Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont

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wanderingjew
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2010/11/05 20:23:35 (permalink)

Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont

Previously mentioning that my roadfood trips will be far and few between, I never excluded short weekend or day trips by car.
 
I've wanted to go to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Rutland Vermont for quite some time. Some of those sugar houses where they actually serve pancakes have also peaked my curiosity. Last weekend was the perfect opportunity, although what surprised me the most was the weather that I encountered along the way....
 
Friday October 29
 
The company gave me a complimentary half day. Considering that I need to save my vacation days I took advantage of this.
Coming in to work early, I was on the road by 11AM. My first stop for lunch was a place I've mentioned several times on previous threads. Besides The Red Arrow Diner, my other favorite roadfood restaurant in Manchester NH is Chez Vachon.
 

 
It sounds fancier than it actually looks. A self described "French Canadian" family style restaurant
 

 
offering  really  "French" items on the menu  such as broasted chicken, salmon pie, meatloaf  and pork pie.
 

 

 
 
As you can see the restaurant is quite casual offering counter, booth and table service.

Chez Vachon is probably most famous for the French Canadian Specialty "Poutine". French Fries covered in cheese cuds, and chicken gravy. For a coupla bucks extra you can add your choice of topping including kielbasa, chicken tenders, hamburger or steak tips.
 

 
 
I ordered mine with steak tips. As you can see this is a meal that should not be taken lightly. Rich gravy, fresh cut fries and  squeaky curds is a meal that will invoke pleasure and delight and invite yourself to a possible visit to your cardiologist.  It's been 7 years since I last visited Chez Vachon and the meal was just as good as I remembered.
 

 
although the dessert board looked enticing-  it was out of the question- at least for now.
 
As I left the restaurant it began to rain. Funny, the weather forecast didn't indicate rain when I checked it the night before. In fact I had just left 3 straight days of nearly 80 degree weather here in Rhode Island. Either way it was obvious that the temperature was dropping.
 
I continued on my trip experiencing on and off rain and drizzle and just over an hour later arrived in Quechee VT.  My first stop being
 

 

 
Quechee Gorge  Village home of some really quaint antique shops, a Cabot Cheese outlet store, a toy museum and this really cool looking diner
 

 
Right next door to the diner was this place
 

 
Frozen Memories
 
Not only are they an ice cream shop serving local ice cream but they sell rare old toys and games going back several decades
 

 
If I wasn't in a hurry I could have spent at least a good hour or more here checking out all the toys and games going back to my childhood  in the 1970's.
 
But I was here to enjoy some local ice cream and the pumpkin ice cream captured my attention. I am in Vermont and it is that time of year. The  proprietor suggested I get sweet cream ice cream and I thought the waffle cone would be the perfect icing on the cake so to speak. Almost like a frozen pumpkin pie.
 

 
The pumpkin ice cream was fine, but the sweet cream actually tasted like "sweet creamy moo"
 
Leaving Quechee I encountered my first  Vemont Covered Bridge
 

 
Built in the 1840's I will once again encounter this bridge at the end of my trip.
 
My next stop was Sugar Bush Farms in Woodstock VT
 

 
An interactive farm where you can learn about making maple syrup and cheese and enjoy the results..
 

 
First I enjoyed various samples of cheese ranging from several months old to eight years old with varying degrees of sharpness. I then enjoyed various grades of maple syrup from light to dark and learned that depending on what time during the year the tree is tapped will depend on how dark or rich the maple syrup will be.
 
I then went on to the sugar house
 

 

 
passing this beauty
 

 
and this young gal
 

 
who kept mooing for attention.
 
As I left Sugarbush Farms, dinner time was approaching. I made my way up North to
 

 
The Roadfood Reviewed  P & H Truckstop in Wells River VT.
 
A truck stop with a restaurant and bakery. I was hoping that they would have the corn chowder described by the Sterns in their review.  Corn Chowder as  I understand is an inland Northern New England specialty . Well, they did have chowder on the menu but unfortunately it was fish, not corn. I thought about having pot roast but remembered per the review to stay away from the fake mashed potatoes. Well one of  the specialty of the day was creamed chicken over biscuits, so I was torn. I asked the waitress for her advice and she convinced me to go with the creamed chicken over biscuits.
 
I started out with a so so three bean salad
 

 
before my main course arrived..
 

 
I didn't find the meal to be anything special and wondered if the biscuits or gravy was actually homemade, but that didn't stop me from ordering dessert- and I'm glad I did.
 

 
Going with Maple Cream Pie was a decision I made without hesitation. Truly this piece de resistance was probably the best single item of the trip.
 
As I left P & H, I checked out some of their bakery items. Having enjoyed some regional breads when I was "Heartlanding through the Breadbasket" a few months back, the Maple Walnut bread really caught my attention. Since I had no appetite for anything more I didn't get any and although I regret it now, I wonder if it would have still been fresh if I brought it home with me to enjoy a few days later. Well at least it's close enough where I know I'll be back.
 
I headed to my final destination for the evening- Barre VT to check into my hotel. When I arrived it was actually "snowing" very lightly- but it was still snowing - in October! I checked into a local motel steps from downtown Barre and enjoyed a couple of local microbrews at the local pubs and tavers all walking distance.
 
As I was walking towards downtown. I passed this place
 

 
(taken the next morning on my cell phone)
 
Soup N' Greens. Curiousity got the best of me so I walked in . Offering a selection of three homemade soups n chowders daily, I hit pay dirt - Yes they had Corn Chowder!  I knew I wasn't going to order a whole meal - and it was before closing time, so I figured a cup of corn chowder and a beer will do...
 

 
and wow did they deliver- Thick, with substantial corn taste and a hint of bacon- this chowder delivered big time.

Now that I got my chowder fix I ended with a night cap of a Long Trail Ale at the Irish Pub across from my hotel and called it a night
 
More to come..
 
 
post edited by wanderingjew - 2010/11/05 20:31:40
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32 Replies Related Threads

    pumppantry
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/05 22:58:19 (permalink)
    Glad to see you made it up to our neck of the woods!  I love the look of that ice cream cone...makes me sad that most stands here have closed for the season.  We ate at the P&H yesterday and yes the pie is the highlight.  You grabbed the maple, which is probably the best, though the banana cream holds its own.  Soups & Greens is pretty good for lunch and dinner; they have probably the best salad and soup bar in the area.  (hence the name.)  I won't ask for a spoiler but I got a hunch you headed down the Barre-Montpelier Road to the Wayside.....
    #2
    mar52
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/05 23:16:07 (permalink)
    Batampte!
    #3
    mr chips
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/05 23:48:29 (permalink)
    Nice report. It's fun when areas fairly close -by have such delightful roadfood.
    #4
    UncleVic
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 01:02:47 (permalink)
    Great report! Craving corn chowder and a beer now...
     
    #5
    leethebard
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 02:12:07 (permalink)
    Colorful report and some great looking food. Thanks so much!!
    #6
    ann peeples
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 07:47:27 (permalink)
    Always fun to follow your trips, WJ, and this one was no exception!
    #7
    Stephen Rushmore Jr.
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 09:57:05 (permalink)
    Great photos and write-up!
    #8
    ayersian
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 11:42:18 (permalink)
    WJ, we visited the Farmers Diner a couple of weeks before you for a review.  It's in the queue to be posted soon!  We did not hit the ice cream place next door but had some later in downtown Woodstock that was quite good (but expensive).  Keep 'em coming, sir!    Chris
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    TnTinCT
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 15:36:16 (permalink)
    YUM! Thinking it's time to make corn chowder, now you've put the idea in my head! Looking forward to more story.
    #10
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 15:53:42 (permalink)
    pumppantry
     
    Unfortunately I did not make it to The Wayside this time around. I've been there a few times before, my last visit being in 2008. Although it's ironic that you mentioned the place because it was my initial experience  on my first visit to the Wayside back in 2001 that precipitated my most recent trip. I'll explain it in my third installation which I should complete tomorrow.
     
     
    #11
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 17:03:46 (permalink)
    Saturday October 30
     
    Imagine my surprise when I woke up and discovered a little bit of slushy snow on my car!
    On my walk the previous night through downtown Barre, I discovered a coffee house which I planned to visit this morning before leaving Barre for breakfast. I enjoyed two cups up dark roast at Espresso Bueno. Since they only had a medium roast readily available, barista was kind of enough to make the dark roast fresh per cup.
     
    I then headed south bound on I89 for breakfast.
     

     
    I discovered Eaton's Sugar House in South Royalton VT while looking up pancake and sugar houses on the internet- (at least I thought I discovered it) with favorable reviews on the web this place was a must- A working sugar house, gift shop and pancake house in one.
     

     
    The interior of the restaurant definitely has that Vermont country kitchen feel and
     

     
    and the menu provides a history of the place.
     

     
    This is the view from my window while waiting for breakfast to arrive
     
    Each pancake breakfast comes with real maple syrup
     

     
    the menu notes that they had to recently cut down on the serving size due to expenses from 3oz to 2 oz, but it was still more than enough for my apple raisin walnut pancakes.
     

     
    Which were quite good. The menu offers country grain, blueberry, buckwheat, apple spice and other pancakes as well. I would love to go back and try the buckwheat- or better yet a buckwheat-blueberry combo if it's offered.
     
    My only gripe about Eaton's Sugar House is I asked the waitress about the hash on the menu and unfortunately it's from a can so I didn't get any..
     
    After leaving, I was surprised that the Stern's have never been to Eaton's and was looking forward to reporting my new find, however when I returned home, I happened to look at the Stern's 1983 edition of Goodfood and discovered a review of The Vermont Sugar House in Royalton- I checked-same address and phone number as listed on Eaton's Website and there doesn't appear to have been a change of ownership in years, so it appears that the Stern's have in fact visited previously the restaurant- damn! Foiled again by the Stern's!
     
    Keeping the theme of the trip, my next stop was
     

     
    The New England Maple Museum in Pittsford VT
    An interactive museum with everything and anything you needed to know about the history and processing of maple syrup with several interactive displays.
     

     

     
     

     
    I thought the halloween decorations were a nice touch.
     

     

     
     

     
    What I thought was cool was some of the recorded dialogue from old Vermont farmers providing a description of the process.
     
    After enjoying the museum, I headed further south for a very large lunch at a legendary roadfood establishment...
     

     
    The Bryant House in Weston VT
    located next door to
     

     
    The Vermont Country Store but we'll get to that later..
     
    I've been wanting to check out the Bryant House for quite some time and I'm glad I finally made it here
     

     
    I started out with the only in VT classic
     

     
    Common crackers with milk and a wedge of cheddar- These sturdy crackers are plain- but solid and substantial- just like your typical old time Vermonter- the crackers held up sturdily to the milk that was poured on top of them. An occasional bite of the slightly sharp cheddar completed this classic yankee meal- but this was only the beginning! 
    My main course hasn't arrived yet... no...wait...it's coming now..
     

     
    I thought I was getting chicken pie, you know like the kind they serve at Dottie's Diner in Woodbury CT- however this arrived- it actually reminded be alot of what I had the night before at the P & H truck stop, however this version I thought tasted better. Perhaps I should have gotten the pot roast the night before...
     
    After my gut busting lunch I was stuffed. And spent the day digesting my meal by walking around the VT Country Store...
     

     
    Which even has it's own scale museum!
     
    Or if you choose, you can purchase your own
     

     
    your own handsaw walking cane...
    however...
     

     
    I had a few Roadfooders in mind when I saw this particular product!
     
    I also had the chance to check out

     
    The Weston Country Store and
     

     

    Vermont Cheese Emporium across the street..
     
    Afterwards I headed to Rutland VT which is where I was staying for the night. After checking into my motel, I walked around downtown Rutland and enjoyed a couple of Otter Creek Octoberfests. Unfortunately I was still full from lunch so dinner was out of the question. Instead I headed back to my hotel to watch game 3 of the world series..
     
    I'll complete the final chapter tomorrow.
     
    #12
    mr chips
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 20:25:01 (permalink)
    Again an outstanding report. I ordered the Vermont Country Crackers over them over internet from the Vermont Country Store and ate them with milk and cheddar cheese. Found them to be a great snack.
          Someday i hope to visit a New England or Quebec Sugar Shack as it is type of place that is not present out west.
    post edited by mr chips - 2010/11/07 00:30:13
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    edwmax
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 21:51:55 (permalink)
    Good report ... Great pics ....OH, the young Gal that kept mooing for attention is a HE!
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 23:53:15 (permalink)
    So neither chicken pie was what you were expecting?  Tell me more about what you were expecting.  Looks like a gorgeous fall weekend, and maple cream pie . . I never knew such a thing existed.  :)
    #15
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/06 23:53:17 (permalink)
    I do not know what I did but there you go.  :)
    post edited by Nancypalooza - 2010/11/06 23:54:29
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/07 12:01:09 (permalink)
    Mr Chips
    When I first brought common crackers back with me to Seattle (where I was living at the time) after  my second visit to Vermont in 1993 I couldn't get past buttering up those bad boys and never thought twice to dip them in milk and enjoy them with real Vermont Cheddar.
     
    Edwmax
     
    I see cattle and automatically thought "gal" I guess I have a hard time telling the two sexes apart.
     
    Nancy

    When I ordered chicken pie I guess I was expecting this...
     

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    mr chips
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/07 14:12:21 (permalink)
    Dale, I did eat the crackers with Tillamook cheddar, rather than Vermont cheddar. it was still pretty good..
    #18
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/07 14:28:43 (permalink)
    Sunday October 31
     
    Less drizzle and wet snow this morning. It was just a gray dreary day. I stopped at a coffee house in downtown Rutland featuring mediocre New England coffee and then it was off to another Sugar House about 5 miles outside of town.
     

     
    Maple Sugar & Vermont Spice
     
    in Mendon VT. Another Pancake house, gift shop and sugar house rolled into one
    As I entered, I was greeted by this crew who chose to dine outdoors.
     

     
    Offering a slightly more rustic interior than Eaton's
     

     
    The menu offered just as much of a variety
     

     
    and they were more generous with the real maple syrup
     

     
    Although even the much smaller portion size at Eaton's the morning before was more than adequate..

    After reviewing the menu's variety of pancakes I was again torn between the Pumpkin Pancakes and the Sugar and Spice Pancakes (maple cinnamon baked right in) the waitress told me I could get half of each. Which I did.
     

     
    Both were good, but I think the pumpkin pancakes edged out the Sugar and Spice Pancakes.
    Once again my only disappointment was when I asked about the hash, the waitress told me it was from a can....Oh well, no hash for me this weekend.
     
    After checking out of my hotel, I slowly headed  the right direction towards home but had plenty of stops to make along the way...
    My first stop being of course..
     

     
     

     
    The Norman Rockwell Museum in Rutland..

    Noting my previous comments to pumppantry, when I first visited the Wayside Restaurant 9 years ago, while people watching I observed that the scene reminded me of something out of a Norman Rockwell. Painting. Not only the restaurant itself, but the people inside the restaurant. I remember mentioning it to someone who told me that Norman Rockwell was from Vermont. Well I later found out that he  was actually from NY but spent his heyday living in Vermont and just about all the models who posed for him were from Vermont , so now it all makes sense..
     

     
    Of course this is the artist himself and he is mostly famous for the front cover prints of the Saturday Evening Post.

     

     
     
    This has always been my favorite Norman Rockwell print, not sure why but I always got a kick out of it.
     
    And here he is with our own Paul Smith
     

     
    I spent over an hour just looking at all the displays. Although there is a gift shop, I didn't get anything.
     
    I then continued on and a general store in Bridgwater Corners caught my attention. I walked in and saw this
     

     

    Monday Morning's Breakfast. It tasted fresh the next morning and reminded me of Allie's Donuts Old Fashions right here in Rhode Island.
     
    Continuing on towards Main Street Woodstock, I passed some Roadfood landmarks such as Blanche and Bill's Pancake House- perhaps another time....
     
    I did decide to stop here.
     

     
    The Woodstock Farmer's Market in Woodstock VT offering fresh locally baked goods, produce, and a deli I was tempted by the pumpkin bread and the frosted lemon blueberry muffins, but knew if got them I'd be in trouble. I did end up picking up dinner for the evening which I'll reveal later. First it's approaching lunch time.
     
    Heading back to Quechee VT I stopped at the Roadfood reviewed Simon Pierce Restaurant.
     

     
    This was actually the first restaurant where there was a wait for lunch- although it was only about 15 or 20 minutes... The wait time wasn't bad at all. I admired some of the glassware  in the gift shop.
     
    When I sat down, I've got to say that I had probably the best seat in the house
     

     
    This was the view from my table.
     
    Each meal begins with
     

     
    Traditional Irish brown bread and scones and I started out with
     

     
    The Vermont Cheddar Soup.
     
    For my main course ...
     

     
    The hearty Shepherd's Pie served with greens in a light vinagrette...and for a couple of bucks more- goat cheese.

    This was a perfect lunch to conclude my trip...
     
    After lunch, I headed downstairs to watch the glassblowers in action..
     

     

     
    I then took the 3 hour drive back home and was home by 5pm......
     
    Later on that evening....I enjoyed my "take out" from the   Woodstock Farmers Market
     

     
    The Vermont Special....
    All natural Vermont Turkey and Vermont Cheddar with apple slices on locally baked whole wheat bread and maple mustard. What a way to bring a little bit of Vermont home to Rhode Island.
    post edited by wanderingjew - 2010/11/07 14:32:41
    #19
    CajunKing
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/07 21:14:31 (permalink)
    Dale
     
    Your trip reminds me I live in the WRONG section of the country!!!!
     
    Your choices of stops and meals has been an awesome experience through the NE.
     
    Thank You
    #20
    leethebard
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/08 05:02:18 (permalink)
    What a wonderful time I've had travelling along...beautiful country...and great food!
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/08 08:33:10 (permalink)
    New England is on our list of places to visit once the kids have moved out and I hope that when we finally do get there Bryant House still has that chicken pie on the menu - it looks great!
     
    Brad
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    RibDog
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/08 09:04:29 (permalink)
    I always enjoy your trip reports, WJ.  Thanks for posting them!
     
    John
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    kaszeta
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/08 10:06:01 (permalink)
    One of these days I'll have to figure out what WJ looks like, since he seems to hit up all my haunts...
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    kaszeta
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/08 10:06:46 (permalink)
    Ohh, and one minor correction... it's "Simon Pearce", not "Pierce".
    #25
    Ralph Melton
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/08 14:13:33 (permalink)
    Great report. I wish that we'd been able to visit a sugar shack on our New England trip, but it was the wrong time of year.
    #26
    joerogo
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/08 15:45:43 (permalink)
    wanderingjew, You sure pack a lot into a couple days
     
    That whole grain maple mustard looks really good.
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/10 17:23:16 (permalink)
    Referring way back up the thread, I've never had a chicken pie like your 'expected' example.  They always have veggies in them.  Maybe another regional variation thing?  That turkey/cheddar/apple sandwich looks so tasty.
    #28
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/10 19:25:25 (permalink)
    Nancypalooza

    Referring way back up the thread, I've never had a chicken pie like your 'expected' example.  They always have veggies in them.  Maybe another regional variation thing?  That turkey/cheddar/apple sandwich looks so tasty.

     
    Nancy,
     
    A while back, the Sterns had mentioned in one of the roadfood books that New England Chicken Pie is basically straight chicken and gravy versus Chicken Pot Pie which includes veggies. I was expecting a pastry shell top  versus a "two biscuit" top, however upon further review, the biscuit top was exactly how the Sterns described the chicken pie at the Bryant House. This meal was very similar to the Chicken over Biscuits meal I had the night before at P & H, however the version at P & H was ordinary and the one at Bryant House was superb.
     
    Incidentally I forgot to mention the two best single items on the trip were
     
    The Maple Cream Pie at P & H Truck Stop
    and
    The Corn Chowder at Soup & Greens.
     
     
    #29
    buffetbuster
    Porterhouse
    • Total Posts : 10083
    • Joined: 2002/05/09 13:42:00
    • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
    • Status: online
    Re:Sugar Shackin' it in Snowy Southern Vermont 2010/11/11 11:34:27 (permalink)
    Oh, that maple cream pie looks wonderful.  It has been years since I have had anything like it.  I don't usually plan a trip to New England during the cold weather months, but that pie might force me to make an exception!
     
    Excellent report WJ.  What could possibly be more New England than a sugar house?  But, didn't your time in Pittsburgh convince you that you should have gone with kielbasa on your poutine?
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