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Archive for March, 2012

Community supported agriculture shares.  Meat and bread shares.  It was only a matter of time before community supported booze shares popped up in Vermont.  And frankly, I’m surprised it took as long as it did.  For goodness sake, New Hampshire has had (the first) a community supported brewery for a while now.  Citizen Cider has staked a flag as the first community supported cider in the country, and is doing so in darn tasty fashion.

Citizen Cider’s Unified Press offering is a hazy, pale straw color.  It’s pleasantly sweet with a distinct fruity apple profile.  My one criticism might be that it’s pretty carbonated, but only distracting if you focus on it.  (Disclosure: Most of Citizen Cider’s apples come from one of my favorite orchards in Vermont, the smallish Happy Valley Orchard that’s tucked just out of Middlebury.) The cider makers describe it as going well with food, but not overly complicated.  I’d agree with that assessment and am looking forward to their “more exotic, more dry” ciders.

Verdict: A nice, sweet cider made from great local apples. 

Made at Fort Ethan Allen in Essex, we grabbed a bomber of this cider from Beverage Warehouse in Winooski for $7.99.  Like them on Facebook and follow them on twitter @CitizenCider

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Elmore Roots Nursery Strawberry Jam

How do you define a sandwich?  Is a burrito a sandwich?  What’s the best sandwich ever?  Some people hate these questions and the occasionally inane conversation they inspire.  I get a kick out of them.  Perhaps I’m a lousy conversationalist, but I typically drop a question like these when talk around the table dies down.  You can usually tease out a good story or two from someone at the table who has particularly strong feelings about sandwiches.

Peanut butter and jelly probably ranks in my top five sandwiches and serves as an important measuring stick of the quality of a jam or jelly.  Seeing this jar on the shelf at Buffalo Mountain Co-Op my eye gravitated towards the hand drawn imagery of jam on toast.  That was certainly how the Sapbucket household most enjoyed the jam.  The jam is a light pink, relatively thin in consistency, and very spreadable.  It has a lighter strawberry flavor with a definite undertone of apple, almost in an apple saucey-way.  It was nice and sweet on toast, but didn’t stand up on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  That wasn’t a deal breaker, but it did limit the jam mostly to a companion to breakfast foods.

Verdict: A nice, sweet jam that’s best with breakfast. 

Made in Elmore (where the nursery claims, “If it grows in Elmore, it will grow where you are”) we bought this toast companion at the Buffalo Mountain Co-Op in Hardwick.  Check out their selection of other jams, and what’s happening at the Nursery via Facebook.  

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Gringo Jacks Smokin Whiskey BBQ Sauce

Our fridge almost always has a bottle of barbecue sauce somewhere inside.  Whether for an impromptu grilling session, or to slather on some leftover pork for a sandwich, it’s a staple.  Gringo Jacks Smokin’ Whiskey BBQ Sauce has been holding that staple spot in the fridge for the past few months.  The sauce has a very bright chili pepper nose.  The tomato base of this sauce stands out and the spices accent more than dominate the tangy sweet flavor.  Perhaps we’re too accustomed to have our whiskey over ice, but we didn’t get a big hit of it here.  The sauce finished with a great medium level heat that lingered, slowly simmering on the tongue.

Verdict: A tasty tangy-sweet BBQ sauce.

Cooked up in Manchester, Gringo Jacks BBQ sauce can be found throughout the state.  Check out their other products as well as their restaurant

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Stewart’s Baguette

Stewart’s baguette is a go-to bread in our house.  It has a relatively crusty outside and a delicious chewy soft inside.  Julia Child may say it is too soft for a proper baguette or that the crust isn’t crispy enough.  Sure, you wouldn’t mistake this loaf for one fresh out of a Parisian oven.  We love it all the same, its excellent with creamy cheeses or as small toasted rounds.  Basically this is a very reliable baguette at a good price.  We’ve also used it to make French toast after it has been sitting around for a few days.  What the slices lacked in size we made up with numbers and each slice picked up a solid out amount of batter.  The texture of the French toast was good and crust wasn’t too hard.

Verdict: Versatile, delicious and reasonably priced.  A staple in our bread rotation.

Baked in Williston, we regularly pick this loaf up at City Market where it’s priced at $2.69.  Stewart’s could stand to buck up their non-existant web presence. 

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With the dizzying number of Vermont made granolas, I typically head to bulk food section of a grocery store to test out a new flavor.  Even though I wind up liking most of what I try, I never want to wind up with a huge bag of granola that doesn’t taste right.  This smaller bag of granola with its re-sealable top and pleasant looking label sold me on breaking my rule.

The dominant flavor in this granola is a rich tasting toasted oat.  It’s a loose granola, with a healthy mix of sunflower seeds, sliced almonds and bits of pecan.  That adds a really nice nutty flavor and additional crunch to the dry and slightly salty base (it was best with milk or on yogurt).  The cranberries I could take or leave, they weren’t that flavorful and I probably wouldn’t have noticed if they were replaced with raisins.  All in all this was a really nice granola that I’d buy again.

Verdict: A good breakfast granola. 

Made in Manchester we paid $2.29 for this four ounce bag of granola at the Rutland Co-Op.  Find where else you can find this granola in Vermont and beyond and Like them on Facebook.

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Big Picture Farm Goat Milk Caramels

Satisfying your sweet tooth with Vermont made products traditionally means picking up some maple candy or chocolate.  If you’re not in the mood, there really aren’t that many options for candy lovers outside of the big two. Enter Big Picture Farm’s goat milk caramels.  Delicately packaged with an attractive pastoral label, the caramels are individually wrapped in parchment, which gives them a rustic vibe.  Unwrapped, the caramel is the size of an longish Tootsie Roll, long enough to bite in half.  The texture is wonderfully chewy, but not so sticky that you’ll need a trip to the dentist.  The caramel has a rich buttery, vanilla flavor and a delicate sweetness.  Just a touch of saltiness lingers after you are done chewing.

Reading a little bit about Lucas Farrell and Louisa Conrad, the farmers behind Big Picture Farm, you can’t help but root for them.  Apparently they started farming in 2010, and explained that they’ll be using some recent financial assistance “to expand our labor force, more effectively market our product, expand our online presence, and propel us that much closer to our goal of becoming a vibrant, exciting, socially responsible, and financially profitable Vermont farm.”  That’s pretty much the dream, right?  I can’t say I’m more excited about caramels than local vegetables or milk, but its become the norm to expect those things to be high quality and local.  You don’t expect to have great locally made caramels.  And that’s what has me excited right now food in Vermont, the unexpected items that folks are putting their heart into to make it work.  I can’t wait to see what fun new item comes along next.

Verdict: Caramel lovers take note, this one’s a winner.  

Made in Townshend, we came across these caramels at the Co-Op in Rutland for $4.99.  Check out Big Picture Farm’s other creations here, Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @BigPictureFarm.

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Doesn’t salsa pretty much embodies the concept of Think Globally, Act Locally?  Here’s an international food that you can make easily with items out of your own garden.  Which is what Dave from Rutland did with chile peppers in his garden to arrive at this salsa.  Throw on a label depicting a happy sun with a newt crawling on its face, give it a name that indicates it tastes good while also making a reference to your Rutland neighborhood and your good to go.

This salsa met a number of my desires for chip dip-a-bility and taco topping, not always an easy feat.  I probably lean towards favoring a chunkier fresh salsa as my salsa of choice.  But sometimes you don’t want to have to worry about your tomatoes tumbling off your chip and dribbling down your shirt.  Or you want a good coating on your chip, not just a small pile of veggies on the corner. This salsa is like a smoothish gazpacho, a chunky salsa that took a few turns in the blender.  The smokeyness is really what stands about the salsa, it lingers and entices you back into eating more chips, almost counterbalancing some of the heat.

Verdict: They say, “Good for the gut.” I say, “Tastes good in my gut.”

Made in Rutland, we snacked on this salsa after a stop at City Market.

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