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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

imag1207The 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.

imag1209Whenever 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.

imag1212We also start with the gazpacho, a refreshing way to start a meal. One of the best gazpachos we’ve tried.

imag1214The pasta special was delicious – the home made noodles were perfectly al dente.

imag1213I had the gnocchi with cauliflower, which was an excellent choice. The dumplings were amazing.

imag1216For 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.

imag1219The 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

http://bluemoonstowe.com/

Blue Moon Cafe on Urbanspoon

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imag1342Mark (fortunately) forgot his lunch last week, making it an excellent opportunity to head out to Gene’s Chinese Flatbread cafe over in Downtown Crossing.

imag1340This tiny restaurant is packed at lunch time – great idea to come early or late – or just take out.

imag1339There 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.

imag1343Mark orders the noodle soup, which he liked, but wished that the noodles were the same ones I had in my meal.

imag1344

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

Website

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe on Urbanspoon

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imag1144On 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.

imag1148The 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.

imag1147We also order the poached eggs on hash – a stick to your ribs kind of meal. The corned beef hash is made from fresh corned beef brisket and is served with a side of potatoes.

Stop in to Lou’s for a little piece of history.

Lou’s

30 South Main Street, Hanover, NH

http://lousrestaurant.net

Lou's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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IMG_6809Nothing 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.

IMG_6815Phil 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!

IMG_6811All the meat in the sausages comes from pigs and chickens raised to meet Global Animal Partnerships 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating Program.

IMG_6826Whole 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.

Ingredients

6 large chicken sausages

3 cups of beer

6 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil

Method

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.

imag1445Recipe 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!

imag1452For 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!

imag1450And 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!

And while you’re there, check out some of my favorite brands: Hint Water and Maple Water!

Whole Foods Market

51 Austin Street, Charlestown, MA

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/charlestown

 https://www.facebook.com/WholeFoodsMarketCharlestown

https://twitter.com/@wfm_charlestown

Disclaimer: Whole Foods provided me with a sampling of complimentary sausages

Best Bees 12I met Noah, the founder of Best Bees, at the Follow the Honey Dinner. While we were chatting at the table, he invited me to come down and see what urban beekeeping was all about.

Best Bees 1Located 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.

Best Bees 2So 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.

Best Bees 3Tom 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.

Best Bees 4It’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.

Best Bees 9Clients drop off their trays and Best Bees collects the honey.

Best Bees 7First they carefully scrape off the caps of the honeycomb.

Best Bees 5How beautiful is that honey?

Best Bees 6They place the honeycomb into a centrifuge and spin it for 5 minutes on both sides. The honey is flung out to the walls of the centrifuge and drip down to the bottom where it is collected.

Best Bees 10Keeping 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.

Best Bees 11Different color honey depends on the hive and which flowers the bees are attracted to.

To find out more about bees and honey, check out the Best Bees website.

Best Bees

Noah Wilson-Rich

839 Albany Street, Boston, MA

http://www.bestbees.com

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imag1234My 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.

imag1236Of course we had the scallops, just an amazing dish – cooked perfectly!

imag1238The sweetbreads were tasty – not something I would normally order but I’m glad Jesse persuaded me to try them.

imag1240The lobster beignets were light and delicious served on top of a light corn salad.

imag1235The gnocchi was perfectly cooked as well and simply light as air.

imag1241We 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.

imag1242I 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.

Fairsted Kitchen

1704 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA

http://fairstedkitchen.com/

Fairsted Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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imag0842Have 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!!

imag0850What 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.

imag0847Maple 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.

img_20140628_120958Where do you drink Maple? I take mine to the beach and up hiking in the woods…ok, hiking might be an overstatement…but you get the idea.

img_20140724_181608You can find Maple water in Whole Foods or you can buy them online.

 

IMG_3258Gaslight, Brasserie du Coin, literally Brasserie on the corner is part of the Aquitane Group who bring you restaurants such as Aquitane, Cinquecento, Union Bar and Grille and Metropolis Cafe.

IMG_3259Gaslight is run by Executive Chef Seth Woods and Michael Zentner, his Chef de Cuisine.

IMG_3261The decor is that of a traditional French Brasseie, from the white subway tiles and dark booths to the reclaimed wood floors.

img_20140713_093916We planned on heading over to the SOWA market today, so we came to Gaslight to fuel up (that and they offer free parking!!) We start with a Cafe American ($2.95).

imag1057Meredith raves about the raspberry croissants ($3.25), which were good, but a little on the well done side.

IMG_3265The French toast ($10.50) was good, but very sweet. With such large slices, it was hard to finish the whole dish.

IMG_3263The 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.

 

Gaslight

560 Harrison Street, Boston, MA

http://www.gaslight560.com/

Gaslight Brasserie du Coin on Urbanspoon

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IMG_4977Kale 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.

IMG_6387These 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.

Rhythm Superfoods

Buy in store or online. 2oz.bags for $4.99

http://rhythmsuperfoods.com/

Vermont Farm Tour 7I 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.

Vermont Farm Tour 2The young cows are kept separately from the rest of the adult cows for their own safety.

Vermont Farm Tour 3Nicky talked to us about organic vs. non organic cows – how with organic cows if your cow gets sick, you can’t give it medicine.

Vermont Farm Tour 4Here at Iroquois Acres, they treat their cows well. On hot days they circulate into covered areas where they are misted with water and fans to keep cool.

Vermont Farm Tour 5In addition to growing up on a dairy farm, Nicky married a dairy farmer. Her husband’s farm is one of the largest in the state.

Vermont Farm Tour 6Look at this face!!!!

Vermont Farm Tour 8We were able to step inside Nicky’s cheese cave and check out what was inside! In addition the cheese curds they also make:

  • 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

Vermont Farm Tour 9We 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!!

Vermont Farm Tour 23Next 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!

Vermont Farm Tour 14We are greeted by Troy and about 20 baby goats! He’s like the goat whisperer. Troy told us that they bottle feed all the goats inside the house, 7 times a day until they are weaned.

Vermont Farm Tour 10These are Nubian goats known for their long ears and “Roman” noses.

Vermont Farm Tour 11They couldn’t have been more friendly and curious….and vocal.

Vermont Farm Tour 12The goats were playful – running all about, while never getting too far from Troy.

Vermont Farm Tour 13Troy 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.

Vermont Farm Tour 15In 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.

Vermont Farm Tour 16And they have horses – this guy helped clear some of their land.

Vermont Farm Tour 17Look at that face!

Vermont Farm Tour 18They hand milk all of the goats. Troy and Kevin keep all of the female goats and sell off the males – so they only have two males on the property.

Vermont Farm Tour 19All the goats are named after cities.

Vermont Farm Tour 20We 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.

Vermont Farm Tour 21Our lunch companions.

Vermont Farm Tour 22Kevin 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!

Vermont Farm Tour 1While 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.

Vermont Farm Tour 29Our 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.

Vermont Farm Tour 24Carleton takes us through the cheese making process. Once the cheese has been mixed it is hand ladled into these plastic cups where they sit and drain.

Vermont Farm Tour 25They make an ash ripened pyramid cheese – here they are fresh out of their molds – they will be salted and left to ripen in the cheese cave.

Vermont Farm Tour 26When the cheese has been in the cave for enough time, it will be covered with a layer of ash.

Vermont Farm Tour 27

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.

Vermont Farm Tour 28In 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

Chris Howell

278 North Street, Winooski, VT

www.vermontfarmtours.com

Bridgeport Valley Creamery

Nicky Foster and Julie Danyew

3284 Lake Street, Bridport, VT

www.bridportcreamery.com

Trevin Farm

Troy Peabody and Kevin McNaught

901 Willowbrooke Road, Sudbury, VT

www.trevinfarms.com

Champlain Valley Creamery

Carleton Yoder

88 Mainelli Road, Suite 3, Middlebury, VT

www.cvcream.com

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