The Amazing Food at When Words Count Retreat

At first, I thought it was a scam. Around Christmas, my mother had sent me a sweepstakes link on Facebook, and on a whim, I entered it. A few weeks later, an email arrived, informing me that I had won. The prize was a 3-night stay at the country-inn-turned-writer's-retreat When Words Count Retreat in Rochester, Vermont. The stay would be my prize; I had to pay for the "gourmet meal service." If you're reading this, you know I don't mind paying for good food, so after I poked around the Internet looking for proof that this was a real thing, I called and booked my reservation. I figured it was a small price to pay for food when I'd have a long, quiet weekend to myself to work on my writing. 

To say I was right would be an understatement. I could write a whole post about what an incredibly positive, possibly life-changing experience this one weekend retreat was for me. I arrived as a blog writer with a few articles published in some local magazines. By the end of my second day in Vermont, I had written almost 3,000 words of what I'm hoping will be my first book. The environment was ideal. The setting was inspiring. The schedule was accommodating. The discussion was stimulating. I really do want to go on.

However, when I first started this blog, I was determined to keep it focused on food, and so I will. The food at WWCR is, in a word, sublime. First, let's define what comprises their "gourmet meal service," and I take this from their website:
  • A sit-down, two-course country-style breakfast
  • A buffet farm lunch (fresh salad, protein portion, cheese board, crackers, soup, etc.)
  • Cocktail-hour hors d’oeuvres
  • Daily Coffee and tea service and
  • A four-course Gourmet dinner, prepared, each evening by our celebrated Chef
This costs $60 per day plus a 17% service charge which covers both gratuity and VT sales tax. I think I should say a mere $60 per day, because I found this to be an outstanding value for what I received, considering at most upscale restaurants where I live, I could easily spend that on a four-course dinner alone.

Here is one of my breakfasts, and yes, I mean both pictures constituted one breakfast: a bowl of creamy, tangy vanilla yogurt topped with crunchy granola and fresh berries, accompanied by scrambled eggs, thick country-style bacon, and strawberry-rhubarb-stuffed French toast.

For lunch the first day, this beautiful salad plate:

The next day's lunch, smoked salmon chowder and a flatbread topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula:

Are you drooling yet? Because recalling these meals is making my mouth water all over again.

Coffee and tea service was available all day, and we had a cocktail hour before dinner during which we were offered cheese and crackers, crudites, and the like. Needless to say, none of us went hungry that weekend. And I haven't even gotten to the dinner course.

So here's the teaser - my next post will focus on dinner alone, and will include at least one recipe. So check back soon! And writers? Check out When Words Count Retreat. You won't regret it.

Go Local Magazine - April 2017 Issue

Spring is here and it shows in this month's issue of Go Local Magazine. April's features include articles on local arborist Laura Mele, Chef Franny Krushinsky of Longmeadow, Stafford's newest business the Stafford Cidery, the "lamb ladies" of Pine Knob Farm in Somers, and a sneak peek inside Route 83's architectural wonder Aborn Castle

You can also read about disc golf at Crane Hill in Wilbraham and the good work being done by the Jeff Braun Memorial Foundation. Find out about local products, CSAs, how to make A Couple in the Kitchen's award-winning Quiche Caprese, and the great eats at Stir the Pot in East Windsor. 

There are suggestions for springtime hobbies good for the whole family, places to find local herbs and mulch, and a list of community theatre groups.

Find all this and more online here or by picking up your April issue at your favorite local business - it's free!!! 


Taste of Manchester Three Weeks Away!

The 8th Annual Taste of Manchester is only three weeks away. On Tuesday, May 9 from 5:30-9, participants will sample a variety of foods from Manchester's eateries in this popular pub-crawl style event. 

Click on the links below to read about some tried-and-true favorites that are returning to the TOM 2017 to share their favorite tastes with locals and visitors alike:

Tickets for the event tend to sell out, so go to the TOM WEBSITE where you can sign up as a volunteer, get more information and buy your tickets today.


Taste of Manchester 2017: Pagano's Italian Market

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2017 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 9th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2017) for more information. 

Pagano's Italian Market

This year's Taste of Manchester is less than a month away, and our first featured participant is new to town, having celebrated their Grand Opening on April 7 of this year. That new business is Pagano's Italian Market, now open in the front of the Strano's Bakery building on Broad Street.

The espresso bar

Pastries, cookies, cannoli and more

Strano's Bakery is no stranger to Manchester. A commercial wholesale bakery famous for their grinder rolls, Strano's has been in business over 35 years. Bill Pagano has been friends with the owners of Strano's longer than that, so when the opportunity to take over the retail space at the front of the bakery building came about, Pagano jumped at the chance. His grandparents and parents were in the restaurant business in Italy, and he and his wife always hoped to have a small Italian place of their own. 

Specialty Italian food products for sale

Pagano's Italian Market is more than the name implies. Yes, they offer Italian specialty products for sale, including olive oils, pastas, and sauces, to name a few. But they also consider themselves an Italian deli, bakery and cafe, and they sell entrees, grinders, soups, salads and desserts. Everything is made fresh in-house including their famous meatballs and a variety of Italian cutlets (beef, chicken, eggplant). Their thick sheet pizzas, giant grinders and stuffed breads are perfect for parties. They also accept orders for catering. 
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The menu and daily specials board

The space is open and well-lit with plenty of tables to enjoy their delicious offerings on site. In one corner is an Italian espresso bar, in the other, a case filled with Italian meats and cheeses. In the middle there is a bakery case filled with a variety of Italian cookies and pastries. Crisp cannoli shells are filled to order with a light, fluffy cannoli cream, perfect to enjoy with your cappuccino or espresso.

Pastries and cannoli to eat-in or take home

Manchester's newest business offers something for everyone. From antipasto to zuppa, eat-in or take-out, Pagano's Italian Market has it all. They are located at 255 Broad Street, and are open Monday-Friday 10-7, Saturday 10-4, and closed on Sundays. Their menu and more information can be found on their Facebook page, and of course, they will be serving up goodies at this year's Taste of Manchester. Tickets are on sale now!