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Posts tagged ‘Vermont’

Burlington, VT pt III: Breakfast in Burlington

Chorizo & Egg Tacos

Any Saturday or Sunday in Burlington, no matter how cold, you will see a crowd of people gathered outside of Penny Cluse Cafe on Cherry Street. The wait is always at least a half-hour (unless you go very early, on weekends the cafe opens at 8am)– but, is always so worth it. This cozy breakfast spot has a diverse menu of delicious, incredibly fresh (and never greasy) dishes.

Penny Cluse always offers breakfast and lunch specials utilizing seasonal ingredients, but I always find myself craving some of the staple menu items. The omelettes are amazing, and have so many different filling choices, it’s actually a bit overwhelming. Way beyond the standard options, Penny Cluse offers many local cheeses, and meats (including andouille, chorizo, chicken apple sausage, and smoked bacon), and other interesting items like cranberry-almond relish, dulse seaweed, capers, and many, many more.

My personal favorite dish is the Chorizo and Egg Tacos a lunch plate featuring two soft corn tortillas filled with house-made chorizo sausage scrambled with eggs and jack cheese, served with black beans, and avocado salsa. The chorizo is packed with spicy and savory flavor, the eggs are always soft and fluffy, and with just a little hot sauce, it makes one of my all time favorite brunch meals.

The Mama Cruz’s Huevos Rancheros, and the Tofu Scram (I like it with the salsa ranchero and corn muffins), are some of my other favorite savory items. These are served with the cafes awesome homefries, which are so good they could be a meal in themselves (the Bucket-o-Spuds appetizer features a mound of homefries with melted cheese, salsa, sour cream, and green onions, an egg on top is also an option).

Tofu Scram with Salsa Ranchero, Spinach, and Andouille Sausage (not so vegetarian).

For those of you who prefer sweet breakfast foods, Penny Cluse offers many delicious options. The Gingerbread Pancakes (served with Vermont maple syrup, obviously) are one of their most popular dishes. I also really love their Banana Bread with Maple Walnut Cream Cheese to share with the table.

With a bloody mary, mimosa, or several cups of steaming hot coffee, you’re in for one of the best brunch meals in the area (Sneakers in Winooski takes a close second). The food is consistently great, and arrives to your table very quickly after ordering. So wait the half hour, go shop across the street at the Outdoor Gear Exchange (where you can easy spend 30 minutes), believe me, it will be worth it (no matter how bad your weekend hangover may be).

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Burlington, VT: Slow-Food Burgers at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill

Misty Knoll Free Range Turkey Burger at the Farmhouse

If you turn onto Bank Street, off of the pedestrian-only cobblestone Church Street– where you once could find a McDonald’s tucked behind the shops and restaurants– you will stand before The Farmhouse Tap & Grill: a gastropub “dedicated to showcasing and supporting local farms and food producers.” A clear victory for the local food movement, and a perfect example of just how progressive Vermont is, I was excited to see what the menu had to offer.

We travelled down from Mike’s house to meet his parents, and Dan, who were in the outdoor beer garden. While it was quite a bit colder than NYC, there were still quite a few people outside enjoying beers from the extensive selection. We sat inside quickly, and our drink order was taken immediately. I took Dan’s advice and tried the Victory/Stone/Dogfish Head DeBuff, a collaboration between Victory Brewing Co, Stone Brewing Co, and Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales. With a hoppy front, and an herbal finish, the crisp beer is infused with (cue the Simon & Garfunkel) parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

Photo: Dan Kirk

We started with a selection of Vermont Cheeses, served with local Red Hen bakery bread, Vermont apple butter, and maple candied walnuts. Favorites included the Jasper Hill/Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Peaked Mountain Farm VT Dandy, and the Consider Bardwell Farm Equinox, a hard, sharp, raw goat’s milk cheese. Mrs. Kirk shared the interesting story of Consider Bardwell’s farmer Angela Miller, and how she ended up in West Pawlet Vermont (after spending many years on Shelter Island).

The restaurant is known for its burgers, which are all composed of local meats. Their beef burgers are made with Maple Wind Farm Grass Fed Beed, from Huntington, VT– and are topped with Landaff Creamery cheese, VS&C bacon, and house pickled red onion (other toppings are available for all burgers such as Laughing Lotus Farm Kimchi, House Pickled Jalapenos, and Wilted Lacinato Kale. They serve a Pork burger with a sunny side up local egg, Vermont Cheddar, and tomato (the pork is farm pasture raised at Winding Brook Farm in Morrisville), and I had the Misty Knoll Free Range Turkey Burger with Taylor Farm smoked gouda, grilled local apple, charred onions, and arugula. They also had several specials (Dan had the special Venison burger), as well as vegetarian options (Farmhouse Veggie Burger, and Portobello White Bean Burger).

Photo: Dan Kirk

My burger was moist and flavorful, which is not always a given with turkey burgers. The toppings offered the perfect blend of sweet and savory, without over-powering the mild taste of the turkey. The fries were hot, crispy, and served with a variety of condiments brought out to the table (the garlic aioli was a favorite).

Photo: Dan Kirk

The Farmhouse was very crowded, almost all of the tables seemed to be full, and the bar was pretty packed by the time we left. Like it’s sister restaurant American Flatbread (which we ordered take out from the night before, see menu here,) it seems to be quickly becoming a Burlington favorite. The atmosphere wasn’t amazing, the room was large and fairly impersonal (it was after-all, a McDonald’s) but we had a great table of people, interesting conversations, and plenty of beer, all of which allowed one to easily ignore their surroundings. With it’s impressive locavore (or as Dan might prefer it, localvore) menu, and not to mention it’s beer list– it’s not difficult to see why this is such a popular spot.