Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happening at Claire's and Around Hardwick

But for an alert friend, we might not have seen this! Each year, Condé Nast Traveler sends anonymous reviewers across the continents to locate what they call “the world’s most exciting new restaurants.” Imagine our surprise to learn that Claire’s has been included as one of only 43 restaurants in the US (and only 3 in New England) to make their 2009 Hotlist! Click here to see the complete North American list and read what they say about Claire’s, local food, and a community supported restaurant.

Big news from the kitchen: Local food well prepared for the community – who said you can’t cook local throughout a Northern Vermont Winter? In looking back over nearly a year, and through the changes Steven makes on the menu from day to day and week to week, what truly stands out is the impact we’ve been able to have in Hardwick and surrounding communities, thanks to our local farmers. During our first summer, keeping up with the rush of business, nearly 70 percent of every dollar spent for the food on Steven’s menu went to farms in our community. The majority of those are within 15 miles, and just a few are farther afield in the Northeast Kingdom. Most impressive were the results for our first winter of operations. During the coldest days from January through March, Steven highlighted our winter bounty so that we increased our purchases to 79 percent directly from farmers and artisans in our communities.

This might be the best that any restaurant has done in a similar climate, made possible by our supporters and friends who come back night after night to try new things and really appreciate what each season brings to our tables, and of course by our farmers who work every day to ensure that we have enough to eat locally. Their efforts really cultivate a new agricultural dynamic, where Vermont might be able to feed itself and supply healthy and flavorful food at home and even throughout New England.

Music Notes: This Thursday at 7:30, local teacher, performer, and writer Allen Church comes to Claire's. Allen is well known for his love of bluegrass and country as part of Broken String, and for the innovative "Celtic grooves" of the Church Restoration Project, which includes his son Jeremiah.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From the Kitchen: Steven is working on country-style pork ribs for Thursday’s menu. Marinating in spices as your read this, the piquant ribs will be beer-braised and served with black beans accompanied by Flint cornbread cakes and his famous slaw. Finish your meal with a bowl of maple pudding cake.

Music News: Eric Segalstad, musician and author, will be at Claire's Restaurant on Thursday, April 23, as part of the duo The Motel Brothers. Between sets, Eric will sign copies of and talk about his book, The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll. The event is free and open to the public, and books will be available for sale at Claire's for the evening. Books may also be purchased at The Galaxy Bookshop in advance. Get a preview from Eric’s recent appearance on NPR’s “All Things Considered” here: “Before I Get Old”

Art News: We are pleased to welcome Kathy Stark as the curator for the exhibits featuring local artists at Claire’s. Many of you know Kathy from her work with G.R.A.C.E., at Tamarack Gallery in East Craftsbury and the Brown Library at Sterling. We are excited to welcome an artist with a strong reputation for curating shows in our area.

Book News: Tonight is the Galaxy Bookshop’s Open Mic Night, 7 pm on Mill Street. See events at www.galaxybookshop.com

Movie News: Earth Day, Wednesday April 22, is the premier of the documentary Food Life: from Seed to Shelf, produced by St. Mike’s journalism students Sarah Coghlan, Brielle Domings, and Kelly Huettner, at the Hoehl Welcome Center on the St. Mike’s campus. The film looks specifically at the global politics and psychologies behind our food habits, and includes interviews with Vermonters Bill McKibben, David Zuckerman, and folks from Claire’s, as well as a host of farmers, restaurant owners, and food distributors far and wide. Intriguing, thought provoking, and entertaining, the documentary showcases some of the movers and shakers of local food production as well as global perspectives on the international coffee industry. See a preview of the film at: Food Life

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Farm to Table

Farm to Table: The Emerging American Meal just published an interview with Steven, our chef, about his "farm to table" philosophy, sustainable food systems, and what's happening in Hardwick. Here's a direct link: Vermont Farm to Table Pioneers.

Join Local Farm Relief Effort

High Mowing Seeds has launched a website to coordinate relief efforts for Kate Camilletti and Paul Betz and their High Ledge Farm in Woodbury, which suffered a devastating fire last week. They lost their home, prized belongings including family photographs, their family cat, and the seedlings they planted for this year.

Friends and neighbors have taken immediate action to make sure the family is housed over the next few weeks, to coordinate work crews, to ensure meals and support. Even to gather photographs and memories that might replace those lost in the fire. Kate and Paul are determined to plant this season as well.

You can read more about the fire in the Hardwick Gazette, or online in Seven Days. The farm relief webpage at High Mowing Seeds is available here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happening at Claire's and Around Hardwick

From the Kitchen: Steven has a succulent lamb shank from Winding Brook Farm on the menu this week, marinated in garlic, grilled just a few minutes and braised in red wine from Shelburne Vineyards and Champlain Valley Cider. It’s served with Pete's red onions, which are caramelized to bring out their sweetness, and corn polenta from Butterworks Farms with a dash of Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese. Finish your dinner with a nutty crisp of apples and the last of the blueberries from storage.

Thursday Music: Join us in welcoming jazz pianist Andrew Moroz at 7:30 on April 16.

Neighbors & Friends: Wendy and Harry Besett at Vermont Glass Workshop in Hardwick are the talented couple who brought us our unique stemless wine glasses. They’re preparing for Vermont Open Studios in May and craft fairs as far away as St. Paul this weekend. Keep up with them at http://www.vtglass.com/ or become a fan of Vermont Glass Workshop on Facebook.

Up and Coming: To mark Earth Day, St. Mike’s journalism students will premier their documentary Food Life: from seed to shelf next Wednesday, April 22, at 8:00 pm in the Hoehl Center on campus. The documentary, which features Claire’s, Bill McKibben, David Zuckerman, and other Vermonters, traces the evolution of the American food system, from “faceless food” to localvore. For more information, visit www.tinyurl.com/food-life.

Virtual News: Follow us at twitter.com/clairesvt

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Art House Monday, April 6: Come by between 4:00 and 6:00 to view the new exhibit of art by Marie LePré Grabon and talk with the artist. Marie explores the sense of place and time through color and composition, presenting a selection of drawings and paintings that refer to the Vermont landscape. Of course, it’s also Poutine 'n' Tini at the bar, so enjoy a special cocktail, pint or glass of wine with poutine or another of Steven's enticing appetizers, and stay for dinner.

From our kitchen: Extended hours on Easter! We’ll be open all afternoon, serving Steven’s unique “Blunch” combination of brunch and lunch items as well as an early dinner in the afternoon. Start the day with a plate of downy pancakes made from whole wheat flour and corn meal, with a hint of butter and blueberry, and the amber smoke from maple syrup. Or finish the afternoon with Steven's latest creation featuring lamb. We’ll offer full bar and coffee service throughout the day, featuring Mimosas, Blueberry Bellini, Irish Coffee, and of course Bloody Marys, wine, and our draft beers. Reservations are available from 11 am until 5 pm.

Afternoons are at Claire’s: Enjoy our spring weather from the rain-free side of our windows, looking out on Main Street over a cup of coffee or a pint. You'll have just the right amount of quiet to read the paper, do some work, have a meeting, or surf the web thanks to our free wifi. And you might learn about something new from our local farmers, run into friends, or get a peak at the dinner menu. We open at 2:30 for coffee, bar service, and sweets every afternoon except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We'll have the Times Argus, Free Press, and New York Times available at the bar.

Thursday Music: John Mallery on keyboard is back for a return engagement this Thursday, April 9, at 7:30.