Partner Profile: Sweet Sound Oysters

Juniper Chef Doug Paine is always on the look out for new local products and providers. We have recently partnered with Sweet Sound Oysters, a company based in Duxbury, Massachusetts but owned and operated by a UVM alumni. Chef Doug blogs about our partnership with Sweet Sound:

At Juniper and Bleu, we are taking farm to table to a new level by buying fresh oysters directly from the farmer. John Brawley owns and operates Sweet Sound Oysters. John, a UVM alumni with a Ph.D. in marine biology brings us live oysters weekly from his farm in Duxbury MA.

John and his staff farm Crassostrea Virginca oysters. They are also called Eastern Oysters and are native to the east and gulf coasts of North America. Oysters carry a distinct flavor that is specific to where they are grown, called merrior. Sweet Sound‘s merrior comes from the minerals and organic matter that is carried to east side of Duxbury Bay from the Black River. They are grown on the bottom of the bay in about waist-deep water depending on what the tide is doing. The oysters are started in bags placed plastic crates to protect them from predators. When they are big enough they are spread out on the bay floor. They are harvested by dragging a net along the bottom to scoop them up and then pulled into a boat. They are then hand sorted to size and bagged for delivery.

Sweet Sound’s oysters have a notably sweet & briny character, giving them a distinct taste of place. Visit sweetsoundoysters.com for more information or stop into Juniper or Bleu to try them for yourself!

July 3 BBQ on Cherry Street

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Friday for our first annual Cherry Street BBQ! While this was a modest first year for us, we have our sights set high and hope to grow the event into a block party of Cherry Street in the next few years.

Chef Doug grilled up a storm of hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie sandwiches and corn on the cob while Juniper Manager Cam Keitel created an amazingly refreshing watermelon and limeade agua frescas. Beer was provided by our friends at Lost Nation and with kids crafts, lawn games, and hours of live music we hope you had as much fun as we did! A special thank you to Seven Days for stopping by the event – check out their write up here.

 

Ramping Around: Foraging with Chef Doug

Last week some of our staff members took to the forests of Vermont to harvest ramps. Found in the spring, ramps are wild onions that look similar to scallions or leeks and taste like a spicy garlicky onion. Historically, the wild onion was a staple food source for the native American tribe of the Abenaki who settled throughout Vermont with a large portion finding their home in Winooski River Valley. The Winooski River was named after the ramps, meaning “the place where the onions are” in Abenaki. These days, ramps are mainly foraged, making them a darling of farmers’ markets.

The foraging season is relatively short and starts early in spring just as the snow melts and the greens sprout out of the ground yielding slender leek-like vegetable. However on Chef Doug’s recommendation, we planned our adventure later in May so that the bulbs would be larger. In order to forage sustainably, we followed the one-in-five rule, where one plant was harvested for every five left in the ground.

Composed of a pearly white bulb, tuber and leafy green stem, all parts of this allium can be used in the kitchen. Much like onions, ramps are delicious in a number of ways: try roasting or grilling them on their own or incorporating them in other dishes. Our personal favorite is a ramp pesto. We raided the Juniper Kitchen for Chef Doug’s recipe for you to try at home.

Vermont Ramp Pesto:
1lb ramps
1/2 cup sunflower seed oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4# hard sheep’s milk cheese (Bonnie View Farm Ben Nevis works great)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and enjoy!

Vermont Restaurant Week

Friday marks the beginning of the 10-day food celebration that is Vermont Restaurant Week! April 24 to May 3, 2015 more than one hundred restaurants throughout the state offer a special prix-fixe menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or sometimes all three).

In addition to restaurant participation, there are a number of food events planned for the week. The celebration kicks off with the Sweet Start Smackdown this Thursday, where past finalists and new pastry chef challengers vie for the title of best dessert. Sunday, April 26th you can test your food knowledge with a Culinary Pub Quiz at Vermont Sports Grill. Wednesday, April 28th stop by ArtsRiot for The Dish; this food discussion will focus on goats in Vermont and the consumption (or lack there of) of goat meat. Lastly, round out the week on Saturday, May 2nd with Clash of the Cocktails, where bartending finalists battle to create the best drink using Vermont Spirits White Vodka, at Red Square. For more information about events and menus, visit Vermont Restaurant Week online here.

On Cherry Street, Juniper, Bleu Northeast Seafood, and Hen of the Wood Burlington will all be participating with dinner options. Dinner menus are priced by restaurant either at $20, $30 or $40 and usually feature a limited selection of a few different courses (e.g. appetizer, entrée and dessert).

At Hen of the Wood, chef Eric Warnstedt will offer a $40 option with choice of any appetizer, entrée and single-cheese plate from the entire menu with no restrictions.

Chef Doug Paine will be offering a $20 and a $40 option at Juniper – the menus can be found online here – and a $40 dinner option at Bleu.

For those of you who wish make a night of it, we are offering our Restaurant Week Package, which includes an overnight room and dinner at Juniper.

Bon appetite!

Our Cherry Street chefs are heading to New York City!

The Cherry Street culinary crew featuring Chef Doug Paine, the creative force behind Bleu Northeast Seafood and Juniper, Eric Warnstedt and Jordan Ware of Hen of the Wood are packing their knives and hitting the road to New York next week. The chefs will be preparing contemporary Vermont cuisine at the James Beard House Friday, April 10th.

Run by the non-profit James Beard Foundation, the James Beard House hosts frequent dinners with rotating selected chefs and serves as a gathering place for the public, press, and notable people in the culinary & hospitality industries.

In the spirit of Hotel Vermont and Hen of the Wood, meal will showcase the Green Mountain State’s vibrant culinary community, from farms and artisans to breweries and distilleries.

If you are in New York City on Friday, we invite you to join us! Tickets can be found online here and check out the menu and beverage pairings below.

MENU

Hors d’Oeuvres

Oysters and Charcuterie with Accompaniments

Fried Pork Head Cheese with Mustard Aïoli

Sweet Potato–Grafton Village Cheese Co. Smoked Cheddar Fritters with Quince Mustard

Sunflower Oil–Cured Lake Champlain Yellow Perch with Romesco and Leek Toasts

Chilled Turnip Soup with Violet Gastrique and Goat’s Milk Ricotta

LA GARAGISTA FARM + WINERY COUP DE FOUDRE PÉTILLANT NATUREL 2012

CHERRY STREET SHRUB > SAXTONS RIVER DISTILLERY MAPLE LIQUEUR WITH VERMONT BALSAMIC SOUR CHERRY SYRUP AND SODA

ELDERBERRY GIN FIZZ > CALEDONIA SPIRITS BARR HILL GIN WITH ELDERBERRY CORDIAL,LEMON, AND SODA

Dinner

Jericho Settlers Farm Lamb Tartare with Sprouted Lentils, Preserved Lemon, and Sunchoke Chips

HILL FARMSTEAD BREWERY ANNA HONEY SAISON

Roasted Beets with Jasper Hill Farm Bailey Hazen Blue Cheese and Radicchio

THE ALCHEMIST BREWERY HEADY TOPPER DOUBLE IPA

Half Pint Farm Greens with Radishes, Icewine Vinaigrette, and Pumpernickel Croutons

CITIZEN CIDER BROSÉ BLUEBERRY SPARKLING HARD CIDER

Maple Gastrique–Glazed Vermont Rabbit with Celeriac Gnocchi, Pickled Carrots, and Foie Gras Beurre Blanc

LA GARAGISTA FARM + WINERY LUPO IN BOCCA ROSÉ 2013

Smoked Maple Wind Farm Grassfed Beef Brisket with Yellow Chile–Squash Stew, Flint Corn, and Scarlet Runner Beans

LA GARAGISTA FARM + WINERY DAMEJEANNE ROUGE 2012

Baked Vermont > Maple Bostock with Maple Ice Cream and Maple Meringue

EDEN VERMONT ICE CIDER

Little Sweets > Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey Truffles, Pine Needle Brownies, Jellies, The Alchemist Brewery Heady Topper Double IPA Caramels, and Maple Cream Chocolates

Shanty on the Burlington Shore

Winter can be rough in Vermont – short days, long nights and enough snow and ice for the Abominable Snowman to build a palace – but New Englanders are hearty folk who how to make the most of it. A favorite winter pastime of Vermonters young and old is ice fishing. A few tasty beverages, fishing pole, and an ice auger and you have yourself a nice little Sunday afternoon. In that spirit and after a few adult beverages ourselves, we built the Hotel Vermont Ice Shanty.

Ice shanties (also called an ice shack, ice hut, bobhouse, etc.) are traditionally used as a portable shelter placed on a frozen body of water for ice fishing. Using a chainsaw or an ice auger (don’t try this at home, kids) to cut a hole in the ice, the shanty is placed over the hole so that the fishermen can keep warm. With over 90 species of fish, Lake Champlain is a recreational fisherman’s heaven. Most commonly targeted fish are perch, crappie, blue gill, and northern pike.

We have been working hard with our friends at Lake Champlain International and the Vermont Fresh Network to get the word out about Lake Champlain as a food resource. For the last few decades there has been a stigma against eating fish out of the lake; however, fish from the lake is both safe to eat and delicious! Chef Doug proudly serves Lake Champlain yellow perch at both Bleu Northeast Seafood and Juniper Bar & Restaurant. 

While we realize ice fishing season is dwindling down, we welcome any guests or community members to come ask us about a visit to the shanty on the Burlington Waterfront. A number of our staff members are more than happy to discuss the ins and outs of ice fishing. If you’re interested please contact our Front Desk at ask@hotelvt.com. Also, please remember to fish within the regulations set forth by Vermont Fish and Wildlife, including a valid fishing license and safe ice conditions.