Vermont Part IV
And we're back. We managed to catch a nasty viral respiratory infection that had knocked us out for a good part of the last 3 weeks. We are on the mend, back on the road, and ready to share more adventures. So, back to Vermont...
I am not quite sure how this initially slipped my own food-obsessed, ex-baker radar, but after a few days in Vermont I knew how I was going to spend "my day"*. A Vanderbilt friend (hi Miriam!) who loves to bake as much as me reminded me that King Arthur Flour's "Bakery, Café, Store and School" is in Norwich, VT. Knowing this was just about 90 minutes from our campground, I decided I would make a day of it.
Given that I was very likely going to stuff my face at the King Arthur Flour bakery, I decided a pre-gorge hike might be smart to offset the delicious sugar in my future.
Gile Mountain was up first. Miriam spent a few years in the central Vermont and New Hampshire area while at Dartmouth for her masters and told me that Gile Mountain was a must-do in the fall. There's an old fire tower at the top of the mountain that allows you breathtaking, 360 views of the area. If you squint (or borrow a nice woman's binoculars, as I did) you can even see Hanover, NH and Norwich, VT from the top.
The hike was short, steep and not lacking in foliage. It was a perfect way for me to start the day and to really soak up fall in New England. The leaves were bright and beautiful despite visiting late in the peeking season.
After Gile Mountain, I went to Hanover to grab some lunch and explore the little main street area close to the Dartmouth campus.
Miriam sent me a couple recommendations for restaurants near campus that would be great lunch spots. I ended up going with a Ramunto's Brick & Brew Pizzeria hit the spot. Two slices of gooey, cheesy pizza and a fresh, green Greek salad to offset the rich slices. Perfect!
While walking the main street in downtown Hanover, I stumbled upon a little basement shop selling brigadeiros called My Brigadeiro. Brigadeiros are a Brazilian treat that I'd heard of years ago, but I never had an opportunity to taste until now. I grabbed a box to share with Jeremy. We devoured them instantly. Come to find out, these things are rather easy to make. I'm probably going to have to give it a go in the ole' RV kitchen one day. If it's a success, I'm sure you'll hear about it.
Belly full and well rested, it was finally time for me to to head off to King Arthur Flour.
I had scoured the King Arthur Flour class schedule as soon as I had decided I'd be visiting. Unfortunately, I was not going to be able to time my visit for a class I really wanted to take. The day I went there was a class on croissants and pastry. While I'd love to learn how to make croissants, I don't think I'll be making them anytime soon in our teensy temperamental kitchen. All that time spent on the class would go right down the drain in a week or two without the chance to practice my new skills!
I did manage to spend over an hour browsing the stocked-to-nearly-overflowing shelves in the store. Every single thing that King Arthur Flour sells in their catalog or on their website could be found on the shelves and down the aisles. Pressed for space on the Viper, I decided to pick up a few mixes and some special little extras that could go well with the mixes. Jammy bits that I could easily mix in to the blueberry muffin mix, or into any other muffin or quick bread I bake down the road. Valhrona dark chocolate disks - because dark chocolate is always best, and it never hurts to add more chocolate to a chocolate chip cookie mix. Or to brownies. Though never nuts. (I'm a no-nut-brownie person. You?)
I also managed to walked away with a box of freshly baked treats to share with Jeremy when I got back home.
Before making the trip back to Shelburne, Jeremy and the pups, I drove to Quechee Gorge. The visitors' center launches you out in the middle of the trail that runs along the Gorge. Turn right and you'll walk a few miles to the dam. Turn left and you'll make your way down a few miles to a rocky riverbed, perfect for scrambling on to get close to the water.
Across the way is a little street mall of sorts, the Quechee Gorge Village. I stopped because it was one of the handful of official Cabot locations in the area and we couldn't leave Vermont without stocking up on our favorite way to consume dairy. I picked up a few goodies for our families, too, like goats milk soap, maple syrup samplers, spice rubs, and started making the drive back to Shelburne.
At this point in our journey, the nights are starting to get colder and we're waking up to frosty leaves on the ground outside Velma. Time to start moving South!
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In case any of you readers will be in the area looking for a unique resturant, be sure to visit a place called Pierogi Me on the way to Quechee Gorge. As soon as I passed the restaurant sign (and was finally in a safe place to use my phone), I pulled up the Pierogi Me webage, hoping it was a storefront or market where I could pick up some homemade pierogi and stuff our tiny freezer with delicious potato and cheese filled dumplings. I learned that Pierogi Me is a restaurant, but they weren't open at all the day I happened to be in the area. I was bummed! My parents are of Eastern European descent (my mom is a 1st generation American, both her parents coming from Russia, and my dad is a 2nd generation American, his ancestors coming from Lithuania) so I was basically weaned on pierogi. Mrs. T's makes a decent alternative to the labor-intensive homemade versions - especially if you skip the boiling step and sautée the frozen pierogi in a butter/olive oil combo until brown and crispy on the edges. Top with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and obscene amounts of sour cream, and you're good to go! If you are in the Nashville area, I highly recommend you connect with Amanda Contreras. She lives on the East side, not too far from our old sticks 'n bricks, and makes pierogi from her baba's family recipe. She grows the potatoes for the pierogi herself in her backyard! We've ordered several dozen from her and can vouch for the original style as well as the plum pierogi. (I still like to sautée sweet, fruit-filled pierogi in butter, but I top with some of the melted butter from the pan + a light sprinkle of demerara sugar to add some crunch to the dish.)
*Before Jeremy and I moved in to the Viper full-time, we decided we would each get our own day to get and do our own thing. We both have a lot of common interests, but there's only so many hours you can spend together, practically on top of one another, in a row. Sometimes, I just need to get away and watch a chick flick on my own, indulge in my obsession with goats, or expand my passion for all things baking. We made this clear from the very beginning with each other so that feelings wouldn't get hurt later on down the road. It's one of the best decisions we made while living this nomad life of ours.