On my last morning in Vermont, which was Sue and Nigel’s second-to-last morning there, they did a morning run to the Harvest Market in Stowe. Their website may not be much, but their shop is gorgeous and chock full of gourmet delicacies, not to mention fresh baked goods. And we mean FRESH- we ended up waiting for about 30 minutes for garlic sticks that were coming straight out of the oven. They were amazing.
Once I sadly departed from friends, I toodled through Vermont and came upon a Civil War days fair– didn’t think they had those north of the Mason-Dixon line? Well, neither did I. But apparently, country is as country does, and part of country is remembering heritage. Here I heard a lecture about troop badges, and spied some lovely baked goods, as well as women in antebellum costumes. Nevermind the rain, we’re tough Yankees!
Dakin Farm is the site of … my weakening resolve to not buy everything kitschy and delicious-looking in sight. There was lots of good stuff there, and I bought cheese and fudge, both very good!
But really, the stop at Vergennes, VT is where I hit the big time. The couple thrift shops I was going to investigate turned out to be closed, but then this popped up, as well as a different thrift shop, where I found a couple books. The Daily Chocolate has really amazing flavor combinations- I picked up one type of bark named “Nibby” (milk chocolate with a generous helping of coconut and sesame seeds), and another named “Moroccan” (dark chocolate with pecans, raisins, and Garam Masala spices). They were free and easy with their samples, had a reasonable code of conduct on responsible sourcing, and … so I also bought a little container of maple roasted cacao nibs. Obviously I was totally sold on their creative approach and wonderful flavors! So do try them out if you’re in the area…
This deserved a mention, even though it was closed (basically a miniature golf course, but with a tailor-made theme … to please the locals?)
After passing through scenic park land, I came upon this, the Pocono Bazaar, a sort of swap meet writ large for locals and curiosity hunters. I found it a strange, somewhat surreal experience, because I’ve always heard of the Poconos as a sort of midcentury luxury getaway destination. Here I was confronted with empty lots, creaking structures, and bathrooms serviced by attendants hoping for tips, like Mom and I saw in southern France.
|Civil War Memorabilia…|
My last stop before the long journey home: Oregon Dairy! I had stopped for gas at a spot that looked like it had a restaurant or two, but turned out to only be Chili’s and a bar. So I persevered in the interests of health and foodie-discovery, and came here, unfortunately too late for their dining room. Apparently they close their restaurant at 2 PM on Sundays, and my Pocono visit had made me arrive later than the usual lunchtime.
I found more than enough to satisfy me, even without the restaurant: the supermarket had a great bakery section: see baked oatmeal above- delicious and entirely unknown to me before this. I also tried shoo-fly pie, something I’d heard of as a legend but was fairly disappointed by– figgy consistency and lacking flavor. OD also had a bulk section, where I found some grains and spices I’d been looking for at a good price. Plus, mini-marshmallows! My resolve, and my hunger, were too weak, and strong, respectively, at this point to resist the cuteness. I had the equivalent of a slider sandwich, then proceeded to the … Milk House (an ice creamery, truth be told).
I may not have appreciated the sizing titles, but the teens serving me were country-considerate (nothing like the Montreal uni students!), the ice cream was great, it was shelter from the rain, and I wasn’t sitting in my driver’s seat for a bit– deliverance! Thus ended my awesome Solo Road Trip adventure. Full of good food, good fun, and dear family, both related and in spirit.
|Perfect croissants in their limelight at the CIA|
Here’s the story of how I got to take this road trip. (You didn’t think I just decided, ex tempore, did you?)
After a failed attempt at scheduling a meeting of old friends in Edinburgh, those same friends turned out to be visiting the U.S. for a holiday of their own– in Vermont. So Sue very kindly asked if I could figure out a trip to Vermont, as it was ‘in the neighborhood’ and they’d be in the beautiful mountain country for over a week. Google Maps informed me that the drive from DC to Vermont would take about 10 hours. Knowing Europeans’ penchant for underestimating distances in the U.S., I had thought this would probably be too far– not to mention getting the time off work. However, I quickly calculated: the drive from Northampton to Edinburgh would have been over 6 hours, and that was what I had asked of them… so I daydreamed and got a little creative.
|Witchy woods at Innisfree|
During the dates they had booked, I had a large work meeting to help run in Philadelphia. This got me 2 hours closer to my northerly goal, and on the company dime– yes! Too, I had a family member who lived in upstate NY who I would have loved to hang out with– my halfway house! If I could engineer the schedule such that I could leave the meeting, stay with my cousin-once-removed, and take a few days off, this could work! So I sent my thoughts out to the universe and…
So here are a few photos from the first part of the journey: staying near New Paltz with Ginny, visiting mosquito-ridden but oh-so-beautiful Innisfree Gardens, and stopping for lunch at the C.I.A.
After some serious stalking, we annoyed into flight what we think was a Great Blue Heron. He thought himself quite the Cock of the Walk, I must say- hard to perturb that one!
After getting eaten alive by the midges and mosquitos (wasn’t raining hard enough to keep them out of our hair), we gave in and drove over Poughkeepsie way to the Culinary Institute of America.
After feasting on all this (and stocking up on bakery goods as best we were able with clear consciences), we browsed the bookstore a bit and perused the gift shop items (verdict: many interesting imported gadgets and homey heartland delicacies, but the prices caused some dismay). After that, we barely had enough time to get back to town and the grocery store to pick up the lynchpin to Ginny’s Master Plan for my stay: eating lobster.
I’m not sure what made her think of lobster, but think she did, and it provided quite the adventure for my palate, having never had plain lobster before (lobster bisque or lobster ravioli being the closest I’d yet come). With non-sugarplum’d daydreams of Julie Powell’s encounter with Real Live Lobsters vaguely making me uneasy, I still wanted to see how it was done, in a real Yankee kitchen. And I’d tried some really sweet King Crab legs at a Washington waterfront eatery, so I imagined lobster meat would be sort of similar.
|Awaiting judgment in the bag on the table|
Ginny was the best of instructors, patiently waiting for photos, explaining necessary steps, and encouraging heartily to ‘suck the marrow out of’ the lobster’– if only they had some! We settled for trying to get at all the joints of the little legs, ‘little’ being relative. And I enjoyed the cracking and popping of those legs as much as I do that of my own joints: you kind of know you shouldn’t do it, but it relieves the tension.
Oh, and there was lemon butter sauce. Don’t forget the expert mise-en-place!