Swedish Smorgasbord Festivities

Seasons’ greetings and a happy new year to all from the Golden Stage Inn!

 

Our Christmas Eve of 2013 was as packed with merriment as the Inn’s dining rooms were packed with people for our traditional Swedish Smorgasbord.  Guests, family and friends all came together to celebrate the night with good food and good company.  Julie-Lynn’s  parents are each half Swedish, so it has become a family tradition to celebrate this joyful time of year with a Christmas Eve Swedish Smorgasbord featuring all varieties of Swedish food, drink and decor.  The Anderson-Wood family members spent the day preparing a multi-course meal – including appetizers, main dishes, and sweets for dessert.  Their efforts certainly paid off!  Supper attendees were welcomed into the living room glowing with a crackling fire and sparkling Christmas tree.  Conversations filled the rooms while we helped ourselves to hot drinks and appetizers.  Guests brought their own beverages as well; a sure hit was the mulled wine, which the Swedes call Glogg (pronounced ‘glug’).  The decor went far past traditional New England Christmastime to include Swedish-printed tablecloths and painted horses. Paper napkins wished us “God Jul,” or “Good Yule” in Swedish, and a few Santa Lucia dolls holding Advent wreaths adorned the tables along with the miniature Christmas trees. Nana Rosemary Anderson, who took the pictures below, was even wearing her favorite blue Swedish sweater for the occasion.

Delicious almond cake and apple cake

At a little past seven, the main dishes came to the table piping hot and we served ourselves buffet style.  Everyone left with stomachs stuffed after enjoying homemade Swedish meatballs, pickled herring (or sil), beet salad, and potatoes and peppers in cream. A few American favorites such as macaroni ‘n’ cheese and baked ham made an appearance as well, and were a hit with the teenagers that were present! My personal favorite Swedish Smorgasbord dish was the red cabbage, which is simmered with apples and molasses. Papa Bert Anderson is a staunch advocate of sil and was encouraging everyone to add it to their plate, and several were brave enough to rise to the challenge. My father and a one of my brothers loved it – but reviews from other diners indicated this northern snack may be more of an acquired taste.  When the desserts came around, however, every single mouth was watering in anticipation! There was almond kaka  and apple kaka (cake), perfect for dipping in an after dinner coffee. Spice cookies and dark chocolate covered clementines finished off the array of sweets.  My family headed out once our plates had been cleared and our bellies were ready to undertake the walk back to the car.  We were invited to participate in the event not only because I recently began working for Michael and Julie, but also because we are new to the Okemo Valley area and slowly getting to know the area and its community.  The hospitality and friendship that the Golden Stage Inn family continually extends our way has been perhaps the warmest welcome we’ve received so far – and we aren’t even the guests!  Check out some photos of us and the other dinner guests enjoying this seasonal family-style Swedish Smorgasbord meal at the Golden Stage Inn’s Facebook profile.

 

Until next time; God Jul to all and may your 2014 begin with warmth and joy!

 

Swedish Smorgasboard with decor at the Golden Stage Inn

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

There’s no place like Vermont to weather the weather with loved ones, a cozy fire, and a good book! With our first full-fledged snow storm hitting just two nights ago, the Okemo Valley has received 12-16 inches of snow in less than 24 hours. Here at the Inn, we were lucky to receive the upper end with 15-16 inches of snow, and we can see many of Okemo Resort’s 91 open trails right from our front yard. With 75% of the mountain slopes open and lessons and competitions already in full swing, it’s sure to be a glorious year. So let it snow! The sparkling fluffy powder on the ground is a far cry from the ice and sludge of cities and suburbs, making winter in Vermont a delight rather than a drag. Every year we look forward to this moment; we pack away our outdoor summer gear and get out the shovels and snowshoes. And when the snow finally blankets the hills, everyone is off on their skis and snowboards, skates and sleds, beating the cold with exciting winter sports and cozy indoor games, music and food. Here’s a glimpse of our beehives under the snow; the colonies are safely tucked away in their own stores of honey and heat for the season. We hope this tremendous snowfall is just a hint of what’s to come!

 

 

Golden Stage Inn Bed and Breakfast Vermont    Golden Stage Inn Vermont B&B Winter Season

 

 

Holiday Shopping, Round Two

Chester, Vermont is one of those towns you can drive through and admire, or dive into and discover.  I’d recommend the diving route, as it was the perfect place for me to tackle some pressing holiday shopping without feeling rushed, worried or overwhelmed.  It is eclectic, full of hidden treasures, and quaint without being frilly. Seasonal white lights have already gone up on the trees at the town center where a fantastic array of small stores surrounds the village green.  I always stop first at the Moon Dog Café to fuel up with curried chicken salad and a hot drink.  The long, soft-colored room has a small grocery section and an extensive collection of body care products, as well as scarves, tableware, and various odds and ends.  For those who love the organic, natural side of things, this place will hold your attention for a while.  At the far end of the café is a set of stairs leading to a vast playroom for young children called the SongYard.  The SongYard hosts events and arts ‘n’ crafts, and features a children’s clothing thrift rack.

Next down the line of Chester’s main street stores is Country Treasures, a quilting shop.  My mom took a beginner’s class there and made a gorgeous baby blanket.  Though I am not one for sewing, I still love looking at their creative fabrics and use them to wrap my Christmas gifts in a more personal and sustainable way.  Misty Valley Books is probably the best place to find something for everyone on your holiday shopping list.  This small bookstore often hosts local or visiting authors, and has a great selection of including a shelf full of Vermont and New England based fiction and non-fiction.  I found a small book full of early photos of my hometown, Springfield VT, to give to my parents for Christmas!  Other unique stores include a Polish Pottery shop, Mountain Leather Design, and DaVallia, a jewelry and home accent boutique a bit pricier than the rest of the plaza.

If you head east through the center of town, you’ll come to Meditrina Wine and Cheese and Pear Tree Home and Garden. I have not been to Pear Tree, but Meditrina is an intimate space with very knowledgeable staff. Continue east to get to the Vermont Country Store, an ever-bustling hotspot for Vermont products of every imaginable sort.

If you head north on Route 103, even more surprises await! Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts, or VTica, is an absolute gem that sits across from the gas station. I recently attended a gallery opening and was not only in love with the artists the owners chose to feature, but also the affordability of the entire collection. ‘Something to Celebrate,’ their current collection, shows the work of Vermont artists who have a high level of finesse comparable to those featured in high end galleries in New York, said President Robert Sarly. One does abstract glasswork that hangs like clouds from the ceiling. Another paints poppies on top of roadmaps of Chester and surrounding towns. At the back of the exhibit was the star of the show, a collection of 33 top contestants in an abstract challenge set up by both VTica and the VT Water Color Society.

Across from VTica is a combination antique gallery and seafood restaurant called Austin’s Antiques and the Wheelhouse Restaurant. I have yet to explore it, and am so curious to find out what the place could possibly look like inside! The chef has a weekly column called ‘Catch of the Week’ in the local paper with seafood recipes to try at home. (This week was lobster quiche – yum!) Continue up 103 and you’ll find a thrift store and a massage therapy office, followed by a woodworking business that hosts an annual chainsaw carving festival and competition every October! I attended the festival and was surprised at how affordable some of the carvings were. Beyond the creative displays of wooden statues and benches is Lisai’s market and grocery near the train station. Bonnie’s Bundles Dolls is an especially unique store, which hand-crafts old-fashioned Vermont dolls. They are gorgeous to look at, but certainly an investment. Finally, you’ll find an open-air roadside market selling Christmas trees and wreaths. In the spring they feature flowers and in the summer and fall are chock full of Vermont produce.

Though we are in the last week of availability for our I Hate Malls package, we are likely to make it an annual occasion! Keep us in mind next Christmas if the consumerism and advertisements are starting to get to you.

-Sophi Veltrop, Golden Stage Inn

Snow is here…

…and we hope it’s here to stay! We’ve received a few flurries and snowshowers, in addition to some rain and sunny days. We are certainly ready for a heaping dose of snow, and with what we’ve had so far it seems like we’re in for a good winter ahead! Check out some powdery dustings at the Inn back in November, as well as our front yard view of Okemo’s already ski-able trails:

 

 

 

Holiday Shopping Without the Stress

Along with supporting local arts, The Golden Stage Inn has much pride in our local businesses. We try to source our foods and products from small businesses in the area as often as we can. Lucky for us, this is a fairly easy task because Vermont has legislation that makes it tough for chain stores to open in the Green Mountain State. I believe I’ve seen two McDonalds during my entire time wandering the state, and certainly never a single Walmart, Target, or mall! As a way of encouraging guests to visit these mom-and-pop stores, we have set up a promotion that allows you to get holiday shopping done in a stress-free – dare I say delightful – way. Check out the I Hate Malls  package to see what sort of savings and complimentary treats are currently available at the Inn. Meanwhile, take a peek at our smorgasbord review of Ludlow’s small businesses and gift shops that provide an eclectic diversity of offerings for seasonal shoppers in Vermont.

 

Blue Sky Trading Company is one of my top two favorite gift shops in Ludlow…mostly because everything (and I mean everything) inside the store appeals to my taste. They offer a few Vermont Products, most notably the slate coasters from Vermont Stoneworks and fine natural candles for Bennington Candle. Even if you wander in with no money, as I did, the stunning visuals of colorful scarves, seasonal photography and creative earrings may keep you occupied and exploring for several minutes, and Greg or Betsy will likely strike up a conversation with you in the meantime.

 

The Silver Spoon Gallery is my other top Ludlow shopping destination. When I walked in for the first time, I expected to spend my time quietly staring at do-not-touch paintings and statues way out of my price range. While there are indeed some amazing pieces of art that I didn’t even think about laying my hands on (including pieces by Robert Sydorowich featured on the Inn’s first floor!), the Gallery is an accessible, almost participatory New England-based artisan and craft store. I found myself unashamedly laughing out loud at the custom magnets and cards in one room. The best part is – many of the products are totally affordable! I bought two hilarious refrigerator magnets from Maine for my dad, handmade Hawaiian soap for my aunt, and the Silver Spoon’s own cutlery earrings (for myself…oops). The owner brings his own crafts, which usually involve cutlery in unexpected ways, to fairs and festivals across New England. When he meets artists he finds particularly compelling, he offers to sell their products in his store. So not only does The Silver Spoon exhibit the owners own imaginative flare, it showcases his personal taste when it comes to offering a well-selected array of appealing products.

 

Right next-door to the Silver Spoon Gallery is the Wine and Cheese Depot. I don’t need to go into any more detail about how well wine and cheese are received at any point in the year, only to mention that many of the cheeses and a few of the wines and hard ciders are Vermont-sourced and produced. Across the road is Tina’s Fun Stuff to Wear clothing and accessories store. I have yet to go inside, but I’ll bet the name speaks for itself. Other stores within walking distance include Chrisandra’s Home and Furniture, a small pet boutique, Chaos Casbah and Chapter XIV Bookstore. Within a five minute drive is The Fletcher Farm School, a dynamic organization whose VT crafts gift shop is just one facet of what it has to offer.

 

Stay tuned for more profiles of nearby towns with abundant locally owned businesses – up next week: Chester!

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