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1 May 2009
Fiddlehead Festival May 2 in Randolph Center

Fiddlehead ferns are a delicacy in Vermont. Go to the festival and ask for recipies!

The third annual Fiddlehead Festival will be held tomorrow at the Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center VT about 30 mins north of White River Junction and 30 mins south of Montpelier.

Free admission to all events unless you want to buy a ticket to the farmer's lunch: $9 for adults and $4 for children under 12.

See the tractorcade, animal power parade, children's activities, wild edibles workshop, gardening with Henry Homeyer, sustainable living workshop, Gary Howe's Glimpse of the past restored Delco light plant, sheep dog demonstration, tractor obstacle course, Renewing Local Communities workshop, oxen power demonstration.

It does not get any more "Vermonty" than this.

See some impressive pulling power at the Fiddlehead Festival

Photos courtesy Roger Ennis & Robert Eddy, Randolph, VT

(c) 2009 (except the photos) Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Events , Food
posted by  grunhaus at  14:00 | permalink

30 Apr 2009
Conde Nast Traveler Magazine Names VT Restaurant One of the Best

I was looking this evening at my Facebook friends/fans pages when I came across some surprising news from Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association's Facebook page.

They reported that Claire's Restaurant in little 'ol Hardwick, Vermont had been chosen for one of the most prestigious awards around.

Conde Nast Traveler magazine named it one of the top restaurants in the country, an award they gave to only 43 restaurants nationwide, and just three in New England.

In commenting on Claire's, Conde Nast Traveler said: "Appropriately, Claire's serves simple food that highlights exceptional ingredients from Vermont's fertile agricultural community: slowly leavened breads, peppery radishes, and creamy raw-milk cheese. Local microbrews, artisanal sodas, and ice wines from Shelburne Vineyards keep the drinks as interesting as the cuisine."

Conde Nast Traveler sends out its reviewers anonymously to act like any customer including paying for the meal. There's no "comping a freebie" to get a good review. The restaurant has to stand on its day-to-day quality. Conde Nast did not even tell Claire's they had won the award. A friend of the restaurant happened to see the article and passed the word along to Claire's!

Claire's is a Community Supported Restaurant, a concept where local people make an investment in a community restaurant in order to have a good quality facility in what is usually a rural environment where the economics of such a facility often don't work.

I have not been to Claire's so I can't personally vouch for the quality. And I am only a little surprised there is a good quality restaurant in Hardwick. The phenomenon of top quality restaurants in small villages is not unusual in Vermont.

What I am surprised at is that someone from a big time magazine somehow found Hardwick, Vermont. While it is a fine enough town, and a classic Vermont village, it's not often a destination or even on the way to anything except to Vermont's beautiful but least populated land. It was probably a tip from someone and I would love to know the story behind Conde Nast Travelers' discovery of Hardwick and Claire's.

In the meantime, I'll have to just put it on my long list of first time restaurants to visit. There are so many great restaurants in Vermont I think I will run out of life expectancy and money before I get to them all. But it's a goal.

You'll find Claire's at 41 South Main Street in Hardwick about 30 minutes north of Montpelier and maybe a little less than that west of St. Johnsbury.

There is an interesting article on chef Steven Obranovich at the Seasonal Chef website in which answers questions about his approach to using locally produced ingredients even in the middle of a Vermont winter.

Here's a thought: if you stay with us at the Grunberg Haus, go to dinner at Claire's (about a 45 minute drive), and bring back your review and a copy of the menu for our collection, we'll give you a $20 discount off the normal $115 room rate, double occupancy, for a room with a private bathroom, full cooked breakfast included - offer good anytime May 1 - June 15.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Food
posted by  grunhaus at  20:17 | permalink

30 Apr 2009
Alchemist Brew Pub Closing for One Week

The Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury is planning some extensive kitchen renovations and will therefore be closed from Monday, May 4 through May 11. They will be reopening Tuesday May 12 unless their projects go as well as mine do.

With these new renovations, Chef Jeff is planning to bring some new items to the menu. I can hardly wait to see what those will be. The Alchemist blog says that right now, he's off to his home town of Cincinnati to learn more about making Cincinnati chili and to hunt turkeys. Hmmm - is that trip related to new menu items?

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Food
posted by  grunhaus at  12:19 | permalink

30 Apr 2009
Learn How To Make Chocolates Workshops in Stowe VT

Photo courtesy of Laughing Moon Chocolates

Laughing Moon Chocolates is a wonderful little store in Stowe VT which makes and sells an extensive line of chocolates using mostly locally produced ingredients.

Laughing Moon is offering workshops this spring and summer on how to make chocolates. These Chocolate Experience Workshops are intended for recreational users who would like to learn how to make their own candy at home. The cost is $150 per person. For more information and to register, contact owner Leigh Williams at (802) 253-9591.

Friday May 1
Chocolate Dipping Experience Workshop
A two-hour hand-on workshop on how to cook truffles, melt and temper chocolate, and hand-dipping.

Friday, June 26
Marshmallow Making Workshop
A two-hour workshop on how to make homemade marshmallow, prepare them for dipping, and hand-dip them in milk, dark and white chocolate. How to prepare Símores or mix it with caramel or truffle centers.

Friday, July 10
Chocolate Dipping Experience Workshop
Same as the May 1 workshop above.

Friday, August 14
Local Bounty Workshop
Two-hour workshop highlighting Vermont made specialty foods including Mitziís Fresh Mountain Breakfast, Boyden Valley Winery, Rock Art Brewery, Green Mountain Distillers, The Nutty Vermonter & The Sweet Crunch Bake Shop. Thee will be instruction on how to make peanut butter using fresh Virginia-grown peanuts and work with other locally made foods to create chocolate specialties. Prepare homemade centers and hand-dip them in chocolate. Also, how to use fresh local blueberries and raspberries, and how to make make chocolate at home.

Laughing Moon Chocolates has created a niche by incorporating locally produced foods into their chocolates. They make truffles with Boyden Valley Winery Big Barn Red Wine, Green Mountain Distillers Sunshine Vodka and Maple Liquor, Flag Hill Farm Pear and Apple Brandys, and Rock Art Vermonster Beer. The store offers chocolate covered homemade cookies baked by the Sweet Crunch Bake Shop in Hyde Park, and using Mitziís Fresh Mountain Breakfast and The Nutty Vermonterís Triple Nut Butters.

Even if you don't want to attend the workshops, you should visit the store just to see how good it smells! There is a great selection of chocolates to meet every taste. Online ordering is available on the website too if you can't wait to get here and try them.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Events , Food , Shopping , Unusual , VT Products
posted by  grunhaus at  10:45 | permalink

18 Apr 2009
Vermont Bird Tours

Photo (c) copyright Bryan Pfeiffer

Bryan Pfeiffer is probably the best known name in birding around this part of Vermont. He is also a naturalist and lepidopterologist of some note.

Most of all for birders, he's an enthusiastic, engaging speaker and teacher. There may not be anything he loves more than birding but if there is, it would be talking about birding. He's a treasure trove of fascinating information and he loves to share it.

A few years ago, he was often on WDEV, the local radio station, speaking about birds in the area and taking calls from listeners. Often those callers wanted to know what kind of unusual bird they were hearing. They would give the most awful imitation of what they were hearing and quick as lightning, Bryan would be playing a recording of the actual bird and telling the radio audience some interesting facts about it. How he could interpret what these callers were trying to sound like is beyond me but it must have come from years of hearing people try to describe (terribly and inaccurately) what they had heard.

Bryan is exactly the kind of person you would want to go birding with. You will have several opportunities to do so coming up soon.

If you are a beginner, Bryan's Spring Birdwatching for Beginners will be held May 1 and 2. He will be discussing all the basics from boots and binoculars to bird songs.

On May 16, he will be hosting the Bird Bonanza at Berlin Pond, a bird sanctuary near Montpelier VT. May is the peak of spring bird migration and Brian has seen more than 150 species of birds there over the last 25 years. You might even see a Bald Eagle or Moose on this outing.

Later in May, Bryan will be leading the Warbler Weekends at Highland Lodge overlooking beautiful Caspian Lake. These outings will be held May 22-24, and May 29-31.

July 5 is the date for a different type of watching. Bryan's Butterflies for Beginners has introduced hundreds of people to the wonders of the butterfly world through this course. You will be on the hunt for the Great Spangled Fritillary, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, and many more.

For more information on the tours, see Vermont Bird Tours website.

You can learn more about Bryan at his Wings Environmental website and see some beautiful photography at his Wings Photography website.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Events , Nature
posted by  grunhaus at  18:39 | permalink

31 Mar 2009
Cheese Making Classes in VT April 3 and 4
Photo courtesy of River Arts

If you're a cheese lover, perhaps you should look into making it yourself. You may have wondered if it's easy to do. Here's your opportunity to find out.

River Arts in Morrisville VT is holding two days of cheese making classes this coming Friday and Saturday.

You will have the rate opportunity to learn how to make Mozzarella, Cheddar and Ricotta. The cost is just $35 for one day or $55 for two days. You can sign up on the River Arts website or call them at (802) 888-1261.

"River Arts is a nonprofit organization that brings the energy, creativity and experience of the arts to all ages. We serve the Lamoille Valley of Vermont from Hardwick to Cambridge, from Eden to Stowe."

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus

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Events , Food , Unusual , VT Products
posted by  grunhaus at  22:43 | permalink

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