On Halloween Day 2014, we started off the journey from the Best Western Adirondack Inn (New York State – NY) at 8.30 am to visit Vermont’s foodie haunts before laying our heads for the night at Eagle Mountain House and Golf Club (Jackson, New Hampshire state). 3 US states in one day is entirely doable! If we can do it, you can too! Our hearts were celebrating the 6th day of successful execution of a meticulously planned bespoke road trip, whereby we had hoped to cover as many US states as possible with an added bonus of a short hop into Canada. We’d made the hotel bookings in advance of the 2-week vacation, I think that motivator alone kept us going when we were really physically challenged by the rather ambitious itinerary. If you’d joined us for the first time, we’d started our trip from Boston Logan airport. Do catch up with the first few chapters of this adventure, and be inspired by the delights of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls and Lake Placid.
I remembered cruising at 40mph through Moriah (NY state), my eyes were fixated by the shimmering bluish Bulwagga Bay of Lake Champlain in the distant horizon. The maple trees ablaze with varying hues of yellow to bright orange splendour. My eyes tried to breathe in a gentle respite, eagerly foraging for the odd occasional evergreen pine tree. You can choose to cross Lake Champlain by car, northernmost via the Rouses Point Bridge, the southernmost via the Lake Champlain Bridge, or via 3 crossing locations by ferries. Crossing Crown Point peninsula (NY state) at the south end narrows of Lake Champlain on Route 185 was an interesting experience, as we were eagerly anticipating crossing the $76M Lake Champlain Bridge that connects Vermont State (VT) at Chimney Point. The Lake Champlain Bridge was built to replace Crown Point Bridge in 2011. We smiled having been greeted by the vibrant breath of Vermont. Be charmed by Vermont’s vast farmlands, truly a land of autumn harvest, a promising foodie’s delights. Farmers were still trying to flog off their pumpkins, haphazardly arranged on farm wagons by the roadside, hoping to attract passer-by with an eye catching Fall Decorations banner at Ferrisburgh, VT.
We continued on past Shelburne with its charming cafes and country stores before arriving at 10.15am at Waterbury. We’d waited for 6 whole days, and possibly more since our trip planning days, with bated breath for the 30-minute Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour. We always make time for ice cream. Quoting Jerry, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” As we were waiting for the tour, I was horrified by a carved pumpkin with fake spiders crawling out of its triangular shaped eyes and its one-tooth grin, each creepy-crawly wrapped with bits of cotton wool to mimic cobwebs. When the bell rung, we joined the other visitors on a journey to discover the mysteries of how ice cream was made. It was fascinating and definitely an eye opener, noticing that the layouts and processes looked quite identical to those of a pharmaceutical factory! We tried a secret new ice cream flavor but we’d promise not to tell! The Ben and Jerry’s flavors are creatively inspired as always. We bought a tub of hand packed 500ml ice cream with two flavors of our choice to share and then happily ventured into the Flavors Graveyard. Flavors Graveyard is the location where the old flavours of Ben and Jerry’s ice creams that had been withdrawn from sale were laid to rest. With a plastic spoon in hand, we enjoyed the delicious creamy ice cream and then tried to walked off the ice cream by going through these Halloween inspired decorations. For example, for the Dastardly Mash (1979-1991) ice cream flavor, its headstone carried this poem
Here the Brazen Dastardly Lies,
Some says that raisin,
Caused its demise.
Alternatively, how about Vermonty Python (2006 – 2008) ice cream flavor’s headstone epitaph? You might appreciate this if you are a fan of Argument Clinic, a Monty Python’s sketch, The Flying Circus.
Right, then … Is it dead or isn’t it?
No it isn’t …
Yes it is …
No it isn’t …
Rubbish! You’re a loony!
No I’m not …
The other flavors of yesterdays were the White Russian (1986 – 1996), Economic Crunch (1987), Rainforest Crunch (1988), Tennesee Mud (1988-1989), Oh Pear (1997), This is Nuts (2001-2002), Crème Brûlée (2007 – 2012) and Urban Jumble (2000-2001). Did you remember tasting any of these interesting flavors? Cool Brittania (strawberry and shortbread) did not do too well either (1995-1998), and had to be pulled off the market. Was it a marketing gimmick or was it just a spot of fun? I thoroughly enjoyed the experience as I love to read poems.
Having had our fill of ice cream, the next foodie stop is the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for…<Drum roll please>… Guess? Yup, my beloved apple ciders! The humble beginnings of an old Vermont dairy farm known as old Gibbs farm in Waterbury, dating to the 1800s, became the fruits of the vision of Eric and Francine Chittenden in 1976. What started off as weekends of making apple ciders as gifts for friends became one of Vermont’s top tourist attractions! Be thrilled by an antique old fashioned apple cider press. If you are lucky, you can peer in through the glass windows of the Press Viewing Room and watch cider making the old-time way using a traditional rack and cloth press built in the 1920s. Should you be hungry, you can grab lunch (sandwiches, paninis, wraps and salads) at Apple Core Luncheonette, try a hard cider, or fill your belly with its legendary Cider Donuts. Do visit the Pantry filled to the brim with Vermont’s other famous products e.g. maple syrups, jams and jellies, preserves, mustards, cheese/meats, sauces, salsa and spices.
After ice cream and apple cider, it was time for coffee at Green Mountain Coffee Cafe and Visitor Centre. Be enchanted by the beautifully restored old train station built in 1875 complete with disused train tracks. We stopped by to enjoy the ‘from source to cup’ exhibition to understand the art of coffee production. I was intrigued to see coffee plants, one by the name of Mr. Pablo and another called Mr. Clean (I wondered why!), it was my first time seeing a coffee plant! It does make the knowledge come to life when you experience the free coffee tastings and then purchase the flavors that tickles your fancy either as a hot or a cold beverage. Do you prefer your coffee, hot or cold? We brought home some coffee beans as a beautiful reminder of our Vermont trip. I remembered holding my piping hot cup of festive pumpkin spice coffee. Can’t get pumpkin spice coffee in England! A warm cup of coffee warms the heart on a cold autumnal day. I like my coffee just as it is… No milk, no Half-and-Half, no cream please!
After being energised by the coffee, we continued our journey. The drive along the Winooski River was really picturesque. We were lucky to be able to stop safely by the roadside and really admire the views. This post’s Featured Image, was a rare photo opportunity that I just could not afford to miss. The lighting had created an idyllic nature’s mirror. Though there were not much leaves on the trees, I was awestruck by its reflections in the river. The nature’s bow tie at that moment in time was a perfect blend of brown, purple, green, yellow and red coloured trees and shrubs. Even the rocks in the river bed were trying to catch its reflections. There are certainly special moments where I’ve felt time standing still. With my senses now awakened to such beauty, I’m energised for the next 10000 clicks. I’ve felt the satisfaction of framing the heartbeat and emotions of that moment for a lifetime.
After spending time with nature, we kept going towards East Montpelier. Rather regal yet charming town! Though the rolling hills were covered with forests that had passed its fall foliage best, we still loved Vermont very much. Was it the tranquility or was it the promise of the best taste of New England’s food and drinks that made Vermont so utterly unforgettable? My heart was really captivated by the cute wooden farmhouses. I don’t mind if the farmhouse was brown, red or green coloured, I love them all the same! Happy moments spent on a sunny day with skies the color of lapis lazuli and its cotton candy clouds.
Finally, our last stop of the day was Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. We’d missed the sugaring season (usually around late March) but there’s always room for delicious Maple Creemies, maple syrup flavored soft serve ice cream. Soft serve ice cream is nice enough on its own but when you combine it with maple syrup, its deliciousness is definitely out of this world! Do you know that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make each gallon of maple syrup which has a sugar content of 66.9%? You are also invited to taste the difference between the syrup grapes. I love their Grade A -Amber syrup. Do excuse me as my thoughts had wandered to my weakness for waffles or buttermilk pancakes, drizzled generously with maple syrup. The Maple Creemies are definitely, a taste of New England, in every scoop. Mmm… thoroughly yummylicious! You have to try it! We really had to restrain ourselves from buying another round of Maple Creemies. Outside the store, there were also very colorful and texture rich displays of the beauties of autumnal harvest; dried corns, strangely shaped gourds, pumpkins and paper bags filled to the brim with apples for sale. Do visit the entertaining Woodshed Theatre too and be inspired by its creative woodwork masterpieces.
We’d promised each other to spend a longer time at Vermont on our next visit, having been pleasantly satisfied with our whistle stop tour. We beamed with joy, remembering our time with Vermont as we continued our journey to The Eagle Mountain Inn and Golf Club. Thank you for your time. I do hope you’d enjoyed reading my ‘Message in a Bottle’. Be inspired to create your own bespoke Vermont experience. Until our next New Hampshire tales, enjoy a lovely autumn and take care. Much love from beautiful Vermont!
- Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour
- Cold Hollow Cider Mill
- Green Mountain Coffee Cafe and Visitor Centre
- Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks