• Hotel Vermont & Farmers’ Dinner at Juniper

    February 3, 2014

    Mal and I spent the weekend in God’s country (also known as Vermont). We were invited by Hotel Vermont for their very first Farmers’ Dinner at Juniper Bar and Restaurant, so we drove up to Burlington on Saturday morning. (Both our stay at the hotel and dinner were complimentary.)

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    We arrived at the hotel around noon, bumped into a couple of pugs in the lobby (it’s a pet-friendly hotel), and checked in.

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    Hotel Vermont is locally-designed and owned/operated. It’s actually the first independent hotel in Burlington. (If you are familiar with the area, it’s located right next to the Courtyard Marriott.)

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    The décor inside the hotel is absolutely gorgeous—both rustic and modern at the same time.

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    Complimentary show shoes? Very cool. The hotel provides them to guests, so you can romp around the waterfront or explore the mountains. (They also offer bike rentals in the summer.)

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    Our hotel room was also beautiful—we even had a view of Lake Champlain!

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    All of the accessories were from local Vermont companies and available for purchase.

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    Even the custom-made (for the hotel) bath products from Lunaroma were made in Burlington and, wow, they smelled amazing!

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    Once we got settled in our room, Mal and I headed out to find lunch. We were starving after a long drive, so we made a beeline for Red Onion (obviously). FYI: Downtown Burlington and Church Street is just a 5-minute walk from the hotel.

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    The Red Onion Sandwich is truly the great sandwich on earth. Mal and I ordered two of them and pretty much housed them with big, goofy smiles on our faces.

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    We actually considered sharing a sandwich because they’re so huge, but then we came to our senses. Neither of us had eaten a Red Onion Sandwich in almost 4 years, so we wanted our own!

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    After lunch, we met up with one of Mal’s college buddies at American Flatbread. The guys ordered beers while I sipped on some hot tea. After a couple of hours, the three of us headed back to his condo to catch up with his wife and meet their three-year-old daughter for the very first time. It’s crazy how quickly time flies!

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    After a quick visit with them, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the Farmers’ Dinner, which featured products and dishes from various members of the Vermont Fresh Network, a non-profit organization that connects farmers, chefs, and consumers to help advance relationships to grow markets and eat more locally grown food.

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    Before the dinner, there was a reception with appetizers and cocktails.

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    The appetizer spread included all sorts of delicious options: fried chicken bites, cheese, marinated veggies, housemade trout caviar, and spicy pork sausage—all of which were locally sourced.

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    The four-course meal was served family-style with optional beverage pairings (beer, wine, or spirits). All of the dishes included products from local partners, so between each course, the featured farmer would say a few words about his farm and what we were about to eat. Mal and I both really enjoyed this part of dinner.

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    The meal, of course, was incredible—so fresh, so flavorful, and so interesting!

    Pete’s Greens Root Vegetable Bisque with Pastured Pork Belly and Crispy Brussels Sprouts (my favorite course of the meal)

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    Starbird Fish Smoked Salmon Cake with Dill Rouille and Grilled Leaks

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    Maple Wind Farm Short Ribs with Red Wine Braised Cabbage and Horseradish Cheddar Polenta

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    Interesting tidbit: The animals at Maple Wind Farm are 100% grass-fed. But, in the winter, they eat hay (because there isn’t much grass), so the farmers only slaughter from June to November because they believe the quality of their product decreases when their animals eat hay.

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    Sweet Simone’s Coconut Cake with Little Sweets by Hen of the Wood Ice Cream and Fair Trade Chocolate Truffles

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    OMG, dessert was heavenly.

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    All in all, it was a fabulous dinner. Mal and I really had a nice time and agreed that we want to attend more events like this. It was so interesting learning about where our food comes from.

    One more weekend post to come!

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