Bite Club | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Berda's Restaurant

Posted By on Fri, Feb 23, 2018 at 8:13 AM

Mac-and-cheese balls at Berda's Restaurant - HANNAH PALMER EGAN
  • Hannah Palmer Egan
  • Mac-and-cheese balls at Berda's Restaurant
I like to pooh-pooh comfort food. "It's overdone," I'll often say. Or, "If I have to find a way to write about another plate of poutine or mac and cheese, I'm going to vomit all over my keyboard." Yes, poor me, I know.

Food-writer fatigue notwithstanding, comfort food is comforting for a reason. And since I'm a good, flag-waving American, I do keep a special place in my heart for well-done burgers and mac.

Case in point: Co-owners and cooks Shaun Trepanier and Cory Charles opened Berda's Restaurant in a storefront at the Essex Shoppes & Cinema in late December. The spot is an outgrowth of Berda's Roadside Eatery, where Charles slung local-beef burgers, dogs and duck-fat fries from a food truck in Essex Junction for the past three summers.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Burlington's Honey Road Restaurant and Chef Get James Beard Nod

Posted By on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 8:20 AM

A whole trout at Honey Road - OLIVER PARINI/FILE
  • Oliver Parini/File
  • A whole trout at Honey Road
Honey Road restaurant in Burlington is a semifinalist for a  James Beard Award  for best new restaurant,  the James Beard Foundation announced February 15. Its chef-owner Cara Chigazola-Tobin is also in the running for best chef in the Northeast.

Chigaloza-Tobin, a former chef de cuisine at Oleana in Cambridge, Mass., owns Honey Road with Allison Gibson, formerly of Hen of the Wood and the Inn at Shelburne Farms.  Honey Road opened on the corner of Church and Main streets last summer. It specializes in Mediterranean food and features a menu that encourages diners to share plates.

Honey Road is one of 28 restaurants — including two in New England — that are semifinalists for best new restaurant.  Chigazola-Tobin belongs to a group of 20 chefs  in the Northeast who could win best chef in the region.

"It’s a pretty crazy feeling," Chigazola-Tobin wrote in an email to Seven Days.  "I’m stoked to even get this far. "

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Four Corners of the Earth

Posted By on Sat, Feb 17, 2018 at 5:23 PM

Ladislav Pancisin - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Ladislav Pancisin
Ladislav Pancisin said he's made about 395,000 sandwiches at Four Corners of the Earth, his restaurant on Pine Street in Burlington.

"I was going to make one sandwich for every Vermonter and then be done with it," he said the other day. "But then the population keeps growing."

The population of Vermont has risen by about 14,000 people since Pancisin opened his small, subterranean sandwich shop in 2000. He'd be roasting salmon, chopping cabbage and mixing spice blends — all sandwich ingredients — until eternity if he kept pace with the people.  I recommend getting to Four Corners in the here and now, and adding a sandwich or two to Pancisin's tally.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Coffee Education Series Debuts at Onyx Tonics

Posted By on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 12:56 PM

  • Provided by Onyx Tonics
  • Coffee on snow

Last year, Jason Gonzalez of Burlington's Onyx Tonics Specialty Coffee offered a one-time coffee tasting, with the goal of sharing information about the differences between beans from different parts of the world. The class was a hit, and this year, he's offering a whole series. The sessions will occur on the second Tuesday of each month.

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Friday, February 9, 2018

Dining on a Dime: American Flatbread

Posted By on Fri, Feb 9, 2018 at 9:30 AM

Lunch pizzas at American Flatbread in Burlington - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Lunch pizzas at American Flatbread in Burlington
We've been regulars at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth since it opened almost 14 years ago on St. Paul Street. The restaurant arrived in Burlington with an enviable pedigree: offspring of the mother ship at a farm in Waitsfield, where we ate before Flatbread hit the city.

Many things draw us to American Flatbread:  the pizza, of course; a table by the wood-fired oven where a meal can pass in silence as we gaze at the flames; the beer and the salad dressing; the warm brownie sundae.

The hitch in our ritual appeared several years ago, when my daughter ditched our mutual devotion to favorites — Revolution flatbread with pepperoni, or olive and onion flatbread — in favor of Power to the People (chicken, Buffalo sauce, red onions, carrots, blue cheese, etc).  We worked around this wrinkle in various ways but only recently discovered the solution: lunch.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Farmers Market Kitchen: Delicata Flaugnarde

Posted By on Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 6:30 AM

Delicata squash flaugnarde - HANNAH PALMER EGAN
  • Hannah Palmer Egan
  • Delicata squash flaugnarde
It's kind of like a cute joke: A custard and a fruit pie walk into a bar. Sparks fly, yada yada, and — voilà! — a new dessert with characteristics of both magically emerges from the oven.

That dessert would be flaugnarde: French for sweet, custardy pancake with fruit. It's quite similar to clafoutis, which is traditionally made with cherries only, but which I sometimes make with blueberries. And it's a great means to do away with a couple of the squash that may or may not be languishing in your larder right now. In deep winter, I sometimes get the feeling that my delicatas — harvested in late August, before the first frost — are silently taunting me to eat them. Because by now, I'm pretty over eating squash. Am I the only person who feels this way?

Thankfully, I love a good bouncy custard, so today I made one with squash and added just a touch of pumpkin-spice spices, with wholly delightful results. Take that, snickering squash!

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Bartenders Petition to Change Rules on House-Infused Spirits

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 6:12 PM

Glug cocktail at Leunig's Bistro & Cafe - COURTESY OF SARAH BARRY
  • Courtesy of Sarah Barry
  • Glug cocktail at Leunig's Bistro & Cafe
A petition circulated by local bartenders that seeks to amend a state liquor regulation has gained more than 400 signatures in 24 hours.

The petition is an effort to change a Vermont Department of Liquor Control regulation that prohibits adulterating or tampering with alcohol after its manufacture. In practical terms, this means a bartender cannot infuse spirits with ingredients, flavors, herbs or spices — a common practice that is part of mixing a craft cocktail.

"Cocktails are cuisine,"  said Stewart Dunoskovic, a bartender at
Leunig's Bistro & Cafe who signed the petition.  "A bartender is similar to a chef in what they do. And anything that restricts what we can do with those products, restricts what you get to drink at the end of the day."

The change called for by the petition would "update a regulation to the practice, to what's going on," Dunoskovic said. "We're not doing anything in the shadows.  We're not doing anything new. These are common practices: Customers love it; bartenders love it."

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Free Crepe Day at the Skinny Pancake

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 10:41 AM

Cheesy-pesto crepe - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Cheesy-pesto crepe
Wednesday was a slow night at the Skinny Pancake on the waterfront, where outside the wind dominated the action. By the time I arrived, at around 6:30 p.m., the restaurant was offering a limited menu.

I chose the cheesy-pesto crepe, $7.95, and ate a quick supper — sorry that a few of my favorite things, including salad with goat cheese and apples, spinach-artichoke dip, and the Jonny crepe, were off-limits. (I still haven't recovered from the loss, years ago, of cheese fondue from the menu.)

Although it was a quiet night at the restaurant, the crew was anticipating big things. General manager Mike Kennedy was busy at a chalkboard, teasing  new menu items (due March 1) in fuchsia block letters.  Kitchen manager Curtis Garrow was looking ahead, too. To today — Thursday, February 1.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

USDA Again Suspends Slaughter Operation at Vermont Packinghouse

Posted By on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 6:45 PM

Kacey Knight working at Vermont Packinghouse in North Springfield - FILE: MELISSA PASANEN
  • File: Melissa Pasanen
  • Kacey Knight working at Vermont Packinghouse in North Springfield
Federal regulators temporarily shut down the animal slaughter operation at Vermont Packinghouse in North Springfield on Monday, according to a statement from the facility.

An on-site U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector flagged the facility for the "mis-stun" of a sheep. Animals are stunned before they are slaughtered.

"This caused the animal to suffer momentarily before another stun could be properly administered," said the statement from Arion Thiboumery, general manager of Vermont Packinghouse. During the one-day suspension, other aspects of the business — including meat packing and processing — remained in operation, according to Thiboumery.

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Sap! Makes a Run in Los Angeles

Posted By on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 10:30 AM

Chas Smith pitches Sap! on "Shark Tank" - COURTESY OF DISNEY ABC
  • Chas Smith pitches Sap! on "Shark Tank"

Update, January 29, 2018: Sap! did not strike a deal Sunday night on "Shark Tank," though the Burlington-based company did receive an offer of $600,000 for a 30-percent ownership stake. The local entrepreneurs countered with 20 percent, but in the end no deal was made.

When the founders of  Sap! got an email last summer  about the possibility of being contestants on "Shark Tank," a reality TV show that matches businesses with ultra-rich investors (sharks!), they thought it was a joke. But a follow-up phone call convinced Chas Smith, who owns the Burlington-based soft drink company with his cousin, Nikita Salmon, that the email was not a scam.

Smith and Salmon decided to give TV-entrepreneurship a go, and they completed an application to compete on "Shark Tank." Within three weeks, the Vermonters found themselves in front of the cameras at Sony studios in Culver City, California. They pitched their product — carbonated beverages made from maple sap and birch sap — to five tycoons who either did or didn't make a deal with them.  The segment will air Sunday, January 28, at 10 p.m. on ABC.

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