuisine like that of the Himalayas.
We were so glad we found this spot! The food was comforting and familiar, but the spice mixes were just enough to keep us on our toes. The momos were just as I remembered. Jeremy and I shared a plate of mixed momos, half chicken and half vegetarian. Momos and daal were just enough to fill me up for the night while Jeremy tried a new dish called "sautéed thenthuk," or flat, chewy noodles sautéed with vegetables and beef. I tasted the noodles and vegetables and the flavor profile was a super mixture of sweet and spicy. Perfect warm-your-soul food for the blustery cold kind of evening we were having on the waterfront.
This exploration of Waterbury and Burlington is just the very beginning of our visit to Vermont. Stay tuned as our next blog post will dig deeper into beer culture and maple syrup!