Sunday, February 6, 2011

Green Mountain Loving

Local Love: Enjoy your Valentine's Day with the abundant love of our local farmers and producers. We welcome couples, friends, and families to enjoy a romantic interlude or a convivial celebration. Like every Monday, we'll offer beer, wine, and cocktail specials as well as a menu designed to set the mood.

Local Food: Risotto, a slow cooked rice, is one of the most straightforward preparations in Italian cooking. But it requires a great deal of skill to finish the rice just at that point where it combines pearly firmness and silky cream. Steven is inspired by this careful, slow preparation in creating a version that is truly Vermont. Traditionally made with the arborio that thrives in Northern Italy's rich river valley, a strain of rice that is uniquely able to transform its texture when prepared with patience, Steven instead has selected Vermont wheatberries, a whole grain kernel from Butterworks Farm. He soaks them overnight before plunging them in boiling water so they pop open to reveal their natural creaminess. The wheatberries are then sautéed for a nutty twist. Steven slowly adds vegetable stock, absorbed by the hearty grain, and adds tofu from Vermont Soy, roasted carrots from Blackwell Roots Farm, rutabaga from Westminster Organics, butternut squash from Mystic Morning Farm and sunchokes from Mary McGrath in Greensboro. The risotto is topped with soft and grassy Hartwell cheese from Ploughgate Creamery, with a sage and walnut pesto made with sage from Vermont Herb & Salad Company. Vegans can ask their server to hold the butter and cheese.

Around the Galaxy: A Valentine's treat for you - if you spend $20 or more on a book between February 7 and February 14, you will receive a bonbon made in Hardwick by Marie LaPré-Grabon. Or you can forgo the chocolate and take 14% off a second book. Maybe a gift for your own Valentine.

Music Notes:
Montpelier singer-songwriter Jay Ekis returns this Thursday, February 10, at 7:30. Check out an artist who Dan Bolles of Seven Days calls "among the state's stoutest songwriters."

Local Events: Noted author of more than a dozen books Rick Bass will read from his work at Sterling College in Simpson Hall on Monday, February 14 at 6:30.

Go Green for Pete's Greens: On St. Patrick's Day, come to Claire's for a benefit for the Pete's Farm Fund, to rebuild the barn and help Pete and his crew. Celebrate the day by wearing your finest greens, bring some extra greens in your wallet, and show off your talent at our Open Mic Night in support of Pete's. Pete has recently announced that in 2-3 years when his farm is back on stable financial ground, he will establish a special fund to support Vermont agriculture with the money that is being raised to help him now. We're excited to be part of this effort and hope you will join us on March 17th. Email if you are interested in performing.

If you are interested in making a more immediate financial donation to Pete's Greens, stop by Claire's and drop it in our donation bucket or donate directly on the farm website.

Reminders: We are open daily after 2:30 for coffee, bar service, and baked goods, and free WiFi, with dinner reservations available from 5-9, Sundays from 5-8. We serve our special Blunch menu Sundays from 11-2. Claire's is closed every Wednesday.

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