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11 Jan 2009
Waterbury Area Restaurants Reviewed in NY Times

Big Time NY Times Wanders Into the Backwoods To See What the Woodchucks Are Eating These Days

Mark Bittman, a writer for the Dining section of the NY Times Dining, must spend a good amount of time around the Waterbury VT area - he certainly knows the restaurants here, a couple of them off the beaten path for most visitors and even some locals.

As his December 28, 2008 review shows, he is very impressed with Hen of the Wood restaurant, a quality restaurant that was opened by a pair of chefs here in Waterbury about four years ago if memory serves.

One of the chef's mother stayed with us while the two young men were working to get their new place prepared for opening so we got an early insight into what kind of place they were aiming to establish in a highly competitive market.

As you can see by the newspaper's headline reference to "Backwoods" Vermont, many people come here expecting to be nearly on the edge of civilization, lucky to have a decent diner and maybe a couple of good potluck church dinners.

The fact of the matter is that there about 100 two and three star quality restaurants within a half hour's drive of where I am sitting now. Stowe alone has more than 50 quality restaurants and ranks third in New England for the number of two and three star restaurants (behind Boston and Providence). I've lived here nearly nine years and I'm still working my way through all the restaurants here.

Four quick items about Hen of the Wood that come up most often when I'm speaking to guests about it:

Yes, this is the restaurant with the chef (Eric Warnstedt) mentioned in Food and Wine Magazine as one of the Top 10 New Chefs in the US for 2008.

No, I don't know what they mean by "new." He ain't new - he has been a chef for years.

Hen of the Wood is a type of edible mushroom.

Yes, reservations are almost always needed. The restaurant is small and highly popular.

The other restaurant Mr. Bittman looks at is the Kitchen Table in nearby Richmond VT. It is very close to Exit 11 off I-89 a few minutes south of Burlington.

Like all of the best restaurants in Vermont, the Kitchen Table puts a great emphasis for getting as much of the ingredients locally as they possibly can. This is far more time consuming and expensive than buying from a restaurant supply house but it pays off for the customers in a superior dining experience.

Somehow, Mr. Bittman found the Green Cup quietly located on a small side street in little ole Waitsfield VT. What I thought was a local secret showed up on the radar of a New York restaurant reviewer. I guess that's why they get their jobs - they know how to find the best food no matter where it is. One note on this place - don't expect a fancy schmanchy atmosphere. The food is the only star here.

The Red Hen Bakery was located about a 1/4 mile down the road from our inn until they moved a little over a year ago to a larger facility where they now have a nice cafe. Their bread is served in all or nearly all the best restaurants around these parts. You can get it in some of the local grocery stores and delis too.

I suggest you read over this article - it's very well done and makes for interesting reading and insights into the local culinary scene but it just scratches the surface of what's available here.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Food
posted by  grunhaus at  19:07 | permalink

10 Jan 2009
A Brew Pub That Serves Tea - How Vermont!

I was poking around some of my links a while back and discovered on the Alchemist Brew Pub blog that they are now serving tea.

Specifically, it's Kombucha tea, a sweet tea that originated in China centuries ago and is alleged to have some medicinal qualities.

According to the Alchemist blog, Kombucha is "fermented black tea that is loaded with antioxidants, amino acids and many different pro-biotic cultures." Whether or not that is good for you is up to you to decide.

The Alchemist Brew Pub opened about five years ago and was an immediate hit. We have had guests from all over the country tell us that a friend or relative recommended it to them as a "must see."

It is easy to find in downtown Waterbury VT. That link will take you to a Google map page that has another link to 20 reviews of the Alchemist.

They have very good food there by the way. They actually have a chef who prepares a short but wonderful menu. The portions are small but so are the prices - about $10 for an entree.

Be prepared for a wait if you arrive there after 6:00 pm most of the time even during off season for tourists. During holiday and fall foliage time, it is virtually impossible to get in unless you get there at the 4:30 pm opening time.

Our inn is only about four miles away so anytime it is too crowded, I can wait a few days or a week to get in without much of a wait. But if you do have to wait, it is well worth it.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
Advice , Food , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  20:05 | permalink

8 Jan 2009
Two Days of Continuous Snow Adds Up

Photo from the Mount Snow Dew Tour

Man, that was a LOT of snow. It has snowed (with a little sleet mixed in at the middle) for two days almost non stop. Weather forecasters call for a little more this weekend, mostly in the form of flurries so the white stuff is going to stay fresh for a while.

If you have been thinking of heading to Vermont for any kind of snow activity, I can say with complete confidence that now is the time.

Mount Snow Resort in southern VT got 10 inches of snow and Jay Peak in far northern VT got 20 inches.

Speaking of Mount Snow, the Winter Dew Tour, sponsored by Mountain Dew soft drink, is there this weekend. The resort is near West Dover VT, about mid-way between Brattleboro and Bennington.

There are some great freeski slopestyle videos here (in the right hand column) so you can get an idea of what you will see this weekend plus snowboards on the pipe. Spectator admission is free all weekend.

Olympic gold medalist and Vermont native Hannah Teter will be there along with other stars.

It will be cold this weekend - bring your warmest stuff.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Events
posted by  grunhaus at  21:00 | permalink

6 Jan 2009
Attention Skiers and Riders: 6 to 12 Inches On The Way

Weather radar 8:30 pm Tuesday, Jan 6.

In technical meteorological terms, the radar picture above shows a "big honkin' storm" that is bearing down on Vermont ski areas. It starts tonight and goes through Thursday.

When it is all said and done, we will get six to twelve inches of snow according to local meteorologist Roger Hill of Weathering Heights Forecasting. He is consistently the most accurate of weather forecasters in this area.

Roger is also calling for some sleet during the storm: "potentially moderate to significant snowfall northern 2/5ths of state, and 'sleety snow middle part of state...to glazing, icy travel southeastern 1/4 of state' all going back to lighter periods of snow before exiting Thursday."

Check your favorite ski resort's web site for trail reports this Thursday and be ready to jump in the car to head for Vermont. It looks like Saturday should be a very good ski and ride day on fresh snow. Temps will be in the teens this weekend so pack your warmest gear.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Nature
posted by  grunhaus at  20:42 | permalink

6 Jan 2009
Beautiful Fall Foliage Video

I know that now might not be the right time of year for this, but I just ran across a great fall foliage video that is enjoyable to look at no matter when you see it.

It is an unusually well done amateur video with good editing and music. Videographer Roger Shealy shot this footage last October during a visit to Burlington and Lake Champlain.

This video will inspire you to visit VT to see the foliage colors even if you have been here to see it previously. They always look great but last year was a spectacular year for color - many more red leaves than I ever remember seeing before and the orange and yellow leaves were extremely bright too. The season started early but remained a long time.

Start saving your $$$ now and plan to travel to VT and see this year's foliage show!

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Nature
posted by  grunhaus at  20:03 | permalink

5 Jan 2009
Vermont Ski Areas Assoc Online Game

Here's an entertaining time burner. The Vermont Ski Areas Association has a game on their website called "Peg Your Friend."

You upload a picture of a friend which is then pasted into an animated character. When the game starts, the character/friend moves around the scenery while you use your mouse and cursor to follow and throw a snowball. The number of hits is recorded.

This will no doubt be the most meaningless thing you have done so far this year but you might win prizes such as Kombi gloves, Darn Tough socks, Eider apparel, Cabot cheese and other stuff in a random daily drawing.

Have fun!

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  20:52 | permalink

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