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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vermont Travelogue, Continued...

A little rain on Thursday made us do some indoor activities that we had planned.  (But not before we enjoyed a great breakfast--choice of omelet or incredibly fluffy pancakes; bacon, sausage and/or corned beef hash; hash browns or home fries; and fresh baked toasted bread.  No lunch needed.) 

We started with one of Jake's most anticipated events--our tour of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in Waterbury.  The tour itself isn't all that much--a video of the history of the company, a look down on the productions floor as they make and package the ice cream and then a visit to the tasting room, where you get a free sample.  (We had Cho-cow-late Chip--vanilla ice cream with cow-shaped chocolate pieces.  Tasty.) 

Ben & Jerry's is one of those company's, though, that started out local and small and grew to be a giant.  But they still stand by many of their original principles--local ingredients (all of their milk is from VT farms) and service to the community.  You can add a good sense of humor and fun in there, too.  The tour guides and most everyone who work there seem to be actually having a good time.  You've never heard so many cow puns as on our tour.  It was great.  ("Please mooooove to your right.")
After B&J's, we headed to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory in Shelburne.  Another short tour geared more for kids, but it is kind of interesting to see how they make these bears by hand.  Of course, Jake got a dog at the teddy bear factory, but that's OK. 

We then stumbled upon beautiful Mt. Philo State Park.  The rain had stopped, so we went on a great hike--Devil's Chair Trail--with vistas of the mountains, Lake Champlain and acres of rolling farmland.  This ended up being Jake's (and our) favorite part of the day.  "Let's go find more mysteries in the woods!"  If there is rock climbing, he's happy.
All that exercise brought on a much needed nap for the Jakester as we drove into Burlington to walk around by the lake front and get some dinner.  Burlington is a very nice, very small city.  I'm not sure how it is for the arts and things like that, but there certainly are loads of interesting places to eat.

Many of them--probably most of them--are part of the Vermont Fresh Network (VFN), an organization that "encourages farmers, food producers and chefs to work directly with each other to build partnerships. Building these regional connections contributes to stronger local communities and their economies."  Their distinctive green logo is posted on many restaurants you come across--whether in the city or out in the middle of nowhere. 

Having been promoting our screening of Fresh: The Movie (see May 26 post), local farming is kind of on my mind and I love the idea of farmers and chefs and restaurateurs working together to serve the freshest, most nutritious foods all the while making the local economies prosper. 

We ate at The Skinny Pancake, a locally owned creperie in Burlington.  A member of the VFN, they even have a map of Vermont on the wall that shows where all their food comes from.  Food wrapped in crepes...we were a little worried that it might not be filling enough.  WRONG.  It was delicious and a lot of food.  We got some fries (the only thing crepe-related) and artichoke/spinach dip with fried crepe chips.  Very good.  My dinner was chicken, pesto, roasted peppers, grilled onions & VT cheddar in a scallion crepe.  MB got pulled pork with VT cheddar and a sweet/spicy whiskey sauce (that's her's in the picture).  Jake isn't one for things wrapped up, so they actually deconstructed his--ham, chopped apples and the crepe (all of which were very tasty--especially the smoky ham).  He didn't get the cheese--you may know that he's about the only kind in the USA that doesn't like cheese.  Fresh tasting, well prepared, fun atmosphere--we recommend it if you're in that neck of the woods.

Later in Burlington, we stopped at a Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop for dessert.  Obviously, Jake enjoyed his cone of Chocolate Therapy--dark chocolate ice cream with chocolate-chocolate chip cookies and chocolate fudge swirl.  I got a scoop of it, too--really good--as well as one of their new flavors for 2010--Peanut Brittle.  A good way to end the day.

Next time...baby goats, very fresh milk, more local food and some of the best cheddar you'll ever taste.

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