Waterbury, Vermont. Home to Ben and Jerry's and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. These sights and the fall foliage beckoned us to the area over the Columbus Day holiday where we enjoyed a fabulous foodie fall weekend. And the foliage wasn't half bad either! Here is our "best of" version.
Best Breakfast: Perhaps we were still on a Southern kick, but we had to go to Penny Cluse Cafe, up the road a bit in Burlington, to try their "Sleepy Nate's Biscuits 'n Gravy." We read about this dish in Food Network Magazine a few months ago. All we can say it, it was well worth the wait (and apparently, there's always a wait at this corner spot). Flaky biscuits swam in a creamy gravy that was so full of herbs it was practically green and had the freshest herby-est flavor. The Smoked Salmon Plate was huge and a nice change of pace, as it was served with grilled baguette and chevre rather than the usual bagel and cream cheese. The Zydeco breakfast (not pictured) - eggs served with super-spicy andouille sausage and black bean - rocked our souls.
Best Romantic Dinner: On a weekend such as this, we had to have one special occasion, not-so-casual, romantic, fancy meal. Everything we researched seemed to point us in the direction of a place called Hen of the Wood. That's all fine and good unless you call too late and can't get a reservation since everyone knows about it and it's one of the heaviest tourist weekends of the year in VT (oops). In the end, it was a blessing, because we completely fell in love with our "second choice," The Kitchen Table Bistro, where we had an exquisite dining experience. The Kitchen Table is all about preparing and serving local, sustainable, seasonal foods; in fact, their list of local suppliers is very impressive. Also notable is their willingness to serve half-portions so there is less waste. We really enjoyed the appetizer special of steak tartare served on crispy potato chips with pickled vegetables. Chris loved his quail dish - a lovely little roasted bird served over risotto with root vegetables. Amy's grilled VT pork was perfectly cooked and fork-tender; it was served with crispy herb spaetzle, braised chard and roasted apples - a wonderful fall meal. For dessert, an "open-faced chocolate-coffee sundae" made with homemade ice cream and topped with plenty of crunchy candied almonds. Having this artfully prepared local food in a 1795 brick homestead house only added to the comforting ambiance.
Best Snack with a View: After a brisk round-trip ferry ride from Burlington, VT to Kent, NY, we stopped at the Ice House, where we enjoyed a light snack and warmed up with a cup of spiked hot tea. Amy's French onion soup was your typical crock, but Chris's roasted beet salad with goat cheese was a gorgeous and delicious plate. What stole the show, however, was the fabulous view of Lake Champlain at sunset.