Greetings all! The past four days have been warm but miserably cloudy, however, not cloudy enough to block out last weekend in Stowe, Vermont. My college girlfriends and I went up for my version of RNR: Rest/Noms/Relaxation. The extent of my travels in Vermont thus far was limited to the Killington bubble but I had high hopes for foodie finds further north. As we drove through the verdant landscape of 89 I could practically taste the maple syrup and cheese with each passing exit. Heck, we were so far north I could even taste the poutine. Vermont specialties are probably some of the most well known in the country and I definitely planned on indulging but my big goal was to keep an open mind (and stomach) and try whatever came my way between handfuls of maple sugar candies.
Let me start by saying our stay at the Green Mountain Inn was lovely. We stayed in spacious two bedroom town house, made good use of the gym and pool, and the staff could not have been more kind. The Whip, the inn's restaurant, is a good choice if you're not eager to venture out. Seated on the outdoor patio overlooking the pool one doesn't usually expect more than pub fare but both lunch and brunch delivered solid eggs Benedict, Caprese salads and salmon scrambles. Good, but I suggest venturing out, it is vacation after all.
One of the most popular spots with vacationers and locals alike is The Bench. Embracing local products and flavors, The Bench knows how to do comfort food Vermont style. The kitchen turned out the most fragrant scallop risotto, a thickly coated fried chicken and one well charred ten ounce hunk o'steak for our entrees but let's get to the important part: dessert. Half the conversations leading up to the trip pertained to the individual skillet S'mores. They looked super good but me and my texture issues were not having it. Not being one for gooey things I asked our server, Chris, his favorite and went with it: the peanut butter chocolate trifle with brownie pieces.
Have you ever had a moment with a meal when you close your eyes and giggle a little bit? No? Just me then? Well, that's what happened here and I'm pretty sure I was that weirdo crushing on her dessert. Thanks a lot, Chris (actually, my words to him were. "You NEVER should have told me about this.") The texture was smooth and dense, the chocolate rich enough to flood the senses almost to the point of inducing a headache. That's how you know it's the good stuff. My inner child was ready to devour this dish and rocket around on a semi permanent sugar high. But I'm an adult. Kind of. So I just settled for eating a bit more than half. As if the peanut butter and chocolate weren't enough, the dessert got major brownie points (had to, not sorry) for the chewy crumbles layered in between. Ten million points to The Bench for being easy on the eyes, stomach and wallet.
As we explored the area on Saturday we passed a resort I previously researched called topnotch. Their restaurant, Flannel (oh, Vermont), had an appealing menu so I suggested we swing by for drinks and appetizers. I was the only one who seemed to interested in the menu but the resort's lounge, The Roost, turned out to be more perfect than imagined. Sleek and polished interiors would be great for apres ski but the outdoors was calling us and it said to park it on the patio. For a few hours, I forgot I was even in Vermont. I don't know where I was but it included a pergola, live music and a mountain view. Oh yeah, it also tasted really good.
We ordered a braised pork egg roll so full they may have packed a whole pig in there, I'm not sure. It came with a refreshingly colorful side of radish and pepper slaw. The roasted mustard potatoes and carrots were equal parts tender and savory, but for me, the most basic dish was the most memorable. Grilled ciabatta bread and a ricotta spread sounds fairly normal until you get to the balsamic roasted hazelnuts. Can you even do that do a hazelnut? The answer is YUP. I know the wonderful things balsamic can do for most dishes, even desserts (remember the balsamic truffles on the 'gram?), but ohmygosh, I could have just noshed on those all afternoon. I did hint that I'd like a small dish of them just to nibble on but our server didn't catch my drift. So, I'm just going to have to try and make them myself, sigh.
These were just a few of the places Stowe had to offer. Some weren't even opening until the "official" start of summer on the Fourth. We all agreed on a longer return visit; there was simply too much to do. I mean, we didn't even get to the Ben and Jerry's factory. Whomp. Stowe was great for the mind, body, stomach, and of course friends. And maple sugar candies. DON'T forget the candies. Until the next dish, ciao!