BY MOLLY VAN COTT
THE VERMONT MAPLE GRANOLA CO.
Beth Vicker (Photograph by George Soules)
The granola peeking through Beth Vickers’ windowed brown paper bags is incredibly inviting. The accompanying copy describes the contents as “simple, natural and delicious.” Yet it is the words “maple” and “Vermont” that magnetize me. I experience no apprehension whether it’s going to taste good: It looks good and, sure enough, it’s scrumptious.
Beth began selling her granola at the Dorset Farmers Market in the summer of 2006. In 2008 she joined forces with local granola purveyor and they co-founded Vermont Maple Granola Co.
Beth mixes up each small batch by hand. She fully supports the local food movement and sources the pure maple syrup and sunflower seed oil used in her granola from a farmer in North Bennington. She also sells her granola at as many farmers markets as she can. She mentions the sustainability of winter markets, specifically JK Adams, the one closest to her in Dorset, Vermont.
“This has been a great thing for the community and provides nearly year-round opportunities for vendors,” says Beth, who graciously directs me to a few vendors she likes. I go home with many delicious souvenirs.
Beth’s young family is at the age where they too, can enjoy the fruits of her labor. She responded to customer feedback along with her own realization that the nutritional contents needed to be delicious and healthy. After reformulating the recipes to lower the sugar and oil, Beth re-balanced her granola. She did not stint on the pure maple syrup, however. In the last year she has updated all of the nutrient fact labels and is proud to claim that “Vermont Maple Granola has been served in some schools.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take this magical handmade granola over any machine-processed product, and Beth, I will be happy to spread the word, because your granola is that good!
The Vermont Maple Granola Co.
P.O. Box 1033
Manchester Center, VT 05255
TOMATO JUICE WITH AN ATTITUDE
Visit GrannyBlossoms.com to place your un-regrettable order.
If you want good company, food and drinks at your Sunday brunch, be sure to invite Bob and Doris Kopp. If you’re lucky they’ll bring along some of their 30-plus salsas, corn relish, BBQ Sauce, and most importantly, one of their outstanding Bloody Mary mixes.
Their company, Granny Blossom’s Specialty Foods, began as a full-service restaurant. Chef Bob branched out by making his own dip, sauce, salsa, granola, trail mix and spices. One tasty spice landed on the “Today Show” in 1991 and it was downhill after that. They became so busy they never opened the restaurant again. The Bloody Mary mixes have exceptional body and two different heats. The jalapeño and lime mix has serious good-heat. The mix with horseradish is a bit milder. Each mix includes a recipe on the label for Gazpacho, a delicious cold soup that uses the Bloody Mary mix as its base. Many of us will add vodka, a lime and a straw and call it a day.
Bob and Doris Kopp pride themselves on the oldfashioned concept of neighbors working together. Bob says, “We buy everything local; everything that is possible to buy local.” This small Vermont family business has distant stories and connections.
Granny Blossom’s Specialty Foods
425 Rte. 30, West Pawlet
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a very busy one for Dakin Farm. In fact, they do half of their business during these holiday weeks, hiring over 100 additional local people to ensure the mailing of over 37,000 packages of their products.
Though primarily a mail-order business, Dakin Farm bacon supplies two local restaurants. They have a flagship store in Ferrisburgh, as well as a satellite shop in South Burlington. Dozens of fresh samples are prepared and available daily at their stores. I tasted many of these samples and happily purchased more to take home.
Maple sugar is used to cure their bacon as well as all their pork products. It is then corn cob smoked, sliced and packaged at the Ferrisburgh store. A visit to the smokehouses will find everyone hard at work—spiral-slicing hams, smoking bacon, making sausages and pepperoni and so much more. The bacon is lean, crisp and thick-sliced, with a rich natural meaty flavor—the way the bacon was made long ago. Dakin Farm has the experience to back their technique; after all, the heritage farm has been familyrun for over 200 years.
Word of this local business has spread. The Boston Globe made the bacon a top pick for sources east of the Mississippi. Says farm owner Sam Cutting IV, “It’s always a pleasure to show off our USDA-inspected smokehouses, however, we are always happy to send you a taste of Vermont no matter where you live.”
The Original Dakin Farm
Sam Cutting IV, owner
5797 Rte. 7, Ferrisburgh
Our Branch Store
100 Dorset St., South Burlington
CILANTRO HAS LEGS
The restaurant Cilantro based its beginnings on what I describe as LEGS: Local, Environmental, Gratifying and Sustainable. Instead of going on their honeymoon, Cassidy and Brenna Warren chose to renovate a former rug store into an authentic Mexican restaurant. Despite a fine-dining background Chef Cassidy decided to focus on the food he tended to cook on his days off: simple and authentic Mexican fare.
Says Chef Cassidy, “The locals are my bread and butter, and we’ll keep them happy.” All of Cilantro’s food is prepared with naturally raised meat, and the produce is locally sourced. In the summer he grows his own peppers including habaneros and jalapeños, as well as plenty of the signature namesake, cilantro.
Environmentally, Chef Cassidy is extremely conscious and runs the restaurant as green as he possibly can. There is no dishwasher and all of the utensils and cups are biodegradable, made from vegetable starches. The to-go containers are recycled compostable materials.
When I called Chef Cassidy to set up an interview, he stated, “I’m not usually here on Monday’s, I just stopped in to get food for my chickens and pigs.” During the interview he clarified this statement, explaining that he feeds the leftover food from each day to his livestock and starts over with all fresh food the next day Experiencing Cilantro is, on the whole, a gratifying experience. They serve high-quality Mexican food—fast, yet customizing any item with the ingredients you’d like. More specifically, a visit to this restaurant is a must just to try the house sauce, which I call, C-GLO. If you have a craving for Mexican and you really want to know what’s in the sauce, go to Cilantro and I’m sure they’ll tell you.
The restaurant is inviting, clean and comfortable. Cassidy and Brenna are both graduates of the New England Culinary Institute and Chef Cassidy has over 16 years of experience in the food industry. Brenna is the accountant for Cilantro, and Cassidy has declared that “business is great.”
Cassidy freely offered me information on all of his suppliers, specifically mentioning Lucky 7 Livestock. Although it’s a New York State company, they offer the largest variety of meat to meet his needs, aiding him in one of his quests to get customers to eat more pork and beef.
Chef Cassidy’s personal passion is promoting sustainable agriculture and the lifestyle that accompanies it. He defines “local” as “within a certain distance, the farmers’ personal commitment, how they raise their product and the fact that they’re using less gas to get a product to me.” After visiting Cilantro I can now say that all of these elements add up to the fact, that indeed, this business has the LEGS to stand on its own and succeed!
5036 Main St., Manchester