Tag Archives: Vermont

Honeymoon Day 5: Hiking, Rock Art, Culinary Classic

Day 5 was Friday.  We spent the day doing everything else that we had wanted to do.  We started the day with a light hike to see the falls.  It ended up turning into a serious descent down a bunch of tiny stone steps, but it was worth it.  The water was unbelievably clean and clear (I wanted to drink it).  The falls were beautiful and the way the water cut into the rocks was just awesome.  Unfortunately, and I didn’t realize this until we started walking, it was all downhill… meaning the return was all uphill.  Who would’ve thought that a hike in the mountains would start downhill.

After the hike, we went back and changed because we were now hotter than we had planned.  Then we headed to Morrisville to visit Rock Art Brewery.  Luckily, Fridays are tour days at Rock Art, not that there’s a big planned out tour.  We were the only ones there aside from the 3 employees cleaning the tanks (Friday is also clean up day).  One of them gave us a nice tour, which didn’t involve a lot of walking because the brewery is small.  However, it was the best brewery visit I’ve had out of the 4 breweries I’ve visited (Long Trail and Magic Hat on this trip and Victory when Susan was living in Philly).  The woman who gave us the tour knew her stuff, and she was really fun to chat with at the end in their “store”.  Unfortunately, their tasting room hadn’t been completed and we didn’t get to try anything.  We did buy a ton of beer from them and so far it’s awesome.

Following Rock Art, we decided to try to find their one beer that’s 10% ABV, The Vermonster.  Now, just recently, VT passed a law that allows the sale of beer up to 16% ABV.  Previously, the cap was at 8% and anything above that had to be sold as liquor in a liquor store.  The new law, however, does not take effect until July 1.  We ended up grabbing a sandwich and heading back to Stowe after not having any luck in the nearby liquor store.

Before our trip up, Susan had read about the Vermont Culinary Classic.  They had a kick off event on Friday night at the Stowe Country Club.  It was advertised as a local food and craft beer tasting.  We decided to check it out since we’re suckers for craft beer tastings.  Unfortunately, the only craft beer was on tap at the bar and you had to pay extra for it.  The food was excellent, especially the strawberry crepes, but the poor advertising had me expecting more.

It was a great trip.  I fell in love with Burlington and maybe someday we’ll move, though being that far from our family and friends might be a bit difficult.  I want to go back there again.  I love Vermont and all it has to offer.  It’s really one of that best states in the country.

Honeymoon Day 4: Ben & Jerry’s, Rock Art, Mt. Mansfield, The Alchemist

So the fourth day of our honeymoon was spent hanging around Stowe for a little bit shopping.  We were looking for some hiking shoes, but didn’t find anything.  We decided we’d just head down the road to Ben & Jerry’s.  I had done the factory tour 2 or 3 times before this (the last time with Susan, her first time).  They changed quite a bit.  The video was different and the room where they show it was changed.  I think even the viewing area above the factory floor was changed.  It was pretty nice, though.  The best part, obviously, was the tasting.  They had a new flavor called Coconut Seven Layer Bar.  It’s, unfortunately, only available at Scoop Shops, but you can get hand packed pints of it.  We then wandered around the place.  They had a Flavor Graveyard that wasn’t there the last time.  I took tons of pictures, including this one of my former favorite flavor (may it rest in peace).

After Ben & Jerry’s, we headed back to Stowe and up to the toll road to drive up Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s tallest peak.  The drive was awesome.  It was a dirt road winding up the side of the mountain.  It reminded me of Arlo Guthrie’s “Motorcycle Song”… “On one side was a mountain.  On the other side was nothing, just a cliff.”  That’s really how the road was much of the way up (and down I suppose).  Susan was flipping out (how can someone who loves roller coasters be so scared and someone who doesn’t particularly care for roller coasters be having a total blast?).  Anyway, we made it to the top after about 20 minutes of driving the 4.5 mile road.  The views from the summit were amazing.  Unfortunately, many of my pictures didn’t come out very well because my camera sucks with landscape shot like that, but the memories will last forever.  There was a nice CD that gave a little history of the mountain and the auto road (which used to be a toll road to a hotel on top of the mountain).  The flora is also alpine flora, which was really neat.

Finally, after coming back down, we decided to go to our 4th brewpub of the week to have dinner.  This brought us back down to Waterbury (where Ben & Jerry’s is located) to The Alchemist.  This was by far the best meal of the week, including the beer.  I ordered an IPA, which was very dark, but extremely tasty and better than most West Coast IPA’s (I had their other IPA as well, which was also very good).  For starters, we had mussels and then Susan got a shepherd’s pie and I had a crabcake sandwich with fries.  The fries were easily the best fries I have ever had.  The sandwich was also awesome and her shepherd’s pie was like no other she’s had before.  I bought a pint glass here as a memento.

That completes the fourth day.  I’ll write about our last full day later on or tomorrow morning.  Our ride home was pretty uneventful, aside from the gorgeous views of the mountains.  Vermont really is the most beautiful state in the country (at least in my mind).

Honeymoon Day 3: Burlington!

On the third day of our honeymoon, we decided it would be a good day to spend in Burlington, the largest city in VT.  There were a few things we wanted to do there, so we headed in.  Upon arrival, we decided to walk around downtown for a little while.  Little did we know there was an outdoor shopping area, Church Street Marketplace, that was full of people on a random Wednesday morning.  It was full of shops that were open and little restaurants and cafes that were putting out their outdoor dining for the day.  It was clean and beautiful.  It’s what Westminster Street in Providence should be, but doesn’t even come close to (there are still signs for the Westminster Mall, which doesn’t exist anymore).

After wandering around for a little while, we wanted lunch.  There were a couple places recommended to me for beer – American Flatbread, Three Needs, and Vermont Pub & Brewery.  We wanted pizza for dinner, so we skipped American Flatbread.  Three Needs wasn’t open, so we ended up at VT Pub & Brewery.  I ordered their Flemish Sour Red.  I was immediately impressed.  It was perfect.  Susan got their Smoked Stout, which was both on cask and regular draft.  She got a sample of each to do a little side by side comparison.  That was also an awesome beer.  For lunch I had the Ploughman’s Lunch, a small loaf of fresh bread, a hunk of VT cheddar and a hunk of smoked cheddar, an apple chutney and a honey mustard.  The food was amazing.

Following lunch, we headed to Lake Champlain Chocolates to get a little tour and some chocolate.  The chocolate was amazing.  We ended up buying a ton of it, but mostly their “seconds” – chocolate not perfect enough to be called “Lake Champlain Chocolate” (mainly because it doesn’t look right, but the quality is the same).  The cool thing about the company is it was started by a restaurant owner.  Basically, the story is that he had a very popular Sunday brunch, but the cooks were bored with the chocolates he served.  He told them to make something better.  The cook made a truffle that everyone absolutely loved.  People started coming only for the truffles.  Lake Champlain Chocolates was born.

After leaving there, we headed to Magic Hat, which supposedly still had self-guided tours.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t true.  They had a small store area open with a tasting bar.  I tried most of their stuff, but was impressed only by their Odd Notion wild ale brewed with grapefruit and Lucky Kat, an IPA with Amarillo hops.  Their other beers were pretty mediocre (Hocus Pocus, Circus Boy, #9).  They also had their organic Orlio Common Ale, a steam beer, which was pretty good, but nothing special.  I wish they had a touring area, but with all the construction, I could understand why they didn’t.

We then wanted to make a boat tour of the lake and headed to the waterfront.  The lake is absolutely beautiful.  On one side are the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  On the other side are the Green Mountains of Vermont.  There was a nice history of the lake and the area playing as we cruised around.  The views were just fantastic.

After the cruise we wandered around the Church Street shops and their mall, which actually opens up to the Church Street Marketplace, to build up our appetite.  Once hungry, we headed to American Flatbread.  After a brief wait when one of the employees brought me over a copy of Beer Advocate magazine because I was wearing my BA shirt, we were seated.  We ordered a couple samples and then I got their IPA (which was awesome).  The samples I tried were their Gruit and a Bock, which was not what I expected.  It was strong and very pale, but still tasty.  The Gruit was also very tasty.

After dinner we decided to take a little walk on the waterfront.  Along the boardwalk, they have a series of porch-style swings.  It’s really cute and we just sat there and watched the sunset.  It was absolutely beautiful.  It was a perfect end to a perfect day in a perfect city.  After that day, we both said to each other, “I could live here”.  If we ever move out of Providence, it’ll likely be Burlington.  It’s close to all the stuff we love… good beer, an awesome lake, and great skiing.  To top it all off, the city is full of awesome people who are friendly and know how to drive (there’s nothing like seeing a 4 way stop move like clockwork).  The city is one of the cleanest I have seen in the Northeast.  There’s a pretty extensive bus system and a free shuttle that runs up and down College Street (the central artery between the waterfront and the University of Vermont, going through downtown).

That concluded the third day of our honeymoon.  I’ll continue with Day 4 tomorrow.

Honeymoon Day 2: Cabot Cheese, The Shed, Big Storm

The second day of our honeymoon was another hot one, though it would be the last super hot one.  We decided it would be best to go for a long drive in the air conditioned car.  So we headed towards Cabot, though we took the long route through Smuggler’s Notch (the mountain pass, not the ski resort).  We made a stop just after going through the notch, which was an awesome road (one which I wish we had gone through again).  There’s a little state park info area there.  It was awesome because on either side was a wall of mountain, though coming off the rocks was a cold air that felt like air conditioning.  It was pretty sweet and definitely nice on such a hot day.  We were going to do some hiking in there, but ended up running out of time during the week in VT.

We finally made it to Cabot, which was a cute little town.  I learned something new about Cabot Cheese – it’s a cooperative, not a corporation.  The shareholders are each farm that contributes.  The cool thing is, one farm equals one vote, regardless of how big or small the farm (meaning how much milk they contribute).  Cabot was fun.  It was pretty neat to see how they made the cheese and they had lots of samples (if you’re feeling masochistic, try the Habañero Cheddar).  One of the most interesting things was to learn that Cabot cheddar is lactose free (made my lactose intolerant wife happy).  We also learned how to keep cheese tasting its best for longer (wrap it up air tight in new plastic wrap after each use, though once it’s opened the first time, it’ll never be the same, but it’ll keep for a long time if it’s in the original packaging).

Naturally, we bought a bunch of cheese at Cabot (their top-of-the-line Vintage Cheddar, their 3 Year Old Cheddar, a Smoked Cheddar, a thing of Cheddar Shake (similar to parmesan, but cheddar and no need to refrigerate, great on popcorn), and a block of whey butter).  Then we were on our way back to Stowe, after learning from the woman at Cabot that there were tornado warnings for the entire state of VT (we thought they were crazy… tornadoes in the mountains?!?!).

After putting the cheese in the fridge, we needed lunch and headed up the street to The Shed.  I ordered their ski of beer and the waitress was nice enough to throw in a 7th sample so I could try everything they had on tap.  Susan got a stout or porter or something like that.  I wrote a review on Beer Advocate if you’re interested in what I had, but I can’t remember right now other than that the beer was pretty mediocre.  Anyway, as we were sitting there, in their “greenhouse” room with glass ceilings, the wind really started to pick up to the point of blowing trees sideways.  It was actually quite scary.  Then it started to rain.  Shortly after the waitress brought over our food, the music stopped playing.  The power had gone out in the whole town (but good thing we got our food and had cash to pay).  The sky was really dark, the wind was nasty, and the rain was huge.  Luckily, when it came time to head back to the hotel, the storm had passed and it was barely a drizzle.  Upon arrival at the hotel, the power was out and we got a lantern from the front desk.  We ended up passing out and when we woke up, the sun was out and the power back.  We then decided to take a little walk into town, though after 5, everything was closed.  We went to a Thai place for dinner and learned that aside from The Shed, most of Stowe was pretty pricey.  I’ll write about the bar/restaurant in the hotel in another post.

That was the second day of our honeymoon.  I’ll pick up on day 3 tomorrow or later tonight.  Day 3 was a good day.  🙂

Honeymoon Day 1: Long Trail and Quechee Gorge

The first day of my honeymoon was spent driving up to Vermont.  Along the way, we stopped by the Long Trail brewery to have lunch, some beer, and take a little tour.  The brewery is pretty far off I-89 in Bridgewater Corners.  It’s a nice drive (normally, they had the road all torn up to pave it when we drive through).  It takes you through the beautiful little town of Woodstock and over Quechee Gorge.  Upon arrival at Long Trail, we went straight for the food.  We were hungry.  We ordered a sampler of the 6 beers they had on tap and I had the bratwurst and Susan got a chicken sandwich.  Both were really good.  The beer was hit or miss depending on the style.  I love their Long Trail Ale and Double Bag, and their IPA is really good.  I got to try some of their styles I hadn’t had before.  I was not impressed by the Blackberry Wheat.  It was too sweet for me.  The Hefeweizen was actually really good.  The Belgian White was nice on the hot day as well.  They had water and iced tea for free, as well as popcorn.  We each had a glass of water, which was ranked the best drinking water in the state or something like that.  I was impressed.  It was really good water.  The outdoor deck was nice overlooking a little river/brook, though it was very hot outside.  Inside, they had all sorts of cans from around the world and a little history of beers they used to brew (who knew they brewed a stout back in the day, I wish they still did).  Finally, we went upstairs to the self-guided tour area to view the brewing operations.  It was really hot in there, but it was neat to see how they did it.  The brewing equipment was really packed in tight.  I could see why they don’t do guided tours on the brewing floor.  We bought a couple shirts and a glass before we left.

On our way back to the highway, we stopped at Quechee Gorge to take a look.  Holy crap was the bridge high.  The view was amazing and the gorge was pretty cool.  It could’ve been a day trip all by itself hiking down and enjoying it.  However, it was 90+ degrees and we had to get to the hotel in Stowe.  We continued on our way…

Tomorrow, I’ll write up the second day’s activities.