Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vermont: The Green Mountain State - by Peaches

When you say "New England States", three particular states come to mind: Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  For some reason,Vermont has always tickled my fancy because of its  close association with Ben & Jerry's main ice cream factory - my ice cream gods!  Furthermore, we do not know anything anymore about this tiny state except for the post-card pictures we see.  After visiting the place, however, I learned that Vermont has a lot of other undiscovered places and attractions as you pass through its small towns, approximately 10-15 miles apart (give or take 20-30 minutes drive). Vermont is known for their locally crafted produce such as their specialty cheeses, maple syrup and chocolates.

Since Vermont is divided into three regions, I decided to concentrate on Central Vermont where the heart and soul of the state is. My first stop along Lake Champlain River was...

Waterbury: Located along Route 100, off I-89, the birthplace of Ben & Jerry's. Neighbors of this infamous ice cream factory are Cabot Creamery Annex Store (a co-op store that sells variety of specialty cheddar cheeses among others), Lake Champlain Chocolates and J.K. Adams The Kitchen Store. Further down the road there is Cold Hollow Cider Mill, a must-visit in this area, as this is the only apple-cider mill that makes the best cider in this part of state as they use the old-fashion way of pressing their apples and turning them into cider. Getting into the historic town center of South Main Street, one will see The Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center which is strategically located beside the historic train station, better-known by the locals as the Amtrak. A good eating place I also sampled and enjoyed was Juniper's Fare Cafe (a restaurant run by a community of non-denominational Franciscans who have their own farm) where all of the bread selections served here are either locally produced by their own farm or sourced locally within state.

Specialty Cheese Spread at Cabot Annex Store

Facade of Cabot Annex Store

Lake Champlain Chocolate

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Granny Smith greets you by the door

Historic Train Station by Waterbury Center where Green Mountain Coffee is located. There is a cutting-edge design and world-class exhibit that offers a sensory tour that explains their method of "tree to cup".

Juniper's Cafe

Next stop...the state capital of Vermont...

Montpelier: As you exit I-89 and see the golden dome, then you have reached the state capital of Vermont. It is the smallest capital in the United States and has a population of only 8,000. The town is lined up with brownstone buildings reminiscent of the 1800s that is typical in those days. Each building houses small art shops, antique shops, specialty boutiques and a creperie coffee shop like The Skinny Pancake. Further down State Street is their Court House and some walk-thru wooden bridges that connects each street to the other. It basically has only 4 major streets in town that you can walk and finish in a day. As you exit Montpelier and go slightly Northeast, you will see Bragg Farm House. For eight generations, the Bragg Family has been producing Vermont's Finest Maple Syrup keeping their traditional methods of maple-sugaring intact. They have an educational maple video which covers the history and how they preserve the maple trees. Their gift shop and maple ice cream parlor is a must-see here.  By nightfall, I was starved and the only restaurant open at that hour was Lucia's Restaurant in Barre, VT which surprisingly served hearty Italian meals!

Bragg Farm Sugarhouse
The big boiler
Montpelier's Court House at State Street

State Capitol of Vermont at the background

walk-thru bridges and rivers that connect the town of Montpelier
Lucia's Restaurant at Barre, VT

Kiddie Meal at Lucia's (A Choice of Carbonara, Cheese Fettucine or Bolognese)

Crab Cake Patties

Chicken Piccata with Mushroom Sauce

Pasta Mediterranean

Pescatore Linguini
I am still dreaming of Vermont and I know there are still many undiscovered places that I have missed out on. But, I am hoping to go back and explore the other parts of the state where the unfamiliar will greet me with much delight.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Full credit goes to my fave sis-in-law for introducing me to the drinks, moreso to the owners of Serenitea! The leading tea saloon, owned and operated by the dynamic duo of Juliet Herrera and Peterson Chen, has been making BIG waves since the day they opened shop... 

Despite other wannabees sprouting like mushrooms (others even claiming to be the "real thing" from Taiwan), the owners make no false pretenses nor defensive claims, and are confident their brand and offerings have been tweaked to capture the discriminating taste of the Filipino palette. Serenitea is proudly conceptualized locally - "a tea shop patterned after the Taiwanese kinds" according to Peterson.

Best of all Serenitea hits the mark with its various tea offerings (hot and cold) that caters to one's prefered sweetness level and "SINKERS" (black pearl, nata, pudding, coffee jelly, etc); thereby personalizing each and every customers experience. Imported tea leaves sourced globally are extracted on-the-spot using an Espresso Machine, which yields the best result since the strong pressure achieves full flavor at a minimal amount of time. The end product, as wished by the owners, is to exalt one's own personal brew that he/she can be proud of!

Here's to more success... 15 branches and  counTEAng!  More  exciTEAng  product offerings (food items specially)...So glad to be part of your BREWING enterprise!