March 14, 2012
Happy days, spring is here!
You know that spring is officially here in Vermont! Today we went to visit Sugarbush Farm, a family run farm just a few miles from our Woodstock, Vermont Bed and Breakfast. If you visit us here in Central Vermont, we highly recommend that you visit the Luce family at their farm, known for excellent waxed cheeses (great to take home with you), and Maple Syrup made right on their hillside farm. They have a new, energy efficient evaporator that makes shorter work of boiling down the 40 gallons of sap that it takes to make just 1 gallon of syrup.
Brand new, very shiny evaporator at Sugarbush Farm
Please make sure to call ahead if you plan to visit them, the back roads can get a bit muddy this time of year, and you’ll want to make sure that they are still boiling.
The boiler hard at work
All of this talk about maple syrup can make you hungry, I know, it happened to me. So, what to do but make a trip to Simon Pearce Restaurant, just down the road from Sugarbush Farm, in Quechee, Vermont. The wonderful folks at Simon Pearce always make you feel special, and lunch today was delicious as always.
Arugula and Bosc pear salad, with almonds, Great Hill Blue cheese and white balsamic vanilla vinaigrette
Grilled Atlantic Salmon, roasted turnip puree, braised chard, Minus 8 lingonberry jus
We look forward to seeing you soon, and hope that you enjoy the many things that there are to see and do near our Woodstock, Vermont boutique Inn!
March 5, 2012
March can be a little bit quiet in the village of Woodstock, Vermont, especially mid week. If you are thinking about coming to visit us at the Village Inn of Woodstock bed and breakfast, there are some really great things to do and see. The kids are being born at Fat Toad Farm, the sap is flowing from the maple trees at Sugarbush Farm, and The Prince and the Pauper Restaurant in Woodstock, VT is offering its bistro menu for sixteen dollars.
House salad with balsamic vinaigrette and Danish blue cheese
The P & P is one of our favorite restaurants anyway, but this deal makes it hard not to eat there every week since it includes a lovely salad, bread and your entree. The $16 bistro menu deal is available throughout the month of March, Sunday through Thursday evenings.
Sesame seared salmon
To make the deal even sweeter, join us for two nights midweek, Sunday through Thursday and we’ll include a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres in our tavern. Just mention that you read this post when you make your reservation.
The Prince and Pauper is just a five to ten minute walk from the Village Inn of Woodstock, both conveniently located in the village of Woodstock, Vermont.
September 19, 2011
If you are reading this, chances are you already know that Simon Pearce Restaurant in Vermont is one of our favorite restaurants. We have recommended them to countless guests over the years, and have sorely missed them since tropical storm Irene caused significant damage to the downstairs of their building. The team at Simon Pearce is nothing short of amazing, working countless hours to restore the impacted areas of the mill. The restaurant opened for lunch the past Saturday, and as of today they are open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a peek at my wonderful lunch today.
Spinach salad with bacon, pumpkin seeds, cheddar cheese and sherry vinaigrette. (Half-eaten, photographer was hungry!)
Steelhead trout with roasted butternut squash hash, apple maple mustard sauce. This was unbelievably delicious. Not one bit of sauce left by the time that I was finished!
Ok, so I wasn’t hungry by the time I finished my salad and steelhead, but I am a real cheese lover. Three amazing Vermont farmstead cheeses, served with apricot mostarda and house-made crackers. Amazing finish to a delightful lunch.
Please be sure to include Simon Pearce in your plans while you are here visiting our wonderful part of the country. Vermont is open and ready for you to visit, please join us at our Woodstock, VT inn!
May 17, 2011
Dinner is served!
Pasta, welcome back to our world after many years of the low carb lifestyle. A funny thing happened in Italy. Nearly three weeks of eating pasta and pizza every day. Somehow neither one of us gained much weight at all. It seems that walking all day long, and eating modest portions works like a charm. Good news for David, who has been pasta deprived for more than a decade. Things are looking up for him now that we’re back at home at our bed and breakfast in Woodstock, Vermont!!!!
We’ve had lots of rainy weather for the last few days, not so conducive to spending time in the garden, but great for spending time in the kitchen. So, the other day I decided to make ravioli for dinner, which was an absolute blast. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend time – hanging out with my hubby in the kitchen, a nice glass of wine, and lots of flour.
I love my Atlas pasta machine
I made two batches of pasta dough, one with King Arthur all purpose flour, the other with King Arthur Italian-style flour. The Italian style flour is much lower in protein than all purpose. We learned about this flour at Mamma Agata’s cooking class in Ravello. She insists that it is the secret to nearly everything that she makes – light pizza crusts, gnocchi, pasta, her famous lemon cake, etc. The folks at King Arthur concurred. They assured me that it would produce incredible results for ravioli. I made the dough with the Italian-style flour first. I used three cups of flour, made a well, cracked in three eggs, and proceeded to incorporate the flour with a fork. Let me confess that this is the first time that I’ve made pasta in many years, so I am by no means an expert on the topic. I incorporated too much flour, and ended up with a pretty dry craggy mess. I added a little bit of water, proceeded to knead for about 8 minutes, and eventually ended up with a cohesive ball.
My free form raviolis. I have a mold, what was I thinking?
My second batch went much smoother. I stopped incorporating flour when I had a ball that was not so dry. I kneaded for about 8 minutes, adding flour to my hands when the dough felt a little bit sticky. This dough was far easier to roll and to fill.
I admit that I was a bit disappointed with my (very expensive) Italian-style flour dough. It didn’t roll as nicely, and it had a tendency to tear. But my disappointment ended when we cooked the raviolis – no question, the texture of the Italian-style flour made the most tender ravioli. The all purpose flour is great, but not nearly as melt in your mouth tender as the Italian style. I’m anxious to try making the dough again, making sure not to add too much flour. I have a hunch that better technique on my part will produce better results.
My friend the ravioli form
My filling mixture for this stuffed ravioli recipe was inspired by some great local beets and spinach from the Woodstock Farmer’s Market, Maplebrook Farm ricotta cheese, and goat cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese company.
1 pound of beets (mine happened to be golden)
1/2 pound baby spinach
1 Tablespoon each finely chopped garlic and shallots
1 pound ricotta cheese
4 ounces goat cheese
1 to 2 Tablespoons white truffle oil
Wash the beets, place in a pan just big enough to hold them, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, cover with foil, and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Cool beets. Mince finely and add to a mixing bowl.
Sautee the spinach, garlic and shallots in a saute pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. No need to cook very long, just until the spinach is wilted. When cool, chop and add to the beets along with the cheeses and truffle oil. (My spinach was not wet, but if yours ends up with liquid in the pan, make sure to squeeze it dry before chopping.) Add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to open a bottle of wine. Rolling and filling is going to take some time, so get ready to relax.
I rolled my pasta to the thinnest setting on my pasta roller, and had the prettiest results using the ravioli form shown below. After putting a little bit of filling in each pocket, brush the perimeter with a damp pastry brush. Top with another sheet of pasta, and use a rolling pin to seal and cut the ravioli.
Dusting the form is a great idea – makes it easy to release the finished raviolis
Bring a pot of water to the boil, add a liberal amount of salt. The water should taste salty like the ocean, this will flavor the pasta as it cooks. Cook the ravioli in barely simmering water for about 2 minutes. For the sauce, melt a few tablespoons of butter, add chopped chives. Drain the ravioli, top with the sauce, and add freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Would love to hear back from anybody that tries this recipe. I hope that you have as much fun as I did!
I re-rolled all of my pasta trimmings, and ended up with some lovely fettuccini noodles that are now in my freezer waiting for my next inspiration.
Waste not, want not. Left over pasta dough & scraps put to good use.
May 9, 2011
So we are back at Vermont bed and breakfast after an amazing spring break – three weeks in Europe. We spent our last three days in Venice, a place that I was so excited to see, but had heard was filled with restaurants that are mostly over-priced tourist traps. Determined to eat well, I read a lot about the Venice restaurant scene. A name that kept popping up was Loris Manna, better known as “Lolo,” owner of Al Fontego dei Pescatori restaurant. Lolo has over twenty-seven years experience in the mongering of fish, and served as President of the Rialto Fish Market for over nine years … where he still has a vendor operation.
David and Lolo at the entrance to the fish market
With the help of our host in Venice, we were lucky enough to arrange a tour of the Rialto fish market with Lolo. He doesn’t charge anything for the tour. His whole mission is to educate visitors to the bounty of food that Venice farmer’s markets have to offer. He doesn’t require that you dine with him. Upon meeting him, I just about had to beg to eat in the restaurant – showed him my notes of dishes that he’s known for. He smiled, really seemed to appreciate that I had done a little homework. Finally allowed to have dinner with him, he still demanded that we would only pay for wine and water if we did not enjoy our meal at his restaurant. Such is the hospitality that we enjoyed in Venice.
I was completely blown away by what I saw at the markets. Superbly fresh fish, mostly from the waters just around Venice. (This came as a complete shock to both David and me. We have been somewhat unimpressed with the selection and quality of fish available in the Mediterranean both on this and other vacations in the past.) Lolo is passionate about terroir and quality of ingredients, using only native fish and produce in his restaurant. He pointed out the difference between Maine lobster and his native lobster. The local lobster cost more than twice as much as Maine lobster (46 Euros per kilo, versus 20 for the Maine lobster). His philosophy is simple – only buy the best. If you cannot afford the local lobster, then do not buy any lobster. Make frittata instead, use local zucchini and eggs of course.
Native lobster and shrimp
The shrimp was a revelation. He picked one up, pulled off the shell and handed it to me. I smelled it and agreed that it was indeed fresh. He said “yes, fresh, don’t smell it, eat it.” Now, I am a lover of sashimi and sushi, but raw shrimp with no seasoning at all scared me a little bit. Deep breath, get ready, eat shrimp. WOW, that is all that I can say. Sweet, delicate texture, clean taste of the ocean. I have never had a piece of seafood that was so beautiful. David, not a raw fish fan, was also handed a shrimp. I had a hard time keeping a straight face knowing his personal aversion to the raw. Surprise, he too agreed that it was wonderful. Hmmm. So much for our pre-conceived notions. More on this later, but Lolo’s restaurant was full of these kinds of wonderful surprises.
More and less local artichokes
The produce from the neighboring vegetable market was equally impressive. Lolo pointed out that the best artichokes are the ones on the left in the photo. They cost nearly twice as much as the others, and according to Lolo are the only ones worth using. The others are from an area considered less desirable in terms of the quality of produce that is grown there. It really amazed me that everything being sold at the market was grown locally, and that it was all just so beautiful. And Lolo’s definition of local really redefined local.
Hangin’ with the locals
After we concluded the tour, Lolo invited us to his local bacari, All’ Arco, for a glass of wine. It was tiny, unassuming, full of Venetians. Just the kind of place that you hope to find, tucked into a tiny alley, no water view, people mostly standing because there are just a few seats to be had. Glasses of Prosecco and wine flowed freely, and the price was shockingly cheap – just 2 Euros per glass. Lolo knew the people standing outside, and was happy to introduce us to them – the one on the left is a vendor in the produce market, the one on the right is a currently unemployed chef, self-described as “loco”. We felt as though we had made friends in just a few minutes, such a warm and welcoming bunch.
The company wasn’t the only great thing at All’ Arco. The bar’s counter was filled with a stunning array of snacks called cicchetti, all costing just 1.5 Euros each. We happily snacked on cicchetti and drank prosecco, feeling as though we had somehow stumbled into a fairytale. Luckily the day didn’t end there, check back another day to see about our dinner at Al Fontego that evening.
We would happy to share more great stories with of our trip on your next visit to the Village Inn of Woodstock! See you soon!
December 8, 2010
“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” – Groucho Marx
There are exceptions to every rule. For me, it’s the Fish Stew Club at Simon Pearce Restaurant in Quechee, Vermont- just a hop and a skip from the Village Inn of Woodstock. It began innocently enough. A few years ago I ordered one of the specials at lunch at Simon Pearce Restaurant. It happened to be the Provencal Fish Stew. One bite and I was hooked. It was like a trip to the south of France. Fresh fennel, tomatoes, mussels, an assortment of fish, baby spinach simmered in a white wine and lemon flavored broth, topped with saffron aioli and focaccia croutons.
Provencal Fish Stew
My fish stew delight is heightened by the atmosphere. The restaurant is cantilevered over a waterfall, looking at a covered bridge. The atmosphere is both modern and warm at the same time. The glassware is all made by Simon Pearce artisans – hand blown, made in the USA. The dinnerware is also handcrafted by master artisans. Service is wonderful, friendly and efficient. For me, going to lunch at Simon Pearce is like being on vacation, even if for just a few hours.
Alas, that lunch ended, but my craving for fish stew did not. A few weeks later, I called the restaurant to see when fish stew would be on the menu again. The lovely Deanna, restaurant manager, answered my call. She asked if I wanted to be included in the Fish Stew Club. Too funny, I am not the only one that craves the stuff. Sure, I sign up, and will be notified by e-mail whenever fish stew is on the menu. Perfect!
The water fall, right outside the window by our table
Now don’t worry if you aren’t in the club, and aren’t sure if you want to join, either. As of this fall, the Provencal Fish Stew has become a staple on the lunch menu. Not sure if it will stay that way, but I sure hope that it does so that you can try this wonderful dish anytime.
While you are at Simon Pearce Restaurant, be sure to check out the glass blowing downstairs. It is a delightful activity for folks of all ages. You can also see the turbine that harnesses energy from the massive waterfall. The turbine produces all of the energy needed to power the entire restaurant and glassblowing operation. If you are visiting on the weekends, you can see potters at work. And once you’ve come to appreciate all that goes into creating these beautiful pieces, you can saunter back up to the retail shop and treat yourself to a one of a kind remembrance of your visit to Vermont.
If I sound like a hired hand for Simon Pearce, I’m not. I just have a real love for how well they do things. Our guests always rave about the excellent service at the restaurant. Personally I have a bit of an addiction to their glassware. The tables at our Woodstock Vermont bed and breakfast are topped with Simon Pearce hurricanes and their champagne buckets and glass ice cubes are in our tavern. And yesterday I was lucky enough to have another bowl of my favorite Provencal Fish Stew. Life is good.
December 4, 2010
Change. Not always welcome, but inevitable. I usually resist, but am almost always thrilled with the outcome. In this case, it involves coffee – not just any coffee, but our beloved French Market Coffee from New Orleans that we have been serving at our Woodstock Vermont bed and breakfast for the past nine years. This change was in the works for some time.
For many years I would call French Market to order our coffee. A very sweet woman named Michelle would answer, ask me how life is in the village of Woodstock, Vermont, and then take my coffee order. One day Michelle was gone. There was much confusion. Eventually someone on the phone told me that French Market Coffee was sold to Reily Foods, a much bigger company.
The famous Cafe du Monde
Though it was difficult at first, eventually we were assigned a new sales rep. No more sweet conversations with Michelle, but at least we could still get our coffee. That is, until Reily Foods sent us a letter in late August -they would no longer ship us coffee. Not thank you Village Inn of Woodstock for being a loyal customer for nine years, not sorry for the inconvenience, not call us if you have any questions. But, they did give us the name of another supplier, along with the owner’s phone number and e-mail address. Okay, I was a little bit annoyed, but I called the new supplier. The owner answered the phone “hello”, no company name, no introduction. I explained that I’d like to buy coffee. We had a very pleasant conversation, he said that he would send me a price list along with a product listing for everything else that he sells. He asked me to send an e-mail with my contact info. I did that – no response. I followed up with another e-mail – no response. Two more phone calls -neither were returned.
So, French Market is not the most famous coffee in New Orleans. We originally chose French Market just because it is what most of the old line restaurants in New Orleans serve. But, you already know how that story ended.
Enter Cafe Du Monde, the New Orleans institution on Jackson Square. I called them and was immediately transferred to Chris, their wholesale manager. We arranged to meet this past November. It was all quite nice, much like when we first arranged to do business with French Market. A small company, a face and a name that appreciate your business. A welcome change! And an awesome cup o’ joe to complete our Vermont inn’s breakfast. We hope that you agree, we’ll be getting our first shipment from Cafe du Monde in just a few weeks.
October 28, 2010
Feels like forever since I have had a chance to write anything on our blog, we’ve been crazy busy with the fall foliage season. Alas, leaf peeping is about finished, so David and I seized the opportunity last night to try out Woodstock’s newest restaurant, Melaza Caribbean Bistro. Melaza, a Puerto Rican, Cuban & Dominican Fusion restaurant, is just down the street from The Village Inn of Woodstock, right in the Village of Woodstock, Vermont.
We were greeted so warmly by James Van Kirk, one of the owners of the Woodstock restaurant. He has this wonderful energy and a great smile. The place is so full of energy, you can’t help but love it from the second that you walk in. It was great to see how busy they were, especially since it was a Wednesday in a pretty quiet time here in Woodstock.
We chose to sit in the bar, which like the restaurant, is decorated in warm tones evocative of the Caribbean.
Caribbean Tapas Sampler, half eaten already
The wine list features nice wines starting at about $20.00 a bottle, a bit of a rarity these days. Hard to go wrong with a bottle of Lunetta Prosecco for $21.00. It was the perfect accompaniment for the Caribbean Tapas Sampler, pictured to the left. Sorry, the pictures in the post are not the greatest – camera battery was really low and I was trying to squeak out a few pictures, no room for do-overs.
James said that we should both order the sampler, that it is one of the best small plates on the menu. Neither of us was disappointed, we both enjoyed the different flavors and textures, and were frankly glad that we didn’t have to share.
For entrees, David had the Beef Short Rib, braised in a flavorful tomato cuban creole
Braised Beef Short Rib “Costillas de Res”
sauce, served with garlic mashed potatoes and braised veggies. This was melt in your mouth great, tons of flavor, seasoned just perfectly.
I ordered the Scallops “Veiras” and was equally happy with my selection. Pan seared scallops, served over risotto, with a curry coconut lime sauce, pineapple chutney, and
Very blurry picture of my terrific scallops
tamarind glaze. This is where my camera work is awful, but the presentation of the dish was so beautiful that I can’t help but share the photo. The portion was beautiful, not a whole ton of risotto, scallops really were the star, along with the wonderfully tangy sauce.
All entrees are served with a green salad with a refreshing house vinaigrette. I called today to ask what the flavoring is, James said that it is Pomegranate. Nice touch, I must say.
We are thrilled to have such an exciting restaurant join our already wonderful dining scene here in Woodstock, VT. We look forward to returning, and highly recommend that you give Melaza a try on your next visit to our Vermont bed and breakfast!
July 10, 2010
4th of July picnic on the terrace
I was going to write just about our 4th of July picnic for this post, but the month has brought other great celebrations to our Woodstock, VT B&B. So first things first, we had a great time hosting our first (maybe annual) picnic for our guests. We thought it would be fun to have a picnic so that our guests would have a chance to enjoy the terrace and relax for just a bit. We were excited that almost all of our guests were able to attend, and enjoy the fruits of our labor – pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, potato salad, deviled pickled eggs, roasted chicken salad, and coconut cake. The coconut cake, which is one of David’s favorites, was a last minute addition to the menu. I used to make it for our restaurant many years ago, but couldn’t tell you the last time that I made it just for my poor hubby. Alas, now I can tell you.
We were delighted that our friends Edward Forrest and Randy Paxton, owners of The Little Flower Shoppe and Crystal & Bark Designs, here in Woodstock, were able to join us. They moved to town four years ago, and have been providing us with the most amazing flowers ever since. I’ve never seen the same arrangement twice. They’ve delivered roses countless times to the Village Inn of Woodstock– not once has it been the classic with greens and baby’s breath. This would be far too mundane for them; they do everything with an artist’s eye. The last delivery was this past Monday – it featured brilliant red roses, blue thistles, greens, all in a tall slender vase wrapped in bark that Edward harvested from a fallen birch tree.
Dylan and Nicole
The delivery of roses marked another great celebration here at the inn, the first wedding of the season on the terrace. The happy couple stayed with us for just one evening eight years ago, and had dinner in our restaurant at the time. Eight years later, they decided to have their ceremony right here on our terrace, and booked our Wedding / Civil Wedding package. It is such a joy for us to be part of these intimate celebrations, and this case was no different. They arrived as guests, and left as friends, and we feel so blessed that they chose to celebrate their love here at our inn. We are looking forward to another wedding this coming week, welcoming our former guests and friends back to our Woodstock, Vermont Inn. And, I must say that I’m excited to see the flowers, which are being provided by The Little Flower Shoppe. Hopefully this time I’ll remember to take pictures and post them!
June 25, 2010
David and I had a great day canoeing on the Connecticut River yesterday. That sounds funny to me, since we were in Vermont and New Hampshire, but the Connecticut River is actually the biggest river in New England. It runs south from the Connecticut Lakes in New Hampshire, along the border between Vermont and New Hampshire, into western Massachusetts, then Connecticut and finally into the sea. The kind folks at North Star Canoe Rentals invited us to be their guests, which we did yesterday.
Green Mountain Smokehouse
Before we started our canoe trip, we stopped by to visit Jake Henne. He’s the owner of Green Mountain Smokehouse, which is just down the road a bit from North Star Canoe. In our world, all things pork come from Jake – hickory smoked bacon, Vermont maple breakfast sausage, and maple cured ham. In addition to the things that we use for breakfast, he makes many other kinds of sausages, beer brats for Long Trail Ale and Harpoon Brewery, smoked pork chops, corned beef, smoked turkey and chicken, and several other goodies. Always on the lookout for new things to serve at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast, we discovered that Jake makes his own corned beef. This was great news to us, since we made our own last fall, unaware that Jake could spare us from ourselves. It was also great to hear that Harpoon Brewery is a big supporter of Jake, using his turkey, ham, bacon and corned beef (more on that later).
Our time to start our trip had arrived, so off we went to meet the nice folks at North Star Canoe Rental.
North Star Canoe Rental in Cornish, NH
Once there, you sign a liability waiver, then they help you select the correct size paddle, provide you with a life jacket, and then drive you to your start point. We chose the shorter trip, which is 4 miles long, and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours – unless you are with my over-achiever husband – and then it takes only 1 hour and 15 minutes, with a pretty decent head wind. In any event, the trip is just beautiful. The scenic stretch of moving “flat water” is beautiful, taking you under the Cornish-Windsor bridge, which has a 449’5″ span, making it the longest covered bridge in the country. Once we were safely back at North Star, we were a little bit thirsty from the
The longest covered bridge in the country!
speedy paddling that we did.
Luckily, Harpoon Brewery just happens to be on the way back home to the Inn. What a great time – we started off with a UFO Hefeweizen beer, enjoyed the company of Jo the awesome bartender, and then had some great food – beer battered onion rings, the good fat kind where you can taste the onion (we’re not going to talk about the great greasy feeling on your lips). We followed up the onion rings with a Rueben . How nice to have great bar food done just right – Green Mountain Smokehouse corned beef, layered with homemade sauerkraut, Swiss cheese
Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, VT
and thousand island dressing. And all served on fresh onion rye from Stone Arch Bakery in nearby Claremont, NH. This confirmed our suspicions about the corned beef from Green Mountain Smokehouse – no need to make our own. Jake is the master. Tender, tasty, just enough fat, excellent.
With just a bit of time to spare, we went off to visit the Simon Pearce factory that is just a few hundred yards from Harpoon Brewery. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the Path of Life Sculpture Garden, which is a public sculpture garden whose eighteen works of art symbolize the circle of life. We’ll have to make a return visit, and perhaps check out Great River Outfitters, located right next door, for another canoe trip. In any event, I highly recommend visiting these sights when you visit us at our Woodstock, Vermont Bed and Breakfast, it was a great way to spend the day.