Inside the Honeymoon, Part II: Nummies

And we’re back for Part Deux of our honeymoon adventures — what we ATE. While I don’t remember every little thing we indulged in, food-wise, I know that we were SO very impressed by the freshness of the food available in Vermont, even (or should I say “particularly”) in restaurants. Here I assumed that I would just eat to excess without a care to the organic or local factor of its ingredients; don’t we always do that during a vacation or holiday? Well, weren’t we surprised to find that we essentially had an easy locavore challenge during our honeymoon!
The reason that it was so simple to find locally-grown foods while practically eating out the entire time was because of Vermont’s Fresh Network. This organization’s goal is to connect chefs with local farmers to not only stimulate the economy but provide fresh, local food for residents. What a great idea, right?! We came back home and thought, “Why can’t we do that?!” Well, instead of sitting on our butts complaining, we’re actually thinking about what we can do to make our own. 😀

Anyhoo, so from the moment we walked into our hotel, we noticed the VFN logo (yep, our inn’s restaurant was local, too! It was green, after all) — and started keeping an eye out at other restaurant store fronts for the same logo. From Burlington to Bennington, it was there, that 4″x4″ sticker logo. I love that thing.

Our first meal in VT was actually eaten while we were waiting for our room to be ready.

And, did I mention, outdoors? It was a little chilly, but it was a perfect New England autumn day — why else would we have honeymooned in VT?! We grabbed our lunch at a cafe named The Hungry Mind (which reminded Dave of his old haunt, “The Thirsty Mind”, in Mass.), where they provided a side salad with every sandwich or panini. We grabbed all-natural beverages and a bag of (also all-natural) chips. Delish and perfect after searching high-and-low for anything that was open and didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

What else did we find in Middlebury? Well, incredible gourmet food at Middlebury Inn, our hotel (also locally-sourced). Oh, and my favorite “CAN WE MOVE HERE?!” point of interest? The Middlebury Natural Foods Co-Op!!! It was like going to a traditional grocery store — only everything’s either all-natural, local, or organic — sometimes all of the above! While we didn’t eat here, we did enjoy visiting it (and buying some cheap organic soap). Here’s Dave, not realizing he’s in the shot…hee hee…and a vast array of local veggies!

Look at the SIZE of this place!!

Organic cat products, anyone?

Mmmm. Salad bar. Why CAN’T we live there?! (And by “there” I mean IN the co-op! ;-D)

Can we say “lunch every single day if I lived here”?

Me, loving it. Dave was incredibly supportive and even forced a picture in front of the place. 🙂 Lucky lady!
So, both breakfasts were all at the Inn, as were two of the three dinners. Our first lunch was from the Hungry Mind (eaten in the park). Our second, in Burlington, was at New Moon. This was my side salad (I still wonder if they got the order wrong) and panini…

This place was terribly awesome. The food was all prepared/served from an “in the round” center island, and you could have them make any salad or sandwich imaginable. They also had soup and other things, but all in all it was just delicious and, again, another VFN participant. AWESOME!

By the time we left Middlebury to travel home, I don’t recall that we stopped to eat along the way. I almost think that we noshed on the snacks that my best friend (and maid of honor) Beth have given us — we don’t have a Trader Joe’s, and, knowing our propensity for organic/all natural goodies, she gave us a huge basket of snacks, several of which we brought along with us. We finally stopped in Troy (after a long day o’ shoppin’ along the way out of VT) for our final “honeymoon meal” at Brown’s Brewery. It was DELICIOUS and, while I’m not sure if the food was local or not, the brewery itself is about self-sustainability, the 3 Rs, and their own Clean Water Act (there’s a particular brew you can purchase which provides funds toward preserving a local reservoir…which I thought was purdy darn cool.

So, for the most part, our honeymoon food was not only ecologically friendly, but delicious! We couldn’t be happier that we chose Vermont as the site of our honeymoon. Next up? What we did to keep busy traveling around VT.

Cooperstown Farmers’ Market – Our First F.M. Adventure of the Year

Although the weather forecast seemed doomed, Dave bouncily suggested that we head to our first farmers’ market of the year – in Cooperstown. With all that enthusiasm, how could I possibly say, “What, no cozy, “stay in and clean” day?” Plus, I already knew that it’s one of the area’s only indoor markets — it’s open every other Saturday throughout the winter, with normal hours the rest of the year. After hearing some great things about it, and with such an eager partner in tow, we left beneath a steady stream of chilly rain.

Strangely enough, by the time we reached the baseball rhetoric-riddled Main Street, the sun had taken over and our jackets were unnecessary. It made the short walk toward the barn-like structure used for the market incredibly quaint, especially with other locals and travelers meandering their way with grocery store reusable bags and homemade baskets in tow. The vendors were overflowing to outside its doors, which we saw as a good sign.

Compared to the, admittedly, only other farmers’ market I can recall attending, it was kind of sparse. I’m sure the local ones I’ll start attending next week will be teeny-weeny, so I’m not necessarily complaining about it. There were plenty of vendors, several with the same goods (which we LOVE — it makes it easy to compare prices), mostly incredibly friendly and willing to talk. However, several of the goods were pretty irrelevant to us — tie-dyed shorts, anyone? And there were only a couple vegetable vendors, each with few items we could actually choose from.

Having worked on a dairy farm and lived in a quasi-rural area my whole life, I’m not ignorant about the reasons I wasn’t overwhelmed by lush and plentiful goodies at the CFM. I know. We’re still pretty much off-season. And, I knew that when Dave asked me to go, wide-eyed. Mostly, I wanted to see what the place was about, what the farmers and artisans and cheese-makers were like, and whether it truly is worth it to schlep 45 minutes away for locally-grown goods. There arises a paradox: If you’re going to release your fossil fuel into the atmosphere with a 1 1/2 hour round-trip to get organic, locally-grown goods which are good for you and the environment, is it really equaled-out?

Mind you, it was a wonderful drive (other than for the occasional rain shower) and we did get our first-ever free-range multi-colored XL eggs, Amish cheddar cheese (INCREDIBLE!), very well-priced European-style yogurt and some homemade, environmentally-friendly soaps (all well-thought-out and exciting purchases) as well as a side-trip to visit the ducks at the Fly Creek Cider Mill.

And, as far as the quandary is concerned, I say we still hit the ball out of the park (I do spend too much time at Cooperstown! We’d live there if we could! – not for the baseball). While we used up some gas, we got a great overview of what to expect when the yields REALLY start coming in. I foresee perhaps visiting the CFM once a month while supplementing the occasional CSA and local farmers’ markets more regularly, but it’s definitely not only a great resource for healthy, sustainable goodies, but an always-needed excuse to get away for part of a day.

***I realized after I wrote this that I’d taken a bit of a novelistic approach. Perhaps a slightly-more-sophisticated version of Donna Thompson *cringe*? (If you’re local, you know what that means.) Just a thought.***