Vermont / Back Forty

>–Vermont was lovely, despite all the bleary-eyed work we did. We canned about 45 gallons of syrup for the coming weeks of Greenmarket, so that I can have basically every grade of syrup in every container. (This means taking the syrup from huge 30 gallon drums and putting it into tiny containers from 3 ounces up to a gallon.) Our market table is becoming too small to hold everything, perhaps we’ll need to expand. Also, I seem to have forgotten how much room it takes to have everything available, since over the winter we’re usually down to one or two grades in most of the containers. So, the good stuff is here, too, the Deep Mountain Special Reserve, which tastes so utterly fantastic and subtle that I think the best thing to do with it is, um, just drink it out of the bottle.

–Howie, the sugarmaker, and I were walking through the sugarbush, talking about price points and candy sales. “This is where I almost died,” he said. “What happened?” I asked. In the trees above us was a huge branch, broken and dangling from the trunk. “The wind was really crazy, and I got stuck in the snow right here. That branch was waving all around, ready to snap off and come down on my head.” He paused, and I took in the reality of it–the situation was very real. “What was going through your head?” I said. He answered: “You never think it’s going to happen. But some part of you does.”

–The drive from New York City to West Glover, VT doesn’t really get interesting until you’re in Vermont. Until then, it is only the wavy stretch of I-95 through Connecticut and Massachusetts, which is spotted with rest stops infested with McDonald’s. The radio, also, lacked excitement. We did have some interesting conversation.

–Last night, Kip and I took my friend John out to dinner for his birthday at Back Forty, the casual new foodie joint from Savoy’s Peter Hoffman. Here’s what we shared:
-Pork Jowel Nuggets, with jalapeno jam
-Buttermilk Biscuits, with maple chipotle butter
-Wintered Over Broccoli Rabe, with garlic and balsamic
-Green Wheat, with mint and yogurt sauce
-Toasted Fregola, with marscapone, caramelized onions and guanciale
-Drunken Potato Melt, with spring onions, fontina and appenzeller
John had the Grass Fed Burger, one of the most press-given dishes at the restaurant, and Kip and I shared the Whole Rotisserie Chicken. The kitchen, or somebody, mistakenly sent out the half-chicken instead of the whole, and they made quick note of it, and sent the other half. Then, as an apology, they sent out fresh doughnuts with a lemon thyme glaze. “For, you know, that whole chicken thing,” the server said. I thought that was classy. Also, the server must have overheard us talking birthday, and saw us give John a birthday card, so without any of us mentioning it, they brought a slice of the seasonal pie with a candle. It was a citrus cream thing, much like a key lime pie, but better. The food was great, and the vibe was totally casual and classy. I thought the service was also superb–even with the chicken error, they were gracious, relaxed without being too friendly. Thumbs up, Mr. Hoffman.

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