burlington, charcuterie, farmhouse tap and grill, food in burlington vt

Farmhouse Tap and Grill–Burlington, VT

Look, it’s a post that’s not about Portland! And, what is this? It’s a work related trip to Burlington that I don’t have to shell out a cent for? Stop. It. Now.

If I travel more than once a year for work, I feel like a shorter, rounder Samantha Brown. It’s a bit sad but a reality of not having a job that necessitates much travel. So, the trip out 302 with a co-worker, taking the scenic route to Burlington through The White Mountains and Frogtown Hollow.. Uh.. Sorry, I was thinking about Emmet Otter there for a moment. But, yea, the ride out was great and I had forgotten how beautiful traveling out that way was. If you’re not pressed for time and it’s not the middle of January, I highly recommend this route through the Northeast Kingdom into western Vermont.

We headed straight into town when we arrived, as my co-worker had never been to Burlington, and spent an hour or so on Church Street, poking around at Urban Outfitters and grabbing a latte at Uncommon Grounds. Before we headed to our hotel, to meet up with the others in the group for dinner, we made a quick stop into The City Market/Onion River Co-Op to check it out. It gave me needs and feelings of jealousy. Why don’t we have a Co-Op like this in Portland? Granted, I know we have more than enough markets but this was the best of everything in a surprisingly sizable space. It even puts to shame the Honest Weight Co-Op that I frequented back in Albany. After food trucks, can we make THIS happen, Portland?

But, enough of my pipe dreams. Let’s talk about dinner. Imagine if you will that Novare Res and 50 Local, in Kennebunk, had a love child. Go ahead, picture it. That’s The Farmhouse Tap and Grill in Burlington. They put as much thought and pride into their beer list as they do their food and they don’t shy from letting you know what local farms supplied it.

Dotted around the room were chalkboards listing all of the farms that the restaurant used to compose its menu. I smiled at seeing familiar cheese makers like Lazy Lady, Jasper Hill and Spring Brook Farm on the boards. Call me a ‘Locawhore‘, or whatever you may choose, but I respect restaurants that openly acknowledge the area farms that bring the food to the table. Just don’t take it to Portlandia levels and I think you’ll be alright.

To start the meal, the three carnivores at the table settled on a charcuterie board of Bresaola, Local Chicken Liver Pate and Duck Rillette.

The board was served with some whole grain mustard, grilled Red Hen bread and house pickles. It was a very lovely, well rounded board, but the true stand out for me was the pate. Pink hued, rich and slightly sweet, it made me miss the charcuterie that District offered when they first opened. I actually liked the recipe so much that I contacted the restaurant for it. Consider that a first.

The Bresaola, paper thin and barely salty, melted away in one bite and was topped with a fruity Arbequina olive oil. The rillette was a bit off for me, though. I found the texture a bit dry and the gaminess of the meat a little less enjoyable next to the other selections. Luckily there was enough of those to make me not feel so bad about passing on the rillette.

The entree, a pair of corn griddle cakes topped with roasted mushrooms, sauteed kale and buttermilk vinaigrette, seemed like vegetarian atonement for having the appetizer that I did.

Truthfully, it was ordered in haste and I did think about changing my order. I’m glad that I didn’t, though, because the savory pancakes were delicious. The cakes were cornmeal based, with a bit of sweetness, that went really well with the earthiness, acidity and bitterness of the other components. I was in love on the first bite, though the generous portion did fill me up quickly, leaving a small pile of uneaten kale in my wake.

I, personally, can’t speak on the cred of the beer list, but my co-workers seemed very happy at the endless choices. I did, however, have a very tasty root beer. But, let’s just admit it, I did kind of feel like a kid pretending at a table of adults.

The Missus and I are planning our own trip for sometime next spring–maybe for my 35th–and I am definitely going to make another trip back.

Farmhouse Tap and Grill on Urbanspoon

american cheese society, charcutepalooza, charcuterie, jasper hill farms, pork, science experiments in the house

Guanciale: Phase 1

I love the women of Dandelion Spring Farm, pure and simple. Not only are they extremely friendly and grow some of the most beautiful produce, they have also bestowed upon me my first whole pig jowl.


The deeply blushed red and porcelin white lobe is sitting in the refrigerator now, coated with salt, sugar, pepper and thyme.

It will live there for nearly a week before its wrapped in cheesecloth, strung up and hung in the Missus’ office. The cooler temperatures will ease it into a cured state and turn the jowl into the Italian bacon, Guanciale.

When it’s ready, in about 3 to 4 weeks, it will be cut down, sliced and paired with my new cheese obsession: Harbison from The Cellars at Jasper Hill.

The newest addition to the Jasper Hill family of cheeses, this is one of the most complex cheeses I’ve had in a very long time. It starts out smokey, akin to a young Winnimere, then a wash of butter and cream hits, ending with a distinct mustard finish. French’s Yellow Mustard to be exact.

That beginning and end makes it a perfect pairing for cured meats. The worst part about the whole thing is the month long wait I’ll have to endure before I can savor these two together. I’ll let you know how it all goes down when the time comes.

charcutepalooza, charcuterie, mcguyver smoker, smoking at home, smoking meats, spicy smoked pork loin

Charcutepalooza: Smoke It.

I chose the wood first–a blend of local organic Maine fruit woods–before I had even figured out what I was going to use them in.

I don’t have a grill, a Green Egg, a tiny stove top smoker box or a gigantic Bradley smoker. Hell, I don’t even have a wok. I’ve never smoked a food product before now nor do I have a general fondness for smoked foods, even cheese(which all seem to remind me of bologna). So, when it was announced that the next round of Charcutepalooza would be: Hot Smoke, I was challenged on a few levels, most importantly not having a damn thing to smoke in.

I am a smoker of a different type, one that would choose the Grateful Dead from Lake Placid (10/17/83) as proper background music for these shenanigans. Catch my vibe? Now being from that school, where early on you learn to make a smoking device out of any and everything, the wok method was the most obvious choice(and the one that would cost me nothing to use).

The NYTimes guide had a set up like this:

And mine, opting for an on hand stock pot, looked like this when it was done:

Just imagine the above diagram wedged into this pot. It’s the exact same thing. The difference came in the wood chips, where Mrs. Wheelbarrow suggested using a saw dust powder for the smoke, I kind of missed that part and had a bag of wood shavings arrive at my door. Little details, right? This presented a challenge to me as the wood chips would not naturally smolder on their own so my only option was to check on the smoke every 10-15 minutes and relight the wood chips as needed.

My pork of choice for this month, because I had already brined and cooked some Canadian bacon, I opted for the spicy smoked pork loin and, toying around with the suggested recipe from Ruhlman’s Charcuterie book and threw together a rub that consisted of the following:

  • Toasted and ground Coriander
  • Ghost Pepper Salt
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Cayenne Chile Powder
  • Ceylon Cinnamon
  • Kosher Salt

That was rubbed onto every inch of the 2# pork loin, wrapped in plastic wrap and left to sit for about 36 hours in the refrigerator. Then it was left, uncovered, for another 12 to develop pellicle to further enhance my chances of a nice smokey loin. Granted, it’s more of something needed for smoking fish but because I was going with the ghetto smoker, I was up for trying any tricks to make this work.

So, when the time came, the flames were lit, the loin placed and the pot was sealed and I sat, like a guard dog, watching for any escaping wisps of smoke and was silently praying that my apartment not fill up with a tremendous amount of smoke. And somehow it didn’t, though the constant relighting of the chips did manage to nearly blind me a few times with the thick smoke. But, an hour later, without a single smoke detector in the building going off, it was done.

And the results were a smokey success. Not only had the spice rub penetrated the meat and left a subtle sweet and spicy flavor but the fruit smoke, particularly the apple and maple, was prominent without being dense.

The meal, made of this gorgeous meat, was to be a spicy play on eggs benedict using a mustard cream sauce in place of the hollandaise. Sadly, though, something went awry in the pan and I lost the sauce(I’m blaming not cooking down the wine enough). Luckily, I had some beautiful Quadrello di Bufala on hand to stir into the eggs for a creamy texture.

The high fat cheese imparted a button mushroom flavor to the eggs as it melted down.

Served on top of some homemade biscuits, using From Away’s Buttermilk Biscuit recipe, opting for a sharper flavor of cheddar instead of brie, to cut through the smoke and earth of the other pieces of the dish.

Every bite was worth the effort and embarrassment that I endured, finding myself having to answer my landlord’s question(as I happen to run into him in the building while he was fixing a plumbing issue and I was making the upper floors smell like a Down East campfire) if there had been a small fire in the back hallway.

“No, I’m just making a pork loin,” I said, half truthful, as I snuck back up stairs and opened just a few more windows.

Smoke It on Punk Domestics
canadian bacon, charcutepalooza, charcuterie, making bacon, ruhlman, salt curing

Charcutepalooza: 2 Beasts, 1 Week–Pt. 2 The Salt Cures

Go ahead and twist my arm. Tell me I have to make my own bacon(or other dry cured options) and I won’t fight you on it. It’s actually the natural progression of things as we first buried a duck breast in salt, before we hung them, to make our own prosciutto. So, we would continue our collective educations on salt and move up to larger cuts of meat. When this challenge first started, I still was without the RuhlmanCharcuterie” book and drew from his website for a general idea of what was needed. After that, there was only the choosing of what cut of pork(or other appropriate animal) I would use. There really wasn’t much of a choice as it was either belly–which I currently have 9lbs of locally obtained belly in my freezer at the moment–or loin, for something of the Canadian style. But, damned if I didn’t try to get some jowl for this challenge to forgo bacon altogether in favor of some guanciale. Maybe I’ll be able to wrangle some up in the coming weeks and give it a go.

While I could have played around with different meats, though the lamb belly fell into my possession after the curing had begun and goats belly was no where to be found , I opted for the Canadian variety. Finding a recipe on line was easy as was some naturally raised, though not local, loin. It didn’t hit me until after I finally received the book that Ruhlman doesn’t have Canadian bacon in the dry cure category, but puts it later in the book under the ‘smoked meats’ chapter. So, this whole task may be a bit of a cheat but I’ll claim ignorance and an inability to hook up with the UPS guy to obtain the book before I started on my way.
Ruhlman’s dry cure is simple:

Basic Dry Cure
1 pound/450 grams kosher salt (2 cups Morton’s coarse kosher salt)

8 ounces/225 grams sugar (about 1 cup)

2 ounces/50 grams pink salt (10 teaspoons)

Combine and mix till pink salt is uniformly distributed. Store indefinitely in air-tight container.

That, dredged over, around and in this:

It lived in a gallon sized Ziploc bag in our refrigerator for a week. I thought it was more interesting to don some gloves and start this challenge than it was to watch The Black Eyed Peas during the Superbowl Halftime. My Chicago Bears weren’t playing and I lost my cheese bet, so what did I have invested? This was more engaging to say the least.

I added only an eighth of a cup of dark brown sugar to the dry cure as an added seasoning. Good bacon should be relatively unchanged–ie, I don’t need it to be curry or candy cane flavored to be appealing–so that’s how I treated it. The first thing I did, every day when I came home from work and took off my coat, was to check the pork loin and redistribute the moisture that was collecting in the bag. This, I learned, would help the cure penetrate and preserve the meat. Makes sense.

So, for a week I watched this experiment in my kitchen grow slightly pinker and firmer with each passing day(I’m sorry, but I can’t find the words to not make that sound perverted in any way). While the duck breast relied on the environment to reach it’s perfect state, this would require a little more work and coaxing. It also, as I found out when it was finally time slow roast it, would take twice as much time as the recipe for using a belly. Something to consider as I spent four hours roasting this after returning home that evening from the Lion Dance parade in Chinatown.

But, though I was tired and near tears because I just wanted the damn thing to come to 140ish degrees, the final product was better than I could have hoped for.

It was, as the book promised, “beautifully roasted” and the salt was perfect in it. While I’m not a huge fan of nitrates in my bacon, I’m willing to acknowledge that a little dose of them for curing purposes are ok(and much more appealing than not using any or trying celery juice or beet juice for the coloring).

But, there is still a meal to be made with this and, for that, I turned to the obvious choice of Eggs Benedict. Hollandaise sauce and I have a history going back to culinary school where, out of all of the assignments, my attempt to make it failed horribly. First, I drizzled clarified butter on the burner and managed to start a small fire and then curdled my egg yolks and had to have the chef teach me a quick fix for the sauce breaking. Since then, I haven’t had the balls to pull myself away from the blender hollandaise. Until now,that was, as I opted to try a still gentler approach via Martha Stewart.

I placed my yolks and water in a double boiler

and whisked for four straight minutes until it was time to slowly add the melted butter and whisk some more until it was thickened

But, I had missed a few steps. I added the lemon juice AFTER it had been thickened when I was suppose to add it before. I was also suppose to remove the bowl from the heat and didn’t. So, just soon after admiring the velvety texture and feeling so proud of my victory… the sauce broke. My shoulders fell instantly and I took the bowl over to the sink, ready to toss the whole bit. But, I couldn’t bring myself to do so. I couldn’t fall victim to a hollandaise sauce again. So, I turned back to the stove, poured in a bit of water and started stirring again. Like magic, it came back together and all was not lost.
While all of this was going on I was browning some of my gorgeous bacon,

toasting an english muffin and scrambling an egg(no time to attempt my first poached egg today). And, while I felt like a circus clown juggling so much and crying a bit on the inside, I did end up with a beautiful weekday brunch

that lasted only moments on the plate.

Next month we brine!