Eating Shelburne Farms food

The day we visited the farm barn I had lunch from the Farm Cart. The grilled cheese sandwich featured bread and cheese made on premises. The minnestrone soup had a smoky taste I couldn’t identify – it wasn’t beef, it resembled wine. Maybe maple? The best meal I had in Shelburne was breakfast at the restaurant in the Inn at Shelburne Farms. Once the home of Lila Vanderbilt Webb, William Seward, and their children, it’s been converted to a hotel. It’s still semi-private, you have to be staying at the inn, eating at the restaurant, or signed up for a tour, to be granted admission to the grounds. Breakfast was crafted mostly from foods produced on the grounds. The Market Garden Frittata deftly incorporated the vegetables in the eggs, not as tiny shreds, but grand hunks of potato, kale, apple, spaghetti squash. There was bacon, O’Bread toast, Champlain Orchards apple … Continue reading

Shelburne Farms

When I first saw the Shelburne Farms barn I thought, I didn’t know barns came in Tudor. The place looked less like a farm than an estate. When Lila Vanderbilt Webb and husband William Seward established the place in 1886 they meant it to be just that, a “model agricultural estate”. The fortune that built it could not sustain it, and in 1976 the heirs turned the place into a non-profit educational working dairy farm. There’s a petting area in the barn with sheep in pens. Petting chickens run around the grounds. The day I was there I saw kids playing in the fields behind the barn and listened to interns discussing chores with full-time employees. The school in the barn is marked private, the kids aren’t part of the tour, but they are a main focus. Every farm employee made sure to tell me that their mission is primarily … Continue reading

Vermont-inspired reflections

In Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, her account of a year of eating in the local foodshed, Barbara Kingsolver described a month she and her husband spent in Italy, touring an extant foodshed, collecting ideas to take back home. I wanted to visit an intact foodshed too. I still want to see Italy (maybe with Monica?) There’s the whole Terra Madre movement there and centuries of tradition around foods. But what I really wanted to see is how a foodshed might work in America. On the West Coast we are still inventing ourselves, but the east coast does have several centuries of food and farming custom, and a renewed interest in preserving and expanding local agriculture. So for the last week I have been touring, shopping, cooking, and checking out restaurants in Vermont. I spent one day in Burlington, one day in Hardwick, and the rest of the time I was eating … Continue reading

Claire’s, Hardwick Vermont

Last stop on the Hardwick self-tour was Claire’s to check out the work of Chef Proprietor Steven Obranovich. He’s living the ideal chef’s life – the restaurant’s web site says, “Our chef, Steven Obranovich, begins his day from his kitchen on Main Street after talking with farmers.” The menu was dated today. Alex, Ted and I had reservations for 5:00 and didn’t really need them, but at 6:00 the place was filling up, even on a Monday night. I have eaten at Chez Panisse, Nora Restaurant, and Tilth, but this was the first place I’ve been that comes close to Mor Mor. Soup may seem to be the simplest thing to make but is actually the most difficult. I learn the most about a chef’s cooking from the soup. The pumpkin, leek and fennel soup trended toward the sweet, but the savory sorrel pumpkin seed pistou pulled it back. Ted … Continue reading