What I Did on My Winter Vacation: Tech, pizza, and restaurant edition

8 Jan

First and foreleast, my hard drive crashed. And man, it takes a lot of time to get your digital life back in order.

But! That was not all that happened between eggnog season and now. Incidentally, do you like eggnog? I don’t. But maybe I need to try fancy Cocktail Revival Eggnog.

So after several December trips, including a Hanukkah jaunt to Miami and a holiday party in my hometown, we made our way to Woodstock, Vermont for a week of skiing, snowshoeing, comfort food, and Bananagrams. Pretty much in that order, though the eating and Bananagrams may have superseded the snowshoes. Despite my earlier grumbling, I’m all for comfort food in the proper context. To that end, there was biscuit-topped chicken pot pie, chili and cornbread, and some very tasty pizzas topped with smoked mozzarella from Maplebrook Farm and a sprinkling of gruyere-style Ascutney Mountain from Cobb Hill. Both excellent choices for pie, though the latter is a little pricey and was only used because we were cleaning out the fridge.

Those two cheeses were part of an all-Vermont cheese tasting bonanza, which we conducted over the week. I’ll go into some detail about that in the next post.

Meanwhile, should you find yourself hungry in Woodstock, there are three excellent restaurant/cafe options:

1) The Red Rooster. The new-ish house eatery of for the Woodstock Inn opened in 2008, serving cuisine that can best be described as Vermont-modern. Or perhaps Vermont-“modern,” as it’s still pretty traditional fare. Locally sourced, very seasonal, and hearty, but full of clean, bright flavors. It replaced a fusty old restaurant that matched all your deflated expectations of hotel dining, and perhaps this is partly why I’m so amazed at how good this place is. Hightlights: Jersualem Artichoke Bisque, Maple-braised shortrib with roasted roots, “Northern” Fried Chicken, and a simple, lovely endive and watercress salad with goat cheese, apples, and quince vinaigrette. The most surprising gems are the vegetable sides, which are huge and priced at a remarkable $2.50 each. Sweet potatoes with candied pecans, fries, roasted Brussels sprouts, etc. Try the lentils. Even if you’re not a lentil person, they will turn you into one.

2) Pane e Salute Osteria and Wine Bar. So authentic, you’d think you were in Tuscany. I wish I could tell you more, but I have been unable to snag a reservation since the place moved from its casual cafe space to newer, fancier digs a couple doors down (they are open Thursday-Sunday only, and closed November and April. Hmph.). Still, by all reports, this place is excellent (“One of America’s 50 Best Wine Experiences,” according to Food + Wine). Back when it was just a bakery/cafe, the extraordinary breads and pastries made me consider moving north.

3) Alléchante. This bakery/cafe took over the old Pane e Salute space, and while I can’t say it reaches quite the heights of its predecessor (I miss the rack of Tuscan-style breads, and the quirky regional cookies), we’re talking about the difference between an A+ and a A-. It’s a great place to grab a pastry for breakfast or a ham and gruyère sandwich for lunch, and they host monthly “supper clubs” with some very impressive menus.


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