Food & Drink

Dining in Vermont is a unique and delicious experience. The farming roots of the state are apparent in today’s cuisine, as several restaurants are making a concerted effort to reconnect dining with the land. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “Farm to Table Foodie,” your tummy will be smiling when you choose the restaurant that suits you with Golden Stage Inn’s guide to dining in Vermont!

Vermont is also the top state in the nation for breweries per capita, and award-winning distilleries and wineries are popping up across the Green Mountain State. Be sure to grab some VT maple syrup while you’re here, we always have a supply at our bed and breakfast.


Black Rock Steakhouse: Restaurant Review

Black Rock Steakhouse is a fun night out in Springfield, Vermont.  Just a twenty minute drive from our bed and breakfast in Ludlow, a dinner at Black Rock pairs well with a movie in downtown Springfield or a visit to the VAULT art gallery.  While a dinner at Black Rock Steakhouse could work for any event, I especially find it fun for a family gathering.  This August during a family reunion, eleven of my family members enjoyed a dinner out together.

Black Rock steakhouse appetizer

The concept of Black Rock Steakhouse does indeed involve a black rock!

Among many appetizer and entree options, the main event is a selection of entrees delivered to you on a piping hot black rock.  These are mainly different kinds of steak and seafood.  The rock is super-heated (I think to around 400 degrees Farenheit, but don’t quote me on that!) so it is not recommended for children under 12.  That being said, this is an amazingly fun interactive experience!  You can cook your meal exactly the way you like.

Black Rock Steak entree

I ordered the seafood special with scallops and shrimp, and most of my relatives ordered steaks.  If you’re going for steak, the consensus seemed to favor the Argentinian and the Filet Mignon.

Black Rock Steakhouse scallops and shrimp

Above: scallops and shrimp ready to be cooked.  Below: scallops and shrimp ready to be eaten!

Black Rock steakhouse, Springfield VT

For dessert, my brothers and cousins ordered a chocolate fondue – another fun, interactive food that two or more people can enjoy.

To see the full Black Rock Steakhouse menu, see their website or check out the Golden Stage Inn Vermont dining guide, located in the fireside sitting room adjacent to the entryway.

Mushroom Hunting in Vermont

Mushroom hunting in Vermont proves fruitful!

Chanterelles (left) and lobsters (right) are just two of the delicious mushrooms found in the woods of Vermont.

Are you a fan of fungi?  Then Vermont’s the place to be this summer.

With one of the wettest Julys on record, Vermont’s mushrooms are fruiting to the fullest this summer!  Before you read on, please note that this blog post is not a mushrooming guide!  Eat and identify wild mushrooms at your own risk.

Lobster mushrooms are easy to spot when foraging.  Not only are they a similar color to a cooked lobster - but they also have a seafood aroma when cooked.

Lobster mushrooms are easy to spot when foraging. Not only are they a similar color to a cooked lobster – but they also have a seafood aroma when cooked.

Happy mushroom hunters are finding edible mushrooms such as chanterelles, oysters, lobster mushrooms, chicken-of-the-woods, and even the prized black trumpet.  Medicinal mushrooms can be found in Vermont as well, and include chaga, turkey tail, and reishi.

Can you spot the prized black trumpet amongst the leaves? Black trumpets are easy to miss - luckily grow in large numbers.  My favorite wild mushroom in Vermont!

Can you spot the prized black trumpet mushrooms amongst the leaves? Black trumpets are easy to miss – luckily, they grow in large numbers. By far my favorite wild mushroom in Vermont!

Love to eat mushrooms, but not a mushroom hunter yourself?

You don’t have to brave the woods (and that first-time-mushrooming fear).  Two grocery stores near Golden Stage Inn sell local mushrooms when available: The Jersey Girls’ Cafe & Market and the Springfield Co-Op.  You can also get your mushroom fix at a farm-to-table restaurant in the area, such as The Downtown Grocery, SoLo, or the Inn at Weathersfield.

Want to learn to identify wild mushrooms?

The Grafton Nature Museum is hosting a Mushroom Walk on the weekend of August 22nd!  The Grafton Nature Museum is about a half hour drive from Golden Stage Inn, and also puts on a fairy house exhibit with local artists on the last weekend of September.  But back to the ‘shrooms…

You can register to be on the waiting list for The Wild World of Mushrooms at the Grafton Nature Museum here.  Unfortunately both walks are already full, but hey, you never know!  Here’s a quick description of the event from the Grafton Nature Museum’s website:

“Ari Rockland-Miller will introduce participants to the Northeast’s safest and most distinctive gourmet and medicinal fungi, emphasizing his “ForageCast” strategy. Workshop participants will also discover how to best cook these fruits of the forest and will get a taste when our wild finds are served up right on the spot following our foray. Once you put on your forager’s eyes, your hikes will never be the same again!”

If you’re up for a further drive, check out more mushrooming workshops in Vermont from the Mushroom Forager here.  In addition to foraging, you can learn about growing mushrooms yourself!

 

Oyster mushrooms are one of the edible fungi you can cultivate yourself.

Oyster mushrooms are one of the edible fungi you can learn to cultivate yourself.

And just for fun(gi)…

What room has no doors, no walls, no floors, and no ceilings?

A mushroom!

 

Restaurant Review: The Downtown Grocery (Ludlow, VT)

The Downtown Grocery is less than 10 minutes from the Golden Stage Inn, and is located in the heart of Ludlow, Vermont.

We’d been hearing rave reviews from guests for some time, and decided it was time that Golden Stage Inn gave The Downtown Grocery a review of our own!  (We are far from food critics….but we are definitely food lovers all around.  Besides – what better excuse to go out do dinner than “It’s for work”?!)  Julie and Mike had dined there before, but I had only had a drink at the bar once last winter.  I’d really wanted something to eat, but the intimate restaurant was totally packed.  Downtown Grocery’s tables are usually completely booked, sometimes several weeks in advance during the busy ski season!  Naturally, I was dying to get a bite…

So this past week, I finally enjoyed a meal at the Downtown Grocery that defied my expectations.  My great-aunt and great-uncle were visiting, so my family wanted to treat them to a meal that would be memorable and eventful.  We sure got what we were asking for!

The hostess was enthusiastic, and our table was gorgeously placed at the intersection of two sunny windows.  Though the Downtown Grocery is a fine dining establishment, the atmosphere stays true to the name and is welcomingly laid back.  The restaurant consists of just two small rooms with plentiful sunlight streaming through the windows.  The menus strive to incorporate fresh, local ingredients as the season provides.  Each room has a full blackboard chalked up with seasonal specials – about five unique appetizers and entrees.  It is wonderful that there are so many specials because each dining experience will be unique.  However, I found it difficult to read the chalk board.  Although it is the size of a classroom blackboard, there are so many specials that the writing is very small, and not very clear in the first place.  Everyone in my family had to take turns standing awkwardly in the center of the small room to read the specials, which disturbed not only the flow of our dinner, but probably the peace of those around us as well.

Regardless, it is admirable how vast the array of fresh, local ingredients in Downtown Grocery’s menu can be.

Chef Rogan Lechthaler has quite the resume under his belt.  I respect that he came back to his Vermont origins to serve real food to real people (meaning, not celebrities and the grossly rich).  The Downtown Grocery is dining at its best, yet is connected to both the people, the land, and the original homemade processes that make fresh ingredients into good food.

From the drink menu, I had to order the Bees Knees cocktail, of course.  This drink includes orange and lemon juice with gin, plus a drizzle of hibiscus-infused honey.  (So bummed I didn’t take a picture! Guess I’ll just have to go back.)  It was quite refreshing, and not at all too sweet.  The appetizer was a tougher choice.  All the specials looked so inviting, but I chose to go with a classic – Maine mussels with shallot-dusted frites.  I think my mother made the best choice, however, with Coger Garden’s mesclun salad.  It came on a cutting board, with honey-drizzled Bijou cheese, herbed crostini and raspberries.  The greens themselves were artfully topped with an edible flower – Nasturtium.

As our meals arrived, I knew I’d made the right choice.  See below for the main event: pancetta-wrapped monkfish atop celeriac and chanterelle mushrooms!  My father and uncle ordered rabbit-wurst with sauerkraut.  I know it evoked their memories of growing up on farms eating suppers inspired by their German and Dutch heritage.

Downtown Grocery dinner ludlow VT

Here are pictures of two Downtown Grocery classics: ribeye with ‘lincoln log’ potatoes and a pimento burger with frites and house-made pickles & ketchup.  Try not to drool…too much, anyway.

Downtown Grocery Entree ludlow VT

 

Downtown Grocery entree

We’d saved room for dessert and tried a smattering of Downtown Grocery’s dessert offerings between the table.  I had vanilla creme brulée that was to die for…and definitely had a hard time sharing!  (Check out a picture of the creme brulée and other restaurant images here.)  Other desserts included chocolate souffle with espresso sauce and blueberry-peach cobbler.  Though delicious, these were both a little too heavy for me to enjoy at the end of such an elaborate meal.  I’d love to go back to try the cheese board.  For the honeybee enthusiasts out there, it comes with local honeycomb!  Additionally, the ice cream and sorbet flavors are ridiculously creative, and I believe almost all are house-made.  Those flavors that stood out to me were blueberry goat cheese, strawberry balsamic, watermelon mint and pineapple basil…

…you can bet I’ll be back!

Everything Cheese!

Vermont is known for many things – winter skiing, maple syrup, green mountains – but perhaps most well known and loved is cheese!  From the cows lining the fields to first-class restaurants, cheese is an ever present fact of Vermont life and food.  This summer, try out a new recipe, visit a festival, and even make your own farmer’s cheese!

Goat Cheese and Flowers

I often think of cheese as delicious, but rarely would I call it ‘beautiful’ (especially not the goop that emerges from a freshly cut wedge of Camembert!)  But if you love goat cheese as much as I do, you are always looking for new ways to enjoy a fresh and fragrant roll of chevre.  Try this unique recipe for goat cheese rolled in edible flowers as both a palate-pleaser and a show-stopper.  The recipe below is re-posted from Healthy Living Market & Cafe’s blog.

Floral chevre log

“First, prepare your flowers and herbs.  Coarsely chop about 2 Tbsp of dried rosemary, remove the petals from about 2 Tbsp of dried calendula flowers, coarsely chop about 2 Tbsp of dried rose petals, and crush about 1 Tbsp pink peppercorns using a mortar & pestle or even just a rolling pin (note: all of these ingredients are available in our extensive Bulk Department!).  Mix all these together on a flat surface such as a cutting board.  Next, take a 10-oz chèvre log (we used one from Vermont Creamery) and roll it in the floral mix, pressing gently to make sure the flowers stick.  You may need to do this a couple times to coat the chèvre completely.  Then, to serve, spread a little bit of the floral chèvre on crackers, topping each with a touch of honey.  Tada!”  (Photo: Healthy Living Market & Cafe)

 

Cheese Up Close

Vermont cheese near ludlow vt

Yum! Cheese from Crowley in Mt Holly, VT – a 20 minute drive from our Inn.

There are dairy farms all across Vermont, in all shapes and sizes.  Not only do they provide us with creamy edibles, they are a living history and cultural tradition of our state.  Vermont cheesemakers take pride in their land, their animals and their product.  Dairy farming is one of the most difficult agricultural jobs around, and you can get a taste of place by visiting one of these farms in person.  Dig In VT has a fantastic map of cheesemakers across Vermont, so you can plan your own cheese tour and tastings.  You can learn about how cheese is made and taste test varieties to find your favorite.  Maybe you’d like to meet the animals in person – usually cows, but also sheep and goats on occasion.  Our personal favorite VT cheesemaker here at Golden Stage Inn is award-winning Crowley Cheese in Mount Holly, VT.  Crowley is a quick 20 minute drive away, as you leave the Inn and cross through the town of Ludlow on your way.  Julie is in love with their cheddar, and uses it as an ingredient in guests’ breakfasts often!

 Vermont Cheesemakers Festival

Though a bit of a trek away from Golden Stage B&B, the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival is an annual summertime food festival not to be missed.  This year, it was one of Lonely Planet’s best American food festivals for the summer of 2014!  Located in Shelburne, VT, attendees can participate in demos, workshops and presentations free with admission.  There are over 200 cheese, wine and food products to sample as well.  Since Vermont has the highest number of cheesemakers per capita of any state in the USA, this had better be good!

vt cheesemakers festival

(Photo: VT Cheesemakers Festival)

 

Finally, if you’re interested in making your own cheese by hand, check out Golden Stage Inn’s recipe for how to make your own farmer’s cheese!

Southern Vermont Restaurant Week

The 2014 Southern Vermont Restaurant Week will take place between April 25th and May 4th.  A visit to any of these restaurants for lunch and/or dinner will pair wonderfully with Golden Stage Inn’s Road Trip Package, which will give you access to discounts in local shops and stores.

Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week-logoManchester and Dorset, the central locations of the Southern Vermont Restaurant Week, are fantastic destinations for visiting Vermont.  You can shop for local products or visit the Manchester Design Outlets.  Both towns have much history and beauty, combining the picturesque Vermont landscape with exciting events year round (such as So VT Restaurant Week!).  Ask Golden Stage innkeepers about our Spring Bed and Breakfast Specials like the Road Trip Package to find out how to get exclusive coupons to Manchester and Dorset stores when you book a stay with us between April 20th and June 20th.  Read on to learn about the amazing restaurants participating in Southern Vermont Restaurant Week!

 

Brasserie L’Oustau de Provence

 Brasserie-Lousteau-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week bar-brasserie-loustau-so-vt-restaurant-week

A French Bistro overlooking the Green Mountains and embracing local foods.  Owner Michel Boyer says “Hospitality is a premium” in the true French spirit.  This restaurant truly fuses Vermont agriculture with French cuisine; the artisinal cheese plate is a perfect example of what both locations do the best!  “L’Oustau” is French for an agricultural homestead that is the center of a community.  With its French roots, it is no wonder Vermont holds many of the same ideals of good food and culture as France.

 

The Dorset Inn

Dorset-Inn-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week

Dorset-Inn-2-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week

Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at this historic New England Tavern.  Just peeking at the menu on the Inn’s website was enough to make my mouth water!  Like Brasserie L’Oustau, the Dorest Inn is more of an upscale dining place, but has an adjacent Tavern with more casual fare.  If you enjoy fine dining but are on a budget or simply like to save money, So VT Restaurant is definitely the time to check out the restaurants with slightly more expensive menus.  The Dorset Inn’s menus change frequently to make the most of seasonally available ingredients, and they are a part of the Vermont Fresh Network just like the Golden Stage Inn.

 

Bistro Henry

Bistro-Henry-food-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week Bistro-Henry-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week

 

Bistro Henry features fine dining from Southern Italy and Northern France with an award-winning wine list.  The restaurant’s earned several awards from Open Table voters including Diner’s Choice 2014 as well as Diners’ Choice Winner for the categories ‘Fit for Foodies
’ and ‘Notable Wine List.’  Their wine list has earned Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence since 1995.  If those credentials aren’t enough, you can rest assured that they use local Vermont food in their cooking.  Oh, and there’s also a bakery for your sweet tooth.  Wow.

 

Barrows House Restaurant

 Barrows-House-Manchester-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week

Barrows-Southern-VT-Restaurant-Week-meat-cheese

The plates at Barrows House are truly art.  The gorgeous meals are twists on classical New England Tavern meals made with fresh local ingredients, as Barrows is a member of the Vermont Fresh Network as well.  The food pairs perfectly with the historic setting and décor…if Southern VT Restaurant Week is warm enough you can spend your evening on the outdoor terrace.  Not only will you experience the best of Vermont’s farm-to-table scene, you’ll also get to sample craft beers of the region.

Perfect Wife

 Perfect-Wife-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week

The-Perfect-Wife-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week

All the amazing accolades about food apply to The Perfect Wife Restaurant.  Something that truly sets them apart is their sister tavern…The Other Woman.  Here, live music abounds with open mic nights on Wednesdays and small concerts on Fridays.  Take a seat in the cobble-stoned restaurant or the greenhouse garden room.  The Perfect Wife Restaurant prides itself on catering to all dining tastes and evening-out scenarios.

 

Ye Olde Tavern

 Ye-Olde-Tavern-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week

A traditional eating experience in a 1790 Colonial restaurant.  Enjoy great service and New England classic fare.  The dinner and dessert menus are hearty and will leave you satisfied and full!  Ye Olde Tavern features an entire menu of Vintage Cocktails from the 1930’s, so you can step back in time.  You’ll see historic pictures on the walls and classic New England décor everywhere.  A true New England experience.

 

Ted Restaurant

ted-restaurant-historic-map-southern-vermont-restaurant-week

The site of Ted’s Restaurant was originally a dairy farm and was once a safe haven for travelers of the Underground Railroad.  Today, the basement serves as a wine cellar, and the foundation of the building places it on Vermont’s Marble Trail.  And of course, food is what this location is all about.  Choose a salad or soup to start with, followed by a main course that uses humanely raised and sustainably harvested meat and fish.  The chef creates daily specials using the best of Vermont local foods.

 

Al Ducci di Notte

 Al-Duccis-2-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week Al-Duccis-Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week Al_Ducci's_Italian_Pantry_Southern-Vermont-Restaurant-Week

An Italian eatery and gourmet food store.  The Trattoria features a mozzarella bar, antipastos, and ‘secondi’ plates.  This may be the closest to Italy you can get in Vermont!  Warm, friendly and welcoming, the perfect place for fantastic food in a laid back atmosphere.  Stop by to simply peek – there are local cheeses, fine spreads, vinegars, oils, and…pizza!  On the run?  Grab a freshly prepared sandwich at the deli.  If you’re looking for something to satisfy the sweet tooth, sit down for a dessert and coffee.

Buon Appetito during Southern Vermont Restaurant Week!

-Sophi Veltrop, The Golden Stage Inn

 

Images Courtesy: SoVT Restaurant Week, Brasserie L’Oustau, The Dorset Inn, Bistro Henry, Barrows House, The Perfect Wife Restaurant, Ye Olde Tavern, Ted Restaurant and Al Ducci.

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