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.


Harvest Pumpkin Soup with Garam Masala

IMG_6752Every winter, after Christmas passes, Golden Stage Inn welcomes guests with steaming afternoon soup to warm chilly bones from the cold.  The soup season is coming to a close, so lets send you off with a new recipe from this year.  This Harvest Pumpkin Soup recipe was created by Golden Stage Inn’s Marketing Assistant.  It is a perfect winter soup that brings out the nostalgic flavors of fall: pumpkin, apple and onion.  The spices in the Garam Masala mix lend to a particularly warming effect, enhanced by garlic, ginger and a touch of curry powder for heat.  You can buy Garam Masala spice mix at most grocery stores, or you can make your own with freshly ground spices.  The amount of curry powder used is perfect for those who aren’t “spicy eaters”, so if you like your soup spicy-hot, add more!  Another key ingredient is Wood’s boiled cider — an apple syrup that adds sweetness and acidity to the soup.  If you do not have boiled cider available, you can substitute one tablespoon maple syrup, one tablespoon apple cider, and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.  Wood’s cider mill is not far from Golden Stage Inn and makes a great day trip during the cider-pressing and maple-sugaring seasons.  You can also find the product on King Arthur Flour’s website.

Harvest Pumpkin Soup with Garam Masala

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)

1/2 sugar pumpkin (if you would rather used canned pumpkin, I believe this would equal 2 cans.)

olive oil

1 onion

2 small apples (or one large apple)

2 cloves garlic

fresh ginger (use a thumb-sized amount)

2 teaspoons Garam Masala

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

3 tablespoons boiled cider

1 teaspoon salt

 

1. Prepare pumpkin by cutting it in half and seeding it.  Place the two halves on a baking tray with a bit of water, open sides down.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, until soft.

2.  Chop onions and apples.  Finely dice ginger and garlic.

3. Warm stock in a medium-sized pot with 2 tablespoons of Woods’ boiled cider.  Scoop out a half of the cooked pumpkin, and add to the stock. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala over the mixture and stir to combine.  Cook on medium high heat until simmering, then turn heat to low and simmer until the other ingredients are ready.

4.  Warm olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, then add apples and continue to cook.  When both apples and onions are soft, turn heat to low and add ginger, garlic, curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala.

5.  Add mixed sauteed ingredients to the pumpkin stock and stir.  Add salt.  Simmer on medium low for another 5 minutes.

6.  To puree the soup, I used an immersion blender.  If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a stand-up blender or food processor.  Taste your soup and add extra curry powder, salt or garam masala if desired.

7.  Serve with a drizzle of boiled cider accenting each bowl.

Holiday Dining in Vermont – how to avoid the crowds.

Ludlow restaurants can get a bit overwhelming for families or even couples seeking some relaxation after a day of great skiing.  Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King weekend and Presidents’ Day weekend are the area’s busiest times of the year for Vermont ski towns like Ludlow.  But a little bit of planning and strategy can go a long way in making dinnertime an enjoyable event.  Here are a few dining tips that we think should make your fantastic vacation even better.

Make Reservations

This is a great way to ensure your seat at a table without a wait, but there are a few tricks to making reservations, as well.  Some restaurants only take reservations for larger parties; for example, Stemwinder in Ludlow will only take reservations for groups of six or more.  Other restaurants might be booked for the holiday period far in advance.  The Downtown Grocery is a fine dining restaurant featuring local ingredients; if you want to try it out during the holiday season, call for a reservation immediately when planning your trip.  Another amazing locally-sourced dining experience is the Inn at Weathersfield.  While they welcome walk-ins, reservations are highly recommended during holidays and weekends, especially for large parties.

Stemwinder Restaurant Ludlow VT

A view of the Stemwinder bar from the upstairs seating!  Image from www.stemwindervt.com.

Seek Out New Restaurants

Perhaps you can beat the holiday dining crowd – and the trends – by eating at a newly opened establishment.  There are a few new restaurants in the area that are worth a visit.

Homestyle Hostel offers a community dinner with homemade entrees every night at 7:00 pm.  They request advance notice of 24 hours if you’ll be joining them.  This is more of a family-style meal than a restaurant experience, but rest assured that the food is hearty and fresh, with friendly company.  There is also a coffee bar, open from 8 am to 8 pm, and beer and wine are served from noon to 8 pm.

Mojo Cafe is a really fun spot to check out.  The name of the restaurant was inspired by The Doors, and the orange interior is decked out with rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.  The food is creative Tex-Mex fusion, offering tacos, Po’ Boys, gumbo, enchiladas and creative appetizers.  Order a local brew on tap or a glass of wine.  Mojo is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner (closed between 2 pm and 4 pm).  While it is a new restaurant, word is getting out and the space is small, so ordering carry-out might be a safer path to take.  (For more on ordering take-out, see below!)

Finally, The Free Range in Chester, VT is a 20 minute drive from Golden Stage Inn, and is located right in the quaint village green.  This is more of your typical New England fare, open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, with brunch served on Sundays.

homestyle hostel salad

A fresh salad from Homestyle Hostel in Ludlow, VT.  Image from homestylehostel.com.

Order Take-Out

If you’re staying at our bed & breakfast, you’ll already know how comfortable it is to eat at the Inn once you’ve had breakfast in the solarium. Maybe ordering take-out wouldn’t quite work when staying at a hotel or motel, but at our B&B, you are welcome to use the common spaces on the first floor whenever you like. You may use our utensils and wine glasses to complete your dining experience.  There are a couple great places for take-out in the area, but as with reservations, your best bet is to call early. Call in your order at the end of your ski day, but well before you want to pick it up.  You’ll have time to head back to the Inn, take a hot shower, enjoy a bowl of homemade soup, and then pick up your supper by the time your belly starts to rumble!  Our Inn is BYOB, so grab a bottle of wine at Wine and Cheese Depot, or find beer and liquor at Singleton’s or Brewfest Beverage Company.

For a pizza night, place your order at Goodman’s American Pie early in the day.  Goodman’s is certainly the best pizza around, so during the holidays you should place your order before 4 pm.  Better yet, leave your order with Mike or Julie in the morning, and they’ll take care of placing the order for you (a great idea if you’re tearing up the slopes all day!).  After 4 pm, there is usually an hour wait time or more for a take-out pie.  (Goodman’s does have eat-in available too, and they now offer beer and wine.)

Other nearby places for take-out include Harry’s Cafe, Sam’s Steakhouse, Mr. Darcy’s, DJ’s, and The Killarney.  See our full list of Southern Vermont restaurants here, and peruse our dining guide in the sitting room when you arrive.

Avoid “Rush Hour”

Maybe you forgot to make reservations.  Or maybe you want to dine at two of our favorite restaurants Mr. Darcy’s or Sam’s Steakhouse (who do not take reservations).  Most area restaurants open at 5pm.  Try being there by 6 or 6:30 and you should be able to be seated promptly, leaving yourself plenty of time for a relaxing meal.  If early dinners aren’t your style, , try waiting til 8:30 or so.  The crowds should have already done their thing and you can kick back and do yours!

Enjoying meals together should be a treasured part of your vacation.  Hopefully with these tips and a little bit of advanced planning, your dinner time can be as special as the rest of your trip.

 

Christmas Eve Smorgasbord 2014

Each year, Golden Stage Inn decks the halls for Christmas Eve festivities.  Innkeeper Julie celebrates her Swedish heritage with her family, and all are invited to participate in the feast.  Appetizers and beverages start the evening off.  Traditional Swedish dishes are served in a buffet-style dinner, followed by an array of desserts.  It is truly an evening of light and laughter!  Guests are invited to participate for $25 per person.  Dinner is served around 7, but arrive earlier for appetizers and mingling!  For more information, please read 2013’s blog post about the Christmas Eve Swedish Smorgasbord at Golden Stage Inn.  Here are a few photos from last year’s Smorgasbord:

Swedish Smorgasboard with decor at the Golden Stage Inn

Swedish decorations and tablecloth.

Delicious almond cake and apple cake

Santa Lucia offers Swedish desserts of apple cake and almond cake.  “God Jul,” as the napkin says, is pronounced “Good Yule” and means Merry Christmas!

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!

 

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