Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring is Something to Celebrate

Local Food: Italy's Po River valley, where the Slow Food movement started, is also known for the traditional short grained Arborio rice that serves as the basis for a classic Italian risotto, slow cooked to maximize the creaminess of the starch from the rice and parmesan cheese. Steven interprets this Italian classic - substituting local wheatberries from Butterworks Farm, crisp white wine from Shelburne Vineyards and mild Hartwell cheese from Ploughgate Creamery. Oyster mushrooms from Wild Branch add a delicate earthiness to the plate, while spring greens, roasted root vegetables, VT Soy tofu and herbed almond butter provide depth and character. Hold the cheese if you'd like to enjoy a vegan meal. With an homage to its Italian origins, Steven's risotto is uniquely Vermont.

Around the Galaxy: Bread is such a staple in cultures across the world that it has been called "the staff of life." Bill Alexander, who previously wrote on gardening in The $64 Tomato, decided to undertake a self-assigned mission to bake the perfect loaf of bread. His journey takes the reader from ancient Egypt to a modern day yeast mill to an abandoned bakery at a French monastery. Bill will be at The Galaxy Bookshop on Tuesday, May 18 at 7P.M., to talk about his experiment and the resulting book, 52 Loaves.

Music Notes: Tiffany Pfeiffer and the Discarnate Band make their first appearance here this Thursday at 7:30. Dan Bolles of Seven Days says Tiffany "mixes a classic-jazz vocal aesthetic with modern beats, flavors and rhythms...another remarkably talented songstress who now calls Vermont home."

Local Events: The Hardwick Farmers Market is now open for the season. Stop by on Fridays from 3-6 on Route 15 between Aubuchon Hardware and Greensboro Garage and support your local farmers and producers. For information on volunteering or vending, call Megen at 533-2337 or email

The Spring Festival is around the corner. On May 29, we will be open from 10-1, before and after the parade at 11:00, for coffee and complimentary muffins to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. Open Studio Weekend is also that weekend- bring a receipt from a local artist and we will buy your coffee or tea.

Join in the celebration and enter to win a $25 gift card and t-shirts. Just email us a few sentences or paragraphs about why you like Claire's, what we've done in the community, our first few years of operations, your most memorable time with us - anything that strikes you. Every entry we publish will receive a t-shirt, and all entries will be eligible for the drawing for a gift card. Everyone is eligible to participate - our farm producers, staff, investors and supporters as well as guests and neighbors.


any mouse said...

I have lived in this community for a dozen or so years and was so excited when Claire's came to town. After one year of the place being established I feel disapointed. This is a few reasons:
1) local food is recognized but atention is awarded only to those farms that already have money. I would like to give a shout out to Riverside, Hazendale, and Surfing Veggie Farm (which were not mentioned on Dan Rather's show or on the Food Network)
2) because seafood is delivered to Stowe DOES NOT MEAN THE SEAFOOD Is LOCAL!!. There are no lobsters, mussels, or clams that I know of that are growing here. Word has it that you are getting rid of your limes, lemons and oranges for bar garnishes. Open to the world?
3)Blunch????? where's my egg and toast? I know those things are made here. Also the name of a meal should not be an onomatopoeia for throwing up.
4) have had the BEST table/ BAR service! the wait staff ROCKS. considering the talk I have heard about town the original remaining waitstaff who keep Claire's going are the only thing that keeps it going strong. COMMUNITY..However, I have lived in these woods for over a dozen years. In Claire's amateur existance I have heard too many stories from employees questioning this establishment's motto for community; them being fired without reason, them leaving for not being treated well. From what I have heard and experienced the manager is "stale" to work with and an owner can be "bitchy".
5) Dan Rathers, Food Art, Emeral. Milly Vanilly
6)The soup: put bread, water, vinager and left overs in a blender. That'll be $8.

New Vermont Cooking said...

Thanks, Any Mouse, for your comments. We appreciate all kinds of feeback, though sometimes it is just necessary to set the record straight. So here goes.

1. We've been open two years this weekend (thanks for the shout out), not one.

2. We shout out to Hazendale, Riverside, and Surfing Veggie on our menu all the time. And Snug Valley, Agape Hill, Lettuce Bee - just scroll down on our blog and check out the list. Steven also gets starts from them for his garden, where he grows produce for the restaurant as well. Granted, we do need to update the blog list to include Toll-a-Bell and a bunch of other small farms whose products we are so grateful to be able to serve every day.

Sadly, however, we have no control over Emeril or Dan or any other reporter or TV show coming to town. Mostly, we've heard about them just like anyone else, after they decided to come and just to schedule some time with us. Try as we might, we can't make the media do what we want. We are grateful, though, that many more people know at least a part of what's going on in Hardwick. And we love Ben Hewitt's wonderful book about all the different aspects of Hardwick agriculture.

3. No, as you point out, seafood is not local. Neither is coffee or chocolate, for that matter. We don't promise that everything is local, we've just been able to make sure 79% of our kitchen purchasing budget goes to farms and producers within 15 miles, and much more including the rest of Vermont. That means the vast majority of the food we serve is local. So when we can, we get trout from Mountain Foot farm in the NEK, but generally we source sustainable seafood from the New England coast. Not within 100 miles, for sure, but lobstermen in Maine are our coastal neighbors and need to make a living, too. As for citrus, you might not know that it is grown in the California desert, with water diverted hundreds of miles, threatening wetlands in the northern Delta and drying up the Colorado River before it reaches the sea. We've thought about it quite a bit, and it doesn't seem worth the cost just for garnish. But when good citrus is available in season from Florida, we'll take advantage of it.

4. We love all our staff, those who started with us and helped us open, those who have stayed for two years, and the folks who have come on board along the way. At this point, we employ 19 people, which is an important contribution to families in the area and the general economy. In the kitchen, Steven has opened his door to aspiring chefs, providing decent wages and ample training to start a career. No one's perfect, though, so we take your feedback with regard to personality and community very seriously. We just hope that in the future you don't use the charged pejorative you selected.

5. We use eggs all over the menu, not just at Blunch. Sorry you don't like the eggs and scones, or the scramble. If you'd like just eggs and toast, ask your server.

6. We will take offense at the soup dig. Steven's soups have gotten rave revues. They are complex and rich in local bounty and flavor.