Friday, April 18, 2014

The pressures and pleasures of planning a wedding!

                          The pressures and pleasures of planning a wedding!

Tis the season in Vermont to be looking for a spot to hold your wedding or to be putting on the finishing touches.  There are site visits, budgets, tastings, music, photography, flowers...  A lot goes into make a very special day and it can seem overwhelming.

Make a list of the aspects of a wedding that are most important.  Do you want gardens, mountains, great entertainment, rooms for all your guests, exquisite food...?  Everyone is different.  Fall in love with the place that can give you what you desire.  If you find something outside of your budget, consider a Friday or Sunday.  Midweek dates have recently become a viable option.  Be candid about what you want and what you want to spend.  It is easier for everyone to accommodate you if they know what you want.

      Everyone should look as happy as Maggie and Kevin did on their wedding day!

                                                         Happy Planning!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring in Vermont

Spring in Vermont (or "Mud Season") can actually be a great time of year.  Many are put off by the melting snow and resulting mud puddles, but you'd be surprised at how many engaging things there are to do once those temperatures start rising!

Aside from Spring being the Maple Syrup Season (yes, please!) there's just something about those warm days and cold nights that make Vermont truly special.  For instance, if you'd like to indulge in true Vermont fashion, there is the New England Maple Museum located in Pittsford, VT (just about 1 hour from Dorset.)  At the Maple Museum you'll find a history of the making of maple syrup and the most complete collection of sugaring artifacts in existence!  (Along with samples and a gift shop!)  There are also sugar houses right in Manchester & Dorset that you can visit for a hands on experience!

You don't even need to leave the Dorset area to experience some hidden Spring gems!  Right up the road from Barrows House & The Dorset Inn is Merck Forest & Farmland Center.  At Merck Forest spring means newborn lambs!!  Merck Forest includes 3,100 acres of managed forest, a sugaring operation, and a 62 acre farm.  At the farm, along with visiting the newborn lambs, you can take a Sheep Shearing Class (April 27th), or even participate in Family Fun Farm Chores (Saturdays April 19-June 14.)

If you are an outdoor enthusiast then you should get excited about the fourth weekend of April!  Usually, on the fourth weekend of April, every year the US Army Corps of Engineers releases water from The Ball Mountain Dam (about 40 minutes from Dorset.)  The controlled release produces conditions perfect for rafting, kayaking, and canoeing...not to mention the breathtaking views!

These are just the tip of the ice berg!  Sit back, watch the flowers come to life, and enjoy Spring in Vermont!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Basil & Goat Cheese Panna Cotta 
makes about 24 bite-sized pieces
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup cream
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
1/4 cup finely-minced chives, plus extra to garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Bunch of Basil Leaves
Chop or crumble the goat cheese finely into a bowl and set aside. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup water in a separate bowl and set aside. Lightly grease the cups of a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with baking spray or vegetable oil.
Warm the cream & basil leaves over medium-high heat until small bubbles form around the edges.  Let the basil steep for 2 minutes.  Discard the basil leaves.  Stir in the goat cheese and keep stirring until it melts into the cream. Turn off the heat and add the softened gelatin. Whisk vigorously until the gelatin and any remaining bits of goat cheese are thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the yogurt and the chives. Taste season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the warm cream mixture to a glass measuring cup and carefully fill each well of the prepared mini-muffin pan. Refrigerate for four hours, or overnight.

Chef Matt

Monday, March 24, 2014

 Stalking the Wild Asparagus

“Stalking the Wild Asparagus” is a book written in 1962 by Euell Gibbons. As the title might suggest it is about foraging wild edibles. When I moved to Vermont from Denver Colorado back in 1998 I had no idea of nature’s grocery store that was located out my back door. Then one day I stumbled across a patch of wild asparagus and that was the beginning of my love of foraging.
As I look out my window and see the snow falling it’s hard to believe how close we are to the growing season. In no time I’ll be collecting Morel Mushrooms, Ramps (wild leeks), Asparagus, and Fiddlehead Ferns. Foragers will come knocking on the kitchen doors with pounds and pounds of the freshest spring ingredients you can imagine! Simply sautéed or put into risottos, soups, ragouts, sauces, raviolis, etc…
Here is a recipe for one of my favorite spring dishes, Asparagus Risotto. Risottos shouldn’t be as difficult to produce as you may believe them to be… “Stir constantly in a counter clockwise direction with a wooden spoon in your left hand! Adding fortified stock one ounce at a time, for thirty five minutes until the dish is completed!” um, no. Not gonna do it, not gonna do it.
True, you cannot rush risotto. It takes time but you can do other things whilst it cooks. Check out the basics.
2 ½ cups Arborio Rice
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 bunch Asparagus
¼ cup Minced Shallots
2 tablespoons Minced Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
1 cup Chardonnay
2 quarts Asparagus Stock
¼ cup Butter
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
To Taste Salt & Pepper
Cut off the bases of the asparagus and add to the water. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Cut remaining asparagus into ¼ inch pieces. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat saute asparagus, shallots, garlic, and bay leaf with olive oil until translucent.
Add rice and stir until hot to the touch. About 3 minutes.Deglaze with wine and reduce slightly.Add 1 1/2 quarts of hot asparagus stock and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.* Stirring becomes more important as the liquid is absorbed toward the end, you don’t want it to stick to the bottom.Check doneness once liquid is mostly absorbed.Add more stock if needed.When rice is done, that’s a touch past al dente, add butter and cheese.Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.Risotto should creamy but not gummy.Try not to over cook.
I hope you give it a try and see for yourself that it’s not that hard to make good risotto. Me? I’m going to go snowboarding a few more times while I can!

Friday, March 21, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Fun

Monday, March 17, 2014

 Monday night, green-wearing, shamrock-rocking St. Patrick’s day celebrants joined us for our annual St. Patrick’s Day party.

The first Feast of St. Patrick in the 1600s honored the patron saint of Ireland and the arrival of Christianity in the country.  Since then, the holiday has morphed into a celebration of Irish culture world round with particularly enthusiastic hubs of ex-pats in the United States, Canada, and of course, 
The Dorset Inn.

The Inn’s yearly tradition took hold more than 25 years ago and has continued to bring friends & family together to ‘feast, dance a jig and sing along with live Irish music".

Kate Ritter & Friends

Friday, March 14, 2014

Liquid Gold

This is the time of year that many of us locals look forward to for a couple of reasons.  First, the end of winter is at least on the horizon, although that means that skiing and shredding is coming to a close for another year.  Most importantly, the beginning of March brings us to Sugaring season.  The below freezing nights and warm spring days brings the deep forests and farmlands alive with  farmers and the like hoping to cash in on natures bounty of Maple Syrup.

The long process to the finished product begins by collecting the sap produced by the Sugar Maple tree.  The individual sap buckets have given way to more commercial ways of collecting sap by pipelines to a holding tank.  The sap (about 2% sugar) is then transported to the sap house where it is boiled and the excess water evaporates leaving the caramelized sugars.

The weekend of March 22-23 brings us to the annual Maple Sugar Open House at many local sap houses.  There are festivities for kids, tours of sap houses producing maple syrup, and complimentary samples of maple syrup, maple cream and candy.

If you find yourself passing The Dorset Inn, be sure to stop and enjoy a short stack of pancakes or French Toast with Pure Vermont Maple Syrup and a side of Wallingford Locker Bacon.  You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Got Bacon?

Where is your bacon smoked?
Ours is applewood smoked in Wallingford Vermont 
by our friends at the Wallingford Locker.