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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Tag Archives: vermont

imag1166When we finally got up to Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont, we decided to go out for dinner. Looking for something casual, we decided on Gracie’s. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid, and that was at their old location in town. Closer to the hotel, Gracie’s is a popular casual dining spot for locals and tourists alike.

imag1172Gracie’s opened in 1991, and it was named after owners Sue and Archie’s rescue dog. They made the move to this new location in 2009. The dog theme is carried throughout the dining room – from the decor to the names of the menu items.

imag1167We started the meal off right – they brought out a wonderful bread basket with delicious chocolate chip oatmeal bread.

imag1170The quinoa salad special was more of a dinner sized plate than an appetizer! We all ordered burgers, they are all named after dogs:

The Chihuahua
Half-pound burger served with lettuce, tomato and guacamole on the side.

The Airedale
Half-pound cheddar burger with sautéed peppers and onions.

The Boxer
Half-pound cheddar bacon burger.

The Husky
Half-pound cheddar burger with sautéed mushrooms.

Blazing Beagle Burger
Gracie’s half-pound burger rolled in Cajun spices and grilled to juicy perfection with lettuce and tomato.
Also available as Dante’s Dalmatian-for the firedog.

The Kirby Burger
Gracie’s half pound burger topped with melted cheddar, bacon and a side of our own Memphis BBQ sauce.

Blue Tick Hound Burger
Half-pound melted blue cheese burger with lettuce and tomato.

The Rottweiler
This one’s got a good bite to it. A half-pound cheddar burger topped with lettuce and Tomato. With sour cream, garlic, horseradish sauce on the side.

The Petey Burger
Everyone’s favorite canine orphan. Spanky and Alfalfa put their minds together for this one. A great combination that only the little rascals could think of starting with a half pound of Boyden Farms ground beef topped with Vermont cheddar cheese and, bacon, onion rings and cajun spice.  A dollar of the price of each Petey Burger will be donated by Gracie’s to the North Country Animal League.

imag1174The Husky ($12.95): Half-pound cheddar burger with sautéed mushrooms. Just what the dr ordered after a long car ride. The burger was flavorful and cooked perfectly medium. The service was excellent – Archie the owner was there running the host stand! I always think it’s nice to see the owners of restaurants pitching in.

Gracie’s

18 Edison Hill Road, Stowe, VT

http://www.gracies.com/

Gracie's on Urbanspoon

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imag1207The Blue Moon Cafe in Stowe has been a fine dining destination since 1992.  Jim Barton, now owner, was the dining room manager until 2001, when he bought the restaurant from the previous owner. Since then, they have been through multiple renovations and his wife Donna has done some extensive gardening. The kitchen is run by Jimmy Kalp who has worked at such places like National Hotel, The Ryah House, The Andirons Lodge and Frida’sTaqueria.

imag1209Whenever we go up to Stowe, we usually hit the same few places. This year, we wanted to try something new, so my friend Carolyn (of the Good Ones) who has a home up in Stowe gave me this suggestion. We start off with the artisan cheese platter ($12) that comes with some toast, dried fruit and raisins and a little mustard seed. Simple and yet so good.

imag1212We also start with the gazpacho, a refreshing way to start a meal. One of the best gazpachos we’ve tried.

imag1214The pasta special was delicious – the home made noodles were perfectly al dente.

imag1213I had the gnocchi with cauliflower, which was an excellent choice. The dumplings were amazing.

imag1216For dessert, I can’t remember the formal name for this, but raspberry sorbet and pistachio ice cream with raspberry coulis. Amazing. Two of my favorite things, combined to make a great summer dessert.

imag1219The crumble was also a delicious choice – we were almost too full to eat it after our meals! Almost. The service was top notch – we felt like we were being welcomed into someone’s home as opposed to eating at a restaurant. There were a lot of regulars dining, it was nice to see that they were welcomed by name and thanked for coming in.

Blue Moon Cafe

35 School Street, Stowe, VT

http://bluemoonstowe.com/

Blue Moon Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Vermont Farm Tour 7I had really wanted to attend this year’s Vermont Cheese Festival but we were going to be in Vermont the week after. So the next best thing would be a Vermont Farm Tour. I looked up the company and contacted Chris Howell, the owner. We made plans to meet on Friday in Middlebury. Tours are $400 for a full day and  $250 for a half day (up to three guests). M and I took the scenic route to get to Middlebury, and there were moments when we thought we weren’t going the right way. We met at Champlain Valley Creamery and headed out to our first farm. Nicky Foster and Julie Danyew run Bridport Creamery. They make the cheese from Nicky’s family dairy, Iroquois Acres. Julie has a goat herd and makes fresh and aged goats milk cheeses.

Vermont Farm Tour 2The young cows are kept separately from the rest of the adult cows for their own safety.

Vermont Farm Tour 3Nicky talked to us about organic vs. non organic cows – how with organic cows if your cow gets sick, you can’t give it medicine.

Vermont Farm Tour 4Here at Iroquois Acres, they treat their cows well. On hot days they circulate into covered areas where they are misted with water and fans to keep cool.

Vermont Farm Tour 5In addition to growing up on a dairy farm, Nicky married a dairy farmer. Her husband’s farm is one of the largest in the state.

Vermont Farm Tour 6Look at this face!!!!

Vermont Farm Tour 8We were able to step inside Nicky’s cheese cave and check out what was inside! In addition the cheese curds they also make:

  • Swisserella – a mild, great melting cheese in plain and herbed
  • Danz Ahn Farm Feta – a variation on a classic
  • Champlain Valley Tomme – Bridgeport Creamery’s aged cow milk tomme with a mild and nutty finish
  • Tango – a sightly sharp, aged goat milk tomme

Vermont Farm Tour 9We had the chance to buy cheese from all of the stops during the day. Chris brought a cooler so that the cheese would stay cool in the car. It was here that I tried my first cheese curd. AMAZING! We bought some to take home with us. Nicky sells her cheese to many local businesses and her cheese curds to restaurants like the Skinny Pancake in Burlington where they make deep fried cheese curds! YUM!!

Vermont Farm Tour 23Next on our tour was Trevin Farms. Troy and Kevin run a B&B on their working farm. Originally from Cambridge, they moved up to Vermont a decade ago not knowing much about farming. When they bought the property, there was only the house. They cleared the rest of the land themselves – 14 acres!

Vermont Farm Tour 14We are greeted by Troy and about 20 baby goats! He’s like the goat whisperer. Troy told us that they bottle feed all the goats inside the house, 7 times a day until they are weaned.

Vermont Farm Tour 10These are Nubian goats known for their long ears and “Roman” noses.

Vermont Farm Tour 11They couldn’t have been more friendly and curious….and vocal.

Vermont Farm Tour 12The goats were playful – running all about, while never getting too far from Troy.

Vermont Farm Tour 13Troy tells is that these goats prefer to eat things that are higher up off the ground, so it is very natural for them to get on their hind legs and eat off tall branches. This adorable spotted guy will be the father of the next round of baby goats.

Vermont Farm Tour 15In addition to goats they also have chickens. Troy and Kevin use the fresh eggs for breakfast in the morning for guests. They have an amazing garden where they grow veggies for the guest’s meals. Kevin let us in on the secret to growing enormous pumpkins….you inject the vine with goat’s milk.

Vermont Farm Tour 16And they have horses – this guy helped clear some of their land.

Vermont Farm Tour 17Look at that face!

Vermont Farm Tour 18They hand milk all of the goats. Troy and Kevin keep all of the female goats and sell off the males – so they only have two males on the property.

Vermont Farm Tour 19All the goats are named after cities.

Vermont Farm Tour 20We have lunch at the farm. Chris has picked up a variety of sandwiches and creme brulee from City Market in Burlington, one of my favorite markets. We eat and taste Trevin Farms’ fresh goat cheese. I’m not generally a goat cheese kind of gal, it’s just too…goaty. But this was so fresh and so light, really quite lovely. It really makes a difference to have cheese that was made just the other day. We also tried raw goat’s milk. I can’t even remember the last time I had a glass of milk…and as I mentioned before, I was hesitant as I don’t love really the goaty flavor. But this milk, from this morning, was light and clean, really not goaty at all. Goat’s milk is also supposed to be good for people who are lactose intolerant and raw milk is supposedly easier to digest.

Vermont Farm Tour 21Our lunch companions.

Vermont Farm Tour 22Kevin told us that Troy does the cooking and he looks after the goats and the garden. They used to try and do things together, but it works out better if they each do their own thing. Kevin delivers all of the baby goats and in addition to all of the hand milking and the care involved with these amazing animals, he also has a full time job! We had such a lovely afternoon here, Troy and Kevin were gracious hosts and really wonderful to be around. As I mentioned, they have a B&B with 3 bedrooms, and you can even do a package where you can make your own goat cheese!

Vermont Farm Tour 1While we are waiting for Carlton to arrive and show us around Champlain Valley Creamery, we stop in upstairs at Appalachian Gap Distillery for a little booze tasting! A whiskey, a rum, and two coffee liqueurs.

Vermont Farm Tour 29Our final stop is Champlain Valley Creamery – above is our guide Chris Howell (left) and Carleton Yoder (right) owner of Champlain Valley Creamery, and head cheesemaker.

Vermont Farm Tour 24Carleton takes us through the cheese making process. Once the cheese has been mixed it is hand ladled into these plastic cups where they sit and drain.

Vermont Farm Tour 25They make an ash ripened pyramid cheese – here they are fresh out of their molds – they will be salted and left to ripen in the cheese cave.

Vermont Farm Tour 26When the cheese has been in the cave for enough time, it will be covered with a layer of ash.

Vermont Farm Tour 27

Organic Champlain Triple – Silver Medal Winner, 2007 American Cheese Society, Burlington VT

Organic Champlain Triple is a beautiful soft ripened triple crème cheese with a bloomy white rind. Produced from cultured whole milk and cream, Champlain Triple is hand ladeled into traditional crottin molds and aged approximately 10 days. It has a rich, creamy interior flavor that is offset by a delicious earthy rind with hints of mushroom. Champlain Triple is a must-have for any cheese plate.

Vermont Farm Tour 28In addition to these cheeses, they also make an old fashioned cream cheese, a queso fresco, and a queso anejo. If you can’t make it up to VT to try Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheese, don’t worry, you can find it at Formaggio Kitchen.

Vermont Farm Tours

Chris Howell

278 North Street, Winooski, VT

www.vermontfarmtours.com

Bridgeport Valley Creamery

Nicky Foster and Julie Danyew

3284 Lake Street, Bridport, VT

www.bridportcreamery.com

Trevin Farm

Troy Peabody and Kevin McNaught

901 Willowbrooke Road, Sudbury, VT

www.trevinfarms.com

Champlain Valley Creamery

Carleton Yoder

88 Mainelli Road, Suite 3, Middlebury, VT

www.cvcream.com

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imag1159Another summer and that means another trip up to Stowe Mountain Lodge. There is just something about Vermont that we love. I can’t quite figure out what it is, but the people are nicer, the air seems fresher and crisper, and the food is outstanding. There was some blasting on the highway on the way up to VT so it took us about 5 hours to get there. Needless to say we were a bit tired when we arrived…and some of us were hangry and cranky, but I won’t name any names.

imag1153This year, we had a two bedroom suite and a studio. Pictured above is the second bedroom in the two bedroom suite. The bedroom had it’s own full bathroom with shower and there was another half bathroom outside in the hallway near the kitchen.

imag1151This layout was a little different than last year’s suite, this layout provided more privacy for each bedroom.

imag1149The master bedroom had a king size bed and a private bathroom.

imag1150There was a stand up shower and a soaking tub.

imag1165We were all anxiously awaiting our rematch at the Alpine slide this year, there have been excuses all year long about not knowing how to properly drive the sled and who actually won. We were a little disappointed to see that the slide wasn’t open this year. They are doing massive construction to allow for a zip line, an outdoor ice skating rink and a parking garage.

imag1162This gave us a good excuse to take in some of the other parts of the property.

imag1160We took a short and easy hike around the property – which was really quite beautiful.

For more information on Stowe Mountain Lodge, check out their website.

7412 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT

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IMG_8964We came up to Vermont and couldn’t wait to share this place with friends.

IMG_8965As fellow foodies, we knew Hen of the Wood won’t disappoint them.

IMG_8966The summertime is so lovely here. When we arrive, our table is not ready, so we are shown out to the back patio.

IMG_8970There are a couple of tables out here, and some other folks waiting to be seated.

IMG_8971The view is pretty amazing.

IMG_8972It’s nice to be outside.

IMG_8975When we sit, the first thing we order is a cheese plate. What we have been anxiously waiting for since we booked the vacation! Ascutney Mountain, Landaff, Pawlet, Tarentaise, triple creme ($7 each) come plated with hazelnuts, preserves and these delicious maple crackers that we just can’t get enough of!

IMG_8976The pork sausage appetizer, $12, comes with polenta and a fried egg. Simply delicious. Love the presentation.

IMG_8977The lobster appetizer,  $14, comes with  pickled rhubarb & crispy ham. Really delicious and decadent, can’t get enough of that lobster!

IMG_8978We all pick the short rib dumplings special ($25). The meat is tender and flavorful and the dumplings melt in your mouth. It looks like a small portion, but by the time we are done with the main course we are stuffed.

IMG_8979I say stuffed, but there is always room for dessert.

IMG_8980It doesn’t look pretty, but the pot de creme ($8) was rich in flavor, but light and creamy. An excellent way to end the evening. Love the ambiance, the service was excellent and the food is exceptional. Make reservations well in advance is you are going to VT in the peak seasons – as the restaurant is small and reservations go quickly!

Hen of the Wood

92 Stowe St  Waterbury, VT 05676

http://www.henofthewood.com/

Hen of The Wood on Urbanspoon

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IMG_9043The Crop is the space that used to be The Shed – boy do I miss that place. We’ve been here before, and the service was painfully slow. When we arrive, there is no one at the host stand and we decide that judging by the amount of people in the main dining room, we will be better off at the bar.

IMG_9044Crop brews their own beer, pretty cool. We push two high tops together, and Billy, the bartender takes good care of us. He is personable, and has a great sense of humor.

IMG_9048We get the tres amigos ($10), three tacos: duck confit, braised pork, shredded chicken. The chicken is by far the favorite in the trio.

IMG_9049The onion rings ($6) were enormous, crunchy and delicious!.

IMG_9050The fried pickles were cut lengthwise, haven’t seen that anywhere else, but it made it hard to get the breading in every bite.

IMG_9051The squeak and squeal ($16), mac & cheese, crispy pulled pork, with mustard demi sauce fell a little short for me. The sauce was a bit gritty and tasted like it came out of a can and the meat wasn’t as tender as I would have liked. While the food here was just ok, the service was excellent, we really enjoyed Billy’s company.

Crop Bistro and Brewery
1859 Mountain Road
Stowe, VT, 05672

http://www.cropvt.com

Crop Bistro & Brewery on Urbanspoon

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IMG_8839We decided to take a summer time long weekend with friends. On the way of course we stopped at my favorite farm, Cobb Hill. I love this photo. I went to take a picture of the hen house and all the hens came running!

IMG_9055We stayed again at the Stowe Mountain Lodge.

IMG_8857The lobby is so charming. There are ample places to sit and enjoy the view from the two story glass window.

IMG_8860Love the birch trees inside.

IMG_8859The lobby is kept in great condition and it is very clean.

IMG_8861Love this little nook for hanging out with friends.

IMG_8848We decided to stay in a three bedroom suite this time. It was a studio room with an adjoining door to a two bedroom suite. The balcony we had went on for what seemed like miles. It would have been great if there were a light on the porch.

IMG_8844A formal dining table, that we never had a chance to use.

IMG_8843TV in the living room that swiveled.

IMG_8842Lots of places to sit in the living room.

IMG_8841The kitchen with gas stove, full size refrigerator and dishwasher.

IMG_8849Clearly you can see our priorities 😉 There was also a large freezer below to hold all of our ice!

IMG_8856There was a washer and dryer in unit, but you have to go to the gift shop to buy detergent, unless you brought your own. If you need something from the gift shop and they are closed, all you have to do is ask the front desk and they will let you in to buy what you need.

IMG_8853The master bedroom in the two bed suite had it’s own bathroom.

IMG_8925The bathroom for the second bedroom was a little smaller (see above) and it was across the hall from the second bedroom (not attached).

IMG_8840A view of the studio room, which ironically we stayed in the same exact room the last time we were up here.

IMG_0652The hot air balloon festival is a weekend long event. Friday and Saturday night they have launches, but there is an admission fee. They have food and music there so it is a fun way to spend the night. They also have two morning launches. We decided to wake up super early and go to this event, there is no charge for the morning launches.

IMG_8886You drive up to the Stoweflake and park in an open field. You have a short walk to the back area where all the balloons are setting up. There are a fair amount of people here taking in the amazing site. Make sure to bring your camera!

Stowe Balloon

Watching the balloons!

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The balloons are so serene.

Stowe Balloon 2

Some balloons have baskets but a few just have a harness seat – which to me, seems super scary!

IMG_0706More balloons. It’s pretty amazing how they manage to coordinate this many balloons to take off at the same time and no one gets bumped – although two did go a little off course.

Stowe Balloon 3

Here are the pilots with their balloons:

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After spending about an hour at the field we come back to the hotel. The boys go play golf and the ladies hit the spa.

IMG_8931With the fireplace burning and the summertime weather, you don’t need the blankets, but love them anyway.

IMG_8930A lot of natural light is let in and you can see the pool below as well as the beautiful green scenery in the background.

IMG_8929The spa is so relaxing, and there isn’t anyone else here but us (in the waiting room). The spa books up quickly when there are weddings etc. so make your appointment early.

IMG_8983We head out on Sunday into town to do some shopping and come across this great farmer’s market across the street from the Stoweflake. The market is in a grassy area, so people have brought their families and their pets to hang out for the day. They have someone at the smoker making pulled pork sandwiches, there is a pizza stall that makes gourmet pizza and a live band! We stop to sample some goods at Gizmo’s Pickles. Verne and Judy are at the booth and super nice. They encourage you to try everything they have there. The best part was that I loved the green tomatoes but had no idea how I would eat them at home. Verne fired off 5 different ways I could eat them, including my favorite, throwing them into a blender and making a tomato sauce out of them and serving over pasta!

IMG_9068Check out these AMAZING pickled fiddleheads! I brought some back for a few co-workers that I knew would appreciate them. Fun fact, Verne said they go through somewhere around 25,000 jars a year! For $20 they will ship anywhere in the US!

IMG_9062We stop over at the Lake Champlain Chocolate store to pick up some chocolate seconds – they’re cheaper and hey – they don’t need to look nice, they’re going straight into my belly!

IMG_9061And as a pleasant surprise, we find Wally’s bagel chips at the Cabot Annex store. See my previous review of them here.

IMG_9002And a must try when at Stowe Mountain Resort is the Alpine Slide. $18 per ride for an adult but you can get a discount if you put the charge on your room. You can also buy an all day pass for $80 (adult) and get unlimited rides. You head up the mountain on a ski lift.

IMG_9006Nice to see the green field and the wildflowers.

IMG_9024You hop in these sled like vehicles that have a lever in the front. Pull up to slow down and push down to go faster. It was pretty fun! (no cameras aloud when riding down the slide)

IMG_9052After dinner we came back to the hotel and spent some time by the pool and the fire pit. Surprisingly there were a lot of people out at 10pm with their kids. The pool closes at 10pm but the fire pit stayed on longer.

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IMG_9028Solstice is the main restaurant in Stowe Mountain Lodge. Breakfast is served from 7-11. Sunday morning, while the guys play golf, we go out to breakfast. They have coffee in the bar area outside the restaurant (see picture above), but they have run out and people are starting to get antsy. I had made a reservation but there was a wedding at the hotel last night, and breakfast is a mess. There are tons of families with kids, there are about 10 people in line ahead of us, the hostess is flustered and she is setting tables as she seats them. She’s young and looks stressed, they could have been better prepared for this kind of situation. It takes us about 15 minutes to get to the front of the line. When we are seated, we are put in a back table, near lots of tables of screaming kids. I like kids, don’t get me wrong, but people here, servers and parents alike are looking a bit frazzled and overwhelmed.

IMG_8981We sit at the table with menus and no one comes over for 20 minutes. I finally get up and ask the man who appears to be a manager (he is standing by the kitchen putting the garnish on the plates, and the only one in a suit) if someone can come and take our order. Our waiter is a bit desheveled and is running around like mad man. He finally takes our order, we both get the french toast. This is how the plate comes. I kid you not, when I bit into the bacon, it was so overcooked it basically turned to powder.

IMG_8982I was embarrassed to ask for new bacon, but look at the difference! The food was far too much for us to eat, we probably could have shared an order. Service was awful, we were ignored and didn’t have the relaxing breakfast we had hoped for. The food, which on previous visits here for dinner has normally been good, wasn’t as good as it should have been for the price. At this point, we had wished we had just hopped in the car and went to grab a bagel in town.

Solstice

7412 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT

http://www.stowemountainlodge.com/stowe-solstice-restaurant.php

Solstice on Urbanspoon

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IMG_8941First full day in Vermont we spend the morning at the spa and then decide to go up to the Cliff House for lunch. You have to pay to get up the mountain via the gondola. The cost is $25 per person, round trip, but if you are a hotel guest and you put the charge on your room, they give you a 20% discount.

IMG_8942They have sunny patio you can sit at, but we grab a seat by the window.

IMG_8934Because we are on vacation, and it’s lunch time, we use this as a good excuse to have a couple of cocktails. These have fresh strawberries, mint and cane sugar liquor. They go down a little too easily – and by the end of lunch we’ve both had 3 drinks.

IMG_8936I love coming up here for the cheese board – it never disappoints. There is a blue cheese on the plate, I normally don’t like the taste of blue cheese, but this one has the flavor of a cow’s milk cheese – really quite tasty. It comes simply plated, but we are impressed anyway.

IMG_8937I opt for the caprese salad since we are going out fort a nice dinner at Hen of the Wood later on that evening – so I try and keep my lunch light. I love the color of this dish, red and yellow tomatoes.

IMG_8938Such a great view of the resort (and beyond) from the restaurant. There are picnic tables outside if you want to bring your own lunch, and many people there have opted for a one way ticket for the gondola – opting to hike their way down.

The Cliff House at Stowe Mountain Lodge

5781 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT

http://www.stowe.com/explore/dining/the-cliff-house-/

Cliff House on Urbanspoon

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IMG_8864The first night we are in VT we decide to go out for a casual bite – pizza at Pie in the Sky. This place is always jamming! We are lucky to not have to wait for a table and order up two pizzas. The waitress is the same as we had the last time we were in Vermont 🙂 They have an outdoor patio, but be prepared to wait for those seats – in the nice weather they are highly coveted seats.

IMG_8865The ambiance is casual, but the pizzas taste gourmet. Above, pepperoni and onion. Pies range in price, from $14.99 for a small to $19.99 for a large. They have a nice selection of specialty pizzas, but if you still can’t find something you like, you can always pick your own toppings.

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We also ordered a sausage and onion pizza.  For me it’s all about the sauce, with the crust as a close second, but the sauce here really makes the pizza. You have to start with a great base to make a great pizza. Two pies were more than the four of us could eat, so they wrapped the extra slices in tin foil and sent us on our way. The pizza tasted delicious cold on day two as well!

Pie in the Sky

492 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT 05672

http://pieintheskyvt.com/

Pie In the Sky on Urbanspoon

Pie In the Sky on Urbanspoon

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