Where did the summer go?
We've had such a mild summer here in Boston (not too many super hot days), that I sort of can't believe August is long gone and we are well into September. The other day I was walking around Harvard Square when I noticed that some of the leaves are already starting to turn orange. Is fall foliage coming early this year?
The leaves indeed seem to be changing faster this year. According to the Smoky Mountains fall foliage map, we are already well into peak season in Northern Vermont and New Hampshire. By October 1, Boston will be well into its peak season (which is really early compared to past years). It makes me feel like I need to hurry up and plan a leaf peeping trip before it's too late.
Vermont is beautiful, rustic, authentic, and restorative. Though I've lived in Boston for over twenty years, I never visited Vermont until very, very recently. Once I came I couldn't believe how much I've missed.
There is so much to explore! The craft beer culture is out of this world, the cheeses are top notch, and scenery really relaxes and restores the soul.
Vermont has a ton of preserved covered bridges (over a hundred!). According to Richard Allen, the author of Covered Bridges of the Northeast,
"Vermont is justly famous for her covered bridges. No other state has built and still possesses so many of the old timbered crossings in so small an area."
In August, I had a chance to visit Vermont. More specifically, a couple friends and I drove up with Woodstock, Vermont to experience the exquisite food at The Lincoln Inn & Restaurant at the Covered Bridge. Executive Chef Jevgenija Saromova, originally from Latvia, trained at Michelin-starred restaurants all across Europe before coming to Vermont to open The Lincoln Inn & Restaurant with her partner Mara Mehlman. The Lincoln Inn offers several multi-course tasting menus that fuse traditional French techniques with local Vermont ingredients. I will devote a whole separate post to the exquisite tasting menu we enjoyed there!
For now, here's a preview of how we spent our weekend in Vermont.
First Stop: Cabot Cheese. Vermont is known for its many, many dairy farms and phenomenal cheese. You can spend a whole weekend driving the Vermont Cheese Trail and stop by numerous cheese farms. Cabot is one of the bigger brands and has four retail stores in the state. We stopped by the one in the town of Quechee (right next to Woodstock) and sampled all sorts of cheese, maple syrup, and even some locally made wine (!).
In the same shopping plaza we also stopped by Vermont Distillery and enjoyed a sample of their delicious No. 14 Bourbon (Bourbon Whiskey and Vermont Maple Syrup).
By around noon we arrived at the Lincoln Inn. We were thrilled to see the inviting chairs down by the river. We took out the cheese we had purchased just moments earlier at the Cabot store, and we enjoyed a lovely picnic right by the covered bridge.
During the afternoon, we drove about 10 minutes to the trailhead of Mount Tom. The entire hike up and down the "mountain" is only about 4.5 miles and 1250 feet high. From the top you get lovely views of the entire town of Woodstock. We could still hear the jazz band that was playing in the center of town all the way from the top of the mountain.
That evening, we headed back to the inn, exchanged our hiking gear for pretty dresses, and headed back downstairs for an incredible 7-course Chef's tasting menu at the inn (more on that in a future post!). We even sat in what used to be Paul Newman's private dining room (!).
The next morning, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the inn before driving into downtown Woodstock to walk around and enjoy the quaint little town center.
We stumbled upon an outdoor market where we sampled (and purchased) local cheeses, beers, and maple syrup. The weather was perfect, the people were super friendly, and the overall vibe was very chill.
We loved it. We really felt like we were getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Our last stop took us to Richardson Family Farm, one of the cooperative dairy farms that supplies milk for Cabot.
Our host Amy (who runs the farm with her husband Scott and their three sons) was super warm and hospitable. We had just met her the day before at the Cabot Quechee Store. Now here we were, right on her family farm, for an extended personal tour.
The family-owned farm has been in the family for three generations. They focus mostly on dairy cows, though they also make maple syrup and they build fences. We had an opportunity to visit large pastures where the Jersey cows craze. We even got to walk amongst the large animals.
We also visited their fence-making operations, and we got to see young baby calves. They almost remind me of deer.
eeks . . this one is eating my hair!!
Thanks Amy for taking such good care of us!
Alas, it was time to go. We had to get started on our 2.5 hour drive in order to make it back to Boston in time for dinner.
We grabbed a quick lunch and soft serve at the White Cottage Snack Bar before hitting the road. The drive back was smooth, and soon we were back in Boston well in time for dinner.
It was a great trip but it felt way too short. I felt like I barely scratched the surface of Vermont. I would have loved to dig more deeply into the local cheese scene, and It would have been so fun to explore the many excellent craft beer places. Nevertheless, I had a lovely time relaxing and catching up with my friends, and we enjoyed the food (a LOT!).
There's no shortage of great food in Vermont. I can't wait until I have a chance to come back again.
Disclaimer: Lodging and meals at The Lincoln Inn & Restaurant were provided by the Inn. We paid for my friend's meal/lodging. I was not paid to write any posts. All opinions are my own.