Bite Club | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Dining on a Dime: The Crooked Ram

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Housemade cheese scones at the Crooked Ram - JORDAN BARRY
  • Jordan Barry
  • Housemade cheese scones at the Crooked Ram

What’s the going rate for 26 pounds of honey? At the Crooked Ram in Manchester, it’s a whole lot of store credit. And while that’s not how I paid for this Dining on a Dime adventure, if I ever come into a windfall of the sweet stuff, I know where I’ll spend it.

The taproom on Manchester’s main drag is a drinking destination — the only place in town dedicated to craft beer, cider and natural wine — and it doesn’t take much to be a regular.

“Most of our customers are from out of state,” said owner Peter Campbell. I’m no local to southern Vermont, but Campbell remembered me from my first visit a few months before. We’d ranted about the lack of beverage producers in Bennington County while I stood at the bar sipping a glass of Fable Farm Fermentory’s Fluxion III. This time, though, I was focused on eating, not ranting.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Drink Up: The Beach House

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 9:32 AM

Painkiller cocktail and patrons at the Beach House at North Beach - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Painkiller cocktail and patrons at the Beach House at North Beach
The bartender at the Beach House studies data analytics at the University of Vermont. She put her expertise to work the other day at her summer job at the North Beach bar, where she mixes and serves drinks for barefoot customers.

Christina McLaughlin, 21, didn’t need a spreadsheet or business intelligence  software to assess the drinking preferences of the Beach House crowd. “Definitely the Painkiller,” McLaughlin told me, naming a $10 cocktail on the house list.

This was interesting to learn, because it pegged me as a conformist when it comes to Beach House booze. Before McLaughlin revealed the bar's analytics to me, I had ordered a Painkiller.

I’m not sure if I made the choice because it’s the first drink on the menu or because I’ve had my share of Tequila Sunrises. The day was moving toward dusk, and a Painkiller called to me.

The bar’s setting itself is likely to kill any pain you might have. I parked on the street by Burlington High School and walked downhill along North Beach Campground, passing through the culvert under the bike path. (Any time you can walk through a culvert to a bar, do it!)

The fenced-off  space that forms the Beach House — a little tiki bar and a collection of tables — is about 30 paces from the water. The bar offers a view of the beach and all that comes with it: sunbathers, speedboaters, kids playing in the sand, grown-ups getting their analytics tracked by smartphones.

The people at the table next to mine had Rollerbladed to the Beach House on the bike path from south of downtown. They were barefoot, their Rollerblades set on the pebble-covered ground beside them.

Chris Butch, an ICU nurse and one of the bladers, was shirtless and color-coordinated.  His towel, bathing suit and JammyPack all bore the stars and stripes. He was welcome at the Beach House without the usual restaurant attire and without spending a penny: He drank ice water.

“I don’t like to wear a shirt or shoes,” Butch said, “which is why I like coming here.”

His friends, who drank spiked seltzer, said they enjoyed having a drink option on the bike path, at the beach, in a casual and welcoming setting.

Back at my table, McLaughlin had delivered my cocktail and these words: “I hope you enjoy your Painkiller.” (I enjoyed it so much, I suggested Butch offer it at the ICU.)

The Painkiller at the Beach House at North Beach - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • The Painkiller at the Beach House at North Beach

The rum-based drink, a spiked fruit punch, is the color of a hazy sunset. It’s foamed up with a coconut cream and spiced with  nutmeg. Served with an umbrella and a slice of orange, it's a hometown vacation in a plastic cup.

The owner of the Beach House, Sani Pasagic, pulled up a chair and talked with me for a bit about running a seasonal business, the rigors of being a restaurant cook and his son’s Church Street cheesesteak cart.

“People are finally finding out about this place,” Pasagic said of his beach business.

Maybe more people would find the Beach House if parking were permitted in the BHS parking lots. But signs warn that cars will be towed from the lots. My vote: Let people park in them for free. School’s out, and the parking lots are mostly empty. Shouldn’t people be encouraged to walk five or 10 minutes and through a culvert to a city beach?

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Front Seat Coffee Coming to Hardwick

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2019 at 9:30 AM

Tobin Myers Porter at Front Seat Coffee during renovation - COURTESY OF FRONT SEAT COFFEE
  • Courtesy of Front Seat Coffee
  • Tobin Myers Porter at Front Seat Coffee during renovation
A former vegetable farmer is opening a coffee shop in Hardwick, where Front Seat Coffee will occupy the ground floor space at 101 South Main Street. Tobin Myers Porter will launch his business in mid-July with a grand opening planned for July 27.

The 24-seat café will serve coffee and espresso drinks made with beans roasted at Carrier Roasting Co., a  roastery in Northfield. Milk at the café will come from Sweet Rowen Farmstead in West Glover. Front Seat Coffee, currently under renovation, will prepare baked goods and other food in its kitchen. Menu items will include cinnamon maple toast, avocado toast, curried chicken salad, and tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich.

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Vegan Guide to the Burlington Farmers Market

Posted By on Sat, Jun 22, 2019 at 7:30 AM

Black bean and corn tamale from Gracie's - SABINE POUX
  • Sabine Poux
  • Black bean and corn tamale from Gracie's
The Burlington Farmers Market is a haven for vegan grocery shoppers. Among the myriad butchers and creameries that post up each Saturday morning are vendors selling farm-fresh produce, from leafy greens to mushrooms to aromatic fruits, all suitable for chefs who want to cook sans animal.

But there are fewer options for plant-based foodies hankering for snacks to have and to hold as they browse the market’s many stalls. Most of the ready-to-eat offerings contain some kind of meat, dairy or egg, from the carnivorous sandwiches at Pigasus to all the tantalizing baked goods. Even some of the spirit samples are off limits to those who don’t eat or drink honey.

Last month, Seven Days sent a reporter to the market to get the 411 on all things ready to eat. But one commenter wasn’t completely satisfied. “Aside from Green Mountain's Wing Chun potstickers,” the comment read, “did any of the Ready-to-Eat vendors offer vegan options?”

So I embarked on a market run to scope out the vegan scene. Here were some of the highlights.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Dining on a Dime: Stone Corral Brewery

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 12:41 PM

Grilled corn and a chickpea taco at Stone Corral Brewery - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Grilled corn and a chickpea taco at Stone Corral Brewery
The server at Stone Corral Brewery in Richmond used perfect timing when he spoke these words to me:  ”The tyranny of choice.”

He was looking at me with a smile as I studied the menu, trying to choose what to eat with my grilled corn on the cob ($4). I felt the pressure, but kept reading the list. When I selected the last thing on the menu, a taco called Ganesh to Meet Yah, he was kind enough to affirm my choice with a quiet “Yay!”

The name of the taco meant nothing to me, but its ingredients were irresistible: curried vegetable chickpeas, cucumber, apple, Napa cabbage and pea shoot slaw, toasted sesame, coconut yogurt dressing. With a green salad, this beautiful assemblage totaled $7.

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Four Quarters Brewing Turns Parking Lot Into Beer Garden

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 10:10 PM

Beer garden at former bank in Winooski - COURTESY OF FOUR QUARTERS BREWING
  • Courtesy of Four Quarters Brewing
  • Beer garden at former bank in Winooski
The drive-up lanes of a former bank in Winooski are dispensing beer instead of bucks. Customers can walk up and score a hometown IPA.

Four Quarters Brewing is opening a satellite beer garden at the site of the old KeyBank on 70 Main Street. After a trial run last weekend, the parking-lot beer joint will be open Thursday through Sunday (weather dependent) starting on Friday, June 21. Four Quarters’ new site is about five blocks from its primary location, where owner Brian Eckert opened Winooski’s only brewery in 2014.

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Town Hall Theater Opens 'Spinning Plates,' a Food Truck Alley in Middlebury

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 11:05 AM

The Tourterelle truck in front of Town Hall Theater - COURTESY OF TOWN HALL THEATER
  • The Tourterelle truck in front of Town Hall Theater
Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater launches a new food truck venue called Spinning Plates this Friday, June 21.

An alternating lineup of trucks will post up on weekends this summer in the alley between the theater and the building that once housed the Diner on Merchant's Row. The space will also hold a small seating area, where customers can buy beer and wine from the theater's bar during dinner.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Melissa Pasanen's Summer Food and Drink Bucket List

Posted By on Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 7:30 AM

Canteen Creemee in Waitsfield - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Canteen Creemee in Waitsfield
The Vermont summer is far too short for most of us. Every year, I make an ambitious list of things to do that can only be done during the warm, green and (sometimes) sunny season. But, invariably, I check off only a few items.

This year, I decided to go on record with my food- and drink-related summer bucket list, both here on Bite Club and in audio via our partnership with Vermont Public Radio on VPR Café. I figure this will make me accountable for maximizing the food fun I can squeeze into this summer.

Hope to see you up a mountain before you head to lakeside pizza or the creemee stand, quaffing a cold one after a bike ride, or strolling the grounds of a national historic landmark fueled by an excellent breakfast.

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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Dining on a Dime: A & W Drive-In

Posted By on Sun, Jun 9, 2019 at 1:31 PM

A&W on Route 7 in Middlebury - SABINE POUX
  • Sabine Poux
  • A&W on Route 7 in Middlebury
A newly minted 21-year-old, I’m still in the honeymoon phase with beer. I love the stuff in all its forms, from overpriced IPA to cheap supermarket six-packs. But last week, I had a hankering for a different kind of brew, the kind that begs to be served with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream.

So, two friends and I caravanned to the A & W in Middlebury to satisfy our RBF (root beer float) cravings. It was a hot day, so we plopped down under a big shady tree next to the parking lot. A couple of other families ate from their cars, trays clipped to the open windows. If it wasn’t for the beautiful Green Mountain backdrop, we could have been at any one of the chain’s thousands of locations.

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Evolution Kitchen Rentable Food Truck Gears Up at Foodaroo

Posted By on Fri, Jun 7, 2019 at 6:15 PM

Brian Hayes of Silver Maple Construction working on the Evolution Kitchen truck - SABINE POUX
  • Sabine Poux
  • Brian Hayes of Silver Maple Construction working on the Evolution Kitchen truck
After years of working in the culinary industry, Lisa Mitchell has come closer than most to nabbing her childhood dream job.

“When I was 5 years old, the first thing I wanted to be was an ice cream lady and have an ice cream truck,” she said. “I remember being really fascinated with the idea of vending food out of a truck and making people happy.”

Now Mitchell, 45, and husband Andy, 44, are co-owners of Evolution Kitchen, a mobile eatery that will debut June 23 at the fifth annual Foodaroo festival in Middlebury. While Evolution Kitchen won’t be serving up Firecracker ice pops or Chaco Tacos, its core concept is just as exciting: The Mitchells will rent the truck out to a changing cast of culinary characters that will peddle their wares at events in and beyond Addison County.

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