Saturday, September 7, 2013

Burlington Food Tours

Vermont prides itself with food, especially when it comes to food produced in Vermont. This is one of reasons why I love the food scene there: Restaurants want to support local farmers and producers.


This summer I was invited to attend the Burlington Food Tours, which is one of two food tour companies that I know of that are fairly new to Vermont. Burlington Food Tours started giving tours in 2012 and has continued into this year.  I was excited to go on the tour and decided to attend it while in Vermont last month.


The tour started at the East Shore Vineyard Tasting Room on Church Street on a warm Saturday afternoon. We met with our tour guide and two other women who were visiting the area.


We each picked out three wines to try and with the tasting came some amazing Jan's Farmhouse Crisps (crackers) and Vermont Goat Cheese. To this day I am still craving those crackers and cheese.

My favorite wine was the 2012 LaCrescent, made right in Vermont. Tom chose a blueberry mead. I had never tried mead but it had a unique taste with definite floral flavors.


Our tour then led us to the Burlington Farmer's market where we sampled treats from various vendors. The first sample hit the spot after our walk from the Tasting Room, as we sipped a small refreshing sample of maple syrup sweetened lemonade. I might be able to live off that for the rest of my life if I could get it down to DC....


On the list of sites and sampling there was.....


...delicious pesto focaccia from Slowfire that we dipped into pistachio hummus from Anatolian. The bread was hearty and full of flavor and the hummus was unlike any hummus I had ever had before. I would never have thought of pistachios in a hummus, but I will definitely want to stop for some next summer when we go back up to Burlington.

My mouth just started salivating remembering that combo.... yum...

Next was a raspberry muffin from Stumble Ipon Bakery.


Then there was my first experience with bitters at Urban Moonshine. We were told that they help to stimulate digestion and also are great to have after fatty foods. I sampled a maple bitter (quite Vermonty - don't you say?) that was definitely bitter going down, but really cleansed my palate, especially after the bakery muffin.


Our tour of the farmer's market finished with samples of three varieties of heirloom tomatoes from Half Pint Farm. Each tomato had their own distinct flavor, but the giant white tomato was easily my favorite of the three.



Finally, our tour brought us to a newer restaurant in Burlington, Pistou. We had the whole place to ourselves as they are only open for dinner and it was only 2:00 in the afternoon. It was dimly lit and the walls had the wine offerings of the restaurant written in chalk - making for a neat effect when you walk in. After speaking with our server we learned that many of the products are local. It is not uncommon for them to snatch an unexpected product from a farmer and whip up a special meal with the new find for that day.


On that particular Saturday we were offered a delicious potato salad with anchovies and peanuts in a cream sauce. I would have never eaten the anchovies had they been on their own, but they were quite delicious in this meal.


We finished our meal by opening up a milk chocolate and toffee vegan chocolate bar from Chocolate Hollow that we had purchased at the Farmer's Market. It was probably one of the best tasting chocolates I have ever had.

Yes, a vegan chocolate can be absolutely delicious.
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To be honest, I did not love the tour. We did sample a lot of food, but I definitely didn't leave full, nor feel like we sampled enough. I did, however, really enjoy all of the food we tried. Yes, even the anchovy.

As a native Vermonter that lived in Burlington for a few years, I felt that there could have been more focus on the details about the food of the city. I wanted to hear more history and see more restaurants. I love tours because they usually give a lot of information, and I did not feel that I got enough on this one.

We also reached the farmer's market on the tail end of their day, so we did not catch all of the vendors that we should have. I have been to the market on my own and I have sampled more variety for free than what we did that day. I also expected to visit more local restaurants, to get a real taste of the permanent Burlington food scene, rather than just the Saturday Farmer's Market scene.

Would I recommend this tour to others? Not quite yet. If more information is added and a chance to see and taste the samplings from other restaurants, then yes! Would I recommend you try the Tasting Room, the vendors at the market, or Pistou? Absolutely. Everything we had that day was great.
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I want to thank Burlington Food Tours for inviting me on the tour. I love the idea of food tours in Burlington and hope that it can take off next year.

I also love that I am now craving these foods and I have been opened up to new businesses that I had never heard of.

If you are interested in a Burlington Foods Tour for yourself, check out their website and purchase tickets here. Tours are offered every Saturday until October 13th from 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm.


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