Eating and Drinking Our Way Around Stowe

It’s good that our B&B provides a hearty breakfast, to give us the energy to eat our way round Waterbury and Stowe on Friday. Angie was probably happy to get in a run before eating anything. While she was gone, I practiced some yoga and took a shower, so we’d be ready to head out for the day’s adventures not too long after breakfast.

Breakfast was tasty and comprehensive. Our hosts are very considerate of particular dietary needs and preferences, and our hostess Mary Anne dug out some tasty almond cake for me, since the apple muffin that was on the menu contained rather more cinnamon than I would care for. Angie said the muffin was delicious though. We had met Mary Anne last night but today we were also able to meet her co-host, George, and talk bike touring for a little while, though they’re clearly in Stowe because of the skiing opportunities.

We decided to start the next part of the day with dessert! Actually, the reason for starting our day of food and booze tourism at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Waterbury was because today is the start of a holiday weekend and we didn’t know if there would be massive crowds to be beating! The tour was brief but not expensive. There was a short film about the history of the brand and the company’s commitment to social justice, maintained despite their acquisition by Unilever in 2001. The film was followed by an overview of the manufacturing floor (viewed from a glassed-in mezzanine) and a description of the steps to make the ice cream. It was interesting to learn why the ice cream is frozen upside down in the pint containers. (To stop the solid ingredients from drifting to the bottom of the container.)

We also learned that 80% of the ice cream sold in the US by Ben & Jerry’s is manufactured by the company at this facility and another in Vermont. However, this factory has only one production line so can only make one flavor at a time. Today it was Half Baked, chocolate chip cookie dough and fudge brownies mixed into chocolate and vanilla ice cream. (No photos allowed on this part of the tour.) The third part of the tour was of course the part most people are most excited about: the free sample. There’s only one flavor offered a day. On our tour, it was Triple Caramel Chunk: caramel ice cream with a swirl of caramel and fudge-covered caramel chunks. It was sweet but tasty. We looked at buying another scoop of ice cream but decided to hold off, since we expected to be sampling a lot more nosh during the day. We did inquire about what was in the $50 Vermonster (not that we were going to order it). It was based on 20 scoops of ice cream, along with bananas, cookies, brownies, hot fudge and caramel, chopped walnuts, whipped cream, and four toppings!

Our guide was very well rehearsed and answered several additional questions after most of the group had drifted off to the gift shop. My question was about whether the entire plant was kosher, since I’d noticed a hechsha letter on the side of the freezer in the tasting room. She told me that everything but some of the toppings sold in the adjacent scoop shop was kosher. I’d guess that’s because gummy bears contain gelatin. Defo not kosher.


Scenes from the Flavor Graveyard at Ben & Jerry’s

We also made a stop in the gift shop and were unable to resist buying one of these t-shirts for each of us.

We promised not to wear them at the same time unless it was at Pride.

We were sort of planning on working our way back toward Stowe, and the next stop on the route was a complex that contained Cabot Cheese, Smugglers Notch Distillery, Vermont Trailwear, and Lake Champlain Chocolates, plus a couple of arty/gift type places and a defunct drive thru restaurant. To get one thing out of the way, the distillery was closed for reasons no one knew. Disappointing, but their loss.

We started at the cheese store. Cabot Cheese is a co-operative of over 800 farm families across New York and New England. Along with selling mostly cheese and the obligatory maple syrup, there was a cheese sample table with at least 20 different cheeses. Mostly featured were variations on the cheddar theme. My favorites were the garlic and herb, the everything, and the Orne Meadows. Angie liked the everything and the Artisan reserve.

Without moving the car we were able to hit up Vermont Trailwear. I was able to pickup a pair of merino cycling socks (increasingly my preferred cycling footwear, or else smartwool) and Angie lucked out with a lovely (and on sale) knit style vest that fit her perfectly.

We were disappointed there was no sampling to be had at Lake Champlain Chocolates, but we bought some anyway! We’ve tried the coffee flavor now, and were satisfied with our purchase.

After parking and going into Cold Hollow Cider Mill, we decided to try to find somewhere else for lunch. What we thought was the entrance to the mill turned out to be a store, and the food offerings at the adjacent “luncheonette” didn’t appeal, so we opted to drive back into Stowe, and try our luck at the Green Goddess, which had been recommended by the salesperson at Vermont Trailwear. This proved to be a definite win. Friendly service and very tasty food, though Angie’s Mediterranean salad was a bit pricey for what it was even with the delicious homemade falafel added to it. I really had nothing to decide about my choice once I saw the lamb gyro on the menu, and it was worth it. Very flavorful lamb and a wonderful tadziki sauce.

After lunch we headed away from town again, stopping at the Little River Hot Glass Studio to observe a class in action.

I’d never watched the glass blowing/making progress in person before and it was great even watching for a few minutes and seeing how complex the process seems to be. After leaving, we followed Moscow Road up to Nebraska Knoll, pausing to switch to 4-wheel-drive to carefully climb up the hilly, unpaved and rutted track. When you get to it, Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm looks like an unassuming mountain house. A sign directed us to the adjacent building that is set up old-fashioned farm store style, with self-service maple syrup sampling and honor system purchasing of maple syrup and candies. They even had a self-service credit card setup! After trying the three varieties, we opted to pay cash for a half pint of the robust syrup, which had a delicious richness. We only bought a little since we have already bought enough goodies that we have to be judicious in how we pack to get it all home!

We drove downhill a bit and turned onto one of the roads that would lead us to the von Trapp Family Lodge. Yes, it’s that von Trapp family. After fleeing Austria right before World War II, Maria and George von Trapp settled in Vermont as it reminded them of Austria. They built a farm but in 1950 began accepting guests in their mountain home. It expanded to become a 90+ room lodge, but we felt it was a bit beyond our budget for this trip. And, we find we prefer the more personal touch we’re experiencing at the Brass Lantern, not to mention the breakfast menu that is customized to our dietary needs and preferences. We did check out the lodge, in part because we wanted to look at all the historical photos there. Although it’s high in the hills (no lonely goatherds spotted), the vistas were obstructed by the rain clouds so we didn’t get great views. However, the von Trapps have also created a Bierhall and brewery, and we’d already decided that would be our dining destination. We ended up hanging out there for a few hours with a great view (but no moose).

Angie worked on a blog post, I read and we drank and ate. Angie enjoyed a beer flight and I sampled both of the available ciders to see which I would prefer to order. I had expected to prefer the Stowe Cider option, since it was the drier of the two, but I actually preferred a sweet, honeyish cider from New Hampshire. I even recommended it to the British woman at the adjacent table, although, like me, she’d expected to prefer the dry cider.

We ate well, sampling some more typical Austrian fare, and feeling very happy that we did. We opted for the pretzel with cheese sauce and mustard, and also shared an order of chicken schnitzel and five mini salads. This included cucumber, pickled beets, carrot, and my favorites, the turnip slaw and and a celery root salad. We were well satisfied and also enjoyed attentive service from our server, Tristan. We paused a little before topping our meal off with a spectacular Sachertorte. We are now two for two on the dessert front and these will be hard to top on this trip.

Well satiated, we rolled down the hill and back to the B & B.

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