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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Deep, Dark Chocolate Secrets + Postcard from Middlebury

So much to report. Today Fig and I are going over to the Middlebury College campus just to drink in the feeling of a pretty New England college. I hear it's quite pricey, and Fig isn't even sure where she wants to go, but it's junior year--time to start touring colleges. I figured since we're here in storybook Vermont, we should take a little look.

We're at the Middlebury Inn. With Sug, and last room available, so not in pretty historic part of inn but in very ordinary outpost. But breakfast in the dining room here was delicious--Fig's blueberry pancakes with Vermont maple syrup, my two-egg omelet with Vermont Cheddar.

Yesterday was so rich and fun. I left at 8:30 A.M. to join the Lake Champlain Chocolates media tour, with a handful of other magazine journalists [from Vermont; Maine; D.C; and NYC]. Figgy and Sug slept later. Fig went to the pool at Stowe Mountain Lodge, then Meg and Greg, who live nearby in Stowe, came and took her on the alpine slide and the gondola ride.

All the while, I was soaking up facts about chocolate, glorious chocolate.

Since we have to check out at noon, just doing a quick lick list:
  • Dream cheeses and chocolate. Starting with the best part. What's more luxurious than a platter of the world's freshest cheeses and carefully crafted chocolates? The cheese, chocolate and beer pairing [or threesome-ing] at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill on Church Street in Burlington was downstairs in a special paneled room with a bar. Think dark and hushed--these folks take their local cheeses, signature brews and fine chocolates seriously. But then we all warmed up and started chatting freely. So awesome. Pours expert Paul Sayler had chosen two beers to go with the cheese and chocolate pairs handpicked by Lake Champlain Chocolates [LCC].  #1 Zero Gravity Oktoberfest lager with Spring Brook Farm Alpine-style Tarentaise cheese and chocolate-covered almonds. #2 Zero Gravity Deus Aqua [a Belgian-style saison brew, a paler ale] with Champlain Valley Creamery Triple Crème cheese and Dark Sea Salt Caramels. #3, my favorite: Blue Ledge Farm Lake's Edge butter-soft, ash-veined goat cheese [no, seriously, you could eat it with a spoon] with Organic Spicy Aztec Chocolate Squares and sip of either beer. Let me tell you, I felt like I died and went to heaven. [I can't lie; I don't like beer. But the second, the saison, was lighter and more appealing.] Also at the table: Handsome young Eric Lampman, well-mannered, smart and dressed like he stepped out of a Ralph Lauren ad, in a plaid shirt and blue jeans. Son of  LCC founder, Jim Lampman, and R&D director for the company, Eric had a hand in marrying the chocolates with the cheeses. Serving idea: Nicci, a pretty young mom, writer and editor from Vermont-based Eating Well Magazine, said she could see a nice plate of farm cheese and good chocolate as a Thanksgiving dessert [take a nibble, pass it on].  
  • Tour of the chocolate factory.  Well, sadly, we have to check out by noon, so that leaves me 10 minutes to throw my stuff in a bag. Will post more later, but didn't want to wait too long, while those cheese details were still fresh in my mind. :) I hate to leave you hanging on this tempting truffle note, but I have to....$25 fee for each hour we're late after checkout...and plus, we're driving back to Stowe to meet Meg and Greg...

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