The Blue Moon Cafe in Stowe has been a fine dining destination since 1992. Jim Barton, now owner, was the dining room manager until 2001, when he bought the restaurant from the previous owner. Since then, they have been through multiple renovations and his wife Donna has done some extensive gardening. The kitchen is run by Jimmy Kalp who has worked at such places like National Hotel, The Ryah House, The Andirons Lodge and Frida’sTaqueria.
Whenever we go up to Stowe, we usually hit the same few places. This year, we wanted to try something new, so my friend Carolyn (of the Good Ones) who has a home up in Stowe gave me this suggestion. We start off with the artisan cheese platter ($12) that comes with some toast, dried fruit and raisins and a little mustard seed. Simple and yet so good.
For dessert, I can’t remember the formal name for this, but raspberry sorbet and pistachio ice cream with raspberry coulis. Amazing. Two of my favorite things, combined to make a great summer dessert.
The crumble was also a delicious choice – we were almost too full to eat it after our meals! Almost. The service was top notch – we felt like we were being welcomed into someone’s home as opposed to eating at a restaurant. There were a lot of regulars dining, it was nice to see that they were welcomed by name and thanked for coming in.
Blue Moon Cafe
35 School Street, Stowe, VT
There are only a few items on the menu: the flatbread sandwich, housemade noodle soup, lamb hand pulled noodle soup, hand pulled noodles, Xi’an noodles, and cumin hand pulled noodles. Be prepared to wait, as they hand pull the noodles to order.
I had the #4 hand pulled noodles, served with a healthy dollop of garlic, a sprinkle of chili powder, cilantro and scallions. The noodles are thick and have a good bite to them. A simple but extremely delicious dish. So good in fact, that we went back days later with other co-workers!
Don’t forget to stop at the ATM before you go, they only take cash. Monday thru Friday: 11AM-6:30PM, closed on the weekends.
Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe
86 Bedford Street, Boston, MA
On our way up to Vermont this year, we decided to stop at Dartmouth for a quick bite to eat. There was a ton of traffic getting up here – something about blasting on the side of the highway – so we were famished. Lou’s has always been a midpoint for us over the years. Lou’s has been around for what seems like forever! 2007 marked their 60th anniversary.
The restaurant is a bit dated, or maybe it’s nostalgic. The food is nothing fancy, but you can get breakfast all day, delicious baked goods, and the price is right! I order the grilled cheese ($8.95) that hits the spot.
Stop in to Lou’s for a little piece of history.
30 South Main Street, Hanover, NH
Nothing says fall and October than…sausage? Whole Foods Market is showcasing their house made sausage for the month to celebrate Oktoberfest. Meet Phil, the Charlestown Whole Foods’ Sausage Meister. Phil grew up in Allston and started his career at the Allston Whole Foods. He quickly rose up the ranks and landed at the Charlestown location.
Phil was out on the floor demonstrating how to link the sausages and sampling the hot Italian and sweet Italian sausages to customers. Stop in on Tuesdays when the store does sampling, and not just the meat counter!
Whole Foods carries a wide array of sausages, from chicken to pork, sweet Italian to chorizo. All the sausages are made in house and mixed with just the right blend of spices. They use an all natural casing for all the sausages. Whole Foods has a great recipe for Beer Poached Grilled Sausages.
Poaching sausages in beer before they hit the grill ensures that they’ll cook beautifully. Serve with potato salad, coleslaw and plenty of spicy brown mustard.
6 large chicken sausages
3 cups of beer
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil
Prick each sausage a half dozen times with a fork. Arrange sausages in a baking dish and cover with beer and garlic. Cover and refrigerate; marinate for about 1 hour. Arrange onion slices in a skillet just large enough to hold all sausages. Places sausages on top and ad leftover marinade to cover. Place skillet over medium heat and gradually bring liquid to a simmer. Poach sausages until partially cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer sausages to a plate and pat dry if needed. Meanwhile, prepare the grill for medium high heat cooking. Lightly brush sausages on all sides with oil and arrange on the grill. Grill until crisp and nicely browned and sausages are cooked through, 4-6 minutes. Transfer sausages to a platter and let rest for 3 minutes. Serves as is or on toasted buns with condiments of your choice.
Recipe creation is not my forte. I like eating amazing food, I can’t say that I can cook it. The food I make is simple and tasty, but far from attractive. I made a pasta dish with the sweet Italian pork sausage. I took the sausage out of the casing and browned it in a skillet while the pasta was boiling away. I drained the pasta – and the sausage and added them together in the pasta pot. I threw in some Parmesan cheese and some butter. In a separate pan I heated up some olive oil and threw in the cherry tomatoes. I cooked them until I heard them pop (and helped the others along with my potato masher). I added the tomatoes into the pasta and sausage mix, and viola! A simple, easy pasta dish!
For my pizza I used the chorizo, Again, I took the sausage out of the casing and browned it up in a skillet. I pre-heated the oven up to 450 degrees. My pizza dough had been resting on the counter rising and it was ready to be stretched out. My shortcut is to go to your favorite pizza place and ask them if you can buy some dough. You can also buy it at the grocery store. Whole Foods makes delicious pizza and you can order take out from 10am – 9pm daily (every Tuesday you can $2 off a whole pizza!). I used my favorite tomato sauce – Rao’s as a base and covered it with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. I add basil and oregano and a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes for that added heat. I pile the chorizo on top and cook for about 13-15 minutes. I like my pizzas a little more on the well done side. This is a simple recipe and it’s easy for kids to get involved!
And how do you not do a sausage, pepper and onion meal? I used the hot Italian chicken sausage and grilled it up in my grill pan with some thinly sliced onions for added flavor. In a separate pan I heated up some olive oil with red peppers and thinly sliced yellow onions – and hit that with a little salt and pepper. Once the sausage is done I put the sandwich together on a crusty baguette from Whole Foods. Feels like your at Fenway, but without the hefty price tag. Wouldn’t it be fun to make these for friends one night while you’re watching the game on tv?
So stop into Whole Foods in Charlestown today and say hello to Phil or one of the other sausage meisters!
Whole Foods Market
51 Austin Street, Charlestown, MA
Disclaimer: Whole Foods provided me with a sampling of complimentary sausages
Located in Roxbury, behind Boston Body Works, the bee hives are located on hydraulic lifts. It is here where I met up with Maddie and Tom, the lab manager. Noah, the founder, graduated from Northeastern with a BS in Bio – and he likes to keep the Northeastern tradition alive by having co-op students come and intern at Best Bees. Did you know that unlike yellow jackets or wasps that can sting you multiple times, honey bees can only sting you once and then they die.
So Tom pulls the lift down and shows me around the hives. A major problem with bee hives is disease. Noah and his team work with all natural remedies to try and rid the hives of diseases. Did you know that bees can fly up to 5 miles to find flowers? Bees are quite smart, in order to find their way back to their hive, they use landmarks and then as they get closer, they can use their sense of smell to return to their hive.
Tom estimates that there are almost a million bees in the hives at Best Bees. Did you know that each colony can only have one queen? If there is more than one queen, which ever one hatches first will kill the other queens. If you get a sterile queen, one that you are introducing to a colony, she comes in a cage with a little bit of candy on the bottom. The bees need to get used to her smell and when they are ready to accept her, they chew the candy from the bottom of the cage and release her.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets stung. That someone would be me. Trying my hardest NOT to swat at the bees buzzing around us, one lands on my lip of all places and stings me right in the kisser. Bad news is that it stung (no pun intended). My eyes have started to water and my nose is starting to run…and I may be sweating a little from embarrassment seeing as I have only met Maddie and Tom about 5 minutes ago. Good news is that I am now going to give Angelina Jolie a run for her money. And now, after establishing that they don’t have to stab me with an epi pen, we come to the stinger. Still in my lip. Have to get that baby out myself. More awkwardness. But then the give me an icepack and tell me that they’ve all been stung a bunch of times…and humor me by saying that…”it’s not that bad”. So embarrassment be damned, I stick around while they tell me all about the honey process and all things bee.
Keeping things pure, they only filter the honey once and then dispense it into mason jars. I was able to taste a little honey that they had just collected and it was delicious. Light and amazing – sweet and fresh.
To find out more about bees and honey, check out the Best Bees website.
839 Albany Street, Boston, MA
My friend Jesse moved back to Boston after being away in California for 9 years. We celebrated his move back to the bean by heading over to Fairsted Kitchen. See my previous post here. Jesse was pumped about this because it’s just steps from their new home.
We had the blueberry pie for dessert. I’m not generally a blueberry pie kind of gal, I like more of a crust to my pie, but this was delicious – like biting into summer, not too sweet and the graham cracker crust gave it some good texture.
I usually turn my nose up at pot de creme desserts – chocolate desserts (at restaurants in general) usually don’t have effort put into them. However, this was outstanding – and I stand corrected about chocolate desserts. This was light and flavorful – a really delicious dessert. I am pretty sure
we I licked the cup clean.
1704 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA
Have you heard of Maple Water? People are calling it the “new coconut water”. I met Kate, the co-founder, at a Good Ones party a while back. Turns out, we went to high school together – small world. Kate has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Northeastern University. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has a BA from Colby College. She’s also an ironman triathlete!!
What is Maple? Maple contains fortifying vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants, prebiotics and is naturally low in calories. I know that when I heard about Maple water, I immediately thought it was going to be sweet. The flavor is quite subtle, light, with just a hint of sweetness – not at all what I had expected.
Maple supports good digestive health.
Maple is full of electrolytes good for natural hydration.
Maple gives you energy.
It’s naturally low calories, only 20 per serving.
It has half the sugar of coconut water.
There are no added sugar or preservatives.
Maple is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, non-GMO.
You can find Maple water in Whole Foods or you can buy them online.
The Pork Hache ($15.50) was outstanding: Confit pork, crispy potatoes, chili sauce verte & fried eggs. It was a stick to your ribs kind of meal with the perfect balance of saltiness. I would definitely come back for this again. Service was excellent, our waiter took good care of us.
560 Harrison Street, Boston, MA
Kale chips seem to be pretty popular these days. Rhythm Superfoods has a line that includes flavors like zesty nacho, kool ranch, bombay curry, mango habanero, texas bbq, pineapple coconut and honey mustard. The flavors like zesty nacho and kool ranch are a great way to ease people into the idea of kale chips because they are approachable flavors. I was sent the mango habanero, the pineapple coconut and the zesty nacho flavors to try.
Each bag starts as a bunch of fresh kale. They mix it with a hand crafted dressing made from a blend of fresh organic vegetables, seeds, juices, herbs and spices.
These kale chips are air crisped at a low temperature which maintains the RAW living enzymes and maximizes nutritional potency. Kale is rich in vitamins A, C and K. The chips are Gluten-free and USDA-Organic. My favorite were the zesty nacho – they were pretty tasty with a really nice crunch to them – making you almost forget they were kale chips.
Rhythm Superfoods was founded in 2009 in Austin by Keith Wahrer (co-founder of Daily Juice). The company became official with the addition of fellow Austin entrepreneurs Scott Jensen (former Stubb’s BBQ CEO), Clayton Christopher and David Smith (founders of Sweet Leaf tea), and Robert Larkin (Growing Grace, Daily Juice).
Disclaimer: I was provided samples of the product to review. All opinions are my own.
Buy in store or online. 2oz.bags for $4.99
I had really wanted to attend this year’s Vermont Cheese Festival but we were going to be in Vermont the week after. So the next best thing would be a Vermont Farm Tour. I looked up the company and contacted Chris Howell, the owner. We made plans to meet on Friday in Middlebury. Tours are $400 for a full day and $250 for a half day (up to three guests). M and I took the scenic route to get to Middlebury, and there were moments when we thought we weren’t going the right way. We met at Champlain Valley Creamery and headed out to our first farm. Nicky Foster and Julie Danyew run Bridport Creamery. They make the cheese from Nicky’s family dairy, Iroquois Acres. Julie has a goat herd and makes fresh and aged goats milk cheeses.
- Swisserella – a mild, great melting cheese in plain and herbed
- Danz Ahn Farm Feta – a variation on a classic
- Champlain Valley Tomme – Bridgeport Creamery’s aged cow milk tomme with a mild and nutty finish
- Tango – a sightly sharp, aged goat milk tomme
We had the chance to buy cheese from all of the stops during the day. Chris brought a cooler so that the cheese would stay cool in the car. It was here that I tried my first cheese curd. AMAZING! We bought some to take home with us. Nicky sells her cheese to many local businesses and her cheese curds to restaurants like the Skinny Pancake in Burlington where they make deep fried cheese curds! YUM!!
Next on our tour was Trevin Farms. Troy and Kevin run a B&B on their working farm. Originally from Cambridge, they moved up to Vermont a decade ago not knowing much about farming. When they bought the property, there was only the house. They cleared the rest of the land themselves – 14 acres!
These are Nubian goats known for their long ears and “Roman” noses.
Troy tells is that these goats prefer to eat things that are higher up off the ground, so it is very natural for them to get on their hind legs and eat off tall branches. This adorable spotted guy will be the father of the next round of baby goats.
In addition to goats they also have chickens. Troy and Kevin use the fresh eggs for breakfast in the morning for guests. They have an amazing garden where they grow veggies for the guest’s meals. Kevin let us in on the secret to growing enormous pumpkins….you inject the vine with goat’s milk.
We have lunch at the farm. Chris has picked up a variety of sandwiches and creme brulee from City Market in Burlington, one of my favorite markets. We eat and taste Trevin Farms’ fresh goat cheese. I’m not generally a goat cheese kind of gal, it’s just too…goaty. But this was so fresh and so light, really quite lovely. It really makes a difference to have cheese that was made just the other day. We also tried raw goat’s milk. I can’t even remember the last time I had a glass of milk…and as I mentioned before, I was hesitant as I don’t love really the goaty flavor. But this milk, from this morning, was light and clean, really not goaty at all. Goat’s milk is also supposed to be good for people who are lactose intolerant and raw milk is supposedly easier to digest.
Kevin told us that Troy does the cooking and he looks after the goats and the garden. They used to try and do things together, but it works out better if they each do their own thing. Kevin delivers all of the baby goats and in addition to all of the hand milking and the care involved with these amazing animals, he also has a full time job! We had such a lovely afternoon here, Troy and Kevin were gracious hosts and really wonderful to be around. As I mentioned, they have a B&B with 3 bedrooms, and you can even do a package where you can make your own goat cheese!
While we are waiting for Carlton to arrive and show us around Champlain Valley Creamery, we stop in upstairs at Appalachian Gap Distillery for a little booze tasting! A whiskey, a rum, and two coffee liqueurs.
Our final stop is Champlain Valley Creamery – above is our guide Chris Howell (left) and Carleton Yoder (right) owner of Champlain Valley Creamery, and head cheesemaker.
Organic Champlain Triple – Silver Medal Winner, 2007 American Cheese Society, Burlington VT
Organic Champlain Triple is a beautiful soft ripened triple crème cheese with a bloomy white rind. Produced from cultured whole milk and cream, Champlain Triple is hand ladeled into traditional crottin molds and aged approximately 10 days. It has a rich, creamy interior flavor that is offset by a delicious earthy rind with hints of mushroom. Champlain Triple is a must-have for any cheese plate.
In addition to these cheeses, they also make an old fashioned cream cheese, a queso fresco, and a queso anejo. If you can’t make it up to VT to try Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheese, don’t worry, you can find it at Formaggio Kitchen.
Vermont Farm Tours
278 North Street, Winooski, VT
Bridgeport Valley Creamery
Nicky Foster and Julie Danyew
3284 Lake Street, Bridport, VT
Troy Peabody and Kevin McNaught
901 Willowbrooke Road, Sudbury, VT
Champlain Valley Creamery
88 Mainelli Road, Suite 3, Middlebury, VT