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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Welcome to four days of complete relaxation. We went up to Stowe, Vermont, to the Stowe Mountain Lodge. We have been here in the winter time, and decided to see what summer was like. Our first reaction…it’s so….green!

We have a view of the front driveway from our room, with the mountains in the back. We couldn’t hear any outside noise from our room so that was pretty nice. They don’t have self park option, you valet for $18 a day.

The rooms are all suite style.

The TV, desk and armoire.

The sitting area.

The bed was pretty comfortable.

Kitchenette in the hallway-galley style-there is a microwave, a burner, a dishwasher and sink.

The bathroom was ENORMOUS!! There was a shower stall AND a bathtub and the toilet was behind a sliding barn door.

I thought that these were cute signs for the door.

The main hallway led to a small hallway where there were doors for two rooms-an interesting set up. The doors were heavy, so they sounded like people were slamming them at night. We had a really nice stay here-the hotel was not at peak season yet, so it was pretty empty. A great feature of the hotel is that they have an agreement with Mercedes-every year they get the new fleet-and guests can take them out for an hour or two to “test drive’ them.

The lobby of the hotel.

Heated pool.

The weight room.

We had dinner at Pie in the Sky-sat outside on their patio and enjoyed the last rays of the day.

We started with mozzarella sticks and then had pizza and pasta. The food here is mediocre at best, don’t go in expecting gourmet. If you are looking for a more gourmet pizza-head over to pie-casso.

We woke up super early in the morning to go on a hot air balloon ride. We booked through the Stoweflake hotel.

We were able to watch the balloon being inflated-a 3 man job!

To schedule your flight: stoweballoon@gmail.com or call 802-760-1060 X. 5316. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Hot Air Ballooning season is mid-May to mid-October depending on weather conditions and available daylight.  In-flight time is about 45 minutes, but allow 2 ½ to 3 hrs for balloon inflation, your flight and to be returned to the launch site after landing.
  • Sunrise & evening flights are typically scheduled at 6:30 am and 5:30 pm, however this can change during certain times of the year.  Morning flights are 50% more likely to launch because the winds are calmer. Sunset flights are discontinued in mid-August because of shorter daylight hours.
  • All flights are weather dependent.  Even if the day seems perfect, the winds may be too strong.  Your pilot will make that decision just before your scheduled launch time.
  • Pricing: $595.00 per flight (not per person). The balloon basket holds three people total, the pilot being one. The fee for guests of Stoweflake is $525.00 per flight.
  • A 50% deposit is due at the time of booking by check or travelers check (made out to the Stowe Balloon Company), we cannot process credit cards. The remaining balance is due before your flight. Cancellations with less than 15 days notice result in forfeiture of deposit. Cancellations with more than 15 days notice are entitled to a refund. Flights are dependent on the weather and perfectly functioning equipment. If a postponement occurs due to inclement weather, you may reschedule within a year, or request a refund.

I’m not a huge fan of heights, but the flight was amazing. It’s gentle and smooth…and only a little noisy when they use the gas to lift you higher in the sky.

I would recommend everyone doing this at some point in their lives, it really is amazing. We had such a great time.

We ended up landing in someones front lawn, good thing the pilot knew them…and that they were away on vacation. Can you imagine having your morning coffee at your breakfast table and look outside to see a huge hot air balloon landing in your front lawn?

We had a great repertoire with the pilot-good conversation…after we landed, while they were packing up the balloon and while we were drinking mimosas, the pilot, Stu, offered to take us out to breakfast at Charlie B’s, the restaurant next to the Stoweflake hotel. We thought that was really nice of him, considering he didn’t even let us tip him for the flight! We headed out to take some pictures of cows in a pasture near by before we headed over to Charlie B’s for breakfast.

The Stoweflake hosts a hot air balloon festival every year-25 hot air balloons take to the sky, this year it takes place on July 8-10. We head into breakfast and have a great meal. Stu and his wife Marion join us mid meal.

When we sit down and look at the front of the menu, we are surprised to see that Stu, the pilot, is part of the Baraw family that owns the Stoweflake. I always love when you meet someone who is a ‘big deal’, and they are just down to earth, kind, ‘everyday people’. Stu and Marion couldn’t be nicer! We talked about golf, about travel, about family-a really nice experience.

On to the food. The breakfast burrito was probably one of the best we’ve ever had. Hard to explain, but there was something just right about it. Fluffy eggs, great fresh tortilla wrap….yum!

The chocolate chip pancakes were amazing. Light as air and skinny as a crepe, with just enough sweetness and chocolate chips that melted in your mouth. Thanks for breakfast Stu, we hope to see you again next time we are in Stowe!

Charlie B's Restaurant & Pub on Urbanspoon

We spend the rest of the day at the golf course right on the mountain near the hotel. I’m not a golfer, but I have to admit that I love driving the cart.

The views on the course were amazing-and from what I understand, the golf course was challenging-drop offs, open space where the wind can push your ball in the wrong direction…whatever. I’m not ashamed to say I know nothing about golf. It was warm and sunny, I managed to get a nice golf shirt tan, and took a quick snooze between holes 9-11.

We had a light lunch at the club, a place called “The Cottage”. They had a lovely soup on the menu as a special. It was creamy and smooth-weird that I opted for soup on an 80 degree day…I know.

A simple hot dog.

The grilled cheese.

We relaxed until dinner time-an early dinner, at Solstice in the hotel. We had been there before, and loved our meal. We wanted to replicate that experience, and wanted to see how the new chef compared to the old one.

The mushroom cappuccino soup. Nothing cappuccino about it except the look-check out the truffle foam!!! ($7). Really amazing. The soup was smooth and creamy-very filling. It had such a wonderful flavor to it. And I don’t think I need to say anything about the truffle foam, it speaks for itself-AMAZING.

Next up-cheese plate. My favorite cheese, Ascutney Mountain made by Cobb Hill a raw jersey cow milk cheese. Yum! We also went with the Tarantaise and the Landaff cheddar. The stone fruit chutney, bottom dish, was made in house-SO delicious (we went back for more the next night), the honey was from Champlain Valley Apiaries. This one had some honey comb in it, which was amazing, but we could only get the liquid honey. The pistachios, on top, we equally as delicious and a nice compliment to the cheese. (3 for $14)

A double order of the ricotta gnocchi appetizer ($10 appetizer, $20 for above) which came with duck proscuitto, English peas, morels (mushrooms) and pea tendrils. The gnocchi was light and fluffy, the sauce had a lovely light lemon flavor-a good meal overall.

The diver scallops, $28, came on a bed of spring pea risotto with smoked ham jus. The scallops were enormous and they were cooked to perfection. The pea risotto didn’t do it for me-I wasn’t a big fan of the after taste.

At this point we are ready to bust, but how can you walk away without dessert? We had the creme brulee, white chocolate and raspberry. I don’t usually go for creme brulee, but this one was quite tasty. I love breaking the crunchy sugar top with my fork!

And at the end of the meal, a complimentary poppy seed madeleine. Yum!!

Solstice on Urbanspoon

We head off to the Stowe Cinema (454 Mountain Road), it only has 3 theaters and is cash only. The only movie time was at 7:30pm. We head over to see Pirates of the Carribean. I love this movie theater, it was such a big deal when I was growing up that you could drink beer or wine in the back of the theater (in a special section) before it became popular today-in the new premium theaters. I remember the first movie I saw here was Dances with Wolves…Yikes!

Breakfast at McCarthy’s, which is right next to the movie theater. When I was a kid, we used to come here for a big breakfast before we left town.

 

They only take cash here, but they have an atm if you forget to get some before you come.

It’s a nice morning, so we decide to eat outside on the porch. This is a real stick to your ribs kind of breakfast place. We had the egg sandwich, with a heaping side of potatoes!

I had the farmers omelette ($7.99), potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, onions and Cabot cheddar cheese. Needless to say my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t even finish half of this baby!

McCarthy's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

With a full stomach, we head out to Burlington for the day. We find this great place, City Market located on 82 South Winooski Ave, www.citymarket.coop and the phone is 802.861.9700.

The Bove’s pasta sauce was $4.99 and the CVA honey, 8 oz liquid was $4.49.

It’s a pretty cool place, I wish we had a market more like this in Boston. They have a great prepared food section, and you can buy SO much stuff in bulk bins here!!

Just when you think you can’t have enough varieties of granola….

We head back from shopping in Burlington to have some time at the spa. I had a wonderful Vitamin C facial with Tara. Because it is their off season, they were having crazy specials at the spa, $50 off services Monday-Thursday, buy on get one 50% on products in the spa. The spa itself was wonderful-beautiful, cozy, and super clean. Everyone at the hotel had been telling us about this place to eat in Waterbury, they said it might even be the best restaurant in the state…Hen of the Wood. They serve dinner Tuesday-Saturday and open at 5pm. They have been around for about 5 years, why had we never heard of this place before??

Located in an old mill, during busy season, you have to call a month in advance to get a reservation. The dining room is small and cozy-and the best part about this place is that they really support local farms as much as they can.

The place is just charming.

It is super dim inside, so excuse the photo quality. There is an open kitchen which I love, and a really nice patio in the back. The inside is like a cave with exposed rock walls and great candle light dining.

The votives are made by Tabbatha Henry, and isn’t it convenient that she has a store located above the restaurant. I love her stuff!

This is the piece that I bought-it’s amazing. The candle light comes through the holes in the votive-it’s beautiful.

Check out the votive in the background, doesn’t it look great when it’s lit up? Ok, so back to the food. Of course we do the cheese plate. Ascutney Mountain makes the list again, as well as Consider Bardwell Farm “Pawlet” a raw jersey cow milk cheese aged four to six moths, creamy and bright; and Spring Brook Farm’s Tarentaise-which is semi soft, smooth and nutty.

The cornmeal polenta with duck sausage ($13) was un-real. It came with a sunny side up Gopher Broke farm duck egg on top. I wish I could have this every day for breakfast. The polenta was smooth and creamy, and the sausage was delicious-a great mix of spices. I think I’m starting to salivate just thinking about this dish again.($13)

We had the sea scallops that were amazing! The server rec0mmended them-she had excellent taste. I love when servers are passionate about the food-it makes the experience so much better. Maine sea scallops with organic Maine beans and braised leeks, olive oil and basil. Simple and yet perfect. ($28)

We also had the hanger steak, which is normally a tougher cut of meat, but cooked medium, this steak was mouth watering good. It came smoked with crushed local potatoes, Pete’s arugula and horseradish creme fraiche ($27).

Everything on the dessert menu looks good. I choose the brownie baked in a ramekin, the outside is crunchy and the inside is like molton chocolate. The brownie is topped with milk chocolate hazelnut house made ice cream that has been rolled in crushed peanut brittle….oh my goodness it’s like you’ve died and gone to heaven.

And just to satisfy our non chocolate needs, we have this dessert as well. So the whipped topping has lemon curd mixed in-why have I never thought of this?!?!? When you make whipped cream at home, just fold in some lemon curd….UNREAL!! I love the spongy cake with the tartness of the lemon curd whipped cream and the sweetness from the berries and coulis.

Hen of The Wood on Urbanspoon

Stay tuned for part 2 of Vermont….

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