Joseph and I have been trying to get to Burlington, VT all summer. We wanted to go to celebrate our second anniversary back in June, but our plans changed when I had to go to DC for work. We rescheduled for the weekend of July 4th, but then my knee surgery was scheduled for July 1st and we had to cancel yet again. But with both of our birthdays at the end of August, we were determined to finally make it north and celebrate. We decided since this short vacation was so long in the coming, we would add Montreal to our itinerary so we could explore this culinary city and Joseph could practice his French (he’s been teaching himself!).
Burlington is not only a great town full of nice people, interesting shops, good food, and beautiful scenery, but it’s a really nostalgic place for me. My grandparents lived there and I grew up looking forward to our vacations in Vermont. One of my favorite places in Burlington (in the world, actually) is the Restaurant at the Inn at Shelburne Farms. Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit environmental education center with a 1,400-acre working farm nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain. The ingredients that the restaurant uses come either from their own farm (they even make their own cheese!) or from other Vermont farmers, making for some incredibly fresh and flavorful new American cuisine.
We decided to eat outside, overlooking Lake Champlain and an extraordinary sunset. Joseph got a quail appetizer and a lamb entree, while I got acorn squash soup to start and a lobster and scallop dish (how could I pass that up?). Choosing dessert was nearly impossible because I wanted one of everything, but we finally settled on a peach and berry tart, which was bright and juicy. I am desperate to go back and try the raspberry chocolate upside-down cake. It just sounded too heavy after all the food that we’d had, but I can’t stop thinking about it two weeks later.
That night we settled into our super quaint, charming 18th century B&B in Williston and awoke to a steady rain (courtesy of Irene) and an enormous breakfast of Belgian waffles and fresh peaches. We had hoped to spend a little more time on Burlington’s Church St., an outdoor pedestrian shopping area full of boutique shops, cafes, and street musicians, but with the rain we decided to head to our next destination: Montreal, Quebec. We had naive hopes of trying to get there before before the worst of the rain, but the rain traveled right along with us, leaving us with a very soggy afternoon in Montreal. Continue reading
Now that I’ve given you a full overview of all the cocktails I drank while I was visiting Ohio (here, here, here, and don’t forget the DIY Cocktails giveaway!), I thought I would give you a little snapshot of the rest of my time in Columbus and Athens, OH because it was so much more fun than I thought it would be! After my sister and brother-in-law treated me to a lovely lunch at Rigsby’s Kitchen, they took me to Jeni’s Ice Cream. It. Was. Amazing. If you live anywhere in the Columbus vicinity, you have to check it out. My absolute favorite ice cream place in the world is Toscanini’s in Boston (if you weren’t aware, New Englanders take their ice cream very seriously), but Jeni’s gives them a run for their money.
Jeni’s is a little bit cheaper (you may need a small loan if you go to Tosci’s more than once a month), they make all their stuff from scratch, and they just have a fun, quirky sense of humor (just watch their video on their website). They have a number of standout year-round flavors, and the summer seasonals they were featuring when I was there are spectacular. The Salted Caramel, Buckeye State, and Bourbon Butter Pecan were my favorites of the signature flavors, but they also have some really interesting flavors like Bangkok Peanut. I truly loved all the seasonal flavors that I tried, but my favorites included Rhubarb Cardamom, Rockmill Golden Ale & Apricots, and Brambleberry Crisp. But don’t take my word for it, try them out for yourself! The staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating and I think between my two visits, I tried at least two-thirds of the flavors. Don’t foresee a trip to Columbus anytime soon? I just found out Jeni has a cookbook that just came out and can’t wait to try it out! Continue reading
We finally had some decent weather this past weekend and I was absolutely desperate to get out of the house. We’d never been to New Bedford, a town hailed for being one of the most important whaling ports in the 19th Century, so we made the one hour drive down from Boston and checked out some sites that Joseph had picked out.
The highlight was definitely Margaret’s (actually across the river in Fairhaven), a small, unpretentious seafood restaurant that we picked based on strong Yelp reviews. It was packed but turnover was fast enough that it seemed that no one ever had to wait. They had yummy focaccia at the table waiting for us before we even sat down which is both delightful and dangerous for someone who loves bread as much as I do. We both got seafood plates that had slightly different content, but pretty much the same sauce. The food – especially the huge, sweet, and plump mussels – was delicious and the prices were friendly on the wallet. Simple food done well, amazing prices, awesome service. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend stopping by.
We also stopped by Lydia’s, a Portuguese Bakery, for some somewhat unmemorable pastries. We knew nothing about Portuguese pastries and had no idea what to get, so that may have been the problem. Next we headed to Sid Wainer & Son, a specialty food wholesaler with a retail store open to the public where you can get a $300 jar of winter truffles and enough free food samples to constitute a small lunch. Make sure to bring a jacket if you want to peruse their well-stocked cheese room.
Next was Travessia Winery, an urban winery that sources most of their grapes from a vineyard in Massachusetts. The Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay are well worth skipping, while the Vidal Blanc and especially the red blend Jester, whose grapes are sourced from California, are tastier. Mostly I was just glad that you saved $2 off the tasting by opting out of getting the “free” glass. Anyone want any winery wine glasses? We have enough to stock a small restaurant.
One of things that I really love about Joseph is that we both really enjoy and value food. It’s not enough just to like food, to like to eat it. Who doesn’t like to eat? To be the man that I’ll spend the rest of my life with, he has to really appreciate what went into a dish to make it what it is, he has to celebrate the flavors and the way they work together, and he has to have a curiosity and genuine interest in what makes a dish so special. It doesn’t hurt to also be an amazing cook who also does a heck of a job washing dishes. Joseph is all of that, and more.
We spent the weekend before Valentine’s exploring local food treasures including the Danish Pastry House (absolutely incredible pastries), Fastachi (nuts, chocolate, and more), Penzeys Spices, John Dewar & Co. Butchers, and the Spirited Gourmet for a sake tasting. Then we had a fabulous dinner at Hungry Mother, one of my favorite restaurants in the Boston area, where the highlights were the braised beef tongue appetizer, the french gnocchi (I always have to order their gnocchi), and the outstanding bourbon upside-down cake with butter pecan ice cream. I can’t stop thinking about that sweet, salty, rich, nutty caramel goodness. And that was just Saturday.
Sunday, we trooped off to Taza Chocolate for a tour at the factory. If you aren’t familiar with Taza Chocolate, they’re located in Somerville, MA, just outside Boston and they are the only direct trade, organic, stone ground, bean-to-bar chocolate maker in the country. You’ll find plenty of chocolatiers in the States, but finding one that buys the cacao beans and does everything else from roasting the beans, to tempering, to making the bars, wrapping them (by hand no less!), and selling them is much more rare. I knew it was a really cool company, but being there and actually seeing and hearing more about it, well, I’m completely smitten.