Vermont Part II
Our previous visit in Maine with the grown-up half of The Wandering Nation crew was great fun, but learning about Matt's hobbies have since created a huge dent in our wallet. For example, Matt has a Davy Crockett Green Mountain Grill. Because Velma doesn't have an external propane hook-up and has limited external storage, we have gone without outdoor cooking options since we've started full-timing. Jeremy had been eyeing the Davy Crockett for a couple of months but we were not certain we should committ. Matt gave Jeremy a hands-on tour of the grill, his set-up process, and his break-down process. Turns out, this grill is perfect for our needs. Jeremy was sold. Oh, and did we mention this grill can be operated by wifi?! Lastly, Green Mountain Grills has amazing customer service. Matt shared a few stories about how awesome this company has been to full-timers in sending parts out on the road. Jeremy has already experienced this amazing service with a part upgrade that was sent first-class at no cost. If you are in the market for a pellet smoker, definitely give Green Mountain Grills a look.
As if a grill tour wasn't enough, we then cracked open a few cold ones by the campfire while Matt opened the door to the Vermont craft brew scene to us. Namely, The Best Beer in the World(™), The Alchemist's Heady Topper. Heady Topper is a Double IPA distributed only to stores, co-ops and restaurants in a 20-mile radius around Waterbury, VT. The Alchemist lists the drop-off schedule on their website, with each location getting one delivery per week. You have to be fast, as the beer usually sells out in minutes to the already-lined-up-like-they-are-waiting-at-Space-Mountain crowd that remembered to call ahead and find out what time the drop off occurs for that venue. Oh, and you can only buy one or two 4-packs depending on the location. Jeremy somehow managed to pull together sixteen cans after driving around to a few places one lucky morning, and he's rationing it for the rest of the trip. If you want to try Heady Topper and you run into Jeremy at some point over the next month, he might just share one with you.
The only thing that might be better than a great beer on a cool fall day is great food. In Waterbury, that means you are going to Prohibition Pig. The site where Prohibition Pig currently stands was the former The Alchemist Brewpub prior to the flood of 2011 from Hurricane Irene. With an interior best described as "sophisticated farmhouse", Prohibition Pig is a great space to sit down with friends and plan to spend a good time over a brew or two and a couple plates of smoked meat goodies served with a modern flair.
I started our Friday lunch with a cast iron skillet piled high with shoestring fries. Fried perfectly crisp and seasoned just right, I would absolutley reorder these as an appetizer or even a side. Jeremy ordered the Double Fried Dry Rubbed Wings. When they say "double fried," they mean it. The wings came out completely charred to a crisp in the best, tastiest way possible (according to J).
For my main, I ordered the grilled cheese sandwich/tomato soup combo. I assumed that, in the land of Cabot cheese, I'd be getting a toasty sandwich layered high with cheese that pulled and stretched with every bite. Instead, the sandwich was thin and lacking a noticeable cheese presence. The tomato soup, though, saved the meal. It was bright, acidic and spicy. Perfect for dunking my glorified cheesey toast into. Next time, I'd absolutely go for the craft mac and cheese topped with truffles or house-pickled jalapeños.
Jeremy had the brisket sandwich ordered dry and topped with fried onion strings. This was a true full-day brisket, with just the right amount of fat. The table is set with four types of BBQ sauce so you can dress your own sandwich, with flavors ranging from bacon (umm, yes) to Carolina style. Jeremy added a side of cheese grits to round out his meal, and they were also a perfect taste of home.
Eager to stock the little free space we managed to make in Velma's cabinets with some craft beer, we walked around the corner from Prohibition Pig to the Craft Beer Cellar. Aside from wandering the aisles admiring the branding and design of the variety of brews CBC carries, I found a few hard ciders and Jeremy a few beers we wanted to try. I really enjoyed the Down East Cider I had when at Otto Pizzeria in Portland so I picked up a can of their cranberry brew at CBC.
Before heading back west to Burlington, we drove over to Montpelier and Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks to get a closer look at the maple industry in Vermont. Morse Farm is a small site, but they do a great job educating visitors as you wander through the handful of buildings on the property. Most noteably, in the Woodshed Theatre there is a video that plays on loop, featuring an interview with one of the Morse family farmers explaining the maple syrup process from tree to bottle.
While at Morse Farm we had our first maple creemee and picked up a jar of maple cream for our waffle and pancake breakfasts. If you have never had maple cream, YOU MUST. My friend Deneese once gifted me with a tub from her in-law's Indiana maple farm. Pop it in the fridge and try not to inhale it. It's maple syrup in its best form - thick, spreadable and absolutely luscious.
Oh, and of course we visited the resident goats on the property so I could get my fix. One day, goats. One day I shall have you on my own farm. Next up, more awesome Vermont things you should visit. Just tell them the Vandy Vagabonds sent you.